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Sabbath Basics


The Sabbath originated at the creation of the world: Genesis 1 and 2 reveal that God made our world in six days, “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.” Gen. 2:1-3. Thus God rested upon, blessed, and sanctified the seventh day of the week as a memorial of creation. He didn’t rest upon the seventh day because He was tired or weary, but as an example for man whom He had just created in His own image. Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day (Gen. 1:26, 27), and thus the seventh day would have been their first, full day of being alive in the Garden of Eden. And what a joyful day it was! Their first day was to be a day of grateful rest , so that they could focus on the goodness of their Creator who had just formed them, apart from their own works. Thus the Sabbath day, from the very beginning, points to rest, not works.

The fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-11): After the fall of man, God wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger on two tables of stone (see Ex. 31:18). The Ten Commandments reveal “His will” (see Rom. 2:18) for every descendant of Adam and Eve. 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 NKJV.

Of all the Ten Commandments, the fourth is the only one that starts with the word, “Remember.” Because of the supreme importance of remembering our roots (that we didn’t evolve, but were created “in the image of God”), the Lord wants to make sure that we don’t forget the seventh day Sabbath. The reason for the commandment goes back to creation week. If any of the commandments could be changed (which they can’t), surely it wouldn’t be theonly one God told us to “Remember” and not to forget!

Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath: “As his custom was , He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day [Saturday].” Luke 4:16. Luke wrote that this was Jesus Christ’s regular “custom,” which means He would have kept over 1500 Sabbaths during the 33 years He walked this earth.

The Sabbath remains after the cross: After Jesus Christ died, His followers “rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” Luke 23:56. Thus “the commandment,” meaning the fourth commandment (see Ex. 20:8-11) was still in force after the cross. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., almost forty years after Christ’s crucifixion. Looking ahead to that time, Jesus told His disciples that they should pray that their “flight be not in winter, neither on the Sabbath day.” Matthew 24:20. Many years after Christ’s resurrection, Luke wrote, “And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river.” Acts 16:13. Thus Luke, who was a Gentile, and Paul, who traveled with him, kept the Sabbath day holy far from Jerusalem, in Philippi, which was Gentile territory.

The Sabbath will continue forever: The Sabbath will continue, even into eternity, for Isaiah wrote that even in “the new earth … from one Sabbath to another , shall all flesh come to worship before me, says the Lord.” Isaiah 66:22, 23. This is what God says, not man. We should trust His Word first and foremost.

For more information, read Truth Left Behind by Steve Wohlberg, Sunday: The Origin of Its Observance in the Christian Church, by E.J. Wagonner, or watch the fascinating 5-part TV documentary, The Seventh-day: Revelations from the Lost Pages of History, produced by LLT Productions. All three are now available from White Horse Media. 1-800-78-BIBLE.

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