Topic(s): Bible Authority, Old Testament, Worship

Todd Clippard

The first mention of the sabbath is Genesis 2:3. Actually, the text only identifies the day as the seventh day. The first mention of the word sabbath does not appear until more than 2000 years later in Exodus 16:23. Moses wrote both texts by inspiration and did not refer to the seventh day as the sabbath in the creation account.

 
Genesis 2:3 makes no reference whatsoever to any command to worship or observe the sabbath. In fact, there is not a single reference to anyone observing the sabbath until the giving of the Law following Israel’s departure from Egypt. Adam is not recorded as observing the sabbath. Neither are Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or Joseph and his brothers. 

In Deuteronomy 5, the sabbath Law is restated by Moses. In verse 3, Moses said the covenant (which included the sabbath) was not given to their fathers, but to those alive and present that day. In verse 13, the command to observe the sabbath ensues. In verse 15 the purpose of the sabbath is clearly given: as a memorial to their time in Egypt and how God brought them out with a mighty arm. Note the use of the phrase “therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.”

In Numbers 15:32-36, there was a man brought before Moses for gathering sticks on the sabbath. They did not know what to do with him. After consulting Moses, Moses had to inquire of the Lord what to do with him. The Lord instructed him to stone the sabbath breaker, which they did. If the sabbath was a part of any prior covenant between God and men, why did not anyone know what to do with the sabbath breaker?

(2) The early church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42). The early church is recorded as meeting on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Therefore, it is logical and biblical to conclude the apostles’ doctrine included Sunday worship. In Revelation 1:10, John said he was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day. What day is the Lord’s Day? Jesus was raised from the dead on a Sunday, and the church was established on a Sunday (Acts 2:1). The day of Pentecost was 50 days following the Passover (Leviticus 23)Jesus was killed on Passover (John 19:31). Fifty days following that day would be Sunday, the first day of the week.

(3) Using Christ as our example has no bearing on this discussion, because Jesus lived and died under the Mosaic Law (Galatians 4:4). In His death, He removed the Law and its curse (Galatians 3:13-14; Ephesians 2:14-16; Colossians 2:14). Included in the abolished law is the Ten Commandments (Romans 7:6-8) and the command to observe the sabbath.

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