Mormons, Evangelicals and some other Christian faiths are pretty persnickety about the commandment to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. The Pharisees with whom Jesus Christ often contended subscribed to rigid Sabbath practices that served as “hedges” against sin. Not only did they implement the commandments, they set up rules and rituals around the commandments that made them virtually unbreakable. These hedges also inhibited the development of human wisdom through the real-world application of the spirit of the law. Jesus Christ was revolutionary–and the Pharisees hated and feared Him–because He actually preached common sense, thus rejecting the contrived hedges built up by Jewish leaders over the centuries that preceded His advent.
The book of Matthew, chapter 12, relates how on the Sabbath day Jesus grew hungry and found some grain in a field and plucked and ate it. According to the draconian Pharisaical rules, that was a sin. But Jesus compared his snack of grain to David’s partaking of shewbread in the Temple, not to defile the House of God or break the law, but simply to address the nagging hunger of a man going about the work of God. The Lord angered the smug Pharisees by reiterating that He was greater than their temple and the furnishings and rituals with which they filled it.
Jesus went on to infuriate the Pharisees by healing a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath day. Picking and munching on grain was enough to incense the Pharisees. The Lord putting forth His effort to heal on the Sabbath probably made their heads explode. But Jesus Christ, always the teacher, used these acts as object lessons to exemplify the higher law; the Law of Love with which He supplanted the austere and unfriendly Law of Moses. The Lord went on to use a common farm animal to illustrate an act that was completely appropriate if danger necessitated great physical exertion on the Sabbath day.
11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days.
People of faith who observe the Sabbath still need to occasionally pull a sheep out of a pit. The “one sheep” of the Lord’s parable represented the literal wealth and livelihoods of the people of that time. As a Mormon, I have participated is some heavy Sabbath day lifting myself, necessitated by events such as natural disasters. During the 1994 floods in East Texas, for instance, Mormons in that area mobilized for a number of weeks to help people retrieve their possessions and find safe and dry housing. Sunday meetings were cancelled and we toiled day and night to get the affected families to a condition of normalcy. Natural disasters, personal losses, sickness, and even some minor issues like car problems are represented by the proverbial sheep in the pit. All human exigencies which can be remedied by a little compassion, time, and elbow grease are acceptable to the Lord of the Sabbath if performed with a reverent heart and an eye single to His glory.
October 2012 has been a time of exigency for our nation. Wicked men in government, a complacent electorate, and an epidemic of cultural and institutional corruption have deposited our national sheep into a very deep pit. We are nearing the culminating moment of decades of cultural and political stagnation, fiscal debt accumulation, and the accumulation of moral debt by our people in the forms of depravity, abortion, secularism, and shacking up. November 6, 2012 will determine whether or not our sheep survives its fall into the pit. We are working hard, day in and day out, and Sabbath day too, to ensure that our livelihoods, liberty, and moral authority survive the onslaught of a century of sin and darkness.
The break of protocol by the Mormon Church, indicated by the scores of volunteers from BYU pouring into the battleground states of Colorado and Nevada to campaign both Saturdays and Sundays for Mitt Romney, is the exertion that is acceptable to the Lord when the essence of one’s substance and independence are at stake. The election of 2012 is unlike any other election cycle I’ve been involved with. And I started by campaigning for Nixon when I was in 6th grade. Few would disagree that America is at a tipping point. Either we pull our sheep out of the pit now, or we watch it die. If we fail to put forth our greatest exertions to save that which is dear to us, the consequences will be ours to bear. The Lord gave us the example of work. He gave us the example of love. He gave us our moral agency. And He will fight this battle with us. Onward Christian soldiers, and sheep farmers.
by Marjorie Haun 10/28/12