The Signs of the Times, vol. 15


August 26, 1889

“Extent of the Sabbath Commandment” The Signs of the Times, 15, 33.

E. J. Waggoner

Although there is no limitation either in the Sabbath commandment as spoken from Mt. Sinai, or as recorded in Genesis 2:1-3, the fact that many claim that it was limited in its application, makes it necessary for us to consider the question, For whom was the Sabbath sanctified? or, in other words, who were commanded to keep the Sabbath holy? When we consider that the day was sanctified, i.e., appointed or commanded, in Eden, there can be but one answer: The commandment was given to those then living. It is not possible that it could have been otherwise. But the account here is anticipative, and the holy Sabbath was then sanctified for the use of some future generation. For to every commandment there must be two parties; the one commanding and the one commanded. A command cannot be made unless someone is present to receive it. In this case God issued the command, and Adam and Eve were the ones to whom it was directed. But they represented all who should afterward live upon the earth. See Genesis 3:20. If follows, then, that the Sabbath commandment embraces the whole world; all who have descended from Adam and Eve. SITI August 26, 1889, page 472.33

In harmony with this conclusion we have the words of our Saviour, in Mark 2:27. “The Sabbath was made for man.” This can mean nothing less than the whole human race, for the word “man,” when used without any limiting word, means “mankind; the totality of men.” When the word is limited, it means man to the exclusion of women; and no one will claim that the women of whatever race or class of people to whom the commandment is given are not under obligation to keep the Sabbath. No one will be found bold enough to claim that the word “man” in Mark 2:27 has a different meaning from what it has in Genesis 1:27; 2:7. SITI August 26, 1889, page 472.34

It is also most evident from the Scriptures that God designed to have the Sabbath kept by all men in all parts of the world. Christ said that “the Sabbath was made for man,” and the inspired apostle declared that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Acts 17:26. The God who made the round earth, and made all men to dwell on all the face of it, also made the Sabbath for man-all men-to keep as his holy day. What further evidence is needed to show that God designs that “all men everywhere” should keep the Sabbath. SITI August 26, 1889, page 472.35

This being the case, it is manifestly improper to speak of the Sabbath as the “Jewish Sabbath,” for it belongs to no special class of men. It belongs to no man at all, but is the property of God; he claims it as his own. See the commandment, also Isaiah 58:13. If men, regardless of the commandment, choose to rest on some other day, they may call it their Sabbath, or give it any name they please; but “the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord.” There is just as much difference between keeping man’s Sabbath and the Sabbath of the Lord as there is between worshiping man and worshiping God. SITI August 26, 1889, page 472.36

We see that the commandment, as given at creation and renewed on Sinai, furnishes no warrant whatever to the idea that the Sabbath was to be local, or was given simply to the Jews. Not only this, but even in the Old Testament it is expressly stated that the Sabbath was not designed for the Jews alone. Thus we read: “Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.... Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.” Isaiah 56:2, 6, 7. SITI August 26, 1889, page 472.37

The position of the commandment in the law of God is also enough of itself to convince anyone that it is binding upon all men. Even profane persons will admit that it is wrong to take God’s name in vain; and none claim that there is any privileged class who may swear with impunity. The fifth commandment is almost universally disregarded, yet no one thinks of asserting that its obligation does not extend to all mankind. The sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth are admitted to be of universal obligation, yet they are no more emphatic than the fourth, and the penalty for disregarding them is no more severe than that for violating the Sabbath commandment. SITI August 26, 1889, page 472.38

It is true that the Sabbath rests solely on the commandment. This is urged by some as an objection. They say that it was always wrong to kill or to steal, but was not always wrong to break the Sabbath, since the Sabbath did not always exist. Hence they claim that the Sabbath is not moral. To this we reply (1) that the Sabbath has existed ever since day and night existed; (2) that God has always been the Supreme Being, and it always has been wrong to disobey him. Therefore, whenever he issues a command it is man’s moral duty to obey. (3) The Lord claims the Sabbath as his own; he calls it “my holy day;” he has set bounds about it, and forbidden man to trespass upon it; he warns us not to venture to take it for our own use. Now if we violate this commandment, we take that which is not our own, and are guilty of theft, a thing which is admitted by all to be immoral. Many other proofs might be adduced to show the morality of the fourth commandment. SITI August 26, 1889, page 472.39

But although “the Sabbath was made for man,” it does not thereby become his property, to do with as he pleases. It was made for his use, not for his abuse. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11:9, says that the woman was made for the man. He does not mean that she was made to be the slave of man, who could be taken or put away at his pleasure, as in heathen lands, but that she was made as a help, a blessing to man. So the Sabbath was made for man, i.e., not against him; it was designed to aid him both spiritually and physically. A farmer who has hired servants may, in order to lighten their labor, buy certain tools for them. But no one would suppose that the servants would have any right to sell those tools which their employer had thus purchased. All would understand that he bought them for the servants to use, and to use in his service only. On this subject the “Speaker’s Commentary” uses the following forcible language:- SITI August 26, 1889, page 472.40

“On what principle of legislation can it be maintain that, because law are imposed by the ruler for the benefit of the subject, therefore they may be dispensed with by the subject at his own convenience? This is utterly untenable as regards the laws of man; still more as regards the laws of God.” E. J. W. SITI August 26, 1889, page 472.41