Sunday Laws Are an Opportunity
Sunday laws are coming. The harbingers of their arrival are already visible today. What will we Sabbathkeepers do when they arrive?
I would like to share a portion of one of Sister White’s letters with you, which is on this subject. There is some very valuable insight in it that will soon be of great value to us.
The light given me by the Lord at a time when we were expecting just such a crisis as you seem to be approaching was that, when people were moved by a power from beneath to enforce Sunday observance, Seventh-day Adventists were to show their wisdom by refraining from work on that day, devoting it to missionary effort.
To defy the Sunday laws will but strengthen in their persecution the religious zealots who are seeking to enforce them. Give them no occasion to call you lawbreakers. If they are left to rein up men who fear neither God nor man, the reining up will soon lose its novelty for them, and they will see that it is not consistent nor convenient for them to be strict in regard to the observance of Sunday. Keep right on with your work, with your Bibles in your hands, and the enemy will see that he has worsted his own cause. One does not receive the mark of the beast because he shows that he realizes the wisdom of keeping the peace by refraining from work that gives offense, doing at the same time a work of the highest importance.
When we devote Sunday to missionary work, the whip will be taken out of the hands of the arbitrary zealots who would be well pleased to humiliate Seventh-day Adventists. When they see that we employ ourselves on Sunday in visiting the people and opening the Scriptures to them, they will know that it is useless for them to try to hinder our work by making Sunday laws.
When a man, white or black, is arrested for Sundaybreaking, he is placed at a great disadvantage. He is humiliated. And it is well nigh hopeless for him to obtain a fair trial. Often when Sabbathkeepers in the Southern states are arrested for working on Sunday, they are sent to the chain gang where they are forced to work on the Sabbath. The Lord does not counsel them to place themselves where they are obliged to dishonor His holy rest day.
Our churches should understand the methods to be used in avoiding this difficulty. Sunday can be used for carrying forward various lines of work that will accomplish much for the Lord. On this day open-air meetings and cottage meetings can be held. House-to-house work can be done. Those who write can devote this day to writing their articles. Whenever it is possible, let religious services be held on Sunday. Make these meetings intensely interesting. Sing genuine revival hymns, and speak with power and assurance of the Saviour’s love. Speak on temperance and on true religious experience. You will thus learn much about how to work and will reach many souls.
Let the teachers in our schools devote Sunday to missionary effort. I was instructed that they would thus be able to defeat the purposes of the enemy. Let the teachers take the students with them to hold meetings for those who know not the truth. Thus they will accomplish much more than they could in any other way. […]
The law for the observance of the first day of the week is the production of an apostate Christendom. Sunday is a child of the papacy, exalted by the Christian world above the sacred day of God’s rest. In no case are God’s people to pay it homage. But I wish them to understand that they are not doing God’s will by braving opposition when He wishes them to avoid it. Thus they create prejudice so bitter that it is impossible for the truth to be proclaimed. Make no demonstrations on Sunday in defiance of law. If this is done in one place, and you are humiliated, the same thing will be done in another place. We can use Sunday as a day on which to carry forward work that will tell on the side of Christ. We are to do our best, working with all meekness and lowliness.
— E. G. White, Letter 132, 1902
I believe the above makes it clear that we are to devote the first day of the week to evangelism. So does the rest of the letter, which I highly recommend reading. Therefore, any and all religious services we hold on Sundays should be for the express purpose of reaching others. In other words, what Sister White is recommending is not to hold regular worship meetings for the church on Sunday. This is exactly the mistake that led the early Christian church down the path to giving up the Sabbath entirely. Sadly, it is also a mistake we see happening in some churches today. Accepting the mark of the beast is the last thing we want to do!
It is certainly possible to hold evangelistic meetings right in our own churches, as it is the most convenient way. However, if our governments close our churches, we will need alternatives. Sister White gave three very good ideas above: open-air meetings, visiting people in their homes and inviting people into our own homes (“cottage meetings”). Of course, this is not the limit, but other options would probably be difficult, or at least cost money; so, these three are the methods that most of us would most likely need to use.
There isn’t much time left before the “years of famine” will come (Genesis 41; Amos 8:11-12). (Not that there will be exactly seven years, but history will repeat itself.) Now is the time to store up God’s Word in our hearts and submit ourselves to His refining fire; this is the only way to prepare for the straightness to come. Let us wrestle with God and let Him purge the world from our lives. Let us take advantage of the very Sunday laws they mean to stop us with to advance God’s cause. Thus we may stand firm in the time of trouble!
Related: Get Ready, Get Ready, Get Ready!