Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

February 28, 1884

The Creation Sabbath

By Mrs. E. G. White

When God created the earth and placed man upon it, he divided time into seven periods. Six he gave to man for his own use, to employ in secular business; one he reserved for himself. Having rested on the seventh day, he blessed and sanctified it. Henceforth, the seventh day was to be regarded as the Lord's rest-day, and to be sacredly observed as the memorial of his creative work. It was not the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth day that was sanctified, or set apart to a holy use, neither was it a seventh part of time and no day in particular; but it was the seventh day, the day upon which God had rested. We are every day to think of God and live as in his sight; but when the six day's work is done, we are to “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,”—to cease from labor and devote the day exclusively to meditation and worship.

When the law was given at Sinai, the Sabbath was placed in the midst of moral precepts, in the very bosom of the decalogue. But the Sabbath institution was not then made known for the first time. The fourth commandment places its origin at creation. The Creator's rest-day was hallowed by Adam in holy Eden, and by men of God throughout the patriarchal ages. During Israel's long bondage in Egypt, under taskmasters that knew not God, they could not keep the Sabbath; therefore the Lord brought them out where they could remember his holy day.

Before they came to Sinai, they understood the Sabbath to be obligatory upon them. After the giving of the manna, the people, of their own accord, gathered a double quantity on the sixth day in preparation for the Sabbath. And Moses, upon being consulted by the rulers, declared, “This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord.” On the seventh day he bade them eat that which they had provided. “For,” said he, “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.” When some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, they found no manna. Then 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.”

A threefold miracle was wrought in honor of the Sabbath, even before the law was given on Sinai. A double quantity of manna fell on the sixth day, none upon the Sabbath, and the portion needed for the Sabbath was preserved sweet and pure, when if any were kept over at any other time, it became unfit for food. Here is conclusive evidence that the Sabbath was instituted at creation, when the foundations of the earth were laid, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. And its sacredness remains unchanged, and will so remain even to the close of time. From the creation, every precept of the divine law has been obligatory on man, and has been observed by those who fear the Lord. The doctrine that God's law has been abolished is one of Satan's devices to compass the ruin of the race.

The prophet Isaiah, looking forward to the gospel dispensation, sets forth in the most impressive manner the obligation of the Sabbath, and the blessings attending its observance: “Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people; neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant, even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters. I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.”

Under the Mosaic law, strangers and eunuchs were excluded from the full enjoyment of the privileges granted to Israel. But the prophet declares that a time is coming when these restrictions will cease. The holy oracles were especially committed to the Jews; not to be an Israelite was not to belong to the favored people of God. The Jews had come more and more to regard themselves as superior by divine right to every other people upon the earth; yet they had not been careful to maintain their separate and holy character by rendering obedience to all the commandments of God. Now the prophet declares that the stranger who will love and obey God shall enjoy the privileges that have belonged exclusively to the chosen people. Hitherto, circumcision and a strict observance of the ceremonial law had been the conditions upon which Gentiles could be admitted to the congregation of Israel; but these distinctions were to be abolished by the gospel. “Every one that keepeth 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; for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, besides those that are gathered unto him.”

Again, after rebuking the selfishness, violence, and oppression of Israel, and exhorting them to works of righteousness and mercy, he declares: “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. 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, honorable, and shalt honor 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.”

The first part of the chapter brings to view a people who apparently delight in the service of God; they seek him daily, “as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God.” Yet their lives are not right before the Lord; for he commands his prophet, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” He declares that if they will return unto the Lord with all the heart, they shall be called repairers of the breach, the restorers of paths to dwell in. Then he distinctly shows them what this breach is. “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath,”—for they had been trampling it under their feet as a thing despised,—“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.”

This prophecy reaches down the centuries to the time when the man of sin attempted to make void one of the precepts of God's law, to trample under foot the original Sabbath of Jehovah, and in its stead exalt one of his own creation. And when the Christian world set aside God's holy Sabbath, and in its place accept a common working day, unsanctioned by a single “Thus saith the Lord,” they are encouraging infidelity, and virtually acknowledging the supremacy of that power by whose authority alone the change has been effected. The rejection of the Sabbath has led to the rejection of the whole law, and thousands of professed Christians now boldly declare it void.

The law of ten commandments, which has been so lightly disregarded, is the foundation of many generations; and no man or body of men has been authorized to set aside, or vary in the slightest particular, one of the ten precepts of Jehovah. God spoke this law from Sinai in awful grandeur, in the hearing of all Israel, and he wrote it with his own fingers upon tables of stone, not for his chosen people only, but for all men, to the close of time. Christ himself declares that while the heavens and the earth remain, not one jot or tittle shall pass from this holy law.

There were two institutions founded in Eden that were not lost in the fall,—the Sabbath and the marriage relation. These were carried by man beyond the gates of paradise. He who loves and observes the Sabbath, and maintains the purity of the marriage institution, thereby proves himself the friend of man and the friend of God. He who by precept or example lessens the obligation of these sacred institutions is the enemy of both God and man, and is using his influence and his God-given talents to bring in a state of confusion and moral corruption.

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