Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
“Thou Shalt … Offer Up Thy Sacraments
upon My Holy Day”
The Lord established the Sabbath.
Pay devotions to God by worshiping Him in Sunday Church meetings.
Pay devotions to God by partaking of the sacrament.
Pay devotions to God by resting from your labors.
The Lord blesses those who keep the Sabbath day holy.
A study of this lesson will help us strengthen our desire to keep the Sabbath
Scripture references for study:
Bible Dictionary, “Sabbath,” pages 764–65
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 16 Handout (PDF)
The Lord Established The Sabbath
"And on the seventh day God ended his work which
he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he
had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because
that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made"
From the beginning of time the Lord has set apart and sanctified one day
in seven. He set the pattern during the period of creation.
After Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, the Lord handed down
the great commandments that have guided the human family for centuries. The
Fourth Commandment reads: "Remember the
sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do
all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in
it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy
manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that
is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the
sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the
Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Exodus 20:8-11)
The Lord further stated to Israel through Moses: "Wherefore
the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout
their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between
me and the children of Israel for ever" (Exodus 31:16-17).
Not only were the children of Israel commanded to keep the Sabbath day
holy, but its observation would be a perpetual sign between Israel and
the Lord. Faithful Jews throughout the centuries have continued to
observe this great commandment.
The Nature of Shabbat as believed and practiced by modern Jews (see Judaism
"The Sabbath (or Shabbat,
as it is called in Hebrew) is one of the best known and least understood
of all Jewish observances. People who do not observe Shabbat think
of it as a day filled with stifling restrictions, or as a day of prayer
like the Christian Sabbath. But to those who observe Shabbat, it
is a precious gift from G-d, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout
the week, a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and
devote ourselves to higher pursuits. In Jewish literature, poetry
and music, Shabbat is described as a bride or queen, as in the popular
Shabbat hymn Lecha Dodi Likrat Kallah (come, my beloved, to meet the [Sabbath]
bride). It is said 'more than Israel has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has
"Shabbat is the most important
ritual observance in Judaism. It is the only ritual observance instituted
in the Ten Commandments. It is also the most important special day,
even more important than Yom Kippur. This is clear from the fact
that more aliyoth (opportunities for congregants to be called up to the
Torah) are given on Shabbat than on any other day.
"Shabbat is primarily a
day of rest and spiritual enrichment. The word "Shabbat" comes from
the root Shin-Bet-Tav, meaning to cease, to end, or to rest.
"Shabbat is not specifically
a day of prayer. Although we do pray on Shabbat, and spend a substantial
amount of time in synagogue praying, prayer is not what distinguishes Shabbat
from the rest of the week. Observant Jews pray every day, three times
a day.... To say that Shabbat is a day of prayer is no more accurate
than to say that Shabbat is a day of feasting: we eat every day, but on
Shabbat, we eat more elaborately and in a more leisurely fashion. The same can be said of prayer on Shabbat.
"In modern America, we
take the five-day work-week so much for granted that we forget what a radical
concept a day of rest was in ancient times. The weekly day of rest
has no parallel in any other ancient civilization. In ancient times,
leisure was for the wealthy and the ruling classes only, never for the
serving or laboring classes. In addition, the very idea of rest each
week was unimaginable. The Greeks thought Jews were lazy because
we insisted on having a 'holiday' every seventh day.
"Shabbat involves two interrelated
commandments: to remember (zachor) Shabbat, and to observe (shamor) Shabbat."
(for more on the Jewish Sabbath visit Judaism
The Lord during his mortal ministry faithfully practiced the Sabbath, though
he was critical of those priests who had forgotten the purpose of the Sabbath.
"The sabbath was made for man, and not man for
the sabbath" (Mark 2:27).
Historical Background -
The Colesville Saints arrived in Zion on July 25.
They did not settle in Independence, but as a group continued to Kaw Township,
a sparsely populated area twelve miles southwest of Independence.
They settled along the Big Blue River which separated Missouri from the
Indian territory to the west.
On August 2, Joseph, Sidney, and ten other brethren assisted the Colesville
Branch in laying the first log for a house as a foundation of Zion. These
twelve men laid this first log in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Sidney Rigdon was appointed by the Lord to dedicate and consecrate the
land for the gathering of the Saints.
Before doing so, he stood before the gathered Saints and asked the following
"Do you receive this land for the land of your inheritance with thankful
hearts from the Lord?"
"Do you pledge yourselves to keep the law of God on this land which
you never have kept in your own lands?"
"Do you pledge yourselves to see that others of your brethren who shall
come hither do keep the laws of God?"
The assembled Saints responded to each question with a unanimous,
Sidney then offered the dedicatory prayer and then declared,
now pronounce this land consecrated and dedicated unto the Lord for a possession
and inheritance for the Saints, and for all the faithful servants of the
Lord to the remotest ages of time. In the name of Jesus Christ, having
authority from Him. Amen." (HC, 1:196)
On August 3, eight of the brethren returned to Independence.
They gathered at the ten acre plot where the temple would be built.
Joseph laid a stone at the southeast corner for the contemplated temple.
Joseph then dedicated the spot for the building of the temple.
Sidney dedicated the land where the city of Zion was to stand.
On August 4, the fifth conference of the Church was held at the home of
Joshua Lewis, in Kaw Township, with members of the Colesville branch.
Joseph exhorted the Saints to keep their covenants so that they might receive
On August 7, Joseph attended the funeral of Polly Knight.
Section 59 is given on this same day in Jackson County, Missouri, in which
the Lord reiterates his commandment to observe the Sabbath day.
One of the characteristics of those saints prepared to participate in the
redemption of Zion is the proper celebration of the Sabbath. As the
Lord says in verse one, blessed are those who have "an eye single to my
The Journey of the Colesville Branch at LDS.org for additional background
"The Sabbath is necessary for the maintenance
of free institutions and morality. No one living in a Christian community
has the right to undermine these, by his conduct, no matter what his personal
views may be." (D&C Commentary, p357)
Remember the Sabbath Day
HOW SHOULD WE OBSERVE THE SABBATH?
The notes above on practice of the Jewish Sabbath
give us some important reminders:
" . . . to those who observe Shabbat, it is a
precious gift from G-d, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the
week, a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and devote
ourselves to higher pursuits."
Is this our attitude towards the Sabbath? Do
we eagerly look forward to this day when we can "set aside all of our weekday
concerns?" Is this a time when we devote ourselves to higher pursuits?
"Shabbat involves two interrelated commandments:
to remember (zachor) Shabbat, and to observe (shamor) Shabbat."
This statement should encompass our practice of the
Sabbath. Though our practice differs from that of the Jews, Sunday
should be a day to remember the Atonement of Jesus Christ and its significance
to our eternal development. It should be a day to remember our blessings. A day to remember the Lord by showing our devotion to him. We observe
the Sabbath by setting aside our "weekday concerns" through attendance
at Sacrament Meeting and participation in other appropriate Sunday activities.
that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go
to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
"For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest
from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
"Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in
righteousness on all days and at all times;
"But remember that on this, the Lord's day, thou
shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing
thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.
"And on this day thou shalt do none other thing,
only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting
may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full."
HOW HAS THE LORD INSTRUCTED THE SAINTS TO OBSERVE
It is a day to keep oneself "unspotted" from the
Attend worship service at the "house of prayer."
Participate in the sacrament.
Rest from one's labors.
Pay devotion to the Most High.
Confess one's sins before "thy brethren, and before
Do that which is necessary with "singleness of heart."
Keep Thyself Unspotted From the World.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO KEEP ONESELF UNSPOTTED FROM
Our ultimate goal as Latter-day Saint is to gain
exaltation. In order to do so, we must ultimately turn
from the things of the world and become pure and undefiled. We do
not want the spots of the world on our soul. Ultimately, the Atonement
of Jesus Christ washes us clean of these spots "after all we can do" (2
Nephi 25:23). To aid us in this endeavor, the Lord has blessed us
with the Sabbath, a day when we can step away from our earthly pursuits
and refocus on eternal things.
When I think of the Sabbath day as a day to aid us
in this endeavor, I recall a story told by my father when as a teenager
in Salt Lake City, he and some of his friends went to a movie on Sunday. He tells of a group of
unhappy parents marching into the theater
and escorting their sons back home. Attendance at movies, sporting
events, concerts, etc., on the Sabbath puts us back in contact with the
world. It detracts from the spirit and intent of the day and we lose the
blessings that come as a result of proper observance.
The teachings and example of my grandparents left a
life long impression upon my father. Dad did not do chores on Sunday. We did not go out to eat, go to the movies, or even go fishing (which was
a passion of my father). We were taught to not go out and play, which
was difficult as a child, especially when so many of the neighborhood kids
were out playing. My parents had respect for the Sabbath and our
home was a place unspotted from the world.
We have all asked questions as to what is appropriate
and inappropriate for Sunday activity. Is it OK to watch TV? Can I go for a walk? We are no longer living the law of Moses. We do not have a prescribed list of do's and don'ts. President Harold
B. Lee: "My experience has taught
me that the prompting of the conscience to a faithful Church member is
the safest indicator as to that which is contrary to the spirit of worship
on the Sabbath Day." (Decisions for Successful Living, p148)
Go To the House of Prayer.
As we strive to keep ourselves unspotted from the
world, the Lord provided us with Sunday worship service. Brother
Robert L. Millet said: "We live in
trying times. We are surrounded by gross wickedness—indecency, immorality,
abuse, harshness, crudeness, and insensitivity to the things of God. To keep us from yielding to the persuasions of the worldly, the Lord has
provided a sacred institution we call the Church. Attending church
meetings focuses our minds, for at least three hours a week, on things
that matter. Attending church meetings puts us in contact with people
of goodwill, people who have the same desires for time and eternity that
we do. Attending church meetings allows us to learn and grow and
develop; it also allows us to give and share and strengthen others."
(Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth, pp140-141)
President Gordon B. Hinckley said that "every
sacrament meeting ought to be a spiritual feast"
and "a time of spiritual refreshment."
(Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p563 & p564)
IS SACRAMENT MEETING A SPIRITUAL FEAST FOR US? HOW CAN WE MAKE ATTENDANCE AT SUNDAY MEETINGS MORE SPIRITUALLY ENRICHING?
President Spencer W. Kimball: "We
do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained or even solely to be instructed. We go to worship the Lord. It is an individual responsibility, and
regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the
Lord in spirit and truth, he may do so by attending his meetings, partaking
of the sacrament, and contemplating the beauties of the gospel. If
the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship
for you." (Ensign, Jan 1978, p4-5)
To make these meetings a "spiritual feast" and a
time of "spiritual refreshment" we need to prepare ourselves.
Are we rushing out of the house and speeding to the
meetinghouse? What kind of attitude or feeling does that leave us
Do we take time to prepare ourselves by gospel study
and prayer? Have we read through the lesson materials and study guides?
Are we really listening to the speaker and trying
to learn something?
A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend a
series of seminars. One of the things they emphasized was the importance
of taking notes. We listen with greater interest and attention when
taking notes. Though we may not want to take detailed notes, we
may want to capture a few key thoughts that can assist us in guiding our lives.
Do we participate by singing?
Elder Boyd K. Packer has indicated that many are
not singing in our worship services. "We
should sing the songs of Zion—they are an essential part of our worship."
(Ensign, Nov 1991, p22)
Are we being being reverent?
Our reverence not only impacts what we may gain from
a meeting, but affects those around us. Elder Packer said that reverence
"does not equate with absolute silence.
We must be tolerant of little babies, even an occasional outburst from
a toddler being ushered out." (Ensign,
Nov 1991, p22)
I recall another story from my father. He tells
of when as a young member of the Aaronic priesthood, he and a friend were
making a disturbance during Sacrament meeting. My grandfather, who
was in the bishopric at the time, stepped up to the podium and called my
father and his friend to come up to the stand and sit by him. I think
dad probably remembered from that time on to observe a more reverent attitude. More importantly, how many others had their spiritual feelings disturbed
by two boys that were making a disruption during meeting?
Offer Up Thy Sacraments.
The most important part of our worship service is
to partake of the sacrament in remembrance of the sacrifice of our Lord
and Savior, Jesus Christ.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO PARTAKE OF THE SACRAMENT EACH
Commanded by the Lord. "It
is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and
wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus"
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "No
member of the Church who refuses to observe this sacred ordinance can retain
the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Ghost."
(Doctrines of Salvation, 2:338)
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "In
remembrance of this great act of infinite love, which has been the means
of redeeming a fallen world, those who profess his name show their gratitude
and likewise 'the Lord's death till he come,' by observing this holy ordinance."
(Doctrines of Salvation, 2:339)
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin: "Windows
must be washed regularly to clean away dust and dirt. … Just as earthly
windows need consistent, thorough cleaning, so do the windows of our spirituality.
… By partaking of the sacrament worthily to renew our baptismal covenants,
we clarify our view of life’s eternal purpose and divine priorities. The
sacrament prayers invite personal introspection, repentance, and rededication
as we pledge our willingness to remember our Savior, Jesus the Christ."
(Ensign, Nov 1995, p77)
See Lesson 9
for additional thoughts on the sacrament.
Rest From Your Labors.
President Spencer W. Kimball: "I
wonder if money earned upon the Sabbath, when it is unnecessary Sabbath
earning, might not also be unclean money. I realize that some people
must work on the Sabbath; and when they do, if they are compelled, that
is, of course, a different situation. But men and women who will
deliberately use the Sabbath day to develop business propositions, to increase
their holdings, to increase their income, I fear for them. I think
the Lord was speaking to them when he said: 'Woe unto them that call evil
good. . . .' (Isa. 5:20.) Sometimes we salve our consciences by saying
that the more we get the more we can give to the worthy causes, but that,
of course, is a subterfuge. There are people who work on the Sabbath,
not through compulsion, but because the income is attractive, and others
who work voluntarily to get the "time and a half" that Sabbath work gives
them." (CR, Oct 1953)
As part of resting from our labors, we should refrain
from buying or selling, going to places of amusement, and other worldly
interests on the Sabbath. As much as possible, we should do all that
we can to not be the cause of others having to labor on the Sabbath. If all good Christians were to take this admonition seriously, many more
would be free from their labors on the Lord's holy day.
When I grew up in Orem, Utah, back in the 1960's, there
was an agreement amongst the merchants not to open their businesses for
commerce. The drug stores would rotate their Sunday opening in order
to provide essential and necessary prescriptions and first aid supplies. It was a remarkable thing seeing a town that was so quiet one day each
week. I now live in a suburb of Denver. When one drives through the business district on a Sunday afternoon, the
parking lots are full and the traffic doesn't look any different from a
weekday. We all need the Sabbath day to spiritually refresh ourselves. I sometimes wonder how people can return to work on a Monday morning after
spending their Sunday in such common pursuits.
Resting from our labors does not mean spending a
day of ease. President Kimball: "The
Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. Abstinence
from work and recreation is important, but insufficient. The Sabbath
calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about
doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it. To observe it, one
will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel,
meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, writing letters to missionaries,
taking a nap, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings
of that day at which he is expected."
(Ensign, Jan 1978, p4)
Pay Thy Devotions Unto the Most High.
We pay our devotions to the Lord by attending Sunday meetings in reverence, partaking of the sacrament, and through prayer
and scripture study. These things do not constitute our full day. How we spend the remainder of the time truly shows our devotion to the
Lord. The Jewish admonition to "remember" and "observe" should a
guide in helping us determine that which helps us pay our devotion to the
President Spencer W. Kimball taught: "We
may want to set aside time for our family to be together, for personal
study and meditation, and for service to others. We might want to read
the scriptures, conference reports, and Church publications; study the
lives and teachings of the prophets; prepare church lessons and other church
assignments; write in journals; pray and meditate; write to or visit relatives
and friends; write to missionaries; enjoy uplifting music; have family
gospel instruction; hold family council meetings; build husband-wife relationships;
read with a child; do genealogical research, including the four-generation
program and family or personal histories; sing Church hymns; read uplifting
literature; develop our appreciation of the cultural arts; plan family
home evening study and activities; plan other family activities; friendship
nonmembers; fellowship neighbors; visit the sick, the aged, and the lonely;
hold interviews with family members."
(Ensign, Jan 1982, p3)
President Gordon B. Hinckley: "Now
I do not want to be prudish. I do not want you to lock your children in
the house and read the Bible all afternoon to them. Be wise. Be careful. But make that day a day when you can sit down with your
families and talk about sacred and good things."
(Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, pp559-560).
Confess Thy Sins.
As we prepare to renew the baptismal covenant at
the sacrament table, it is appropriate for us to review our life. As part of that preparation, we need to confess our sins to the Lord, ask
his forgiveness, and commit to continuing the repentance process. As we take a break from the world, what a wonderful time to plan and prepare
for the coming week. What a wonderful time to make commitments to
the Lord to improve and work on one's weaknesses.
Do That Which is Necessary With "Singleness of Heart."
"And on this day thou shalt do none other thing,
only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting
may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full"
The Lord has stated that we should prepare our food
"with singleness of heart." One of the joys of the Sabbath is to
enjoy a meal with the family. It is a wonderful time to visit and
to share experiences. But we do not want to detract from the day
by spending the day in preparation. Meals can be simple or preparation
can be done in advance. As the Primary song states, "Saturday is
a special day, It's the day we get ready for Sunday."
My father recorded in his history, "My grandmother
and grandfather belonged to the Church of England and my father stated
many times how strict his mother was. He said that she would not
even let them pick up a pair of scissors on Sunday, let alone use them."
Need we be so strict? There are times when it is appropriate to pick
up the scissors, mend a piece of clothing, or fix a broken pipe. There are things which need to be done. We do not want to
law of Moses mentality. What is appropriate is to do all that we
do with "singleness of heart" and with "devotion" to God, whether it be
reading the scriptures, changing diapers, or feeding the pets.
Facebook post from February 5, 2017
The Lord Blesses Those Who Keep The Sabbath Day Holy
After speaking of that which is appropriate to do on the Sabbath, the Lord
said: "And inasmuch as ye do these things
with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much
laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—Verily
I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours,
the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth
upon the trees and walketh upon the earth; Yea, and the herb, and the good
things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for
houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards."
As the Lord stated, "The sabbath was made for
man, and not man for the sabbath" (Mark 2:27). This day
is day that has been set apart for our benefit. We should approach
it with the attitude of our Jewish brothers and sisters, "...to
those who observe Shabbat, it is a precious gift from G-d, a day of great
joy eagerly awaited throughout the week, a time when we can set aside all
of our weekday concerns and devote ourselves to higher pursuits."
The attitude of my parents and grandparents has had
great influence on my life. I know that appropriate Sabbath day activities
make a difference in one's life. As a teenager, and continuing through
college, I made a commitment to not study or do school work on Sunday. Only once from high school through college did I study on Sunday. My grades never suffered from not studying on the Sabbath. I have
never accepted employment on Sunday and I have always been able to provide
for my family. Living the Sabbath is a great blessing. We only
deny ourselves those blessings when we fail to keep the Sabbath day holy.
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the Lord's admonition to keep the Sabbath Day
holy. What can you do in your life to more fully "observe" and "remember"?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth by
Robert H. Millet.
Conference Reports (CR).
Decisions for Successful Living by Harold B. Lee.
Doctrine & Covenants Commentary by Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl.
Doctrines of Salvation by Joseph Fielding Smith.
History of the Church (HC).
Judaism 101, online encyclopedia
Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
07 April 2017