I want you to understand something that we’re going to try and do in this article. Our goal is to demonstrate the continuity of the Sabbath.
Now what I want you to know about the Sabbath commandment is that the Sabbath is unique in the Ten Commandments because, unlike the other commandments, which need only to be preached and proclaimed, the Sabbath has to be proved. I mean, if a minister stood up in any church, whether it’s a Sunday keeping church or a Sabbath keeping church, he stands up into the pulpit and says “today’s presentation is on the seventh commandment, thou shall not commit adultery.” Does he need to spend anytime proving that commandment is still valid in this present age? The answer is NO.
You take any of the other commandments- thou shall have no other Gods before me… thou shall not make any image or likeness of any kind… you go through the commandments, and it is the only one that you have to first stop and say, “wait a minute, is this commandment even exist/valid anymore?”
Is not this commandment obsolete? The Sabbath commandment? Before we can ever get to the actual meaning of the Sabbath, we have to even demonstrate biblically if the Sabbath still stands.
So what we’re going to do here is do our very best to break up the broad sweep of human history. Now I want you to think about human history all the way back from the time of Eden restored and we’re going to break the sweep of human history up into eight.
Eight easily identifiable ages. Easily remembered, easily identified and we’re going to look at the Sabbath in every one of these epocal ages. And we’re going to ask ourselves the question, “Was the Sabbath binding here?” And what we’re going to discover is that in every one of the ages, we have ample biblical evidence that the Sabbath was in fact binding. This argues then to the continuity of the Sabbath and demands that the Sabbath is still enforced today with the rest of the other commandments.
The first age is the pre-fall age. That is Eden, the pre-fall age. Was the Sabbath binding in the pre-fall age? We’re going to take a look at that. The second age is the patriarchal age. We move from the pre-fall age to the patriarchal age both pre-flood and post- flood, Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob. But the patriarchal age gave way to our third, and that was the prophetic age- the time of Israel, the time of Moses, the time of prophets moving into that. But what are the prophets really prophesying about? Repentance, yes. Forgiveness of sins, yes!
But mostly they prophesied about the promised Messiah. So that would be the 4th- the pre-fall age, the patriarchal age, the prophetic age, the promised Messiah. But then Jesus ascended to heaven to the right hand of God and the New Testament church was born on the day of Pentacost. So that is the fifth age- the Pentacostal church or the Apostolic church. The sixth age is the Papal church, that would be the middle aged church. Then the seventh is the present day church and the eighth is Paradise!
We are going to go through this entire sweep of history, these eight epocs, these eight ages. I’m going to ask the question, “Is there any biblical evidence that the Sabbath was binding in every one of those ages?” That’s the goal of this article. Pre-fall age, look at your bible and go to Genesis chapter 2. We’re gonna begin right there in verse one.
In Genesis chapter one, you have the remarkable picture that God gives of the creation of the heavens and the Earth by the voice of God. God creates the world in six literal days, and after those six days we come to Genesis chapter two beginning in verse one. Notice these words, “thus the heavens and the Earth were finished and all the host of them. Verse two, “and on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done and He rested on the Seventh day from all His work that He had done.” Verse 3, “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it God rested from all His work He had made in creation.”
This is an absolutely fundamental text. This is a fundamentally important point. God creates the world in six days. He comes to the seventh day and the text says that God Himself rested on the seventh day.
It’s fascinating that there is no command in the book of Genesis to rest. But I have a question for you parents out there today. Is your command more influential in the lives of your children or is your example more influential in the lives of your children? How many of you have ever said to your children, “Do what I say not what I do.”? If you’ve said that, you learn very quickly it does not work.
Now here we have the example that God says, “Alright, I’ve made everything in six days. Now comes the seventh day.” God Himself says on the seventh day, “I’m going to rest.” And then it says because God rested that day, God blessed that day, the seventh day, and God made the seventh day holy.
The Sabbath has its foundation in the creation story. Now in the English version of the bible, you will not find the word Sabbath there. But in the original version of the bible, it says, “On the next day, the Sabbath, God’s Sabbath.” So it does not refer to the seventh day as the Sabbath, but it does refer to the seventh day as the day that God Sabbaths on. What the bible says is God Himself Sabbaths on the seventh day. In Exodus chapter 20 we see the command to remember the Sabbath day.
Exodus chapter 20 verse 11, the bible says the reason to keep the Sabbath is because, “in six days the Lord made heaven and Earth, the sea and all that is in them and rested the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
In the very Sabbath command itself, the text itself says that the reason we observed seventh day is because God initiated it at creation. I’d like to let you know that you can absolutely rest assured that the Sabbath was created in Eden.
The bible says your sins have separated you between you and your God. If the Sabbath was essential for Adam in Eden, why wouldn’t the Sabbath be essential for us outside of Eden, in this world that is tainted and saturated with sin?So there is no question in the first era, in the first epocal age pre-fall, the Sabbath stands. But the next age is the patriarchal age. Someone is always going to claim that the Sabbath commandment never occurs in the book of Genesis, and that’s true.You can read Genesis chapter 1 all the way to Genesis chapter 50. The Sabbath commandment does not occur in the book of Genesis. But I got news for you. None of the commandments occur in the book of Genesis because the book of Genesis is not a book of laws. It’s a book of origins and beginnings.So then do we have any evidence that the patriarchs, Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, prior to the flood, kept the Sabbath? The answer is yes.
Genesis chapter 26 verse five says, “Because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, commandments, statutes, and my laws.” This is hundreds of years before we ever arrive at Mt. Sinai and Abraham is keeping God’s commands, ordinances, statutes, and His charge.
First Kings chapter two says David is dying and on his death bed. He had some words of instruction for Solomon, his son. “Now the days of David drew near that he should die and he charged Solomon his son, saying, “I go the way of all the Earth. Be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord your God to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, commandments, judgments and His testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses that you may prosper in all that you do, wherever you turn.” All four of those words are referred here by David to Solomon-the commandments, the ordinances, the laws and the statues as occurring in the law of Moses.
Abraham came first, so did God have ordinance in the days of Abraham? And all of those things were later codified. Your bible is in the form which is called the codex form. In the days of Jesus, they weren’t in the codex form, they were in scrolls. And so the word codify means to write down or to formally write down.
Moses was responsible not for initiating the law, not for the creation of the law, and not for the giving of the law the first time. He simply codified a law that had already existed in the days of Adam and onwards through the patriarchal age. Incidentally, there are very powerful evidences of the fact in the book of Genesis that the law existed because this nasty little thing called sin existed. Can you have sin when you don’t have a law?
No. For example, Cain killed his brother Abe. And remember what God said to Cain? He said, “Hey listen- if you do what’s right you’ll have no problem, but if you don’t do what’s right sin lies at the door.” Is there such a thing as sin in the days of Cain? Absolutely!
And Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because of their growing immorality and sin. This all happened before the time of Moses. And how about this one? When Potiphar’s wife laid hold on Joseph and Joseph pulled himself away. He said, “How can I commit this great sin?” Well what sin is he talking about? Of course the 7th commandment- thou shall not commit adultery. Now here’s the point: all of those commandments existed, but they were oral in their passing on and tradition.
They were codified at Mt. Sinai. We already know that the Sabbath existed in the pre-fall era and in the patriarchal era. But how about in the prophetic era, the time of Moses? Well, rest assured that the Sabbath was kept and honored in the prophetic age, the age of Israel, and nobody disputes that because everybody to this day knows that the Jews keep the Sabbath.
Exodus chapter 20 verses 8-11 says, “God through His great prophet Moses delivered the 10 commandments to the people of Israel.” And right there in Exodus chapter 20, you have God speaking, thundering from Mt Sinai, the 10 commandments. There it is again, “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. Six days you labor and do all your work but the 7th day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. On it, you shall not do any work.”
“You or your son or your daughter, your male servant, your female servant, the soldier who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heaven and Earth, the sea and all that is in them and rested the 7th day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
It’s fascinating that the Sabbath commandment begins with the word remember. The word remember comes from the latin meaning to call to mind. That’s the “member” part and the “re” means to do it again. So remember means to call it to mind again. Really when God says to the children of Israel, “Remember the Sabbath” it’s saying “you had it, now call it to mind again.” I find it fascinating that when you look in the History of Israel during that prophetic age, in times of faithfulness and prosperity, the Sabbath was honored and kept. But in times of rebellion and disobedience, the Sabbath was neglected. The faith of the people of God went along with their faithfulness to the command.
Jeremiah 17 verse 27 says, “If you do not listen to me to keep the Sabbath day holy and not to bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates and each shall devour the pharisees of Jerusalem and it shall not be quenched.”
You have the Jewish nation and they began to disregard the Sabbath. They were living in Jerusalem but God is telling them, “If you do not get faithful in this area, I’m going to destroy your cities. It’s gonna be a nightmare for you.”
And it’s fascinating that they did not listen and ultimately were taken captive to Babylon. While they were in Babylon, they learned a lesson and that’s when they became overboard about how to keep the Sabbath. That’s when they began to develop all their legalistic rules.
Yes God wants us to remember the Sabbath day. God wants us to do what the Word of God says about the Sabbath. But God does not want us to go the way of the pharisee and make unending mountains of unbiblical rules of how to keep it.
God says in this prophetic age, when the Jews were at the peak, essentially, “If you listen to Me and obey this commandment, you will have prosperity. But if you don’t, you will have adversity.”
You can rest assured that the prophets in Israel to whom they prophesied were called by God to know, honor, proclaim and enjoy the Sabbath.
Remember the Sabbath
by Keeping it Holy