Creation of the earth and man #3 Of the Sabbath day #1 the Seventh day

Of the Sabbath day

On the seventh day, which was neither longer nor shorter than the days which preceded it, “God ended his work which he had made”; and because of this notable event, “he blessed and sanctified it”.

A day is blessed, because of what is or will be imparted to those who are commanded to observe it. The sanctification of the day implies the setting of it apart that it might be kept in some way different from other days. The manner of its original observance may be inferred from the law concerning it when it was enjoined upon the Israelites. To them it was said,

“Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy”.

If it be asked, how was it to be kept holy? the answer is,

“in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor any one or thing belonging to thee”;

and the reason for this total abstinence from work is referred to the Lord’s own example in that “he rested the seventh day”. The nature of its observance in the ages and generations, and the recompense thereof, is well expressed in the words of Isaiah:

— “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord, and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” {Isaiah 58:13, 14.}

"Der Samstug (Sabbath)", Frederich C...
“Der Samstug (Sabbath)”, Frederich Campe, 1800: German Jews, wearing baretta hats, gather outside a synagogue on Sabbath. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this passage, the conditions are stated upon which faithful Israelites might inherit the blessing typified by the rest of the seventh day. They were joyfully to devote themselves to the way of the Lord. They were not simply to abstain from work, yawning and grumbling over the tediousness of the day, and wishing it were gone, that they might return to their ordinary course of life; but they were to esteem it as a delightful, holy, and honourable day. Their pleasure was to consist in doing what the Lord required, and in talking of “the exceeding great and precious promises” He had made. To do this was “not speaking their own words”, but the Lord’s words. Such an observance as this, however, of the sabbath day, implies a faithful mind and a gracious disposition as the result of knowing the truth.

Neither antediluvian nor postdiluvian could “call the sabbath a delight” who was either ignorant or faithless of the import of the promise,

“thou shalt delight thyself in the Lord, and ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed with the heritage of Jacob”.

Representation of Sabbat gatherings from the c...
Representation of Sabbat gatherings from the chronicles of Johann Jakob Wick. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A man who simply looked at the seventh day as a sabbath in which he was interdicted from pleasures, and conversation agreeable to him, and from the money-making pursuits in which he delighted, would regard the day more as a weekly punishment, than as joyous and honourable. Though he might mechanically abstain from work, he did not keep it so as to be entitled to the blessing which belonged to the observance of the day of the Lord. It was irksome to him, because, being faithless, he perceived no reward in keeping it; and

“without faith it is impossible to please God”.

The reward to antediluvian and postdiluvian patriarchs and Israelites, for a faithful observance, or commemoration of Jehovah’s rest from His creation-work, was

“delight in the Lord, riding upon the high places of the earth, and feeding with the heritage of Jacob”.

This was neither more nor less than a promise of inheriting the Kingdom of God, which is a summary of “the things hoped for and the things unseen”, or the subject matter of the faith that pleases God. When that kingdom is established, all who are accounted worthy of it will “delight or joy in the Lord”; and occupy “the high places of the earth”, ruling over the nations as His associate kings and priests; and share in the “new heavens and earth,” in which dwells righteousness, when Jerusalem shall be made a rejoicing, and her people Israel a joy. The knowledge and belief of these things was the powerful and transforming motive which caused Abel, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc. to “call the sabbath a delight, holy of the Lord, and honourable”; and to observe it as the sons of Belial cannot possibly do. But while this was the motive, even faith, which actuated the sons of God in their keeping holy the seventh day, Jehovah did not permit the faithless to transgress or desecrate it with impunity. We know not what penalty, if any, was attached to its violation before the flood; but its desecration under the Mosaic constitution was attended with signal and summary vengeance, as will appear from the following testimonies:—

1. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore: for it is holy unto you. Every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done, but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord; whosoever doeth any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death. 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 for ever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” { Exodus 31:12–17.}
2. “Remember (O Israel), that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and 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 day.” {Deut. 5:15.}
3. “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day mere shall be to you a holy day, a sabbath of rest to the Lord: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the sabbath day.” { Exodus 35:2, 3.}
4. “And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.” { Numb. 15:32–36.}
5. “Thus saith the Lord; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem: neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.… And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, to do no work therein: then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and upon horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever. And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt-offerings, and sacrifices, and meat-offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the temple of the Lord. But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then I will kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” {Jer. 17:21–27.}
6. “Abide ye every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.” {Exodus 16:29, 30.}

From these testimonies it is clear that it was unlawful for servants in the families of Israel to light fires, cook dinners, harness horses, drive out families to the synagogues, or priests to the temple to officiate in the service of the Lord. The visiting of families on the sabbath day, the taking of excursions for health or for preaching, and conversing about worldly, or family, or any kind of secular affairs, was also illegal, and punishable with death. The law, it will be observed also, had regard to the seventh, and to no other day of the week. It was lawful to do all these things on the first or eighth day (some particular ones, however, excepted), but not on the seventh. On this day, however, it was “lawful to do good”; but then, this good was not arbitrary. Neither the priests nor the people were the judges of the good or evil, but the law only which defined it.

“On the sabbath days the priests in the temple profaned the sabbath, and were blameless”; {Matt. 12:5.}

for the law enjoined them to offer “two lambs of the first year, without spot, as the burnt-offering of every sabbath”. { Num. 28:9–10.} This was a profanation of the seventh-day law, which prohibited “any work” from being done; and had not God commanded it, they would have been “guilty of death”. It was upon this ground that Jesus was “guiltless”; for he did the work of God on that day in healing the sick as the Father had commanded him.

“The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: therefore”,

said Jesus,

“the Son of Man is Lord also of the sabbath Day ”. {Mark 2:27.}

It was a wise and beneficent institution. It prevented the Israelites from wearing out themselves and their dependents by incessant toil; and revived in them a weekly remembrance of the law and promises of God. It was, however, only “a Shadow of things to come”, the substance of which is found in the things which pertain to the Anointed One of God.  (Col. 2:14, 16–17)

14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Let No One Disqualify You
16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. {The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Kol 2:14–19). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.}

It was a part of “the rudiments of the world” inscribed on

“the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us”,

and which the Lord Jesus “took out of the way, nailing it to his cross”. When he lay entombed he rested from his labours, abiding in his place all the seventh day. Having ended his work, he arose on the eighth day, “and was refreshed”. The shadowy sabbath disappeared before the brightness of the rising of the sun of righteousness; who, having become the accursed of the law. delivered his brethren from its sentence upon all.

– Thomas, D. J. (1990). Elpis Israel: an exposition of the Kingdom of God (electronic ed., pp. 13–17). Birmingham, UK: The Christadelphian.

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Preceding: Creation of the earth and man #2 Evil Angels and moments of creation

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Additional reading:

  1. Truth, doubt or blindness
  2. Observance of a day to Remember
  3. Anointing of Christ as Prophetic Rehearsal of the Burial rites
  4. Jesus begotten Son of God #3 Messiah or Anointed one
  5. Written to recognise the Promised One
  6. The Right One to follow and to worship
  7. Sabbath according to the scriptures

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Necessity of a revelation of creation 6 Getting understanding by Word of God 4

Book of Genesis, Jianning (Jian'ou) Bible.
Book of Genesis, Jianning (Jian’ou) Bible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Offering, sacrifice and worship are only mentioned casually in the book of Genesis. The stories of those who continued to populate the earth are also offered in the Book of books, the Bible, which we consider as the infallible Word of God. There is no reason to give a historical detail and the person who wrote down the Words of God had also no such intention. We are also reminded that it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but that man has the task to find God and to search all things, making it possible to receive glory by searching matters out.

Pro 25:2 NSB  It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.

In our life we shall have to search for God and should come to know what God’s expectations are and why God listens to some one and does not come to help to others. In Genesis 6 we can see how God was patient and gave enough time to people to come to other ideas and to stop our egoistic life, giving us opportunities to come to live the way God wants us to live.

The Bible assumes and asserts the existence of God,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”;

and is itself the most illustrious proof of his existence, as well as our chief instructor as to his nature and will. It puts a voice into the mute lips of creation; and not only reveals God in His works, but illustrates his ways in providence, displays the glories of His character, His law, and His grace, and brings man into true and saving communion with him. The Book of books reveals Him to us as a Spirit, the only being from everlasting and to everlasting by nature, underived, infinite, perfect, and unchangeable in power, wisdom, omniscience, omnipresence, justice, holiness, truth, goodness, and mercy. He is but One God, Who gave His Name to the world to be known all over the world. The proper Hebrew name for God is Jehovah, which signifies that “He is the Being” or that “He is the Essence of Being” or “Essence of life”. As time passed by the Jews, from a feeling of reverence, started avoiding pronouncing this holy name, substituting for it, wherever it occurs in the sacred test, the word Adonai (Lord); except in the expression, Adonai Jehovah, Lord Jehovah, for which they put, Adonai Elohim, Lord God.

Tetragrammaton YHWH Je-Ho-Vah, God's Name illuminating
Tetragrammaton YHWH Je-Ho-Vah, God’s Name illuminating

This usage, which is not without an element of superstition, is very ancient, dating its origin some centuries before Christ; but there is no good ground for assuming its existence in the days of the inspired Old Testament writers. The proper word for god or God is elohim or Elohim, which is plural in its form, being thus used to signify it is a higher or important person (a god) and in this case even the Most High God of gods, signifying the manifold perfections of God, or, as some wrongly think, the Trinity in the godhead. In Exodus 3:14, God replies to Moses, when he asks Him His name,

“I AM THAT I AM”;

which means either, “I am He who I am”, or, “I am what I am”. In either case the expression implies the eternal self-existence of Jehovah Who is Only One God “Who Is”. He “Who is Who He is” is the Source, Owner, and Ruler of all beings, foreknows and predetermines all events, and is the eternal Judge and Arbiter of the destiny of all. True religion has its foundation in the right knowledge of God, and consists in supremely loving and faithfully obeying him.

In the early times that holy Name and what this Only One God wanted from His creation was told from one generation to the next.  But after the situation had become so bad that God had made the choice to destroy that ungodly population we can see a sufficient reason why the sons of Noah renewed the tradition of presenting the stories and name and titles of God and godly people in their families, as they were naturally disposed to perpetuate the memory of their distinguished ancestors.

The Flood came that God’s purpose might be fulfilled. The course of nature was interrupted, the arrangements of social and domestic life were overturned, all the works of men were swept away that this purpose might be fulfilled. It was expedient that one generation should die for all generations; and this generation having been taken out of the way, fresh provision was made for the co-operation of man with God. On man’s part there is art emphatic acknowledgement of God by sacrifice; on God’s part there is a renewed grant to man of the world and its fullness, a renewed assurance of His favour. There was made a covenant with Noah on the plane of nature. It is man’s natural life in the world which is the subject of it. The sacredness of life is its great lesson.

Men might well wonder whether God did not hold life cheap. In the old world violence had prevailed. But while Lamech’s sword may have slain its thousands, God had in the Flood slain tens of thousands. The covenant, therefore, directs that human life must be reverenced. The primal blessing is renewed. Men are to multiply and replenish the earth; and the slaughter of a man was to be reckoned a capital crime; and the maintenance of life was guaranteed by a special clause, securing the regularity of the seasons.

The sons of Noah (Sem/Shem, Cham, Japheth) continued the tradition of telling the Works of God and having to face the difference in tongue spoken with the different languages the Word of God became told in different languages as well.

You would expect the people to have more sense after the flood and after the experience of Babel but lots of people kept ignoring what God wanted from them. They did seem to have difficulty to learn from the Flood that wickedness must not be allowed to grow unchecked and attain dimensions which nothing short of a flood can cope with. It may be felt that the matters about which God spoke to Noah were barely religious, certainly not spiritual. But to take God as our-God in any one particular is to take Him as our God for all. If we can eat our daily bread as given to us by our Father in heaven, then we are heirs of the righteousness which is by faith. It is because we wait for some wonderful and out-of-the-way proofs that God is keeping faith with us that we so much lack a real and living faith.
Only a small amount tried to stay faithful to the Creator. One of them was Abraham. The consequences of Abraham’s movements and beliefs have been limitless and enduring.

With Abraham there is introduced the first step in a new method adopted by God in the training of men.

The dispersion of men and the divergence of their languages are now seen to have been the necessary preliminary to this new step in the education of the world — the fencing round of one people till they should learn to know God and understand and exemplify His government. It is true, God reveals Himself to all men and governs all; but by selecting one race with special adaptations, and by giving to it a special training, God might more securely and more rapidly reveal Himself to all. Each nation has certain characteristics, a national character which grows by seclusion from the influences which are forming other races. There is a certain mental and moral individuality stamped upon every separate people. Nothing is more certainly retained; nothing more certainly handed down from generation to generation. It would therefore be a good practical means of conserving and deepening the knowledge of God, if it were made the national interest of a people to preserve it, and if it were closely identified with the national characteristics. This was the method adopted by God. He meant to combine allegiance to Himself with national advantages, and spiritual with national character, and separation in belief with a distinctly outlined and defensible territory. {Expositor Bible}

God revealed Himself to Abraham who knew about the deities worshipped by his fathers in Chaldea, but his ears were open to the God of gods and he wanted to follow His instructions even when He asked to offer his son.

Had Abraham abandoned Charran at the command of a widely ruling monarch who promised him ample compensation, no record would have been made of so ordinary a transaction. But this was an entirely new thing and well worth recording, that a man should leave country and kindred and seek an unknown land under the impression that thus he was obeying the command of the unseen God. While others worshipped sun, moon, and stars, and recognised the Divine in their brilliance and power, in their exaltation above earth and control of earth and its life, Abraham saw that there was something greater than the order of nature and more worthy of worship, even the still small voice that spoke within his own conscience of right and wrong in human conduct, and that told him how his own life must be ordered. While all around him were bowing down to the heavenly host and sacrificing to them the highest things in human nature, he heard a voice falling from these shining ministers of God’s will, which said to him, “See thou do it not, for we are thy fellow-servants; worship thou God!” This was the triumph of the spiritual over the material; the acknowledgment that in God there is something greater than can be found in nature; that man finds his true affinity not in the things that are seen but in the unseen Spirit that is over all. It is this that gives to the figure of Abraham its simple grandeur and its permanent significance. {Expositor Bible}

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Preceding articles:

The very very beginning 1 Creating Gods

Genesis Among the Creation Myths

Something from nothing

Necessity of a revelation of creation 1 Works of God and works of man

Necessity of a revelation of creation 2 Organisation of a system of things

Necessity of a revelation of creation 3 Getting understanding by Word of God 1

Necessity of a revelation of creation 4 Getting understanding by Word of God 2

Necessity of a revelation of creation 5 Getting understanding by Word of God 3

Next: Necessity of a revelation of creation 7 Getting understanding by Word of God 5

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Further reading:

  1. I am that I am Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh אהיה אשר אהיה
  2. Attributes to God, titles ascribed to Him or Names given to JHWH, the God of gods.
  3. Titles of God beginning with the Aleph in Hebrew
  4. Pluralis Majestatis in the Holy Scriptures
  5. Hashem השם, Hebrew for “the Name”
  6. The Divine name of the Creator
  7. Jehovah Yahweh Gods Name
  8. God about His name “יהוה“יהוה
  9. YHWH and Love: Four-letter words
  10. Creator and Blogger God 8 A Blog of a Book 2 Holy One making Scriptures Holy
  11. Between Alpha and Omega – The plan of creation
  12. What date was the Flood?
  13. Warm-blooded, feathered vertebrates
  14. An anarchistic reading of the Bible (2)—Creation and what follows
  15. Louise Weiss building and towers after Ziggurat Babel

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  • Things The Bible said would happen, but didn’t (ask.metafilter.com)
    Outside my work today I got to talking with a Jehovah’s Witness. When talk turned to the Bible, I said I didn’t take any of it literally. None of it Reall happened like that.
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    According to my very religious parents there are no biblical prophesies that haven’t happened, just ones that haven’t happened yet.
  • Your best personality. (yoursuccessinspirer.com)
    There are people whose best personality is in the Old Testament.
  • The God Who Sees (theloveliestlifeblog.wordpress.com)
    God saw Hagar when she was in her lonely wilderness, and he went to her.  This passage has reminded me so much of God’s sight and concern for us, each of us.  No matter our standing or background, God’s eyes are on each of us at all times.  He knows where we are and what we’re going through.  We are never alone.
  • What To Do About The Old Testament Law (jsparkblog.com)
    Though the Old Testament Law was entirely fulfilled in Christ for us, the OT Law still stands in principle for us today. Even the weird things about shellfish and fibers shows a very meticulous God who was perfect, even quirky, and shows a God we could’ve never made up.
  • Against The Flow by John C. Lennox (create-with-joy.com)
    Unlike many books that primarily focus on the prophetic aspects of the book of Daniel, Against The Flow delves into all aspects of the book, looking at Daniel from a historical, cultural and theological perspective.One of the author’s primary purpose for writing Against The Flow, however, is to highlight the similarities between our modern culture and the ancient Babylonian culture in terms of antagonism towards people of faith – and to provide insight and inspiration into how God empowers His people to go against the flow – to stand up for what they believe in – to cling to what is right, even when there is a high cost.
  • Open Heavens Sunday, 29 March 2015 : Emmanuel (emmanuelayeni.com)
    For you to fully key into the revelation of “God with us”, you need to understand who God is. God revealed who He is in discrete parts through His redemptive Names to the saints of old. He said to Moses in Exodus 6:3:
    “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.”
    An understanding of His redemptive Names gives us insight into His personality and allows us to profit from the consciousness that this personality is with us.
    God is the Elshaddai: He is the All-Sufficient One. This means that He has enough resources to meet all your needs – be it spiritual, physical, emotional or psychological. Also, God is Jehovah Jireh: the Great Provider. He has the ability to turn your austerity to prosperity and poverty to wealth (Philippians 4:19). Another Name for God is Jehovah Rapha: the Healer.