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    When was the Sabbath Instituted?

    Some have contended that the Sabbath was not instituted until the law was given to Moses at Mount Sinai. But there are serious difficulties in the way of this belief. In the second chapter of Genesis, after having given an account of the creation, the sacred historian says: “On the seventh day God ended his work which he had made: and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Now, if any part of this narrative is to be construed literally, the whole of it must be; and if we may not venture to deny or explain away the account which Moses has given of the creation, then we may not deny or explain away this unequivocal statement respecting the original institution of the Sabbath in Paradise. The blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day is mentioned in connection with the first seventh day in the order of time, and it is so mentioned as most forcibly to impress the reader that the Sabbath was then instituted. God’s resting on the day is given as the reason for its sanctification; and it cannot be supposed that this reason existed two thousand five hundred years before the institution. We conclude, therefore, that the Sabbath was enjoined immediately after the close of the work of creation.BISA 1.1

    This opinion is corroborated by some facts recorded in the Scriptures. There are frequent and early notices of reckoning by sevens. Noah observed a period of seven days in sending the raven and dove from the ark; the term week is used in the contract between Jacob and Laban; Joseph mourned seven days for his father; and Job and his friends observed the term of seven days.BISA 2.1

    Nor is it in the sacred volume or among the Jews alone that such facts are found. Nearly all the nations of antiquity were acquainted with the weekly division of time. The Assyrians, Egyptians, Indians, Arabians, and, in a word, all the nations of the East, have in all ages made use of a week of seven days. And we find that these nations not only divided time thus, but that they regarded as holy the very day which had been sanctified as a Sabbath, although they had forsaken the true worship of God. Homer, Hesiod, and Callimachus, say, “The seventh day is holy.” Theophilus of Antioch says, respecting the seventh day, “The day which all mankind celebrate.” Josephus asserts that, “no city of Greeks or barbarians can be found, which does not acknowledge a seventh day’s rest from labor.” And Philo says, that “the Sabbath was a festival not peculiar to any one people or country, but so common to all mankind, that it might be called a public and general feast of the nativity of the world.” These authors, who lived in different ages and were of different nations, cannot be supposed to have written thus in order to please the Jews, who were generally despised and persecuted; and this universal reverence for the seventh day cannot be accounted for upon any other supposition than that the Sabbath was instituted at the close of creation, and handed down by tradition to all the descendants of Adam.BISA 2.2

    If additional proof of this early institution of the Sabbath is needed, it may be drawn from the manner in which it was revived in the wilderness. Before the children of Israel came to Mount Sinai we find them voluntarily making provision for the Sabbath, by gathering on the sixth day a double portion of manna. “And all the rulers came and told Moses. And he said unto them, this is that which the Lord hath said; to-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord.” “And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day 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.” The rebuke, how long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? implies the previous appointment of the Sabbath; and the positive assertion, the Lord hath given you the Sabbath ought to settle the question in any mind disposed to understand the sacred historian.BISA 2.3

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