|An Appeal to
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Genesis 2:2-3: By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.
SDS (Seventh Day Sabbatarians) quote this verse as proof that the Sabbath Law was given to MAN before the fall. However, there is no such Scriptural reference justifying this claim nor is there any mention of the word "the Sabbath" in Genesis.
In Genesis 1:28 we have an account of the creation of Adam and Eve and the record of certain commands being given to them by God, but not a single word about the Sabbath. In Genesis 2:17 there are further commands, showing them what they shall NOT do, but still no reference to the Sabbath.
SDS teachings claim that the Sabbath was give in Eden based on Genesis 2:1-3: Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.
This does not have to mean that God sanctified the seventh day of the week at that time (remembering that Moses most probably wrote the book of Genesis and included such information for our learning 2 Timothy 3:16-17). It means that when He desired to give Israel a day of rest as a reminder of their bondage and hard labor in Egypt, He chose the seventh day (He blessed it) rather than some other day. The reasons being that He Himself had worked six days in creation and then rested. Thus, the Sabbath became to the Jew, a reminder that God was the Creator of all things. But there is no evidence to suggest the seventh day was a compulsory rest day before God had called the Israelites out of Egypt. Note that Genesis 2:2 is in complete harmony with Exodus 20:10-11.
In passing we should note that the Ten Commandments would have had little meaning for Adam and Eve (eg. Honor your parents, do not commit adultery etc.)
Noah was a man selected by God to try and save the people from their evil ways. However, there is no mention about the Sabbath. We are told in Hebrews 11:7 that by faith Noah and his family were saved.
Galatians 3:16-29 means that Abraham was a very important individual in the purpose of God. SDS will claim that Abraham kept the Sabbath because of Genesis 26:5 because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My requirements, My commands, My decrees and My laws. However these commandments and laws were given to him personally by God. An example of these is in Genesis 12:1-4.
Abraham was not under the "Law", which in Scripture is a term used almost exclusively for the Law given at Sinai, for Paul says of the Promise made to Abraham that the Law, which was 430 years after, could not disannul it (Galatians 3:17). The Abrahamic Covenant had been sealed and sworn to, and nothing could be either added to or taken from it. Pauls statement that the Law came centuries afterward must be taken as an inspired declaration that "The Law" did NOT exist prior to Sinai.
Some may ask what is meant by Romans 5:13: for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. If the Law given at Sinai began there, then what law if any, were the patriarchs under and other godly persons who lived prior to Sinai?
In answer, we would say that since the Apostle positively states that sin was in the world from Adam to Moses. Also that sin is not taken into account when there is no law, so it naturally follows that the sins committed were not transgression of the law given at Sinai. The people could not transgress a law that wasnt in existence. But since they did sin it also follows that they were under some other law. Adam and Eve, for example, sinned against the commandments God gave them in Eden regarding the Tree of Knowledge. It is obvious also that some commandments must have been known to Cain and Abel for Cains offering of the firstfruits of the ground was not acceptable (Genesis 4:7), while that of Abel, the firstfruits of the flock, was the correct offering.
It is therefore obvious that God gave personal commands to various people, for example, commanding Moses from the burning bush to go to Egypt etc. Therefore it is untrue to use the commands given to individuals before Sinai as evidence that the Sabbath and the Ten Commandments were given since Adam and Eve.
Genesis 17:13 circumcision was given as a command to be an "everlasting covenant". Leviticus 24:8 states the keeping of the Sabbath as an everlasting covenant (even though some versions say "lasting covenant"). Yet in Galatians 5:2 Paul says, "I tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all." So in answer to the question "Is the Sabbath Law Eternal?" No.
Israel was under bondage to Pharaoh for 400 years (Genesis 15:13). Can any reasoning reader believe that this nation, who were slaves to Pharaoh in making bricks and laboring for him in building etc., would be permitted to cease work on even one day of the week? For Exodus 5:2 says Pharaoh said, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey Him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go."
Israel was commanded to keep the Sabbath as mentioned firstly in Exodus 16:23-29. God has chosen Israel as His peculiar people (Exodus 19:5). He had now brought them out of bondage (Deuteronomy 14:2) and was now about to give them "His Laws" and show how different they were from the people they had lived with for 400 years. So He rained bread from Heaven that He might prove them (Exodus 16:4).
Now note well: it is quite clear that the children of Israel had not observed the Sabbath prior to this time; this is clearly shown by their surprise when a double portion of manna fell on the sixth day. Had they been in the habit of keeping the Seventh day they would have also been in the habit of providing more food on the sixth day to last over the Sabbath. Not only were the people of Israel surprised and perplexed, but also the rulers of the tribes. We read, "and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses" (Exodus 16:22).
Next Moses explained what they were to do, for, he said, "Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD" (Exodus 16:23). This was new to them, and the verses of this chapter show that this was the first time the children of Israel had heard about a Sabbath rest day to the Lord. Some of the people went out on the Sabbath day to gather manna, but found none. This shows, too, that they did not understand.
SDS say that the Sabbath was not Jewish only, but applied to the entire world. However, it should be noted that in Exodus 31:17 God says (speaking of the Sabbath), "It will be a sign between Me and the Israelites forever". Why didnt God say, "It will be a sign between Me and all mankind"? Also in Deuteronomy 5:3 we read (in reference to the Ten Commandments), "It was not with our fathers that the LORD made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today." This also reinforces the fact that the Ten Commandments (including the Sabbath) were not given before Sinai.
It should also be noted that in Romans 2:14-15 it says, "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law", therefore showing that Israel was in a privileged position. Here, it is plainly stated that the Gentiles were not under the Law given to the Jews. See also Romans 3:19.
In Deuteronomy 5:15 we read, "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day." This is further evidence to support the Sabbath was not in force prior to Sinai. Note it says, "therefore" the Lord has commanded Israel to observe the Sabbath day.
SDS believe that the Ten Commandments are perpetual, by which they mean it always was, and still is, binding upon all mankind. This however is based on a false foundation. Sticking purely to Scripture we can conclude with the following points that the Law was not eternal:
A serious flaw taught by SDS is that the Law given at Sinai was divided into two parts, which they term the "Moral" and "Ceremonial" Law. They insist that the Ten Commandments was the "Moral Law", and the rest are regarded as the "Ceremonial Law".
They further claim that the Moral Law was written by the finger of God on two stone tablets, and later kept in the Ark, while the Ceremonial Law, they say, was written by Moses in books and placed in a pocket in the side of the Ark.
The point of the matter is that no such division of the Law is found in the Scriptures.
A similar SDS claim is that the Ten Commandments were called "The Law of the Lord" and the rest the "Law of Moses". However Scripture plainly contradicts this statement.
For example, Luke 2:22-23 says, "When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord".
Here it is quite plain that the "Law of the Lord" and the "Law of Moses" are the same thing. This is further confirmed by Luke 2:39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth
SDS will have the difficulty of fixing the true seventh day. Especially, when they realize that the Calendar has been altered more than once, not because of Sabbath reasons, but because of the inability of our calendar of 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, to correctly match the rotation of the heavens. It is said that the Julian calendar of BC 45 "was adjusted to correct the extensive errors, which had crept into the civil year, as compared with that represented by the sun". Then again, further corrections were made in the Gregorian calendar of September 3, 1753, 11 days being cancelled from the calendar to bring it into line with the seasons. SDS condemn Rome as being responsible for "changing the times and seasons", but the changes were necessary to bring the calendar into line. Even now, astronomers claim that at the end of the present century there will be another correction necessary of one complete day. It will be seen that the definite day, seventh or first, cannot be fixed with exactitude.
Followers of Jesus do so because it is part and parcel of the new covenant instituted by Him. "Eight" signifies "a change", "a new beginning". We see this in the rite of circumcision; the eight persons saved in the case of Noah and his family, a new start to the human race; the eighth son of Jesse, David, a new type to succeed Saul. We also see a hint (Ezekiel 43:27) that the eighth day is seen to have a special place in the priestly order of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus instituted the Lords Supper, to commemorate His death and resurrection until He comes again. This great memorial was never kept on the Sabbath Day, but on the First Day of the week, a reminder of Jesus rising from the dead on the "first day of the week".
Also, although Jesus was with His disciples for 40 days after His resurrection, He never once enjoined upon them the partaking of the emblems (the bread and the wine) on the seventh day. Surely if Jesus wanted them to set aside the seventh day for this purpose He had a wonderful opportunity to tell them, this small body of new believers. For they in turn would tell their immediate followers, and all since that time would observe His Day. In vain is it that SDS blame Rome for changing the Day. They did nothing of the sort. It was Jesus and the Apostles. If SDS insist that the seventh day is still binding, then the day of Resurrection, the First Day of a new beginning on which so many depend in Christ, would not have been held before the world as a memorial of hope.
On the Mount of Transfiguration God testified of His Son, "this is My beloved son: hear Him" (Mark 9:7). We believe, therefore, it is our duty to give Christ the pre-eminence over all lawgivers, because He embodied all laws that were necessary from His time onwards and omitted those which had fulfilled their purpose, and replaced them with His own commandments and those given to His disciples. Not for one moment is it a case of "No moral law since the cross" (as some have unwisely suggested). The Law of Christ embodies all that is needful in Moral law and completely outshines that given through Moses (Matthew 5:21-28). Jesus and His followers reaffirmed nine of the commandments, and one, the fourth, was fulfilled in His "Rest".
1st Commandment: Mark 12:29; Ephesians 4:6; 1 John 5:21; Mark 4:10.
2nd Commandment: 1 Corinthians 10:14; Romans 1:25.
3rd Commandment: James 5:12; Matthew 5:34-35.
Romans 14:5-6: One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.
Colossians 2:16-17 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come
5th Commandment: Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20.
6th Commandment: 1 John 3:15; Matthew 5:21.
7th Commandment: Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 5:27-28.
8th Commandment: Romans 2:21; Ephesians 4:28.
9th Commandment: Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 4:25; 2 Timothy 3:3.
10th Commandment: Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5.
In Matthew 22:24-40 we read of a lawyer asking Jesus (and testing Him) the question, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" (In passing note that the "commandments" are actually in the law, the commandments were not separate from the "Law"). So, Jesus answers that we should love God will all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus had the opportunity here to say, "Keep the Sabbath", but He didnt! Instead the Sabbath falls under the general commandment of "Love your God", which allows the individual to "Love God" with their heart (just like circumcision of the heart instead of physical circumcision), not with just observing the seventh day.
What does this mean? It means that the Sabbath was subservient to Him, not He to the Sabbath. He "blotted out the handwriting of ordinances and took it out of the way, nailing it to the Cross". He rested (after finishing His work as God did from His, in the beginning), thus completely fulfilling every detail of the Law in His death prior to His resurrection on the first day of the week.
In Mark 2:27-28 Jesus replies to the Pharisees "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." The Sabbath was instituted (by God) for mankinds benefit and refreshment, but not that people were made to keep burdensome regulations pertaining to it. Jesus points this out by making the point about David eating the consecrated bread, which was not lawful to eat. For if the Sabbath was for Gods benefit, then it would have read "Man was made for [to keep] the Sabbath". But instead it reads the other way, pointing out the fact that the Sabbath was for man, in order that he could use it to remember God (and especially what happened in Egypt). Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord (Master) even of the Sabbath.
Colossian 2:14: having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Was it the Ten Commandments? Was it the ceremonial system? Or was it both? SDS believe it was the so-called "Ceremonial Law", but not the Ten Commandments. The hardest thing to keep was the Ten Commandments, it was much easier to keep the ceremonial laws. It is a common mistake that the "written code" or "ordinances" were referring only to ceremonial commands. The Greek word translated here for "written code" is DOGMA, and means, according to Strongs Exhaustive Concordance: "A law (civil, ceremonial, or ecclesiastical)." The handwriting of the Law that was against the Jews was the whole of their Law, for they were condemned by the whole of it, not being able to keep it.
A covenant may have a time limit and therefore ceases when the time limit is reached. So did the law covenant have a time limit? For Galatians 3:19-21 we learn that the Law "was added because of transgressions" until the promised Seed (Jesus, see Galatians 3:16) should come. Therefore we see that the Law was to serve only (as a schoolmaster Galatians 3:24) until Christ came.
Long before the Law covenant came to its end (Galatians 3:19-21), the Lord had predicted its termination. Jeremiah wrote of the making of a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34), and also the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 8:13), and by speaking of a new one, the Lord had made the first one old. Under the Law covenant Gods commandments were written on stones and in books. But under the New Covenant, Gods Law as expressed in the commandments given to Christ, is written in the minds and the hearts of His people as they render faithful service to Him (Hebrews 8:10; Hebrews 10:16, and 2 Corinthians 3:18). The Mosaic Law Covenant was a "ministration of death" but the New Covenant is a "ministration of life" (2 Corinthians 3:6-7).
Jesus was a Jew and being so, observed the law, though not in the rigid way prescribed by the traditions of the Pharisees and Doctors of the Law. The Jews were keeping the Sabbath by trying to keep the Law by the letter, however Jesus showed (like other parts of the law), how the Sabbath was meant to be kept. He kept the Sabbath, for He had not yet fulfilled the law by nailing it to the cross. He left no command for His disciples (and us) to keep the Sabbath.
Romans 7:1-6 speaks about the comparison that a married woman was bound to her husband as long as he lived, but upon His death she was freed and could then marry another. The Apostle Paul shows in the chapters that because Christ died, we are freed from the law. The main point of Pauls argument is in Romans 7:6: "But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." Serving the law in Spirit included serving the Sabbath in Spirit not by the letter in the old way of the written code (ie. keeping it every Saturday).
Romans 3:31 "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law." SDS, use this as evidence to suggest that we must also keep the Law. But looking at the chapter more carefully, if the "Moral Law" is still binding, then look at verse 20. Romans 3:20: "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." This matches up with Galatians 5:4 "You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace." And furthermore in Romans 4:14: "For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless".
The Apostles and most of the followers of Jesus kept the Sabbath because most of them were Jews. It is therefore logical that you would expect them to visit the synagogues where they could contact and preach to their brethren.
Galatians 4:30: But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave womans son will never share in the inheritance with the free womans son." In Galatians 5:1-4 Paul continues, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." This slavery was to the Law, from which they had been set free. In this passage it is referring to circumcision as a burden that would profit them nothing, but it is the same principle that he applies to the keeping of the Sabbath. SDS will state that the "Sabbath is an everlasting covenant". In fact, in Genesis 17:13 circumcision was stated as an "everlasting covenant" also. However, Paul is saying that if they keep this law (circumcision or the Sabbath) "Christ will be of no value to you at all".
SDS claim that when the Apostle criticized the keeping of "days" (Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16), he meant other than the weekly Sabbath day, but rather was referring to the yearly Sabbath and various other feast days. However, there is no such distinction in Scripture that would allow us to rightfully believe this, and one would think that the Apostle Paul would have made this distinction if it were intended.
Why did Christ not specifically mention in His commandments to us "to keep the Sabbath"? The reason being is that Christ is our Sabbath Rest. The meaning of the word "Sabbath" is "rest", and we find that the two words are used interchangeably in Scripture.
First we might ask, "Why was the Sabbath given to Israel?" The answer we find in Deuteronomy 5:15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. The Sabbath was a symbol of the rest that God designed for them in the Land of Promise (Deuteronomy 6:18) and is further typical of the true rest of the Sabbath that the children of faith receive from Christ, the "Seed of Promise." Hebrews 4:8 shows that if Joshua had given the children of Israel rest, or Sabbath, there would have been no need to speak of another day, as King David did (Hebrews 4:7; Psalm 95:7).
We further learn from the Hebrews that the true Sabbath rest is obtained only through Jesus Christ by faith (Hebrews 4:2-6), and also by promise (Hebrews 4:1). In Hebrews 3:17-18 it shows that although the Israelites outwardly kept the Sabbath, every week during the whole period of forty years in the wilderness, yet they did not, and could not, keep the true Sabbath. For God had sworn that they should not enter His rest or Sabbath "because of their unbelief" (Hebrews 3:19). Hebrews 4:3-9 says the same thing and in this verse it also says that some must enter in, and tells us that those that do enter in are the people of God, who enter in "by faith".
In Hebrews 4:10 Paul says that he that has entered in Gods rest through Jesus "rests from his own work" (e.g. trying to keep the Law) as God ceased or rested from His works in the seventh day of Creation (compare Romans 10:4). In this verse it says "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes". Jesus also says, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
So in conclusion we see that the true Sabbath is the rest and peace we get by exercising faith in Jesus, and is not the keeping of any day or days (Galatians 4:9-11; Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16-17). In Galatians 4 Paul says "But now that you know God or rather are known by God how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles [of the Law]? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days ! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you."
This article was written in 1999 by WH. It is a quick overview and basically covers all major points. Some subjects we can obviously get into more detail, however I think this article should be enough for anyone to rightly discern the truth about the Sabbath.