Sabbath in the News
The selection of Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman to be the Democratic vice-presidential candidate this year has placed the Jewish faith in general and the Sabbath in particular in the headlines. During the week which followed Lieberman's selection, the media abounded in reports about Lieberman's strict Sabbath observance. For example, it has been reported that he refused in 1988 to attend his own nomination for the U.S. Senate at the Democratic State Convention in Connecticut, because it was held on a Friday night. In 12 years as a United States Senator, he has voted only 75 times on the Sabbathon occasions he deemed to be national emergencies and errands of mercy. He has stated that in the coming election, as in previous elections, he will not campaign on the Sabbath.
Most significant perhaps for Adventists, when interviewed on CNN's "Larry King Live" on Tuesday evening, August 8, Lieberman was asked by Larry King (who is also Jewish) why he observed the Sabbath. Lieberman replied that this is because the Sabbath is a memorial of God's creation.
This newsletter takes no position on political candidates or issues. It seems, however, that the Lord is using the witness of Senator Lieberman for his Jewish faith as a means of drawing attention to the Bible Sabbath at this time, especially when we consider the Pope's recent comments on this issue. We can only pray that men and women will be led to inquire what in fact the Sabbath is, when it is, and why it matters.
Another point worthy of mention is that in a recent issue of a liberal Adventist magazine (Seventh-day Adventists also observe the seventh-day Sabbath), it was alleged that Adventists lose influence with the larger world through strict observance of the Sabbath, refusing to attend various meetings and conferences held on Sabbath, etc. The witness of Senator Liebermans's life and his own adherence to the Sabbath, and the favorable way this adherence has been noted by the media, gives little comfort to those who believe more ambiguity is the key to greater influence and credibility in Christian witness.
The following inspired statement again comes to mind:
"Our people have been regarded as too insignificant to be worthy of notice; but a change will come. The Christian world is now making movements which will necessarily bring commandment-keeping people into prominence. . . . Every position of our faith will be searched into; and if we are not thorough Bible students, established, strengthened, and settled, the wisdom of the world's great men will lead us astray" (Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 546).
"Many will have to stand in the legislative courts; some will have to stand before kings and before the learned of the earth, to answer for their faith" (Our High Calling, p. 355).
Senator Lieberman has witnessed for his faith and for the Sabbath without flinching and without shame. How many Christians who "remember" the seventh-day Sabbath are prepared to do likewise?
Death on the Great Lines of Travel
The first crash on July 25 of a Concorde jet in Paris reminded the world yet again of the frailty of modern technology and convenience. The collision of two small planes in New Jersey on August 9, and the derailment of a light train in Maryland on August 15, reinforce the pattern of the past few years as we have seen numerous accidents by air and rail, unexpected and disastrous.
Again we recall the prediction of inspiration regarding such events:
"Disasters by rail will become more and more frequent; confusion, collision, and death without a moment's warning will occur on the great lines of travel. The end is near, probation is closing. Oh, let us seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near!" (Messages to Young People, p. 90).
Fire, Flood, and Earthquake
Late July and early August saw earthquakes off the west coast of Mexico and even in such an unlikely place as Ohio. On August 8 floods devastated southeast Asia, leaving one million homeless. Toward the middle of August floods again struck the state of New Jersey.
Simultaneously, wildfires on a scale unknown in past history continue, as we go to press, to destroy millions of acres in 13 Western states. The Governor of Montana spoke on CNN of how nothing like this has ever happened in history, and that "unless the good Lord intervenes," this destruction could continue for several more months.
Inspiration has recorded:
"We are standing on the threshold of the crisis of the ages. In quick succession the judgments of God will follow one anotherfire, and flood, and earthquake, with war and bloodshed. We are not to be surprised at this time by events both great and decisive; for the angel of mercy cannot remain much longer to shelter the impenitent" (Prophets and Kings, p. 278).