Tuesday: The Sabbath in Deuteronomy

Though Seventh-day Adventists are most familiar with the Sabbath commandment as expressed in the book of Exodus, the Lord gave it again (and all the other commandments) in the book of Deuteronomy. What’s fascinating is that, although the commands appear in very similar language, the language isn’t precisely the same. Moreover, the commandment in Deuteronomy is given another motivation, one not seen in Exodus.1

Read Deuteronomy 5:12–15. Compare it with Exodus 20:8–11. What similarities existed between the two, what differences, and why are those differences important?  

Though much is the same between them, there is a new element and emphasis. While both commandments talk about the servants resting on the Sabbath day, Deuteronomy goes out of its way to emphasize that point. The text reads that they should keep the Sabbath “so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do [emphasis supplied]”(Deut. 5:14, NIV). Here we see what was touched on the other day: how the Sabbath helps bring master and servant together on the same level; both are to rest on the same day. The Sabbath, on a purely practical level, offered servants some protection from the master who would work them nonstop—a protection built right into a commandment that had its origins in Creation itself.

Of course, this raises an interesting question. When the Sabbath was first instituted, it was to be a memorial of Creation in a nonfallen world. It had nothing to do with manservants or maidservants and certainly nothing about being in slavery in Egypt, itself a symbol of bondage to sin, and deliverance from that bondage. This new element, then, had been added onto the commandment after the Fall; that is, the original precept was altered to incorporate something that it originally didn’t contain.

Thus, as first conceived, the Sabbath was a symbol of Creation; after sin, it came to be a symbol of both Creation and Redemption, which is itself a type of re-creation (2 Cor. 5:17Gal. 6:15Rev. 21:1). Creation and Redemption are closely linked in the Bible; only God the Creator could be God the Redeemer, and we have them both in Jesus (seeJohn 1:1–14). Both versions of the commandment show that the seventh-day Sabbath is the symbol of the work of Jesus, our Creator and our Redeemer.

Think about the bondage that Christ has promised to free you from. What promises of freedom do you have in Jesus? How can you learn to claim them and then allow the Lord to make them real in your life?



Tuesday: The Sabbath in Deuteronomy — 3 Comments

  1. Hi, well writen, especially the one in Deuteronomy 5:12-15 it brings me new insights and I hope it will really help me in my Christian experiences.

  2. I praise the Lord for this wonderful insight on the Sabbath, the Sabbath makes us appreciate our Lord Jesus Christ more,not only on the light Calvary as our Redeemer but as our creator as well. All to Him I surrender or to Him I will always belong!

  3. This double or multiple motivation of the Sabbath stems from the basic theology of the Sabbath that was expressed in Genesis 2. ”Slavery” (abodah) is related to ”work”, ”service” (abad). ”Shabbath” means ”ceasing”, stop doing anything, rest. We are all slaves in the six workdays, working hard our existence. But God's Sabbath makes us free and equal. Thus the commandment in Deuteronomy made explicit which in Exodus was implicitly said (do not do any work in the seventh day, including your servant and maidservant). This expression in Exodus is related to the preamble of the Decalog (I am Yahweh..., who deliivered you from the Egyptian slavery camp).
    Now, after this comment, I have a question: Why Moses states in Deuteronomy 5 that those 10 commandments where exactly as God gave them, with no addition, if we read a different version in Exodus 20? Which version was the original verbatim form?


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