Charles N. Poge, U.S.A.
THE statement regarding the seventh day, Gen. 2:2,3 was written by Moses 2500 years after the event (1) and was doubtless put in as a reason for instituting the Sabbath after the exodus. There is no record of its observance during the 2500 years and certainly none during the captivity in Egypt, as the Book of Jasher-a companion of Moses-states that during the preceding 210 years from Joseph to Moses, there had been no worship of God by sacrifice, oblation or burnt offerings. Ezek. 20:5 to 12 says that while in Egypt, the Israelites worshipped the Egyptian idols and after leaving Egypt, God gave them laws and the seventh day, Sabbath, as a sign between Him and His chosen people. Deut. 5.15 makes it clear that it was to commemorate their release from bondage. It was not for Gentiles, Ex. 31:16, 17. The Sabbath was instituted to try or "prove the people." Ex. 16:4 and 26.
It was a new day given to the Israelites only, after the exodus when the great number of Hebrew slaves became a new nation. It was to thereafter be celebrated
every seventh day in sequence, regardless of the lunations of the moon. It was instituted at the time manna was provided for their food. Exodus, 16th chapter. It began on an old Egyptian Sabath, a full moon day, which they had in the past been observing as a holiday or day of rest in Egypt. The new day was for rest only in their homes. Lev. 23:3. Evidently, the temple was not opened (the temple courts were never closed) and it was a day of rest for priests as well as people. God's
Sabbath commandment is given in Ex. 20:8 to 11 and Deut. 5:12 to 15.The Israelites only were commanded to keep the Sabbath because of their release from bondage. Deut. 5:15. It never applied to any Gentile nation.
Worship on the Sabbath was never commanded in the O.T.(it was for rest only). No one was ever punished for not worshipping although they were punished for
working or transacting business on that day.
Aside from the Passover which occurred in Egypt before the exodus, no holy feast day was ordered by Moses to be celebrated on the Sabbath. Very little of any
historical importance ever occurred on that day. If the day is as important as the Sabbatarians would have us believe, is it not strange that the word Sabbath is not
even mentioned incidentally for 3300 years from Adam to Isaiah, except during the last 40 years of Moses' life? The books of Kings and Chronicles were compiled by Jeremiah and Ezra, after Isaiah's time. Amos and Micah lived contemporary with Isaiah. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Ezra and Nehemiah mention it, but not Daniel. Did Gideon, Elijah, Samuel, Job or any of the other prophets, judges and patriarchs know about it? Is it not strange that the many beautiful Psalms of David, the three books of Solomon, Daniel and the ten of the twelve minor prophets fail to refer to it? No, it was simply a holiday without religious significance. The Sabbath was strictly for self-a festive holiday for rest, relaxation and refreshment. A day established by a loving, heavenly Father for the health and happiness of his people but enforced by divine command. It was not given to other nations; they already had been observing three rest days and one worship day each Lunar Month for many centuries before there was a Hebrew nation. It was new. Deut. 5: 2 to 4.
It appears that during most of the 2500 years the people were lost in idolatry or worshipping strange gods. They had no temple, no books, no priests and probably
no public worship.
The Fourth Commandment is just as much a command to labour six days as it is to observe the Sabbath. It is man's duty to support and care for his family."He that provideth not for his own is worse than an infidel"(I Tim.5:8); "Be not slothful in business" (Rom.12:11); "If any would not work, neither should he eat" (II Thes. 3: 10).
Neh. 9:14, after relating in sequence the early history of the Israelites from Abram's day, states that the Lord came down on Mt. Sinai, and gave them the
commandments AND THE HOLY SABBATH by the hand of Moses, thus making it clear that it was a new day; was for Israelites only; given as a memorial of their deliverance, and was before that unknown. See also Ex. 31:16,17. The Sabbath was to be kept by the children of Israel "throughout their generations." Apparently, no record has been kept of their generations, or records of birth, since the old records were lost in the destruction of Jerusalem, 70 A. D., about the beginning of the Christian era.
In Chapter 46 of Ezekiel, it appears that it was a day of rest or holiday for the priests also, and they had to be specially commanded to open the east gate of the court of the temple in case the prince or ruler of the people should come and want to worship, in which case the common people were to also be pennitted to worship at the threshold of the gate, on the porch, but neither the prince nor the people could actually enter the temple. It is possible that where it speaks of opening the doors of the temple when the Prince comes is a prophecy of opening the door of salvation to the whole world when the great Prince, Christ, came.
The New Moon Day and the Sabbath were both days for feasts, weddings and celebrations as well as rest and home teaching of the children, perhaps visiting in their own neighbourhood, as according to the rule of a Sabbath Day's journey (Acts 1:12) they could not walk nor ride more than 1000 paces-2000 cubits-3000 feet, or about one-half mile, during the day; therefore, very few could go as far as the temple.
During the 400 years between the Old and New Testament, there existed a number of Jewish religious societies, the Chasids, Hasmonians, Chassidians and
Assidians, to the last of which, the Maccabees belonged. They were prominent about 175 to 150 B.C.and were such strict believers in the Jewish law that at first they were willing to be persecuted and even be killed rather than strike a blow in self-defence on the Sabbath rest day but we find no record as to their considering it a day of worship. That was left for the new organization of Pharisees which was formed shortly after the Maccabees or about 120 to 140 B.C. The first definite record we find of them is 109 B.C. but at that time they had become quite numerous and strong.
They were excessively strict regarding the observance of the laws of Moses and especially those unwritten laws which they claimed came down to them by tradition. They also claimed to "sit in the seat of Moses" with power to enact new laws. They gave a new meaning to the Fourth Commandment changing the Sabbath to a religious day and formulating about 215 laws or rules in the Talmud for its observance, the breaking of which was in some cases punishable by death, changing God's gracious, blessed day of rest and peace to a day of dread and of exactions grievous to bear. Christ's teachings are thoroughly antagonistic and He denounced the Pharisees in the bitterest language. Most of their criticisms of Christ was because He did not keep their kind of Sabbath.
The history of this period is found largely in the book of Josephus, the book of Enoch and the 14 books of the Apocrypha. While not classed as inspired, they are valuable reference books which were quoted largely in the New Testament and by the early Christian Church. All except Josephus and Enoch were in the Septuagint and, for about 200 years were included in the King James 1611 Bible. They were in the Vulgate, in Luther's German Bible of 1534 and Coverdale's, the first complete English Bible of 1535; also the Douay Catholic Bible of 1609.
At the time of the great English revision of 1881-87, the noted Greek scholars, Westcott and Hort, revised the Apochyra and recently, 1938, Prof Goodspeed has published a new translation of same.
The Sabbath is mentioned by name in only fourteen of the 39 books of the Old Testament, eight of the 27 books of the New Testament and four of the 14 books of the Apocrypha. In many cases it is only an incidental mention.
(1) "which was that the Creator rested after His work, on the seventh day"
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