There are some people who were born into Sabbath keeping families. There are some people who have always been surrounded by Sabbath keeping people. Their friends and relatives all keep the Sabbath, and always have. It is much easier for those people to "remember the Sabbath" as per the fourth commandment. Those people don't have a weight on their hearts, that only newcomers to the Sabbath must carry. That weight is the uncertainty that many of us "new comers" have when we think of our friends and family who have died, while not believing in, nor keeping the Sabbath. We have had people in our lives who we believe were sincere "Godly" people who we know wanted to serve God. However, these people didn't observe the Sabbath. This "Sabbath thing" can't be right, or those friends and family aren't going to be in the kingdom of God. Therefore, we don't need to keep the Sabbath either. Right?
I can hear my mother saying those old familiar words: "if all of your friends leaped off of a bridge, would you jump also?" If you are reading this article and have this "weight on your heart", let me first say that you have a legitimate question that deserves a Biblical answer. It is a topic that is often avoided, but deserves serious attention. Let me also say right from the beginning that our loved ones may have had a safety net waiting when they jumped. A safety net that may not be waiting for us, if you or I, take that same leap.
One thing that anyone who believes in God must agree upon is that God is just. God is fair to us all. From time to time we all fail God. When that happens, we all know what to do. We confess our sin to God and we repent. We turn away from doing that sin any longer. But what happens when we commit a sin and are completely unaware that we have sinned? This is the situation that I suspect all people will find themselves in on judgment day. I suspect that everyone who has ever lived has committed a trespass against God that they are completely and utterly unaware of. Will God then condemn all of mankind? Is this the action of a just God? Will God punish us all for sins that we had no idea that we committed?
The Bible tells us very early on, that it is possible to sin out of ignorance. Sinning out of ignorance is such an important topic, that chapters 4 and 5 in the book of Leviticus deal exclusively with this topic. Leviticus tells early Israel how to atone for their sins through the sacrifice of animals. Christians know that we no longer sacrifice animals because Christ is our sacrifice. However, we can still learn a great deal by reading Leviticus.
Lev 4:13 And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty; Lev 4:14 When the sin, which they have sinned against it, is known, then the congregation shall offer a young bullock for the sin, and bring him before the tabernacle of the congregation.
These verses show that it is possible for an entire congregation to sin through ignorance. It also shows that the congregation is guilty of the sin even before they know that they have sinned. It is only after they become knowledgeable of the sin, that they are able to do anything about it. Then they are instructed to bring the sacrifice.
Lev 4:15 And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the LORD: and the bullock shall be killed before the LORD. Lev 4:16 And the priest that is anointed shall bring of the bullock's blood to the tabernacle of the congregation: Lev 4:17 And the priest shall dip his finger in some of the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the LORD, even before the vail. Lev 4:18 And he shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar which is before the LORD, that is in the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall pour out all the blood at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Lev 4:19 And he shall take all his fat from him, and burn it upon the altar.
Next comes the really good part
Lev 4:20 And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.
The priest shall make atonement for them and the sin shall be forgiven. Our Priest is Christ Jesus. Our sacrifice is Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus will make atonement for our sins, including those we committed out of ignorance. Many people who have failed to obey the 4th commandment, have failed to do so out of ignorance. Their sin which was committed out of ignorance will be forgiven. The thing we must ask ourselves before we leap off the bridge after them is this: are we ignorant of the Sabbath or have we hardened our heart towards the Sabbath?
Friends and Family Sinning out of Ignorance
This article examines the topic of friends and family who fail to keep the Sabbath.
What happens to my friends and family who died not observing the Sabbath?
By Robby Lockeby