Table of Contents
The Seventh Day Sabbath
God instituted the seventh day Sabbath at the very beginning – 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).
People may reason that the benefits of the Sabbath could be reaped in another day. However, God has specified a specific day – the seventh day as a memorial of His creative acts. The seventh day is akin to celebrating the birthday of the world. This fact can’t be changed. No other day could fulfill that purpose. It is similar to celebrating a person’s birthday on the specific day he was born.
After the fall of man, the Sabbath was also known when the plan of salvation was offered to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15). The Bible defines sin as “the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Man could not have known sin without the law. Paul explains, “Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet” (Romans 7:7). How could man ask for forgiveness by shedding the blood of animals if he didn’t know what is sin? Therefore, the Lord made sure from the very beginning that His children knew His Laws which included the Sabbath commandment.
The weekly seventh day Sabbath has often been taken as an institution of the Jewish dispensation, but the Bible declares that it was instituted more than two millenniums before the first Israelite was born. Jesus Himself declared, “The sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27), which indicates clearly that this institution was not ordained for the Jews only but for all mankind as well.
From the early times, people knew God’s unchanging laws (Psalms 111:7, 8). For example, Abraham diligently observed all of God’s laws, whether they came directly from God or whether they had been handed down from past generations. The Bible states “Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Genesis 26:5).
Before the Ten Commandments
The Bible teaches that Israel did keep the seventh day holy before the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandment. The instruction given about gathering the Manna is evidence to that. The Israelites 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). Thus, the Miracle of Manna Reinforced the Seventh Day Sacredness. This is the clear evidence that the Sabbath was not first instituted, as some claim, when the Ten Commandments were given at Sinai.
After the Ten Commandments
In Sinai, the Lord reaffirmed the sanctity of the seventh day Sabbath when He gave the Ten Commandments. The fourth commandment stated, “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).
The word “remember” in the fourth commandment shows its earlier existence (Exodus 16:22–28). It points us back to a perfect world at the creation of the world (Genesis 1:31; 2:1–3), and reminds us of the future time when the Lord will again “make all things new” (Revelation 21:5).
The Eternal Sign
The Lord said, “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). And He called the Sabbath, “my holy day” (Isaiah 58:13). The observance of the Sabbath is then a mark, or sign, that he who honors the day acknowledges Jehovah as his God.
The observance of the seventh day Sabbath testifies not only to faith in God as the Creator of all things, but also to faith in His power to transform the life and qualify men and women for entering into that eternal “rest” He originally intended for the inhabitants of this earth. The Sabbath, thus, bears witness both to the creative and to the sanctifying power of God.
The Blessing of the Sabbath
Christians who make the Sabbath what God intended it to be, enter into a intimate fellowship with the Him. And 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” (Isaiah 58:13). Material as well as spiritual blessings are promised to those who enter fully into the spirit of the Sabbath (Matthew 6:33).
The Sabbath in the New Testament
Jesus, our supreme example, while on earth made it His custom to keep the seventh day Sabbath by attending worship services (Luke 4:16). He declared, “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8). He also said that He didn’t come to destroy the law, but to fill it to the fullest spiritual meaning. He emphatically declared that not one “jot or title” would be changed until heaven and earth pass away (Matthew 5:17,18). And He prophesied that His follower would still be observing His sacred weekly Sabbath day (Matthew 24:20).
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 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 the weekly seventh day Sabbath.
The End-Time Test
The prophecies of Revelation 12–14 tell us clearly that the seventh day Sabbath will be a subject of controversy in the end times (its the commandment that has been broken by the Christian world). God’s remnant will be identified by their observance of the commandments of God (Revelation 12:17; 14:12), including the Sabbath commandment.
At the same time, the antichrist power will exalt a false sabbath and demand allegiance to it. Men will be called upon to decide between the Sabbath of the Lord and the substitute sabbath, or the first day of the week. The keeping of the Sabbath will thus become a distinguishing test and constitute a sign of God’s children.
Also see: What is the Mark of the Beast?
For more on the Sabbath, please check (Lessons 91-102) of the Bible Lessons.
In His service,