Question:

Hi,

Thank you immensely for all of the hard work you put into this website.

I am a faithful member of the Lord’s church and I am currently involved in personal evangelism with a student who is a Seventh-day Adventist. We have made great strides and she is a wonderful student. I know that the old law was fulfilled at the cross and therefore no longer in effect today and we have ample verses to prove that, but she believes that “keeping the Sabbath” preceded Moses’ law. According to Genesis 2:3, God blessed the Sabbath and sanctified it. 

Her main concern is that since this was done at creation, how do we as Christians today know for certain that this day is no longer blessed or sanctified? And if it is still blessed and sanctified what does that mean to us today? She thinks that because the fourth commandment started with the word “remember” the Sabbath, then that alludes to the fact that this was an ordinance from God from the beginning. She believes that the Sabbath was set apart even during the Patriarchal age and therefore still needs to be set apart. 

I wrote down her concerns and I will study with her on this subject in two weeks, as we meet every week to study together. My approach is to not debate, but rather open the Bible and let the Scriptures speak to the students. I just wanted to see if you can help me get some info. I will be searching also in the meantime.

Thank you for your help. 

Answer:

"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 2:3).

God set the seventh day of His Creation apart as something holy (i.e. He sanctified it). But nothing else is mentioned about the Sabbath for thousands of years. It wasn't until the Israelites were leaving Egypt that God introduced a new command.

"Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, then he said to them, 'This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD'" (Exodus 16:22-23).

It is clear from the reactions of the Israelites, they were unfamiliar with the idea of not working one day each week. As slaves, they had worked at the discretion of their masters, which meant they worked all the time. It was not until later, when God established the Law through Moses, that He explained.

"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 a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.  You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day" (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).

Thus, one purpose of the Sabbath laws was to give the Israelites a constant reminder of the fact they used to be slaves until God freed them. This was unique to Israel. "The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today" (Deuteronomy 5:2). It did not apply to any other nation. "For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?" (Deuteronomy 4:7-8).

Why did Moses say, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8)? The same reason my wife says, "Remember you have a doctor's appointment on Thursday" in advance of the actual day. God commanded in advance that the Israelites were to remember to keep the Sabbath as something set apart to God. It doesn't necessarily mean that the Sabbath rules had been effect prior to the command. Now, in this particular case, God had given the rules in Exodus 16, so it was already in effect prior to giving of the laws in Exodus 20.

Why did God select the seventh day as a day of rests for a nation of former slaves? "It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed" (Exodus 31:17). Just as the covenant was between God and Israel, the shared day of rest gave another connection between those under this covenant and their God.

All of these points indicate that the Sabbath laws did not exist prior to Israel's exodus from Egypt. She claims that it was kept by the patriarches. I would invite her to prove her claim by the Scriptures. I can assure you that there is no mention of anyone not working and worshiping because it was the seventh day of the week. Beliefs are based on factual evidence, not personal feelings or preferences. "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (II Peter 1:20-21).

Is the seventh day still set apart (sanctified) to worship God? The answer is "no" because we are not under the Law of Moses but under the Law of Christ and the Sabbath is not the day of worship for Christians. "Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day -- things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ" (Colossians 2:16-17).

See also:

 

Response:

Wow, thank you for such a fast and thorough response! Thanks for the clarification, and God bless you in your endeavors.

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