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    THOUGHTS ON THE SABBATH

    THOSE who observe the Sabbath of the Bible, are able to present as its foundation, a divine institution. “God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.” Genesis 2:3. To sanctify is “to separate, set apart, or appoint to a holy, sacred, or religious use.” Webster. It was by this act of the great Creator, that the Sabbath was made for man. Exodus 20:11; Mark 2:27. As God has never taken this blessing from the seventh day, and has never given to secular purposes the day which he here “set apart to a holy use,” the original institution still exists. As he has never sanctified another day as a weekly Sabbath, the Sabbath of the Lord is the only Sabbatic institution. Exodus 20:10.SDSL 56.7

    As God made the Sabbath in paradise, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy, it follows that it is not Jewish, not a carnal ordinance, not a yoke of bondage, but a sacred institution made for the well-being of the human family, while yet upright. The great Creator rested first on the seventh day and was refreshed. Exodus 31:17. The Son of God who kept his Father’s commandments, followed this example, [John 15:10; Exodus 20:8-11,] and thus, also, did the entire church so far as inspiration gives us the facts.SDSL 57.1

    After giving the institution of the Sabbath, the book of Genesis, in its brief record of 2370 years, does not again mention it. This has been urged as ample proof that those holy men, who during this period were perfect and walked with God in the observance of his commandments, statutes and laws, [Genesis 5:24; 6:9; 26:5,] all lived in open profanation of that day which God had blessed and set apart to a holy use. But the book of Genesis also omits any distinct reference to the doctrine of future punishment, the resurrection of the body, the revelation of the Lord in flaming fire, and the judgment of the great day. Does this silence prove that the patriarchs did not believe these great doctrines? Does it make them any the less sacred?SDSL 57.2

    But the Sabbath is not mentioned from Moses to David, a period of five hundred years during which it was enforced by the penalty of death. Does this prove that it was not observed during this period? The jubilee occupied a very prominent place in the typical system, yet in the whole Bible a single instance of its observance is not recorded. What is still more remarkable, there is not on record a single instance of the observance of the great day of atonement, notwithstanding the work in the holiest on that day was the most important service connected with the worldly Sanctuary. And yet the observance of the other and less important festivals of the seventh month, which are so intimately connected with the day of atonement, the one preceding it by ten days, the other following it in five, is repeatedly and particularly recorded. Ezra 3:1-6; Nehemiah 8:2, 9-12, 14-18; 1 Kings 8:2, 65; 2 Chronicles 5:3; 7:8, 9; John 7:2-14, 37. It would be sophistry to say that this silence respecting the day of atonement, when there were so many instances for it to be mentioned, proves that that day was never observed; and yet it is actually a better argument than the similar one urged against the Sabbath from the book of Genesis.SDSL 58.1

    The reckoning of time by weeks was established in Genesis 1; 2. This period of time is marked only by the recurrence of the sanctified Rest-day of the Creator. That the patriarchs reckoned time by weeks and by sevens of days, is evident from several texts. Genesis 29:27, 28; 8:10, 12; 7:4, 10; 50:10; Job 2:13. That the reckoning of the week was rightly kept appears evident from the fact that in Exodus 16, Moses on the sixth day declares that “tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord.” Verses 22, 23.SDSL 58.2

    But if the opponents of the Sabbath, claim that a knowledge of the true seventh day was lost in the patriarchal age, we will now show that before God gave the ten commandments he pointed out the true seventh day in a manner which could not be mistaken. First. By a direct miracle. God caused the fall of a certain quantity of manna each day of the week to the sixth day when there was a double quantity. Exodus 16:4, 5, 29. Second. On the seventh day, which Moses calls the Sabbath, there was none. Verses 25-27. Third. That which was gathered on the sixth day kept good over the seventh, whereas it would corrupt in the same length of time on other days. Compare verses 23, 24, with verses 19, 20. This three-fold weekly miracle continued the space of forty years. Verse 35; Joshua 5:12. The fact is settled, then, beyond all controversy that the Sabbath of the Lord which was made in Paradise, was here directly pointed out by God himself. And to this important testimony we add the declaration of Nehemiah 9:13, 14, that God made known to Israel his holy Sabbath.SDSL 59.1

    No one pretends that the true seventh day was lost by the Jewish church after this. And it is certain that as late as our Lord’s crucifixion they observed the true seventh day. They rested upon the day enjoined in the fourth commandment; namely, the day which the Lord rested upon and hallowed at creation. Luke 23:55, 56; Exodus 20:8-11; Genesis 2:3.SDSL 59.2

    Since the record of inspiration closed, the Jews and the Christians, each scattered in every land under heaven, have carefully kept the reckoning of the week. If a mistake in this reckoning had been made, a discrepancy would at once manifest this. For it is certain that every Jew and every Christian under heaven could not at the same time make the same mistake. The fact that there is no such discrepancy is decisive testimony that such mistake has not been made. Consequently we have the true seventh day from creation.SDSL 60.1

    When God gave his law in person, in the hearing of the people, by the fourth precept of that law he solemnly enforced the observance of the holy Sabbath. Exodus 20:8-11. In explicit language the great Law-giver states the reason why he made the Sabbath and the time when this act was performed. “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore [i.e., for this reason] the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” This is the reason why God made the Sabbath. It is the same reason that is stated in Genesis 2:3.SDSL 60.2

    The act by which God made the Sabbath is here stated with distinctness. It was his act of blessing and hallowing his Rest-day. The time when this act was performed is here given as in Genesis 2:2, 3; namely, the close of the creation week. And it is worthy of note that in thus giving the fourth commandment, God calls the seventh day the Sabbath at the time when he thus placed his blessing upon it. This most effectually shuts the mouths of those who deny the institution of the Sabbath at creation.SDSL 60.3

    The great design of the Sabbath was that there might be a standing memorial of God’s act of creation. Its observance would have saved the world from atheism and idolatry; for it has ever pointed back to God, the great first cause; and it has ever pointed out the true God, the great Creator, in distinction from “the gods that have not made the heavens and the earth.”SDSL 61.1

    We have now considered three important facts in the history of the Sabbath. First, its institution at creation; second, the fact that the true seventh day was pointed out to Israel; and third, the grand law of the Sabbath, the fourth commandment. As we proceed in this investigation we notice three different Sabbaths. First, the weekly Sabbath of the Lord, the seventh day. Exodus 20:10. Second, the annual Sabbaths of the Jews, the first, tenth, fifteenth and twenty-third days of the seventh month. Leviticus 23:24, 27-32, 39. And third, the septennial Sabbath of the land, the seventh year. Leviticus 25:1-7.SDSL 61.2

    The Sabbath of the Lord was instituted at creation, and at Sinai was embodied in the royal law, every precept of which according to James 2:8-12, is still binding upon us. But the Sabbaths of the Jews and the Sabbath of the land were instituted in the wilderness, and embodied in the hand-writing of ordinances with the feasts, new-moons and ceremonies of the Jewish church. That hand-writing of ordinances, which was a shadow of good things to come, was nailed to the cross by our Lord, thus taking all these festivals out of the way.SDSL 61.3

    The most precious blessings are promised to those who observe the Sabbath of the Lord. Isaiah 56; 58:13, 14. And it is worthy of notice that this prophecy pertains to a period of time when the salvation of the Lord is near to be revealed. Hebrews 9:28; Isaiah 45:17. The blessing is promised to the sons of the stranger, the Gentiles, [Exodus 12:48, 49; Isaiah 14:1; Ephesians 2:12,] as well as to the people of Israel. If they will keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord while dispersed in the four quarters of the earth, God will bring them again to his holy mountain. The promises here made by the prophet shall be verified when the outcasts of Israel and the sons of the stranger shall come from the east and from the west and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God. Matthew 8:11.SDSL 62.1

    Notice the distinction between the Sabbath of the Lord and the Sabbaths of the Jews as presented in the prophets. Of the perpetuity of the former let us judge after reading Isaiah 66:22, 23, where we are informed of its observance in the New Earth. But the Lord assures us by the prophet that the latter shall cease. Hosea 2:11. The fulfillment of this prophecy may be read in Colossians 2:14-17. The weekly Sabbath is styled “the Sabbath of the Lord,” “my Sabbath,” etc. Exodus 20:10; Isaiah 56:4; Ezekiel 20:12-24; 22:8, 26. The annual and septennial Sabbaths are styled “her Sabbaths” and “your Sabbaths.” Hosea 2:11; Leviticus 23:32; 26:34, 35, 43; 2 Chronicles 36:21; Lamentations 1:7.SDSL 62.2

    Though the Scriptures nowhere teach or authorize the change of the Sabbath, yet they plainly point out the power that should do this. Let the reader compare Daniel 7:25, with the history of the Papal power, and carefully mark its acts of changing and mutilating the divine constitution, the ten commandments.SDSL 63.1

    We have seen the grand law of the Sabbath embodied in the decalogue. We come now to the New Testament. That our Lord did not destroy that law, or lessen our obligation to obey it, he clearly teaches in Matthew 5:17-19. And we may with the utmost safety affirm “that the apostles did not disturb what their Lord left untouched.” Romans 3:31; James 2:8-12. We say therefore that the New Testament teaches the perpetuity of God’s law, and for that reason does not re-enact it.SDSL 63.2

    Our Lord came to “magnify the law and make it honorable.” Isaiah 42:21. He kept his Father’s commandments, and solemnly enjoined obedience to them, pointedly rebuking those who made them void that they might keep the traditions of the elders. John 15:10; Matthew 19:16-19; 15:3-9. “The Sabbath was made for man,” says the Saviour, “and not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27. If the Sabbath was made for man, then it belongs alike to Jews and Christians, and to all our race. The statement carries the mind back to the creation of our race and evinces that the Sabbath was made in immediate connection with that event. On the one hand our Lord rebukes the Pharisaic observance of the Sabbath; on the other, he rebukes with equal force that class of modern teachers who affirm that the Sabbath of the Lord which Infinite Wisdom made for man before the fall, was one of those Sabbaths which were against him, contrary to him and taken out of the way at the death of Christ. Colossians 2.SDSL 63.3

    The fact that those, who had been with Jesus during his ministry, “rested the Sabbath-day according to the commandment,” after his crucifixion, and resumed labor on the first day of the week [Luke 23:55, 56; 24:1] shows clearly that they knew nothing of the supposed change of the Sabbath. Yet Jesus testifies that all things which he had heard of his Father he had made known unto them. John 15:15. The fact that God has never sanctified the first day of the week shows plainly that it is not sacred time, and not a divinely instituted Sabbath. The fact that God has never required us to rest on that day shows that its observance in the place of the Sabbath of the Lord, is a clear instance of making void the commandments of God to keep the traditions of men. Mark 7:6-13; Proverbs 30:6.SDSL 64.1

    That sanctified time exists in the gospel dispensation, or in other words, that there is a day which belongs to God, is clear from Revelation 1:10. That “the Lord’s day,” is the Sabbath-day is plain from Isaiah 58:13. As the Sabbath was made for man, we find it under all dispensations, and in every part of the Bible. Those therefore who profane the Sabbath, sin against God and wound their own souls.SDSL 64.2

    J.N.A.

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