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Dangerous Sabbath Keeping?

Dangerous Sabbath Keeping?
Jehoshua Gross was determined to keep the Sabbath holy—at any cost. The twenty-seven-year-old devout Jew from London was running late to make it home before sundown on Friday night, the beginning of his day of worship.

Speeding down the freeway for “prolonged periods,” Gross crashed into the back of a truck. But the accident didn’t stop the determined Sabbath keeper. He kept on driving, often on the shoulder to pass vehicles. Some parts of his car even fell off before another motorist informed police and he was stopped and arrested. He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, was banned from driving for fifteen months, and was fined over $500.

While Gross’ desire to honor the Sabbath might be admirable, his method of carrying out his conviction was questionable—especially as he put people’s lives at risk. The Bible does not always give us detailed steps on how to keep God’s law. We read the basic principle in the commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 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 20:8–10).

Most people in modernized societies like London do not have servants or cattle. So we must take the general principles of Scripture and apply them today. While secular labor is clearly forbidden on the Sabbath, the teaching does not mean total inactivity. There are many examples in the Bible of caring for the needs and alleviating the suffering of both humans and animals. (See Exodus 23:12; Matthew 12:10–13; Mark 2:27; etc.).

Sabbath keepers will certainly honor God’s holy day by avoiding secular recreation and secular work. Different circumstances shape exactly how this is applied. When Jesus was accused of “breaking” the Sabbath, He was setting aside only the traditions of religious leaders, not God’s law. Traditions do not always honor the heart of the Sabbath commandment.

Perhaps the best thing for Jehoshua Gross would be to plan ahead. Putting his family and others at risk by reckless driving does not honor God. Better to apologize to his family, drive home safely, and determine to make better plans for keeping the Sabbath holy.

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