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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

June 15, 2018

The spirit of the law and the Sabbath

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

When did Adam and Eve begin observing the Sabbath commandment? Your answer might be, on the second day of their existence.

The first humans, or at least the first of the first humans, were created late on the sixth day of creation week. Their creation was the first step in God's great plan to bring eternal, righteous children into His family. And the very next day was the seventh day of creation week, and God took a break from what He had done the previous six days:

"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. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made" (Genesis 2:2-3).

The actual meaning of the Hebrew word for "rested" is to cease from doing something, or to be finished, which God was on the seventh day, because He "worked" every day of the six days before it.

What God did on these seven days of creation week provides the framework for the fourth commandment. The fourth commandment is based upon what God did throughout every day of that first recorded week.

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work … For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:8-11).

In Genesis 2 we see that Adam and Eve were given instructions for the work that they would be doing. However, they did not work before the first seventh day. As stated in the verses above, God was the only one who fully observed that first Sabbath, because He had "worked" on the previous six days. Adam and Eve observed their first Sabbat one week later, in the spirit of the Sabbath commandment.

The fourth Commandment is violated in more ways than the one that is the most obvious – to not observe the seventh day as a holy day of rest. The Fourth Commandment is violated in two other ways that are just about as common. The first is to declare some other day the Sabbath. This turns the true Sabbath into a work day, and the one of the other work days into a rest day – a double violation in itself.

The other blatant violation of the Fourth Commandment is found among those who observe the Seventh Day Sabbath but who fail to work for the first six days as stated in the Fourth Commandment.

You think this problem couldn't exist in the church? The apostle Paul would disagree with you. He wrote this to the Thessalonians:

"We hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread" (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12).

These people were not only being lazy and apparently mooching of the members, they were breaking the Sabbath by not working on the six days allotted for that purpose!

Work simply means being productive and useful. If we want to keep the fourth commandment according to the spirit of the law, let's not forget this important aspect of that commandment: "Six days you shall labor."

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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