OceanSide church of Christ

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Gen. 2:3 - Sabbath Keeping

Victor M. Eskew


            When the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to Israel, one of them involved the Sabbath day.  “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exo. 20:8).  Today, however, the command to keep the sabbath no long applies.  When Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, the Law of Moses was abolished (Eph. 2:14-15).  The New Testament of Jesus Christ went into force following our Lord’s death (Heb. 9:15-17).  The New Covenant commands us to worship God upon the Lord’s Day, that is, the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:1-2; Rev. 1:10).

            There are some religious groups that acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God that still keep the sabbath.  Some refer to these groups as sabbatarians.  One group is better known as the Seventh-Day Adventists.  The Adventists teach that sabbath worship dates back far beyond the Law of Moses.  They believe that is was instituted by God at the Creation.  They use Genesis 2:3 as their proof-text.  “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it:  because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”  They emphasize the words “blessed” and “sanctified.”  They assert that God made the sabbath a day of worship from the beginning.

            If Genesis 2:3 were the only verse we had that speaks of the sabbath, we might come to the same conclusions the sabbatarians have made, but it is not.  Let’s look at what three other scriptures say about the sabbath.  In Exodus 31:16, God commands Israel to keep the sabbath again.  In verse 17, He states:  “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever…”  Here, the sabbath is strictly limited to Israel.  No other nation is commanded to keep it.  If it had been given at the Creation, it would have been for all men for all time.

            The next text is Nehemiah 9:13-14.  This text clearly reveals that the sabbath was given at mount Sinai.  “Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments:  and madest known unto them thy holy sabbath…”  Had the sabbath been a practice of God’s people since the Creation, God would have had to make it known at mount Sinai.

            The last verse is Deuteronomy 5:15.  This verse reveals to Israel “why” God commanded the sabbath.  As you read, notice that it was NOT because of the Creation events.  “And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm:  therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath.”

            There is no evidence that any of the patriarchs ever kept the sabbath.  It was a day of rest and worship given to the Jews at mount Sinai to remind them of their release from Egyptian bondage.  When the Old Covenant was done away, the sabbath also ended.  Our Lord Jesus Christ was raise upon the first day of the week.  On that day, Christians gather to worship God and celebrate His resurrection from the grave.