The Seventh Day of the Week is the Sabbath of the Lord

The Seventh Day of the Week is the Sabbath of the Lord



THE word man, when used in its broadest sense, means all mankind. “Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labor.” Psalm 104:23. “So man lieth down, and riseth not; till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.” Job 14:12. Labor and death is the lot of the entire fallen race. In this sense “the Sabbath was made for man” — for the entire race of mankind — Adam and all his posterity. SDSL 1.1

The Pharisees charged the disciples of our Lord with Sabbath-breaking, for simply plucking the “ears of corn” as they passed through the field on the Sabbath, and were hungry. See Matthew 12:1. “Behold,” said they, “why do they on the Sabbath-day that which is not lawful?” They mistook the real design of the Sabbath, and viewed the institution in a wrong light; as if man was made to serve the Sabbath; that it was a burden to him, and not adapted to his wants. This error our Lord corrects when he says, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” The Sabbath is perfectly adapted to man’s condition. His physical and spiritual wants require rest and a day to devote to the special service of God. SDSL 1.2

The record of the institution of the Sabbath is in Genesis 2:2, 3. “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” SDSL 2.1

Notice the order of the events of the first week of time. First, the creation in six days; second, God rested from the work of creation on the seventh day; and, third, he sanctified and blessed the day in which he had rested. It is evident that God resting on the seventh day did not make it holy; for after he had rested through the entire day, he then “blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested.” To sanctify is “to separate, set apart, or appoint to a holy, sacred, or religious use.” In doing this to the seventh day, at the close of the first week of time, God made the Sabbath “for man.” SDSL 2.2

“Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.” Exodus 20:8-10. This is the great Sabbath law. It is associated with nine other moral precepts, whose perpetuity is universally acknowledged. It lies in the very bosom of the decalogue. We here call attention to several points of interest:— SDSL 2.3

1. Sabbath signifies Rest. Substitute the word Rest for Sabbath, and the commandment becomes very clear — “Remember the Rest-day to keep it holy. [Certainly some particular day is denoted; for it is the Rest-day, not a Rest-day.] Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Rest of the Lord thy God,” etc. We have seen the record in Genesis 2:2, 3, that God rested on the seventh day. That day, and no other day of the week, was his Rest-day. The fourth commandment requires that his Rest-day should be remembered and kept holy; therefore the seventh day, and no other day of the week, is the Rest, or Sabbath of the Lord our God. Those who would observe the first, or either of the other days of the week in which God wrought in the creation, may claim that they keep a rest-day; but it is not the Rest-day of the fourth commandment. The Rest-day of the Lord is the very day in which the Lord rested. Hence we see that the Sabbath law is based upon the events of the first week of time. SDSL 3.1

2. This commandment points back over a period of 2500 years to creation for the reasons, and the only reasons given in the Bible, for the institution of the Sabbath, which are as follows:— (1) “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, (2) and rested the seventh day; (3) wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it.” Verse 11. How natural the conclusion that the existence of the institution dates from, and runs parallel with, the given reasons why the institution should exist. How absurd the idea that the Jews were the only people whose attention should be called to God’s work of creation and his holy Rest! How much, rather, to be admired is the doctrine of the Lord:— “The Sabbath was made for man.” SDSL 3.2

3. The fourth commandment declares that “the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day and hallowed it.” When did God bless the seventh-day? At creation. Have we any record that he again hallowed it at a later period? None. Then what did God bless at creation? “The Sabbath-day.” The great Law-giver here recognizes the seventh day as the Sabbath, and gives it this name, at the very time he sanctified and blessed it at the close of the first week. SDSL 4.1

The institution of the Sabbath at creation is not affected by the fact that there is no direct testimony respecting its observance recorded in the book of Genesis. Nor is it very strange when we consider that the history of nearly 2500 years is summed up in its fifty chapters, and that the life of him who was deemed worthy of translation is stated in the sentence: “Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took him.” No direct mention is made in the book of Genesis of future punishment, the resurrection of the body, the revelation of the Lord in flaming fire, or of the judgment of the great day. Yet it is presumed that no one but a Universalist or a Sadducee would argue from this that these great doctrines were not believed by the Patriarchs. in the absence of direct testimony either way, it is by no means certain that “holy men of old” did not regard the Sabbath. But the fact that they reckoned time by weeks and by sevens of days [Genesis 29:27, 28; 8:10, 12] is no small evidence that they did observe the Sabbath. SDSL 4.2

The reckoning of time by weeks is not derived from anything in nature. The division of time into months might be suggested by the phases of the moon, and the division into years by the returning seasons; but we look in vain to the natural world for something to which we may refer the origin of the custom of reckoning time by weeks. It can be traced to but one source; viz., the six days’ work of creation, and the rest of the seventh. SDSL 5.1

The brief record of the first 2500 years of time touches only the great events of that period. And because the record of that period does not directly speak of the Sabbath, it is supposed by some that it did not then exist, but that it was only a Jewish institution, having its origin at Mount Sinai. We would respectfully call the attention of such to Exodus 16, where the Sabbath is mentioned in connection with the giving of the manna. SDSL 5.2

The Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass that on the sixth day they shall prepare what they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Verses 4, 5. On the sixth day the people gathered a double portion of manna. Then said Moses, “This is that which the Lord hath said, To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord; bake that which ye will bake to-day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over, lay up for you to be kept until the morning. And on the seventh day, Moses said, “Eat that to-day; for to-day is a Sabbath unto the Lord; to-day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days shall ye gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath of the Lord, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? see, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath.” Verses 23-29. SDSL 5.3

All this transpired thirty days before the children of Israel saw Mount Sinai. They departed from Egypt on the fifteenth day of the first month, and came to the wilderness of Sin, where the manna was given, on the fifteenth day of the second month. Exodus 16:1. They then journeyed to Rephidim, and then came to the desert of Sinai on the fifteenth day of the third month. Mark this:— The Lord said to Moses thirty days before the children of Israel saw Mount Sinai, where we are sometimes told that the Sabbath was instituted for the Jews alone, at the giving of the law, “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? see, for that the Lord [will give you the Sabbath in about a month? No.] hath given you the Sabbath.” Thus we see that Exodus 16. furnishes the best of evidence that the Sabbath had not its origin at Sinai. God and Moses speak of it as of an old institution. The children of Israel had been from the house of bondage, where they could not observe the Sabbath, only thirty days when the Lord called their attention to it, and guarded its observance by a three-fold miracle in giving the manna. SDSL 6.1