Doesn’t the observance of the Sabbath predate Israel?


I read that response the only problem is that the Sabbath was instituted way before there were Jews and Gentiles, back in Genesis 2:1-2. Therefore, it wasn't given just to the Israelites but to all humankind to enjoy and celebrate the creation of the Earth by God. I could be wrong, but were Adam and Eve Israelites? I thought Jews came with Abraham and his seed. Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. He didn't say it was made for Jews or Israelites only but for all man. After all your response even you said it was a memorial of creation. Isn't that something we all are involved in, or was it just the Israelites? Please write me back very interested in your response. I wish to know the truth.


If you are truly interested in truth, then you must be consistent in your observations. "All of your words are truth. Every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever" (Psalm 119:160).

You are correct that in instituting the observance of the Sabbath day, God told the Israelites, "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). But notice how you modified what God said. God explains why He selected the Sabbath day and how it was to be observed. It was selected because that was the day God rested from His labor. It was to be observed by resting in the same manner. You changed this into a celebration of Creation, something that the passage did not say.

However, you also practice selective extraction of passages. The same law that said that the Sabbath was to take place on the same day that God rested also stated what the Sabbath was to memorialize. "Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 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 ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day" (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). Thus, you ignored the clear passage which tells Israel what they were to remember and changed it to something that God did not say. Being slaves in the land of Egypt is something unique to Israel's history; yet, the purpose of the Sabbath day observance was to be a memorial for that slavery. The requirement to not work would serve as a reminder of the time their ancestors were forced to work.

When God finished His creation it was stated, "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). Now please tell me where in this passage is the command for men not to work? This is only a statement that the seventh day was special to God. There is no passage between this one and the Israelites leaving Egypt which indicates that anyone rested on the Sabbath day. As a matter of fact, we know that the laws God gave to Israel were new. "And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive"" (Deuteronomy 5:1-3). Nor can you claim that the breath of these laws encompassed the Gentile nations. "Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?" (Deuteronomy 4:6-8).

"Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, "Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?" But He said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat, except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?" And He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath."" (Mark 2:23-28).

If we take your contention that Mark 2:27 means that Jesus is arguing with the Pharisees that the reason his disciples could pluck grain on the Sabbath was because the Sabbath laws applied to Jews and Gentiles alike, then the Pharisees would have rightly been able to charge Jesus with contradicting Moses (based on the verses already cited). Nor would Jesus making such an argument have applied to the situation at hand. The topic was what was lawful under Moses' law, not who was obligated to keep Moses' law.

Jesus is stating that the Sabbath law was given for the benefit of man and not to cause man harm by slavishly adhering to the rules beyond what God requested of man. It is not man's place to make up laws for the observance of the Sabbath as these Jews were doing by adding restrictions that God did not request. The fact that Jesus used the generic word for man does not imply that it was for all of mankind since the context shows that the discussion was between Israelites concerning what their law required of their fellow Israelites.


Thank you for your response. May God bless you.

1. Consistency is an interesting word chosen in your response. I believe you are trying to say the Sabbath was not a memorial of creation but only of the slavery of Israel however in your response that I first read you clearly say otherwise."Therefore, we learn that the Sabbath day was to be a day of rest that illustrated two things for the Israelites: It recalled that God created the world and rested on the seventh day, and it reminded them that they were once slaves in Egypt, but God delivered them and gave them rest." This was your response in the first answer you wrote to me, correct? Also, read Exodus 31:17.

2. Second you are correct in Genesis 2:1,2 it isn't clearly stated for us to do the same; however, we both know that God told us to keep the Sabbath holy and this is where it was made holy. To add to that another point you made was that the laws given in Sinai were new to them. I disagree strongly based on the fact that they knew right from wrong before that point, the proof is the sacrificial system was started by Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel. Was not this a sign of their sins? And the Bible tells us sin is a transgression of the law. To summarize that point the law was spoken to them by God and kept in their heart. It was officially written on Mt. Sinai so that it wouldn't be forgotten in the future generations and to make it official. Hence the fact was written in stone. The Bible also says the Commandments stand forever in Psalms 111:7,8 James 2:10-12. and yes I know there are more than 10 commandments; however, only the 10 were written in stone and spoken by God Himself. The others were written on paper and spoken by Moses. They were called the Book of the Law, or the Ordinances that were handwritten, also the Law of Moses, and were kept in two different places. The law of Moses on the side of the ark (Deuteronomy 31:26) and the 10 commandments inside the ark (Exodus 40:20). So these are clearly two different laws. Many texts confirm this, such as Exodus 24:7; 25:1; Deuteronomy 31:24-26; Leviticus 24:1; and 25:1, notice this is the law that Colossians 2:14 is referring to. It is contrary to us, not the 10 Commandments. Is not to murder, steal, lie, etc. contrary to a Christian? No.

3. Jesus did not break the Sabbath as the Pharisees stated or accused him of doing. He simply showed them that the extra laws they had added to the Sabbath commandment were unnecessary and contrary to God's. Notice He said is it wrong to do my Father's will on the Sabbath day? Matthew 12:10-12, also read Matthew 5:17. This is also verified by the fact that even after his death His followers still kept the Sabbath (Luke 23:56 and Acts 13:42-44). Notice even the Gentiles were beginning to keep the Sabbath.

Finally please explain Hebrew 4:1-11, emphasis on 7-11.

Back to the original question where does it state the Sabbath was changed to Sunday or that we no longer should keep the Sabbath?


You raised a number of issues, most of which are already addressed on this site. Where I can I will give you the links rather than repeat myself.

Point #1 - Purpose of the Sabbath day

You missed my point. The Sabbath day recalled two events: the creation and Israel's freedom from slavery in Egypt. Both carry equal weight. The selection of the seventh day and the requirement to do no work was to remind the Israelites that God created the world and rested on the seventh day. The requirement to not work was also a reminder that their ancestors had to work as slaves and now they had the ability not to work. What I objected to is that you changed these points to "a celebration of the Earth" in your original note and completely ignored its special significance to Israel. Of course your motivation for being blind in this regard is that to acknowledge that the Sabbath day reminded the Israelites of their slavery is not something you can apply to Christians today. Therefore you replaced it with a made up purpose, celebrating the Earth.

Exodus 31:17 is an interesting choice, but I won't quote it out of context as you wanted to do. "And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: 'Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenantIt is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed'" (Exodus 31:12-17). So tell me, how does this passage prove that the Sabbath day was a celebration of the Earth?

Throughout the context of this verse it is stated that this was a covenant between Israel and God and that by keeping this covenant, Israel was demonstrating their covenant relationship with God. Notice also that violating this command carried a death penalty (as did the other ten commandments). Isn't it interesting that you want to quote and keep only a part of the Law given to Israel, but you wish to ignore aspects of it found in the same context? As Paul stated, attempting to keep part of the Law places you in debt to keep all the law (Galatians 5:1-4).

Point #2a - God told us to keep the Sabbath day holy and He made it holy in Genesis 2:2-3

Your argument is founded on the assumption that God told us to keep the Sabbath day holy. You have yet to prove that point. The verses cited were clearly directed to Israel. The proper statement would be that God told Israel to keep the Sabbath day holy and He made it holy in Genesis 2:2-3. But even with this correction, you haven't proven that the Sabbath day was observed as a day when no work was to be done prior to Israel's exit from Egypt. God did declare that the seventh day was a special day, but He did not tell mankind that they were to keep it in some special way. Your whole argument is built upon what you desire to be and not what God told you in His word. See more on this in "Does "remember the Sabbath" imply prior observance?"

The fact that sin existed and that a sacrificial system existed only proves that God gave men laws to obey, something that Paul pointed out. "Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned. For until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not charged when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren't like Adam's disobedience, who is a foreshadowing of him who was to come" (Romans 5:12-14). However, this does not prove that all laws given through Moses were in place prior to Moses. For example, the partaking of the Lord's Supper is a requirement under the New Covenant (I Corinthians 11:23-34); to neglect it is to neglect your salvation (John 6:53-58); yet we never expect the Israelites or Adam and Eve to have observed it, even though it memorializes Jesus's death, something that Adam and Eve were told would happen (Genesis 3:15).

Besides your claim is basically saying that Moses made a mistake. "And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive" (Deuteronomy 5:1-3). You are saying that this covenant had to have existed prior to Moses. Moses said no. Now, who do you think I believe? Yes, there are aspects of the covenant at Mount Sinai that existed prior to the Exodus. It is the same with Christ's Law, there are aspects of the New Testament that are similar to the Old Testament. But that is because they all have the same author. But the similarity of some features does not imply that all features are the same. The Law Moses brought was new as a package. Some things are familiar but other things had changed. The same happened to Christ's Law. "The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive. not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD" (Jeremiah 31:31-32). Does this mean that since the old Law condemned stealing that stealing would be acceptable in the new Law? Of course not! But it does mean that the two laws as a whole have different features.

Point #2b - The Ten Commandments were to stand forever, that is why they were written on stone.

"The works of His hands are verity and justice; All His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, And are done in truth and uprightness." (Psalm 111:7-8). This statement is not is limited to the Ten Commandments. The Psalmist said all of God's commands (or precepts or statutes) would stand. That includes: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD" (Jeremiah 31:31-32). As the Hebrews writer concluded, "In that he says, "A new covenant," he has made the first old. But that which is becoming old and grows aged is near to vanishing away" (Hebrews 8:13).

If you argue that the ten commandments are to stand forever, then so must the sacrificial system. "And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the offerings of the LORD made by fire, by a perpetual statute" (Leviticus 24:9). But this system came to an end (Hebrews 9:25-28). In the same way, the temple was built to stand forever (II Chronicles 2:4), but that temple no longer stands. "Forever" in the Bible does not necessarily mean absolute permanence, it typically means a long, indefinite period of time whose end mankind cannot predict or foresee.

It is interesting that you put so much emphasis on the fact that the ten commandments were written on stone and then try to draw an artificial distinction between them and the rest of the law. One of the features of the new law is "I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Jeremiah 31:33). Paul used this to make a contrast between the old and new law. "You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being revealed that you are a letter of Christ, served by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone, but in tablets that are hearts of flesh. Such confidence we have through Christ toward God; not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the service of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which was passing away: won't service of the Spirit be with much more glory? For if the service of condemnation has glory, the service of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For most certainly that which has been made glorious has not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasses. For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory" (II Corinthians 3:2-11).

You also argue that since features of the new law are similar to the ten commandments, therefore it cannot be the ten commandments which was hostile to us. Paul stated, "Therefore, my brothers, you also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you would be joined to another, to him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were through the law, worked in our members to bring forth fruit to death. But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that in which we were held; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? May it never be! However, I wouldn't have known sin, except through the law. For I wouldn't have known coveting, unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." But sin, finding occasion through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of coveting. For apart from the law, sin is dead. I was alive apart from the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died" (Romans 7:4-9). Paul's complaint was that the law produced death, how much more hostile can you get? And his example was the tenth commandment, "You shall not covet." Therefore, once again your argument is without merit -- you are arguing with God.

Point #3 Jesus kept the Sabbath

This is answered in "Since Jesus said to keep the commandments, shouldn't we keep the Sabbath?"

You also claim that the Gentiles kept the Sabbath by citing Acts 13:42-44, "So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the synagogue broke up, many of the Jews and of the devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas; who, speaking to them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. The next Sabbath almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God." All this states is that the Gospel was preached on the seventh day of the week. There is nothing stated in this passage that the Sabbath was being observed according to the Old Law by the Gentiles. I happen to be typing this on the Sabbath, so I too am preaching on the Sabbath, but it doesn't imply that I keep the Sabbath in accordance to Moses' Law.

In talking to Gentiles, Paul stated, "In whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us; and he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; having stripped the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in eating, or in drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day, which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ's" (Colossians 2:11-17). It was to Gentiles that Paul stated, let no man judge you in respect to the Sabbath. Paul is stating they are not held to the Sabbath law, just like they are not held to the food and drink laws, the feasts, or the new moon festival -- all of which were not in the Ten Commandments.

Questions #1 Explain Hebrews 4:1-11

The Hebrew writer does discuss what replaced Sabbath observances under the new covenant.

"For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'" although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works"; and again in this place: "They shall not enter My rest." Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts." For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience" (Hebrews 3:16-4:11).

The writer of Hebrews tells us that there is a promised rest for the people of God. It is not the weekly rest of the Israelites, but a complete and final rest obtained after a life of obedient work for God. The true Sabbath rest for the Christian is our home in heaven which is waiting for us.

Question #2 Where does it state the Sabbath was changed to Sunday or that we no longer should keep the Sabbath?

Just because passages are not worded in precisely the way you want them, it does not mean the concept is not there. The Sabbath was not changed to Sunday. The Sabbath was the days the Israelites worshipped God. Christians worship on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1-2). The practices that were done to carry out that worship also changed between the laws. See: "Why do Christians worship on Sunday instead of Saturday?" and "How did Sabbath day worship get turned into Sunday worship?"


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