To contextualize this discussion, read “How the Sabbath was ‘Changed’ Part 1.”
God, reflecting on all that He had made over the first six creative days, decides that on the seventh, He would cease His creative work. Genesis 2:2-3 read:
“And on the seventh day God ended [H]is work which [H]e had made; and [H]e rested on the seventh day from all [H]is work which [H]e had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it [H]e had rested from all [H]is work which God created and made.”
This day, from sunset to sunset (Leviticus 23:32), is the time God bids us to remember Him as the Creator of this world.
For God, in the fourth of the Ten Commandments, the Decalogue, commands His people to,
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed that sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11).
And on this day God expects us, “to loose the bands of wickedness,…undo the heavy burdens,…let the oppressed go free, and that [w]e break every yoke…deal [our] bread to the hungry…and bring the poor that are cast out to [our] house[s]…when [we] [see] the naked, that [we] cover him; and that [we] hide not [ourselves] from [our] own flesh” (Isaiah 58:6, 7). This is how Jesus kept the Sabbath. For in addition to habitually going to the synagogue to read and teach the scriptures, (Luke 4:16; 6:6), Jesus performed acts of healing and restoration (Luke 6:6-11; John 5:1-9).
Thus in keeping this day of rest, we perfect our love to God and our fellow men, which are the great commandments (Matthew 22:34-40). It is this fourth commandment, the heart of the Decalogue, that reflects what the heart of the Christian should be.
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God…Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief,” as the Israelites of old (Hebrews 4:9, 11). God had told them not to gather manna on the seventh day (Exodus 16:22-26), yet they hardened their hearts against the LORD’S word, and, “there went out some of the people on the seventh day to gather, and they found none” (Exodus 16:27).
Now, the same seventh day God ordained in creation is the same seventh day, Saturday, we have today. For the order of the week days have not changed. Consider the Jews who from ever long have been keeping the Sabbath day. They do so from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Consider the day Jesus died. The Bible tells us, “that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on,” and that “upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning [the women] came to the sepulchre…[a]nd they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus” (Luke 23:54; 24:1-3). And we know Good Friday is the day that Jesus was laid in the grave, while Resurrection Sunday is when He arose. The seventh day must then be Saturday.
Look, the Sabbath was held in such high regard that the women did not anoint Jesus’ body with spices and ointments on God’s day of rest. Rather, they, “rested the sabbath day according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56). Even Jesus rested in the grave on the Sabbath day.
The Prophetess, Ellen G. White, in vision is taken into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary. There she beholds the ark of the covenant in which the Decalogue is housed, written on two tables of stone with the finger of God (Broadside3 April 7, 1847, par. 3). And here is part of what she sees:
On one table was four, and on the other six. The four on the first table shone brighter than the other six. But the fourth (the Sabbath commandment,) shone above them all; for the Sabbath was set apart to be kept in honor of God’s holy name. The holy Sabbath looked glorious—a halo of glory was all around it. I saw that the Sabbath was not nailed to the cross. If it was, the other nine commandments were; and we are at liberty to go forth and break them all, as well as to break the fourth. I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for He never changes.
Jesus in relaying the signs of the destruction of Jerusalem and His second coming, says:
“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day” (Matthew 24:20).
In fact, a little before that declaration, Jesus assures the disciples that
“[T]his gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).
What then is the everlasting gospel? Revelation 14:6-12 tell us. John the apostle,
“[S]aw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:6,7).
Note, the latter part of this angel’s message is almost verbatim from the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:11). The fourth commandment will be the test of loyalty for God’s people in the last days. God still expects us the reverence His holy day on the seventh day, for in it is the glory of His name.
But man has sought out many inventions (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Stay tuned as we look at man’s attempts to change the Sabbath of the LORD.
Thank You Jesus!