The Sabbath is not mentioned by name in the book of Genesis, nor till the time of Moses. Gen. 2:1-3 states that God finished creation in six days and rested on the seventh day; and that he blessed and sanctified the seventh day "because that in it he had rested." On this we remark: 1.) The day was not holy in itself. 2.) God's rest upon that day did not make it holy. 3.) God sanctified or made holy the seventh day because that in it he HAD rested. His rest was over and passed before he blessed the day. 4.) As to just WHEN God blessed the day the record does not clearly state. Some contend that he sanctified the day then and there in Eden. Others argue that this was not done till the exodus. Plausible arguments are used on both sides; but the simple fact that the most godly and learned men have always disagreed about the institution of the Sabbath in Eden should teach us caution how we build a theory upon a disputed text so meager in statement and so far away in time. In all fairness it must be owned that the definite time when the Sabbath was sanctified can not certainly be determined from this text.
Smith's Dictionary of the Bible truthfully says: "It is in Ex. 16:23-29 that we find the first incontrovertible institution of the day." Art. Sabbath. Of the argument on Gen. 2:1-3 for the institution of the Sabbath in Eden it says: "The whole argument is very precarious." There is no command in Gen. 2 to keep the Sabbath. We must look elsewhere for that. The sanctification of the seventh day there mentioned is claimed by some to have been by anticipation. As Moses wrote his books after he came to Sinai, after the Sabbath had been given in the wilderness, he here mentions one reason why God thus gave them the seventh day, viz.: because God himself had set the example at creation; had worked six days and rested the seventh. Such use of language is common. We say Gen. Grant was born at such a time. We do not mean that he was a general then, but we mention it by anticipation, using a title which he afterwards bore. So in Gen. 3:20, "Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living." Here is a future fact stated as though it had already occurred. So 1Sam. 4:1, the Jews "pitched beside Eben-ezer." But the place was not named Eben-ezer till years after. 1Sam. 7:12. "Judas Iscariot, which was also the traitor." Luke 6:16. Here a future fact with regard to Judas is mentioned when he is first spoken of, though the act of betrayal did not take place till years later. Just so when the seventh day is first mentioned its sanctification is referred to, though it did not occur till afterwards. We must admit that this may have been so.
Ex. 20:8 says: "Remember the Sabbath day," etc. Sabbatarians claim that this shows that the Sabbath existed from creation. It does not prove it, because the Sabbath had been given some weeks before the decalogue was given. So this may refer back only to Ex. 16, when the Sabbath is first named. Or, which is evidently the real truth about it, it may refer to keeping the Sabbath as it comes week by week. "Remember," don't forget, to keep the Sabbath day.
Then it is now generally held by able Christian scholars that the days of creation were indefinite periods of time. There is much to sustain this idea. Sabbatarians themselves admit this. Thus Rev. A.H. Lewis, D.D., Seventh-day Baptist, editor and author of several critical works on the Sabbath, says: "We apprehend that the creation week was infinitely longer than our week of seven days of twenty-four hours." Sabbath and Sunday, page 8. But this fact is fatal to his definite seventh-day theory; for if God's days were not twenty- four hour days like ours, then we do not and can not rest on the same definite day He did. Hence, we can only use God's week as a model - six days work, the seventh rest.
Sabbatarians think that the fourth commandment designates the identical day on which God himself rested. But this is not as clear as they claim. "The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." Ex. 20:10. That is, the rest day of the Lord; hence it must be the day on which he himself rested, they say. But this does not necessarily follow. The language simply claims that day as belonging to God. Take the day of the passover: "The fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of the Lord." Num. 28:16. Did the Lord keep the passover that day? Hardly. Again: "These are the feasts of the Lord." Lev. 23:4. Did the Lord feast on those days? Surely not. The language simply claims those days as sacred to God and that is all that Ex. 20:10 claims for the seventh day. The revised version gives the idea clearly: "The seventh day is a Sabbath UNTO THE LORD thy God."
Away back there in the dim past, where the events of an age are covered by one line in the Bible, it is impossible now to determine exactly how it all was. Those ages before Christ are compared to shadows, Col. 2:17, and to the light of the moon, Rev. 12:1, while the gospel is compared to the sun. Rev. 12:1. Is it not the safest for us to walk in the light of the sun instead of groping our way in the moonlight and shadows of the past? But the main reliance of Sabbatarians is upon arguments drawn from those remote times of darkness, while in the New Testament they find little to support their theories, but much to explain away.
There is no statement that any of they patriarchs kept the Sabbath or knew anything about it. Sabbatarians say the record is so brief that it was omitted. Their proof then is WHAT WAS LEFT OUT!
Though the record from Adam to Moses covers a period of 2500 years; though we appear to have a full account of the religious customs and worship of the patriarchs, such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, etc.; though we are told about circumcision, the altar, the sacrifices, the priests, the tithe, the oath, marriage, feast days, etc.; yet never a word is said about any one keeping the Sabbath. This does not prove positively that they did not keep it, but it does show a strong probability against it. This is the sum of what can be fairly said about the Sabbath in Genesis. When men go back in Genesis to find their principal argument for the Sabbath, is it not going a long ways and finding little upon which to establish a Christian duty? Would it not be wiser and safer to build our faith upon the plain requirements of the New Testament?
Justin Martyr, who wrote only 44 years after the death of St. John, and who was well acquainted with the doctrine of the apostles, denied that the Sabbath originated at creation. Thus after name Adam, Abel, Enoch, Lot and Melchizedek, he says: "Moreover, all those righteous men already mentioned, though they kept no Sabbaths, were pleasing to God." Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 19.
Irenaeus says: "Abraham believed God without circumcision and the Sabbath." Adv. Hoeres, lib 4, c. 30.
Tertullian, A.D. 200, said: "Let them show me that Adam Sabbatized, or that Abel in presenting his holy offering to God pleased him by Sabbath observance, or that Enoch who was translated was an observer of the Sabbath." Against the Jews, section 4.
Eusebius, A.D. 324, the father of church history, says: "They (the patriarchs) did not, therefore, regard circumcision, nor observe the Sabbath, nor do we." Eccl. Hist., book 1, chapter 4.
From this it will be seen that the early church did not believe that the Sabbath originated at creation. The same doctrine has been maintained by such eminent men as Paley, Hessey, Bishop Bramhall, etc. Paley says: "Now, in my opinion, the transactions in the wilderness above recited were the first actual institution of the Sabbath." Quoted in Watson's Institutes, Vol. II, page 515. The great John Milton says: "Whether its institution was ever made known to Adam, or whether any commandment relative to its observance was given previous to the delivery of the law on Mt. Sinai, much less whether any such was given before the fall of man, can not be ascertained." A Treatise on Christian Doctrine, Vol. I, page 299.
John Bunyan says: "Now as to the imposing of the seventh day Sabbath upon men from Adam to Moses, of that we find nothing in holy writ, either from precept or example." Complete Works, page 892. So many of the best minds have not been able to find clear proof that the Sabbath was kept before Moses. Others, as Clarke, Barnes, Scott, Lange, etc., think it was. We best leave it as an unsettled question.
Granting that the Sabbath was given to Adam in Eden, it does not follow that all men now must keep it. Look at what Adam was to do: 1st. Adam was only allowed to eat the fruit of trees and plants. Gen 1:29. The first permission to eat flesh was given to Noah. Gen 9:3. 2nd. Adam was to tend garden. Gen. 2:15. 3rd. He was forbidden the tree of knowledge. Gen 2:17. 4th. He was given access to the tree of life. Gen 2:16. 5th. Adam was naked. Gen. 2:25. All this was in Eden before the fall. Must all men now eat and work and dress and do just as Adam did in Eden? No one believes that. Then it would not follow that we must keep the seventh day even if Adam did. This simple fact demolishes the most confident argument of Sabbatarians.
The first mention of Sabbath observance is in Ex. 16. Many eminent scholars hold that God here changed the day of rest from the original seventh day to the sixth day of the creation week. Others hold that the Jews, during their long slavery in Egypt, had lost the Sabbath and that it was here renewed; while others hold that it was here given for the first time. Whichever position is correct, it is clear that the keeping of the Sabbath was a new thing to the Jews. A few facts are plain. The deliverance of Israel from Egypt marked a new era in the history of the church and of Israel. This is kept prominent all through the Bible. Here God gave them a new year and a new beginning of months. "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you." Ex. 12:2. Hence it is very probable that he might have given them a new Sabbath day or one for the first time. The account of their first keeping the Sabbath shows plainly that they were not accustomed to it before.
Dr. H.C. Benson, the eminent M.E. editor, scholar and author, says of Ex. 16: "It is so explicit that we are not left in doubt as to the fact that the Sabbath, as observed in the wilderness of sin, had not been a day hallowed by the Lord previous to that time." Quoted and approved by Dr. Potts and Bishop Harris in The Lord's Day Our Sabbath, page 15.
John Milton over 200 years ago said: "That the Israelites had not so much as heard of the Sabbath before this time, seems to be confirmed by several passages of the prophets." Treatise on Christian Doctrine, Vol. I, book 2, chapter 7.
John Bunyan also said: "The seventh day Sabbath, therefore, was not from paradise, nor from nature, nor from the fathers, but from the wilderness and from Sinai." Complete Works, page 895.
It was new to them. Read it: Moses said on Friday, "Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy Sabbath unto the Lord." (R.V.) The last verse gives the conclusion of the whole matter. "So the people rested on the seventh day." That is, thus and for this reason the people here began resting on the seventh day. There is no sense in the language if this is not the meaning. Several scriptures harmonize well with this idea. Thus, Neh. 9:13-14. "Thou camest down also upon Mount Sinai... and MADEST KNOWN unto them the holy Sabbath." This implies that it was not known before. In harmony with this, Ezek. 20:10- 12 says: "Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness." "Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them." When did God give them the Sabbath? When he brought them out of Egypt. Where did he give it to them? In the wilderness. What for? For a sign between himself and them.
It does not say that God RESTORED the Sabbath, but that he gave them the Sabbath. "I gave them my Sabbaths" implies the act of committing it to them, showing that they did not have it before. Surely all these facts are plainly stated. They show that the keeping of this day was a new thing to them and only for them. Deut. 5:15, states that the Sabbath is to be kept as a memorial of Egypt. "Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence; ...therefore, the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day." This indicates that the Sabbath was a Jewish institution. One reason given why they should keep it was because they had been delivered out of Egypt. Of course they would not keep it till the reason existed for keeping it. The laws regulating how it should be kept show that it was a local institution adapted only to the Jewish worship and to that warm climate. 1.) No fires must be built on the Sabbath. Ex. 35:3. 2.) They must neither bake nor boil that day. Ex. 16:23. 3.) They must not go out of the house. Ex. 16:29. 4.) Their priests must offer two lambs that day. Num. 28:9. 5.) They must compel all among them, living in their land, to keep it. Ex. 20:10. 6.) They must stone all who break it. Ex. 31:14. 7.) It must be kept from sunset to sunset. Lev. 23:32. 8.) Their cattle must rest. Ex. 20:10. No meetings were appointed for that day. It was to be wholly a day of rest.
Seventh-day Adventists observe none of these things. Indeed, it would be impossible for them to do most of them. They would freeze without fires and suffer without warm food. They go many miles on the Sabbath and drive their teams; they offer no lambs; they can compel no one to keep it; nor do they stone those who break it. In the extreme north and in traveling around the earth they do not go by sunset time, for they cannot. Their Sabbathkeeping is no more like that of the Old Testament, such as the law required, than darkness is like light. It shows the folly of their effort to keep an obsolete Jewish day. Nowhere are Gentiles required to keep the Sabbath except such as dwell among the Jews. They were also required to keep the other feast days. Lev. 16:29. All through the Old Testament the Gentiles are denounced over and over for all other sins, but not once for breaking the Sabbath, though none of them kept it. The reason for this must be that it was not binding upon them. John Bunyan says: "We read not that God gave it to any but to the seed of Jacob." Complete Works, page 895.
Sabbatarians strongly object to our calling the seventh day the "Jewish Sabbath." They ask, "Where does the Bible call it the Jewish Sabbath? It is 'the sabbath of the Lord they God.'" This simple argument has great force with many. But I am satisfied it is perfectly proper to designate the seventh day as the Jewish Sabbath. Seventh-day brethren are constantly talking and writing about "the ceremonial law" and the "moral law," nor could they properly express their ideas of the "two laws" without using these terms. But neither of them is once used in all the Bible. How is this? Will they admit that their idea is unscriptural because these exact words are not used in the Bible? No. They freely use the terms "Jewish festivals," "Jewish sabbaths," "annual sabbaths," "sabbaths of the Hebrews," etc. See "History of the Sabbath," pages 82, 83, 84, etc. Yet not one of these terms is found in the Bible, though they cannot get along without them. It would be amusing to confine a Sabbatarian strictly to the Bible language and then hear him attempt to preach on the two laws and the different sabbaths. "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones."
1. "Sabbath" is purely a Hebrew word never found till the time of Moses. Ex. 16:23 2. The Word Sabbath is never used in the Bible except in connection with some Jewish holy time. 3. There is no record that the Sabbath was ever kept till the Jews kept it. Ex. 16. 4. The Sabbath was given to the Jews. "I gave them my Sabbaths." Ez. 20:12 If God gave it to the Jews, was it not their Sabbath; was it not the Jewish Sabbath? I give Fred a knife. Is it not Fred's knife? 5. Notice how plain the record is that God gave the Sabbath to the Jews, but to no others. "The Lord hath given YOU the Sabbath." Ex. 16:29. "Speak unto the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, saying Verily, my Sabbaths ye shall keep." Ex. 31:13. Who was told to keep the Sabbath? The children of Israel, the Jews. "It is a sign between me and the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL," the Jews. Verse 17. 6. God himself calls the Sabbath "her Sabbaths." Hosea 2:11. "I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her Sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts." Isn't it the Jewish Sabbath, then? 7. The Sabbath was never given to any other nation. 8. "The children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath throughout their generation." Ex. 31:16. To whom was it confined? To the generation of the Jews. 9. "It is a sign between me and the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL." Ex. 31:17. It was theirs exclusively, Jewish. 10. The Sabbath is classed right in with the other Jewish holy days and sacrifices. See Lev. 23:1-44; Num. 28:2, 16; 1Chron. 23:29-31; 2Chron. 2:4; 8:13, etc. 11. It was abolished with them. Colossians 2:14-17 12. The Jews comprise nearly all those who keep the seventh day; hence "Jewish Sabbath" is a natural and intelligent designation for that day. 13. Christians almost unanimously keep the first day in distinction from the Jews who comprise nearly all those who keep the seventh day. Hence the Jewish Sabbath is intelligent and proper again. 14. The few Christians who keep a different day from the great body of the church keep the Sabbath which the Jews keep. Hence, again, it is significant and proper to designate them as those who keep the Jewish Sabbath. 15. But Sabbatarians say that the seventh day is called "the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." Ex. 20:10, and "my holy day," Isa. 58:10, therefore it is not proper to call it "the Jewish Sabbath." Answer: Every holy season, place, person, or article was called the Lord's as "the Lord's passover." Ex. 12:11. Yet we read, "The passover, a feast of the Jews." John 6:4. So it is "the Sabbath of the Lord" in one place and "her Sabbaths" in another. Hosea 2:11. Hence it is correct and scriptural to call the seventh day "the Jewish Sabbath."
Here Sabbatarians find three expressions from which they argue that the Sabbath can never end. 1.) "Throughout their generations." 2.) "Perpetual." 3.) "Forever." Thus: "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, FOR a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever." They ask, when will PERPETUAL and FOREVER end? They show that the generation of the Jews still continues; hence the Sabbath is still to be kept.
But this argument would also perpetuate all the Levitical law, circumcision, incense, passover, priesthood, etc. Thus the passover: "ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever." Ex. 12:14. It must be kept "THROUGHOUT THEIR GENERATIONS" and "FOREVER" just like the Sabbath. So of the offering of incense. "A PERPETUAL incense before the Lord THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS." Ex. 30:8. Now if the Adventist argument for the Sabbath based on the terms "perpetual," "forever," and "throughout your generations," is good, then they ought to keep the passover and offer incense! This is a fair sample of the weakness of Sabbatarian arguments. The same argument will prove the perpetuity of burnt offerings, Ex. 29:42; atonement, Ex. 30:10; washing of hands and feet, Ex. 30:21; first fruits, Lev. 23:13; meat offering, Lev. 6:18; oil for lamps, Lev. 24:3; fringes, Num. 15:38; pentecost, Lev. 23:21; feast of tabernacles, Lev. 23:41. See also Ex. 40:15; Lev. 3:17; 7:36; Num. 10:8.
The application of these terms to the keeping of the Sabbath is proof that it was to cease. Why? Because in every case where these terms are applied to the observance of any ordinance that ordinance has ceased. Adventists themselves will agree to this in everything except the Sabbath. None of these terms are ever applied to moral laws or duties. Where do you read, "you shall not kill throughout your generations?" "It shall be a perpetual statute that you shall not steal?" "It shall be a statute forever that you shall have no other gods?" This text, then, proves that the Sabbath was to cease with the other Jewish ceremonies.
"Gentile Christians must become Jews, Israelites, and so come under obligation to keep the Sabbath, for the Sabbath was given to Israel forever throughout their generations." This is a favorite Adventists argument for the law and Sabbath. But see its utter fallacy: Burnt offerings, incense, washing of hands and feet, fringes, priesthood, circumcision, passover, and all the Jewish law were also given to ISRAEL to keep forever throughout their generations. See above. Hence the argument proves that we must keep all these as well as the Sabbath! Do Adventists keep any of these? No.
It is argued that the Sabbath must be of perpetual obligation because it is associated in the decalogue with commandments of that nature. But it is also associated time and again with the ceremonial rites, types and shadows which were peculiarly Jewish. Thus: "Keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary." Lev. 19:30. "The Seventh day is the Sabbath." Lev. 23:3. "At even is the Lord's passover." Verse 5. "The feast of unleavened bread." Verse 6. In verse 38 the Sabbath is named with "gifts," "vows" and "offerings." In Lev. 24:1-8 the Sabbath is named with the offerings of oil, bread, frankincense. In Num. 28:9-10 it is classed with the offerings of lambs, meat and drink offerings, burnt offerings, etc. In 1Chron. 23:29-31, the Sabbath is classed with meat offering, sacrifices, new moons, feasts, etc. This fact offsets all the argument drawn from its place in the decalogue.
From Joshua to Job not a word is said indicating that the Sabbath was for any one but Jews; hence no argument can be drawn from this source to bind it upon Gentile Christians.
The Sabbath is not mentioned in Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Daniel, and most of the minor prophets. Nothing is said about it by any of the prophets which can fairly be made to apply to Christians. Several texts are applied by Adventists to our times, but it is all assumption without proof. For instance, Isa. 56 is used to prove that the Gentile Christians should keep the Sabbath. It says: The stranger, Gentile, "that keepth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar." Verses 6, 7. If this proves that Gentiles must keep the Sabbath, it also proves that they must offer burnt offerings and sacrifices upon God's altar in the temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, for all those are mentioned as plainly as the Sabbath. Either, then, this applies to the Jewish age and to those Gentile proselytes who embraced Judaism and were circumcised, Ex. 12:48, and observed all Jewish rites; or if it applies to the Christian age, then these terms "Sabbath," "altar," "sacrifice," "my house," "my holy mountain," must be taken figuratively, for Christians do not offer sacrifices, nor have a literal altar, nor go to Jerusalem to worship in that house nor on that mountain.
So Isa. 58:12-13 is boldly applied to our days and to the work of the Adventists in urging all to keep the Jewish Sabbath. But there is not a word in all the chapter even hinting such a thing. All this they assume without any proof and then apply the words to suit their purpose. I did that a hundred times while with them, just as the rest did. I know just how they do it. As last I lost all confidence in such a reckless way of handling the word of God. Then I had to quit using the most of their proof texts on the Sabbath, this with others. Look at it. The whole chapter is addressed to the Jews, "the house of Jacob," verse 1, the "nation," verse 2, and so on. Often in the Jewish age God called them to reform their lax ways in keeping the Sabbath as well as in other things. This is one of those cases. Isa. 66:22- 23. In the new earth "it shall come to pass THAT from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord." This shows that the Sabbath will be kept in the next world, hence it is perpetual and so should be kept now. But it says just the same of the new moons and places them first before the Sabbath. So if this text proves that we should keep the Sabbath it proves we should keep the new moons also. Do Adventists keep the new moons?
Ez. 22:26. "Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things; they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them." This text they also apply to their work now and to the ministers who oppose the Jewish Sabbath. But there is not a word in the whole chapter that even intimates that this applies away down here in the gospel and to Gentiles. But God himself applies it to the Jewish nation when they were overthrown by Babylon several hundred years before Christ. Read the whole chapter and compare it with Neh. 13:17- 18. See verses 2, 6, 18, 19, etc. "Wilt thou judge the bloody city," etc. "Behold, the princes of Israel." "The house of Israel is to me become dross." "Therefore will I gather you into the midst of Jerusalem." The evidence is clear that it applies there, while no proof whatever can be given to show that it belongs away down here where Adventists apply it. I became fully convinced that it was by such groundless assumptions as these, by roundabout and far- fetched arguments, that the seventh-day theory is sustained. When you look for one plain, direct statement in all the Bible requiring Gentile Christians to keep the Sabbath, it cannot be found. It has to be INFERRED from this; QUESSED from that, and CONCLUDED from the other; all inference, nothing direct. So the Old Testament furnishes no evidence that Christians are to keep the Jewish Sabbath. If such proof is to be found, it must be in the New Testament itself.