«Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set» (Proverbs 22:28).
One of the most uncomfortable moments of my childhood happened on Sabbath afternoons. I could hardly do anything except stay put like a statue. According to my dear grandmother—a pure-bred Adventist—on that day everything was forbidden: could not play with my toys, watch TV, run, ride my bike, or read anything other than the Bible. In La Paz (Mexico), the evening heat is particularly overwhelming, especially during the summer, where temperatures reach 1130 F. So on Saturday afternoons, I looked like a caged lion, circling all over the place, not knowing what to do.
At times like that, I asked my grandmother several times what the reason was for why I could not participate in certain activities on the Sabbath. Then she would looked at me with flaming eyes and a frown on her face, and say, «Because God says so!» I would nod with my head as I looked at her with fear. And while I was a child, that answer was enough for me not to insist on the subject.
But when I became an adolescent, that question began to pierce my mind. I spent several Saturday afternoons wondering what God was gaining from me being a suture. What was the purpose of that mandate? The truth is that I did not find any meaning in it. There had to be something behind it. The years passed and, after several readings on the subject, one day I finally understood one of the purposes of the divine mandate: «But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates- (Exodus 20:10). Of course! The Sabbath was a pedagogical element to illustrate salvation by faith in the future Messiah, because, to be saved, one cannot do •any work» Every Sabbath, the Hebrews learned firsthand the great truth of justification by faith, that is, the only way to obtain salvation is to accept the blessed gift of Heaven: «Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other» (Isaiah 45:22). From that moment on, the Sabbath took on a very special meaning for me.
I believe that before attacking and breaking down the legacy of our ancestors, it is very important to understand its meaning. Sometimes time seems to erase the sense of certain spiritual practices. So the solution is not to destroy, modify, or displace the biblical mandates, but to find their meaning for our time now.