Did the Israelites keep the seventh day Sabbath before they were given the Ten Commandments?

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The instruction given about gathering the Manna is evidence that the Israelites kept the seventh day sabbath before they were given the Ten Commandments. They were instructed to gather daily an omer for every person; and they were not to leave of it until the morning. Some attempted to keep a supply until the next day, but it was then found to be unfit for eating (Exodus 16:20).

On the sixth day the people were instructed to gather two omers instead of just one as in the rest of the days. Moses said, “Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’ ” So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it. Then Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none” (Exodus 16:22-26).

Every week during their 40 years in the wilderness, the Israelites witnessed a threefold miracle, intended to teach them the sacredness of the Sabbath: a double amount of manna fell on the sixth day, nothing on the seventh, and the serving needed for the Sabbath was preserved without getting spoiled, when if any were kept over at any other time it became unfit for eating.

In the circumstances tied with the giving of the manna, there is the clear evidence that the Sabbath was not first instituted, as some claim, when the Ten Commandments were given at Sinai. In being instructed to gather every Friday a double portion of manna in preparation for the Sabbath, when none would fall, the sacred nature of the day of rest was repeatedly taught to them. And when some of them went out on the Sabbath to gather manna, the Lord said to them, “How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws?” (Exodus 16:28).

The Bible tells us that the Sabbath observance was instituted at the very beginning of time – at creation: “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). And God requires that His holy day be as sacredly observed now as it was in the beginning (Matthew 5:17,18).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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