Saturday or Sunday? Is that our only choice?
(by Sam Pestes)

This question has periodically needled the Christian community. In the mid 1840’s the observance of Sunday, which had replaced Saturday as the day for worship in most of Christendom, was challenged by a group in the United States, known as the Millerites. Originally that group taught that Christ would return to earth in October of 1844. When that date passed uneventfully, they set about to vindicate themselves by suggesting that the date was right, but they had simply misunderstood what happened at that time.

One of the doctrines which sprang out of the confusion, was a renewed emphasis on the observance of the 10 commandments, and especially the 4th commandment which stressed the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. They pointed out that the commandment does not give mankind the option of selecting any other day of the week to observe as the Sabbath. This spawned a number of Sabbath-keeping churches.

The 4th commandment specifically decreed that the 7th day of the week was the divinely designated Sabbath day given to Israel as a holy day. Historically, there is no question that Saturday has always been the 7th day of the week. So, by what authority do Christians today presume to regard Sunday as the designated day for worship? Or is the Sabbath as given to Israel still binding on Christians? Why, or why not?

To clear away the confusion, one must begin at the beginning, and understand the foundation upon which any doctrine is based.

First question: what was the original Sabbath that God gave to Mr. and Mrs. Adam? Second question: was the Sabbath of the 4th commandment the same as the original Edenic Sabbath? If not, in what way did it differ?

You will notice, as you read the account of creation in Genesis chapter one, that the events of each creation day were punctuated with a statement which said, "And there was evening and there was morning, one day". Then , "And there was evening and there was morning a second day", and so on until the works of creation were completed, and the Bible reads, "And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good – suitable, pleasant – and He approved it completely. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day". (Amp) Emphasis supplied.

But it does not say the same about the next (7th) day! It does not say that "There was evening and there was morning, a seventh day". Why not? Why the change in pattern?

Why was the Sabbath not bordered by an evening and a morning as were the other days?

Note: God "rested" or ceased His work after the 6th day was over, because His work of creating the world was completed. Because it was finished He did not go to work again on the 8th day, and nor did Adam! There was nothing Adam could have done to improve on what God had done! Maintenance was no problem because there was no sin. Eden was a self-perpetuating and self-sustaining paradise reflecting the glory of the Creator. Adam simply represented God in his garden paradise every day of every week! God made no provision for Adam to turn over the responsibility for Eden to someone else every seventh day! It was his responsibility to care for it seven days of every week. The idea that Adam may have turned the care of Eden over to someone else every 7th day so he could "rest from his labors" simply does not fit the scriptural picture!

So what does the Bible say was the situation? After God had completed the work of creation, and declared it very good, or perfectly completed, He introduced Adam and Eve to their home. That was a garden paradise that was provided and stocked with all the provisions needed for their well-being, as well as for the animals that were placed under their care. There was no curse, and they did not have to work by the sweat of their brow to earn a living, or to provide for God’s other creatures. Eden paradise was God’s total provision for that first couple. They enjoyed God’s total Rest, or Sabbath experience day after day until the day they sinned.

Question: Did they fall out of that Rest 24 hours after it began? When did that Sabbath experience end for Mr. and Mrs. Adam? Was it not when they first sinned? It was the entrance of sin that brought an end to their Sabbath rest. God did not intend that Adam and Eve should ever lose that Rest. They broke that original Sabbath by sinning! .

That explains why the Bible does not introduce the Sabbath as bound by an evening and a morning. It was created to have a beginning, but no ending. The original Sabbath was not limited to one day of the week. It was to be an open-ended, continuous experience of resting in God’s total provision for His creation. Adam was not commanded to begin working for a living until the day he first sinned.

The Sabbath of the 4th commandment that God gave to Israel was of a totally different nature. It included the curse of sin, "six days shall you labor", and also the command to "remember" the Sabbath Rest that they had forfeited by their grumbling and complaining against God’s provision for them as they began their desert wanderings. Because Israel rejected God’s provision, the curse of sin remained upon them. Only instead of laboring seven days of the week as in slavery, now they were commanded to cease their work every 7th day – the day on which the original Sabbath began – and to meditate on the blessings of that Sabbath, and what they could have enjoyed, had they not rebelled.

God intended to take them to a land "flowing with milk and honey", where He would protect them from all enemies, where their clothes would not wear out, where disease would not touch them, and where He planned to restore to them the amenities that Adam had lost. But sin made it impossible for them to experience the Sabbath of creation. What they got at Sinai, was only a symbol of the original Sabbath. That is why the Jews, who stopped all labor on the 7th day of the week, were told in Hebrews 3:15-19 that they still failed to enter into God’s true Sabbath rest. The Sabbath of creation was not limited to a day. It was and remains, a life style of trusting fully in God’s total provision and relying on Him and on Him alone by faith, every day of every week.

For more insights into the Christ-centered faith you may contact us at (250) 765-5121.

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