Christ and the
THOSE who oppose the Bible
Sabbath center their attack on three points, claiming (1) that the
Sabbath was not instituted at creation, and hence is not an original law
for the whole human family; (2) that the Sabbath commandment is not a
moral command as the other nine, but was a part of the Jewish ceremonial
law; (3) that Christ or the apostles abolished the Sabbath, and
gradually substituted the first day of the week in its place. We shall
now test these propositions one by one.
The Sabbath An Edenic
God the Father has always worked
through His Son, both in creation and in redemption. (Genesis 1:26;
Hebrews 1:1, 2, 8:10; John 3:16.) Therefore it was Christ who created
the world in six days and rested on the seventh day. "All things
were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made
.... He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world
knew Him not." John 1:3, 10. (Compare Colossians 1:14-18.) It is a
great comfort to a poor, weak sinner to know that our Saviour is
"the Mighty God" (Isaiah 9:6) who spoke the worlds into
existence (Psalm 33:6, 9), and who is "upholding all things by the
word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3). His word has creative power, and
if we receive it by faith, it will change our hearts and lives, and give
us victory over sin. (John 1:12; Genesis 1:3; 2 Corinthians 4:5, 6;
Matthew 5:16; Isaiah 60:1.)
As the crowning act on the sixth
day, the Lord made man in His own image, and then He "rested on the
seventh day" from a "finished" work. (Genesis 1:27, 31;
2:1-3.) Thus the seventh day stood as a memorial and reminder of a
finished work in Christ. And when man lost the image of God through sin,
Christ came to restore in man that divine image by a new creation.
(Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24; 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17.) On the
cross He cried out: "It is finished." John 19:30. This was on
Friday evening, and He rested the Sabbath day from a finished work of
re-creation, just as He had originally rested on it from a finished work
of creation. (Luke 23:52- 55.) Thus the seventh-day Sabbath stands in
the New Testament as a memorial of a "finished" work in
Christ, just as it did in the Old Testament. The work of Christ, both in
creation and redemption, was for the whole human race, not for the Jews
only. Christ says:" The Sabbath was made for man." Mark 2:27.
And therefore it was made when man was created. "So God created man
in His own image And the evening and the morning were the sixth day And
He rested on the seventh day .... And God blessed the seventh day, and
sanctified it." Genesis 1:27, 31; 2:2, 3. This was two thousand
years before Abraham (the first Jew) was born, therefore the Sabbath
could not. be Jewish. But, as Christ says, it was "made for
man," and the term "man" is not confined to any one race,
but embraces all mankind.
We are not alone in believing
that the Sabbath was instituted at creation, as the following quotations
from leading men in different denominations show:
F. C. Cook, M. A., Canon of
"'And God blessed the
seventh day.' The natural interpretation of these words is that the
blessing of the Sabbath was immediately consequent on the first creation
of man, for whom the Sabbath was made (Mark 2:27). It has been urged
from the silence concerning its observance by the patriarchs, that no
Sabbatic ordinance was really given until the promulgation of the law,
and that this passage in Genesis is not historical but anticipatory.
There are several objections, which seem fatal to this
theory."–"The Holy Bible, with an Explanatory and Critical
Commentary by Bishops and Clergy of the Anglican Church," Vol. I,
p. 37. New York: 1875.
Thomas Hamilton, D. D., in his
Five-Hundred-Dollar Prize Essay, meets this objection to the historicity
of Genesis in the following forceful way:
"Palcy . . . says: 'The
words [of Genesis 2:1-3] do not assert that God .then blessed and
sanctified the seventh day.' · . . But such an interpretation really
amounts to an interpolation. It alters the passage .... Once admit such
a mode of dealing with Scripture, or of dealing with any other book, and
we may bid farewell to certainty regarding any author's meaning .... No
history could stand if subjected to such treatment The plainest and most
unvarnished statements might be so twisted and distorted as to bear a
meaning the exact contrary to that intended by its author .... "It
is not only said God 'rested,' but He 'blessed,' the day and
'sanctified' it .... If all this do [sic.] not amount to the institution
of a weekly Sabbath for man in all time coming, . . . we fail to see
what intelligible meaning or purpose is to be extracted from the
narrative."–"Our Rest Day" pp. 10-15, New edition
Dr. Martin Luther says on this
"God blessed the Sabbath and sanctified it to Himself. It is
moreover to be remarked that God did this to no other creature. God did
not sanctify to Himself the heaven nor the earth nor any other creature.
But God did sanctify to Himself the seventh day. This was especially
designed of God, to cause us to understand that the 'seventh day' is to
be especially devoted to divine worship ....
"It follows therefore from
this passage, that if Adam had stood in his innocence and had not fallen
he would yet have observed the 'seventh day' as sanctified, holy and
sacred .... Nay, even after the fall he held the 'seventh day' sacred;
that is, he taught on that day his own family. This is testified by the
offerings made by his two sons, Cain and Abel. The Sabbath therefore
has, from the beginning of the world, been set apart for the worship of
God .... For all these things are implied and signified in the
"Although therefore man lost
the knowledge of God by sin, yet God willed that this command concerning
the sanctifying of the Sabbath should remain. He willed that on the
seventh day both the word should be preached, and also those other parts
of His worship performed which He Himself
instituted"–"Commentary on Genesis," Vol. I, pp.
138-140, translation by Professor J. N. Lenker, D. D., Minneapolis:
1904; and also "Copious Explanation of Genesis," Vol. I, pp.
62, 63. Christiania:1863.
The following words from a
distinguished Hebrew scholar are worthy of note here:
"'Finished.' To finish a
work, in Hebrew conception, is to cease from it, to have done with it.
On the seventh day. The seventh day is distinguished from all the
preceding' days by being itself the subject of the narrative. In the
absence of any work on this day, the Eternal is occupied with the day
itself, and does four things in reference to it. First, He ceased from
His work which He had made. Secondly, He rested .... Thirdly, He blessed
the seventh day In the fourth place, He hallowed it or set it apart to a
holy rest ....
"The present record is a
sufficient proof that the original institution was never forgotten by
man .... "Incidental traces of the keeping of the Sabbath are found
in the record of the Deluge, when the sacred writer has occasion to
notice short intervals of time. The measurement of time by weeks then
appears (Genesis 8' 10, 12). The same division of time again comes up in
the history of Jacob (Genesis 29' 27, 28). This unit of measure is
traceable to nothing but the institution of the seventh-day
rest."–"A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of
Genesis with a New Translation," J. G. Murphy, D. D., T. C. D.
(Professor of Hebrew, Belfast), pp. 70, 71. Andover: 1866.
Dr. J. P. Lange says:
expression, He hallowed it, must be for man, for all men who were to be
on the earth. "If we had no other passage than this of Genesis 2' 3
there would be no difficulty in deducing from it a precept for the
universal observance of a Sabbath, or the seventh day, to be devoted to
God, as holy time, by all of that race for whom the earth and its nature
were especially prepared. The first man must have known it. The words
'He hallowed it,' can have no meaning otherwise. They would be a blank
unless in reference to some who were required to keep it
holy"–Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, John Peter Lange, D. D.,
Vol. I, pp. 196, 197. New York: 1884. Dr. M. W. Jacobus, Professor
George Bush, and C. O. Rosenius, and others forcefully emphasize the
same facts. The preceding statements taken from leading men in different
denominations need no comment. They state the plain facts of the Bible
narrative in their most natural setting. Another remarkable thing in
this connection is the fact that the heathen nations for centuries after
the days of Noah retained the seventh-day Sabbath. The learned Dr. John
"We find from time
immemorial the knowledge of a week of seven days among all
nations–Egyptians, Arabians, Indians–in a word, all the nations of
the East, have in all ages made use of this week of seven days, for
which it is difficult to account without admitting that this knowledge
was derived from the common ancestors of the human race.
"–Encyclopedia of Biblical Literature, Vol. II, art.
"Sabbath," p. 655.
Professor. A. II. Sayce declares:
"The Sabbath-rest was a Babylonian, as well as a Hebrew,
institution. Its origin went back to pre-Semitic days .... In the
cuneiform tablets the Sabbath is described as 'a day of rest for the
soul,'.., it was derived by the Assyrian scribes from two Sumerian or
pre-Semitic words, sa and bat, which meant respectively 'heart' and
'ceasing.'... The rest enjoined on the Sabbath was thus as complete as
it was among the Jews." –"Higher Criticism and the
Monuments," pp. 74, 75.
During their servitude in Egypt,
the majority of the Jews evidently worked on the Sabbath, just as the
rank and file of the Jews do today, but the knowledge of it was retained
then as now, and it was kept holy by a faithful few. Besides other
evidences, we see this from the fact that, thirty days after they left
Egypt, and more than two weeks before the law was given on Sinai, God
tested the people on Sabbath-keeping (Exodus 16:4, 27, 28), which He
certainly could not have done, if the Sabbath had not been known among
them till the law was given on Sinai. Then, too, God speaks of it as a
familiar institution. (Compare Exodus 16:28 with Genesis 26:5 and 2:3.)
The fourth commandment itself
points back to creation and commands us to "remember the Sabbath
day" on which He rested at the close of creation week. (Exodus
20:8, 11.) No human logic can therefore explain away the historical
facts that the Sabbath was set apart for man at creation.
The Sabbath Moral Or Typical?
Some claim that the Sabbath
commandment does not enforce the observance of the seventh day of the
week, but only the seventh part of our time, the particular day being
left to our choice. But nothing could be more contradictory to the plain
wording of the commandment. If God's commands and promises are to be so
construed as to mean the very opposite of what they state, then we may
bid farewell to all certainty and comfort derived from the Scriptures.
God commands us to keep, not a seventh, but the seventh, day, on which
He rested, the day He blessed and sanctified. (Exodus 20:10, 11.) The
Sabbath rests on a historical event that cannot be changed to another
day, any more than our birthday can be changed.
In regard to the claim that the
Sabbath commandment is not moral as the other nine, but ceremonial, it
needs only to be said that there is no statement to that effect in the
whole Bible, and it would involve its advocates in the most serious
difficulty. All through the Bible a clear distinction is maintained
between the two laws, the moral and the ceremonial. God spoke the Ten
Commandments to the people directly, "and He added no more"
(Deuteronomy 5:22); He engraved them on two tables of stone (Exodus
32:16; Deuteronomy 9:10); and had them laid "in the ark"
(Deuteronomy 10:5; 1 Kings 8:9). But the ceremonial law of ordinances
was spoken to the people by Moses, was written by him "in a
book," and laid beside the ark. (Exodus 21:1; 24:3, 4, 7;
Deuteronomy 31:24-26. *10)
Now we respectfully ask: Would any
one claim that God did not understand the difference between moral and
ceremonial laws, and hence wrote a ceremonial command into the very
bosom of His moral law, the Decalogue? Such an accusation of God would
be preposterous, and yet, this is what the above claim necessarily
implies! We must therefore conclude that all the Ten Commandments are
moral, which practically all the leading religious denominations teach
in their confessions of faith.
Did Christ Change The Sabbath?
Christ came to lift people out of
the degradation of sin, not to leave them in sin. He received the name
"JESUS, for He shall save His people from their sins." Matthew
1:21. And "sin is the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4.
The law here referred to is the
moral law of the Ten Commandments. (Romans 7:7, 12; James 2:10, 11.)
Christ firmly refuted the idea that He was to abolish any part of God's
law. He says: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law .... For
verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle
shall in no wise pass from the law." Matthew 5:17, 18.
Christ was to "magnify the
law, and make it honorable." Isaiah 42:21. And this He did, for He
freed it from all the traditions and additions of men. (Matthew 15:3, 6,
9, 13.) The Pharisees had burdened down the Sabbath with hundreds of
man-made regulations. All these Jesus swept away, and restored it to its
original purpose, that it should be a blessing, a sacred
"delight" to God's people. (Isaiah 58:13.) But He never made
any change in the day. He kept it Himself, and taught His followers to
do the same. (Luke 4:16, 31; Matthew 24:20; 12:11, 12.)
Satan's Hatred Of The Sabbath
The Lord gave His Sabbath to man
as a weekly reminder of Christ's sanctifying and keeping power, because
man needed this reminder. (Ezekiel 20:12.) But Satan has always tried to
blot out all memory of the true God from the earth, and to draw man's
allegiance and worship to himself through idolatry. (1 Corinthians
10:20.) He has therefore made relentless efforts to pull down God's
Sabbatic flag, and to trample it in the mire. We have seen that for a
long time after the descendants of Noah had dispersed over the earth
they retained the knowledge of the Sabbath. This was true even after
they went into idolatry. Egypt was the first among the heathen nations
to turn from honoring the seventh-day Sabbath, and to lead other nations
to regard the first day as the weekly holiday of their sun-god. Truels
Lund gives a detailed story of this change, tracing it back to 1400 B.C.
We quote the following from his extensive work:
"According to the
Assyrian-Babylonian conception, the particular stress lay necessarily
upon the number seven .... The whole week pointed prominently towards
the seventh day, the feast day, the rest day, in this day it collected,
in this it also consummated. 'Sabbath' is derived from both 'rest' and
'seven.' With the Egyptians it was the reverse .... For them on the
contrary the sungod was the beginning and origin of all things. The day
of the Sun, Sunday, therefore, became necessarily for them the feast day
.... The holiday was transferred from the last to the first day of the
week"–"Daglige Livi Norden," Vol. XIII, pp. 54, 55.
"The seven planetary names
of the days were at the close of the second century A.D., prevailing
everywhere in the Roman Empire .... This astrology originated in Egypt,
where Alexandria now so loudly proclaimed it to all .... 'The day of the
Sun' was the Lord's day, the chiefest and first of the week. The evil
and fatal Saturn's day was the last of the week, on which none could
celebrate a feast ....
"From Rome, through the
Roman legionaries, the seven planetary days pressed farther north to
Gaul, Britain, and Germany. Everywhere . . . people yielded respectfully
to the astrology in its popular form; the doctrine concerning the
Sun-day with its fortune, the Moon-day with its alternative play, and
the filthy, unlucky Saturday .... As a concentrated troop the planetary
appellations and names of heathen deities stood on guard, when later
Christianity reached Europe, and attempted to displace them ....
"For the Christians the lot was cast by the reception of the . . .
day of the sun. Not till they themselves had later gained power were
they awakened to doubt .... And the heathen names of the days seemed at
variance with Christian faith"–Id., pp. 91, 92, 110.
The London Anglican rector, T. H.
Morer says of Sunday:
"It is not to be denied but
we borrow the name of this day from the ancient Greeks and Romans, and
we allow that the old Egyptians worshiped the sun, and as a standing
memorial of their veneration, dedicated this day to him. And we find by
the influence of their example, other nations, and among them the Jews
themselves, doing him homage"–"Six Dialogues on the Lord's
Day," p. 22. London: 1701.
Thus we see how Satan, through
heathenism, tried to stigmatize the Sabbath of Jehovah and to elevate
Sunday as a joyful day. The Egyptians worshiped their
sun-god under the name of Osiris, and the Apis bull (the golden calf
made at Horeb) was a representation of him. This worship was conducted
by turning to the rising sun. (Ezekiel 8:16.) Therefore the Lord ordered
the tabernacle always to be pitched with the front toward the east, so
that the people, worshiping before it, had to turn their backs upon sun
worship. (Numbers 3:23. See also Exodus 26:22; 36:27, 32 in American
Revised Version, and Jeremiah 32:33.) Talbot W. Chambers, D. D., says
that sun worship was "the oldest, the most widespread, and the most
enduring of all forms of idolatry known to man." "The
universality of this form of idolatry is something remarkable. It seems
to have prevailed everywhere. The chief object of worship among the
Syrians was Baal–the sun .... In Egypt the sun was the kernel of the
state religion"–"The Old Testament Student," pp. 193,
194. January, 1886.
In Babylon the sun-god was called
Bel, in Phoenicia and Palestine, Baal, and Sun-day was "the wild
solar holiday of all pagan times."–"North British
Review," Vol. XVIII, p. 409. Rev. W. H. Poole says:
"The first and principal
idol was the sun-the glorious luminary of the day .... Baal was the
great sun-god of all the East. With our Israelitish ancestors the
sun-god came west. His day is our Sunday. Every time you name our
Sabbath-day Sunday you are reminded of our great, great, great
grandfathers' principal deity"–"Anglo-Israel in Nine
Lectures," pp. 389, 390. Detroit, Mich.:1889.
The Encyclopedia Britannica says
of the worship of Baal: "As the sun-god he is conceived as the male
principle of life and reproduction in nature, and thus in some forms of
his worship is the patron of the grossest sensuality, and even of
systematic prostitution. An example of this is found in the worship of
Baal-Peor (Numbers 25)."–Vol. III, (New American ed., Werner
Co.), art. "Baal," p. 175.
This sun worship was the greatest
of all abominations to God (Ezekiel 8:13- 16), and the warnings to
Israel have great significance to us today: "I will visit upon her
the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked
herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers,
and forgat Me, saith the Lord." Hosea 2:13. (See also 1 Corinthians
When we remember that it was
Christ who took Israel out of Egypt (Hebrews 11:26, 27; I Corinthians
10:4), and who labored so earnestly to turn them away from sun worship
and Sunday-keeping, and that it was Satan who always led them into this
idolatry, we ask with all candor. Could any one suppose that Christ, in
the New Testament, has exchanged places with Satan, so that He is now
leading people to keep Sunday, while the devil is leading them to keep
the Sabbath of Jehovah? Every thoughtful person must say with the
Apostle Paul: "God forbid." Romans 3:31. 65