Sabbath’s First Mention?

Where does the Sabbath first get mentioned? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

While there is a Sabbath described in Genesis 2, the term itself does not show up there. So where does it first appear? You can look all throughout the book of Genesis and you will be disappointed.

“Okay. Maybe the word Sabbath doesn’t appear, but how about the concept of the seventh day of the week?”

Nope. Outside of the creation week, it doesn’t show up at all. The number seven shows up very frequently. Seventh as in the ordinal does not.

The first appearance shows up in Exodus 16 and in this reference, it is to the Israelites going out and gathering manna in the Exodus wanderings. Food isn’t exactly the most abundant, so God would have this strange breadlike substance come down and it was called Manna, which meant “What is it?” Every day, the Israelites could go out and get some. However, if they tried to save it until morning, it was disgusting and filled with maggots. There was one exception to this.

On the sixth day, they could store it overnight and it would not have maggots or stink in the morning. Moses tells everyone on the sixth day to gather enough for two days. The seventh day is to be a Sabbath. They are not to go out and do the work of gathering food. Of course, there are some who try, and they are disappointed, as is Moses.

What’s interesting about this is Moses doesn’t have any need to explain this. At this point in the text, nothing is said about why this is the Sabbath day or even what the Sabbath day is. So what are the options?

It could be that this was already known and part of the background knowledge? It didn’t need to be explained. Granted, odds are that they did not get to enjoy their Sabbaths while they were slaving away under Pharaoh in Egypt. They could have well welcomed a six-day work week.

It could be that this was already known, but the further explanation is known to be coming in the Ten Commandments, so why mention it here? This one also makes sense. Moses knows well what is coming in the story and sees no need to reinvent the wheel.

It could be that this was unknown, but that doesn’t really make much sense as it is said without explanation at all. Again, one could say it isn’t because that is coming in chapter 20. No doubt, the reader who read the account at the time knew the reason, but we don’t know what the Israelites were thinking.

I am much more inclined to go with 1 or 2 and if I had to pick one, I would probably pick the first one. Still, this time is worth mentioning because it is the first time that the Sabbath is mentioned for the people in the Bible. In this case, don’t go out and pick up food and get enough for two days on the day before.

This is the first story, but it won’t be the last, and sadly, some stories for Israel concerning Sabbath will not be that good and will sadly set the precedent for a history of failure on the Sabbath.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Sabbath on the Seventh

How should we see the seventh day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A group I am in on Facebook has recently been visited by people who are very keen on the Sabbath and honoring the seventh-day. As I was pondering this, it occurred to me that this is one area that I just haven’t written about that I can recall. Thus, let’s have some fun and go through and see what Scripture has to say about the Sabbath and arguments for and against when Christians should observe it.

At the start, I will say I do not see this as a salvation issue at all. When I worked at the Christian Research Institute, I went through the Seventh-Day Adventist publication Questions on Doctrine. Naturally, I disagreed with a number of points, particularly in relation to Ellen White and her eschatology and to the Sabbath, but I found that they did uphold essentials like the Trinity and the bodily resurrection.

So if you’re a member of an SDA congregation and you want to observe Sabbath on Saturday, go right ahead. I have no real quarrel with you. My only request is that you accept that I am also trying to be faithful to the Scriptures and think that Sunday worship is indeed allowed and I contend was what was made the norm after the resurrection.

So let’s start with Genesis 2. In this passage, we are told that God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. This isn’t anything new in that there is a whole lot of blessing going on in the creation week. There is a different in that the day is sanctified, which means that it was declared as holy and set apart.

Now I am normally told that the Lord blessed that day so the hidden implication is that this is something permanent, but is that always the case? For this, I am only going to be staying to the writings attributed to Moses. Are there temporary blessings?

One passage I notice is that Ishmael was blessed by God as well. This does not mean the line of Ishmael is celebrated in Scripture. If anything, too often, the line of Ishmael proves to be a problem for Israel.

Blessings can also be temporary. We see this in Genesis 39 in that while Joseph is serving in Potiphar’s house, his house is blessed for that time. This was done not because of Potiphar, but because of Joseph.

In Numbers 6 and 22, Israel is said to be blessed. Does that stand today? Eschatologically, I would say no today. Jew and Gentile are both invited into the covenant. Jews do have a special gift as Paul said in that they are the ones through whom Jesus came and they are the ones who were entrusted with the Scriptures. Before God, there is no special benefit in being a Jew or a Gentile. He has no favoritism.

Deuteronomy 10:8 gives an interesting parallel. In this one, we are told that Levi is blessed and is to stand apart and to serve the Lord in Israel. Is this eternal? No. Hebrews tells us that there has been a change in priesthood when a new covenant came and Jesus is our high priest who was not from the tribe of Levi.

What about the idea of being sanctified? This shows up in Exodus 29-30 and speaks often of the priesthood of Aaron. Again, we have a new priesthood. Thus, this sanctification is not eternal.

“Whoa! Are you going to go and just skip over Exodus 31:13? It says the Sabbaths are a sign for you throughout your generations and they are sanctified.”

Yes. I hear you. That is something we need to discuss and it will be done at a later point.

Thus far, I don’t see anything that indicates that all sanctification is a process that is unchanged. I’m quite sure it is changeable seeing as many items that were sanctified back then are no longer around in that state. For all I know, some of the molecules in those items could have even made their way to the laptop I’m using right now. Who knows?

We shall continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)