Institution of the Sabbath.

THE INSTITUTION OF THE SABBATH.

Bible Study Guide/ The Forgotten Day: The Seventh Day Sabbath/ 86-002, (Gen. 2:1-3)/ Key Text: “Thus, the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. And God blessed (spoke good of) the seventh day, set it apart as His own, and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all His work which He had created and done.” (Genesis 2:1–3, AMP)

Lesson Objectives: The purpose of this study is to investigate the Institution of the Sabbath.

  1. God finished the creation of the heavens and earth (v. 1).
  2. God completed [ended] His work which He had done (v. 2).
  3. God rested on the seventh day from all His work (v. 2).
  4. God blessed the seventh day (v. 2).
  5. God sanctified it as His own, and hallowed it, (v. 3).
  6. Action Step: What response do you think this lesson should inspires us to do?

Opening Remarks: The Sabbath–when was it made? How made? For whom made? By whom made? The Sabbath was instituted in Eden. The Sabbath serves as a reminder that God is the creator, holy, and that He wants His people to be holy as He is Holy. Woven into the very fabric of creation (Gen 2:2–3) and included as part of the Ten Commandments given in Exodus 20:1–17, the Sabbath is the most consistent, indeed a week-by-week, reminder that the holy people serve a holy God.

“Remember what the earth looked like when God first hung it in space. It was unshaped and unformed, undeveloped and unfinished. God’s great plan of creation was to create the world in stages. There were to be seven great days of creation. Hanging there in space, the whole earth was covered with an ocean of water. Turbulent waves—surging, raging waters—covered primeval earth. There was also a heavy mist hanging over the whole earth: a ring of dense fog and thick clouds rising several thousand feet up encircled the earth. The sun—all light—was blocked off from reaching the earth. The earth was engulfed in a blanket of pitch-black darkness.

But God had a great plan to remedy the situation, a plan that was going to create the earth in stages, in what is known as The Seven Days of Creation. We have already looked at the first six days.

  • On the first day: God created light (Ge. 1:3–5).
  • On the second day: God created the firmament (the atmosphere and air space above earth) (Ge. 1:6–8).
  • On the third day: God created the waters, dry land, and vegetation (Ge. 1:9–13).
  • On the fourth day: God distributed light upon the earth to regulate day and night and the seasons and years (Ge. 1:14–19).
  • On the fifth day: God created water and air creatures (Ge. 1:20–23).
  • On the sixth day, during the first half of the day: God created land animals (Ge. 1:24–25).
  • On the sixth day, during the second half of the day: God created man, male and female (Ge. 1:26–31).

Now, for a crucial question: why would God choose to create the world in stages, in seven days, instead of just creating everything all at once? The seventh day of creation tells us.

God intended man to measure time by days and weeks. And He intended man to take one day a week, the seventh day, for rest and worship.

Therefore, God launched time, He began time, right along with His creative acts. All earthly activity was to be measured by days and weeks, and man was to take one of the seven days, the seventh day, to rest and worship. This is the reason God did not create the world in one moment of time; this is one of the reasons why God created the earth in stages, in seven days.” [Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Genesis (Chapters 1–11), The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible, (Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 1996), I:110]

Now we come to the final day of creation: The Seventh Day Sabbath: The institution of the Sabbath (a Day for Rest and Worship for all humanity) as a memorial of God’s Creation.

The seventh day is distinguished from all the preceding days by being itself the subject of the narrative. In the absence of any work on this day, the Eternal is occupied with the day itself, and does four things in reference to it. First, he ceased from His work which he had made. Secondly, He rested. Thirdly, He blessed (spoke good of) the seventh day. Lastly, He He set it apart as His own, and hallowed it. Let us loo at these points closely.

CREATION SABBATH AND FINISHED WORK.

God “finished” the creation of the heavens and earth. “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.” (Genesis 2:1, NKJV) To “finish a work,” in Hebrew conception, is to cease from it.

The creation was now complete. “The heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Eden bloomed on earth. Adam and Eve had free access to the tree of life. No taint of sin or shadow of death marred the fair creation. “The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Job 38:7. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 47).

CREATION SABBATH AND COMPLETED WORK.

God “completed” [ended] His work which He had done (v. 2).

Look at v. 2 again, “And on the seventh day God ended His work.” The word ‘ended” (qal) means finish, complete, i.e., come to the end of an event (Ge 41:53). The verb (piel) means finish, complete (Ge 2:2); (pual) be completed, be concluded (Ge 2:1) It is the same verb used in Ps 72:20 –“The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.” (NASB95)

God ended his work, which he had made; not because He was weary of working, –for “the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint or grow weary; there is no searching of His understanding.” (Isaiah 40:28, AMP) — But as having done all his work, and brought it to such perfection.

CREATION SABBATH AND RESTING.

God “rested” on the seventh day from all His work (v. 2). God rested on the seventh day — not to repose from exhaustion with labor, but ceased from working, an example equivalent to a command that we also should cease from labor of every kind.

The verb “rested,” shabath, means literally “to cease” from labor or activity (see Gen. 8:22; Job 32:1; etc.) God did not rest because He needed it (see Isa. 40:28). Therefore, God’s rest was the result of neither exhaustion nor fatigue, but a cessation from previous occupation. (SDA BC 1:220).

There is no implication that God felt fatigued by His creative activity and needed to rest. He simply stopped creating. “God looked with satisfaction upon the work of His hands. All was perfect, worthy of its divine Author, and He rested, not as one weary, but as well pleased with the fruits of His wisdom and goodness and the manifestations of His glory.” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 47).

CREATION SABBATH AND SABBATH BLESSINGS.

God “blessed” the seventh day (v. 2).

Genesis 2:3 affirms that the Creator “blessed” (brk) the seventh day just as He had blessed animals and man on the day before (Gen. 1:22, 28). The blessing of the Sabbath referred to in Exodus 20:11 links the Creation Sabbath with the weekly Sabbath.

What does it mean that the seventh-day Sabbath is blessed? “When God is the subject, “blessing” means generally that “man and things are imbued with the power of fruitfulness and prosperity, he gives life, happiness and success.” In terms of the seventh day, it means that this day is “a gift of the Creator for man,” imbued with a blessing that no other day possesses. The “blessing” provides this day of rest with a gift that makes it full of power. This power makes this day fruitful and vital for man’s life. The seventh day receives through its blessing a beneficial and vitalizing power through which human existence is enriched and comes to fulfilment. As such, the Sabbath is man’s source of unequaled benefit in the weekly cycle.” (Kenneth A. Strand, The Sabbath in Scripture and History, p. 25)

CREATION SABBATH AND SABBATH HOLINESS.

God “sanctified” it as His own, [that is, set it apart as holy from other days]; and “hallowed” it, (v. 3).

Genesis 2:3 also affirms that the Creator “hallowed” (R.V., R.S.V.) the seventh day, “made it holy” (N.E.B., N.A.B.), “declared it holy” (N.J.V.), or “sanctified it” (N.A.S.B.). Both here and in the Sabbath commandment (Ex. 20:11) the Hebrew text uses the verb qidäs (piel) from the root qds, “holy.”

“Most basically, the idea is that “God made the seventh day “holy” by putting it into a state of holiness. Since the more elemental meaning of the Hebrew idea of “holy” and “holiness” is “separation,” the meaning of the holiness of the seventh day as affirmed in Genesis 2:3 and Exodus 20:11 expresses that the seventh-day Sabbath is that very day that God has separated from the rest of the days. The separation of the seventh day from the six working days is a gift of the Creator for all mankind. lt should be emphasized that God, not man, has separated this seventh day. The seventh day is God’s day for mankind as a whole and not merely His day for Israel.” (Kenneth A. Strand, The Sabbath in Scripture and History, p. 25)

DEVOTIONAL IMPLICATION: “As God worked through six days and rested on the seventh, so man should toil through six days and rest on the seventh. This weekly Sabbath is a divine institution given to man by God, the Creator, and its observance is required by God, the Lawgiver. For man, therefore, to withhold any part or all of this holy time is to be guilty of disobedience against God and robbery of God as the original proprietor of man’s powers and of his time. As an institution of God’s appointing, the Sabbath deserves our honor and esteem. Neglect to render this, God counts a sin.

The Sabbath calls for abstention from common bodily labor and for the devotion of mind and heart to holy things. The Israelites were admonished to use it for holy convocations (Lev. 23:3). The Gospels attest that it was so used by Christ and the apostles (Luke 4:16; Acts 17:2; 18:4; etc.), and that it should continue to be observed by Christians after the completion of Christ’s earthly ministry (Matt. 24:20).

The fact that the Sabbath will still be celebrated in the new earth as a day of worship (Isa. 66:23) is a clear indication that God never intended to have its observance transferred to another day. The weekly Sabbath day is the memorial of creation, reminding man each week of God’s creative power and of how much he owes to a merciful Creator and Provider. A rejection of the Sabbath is a rejection of the Creator, and opens wide the door for all manner of false theories. “It is a constant witness to His existence and a reminder of His greatness, His wisdom, and His love. Had the Sabbath always been sacredly observed, there could never have been an atheist or an idolater” (PP 336). [Francis D. Nichol, Ed., The Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary, (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1978), 1:221].

ACTION STEP: What response do you think this lesson should inspires us to do? Beloved, the Sabbath is not holy because we want it to be holy. Rather, it is because God separated the Seventh Day from the six days of labor, and assigned holiness to it. The holiness of the Sabbath does not stern from man’s keeping it, but from an act of God.

The first thing we ought to remember is that– [1] the Sabbath is a Divine Institution, a memorial of creation– given to all man, not just to the Jews, as some have erroneously propagated.

[2] The Sabbath is “is a solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord” (Exodus 16:23). A day we must refrain from work, following the example of our Creator God. Remember that in resting on the Sabbath, man participates in God’s rest, meeting with his Creator.

[3] We are commanded to “keep the Sabbath holy” (Ex. 20:8; Deut. 5:12) by refraining from work (Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:14); or doing our own pleasure. The injunction not to “profane” the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14, etc.) is the counterpart to the commandment to keep it holy.

[4] We are to praise God as the Creator of the universe; thank Him for the gift of life, the privilege and provision of life. We are to worship Him and acknowledge Him as the Creator (Rev 14:6-7). We are to bless His holy name for the privilege of work and health throughout the week. We are to serve Him in the spirit of holiness and righteousness. We are to ask Him to meet our needs and the needs of others.

[5] Lastly, we are to obey Him by keeping His command Holy: “(Earnestly) remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (withdrawn from common employment and dedicated to God).” (Exodus 20:8, AMP)

THE GOSPEL’S VOICE: Listen to the Lord’s promise to those who will obey the Sabbath’s command. “If you turn away your foot from (traveling unduly on) the Sabbath, from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a (spiritual) delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and honor Him and it, not going your own way or seeking or finding your own pleasure or speaking with your own (idle) words, Then will you delight yourself in the Lord, and I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will feed you with the heritage (promised for you) of Jacob your father; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” (Isaiah 58:13–14, AMP)

  • “Especially on Sabbath, God’s people are called to set aside their common secular pursuits, entertainments, and activities and, instead, worship God and extend acts of kindness which will glorify Him and bring joy both to themselves and to those being served.”
  • “Sabbath will be a blessing rather than a burden to those who recognize its value as a gift from God—a day leading observers into an even more intimate relationship with Him.”
  • “Those who choose to honor the seventh-day Sabbath for a twenty-four-hour period each week—despite hardship, conflicts, or apparent economic disadvantage—will be sustained and find their needs met with abundant spiritual and material blessings beyond what they can imagine.” [Jon L. Dybdahl, Ed., Andrews Study Bible Notes, (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 2010), 930].

Have a Blessed Day: “And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the LORD.” (Isaiah 66:23, NKJV)

The Gospel’s Voice/ Bible Study Guide/ Doctrines/ The Seventh-Day Sabbath / Lesson # 2.