The Institution of the Sabbath at Creation
God instituted the Sabbath and sanctified it right after the creation of Adam and Eve. “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:2,3). To sanctify, means to set aside as holy.
As God worked through six days and rested on the seventh, so Adam and Eve learned that they should work six days and rest on the seventh. This weekly Sabbath was a divine institution given to our first parents and their descendants. And its observance was required by God, the Lawgiver.
The Purpose of the Sabbath
In order for every love relationship to grow, there must be time set aside to develop that bond. The Sabbath was a time set by God that man may stop his daily work and commune with Him. The Sabbath was given more as a gift than a command. It is like a married couple set special time for a date night so that they may draw closer to each other.
The Breaking of the Law Was Known Since the Beginning
1 John 3:4 tells us that sin is the breaking of the commandments of God. Adam and Eve knew what God required of them and what sin is. And they passed this knowledge to their descendants. When Cain murdered Abel, he knew he committed a sin against God (Genesis 4:10). Later on, we read that Abraham kept all of God’s commands and statues (Genesis 26:5). Also, Joseph knew that it was a sin to commit adultery (Genesis 39:9). And before Sinai, in Exodus 16, the Israelites knew about the Sabbath command even though they were not written on stone yet. And the Lord tested them to see if they would keep His Sabbath command holy.
The Sabbath Re-given in the Ten Commandments
At Sinai, the Sabbath commandment in Exodus 20:8-11 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.” Here, God was reminding them of the Sabbath they were given back at the time of Adam and Eve.
Jesus and the Sabbath
Jesus affirmed the institution of the Sabbath that was given to Adam and Eve and their offspring. He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). This act of blessing the seventh day and declaring it holy was done for the benefit of all the human race. Some claim that the seventh-day Sabbath was given only to the Jews. But the Bible declares that it was instituted more than 2000 years before the existence of Jews.
And Jesus declared Himself Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). And it was His custom to worship on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16). He also stated, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17,18).
Christ expected His followers to be still keeping the Sabbath 40 years after His resurrection when Jerusalem was destroyed at 70 AD. He said, “pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day” (Matthew 24:20).
The Disciples and the Sabbath
Christ’s disciples kept the Sabbath after the Crucifixion and taught the converted Gentiles to keep it as well (Luke 23:56; Acts 13:14, 42-44; 16:13; 18:4). There is no suggestion anywhere in the Scriptures that Jesus, His Father, or the apostles ever—at any time changed the holy seventh day Sabbath to any other day.
The apostle Paul taught that the Sabbaths that were abolished at the cross, were the 7 yearly Jewish feast days (Colossians 2:14-17; Ephesians 2:15). These were also called sabbaths (Leviticus 23). These were in addition to, or “besides the Sabbaths of the Lord” (Leviticus 23:38), or seventh day Sabbath. Their main significance was in foreshadowing, or pointing to, the cross and ended at the cross.
The Sabbath Through Eternity
If the Sabbath was never given to Adam and Eve and was only intended for the Jews up until the cross, then why did the emperor Constantine think to change the Sabbath to Sunday in March of 321? If the Sabbath was only for the Jews and done away with at the cross why was this not shared information to the Roman church 300 years after the crucifixion? The truth is that Adam and Eve certainly kept the Sabbath and it was re-given at Sinai. It was a sign between God and man (Ezekiel 20:20). It’s observance was affirmed by Christ, all the prophets, and the disciples. Adam and Eve and all of their descendants will keep the Sabbath throughout eternity (Isaiah 66:23).
In His service,