Table of Contents
The Institution of the Sabbath at Creation
About God’s holy day, Genesis describes the origin of the seventh day Sabbath in these words: “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done. … Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:1-3).
God specifically sanctified the seventh day holy by resting. Could any of the other six days be kept holy? No, the seventh day has God’s blessing. The seventh day is similar to celebrating the birthday of the world, a memorial of God’s creative act. Similarly, a person celebrates his birthday on the day he was born. The Sabbath memorial could never be changed because it points back to an established fact in history.
The Seventh Day Sabbath Before Sinai
For 40 years God worked three miracles every week to show Israel which day was holy (Exodus 16). He rained manna from heaven for His people to eat. And the manna did not fall on the seventh day. Although it spoiled if kept overnight, it remained fresh when kept over the seventh day.
The Bible record tells us, “Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?” (Exodus 16:27, 28). Those who went out to work on the Sabbath to gather manna were guilty of breaking His law. And God immediately and clearly declared that they were guilty.
God would say the same thing today because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). “I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). God blessed the seventh day and man has no right to change that day. When we do, we are breaking God’s command and are guilty of breaking the whole law (James 2:10, 11).
The Sabbath Commandment at Sinai
At Sinai, the Lord gave His Ten Commandments to His people. The fourth commandment states, “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. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11).
The Sabbath command divides the week into two parts: (1) “six days shalt thou … do all thy work,” (2) “the seventh day … thou shalt not do any work.” And why this prohibition of work on “the seventh day”? Because it is a “sabbath of the Lord.” Thus, “the seventh day” is uniquely God’s rest day. Finally, “the seventh day” as God’s rest day is made clear in the opening words of the command: “Remember the sabbath [rest] day, to keep it holy.”
God called the Sabbath “My Holy day.” He promised, “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).
The Sabbath is a sign that the Lord is our sanctifier. “Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them” (Ezekiel 20:12). The keeping of the seventh day Sabbath is then a mark that he who honors the day recognizes the Creator as his God, for only to Him do these facts of creation apply. No other day could qualify as such a sign.
For more on the Sabbath, please check (Lessons 91-102) of the Bible Lessons.
In His service,