Home » Tuesday: The Sabbath    


Tuesday: The Sabbath — 17 Comments

  1. In 1860 there was a famous debate at Oxford University between Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and Thomas Huxley. It wasn't the main event of the evening but more of a rather animated post-event discussion. History has eclipsed the main event and there are in fact various accounts of this debate where all the protagonists claim they won. Perhaps the most famous one liner from the debate was where Wilberforce asked whether it was Huxley's father or mother that was a Chimpanzee. (the species of ape actually depends on who is telling the story.) The interesting think is that while the debate was clearly about origins, the bit of history that has been placed in most peoples minds is essentially the name-calling by the defender of Christianity in the debate.

    Such perceptions last a long time, and it highlights the fact that when we defend our view of orgins we are defending our view of our creator. The way we treat those with whom we disagree is as important as the arguments we present.

    I mention this because already in this discussion I am hearing elements of superior understanding and patronising comments towards those who believe in a mechanical explanation for origins. If we want to win the argument, we must embrace those qualities of Christian love, understanding, and even tolerance towards those with whom we disagree.

    I want to illustrate this principle referring to a couple of authors I am familiar with. Most of you will have heard of Richard Dawkins who is a popular proponent of evolution. He writes very dismissively of Christianity "The God Delusion" and is known more for his vitriolic language than the strength of his arguments. On the other hand, Paul Davies presents his cosmological views, admitting that the existence of God is not at the centre of his explanation. While he is an atheist, he is not antagonistic towards those who believe that he is the ultimate explanation. My point is that Dawkins belittles those who believe in God, while Davies recognises that there are those who have thought about the issues and do believe in a supernatural being.

    One of the issues that Atheists have with Christians is that Christians tend to portray themselves as having the answers on moral issues. Most of the atheists I know hold high moral values and have thought about the issues deeply. They are not looking for an excuse to live a hedonistic, or selfish lifestyle. They consider our stereotyping them as having no moral rationale as patronising. In fact some of them hold values so close to our Christian values, particularly with their relationships with other people that I have adopted the phrase "anonymous Christians" to describe their stance.

    We want to win the argument that the universe, and by inference, this world and its living organisms were created by a loving and caring God. Our argument is often ambushed by the way we patronise and belittle the those who do not believe in God. I would like to think that an atheist, stumbling on our discussion here, would find that in spite of our belief in a supernatural explanation, that they were treated with respect and dignity.

    I have placed this comment under the topic, "The Sabbath" for a reason. The Sabbath is a sign of our relationship with God, and that relationship has to be expressed to others in order for it to be meaningful. What sort of rest do we offer to those who believe differently to us?

    • We’ll said! Since neither side can claim an eyewitness account, a liberal helping of humility is in order.

  2. Please help me understand this better.
    1. How was Sabbath created? As it was part of the seven days 'week'.
    2. What does it mean to end is work on the seventh day?

    • Referring to my comments yesterday regarding the Jewish interpretation of each day as an age, it does not lesson the importance of the seventh day Sabbath. There is a literal 7 day week and there is no argument among Biblical scholars that Saturday is the 7th day. The number 7 is very important to God, thus the 7 year Sabbatical year and letting the slaves free, seven times seventy in Jesus’ interpretation of forgiveness and so on. Along with reminding us of who (God) created us, the 7th day Sabbath reminds us weekly who (Jesus) sets us free from our sin problem and restores us back to a proper relationship with God (Creator).

        • Yes I too believe God likes the number seven.

          1st, seven is a reminder for us to remember the Seventh day Sabbath.

          Seven golden candle sticks. Revelation 1:12-13. Revelation 1:20.

          Seven men of honest report. Acts 6:3.

          Purified seven times. Psalms 12:6.

          seven weeks, threescore and two weeks, and the one week, making seventy weeks, determined upon the Jews. Daniel 9:24-27.

          Seven lamps of burning fire before the throne. Revelation 4:7.

          Seventy times seven and seven every day. Matthew 18:22. Luke 17:3-4.

          Naaman finally obeying the word of the Lord through Elisha, and dipping in the muddy Jordan River seven times, saved him from further scourge of leprosy. 2Kings 5:14.

          2nd these examples of God favoring the number seven points us to the purity of God's word. Proverbs 30:5.

          Now seven literal days:
          "Like the Sabbath, the week originated at creation, and it has been preserved and brought down to us through Bible history. God himself measured off the first week as a sample for successive weeks to the close of time. Like every other, it consisted of seven literal days. Six days were employed in the work of creation; upon the seventh, God rested, and he then blessed this day, and set it apart as a day of rest for man." Christian Education 190.1

          No wounder God likes the number seven.

          3rd, I do believe seven is a reminder that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord our God. Exodus 20:10.

          "Redeemed Take Seven Days Traveling to Heaven—We all entered the cloud together, and were seven days ascending to the sea of glass, when Jesus brought the crowns, and with His own right hand placed them on our heads. He gave us harps of gold and palms of victory. Here on the sea of glass the 144,000 stood in a perfect square." Heaven 47.2.

          4th, seven is a reminder He is with us, even as we enter into eternal life.

        • I do not know why it is important to Him. But considering how often it or a number divisible by 7 occurs in the Bible, I would say it is very important to Him. The Creation event itself described in Genesis may be the best explanation.

      • Another thought, Jim,
        Is it possible/likely that the "Jewish interpretation of each day as an age" is of the same nature as those interpretations Jesus actively opposed in His practice and His teachings?

        An interpretation considerably closer to our day reads like this:

        God made the world in six literal days, and on the seventh literal day he rested from all his work which he had done, and was refreshed. So he has given man six days in which to labor. But he sanctified the day of his rest, and gave it to man to be kept, free from all secular labor. By thus setting apart the Sabbath, God gave the world a memorial. He did not set apart one day and any day in seven, but one particular day, the seventh day. And by observing the Sabbath, we show that we recognize God as the living God, the creator of heaven and earth. ~ Ellen G. White, Special Testimony to the Battle Creek Church, p. 34

        Which do you think is more consistent with the rest of the biblical record? (Consider that the belief of Genesis "days" as "ages" now generally comes with a denial of a literal world-wide flood as well, for instance.)

    • Hi Robert. I’m no scholar or theologian, but here is how I understand scripture. God created each day with some significant change to our earth. He could have ended creation at the end of day six, but He didn’t. He created another day that was dedicated to humanity getting to know their Creator. I imagine that it must have been exciting for Adam and Eve to get to know God on that very first Sabbath, and all following Sabbaths. Yes, Jesus walked with them in the cool of the day each day, but Sabbath was special. It was a day set aside, or as scripture says, made Holy, for them to spend the entire day with Him.

  3. I believe we will work in heaven. Look at the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were intrusted with taking care of it, given control. They had dominion over the entire earth,that was work. Genesis 1:26. Now granted not like we look at work now. I believe. Heaven will be simular, especially after a thousand years we return with Christ and the Holy City, and populate the Earth made new.

    Therefore we will need a day of rest from work, to honor and glorify our Creator. "...For Thine is the kingdom, the power and glory forever amen." Matthew 6:13.

  4. . The seventh day, the climax of creation, sets the tone for the Sabbath theme in all of Scripture. In the holiness of the seventh day God discloses His divine presence within the created world. The Creator intends a relationship with the human being. The narrative shows how God’s words are heard over the course of six days and His acts are seen in nature. However, it is when God’s work is completed and His voice silent that His presence may be best perceived in the sacredness of the seventh day.

  5. This lessons says "Contrary to some ancient (and modern) beliefs, nothing in Scripture, Old or New Testament, denigrates the body as evil". This pops the question: Doesn't Jesus say that the body can be evil when He said "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell."?
    Matthew 5:29-30 NKJV

  6. I agree about being kind and courteous to all.

    Speaking of the topic at hand, one’s understanding of the Bible in general and Genesis in particular will affect what one includes in their opinions on origins. However, for me personally, even without my belief in the Bible, the views as stated by by atheists and theistic evolutionists do not fit systematic logic or science. When I first started to examine the topic, I expected that if one didn’t by faith believe the Bible account, that the evolution model would make sense,that the various aspects of our world were agreed upon and could be explained as many compatible parts. It was with the greatest surprise that in my public college education I found this to be untrue at every turn. Even some once well known atheists like Anthony Flew have come to the same conclusion, and have even said so very publicly.

  7. Jesus essentially stated that He had created the Sabbath for man and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). In Ezekiel 20:12 and 20, it is stated that Sabbath is a "sign" of that God is the 'sanctifier' and sole sustainer of humanity. Exodus 20:11 states that God sanctified the Sabbath day at creation. What do all these threads propose?

    The idea behind sanctify is to make holy - which means to make separate, distinct or different from the ordinary or typical. This notion of something being distinct or different from the typical is most clearly seen after the fall of humanity in Genesis 3, but was also relevant before the fall as evidenced by the fall taking place. What do I mean?

    Proverbs 14:12 states that there is a way that seems right to humans, but that rather than leading to life as people mistakenly assume, it actually leads to death. Deuteronomy 12:8 and Judges 21:25 states that most humans at the time were living their lives in accordance with what seemed good in their own eyes. And back at Genesis 3:6 we find Eve choosing for the first time to follow what seemed good to her - in her own eyes - and therefore departing from God's Way. In Romans 12:2 we have Paul informing us of the need to have our minds ongoingly transformed so that we change from living in accordance with the typical pattern of this world to instead living in accordance with the different pattern of God's Way that alone is capable of leading to life.

    Putting all of this together, we see that as per Deuteronomy 30:15-20, life has always come with the freedom and need for us to intentionally choose the basis on which we will live life - even though many if not most people don't consciously realise this. We are free to choose the way that will lead to life or we are free to choose the way that will preclude life. Could it be that God/Jesus embedded something within creation to assist us to pause amid getting caught up in the busyness of living and make and continue making the wise choice of life over death? Thus, could Sabbath have been made as a 'sign' or 'marker' to especially benefit us via provision of a space in time specifically designed to signal our attention to consciously and intentionally re-consider and re-affirm which basis we are living life upon and therefore which direction we are heading?

    While we need to be doing this each and every day, it appears there is also need once a week to have even greater space to consciously and intentionally step back even more and reflect upon which way we are choosing to live life. While there are many dimensions to the blessing of Sabbath, could what I have outlined be the important foundation that underpins these other blessings? I leave it to you to reflect upon this in preparation for the upcoming Sabbath...

    • Thank you, Phil, for assembling all these elements that we all know into a thought-provoking post. As I journey through my path in time, there is a weekly waymark by which I may know that the "I AM" is the LORD my God. It is a time to reflect on who I am serving: the many distracting idol gods (the desires and fears) of self, or the One who through every moment of time bids me follow him to the Presence of Eternal Life.

  8. The 7th day had no ending in Genesis ..no evening and morning. Check your Bible !
    All God's works (including its final completion) was ended, and his rest was open to all who would accept !

    It was the goal of mankind to find that rest, that was already established and existed in God's timelessness.

    Jesus is the way to that rest ! Currently and eternally !
    Praise God
    Shalom 🙏

    • I found it interesting that Gen 1:4-5 explains that God divided the light from the darkness and he called the light "day" and darkess "night". God is light and I believe for the first 3 days He Himself provided or withdrew the light, until on the 4th day he installed the Sun and Moon to divide the light from the darkness for Him.
      Right from Day 1, it is stated that the evening and morning were the definition of "the first Day" and it is repeated six times to make sure we understood that God created everything in six 'evenings & mornings'. Once God had finished creating everything and it has been clearly established the definition of "1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Day" is evening & morning, it is only logical that when the author of Genesis states three times "on the seventh day" that we are to understand the word "day" as evening & morning.
      This is confirmed when the LORD Himself spoke the 10 commandments and said "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God, on which you must not do any work—neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant or livestock, nor the foreigner within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, but on the seventh day He rested. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy."
      Here the LORD is clearly showing the 7th day must have had a beginning and an end like the other six days.


Please leave a comment long enough to say something significant and considerably shorter than the original post. First and last name required.

Your email address will not be published.

Please leave a comment long enough to say something significant and preferably significantly shorter than the post on which you are commenting.

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>