Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

August 30, 1898

The Sabbath Test—No. 1

Mrs. E. G. White

The Sabbath was given to all mankind to commemorate the work of creation. The great Jehovah, when he had laid the foundations of the earth, when he had dressed the whole world in its garb of beauty, and created all the wonders of the land and the sea, instituted the Sabbath day and made it holy. When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, the Sabbath was set apart as God's memorial. God sanctified and blessed the day in which he had rested from all his wondrous work. And this Sabbath, sanctified of God, was to be kept for a perpetual covenant. It was a memorial that was to stand from age to age, till the close of earth's history.

God brought the Hebrews out of their Egyptian bondage, and commanded them to observe his Sabbath, and keep the law given in Eden. Every week he worked a miracle to establish in their minds the fact that in the beginning of the world he had instituted the Sabbath. Through the prophet Isaiah, God speaks thus of his works for Israel: “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.... I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love.” Through the psalmist he says: “He brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness: ... that they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws.”

On the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from Egypt, the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin; and there “the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron.... And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

“Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt: and in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord; for that he heareth your murmurings against the Lord: and what are we, that ye murmur against us? And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.”

“And in the morning the dew lay round about the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents....

“And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord; bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe: and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat that today; for today is a Sabbath unto the Lord: today ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.

“And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”

In the third month they came to the desert of Sinai, and there the law was spoken from the mount in awful grandeur. During their stay in Egypt, Israel had so long heard and seen idolatry practised that to a large degree they had lost their knowledge of God and of his law, and their sense of the importance and sacredness of the Sabbath; the law was given a second time to call these things to their remembrance. In God's statutes was defined practical religion for all mankind. Before Israel was placed the true standard of righteousness.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep.” Some, who have been anxious to make of none effect the law of God, have quoted this word “Sabbaths,” interpreting it to mean the annual sabbaths of the Jews. But they do not connect this positive requirement with that which follows:

“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 in the Sabbath day, he 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 forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”

There are those who hold that the Sabbath was given only for the Jews; but God has never said this. He committed the Sabbath to his people Israel as a sacred trust; but the very fact that the desert of Sinai, and not Palestine, was the place selected by him in which to proclaim his law, reveals that he intended it for all mankind. The law of ten commandments is as old as creation. Therefore the Sabbath institution has no special relation to the Jews, any more than to all other created beings. God has made the observance of the Sabbath obligatory upon all men. “The Sabbath,” it is plainly stated, “was made for man.” Let every one, therefore, who is in danger of being deceived on this point give heed to the word of God rather than the assertions of men.

In Eden, God said to Adam concerning the tree of knowledge, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Adam listened to the voice of Satan speaking through his wife; he believed another voice than that which spoke the law in Eden.

Every man has been placed on trial, as were Adam and Eve in Eden. As the tree of knowledge was placed in the midst of the garden of Eden, so the Sabbath command is placed in the midst of the decalogue. In regard to the fruit of the tree of knowledge, the restriction was made, “Ye shall not eat of it, ... lest ye die.” Of the Sabbath, God said, Ye shall not defile it, but keep it holy. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” As the tree of knowledge was the test of Adam's obedience, so the fourth command is the test that God has given to prove the loyalty of all his people. The experience of Adam is to be a warning to us so long as time shall last. It warns us not to receive any assurance from the mouth of men or of angels that will detract one jot or tittle from the sacred law of Jehovah.

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