Reminiscent of Eric Liddell’s decision not to run at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris (popularized by the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire
), two students from Peruvian Union University refused to compete on a Saturday during the National University Games in Chiclayo in the summer of 2016.According to one report,
“The move surprised officials as well as those on the 34 other teams competing in the annual event. Two Adventist runners were qualified for finals in the 100 meter flat races, one having beat the previous national record. While the organizers of the games attempted to accommodate the Adventist students’ schedule—surely a gracious gesture—rules dictated the events proceed as scheduled.”
Instead of competing on Saturday, the young men worshiped with others at a local Sabbath-keeping church. The next day, the Adventist team competed in the 4 x 100 meters event and won second place, receiving a silver medal. The other thirty-four teams were astonished at the Sabbath keepers who put God first.
The Bible teaches us to honor God’s holy day. One of the major problems that Isaiah the prophet addressed was the tendency for people to trust in themselves instead of in God. Note his message from the Lord which highlights honoring the Sabbath:
“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 58:13, 14).
God is honored when His people choose activities that lead them closer to their Creator on the Sabbath. The Lord asks us to set aside secular pursuits one day a week in order to acknowledge our allegiance to Him. Such Sabbath keeping is not a burden, but a delight and serves as a witness to the world.
What an inspiration to see these young Peruvian men uphold God’s Sabbath and be blessed with a silver medal. Though the award they received will someday perish, the testimony they gave will last for eternity. Surely these students ran “on the high hills of the earth” (verse 14) for the glory of God and not their own.
Learn more about honoring the Sabbath in this video presentation called “How to Keep the Sabbath