The Lord Our Only Sabbath – Part One

Genesis 2

A Sabbath for all Mankind? – Section I

by Curt Wildy

Introduction to Part One

There is a great deal of controversy within the camp of the saints regarding the Christian’s relationship to Sabbath-keeping. Confusion abounds regarding the scope, applicability, and purpose of the Seventh-Day Sabbath; whether it was rolled-over into a First-Day Sabbath; how a First-Day Sabbath relates to the biblical Lord’s Day; and what rules and discipline would govern a First-Day Sabbath were one to exist. 

For (approaching) two decades now, I have had a fairly consistent view of the matter; though it’s fair to say that I never had any prolonged exposure to the stricter religious traditions concerning it. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that I have been a Sunday Sabbatarian for most of my adult life. Having heard and read a decent amount of works from the proponents of all of the major sides of the matter, I felt it necessary to look into the matter for myself, as deeply, honestly, and objectively as God enables. It is only rather recently that I have come to realise that most of my initial thoughts on the matter were in error.  

The purpose of this (intended) series of articles is to systematically review the verses that govern the matter of Sabbath-keeping, and to strive to consider the implications that arise. Although I began by making a serious effort to cover the specific points at issue without regard to the works of others, once completed, I built upon this series by looking into the arguments of the prominent writers on both sides (to see if I could determine which stances were the most biblical). I am very much indebted to A.W. Pink on the one hand, and John Gill on the other for making so clear their opposing thoughts on the matter.

I start this study with the heart-felt conviction that it is a blessing, an infinite mercy, to be able to worship the Lord our God. Were it not for His infinite grace and mercy, God would have been just to abandon all men to the deepest pit of Hell. Thankfully, God has deemed it perfectly just and good to save His elect based solely upon the Person, work, and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Out of a God-given love for, and thankfulness towards Him, may it be that we praise Him, worship Him, meditate upon Him, and declare His holy name on His day, and every day. May God restrain temporal lusts, temptations, distractions, and other forms of worldliness, and redirect our hearts and minds back to our only real and eternal hope for joy.

Likewise, may it be that God delivers us from the snares set by the traditions of men (no matter how godly those men were/are), and from the bondage of the law, and that (as made-willing bondservants) He causes us to ever seek His grace, mercy, and liberty. Yet, may it be that we use that liberty to seek His glory and honour, and not our own; and that we refrain from using the Liberty wherein He has made us free, as a cloak of maliciousness or a cover for evil.

Before I begin, I also wanted to stress that God’s word is a reflection of His infinite mind and no one can ever hope to fully scratch the surface, let alone plumb its depths; thus, this will not be an exhaustive review of the matter (I am sure I will miss many key points). Nonetheless, my goal is to make some headway on the issue for my own edification, that of my family, and for the edification of the brethren as a whole (as God enables).

The Seventh Day  

(As it Stood Before the Mosaic Law)

Genesis 2:1 (AV/KJV) Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Genesis 2:1 (YLT) And the heavens and the earth are completed, and all their host; 2 and God completeth by the seventh day His work which He hath made, and ceaseth by the seventh day from all His work which He hath made. 3 And God blesseth the seventh day, and sanctifieth it, for in it He hath ceased from all His work which God had prepared for making.

Genesis 2:1 (LITV) And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their host. 2 And on the seventh day God completed His work which He had made. And He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because He rested from all His work on it, which God had created to make.

Who ceased from their works on the Seventh Day (before the Mosaic Law?)

From the above passage, we can determine three things very clearly:

1. God ended His work which he had made (on the seventh day);

2. God rested (ceased/desisted from) all his work which he had made (on the seventh day);

3. God blessed and sanctified the seventh day (for in that day, He had rested from all his work which God created and made). 

We see from the word sanctified that God hallowed, dedicated, and declared as holy the seventh day. Likewise, God blessed, or declared blessed, the seventh day (the word blessed likewise denotes hallowing or consecrating, but it also incorporates praising, glorifying, approving, speaking well of, conferring prosperity or happiness upon, protecting and preserving, and endowing or favoring).

God so values the rest (the cessation of and desisting from His great work of creation), that He uses two closely related words to more heavily emphasize the significance of the matter. God is stressing the importance of the actual seventh-day (due to His rest), and the importance too, of what His rest foreshadowed (the cessation of the Lord Jesus Christ’s redemptive work when (a) He stated from the cross “It is finished,” and (b) He rose again from the dead evidencing that the law and justice of God was fully satisfied). The cessation of the Lord’s redemptive work is what leads to another great cessation: the cessation of His people from their own dead works, and from seeking to establish a righteousness of their own (I aim to address this in more detail later in the study).

Many sermons have been given to show forth the parallel between the literal/historical events of the creation account (specifically Genesis 1:1-4), and the events that lead to the salvation of an elect sinner. We know that fallen man is earthy, corrupt, and carnal. By nature he is dead in trespasses and sin, and thus spiritually without form and void (an empty waste, vanity). Whereas “darkness was upon the face of the deep,” spiritual darkness (ignorance and enmity against God) is upon all men by nature. However, at the respective time that God has appointed for them, He mercifully begins a good work upon the hearts of His people. Likewise, as the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters; similarly, “as the wind that bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit (John 3:8). Those so born, who formerly sat in darkness but now see a great light, have been enabled to see experientially the Light of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Just as God said “Let there be light: and there was light; and God saw the light, that it was good and God divided the light from the darkness,” He also ordains Light in the hearts of His people; and seeing that the Light of Jesus is perfectly good, He divides (separates) His people from those whom He has left in darkness.

What was the purpose of God blessing and sanctifying the Seventh Day? 

A.W. Pink asks the question ‘why would God single out the seventh day as He does.’ Pink goes on to state (bolded emphasis added):

“But why should God have “declared” the seventh day blessed for there is no hint that He pronounced any of the other days blessed. Surely it was not for the mere day’s sake. Only one other alternative remains: God declared the seventh day blessed because it was the Sabbath day, and because He would have every reader of His Word know, right at the beginning, that special Divine blessing marks its observance.”

Mr. Pink here limits the alternatives to the one that he can comprehend, seeing no other reason to sanctify and bless the seventh-day (or declare it blessed) other than it being a pre-Mosaic Sabbath-rest day. Isn’t the cessation of God’s creative work reason enough to sanctify and bless it? Isn’t the fact that this cessation points to the cessation of His redemptive work also enough? God ceased from His work in both cases; so the emphasis here isn’t on what man observes or keeps, but what God finished and ceased to do. In fact, the sole emphasis is on the fact that God rested; not man. Contrary to the “only one alternative” that Mr. Pink puts forth, I fully maintain that the work of God, the accomplishment of His intended goal, and His cessation from that work is sufficient enough grounds to declare a day sanctified and blessed.

Consider also Exodus chapters 12 and 20; in Genesis 2, we see the seventh-day declared blessed and sanctified to honor the cessation of His creative work, but in Exodus 12 and 20 (and in other passages) we see God elaborating on the type. Now He goes beyond focusing on His finished work alone, and commands His elect nation (and only His elect nation) to observe the seventh-day as a Sabbath; a Sabbath that typifies the cessation of His people from their own works in light of His cessation from His.

This is paralleled in the New Testament where those in Christ cease from their works because the Lord Jesus ceased from His. His resting from His work of redemption causes us to rest from our vain efforts to obtain justification by works of the law. The seventh day rest was temporal; it was one day out of the week (the other six days were for labouring – six being the number associated with both dead works and man). The Christian rest isn’t a single (literal) day; it is that eternal day, when we will forever be with our Lord Jesus (our Dayspring from on high, Sun of Righteousness, and our Bright and Morning star). In Christ all of our works have ceased, for Christ has fully, finally, and eternally finished the work for us. He is the end of the law for righteousness. Thus, without the need for a legal observance dating back to the Garden of Eden, we can see that God blesses, hallows, and honours the seventh-day, because the day ultimately honours the Lord Jesus Christ, and directed His people (as a type or shadow) to Him.

Concerning Genesis 2, Dr. John Gill points out in Book III, Chapter 8 (Of the Circumstances of Public Worship, as to Place and Time) of his work titled A Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity the following:

1a2a2. The words are a narrative of what God did himself; but do not contain a precept of what Adam should do; they only declare what God did….but do not enjoin Adam to keep it holy, as a Sabbath.
1a2a3. At most they seem only to design a destination of that day to holy service hereafter….on the seventh day; which he “sanctified”, not by keeping it holy himself, nor by imparting any holiness to it, which a day is not capable of; but he separated, or set it apart for holy use in after time, which is a very common sense of this word: so Jeremiah was sanctified before he was born; that is, appointed and ordained to be a holy prophet; which purpose was not carried into execution until some time after; and so God might be said to sanctify or set apart in his mind and purpose the seventh day to be an holy Sabbath in future time; though it was not actually executed, as it should seem by what will be hereafter observed, until many hundred years after the creation. Besides,
1a2a4. The words….are understood by many learned men proleptically, or by way of anticipation; as other things are in this same chapter; so some places are called by the names they bore in the times of Moses, which they had not from the beginning….

Notice also the language of Genesis 2:2-3 “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Notice that in verse two, God declares (a) “on the seventh day God ended his work;” and (b) “He rested on the seventh day from all his work…” Now consider that at no point did God state in verse 3 “”on the seventh day God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.”

Notice that although it can be implied that God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it immediately, no where is this clearly or definitively stated. The language in this verse could very well relate (as Dr. John Gill suggests) to a prolepsis, i.e., “the representation or assumption of a future act or development (e.g. the giving and making known of the Mosaic Sabbath) as if presently existing or accomplished.”

As others have pointed out, some parts of Genesis are chronological and other parts are topical. We see concerning the creation accounts, that Genesis chapter one is primarily chronological (following a sequence of time) and Genesis chapter two is primarily topical (following a set topic or theme). Genesis 2:3 can very well be a topical statement, rather than a chronological one, pointing to the fact (i.e. anticipating) that God was going to sanctify and declare blessed the seventh day when He declared it to be an actual Sabbath in Mosaic times and revealed it as such to Moses and the Israelites.

We see other examples of this in Genesis (and throughout the Bible); consider the following: (a) Genesis 3:20 declares that Adam called his wife Eve, the mother of all living (this, before anyone besides Adam and Eve were born or “living”); (b) Genesis 2:24 declares “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (even before fathers and mothers existed); (c) Genesis 10:5 states “By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations” (even though the separation of tongues/languages didn’t actually occur until later – see Genesis 11:1-9); and (d) Genesis 4:19-22 states “And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one [was] Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and [of such as have] cattle. 21 And his brother’s name [was] Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ. 22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain [was] Naamah” (even before tent-dwellers, cattlemen, musicians, and artificers existed).

Nonetheless, we need to consider the matter in much further depth, especially as it relates to Adam.

Were Adam and Eve commanded to keep the seventh-day Sabbath?

We read again in Genesis 2:1 (AV/KJV) Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.       

The word rested is the Hebrew word Shabath (see Appendices one and two for more details);

 Shabath: Rest/Rested <07673>: to cease; 1a2) to rest, desist (from labour);

Shabath must not be confused with the related Hebrew words Shabbath (Sabbath) or Shabbathown (Sabbath Rest – see Appendices Three through Five):

Sabbath/Shabbath: Sabbath <07676>: AV-sabbath 107, another 1; 108.

 Sabbath/Rest: (a Sabbath-related) Rest <07677> AV-rest 8, sabbath 3– Sabbath observance, sabbatism;

Mr. Pink states:

“By the primitive observance of the Sabbath we refer to the recognition and keeping of a Sabbath before the formal proclamation of the Decalogue at Sinai. It is frequently asserted that the Sabbath Law originated at the time when Jehovah wrote the Ten Commandments on the two tables of stone… The Sabbath was instituted before the fall. It is one of the two things (the marriage tie and the Sabbath) which come to us out of Eden.”

Nothing in Genesis 2 suggests that a Sabbath <07676> or Sabbath Rest <07677> was instituted in Genesis 2; in fact such language doesn’t even appear until the Mosaic Law is given (see for instances, Exodus 12). Even the word at issue (Shabath: Rest/Rested) is not used in connection to a Sabbath (Shabbath) or Sabbath-keeping/Sabbath-rest (Shabbathown) until Exodus 12. We must keep the rest of God (God’s own cessation of work) in Genesis 2 separate from the Sabbath rest that the Israelites were required to keep after God gave the law to Moses (the reason for this will become even more clear, Lord-willing, as we progress).

Some may argue that the above words Shabbath <07676> and Shabbathown <07677> derive from the Genesis 2 Shabath, and thus Shabath should implicitly be understood as (or presumed to be) a Sabbath rest; however, such a presumption would be unfounded. Just because words derive from other words doesn’t mean that the base, or root word’s meaning is automatically read into the derivative. Many words in the Bible are derived from other Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words; imagine how disastrous it would be for proper hermeneutics and exegesis if we were to start ignoring the actual meaning of derived words (both as it relates to the literal definition and to the biblical context and usage), and instead replaced it with the definition of the root word (or imposed additional meanings upon it by adding the root’s definition without any biblical warrant); all sorts of false interpretations and doctrines would arise. Therefore, we cannot simply presume that Genesis 2 established an actual Sabbath day (Sabbath-keeping) simply because the next book of the Bible (Exodus) uses words derived from it (especially given the time-lapse involved); we must substantiate all arguments in light of the entirety of God’s word. One obvious place to start would be with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; we must ask the question, were Adam and Eve required to keep a Seventh Day Sabbath?

The answer to that question is a resounding no! Nonetheless, Mr. Pink argues (bolded emphasis added):

“The fourth commandment is closely connected with the other commandments. But so far from having any Jewish origin, it is the first and only commandment announced in the opening of the sacred record, and was imposed on our first parents in their state of uprightness and innocence. It thus stands in a peculiar manner at the head of all the commandments, and involves in its breach the abandonment equally of the first and second tables of the decalogue.

The above quote is completely unsubstantiated; the first command found in the Bible is the one given to Adam in Genesis 2:16-17 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

What other command existed at this time? None! God didn’t even command Adam to dress and keep the land; He declares that He “took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Likewise, God never commanded Adam to name the animals; instead, He declares that out of the ground, He formed them and brought them unto Adam to see what Adam would call them.  No commands or commandments here at all; before the Fall, God never declared any other commandment to Adam other than the one concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Thus, nothing in Genesis 2:16-17 suggests that keeping a Sabbath Day was a command given to Adam.

For the sake of argument however, let’s presume that such a command was implicitly given; in such a case, we need to ask what was the penalty for its violation? If this supposed Genesis 2 Sabbath (which Pink directly equates with the Fourth Commandment) is “the head of all the commandments, and involves in its breach the abandonment equally of the first and second tables of the decalogue” surely some declaration of punishment existed; so what was the penalty given?

The clear answer is none! No penalty was declared because God gave no warning to Adam regarding a penalty, and this, because no Sabbath or Sabbath commandment existed. Nonetheless, through man’s tradition, we can add to the word of God by reinterpreting Genesis 2:16-17 to read as follows (as Mr. Pink implicitly does): “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, [keep and observe my Sabbath Day and be sure not to desecrate it;] and of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” Revelation 22:18 gives a clear warning against adding to the word of God; thus, in light of the above, and many other factors, we must come to the conclusion that a Genesis 2 institution of a “Fourth Commandment”-type Sabbath simply cannot be. Adam and Eve were under no obligation to “keep” by rule or law, a Sabbath observance.

Did Adam and Eve need a physical cessation of works before the Fall?

Let us suppose that Genesis 2 established a Sabbath keeping. We need to ask ourselves another question; before the Fall, did Adam and Eve *need* a Sabbath rest? The answer is clearly no; before the Fall, Adam and Eve were not subject to fatigue, stress, disease, death, and the other curses associated with it. As a result, there is no evidence that they were subject to over-exertion, exhaustion, general tiredness, or any other need for rest. We can reasonably conclude that our first parents would not have needed mental and/or physical rest in the Garden’s perfect environment. As a result, the importance of the seventh-day Sabbath as a means of obtaining mental and physical rest would have been completely lost to them.

But what of spiritual rest? Can we say that Adam and Eve needed spiritual rest before the fall? Absolutely not. Given that Adam and Eve had not yet fallen, the importance of the seventh-day Sabbath as pointing to a spiritual rest would have been lost to them; they would have no concept of needing redemption or a Saviour. If one were to argue that God gave this rest to them in an anticipatory fashion (anticipating the Fall), it simply adds support to Dr. Gill’s counter-argument that the day was anticipatory (not for Adam but for Israel and those whom Israel typified).   

Was the Seventh Day really a cessation of work for all men after the Fall?

What about after the Fall; were all men required to observe a seventh-day Sabbath after mankind was cursed (and thus in need of a Saviour to redeem them from their sins)?  The answer is still no; nothing suggests such a Sabbath-keeping was implemented or commanded.

In fact, think of the implications; the Seventh-Day Sabbath, given by God to His (temporally) elect nation Israel pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ who is the eternal Sabbath given by God to all of His (eternally) elect saints — both Jew and Gentile. Whether it is the totality of the elect in Christ, or the totality of national Israel (a type of the entire body of Christ), the fact remains that the Sabbath is only given to a chosen few. Nothing in the Bible suggests that a Sabbath-keeping, symbolic or otherwise, is given to all mankind. The reason is clear, not all mankind wants, sees a need for, or has an interest in such a rest.  Nothing suggests that God decreed to give reprobate unbelievers rest, comfort, peace, or anything else for their eternal benefit. It is true that He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. It is also true that the reprobate Israelites had physical rest on the seventh day just as the elect Israelites did. However, it is my beliefe that this by no means suggest a love for all (or a desire for all to have rest); it is simply a result of God’s overall goodness and the residual effects of God working all things together for good to them that love Him, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

Dr. Gill provides evidence that the Israelites themselves rejected the notion that the Seventh-day Sabbath was for anyone other than the Israelites (and converts to the true religion). In His Exposition of the whole Bible, under Mark 2:27, he points out that:

By “man”, is not meant all mankind; for the sabbath was never appointed for all mankind, nor binding upon all; only the Jews, who are emphatically called “man”, or “men”; see Eze_34:30, upon which the Jewish writers remark (o), that “they are called, אדם, “man”; but the idolatrous Gentiles, and nations of the World, are not called “men”;” but dogs, beasts, &c. Our Lord may here be thought to speak in their language, as he does in Matthew 15:26…

And that the observation of the seventh day, was only designed for the children of Israel, seems manifest from Exodus 31:16, “wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant; it is a sign between me and the children of Israel”; and not between him and the rest of the world: and in Exo_31:14, “ye shall keep the sabbath, for it is holy unto you”: on which the Jews (p) make this remark, עממין לכם ולא לשאר, “to you, and not to the rest of the nations”: nor did they ever think that the Gentiles were obliged to observe their sabbath, only such who became proselytes to their religion; even those who were proselytes of righteousness: for a proselyte of the gate, was not bound to observe it; for so says (q) Maimonides,

Yea, they not only say, they were not obliged to keep the sabbath, but that it was not lawful for them to observe it; and that it was even punishable with death them to regard it; for so they say (r), “a Gentile that keeps the sabbath before he is circumcised, is guilty of death, because it is not commanded him.”

They judged them unworthy of having this precept enjoined them, as being not men, but beasts, and worse than they, and had not the privilege the ass has: hence one of their commentators (s) says, “concerning the rest of an ass, thou (O Israelite!) art commanded; but concerning the rest of a Gentile, thou art not commanded.”

And not man for the sabbath; who was in being long before that was appointed and enjoined.

Consider also Deuteronomy 5:3. In Deuteronomy 5:1, we read “And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. 2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. In verse 3 he declares, “The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. 4 The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire, 5 (I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying…12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. 13  Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:  14  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.”

We see in Deuteronomy 5:3 that the LORD made not this covenant with their fathers (not with Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob; nor with Lot, Noah, or Lamech; nor with Adam, Abel, or Seth); but only with the Israelites living at the time the Mosaic Law was Given. We see that part of this covenant was the giving of the Seventh-Day Sabbath rest; in fact, it was the sign of that covenant (just as circumcision was the sign given to Abraham, and the rainbow the sign given to Noah).

Moses did not say “The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, except for the Sabbath-Day, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.” Nor did he say “The LORD made a part of this covenant with all mankind, even the Seventh-Day Sabbath, but they forgot… So the Lord made not this part of the covenant again with them, or with any of our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us her alive this day.” Clearly, the Sabbath Rest was not for all men, but only the Israelites. 

Was the Seventh Day a Sabbath Rest day at any time before the Mosaic Law?

In light of the above, there is no evidence of a Sabbath-rest (Sabbath-keeping) before the law was given to Moses and national Israel. A perfect time to make clear the importance of a seventh-day Sabbath observance would have been during the time period of Genesis chapters eight and nine when God spoke with and commanded Noah after the Great Flood. At no point did God state to remember a Sabbath-day rest.

God never commanded Abraham to keep a Sabbath rest; He gave him the sign and seal of circumcision (Romans 4:11), but not the sign of a Sabbath rest. Moreover, the book of Job states nothing about a Sabbath-keeping or a Sabbath-rest when discussing the righteous (godly) works that Job performed. Job was considered by many to be a contemporary of Abraham; most believe that he lived prior to Moses and the Exodus.

Although this isn’t proof of anything in itself, the silence of the Bible from Genesis chapter 2 to Exodus chapter 12 (and all of the book of Job) further reinforces the points above; it helps to make clear that the Bible is silent on any notion of a Sabbath observance, for some or all of mankind, before the Mosaic Law was given.

If the Seventh Day was a Sabbath before the Mosaic Law, how was it kept?

We have no answer to this question because the Bible gives us none; it is silent on the matter because no Sabbath existed. Some try to explain away the dearth of support for a pre-“Mosaic Law” Sabbath by arguing that Genesis covers too many years and too many people, therefore we shouldn’t expect to find much about it. The problem with this argument is that (1) it again ignores the book of Job; and (2) it uses flawed reasoning.

We already addressed the Job issue, but the scarcity issue is also problematic for them. One cannot stress the importance of the presumed Sabbath-keeping decree being the first issue God addressed after He ceased from His work, and then turn around and argue that the matter of the supposed Sabbath is on the same level of every other overlooked topic. In other words, in their attempt to down-play the scarcity issue, they cannot simultaneously (a) place the topic of the Sabbath on the same level of every other topic, and then (b) maintain that this topic is of the upmost importance for all mankind; to do so is to expect conflicting arguments to hold, and they will not. The fact remains that if Genesis 2 instituted a Sabbath-rest, there should be some clear statement to this effect somewhere in either Job or Genesis (especially given that circumcision; tokens/signs; tithes; offerings; priests; altars; sacrifices; murder, adultery, harlotry, idolatry, lying, and other key ceremonial and moral topics are covered in these books).

In His work titled the “Christian Sabbath” A.W. Pink wrote that “The Sabbath was instituted before the fall. It is one of the two things (the marriage tie and the Sabbath) which come to us out of Eden.” The problem with this argument is that we find in Genesis several accounts of marriage; so if it “is one of the two things which come to us out of Eden,” why so much about marriage (taking a wife) and yet nothing about a Sabbath rest? Again, the “too-much time being covered” argument falls flat; surely if God could take the time to mention marriages, He could have mentioned a Sabbath rest at least once in Genesis – but He didn’t.

The above points are also important in light of what God did for the Israelites; He clearly declared for them what actions were prohibited on the Sabbath day. For God to give the Israelites specific information regarding what they were expected to do, and what they were prohibited from doing, but leave that information out of Job and Genesis for the whole of mankind that lived prior to the Exodus, is a bit hard to explain away. Mr. Pink stated in his work that before the Mosaic Law, “to remain in bed and sleep through that day would not be spending the Sabbath as God requires it to be spent;” however, Mr. Pink has no proof whatsoever of this; it is mere speculation. No one can know what God required on this supposed Genesis 2 Sabbath, because God never stated what was required.

Mr. Pink attempts to skirt this issue by stating “What particular works are required and are permissible, we shall show later; but what we now press upon the reader is the fact that, according to Genesis 2:2, the Sabbath rest consists of resting from the labors of the working week.” The reason why he stated that he would “show later the particular works [that were] required and [that were] permissible” was because, to do so at that time would have required him to leave Genesis 2 and jump to Exodus 12 (and in so doing, he would evidence the weakness of this argument).

Some argue that a Genesis 2 Sabbath observance was instituted, but without any legal penalties for not observing it or any declared rules on how to observe it. This argument undermines the use of the term Sabbath to denote an actual Sabbath rest, a Sabbath-keeping, or a Sabbath observance (because it basically allows for an anything goes Sabbath which, in light of Exodus and Deuteronomy, isn’t a Sabbath at all). We need to ask: How does one keep something that has never been defined? How does one observe something if one has never been told how to observe it? How does one rest, not knowing from what they can or should rest?

Moreover, it also undermines a popular argument of the Genesis 2 Sabbatarians (one that we will discuss more below), wherein it is alleged that the Great Flood was instituted on the seventh-day as poetic justice against prediluvian man for “breaking the Sabbath” (as they supposedly so often did, albeit without any biblical proof to this effect).  In light of the argument, we must also ask: How could they have broken the Sabbath if they were never told, specifically, how to keep it (or from what they needed to abstain)?

Are you saying that no one recognized that God blessed and sanctified the Seventh Day prior to the Mosaic Law?

I am not saying any such thing. I believe that Adam would have likely known that God declared the seventh-day blessed and that He sanctified it. I believe that God would have told him this, and that Adam would likely have informed his posterity (if God didn’t do so directly). However, (1) this is pure speculation (albeit reasonable); and (2) even if they knew that God declared the seventh day of the week both blessed and sanctified, (a) it doesn’t mean that they were commanded to keep a Genesis 2 Sabbath-rest that was binding upon all men (including Adam); and (b) it definitely doesn’t mean that they were commanded to refrain from desecrating this alleged Sabbath at the risk of some penalty (up to and/or including death).

The sanctifying of the seventh day is likely to be at least one of the reasons why we have a seven-day week (although the lunar phases no doubt play a major role; see the section covering this matter below). It could very well be that the people of God celebrated (through prayers, sacrifices, worship, etc.) this day in honor of God’s cessation from works. Likewise, following God’s pattern, it could very well be that people rested voluntarily on this day. But again, where does the Bible teach anywhere that they were commanded to observe a Sabbath before the Mosaic Law was given? It doesn’t. Where does God declare penalties for failure to observe this Genesis 2 “Sabbath?” He doesn’t.  Celebrating a day, if they indeed celebrated the day, is not the equivalent of a Mosaic Sabbath rest.

What about Exodus 20:11

In Exodus 20, as part of the Ten Commandments, God declares:

“8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

Some make the argument that because Exodus 20:11 quotes Genesis 2:3, and yet substitutes Sabbath for seventh-day, it proves that Genesis 2:3 instituted a Sabbath observance/rest requirement upon all mankind. Although one can choose to interpret it this way, one can just as easily (and I believe more accurately) make the case that if God wanted to make the seventh-day a Sabbath in Genesis 2:3, He could have reversed the order of appearance of the language He used. In other words, God could have used the language of Exodus 20:11 in Genesis 2 (“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the [Sabbath day], and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made,”), and the language of Genesis 2 in Exodus 20:11 (“For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the Sabbath day: wherefore the LORD blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it).

If God had written it this way, (a) it would have been abundantly clear from Genesis 2 that the seventh day was always a Sabbath rest day, even from before the Fall; and (b) everyone would have known that the reference to the seventh-day in the alternate version of Exodus 20:11 would refer to the Sabbath (because the alternate version of Genesis 2 would have made this obvious). Instead, God waited until the actual institution of the Sabbath rest to use the terms Shabbath and Shabbathown, and restated Genesis 2:3 (in Exodus 20:11) in light of the newly instituted covenant and commandment (re-emphasizing it’s weight and purpose).

Why no evening in Genesis 2:2-3?

Some argue that at the close of each of the six working days, God declares “And the evening and the morning were…” but in Genesis 2:2-3 we do not read of any reference to an evening or to a next (i.e. eighth) day. They believe that this omission is an intimation that the observance of the Sabbath (Sabbath-keeping) will not end until Judgment day; and that “as long as time remains” man will be required to observe an earthly, temporal Sabbath. However, I would argue that the omission points us to the eternal Sabbath that the people of God have in the Lord Jesus Christ (i.e. the rest found in Him), and how that rest will never end. I reject the notion that this omission (to use the term) has anything to do with all mankind, or even Christians in our day, having to keep or observe an actual Sabbath day (seventh day, first day, or otherwise).

The end of days… What about Genesis 4:3?

Genesis 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD (AV/KJV). 

Genesis 4:3 And it cometh to pass at the end of days that Cain bringeth from the fruit of the ground a present to Jehovah (YLT); 

Genesis 4:3 And in the end of days, it happened that Cain brought an offering to Jehovah from the fruit of the ground (LITV).

This section covers the sacrifices of Cain and Abel, and whether Genesis 4:3 evidences a Sabbath observance. Mr. Pink writes (bolded emphasis added):

We ask the reader to turn to Gen. 4:3 and note thoughtfully the marginal reading-which, as usual, is to be preferred to the reading in the text. “And at the end of days it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord…. Here the Holy Spirit has seen well to call our attention to the time when Cain (and Abel likewise: see Gen. 4:4, “And Abel he also,” etc.) brought his offering to the Lord. The bringing of offerings by Cain and Abel was the formal recognition of God. It was an act of worship. Now, why has the Holy Spirit told us that the sons of Adam and Eve worshipped God at “the end of days,” if it is not to intimate that they worshipped at the Divinely appointed season?

And when was that? What is signified by “the end of days?” Surely the unprejudiced reader who comes to the Scriptures in childlike simplicity, desiring to learn the mind of God, will form only one conception here, and can only mean, the end of the working week; therefore, it was on the Sabbath day, that Cain and Abel, according to Divine appointment, brought their offerings to the Lord as an expression of their worship…” Surely he will naturally say, Why, the end of days must be the end of the week, and that, of course, is the Sabbath… How can this be proven? In a very simple way: by an appeal to the context. If the first three chapters of Genesis be read through, it will be found they mention one “end” and one only, and that is in Gen. 2:2. There we read, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made.” Thus the only “ending” referred to in the context is the ending of the six days’ work. Now, as Scripture ever interprets Scripture, as it defines its terms by the way they are used in other passages, and as the law of the context is what ever fixes the meaning of any given clause, so here in Gen. 4:3; the “end of days” means,

Firstly, Mr. Pink yet again uses unnecessarily limiting (and this time inflammatory) language as he attempts to bolster his argument. By stating “Surely the unprejudiced reader who comes to the Scriptures in childlike simplicity, desiring to learn the mind of God, will form only one conception here,” he is (a) hypocritically implying that those in disagreement are (1) prejudiced readers; (2) who, unlike himself, are not coming to the Scriptures in childlike simplicity; (3) who, unlike himself, are desiring to learn the mind of God; and he is (b) evidencing that he is ignorant of other legitimate arguments, arguments that he implies do not, and cannot, exist. To evidence why his bolded statements are incorrect, we should consider the Hebrew words for “end of days” (or “process of time” as the AV/KJV translates it):

End: The word end (or process) is the Hebrew word Uq (qets, pronounced kates, Strong’s # H7093) which means end; a) end, at the end of (of time); b) end (of space). In the AV/KJV it is translated as end 52 times, after ten times, border three times, infinite one time, and process one time.

Days: The word days (or time) is the Hebrew word Mwy (yowm, pronounced yome, Strong’s #H03117) which means 1) day, time, year; a) day (as opposed to night); b) day (24 hour period); 1) as defined by evening and morning in Genesis 1; 2) as a division of time; a) a working day, a day’s journey; c) days, lifetime (pl.); d) time, period (general); e) year; f) temporal references; 1) today; 2) yesterday; 3) tomorrow. — In the AV/KJV it is translated as days 2008 times, time 64 times, chronicles + 01697 37 times, daily 44 times, ever 18 times, year 14 times, continually 10 times, when 10 times, as 10 times, while 8 times, full 8 times, always 4 times, whole 4 times, alway 4 times, and in 44 other miscellaneous ways.

Secondly, Mr. Pink maintains that because the only reference to the word end in the first three chapters of Genesis is the one in Genesis 2:2, we must presume that the end in Genesis 4:3 has the same exact meaning and intent as it does in Genesis 2:2 (i.e. it is an alleged reference back to a presumed Sabbath-rest day). However, to dictate that a term can only mean what it meant in its very first usage, or in the prior passage (closest in proximity) is a significant hermeneutical / exegetical error. There is no basis for declaring that the use of the word end in the passage two chapters back, dictates that it must carry the same meaning from Genesis 4:3 forward. If this was indeed the rule, then Genesis 6:13 must be interpreted to refer to the seventh day (or the seventh day Sabbath rest as Pink and others interpret it). However, to interpret it this way would make the verse nonsensical; it would effectively read “And God said unto Noah, the end (that relates to the seventh-day Sabbath Rest) of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

Likewise, consider the following passages; as in Genesis 4:3, both of them have the two Hebrew words at issue (end and days) in immediate proximity.

I Kings 17:5 So he [Elijah] went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that [is] before Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. 7 And it came to pass after (end) a while (days), that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. 

Nehemiah 13:6 But in all this [time] was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after (end) certain days (days) obtained I leave of the king:

Although both I Kings 17 and Nehemiah 13:6 can be related to periods of time that equate to Sabbath days, nothing in the context suggests this. However, if Mr. Pink’s logic holds, these passages must relate to the seventh-day (and by extension, a seventh day Sabbath). Moreover, if you look at the other verses wherein the Hebrew words for end and days are found in the same verse, you will see that the assertions of Mr. Pink do not hold up (there is no rule that these words relate to a Sabbath observance). Even if you limited your search to just end (qets / H7093), omitting days / yowm, Mr. Pink’s argument would still collapse.

Secondly, even if God, in declaring the Seventh Day to be blessed and sanctified, did instruct Cain and Abel to bring offerings on the seventh day, it still doesn’t come close to proving that a Sabbath-keeping existed in any form (especially not in a form similar to the Mosaic-era Sabbath with all of its restrictions and expectations). Advocates of a Genesis 2 Sabbath hold to the preconceived notion of a universal Sabbath Day observance (from Adam to Judgment Day); as a result, they read things into these, and other, passages that simply do not exist.

Thirdly, it is more likely that end of days pertains to the end of the year, or the end of the harvest, than it does the seventh day; consider Dr. Gill on the matter:

1b4. It was the general opinion of the ancient fathers of the Christian church, that the patriarchs did not observe a Sabbath, nor were obliged to it; but were righteous men, and saved without it: not Adam, nor Abel, nor Enock, nor Noah, nor Melchizedek, nor Lot, nor Abraham, nor Job, nor any before Moses; so say Justin Martyr {3}, Irenaeus {4}, Tertullian {5}, and Eusebius {6}; by whom are mentioned particularly all the above persons, as good men, and non-observers of a Sabbath.

Some have fancied that they have found instances of a seventh day Sabbath observed in the time of the patriarchs; as at the offerings of Cain and Abel, which ate said to be “in process of time”, or “at the end of days”, Genesis 4:3 but this phrase seems to design, not the end of a week, or seven days, no number being expressed, but rather the end of a year, days being sometimes put for a year {7}; and so refers to the harvest, at the end of the year, when the fruits of the earth were gathered in; and therefore Cain might think his sacrifice, at that time, would have been the more acceptable.

Genesis 5:29… What about Noah’s name?

Mr. Pink and others point to Noah’s name as evidence that a Genesis 2 Sabbath observance existed. Noah’s name in the Hebrew is Noach (H5146 xn  no’- akh) and it means rest. It is essentially the same as the Hebrew word  Nuwach/Nowach (H5118 xwn noo’- akh or xwn no’- akh) which means  rest or resting place. Nuwach/Nowach, in turn, stems from the Hebrew word nuwach (H5117 xwn noo’- akh) which is a primitive root verb that primarily means to rest, but also means: settle down and remain; repose; have rest, be quiet; cause to rest, give rest to, make quiet; cause to alight, set down; to lay or set down, deposit, let lie, place; to let remain, leave; to leave, depart from; to abandon; to permit; to obtain rest, be granted rest; to be left, be placed; open space.

Mr. Pink makes the following argument (bolded emphasis added):

….Now Lamech called his son Noah, which means rest, and his avowed reason for thus naming him was, “This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands.” In the light of Gen. 2:2, 3 is not this profoundly suggestive? Was there not here a reference to the weekly Sabbath? Did not Lamech, in the name given his son, express his gratitude to the great Creator for having provided a weekly Sabbath, as a rest from “work” and “toil!” It was a pious heart looking forward to the Rest of which the weekly Sabbath was both the type and pledge.”

 
In response to Mr. Pink’s assertions, let us consider the following points.

Firstly, this is clearly quite a stretch. If God wanted Noah to have a name referencing a Sabbath rest, He could have easily ordained a variation of the word Shabath (rest – H07673) which is the same word used in Genesis 2:2-3 and that forms the root of the words Shabbath and Shabbthown (as discussed above). Although I personally wouldn’t make the argument (seeing that it is quite weak), using Mr. Pink’s type of reasoning, one could argue that by using Nuwach and not Shabath (or a variation/derivative thereof) God is emphasizing that a Sabbath rest was not in view when God moved Lamech to name his son Noah/Noach.

Secondly, does a name given to signify rest from toiling (labor) really suggest that a Sabbath-observance existed for all men based upon the wording in Genesis 2:3? One can seek rest from labours and toiling in a way other than by observing a literal Sabbath Day. In other words, this rest could be pointing to the rest in Christ, rest through technological advancements, rest provided by the knowledge of having a godly son, etc. Consider the following from Dr. Gill:

And he called his name Noah
Which signifies rest and comfort; for rest gives comfort, and comfort flows from rest, see (II Samuel 14:17), where a word from the same root is rendered “comfortable”, and agrees with the reason of the name, as follows: saying, this same shall comfort us, concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground, which the Lord hath cursed; this he spake by a spirit of prophecy, foreseeing what his son would be, and of what advantage to him and his family, and to the world, both in things temporal and spiritual.

In things temporal: the earth was cursed for the sin of man immediately after the fall, and continued under it to this time, bringing forth thorns and thistles in great abundance of itself, which occasioned much trouble to root and pluck them up, and nothing else, without digging, and planting, and sowing; and being barren through the curse, it was with great difficulty men got a livelihood: now Noah eased them in a good measure of their toil and trouble, by inventing instruments of ploughing, as Jarchi suggests, which they had not before, but threw up the ground with their hands, and by the use of spades, or such like things, which was very laborious; but now, by the use of the plough, and beasts to draw it, their lives were made much more easy and comfortable; hence he is said to begin to be an “husbandman”, or a “man of the earth”, that brought agriculture to a greater perfection, having found out an easier and quicker manner of tilling the earth: and as he was the first that is said to plant a vineyard, if he was the inventor of wine, this was another way in which he was an instrument of giving refreshment and comfort to men, that being what cheers the heart of God and men, see ( Genesis 9:20 ) and if the antediluvians were restrained from eating of flesh, and their diet was confined to the fruits of the earth; Noah, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, would be a comfort in reference to this, because to him, and in him to all the world, God would give liberty to eat flesh; so that they were not obliged to get their whole livelihood with their hands out of the ground: and moreover, as Lamech might be apprised of the flood by the name of his father, and the prediction of his grandfather, he might foresee that he and his family would be saved, and be the restorer of the world, and repeople it, after the destruction of it by the flood.

And he may have respect to comfort in spiritual things, either at first taking him to be the promised seed, the Messiah, in whom all comfort is; or however a type of him, and from whom he should spring, who would deliver them from the curse of the law, and from the bondage of it, and from toiling and seeking for a righteousness by the works of it; or he might foresee that he would be a good man, and a preacher of righteousness, and be a public good in his day and generation.

Why the seventh day reference in Genesis 7:10?

Another argument attempts to link the reference to the seventh day in this verse, to the supposed Genesis 2 Sabbath observance. Mr. Pink wrote the following (bolded emphasis added):

“And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth” (Gen. 7: 10, margin). This verse records the beginning of the great deluge…Why, then, has He also told us, first, that the waters of the flood were on the earth “on the seventh day?” Clearly, because the reference here is a moral one. It is an explanatory word. It gives us to see one of the reasons, perhaps one of the chief ones, why God visited the earth in such sore judgment. And it conveys a solemn message to us. The flood began on the Sabbath day. Is not the inference inescapable. Is there not only one conclusion we can possibly draw from this? Was it not an act of, what men term, poetic justice? Or, to use a figure of Scripture, were not the antediluvians now commencing to reap what they had sown? Without a doubt, they had flouted the Sabbath institution, as they had every other law of God. They had desecrated the holy day. Therefore, when God visited them in judgment, it was on the Sabbath day that the flood commenced!!

Again we see Mr. Pink limiting the potential conclusion to the only one that he is able to draw based (upon his own preconceived notions). It seems clear that there are indeed other conclusions that can be drawn, conclusions that have nothing to do with a supposed Genesis 2 Sabbath observance.

Firstly, Mr. Pink relies on marginal notes to interpret the verse as “And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.” Although the word sheba (H7651 ebv sheh’- bah or the masculine form shib‘ah hebv shib-aw’), translated as seventh day in the marginal note can indeed mean seventh, it is translated as such only thirteen (13) times in the AV/KJV. However, in the AV/KJV it is translated as seven 355 times; clearly the weight of the usage lies in favor of seven or seventh.

Also, consider how the more literal translations handle this passage:

“And it was after the seven days, the waters of the flood came into being on the earth.” (LITV)

“And it cometh to pass, after the seventh of the days, that waters of the deluge have been on the earth. “(YLT)

Green’s Literal Translation uses the phrase the seven days and Young’s Literal Translation uses the phrase after the seventh of the days. Seventh of the days could very well refer to the seventh day of the week, if the clock started on the previous seventh-day, but where does the Bible state from which day the seven days were (or the seventh of the days was) counted. If the count started on the third day of the week, then seven days (or the seventh of the days) would again be the third of the week.

Secondly, let’s presume that the day at issue was the seventh day of the week; are we to agree with Mr. Pink that there is only one conclusion we can possibly draw from this (i.e. that it references a pre-Mosaic Sabbath Observance)? Couldn’t it be that the use of seven, the number of perfection in Scripture, points to the perfection of God’s justice, hatred, and wrath against reprobate man? Couldn’t it be that after seven days, the perfection of time, God brings judgment against the prediluvian world?

Thirdly, even if the day at issue was the seventh day, couldn’t it be that God was making a clear contrast between resting from His creation-work (creating a world that was good), and bringing a work of destruction (destroying a world that became bad due to the fall and iniquity of man and the curse that followed)? Can one really fail to see the glory in the distinction between ceasing from creation and engaging in destruction in light of God declaring the seventh day hallowed and blessed (if indeed it did occur on the actual seventh day)? Where is the need for the one conclusion of a Sabbath-keeping to explain the reference to seven days?

Fourthly, if Sabbath-breaking played such a prominent role in the bringing about of the Great Flood, why is there no biblical reference to the Sabbath in relationship to it? One would think that “poetic justice” of this nature would warrant some biblical commentary on the matter; however, there is none. Likewise, one would think that at some point after the Great Flood, God would have instructed Noah, his sons, or others in the early antediluvian world to observe this alleged Sabbath (the breaking of which supposedly played such a poetic role in ushering in this destruction); however nothing to this effect exists in the Bible. Couldn’t one argue that the absence of clear language connecting the Flood to the Sabbath suggests that a Sabbath either did not exist, or at the every least, it was not nearly as prominent a reason for the Flood as some make it out to be?

Let’s consider the words of Nehemiah, as it pertains to the matter:

Nehemiah 13:15-18: “In those days saw I in Judah [some] treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all [manner of] burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified [against them] in the day wherein they sold victuals. 16 There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. 17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing [is] this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath.”

Notice verse 18 reads “Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath.” Although the reasoning behind God’s choice of wording is always perfect and good, it is rather interesting that if He intended to make His rest (cessation from the work of creation) in Genesis 2 a Sabbath for all mankind to observe, he didn’t ordain for this passage to read as follows: “Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? [Did not the men before the Flood thus, and did not our God bring a great evil upon all living, save Noah and those that were with him] yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath.” [Note: we cannot use the absence of this type of language to prove that there was no Genesis 2 Sabbath institution; however, in light of all the other evidence against this notion, it does help to reinforce the matter. Surely there is a reason why God didn’t “take the opportunity” (here or elsewhere) to make such an institution obvious and clear, through direct wording].

A brief word on the subject of the death penalty
Take another look at Mr. Pink’s statement on the matter (emphasis added): “Was it not an act of, what men term, poetic justice? Or, to use a figure of Scripture, were not the antediluvians now commencing to reap what they had sown….Without a doubt, they had flouted the Sabbath institution, as they had every other law of God. hey had desecrated the holy day. Therefore, when God visited them in judgment, it was on the Sabbath day that the flood commenced,”

Please consider this quote in light of the following statement that Mr. Pink made in the same work (regarding a Sabbatarian death penalty):

…in this passage from Ex. 31… God here attached the death penalty to the desecration of the Sabbath… this was not a part of the Decalogue, which, as we have seen, is binding on all men. Second, this death penalty was attached to the Sabbath only as that Sabbath was a “sign” between Jehovah and Israel! Third, this death penalty, therefore, is not a part of the moral Law proper, and consequently, does not apply to Gentiles or Christians who are guilty of disobedience to the fourth commandment. To show that this is no invention of ours to dispose of a difficulty, we ask the reader to note carefully the contents of Lev. 20:10: “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” Now, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” was one of the Ten Commandments engraven upon the tables of stone, but no death penalty was attached to it there. That it was so here shows, again, that this was peculiar to Israel.

If there was no death penalty for the alleged Genesis 2 Sabbath, or risk of death for it, why would it be poetic justic to make death (in the Flood or otherwise) a response to breaking the Sabbath? One could argue that it wasn’t just the supposed Sabbath-breaking, but all of their other sins that led to their destruction; however, the impetus and emphasis behind the above Flood argument is that this day was singled out to highlight the breaking of the Sabbath. It would seem that if the breaking of the alleged Genesis 2 Sabbath was such a prominent sin, one that God would highlight via the day He chose the waters to appear (as has been argued), it would suggest that death was a reasonable expectation concerning, and a reasonable result of their alleged desecration.

One can argue that expecting death for violating the Sabbath, or receiving death for violating the Sabbath (albeit for other reasons as well) is tantamount to having a Sabbath death penalty in place – even if such a penalty was never specifically declared (at least not before the Mosaic Law was given). Nonetheless, this is all empty hypothesis and speculation given that not only is there no death penalty mentioned, but nothing at all is mentioned to suggest that there was a Genesis 2 Sabbath commanded for all men.

A brief word on the subject of the moral law
The issue of whether the so-called moral law was binding upon all men before the Mosaic Law was given to Moses, and whether it is binding upon all men after it was fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ at the cross, I will have to leave for another time (an article is already in the works and I hope to have it posted soon). Nonetheless, suffice to say that the law is spiritual and the essence of God’s spiritual law is infinite and eternal. However, the Ten Commandments, as the Ten Commandments was not binding upon all of mankind, or even on some men before the Mosaic Law was given. No one on earth was required to keep the Fourth Commandment before the Fourth Commandment was given to Moses and the Israelites. Likewise, no one is bound to keep the Fourth Commandment, as the Fourth Commandment, literally in our day (unless they intend to take on the entire load of God’s law, to keep it perfectly from birth to death, in an utterly vain and hopeless attempt to establish a righteousness of their own).

Moreover, the entirety of the temporal Old Testament law (regardless of such man-made distinctions as moral, judicial, and ceremonial) was fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus reaffirms and elaborates upon many of the same commandments given in the Decalogue, but the Fourth Commandment (as the literal Fourth Commandment) has been fulfilled in Christ, our eternal and only Sabbath. Thus, the rule of life for the believer is the Law of the Spirit. The Spirit of God is our guide and schoolmaster, as He applies the spiritual essence/nature of the law (the entire word of God) to our hearts (writes it on our hearts and not on tables of stone), and causes us to walk in accordance to it as God has ordained that we should walk therein. Nonetheless, if the Lord wills, I hope to have more posted on this matter shortly.

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