The Sabbath Day

[This article was written by Larry R. DeVore.]

In Genesis 1:1 through 2:3 we find the account of God creating the world and everything in it in six days and resting on the seventh day. The Hebrew word for Sabbath (Shabbat) does not appear in the book of Genesis. It does not appear in the Scriptures until Exodus 16:23.

Therefore, this is contrary to the teaching of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, who teaches that God established an eternal Sabbath Observance Law in the very beginning.

Genesis 2:3 says, “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God created and made” (NASB).

“The root for ‘sanctify’ is also used for the Hebrew word for marriage. The Jewish Rabbis picked up on this and said, look, the first day has a partner; the second day, the third day has the fourth; and the fifth day has the sixth. But the seventh day doesn’t have a partner, so Israel is destined to be the seventh day’s spouse” (Quoted from Prof. Shai Cherry, Lecturer in Jewish studies at UCLA). Not inspired teaching, but a nice idea of the close relationship between the seventh day and God’s people.

In Exodus 20:8-11, God instituted the keeping of the Sabbath as part of the Ten Commandment Law given to the Hebrew Nation. It was not given to you and me. It is not for Christians today. It was only for the Jews under the Law of Moses. In Exodus 20:11, Moses refers to the Genesis account to show that God, after creating the world in six days, rested on the seventh. This established the seven-day week we still live by today. For the Jews, the idea of working for six days, and resting on the seventh was a reminder that God had delivered them from Egyptian slavery (where they were not permitted to rest), and keeping the Sabbath was a sign of their redemption.

The Christian’s sign of redemption is the resurrection of Christ, which occurred on the first day of the week (Mark 16:2), and we observe His sacrifice for us on the first day of each week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).

In Hebrews 4:9, the writer tells us, “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (NASB). This is not instructing Christians to observe the Sabbath day today. It is referring to a future eternal day of rest in eternity with God. Note verse 10 and compare with Revelation 14:13:

For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (Heb. 4:10).

And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, ‘Write, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!”’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them’” (Revelation 14:13).

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