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The Sabbath, Pt. 2

Scripture: Exodus 16:4-5, Exodus 16:22-30, Matthew 5:17-18
Jesus did not do away with any part of the moral law. The seventh day is the Christian Sabbath not only because it’s the Sabbath Christ made and a part of the law He gave, but because it’s the only Sabbath He ever kept.
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The story of Israel’s survival for 40 years in the desolate wilderness of Sinai is one of the epic stories of sacred history. Probably there has never been another instance recorded of so many people learning to live in such primitive isolation. Food became one of the most severe problems to face the million or more men, women, and children having to wrest their livelihood from the forbidding deserts of the Sinai Peninsula. Without the miraculous intervention of God the entire migration would have ended in the stark tragedy of death by starvation.

In Exodus 16:4 we begin to read the account of God’s provision for the people through daily supplies of manna, which was a white, bread-like-substance that fell each day on the camp of Israel. The people gathered it fresh, right off the ground. It tasted like wafers and wild honey, and has often been referred to as angel’s food. For 40 years the supply never diminished, and as they wandered in the wilderness, the manna was a constant reminder of God’s care over them.

But there is one interesting fact about the way this food was given from heaven. God made it a test for His people, and it revolved around the keeping of His ten-commandment law. The particular points of the test was the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath. Listen to the Bible account: “Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, this is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat that today; for today is a Sabbath unto the Lord: today ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh-day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the Sabbath day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord hath given you to Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.” Exodus 16:4, 5, 22-30.

Now, friends, notice that God worked three miracles every week to show the people which day was the true Sabbath. First of all, He allowed them to gather just enough for one day-it would spoil if kept over. Then He told them to gather twice as much on the sixth day, to keep it over for the Sabbath and it would not spoil. And He sent no manna on the seventh day. So three times God worked a miracle on the weekend to show them which day should be observed.

Some apparently wanted to keep a different day, so they went out on the seventh day to gather the food, and of course, there wasn’t any. God met them and said, “How long do you refuse to keep my law?” Notice, they were actually breaking God’s law by not keeping the specified seventh day. Perhaps they were going to keep a different day. Maybe they had in mind to observe one of the other days of the week, but God said, “No, you can’t do that. You’re breaking my law when you come out here and try to gather on the seventh day-the Sabbath.”

This experience also reveals that the ten-commandment law of God was known long before it was written at Mount Sinai. Some disclaimers of the law try to show that the moral code was not known until Sinai, and that it was given only to the Jewish people at that time. Friends, this is a great delusion. Please note that this manna test took place before the commandments had been given at Mount Sinai. The fact is that these ten eternal rules of God’s government had been in existence from the very beginning of time. True, they hadn’t been put into written form, but they were known from generation to generation. A look at a few texts will show this is true.

The Bible says, “For where no law is, there is no transgression.” Roman 4:15, “sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. And then, “For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. Put these three text together- “for where no law is, there is no transgression ... sin in the transgression of the law ... the wages of sin is death.” Now one more text. Romans 5:14. “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses.” Now if death reigned from Adam to Moses, and if death is the wages of sin, and sin is the transgression of the law, and there is no transgression without a law, then there was bound to have been a law present even before Mount Sinai. Do you see that? When a man broke the law and sinned, death passed upon him. Otherwise, how did Cain know that he had sinned after killing his brother? Joseph knew that adultery was sin because he said, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Genesis 39:9. Of Abraham, God could say that he “kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Genesis 26:5.

You see, friends, those ten commandments had been handed down through six generations of men for twenty-five hundred years, not in written form, but by word of mouth. It would be just as illogical to suppose that they knew nothing about God because there was no written Bible as to believe they were ignorant of the Ten Commandments.

You may be wondering now if Christ continued to regard the seventh day or if He later changed His mind about the binding claims of His law. Listen to His words as He spoke to the multitude in Matthew 5:17, 18. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall is no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Jesus did not do away with any part of that moral law, friends. The seventh day is the Christian Sabbath not only because it’s the Sabbath Christ made and a part of the law He gave, but because it’s the only Sabbath He ever kept. Notice in Luke 4:16. “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.”

What is the significance of this great fact that Jesus kept the Sabbath regularly, as His custom? First Peter 2:21 tells us that Jesus is our example in all things. Notice, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” Friends, I keep the seventh-day Sabbath because Jesus made it, blessed it, commanded it, and then set us an example by keeping it Himself as a regular, customary practice. And He actually rested from His work of redemption on the Sabbath as He had rested from the work of creation in the beginning. When was Jesus crucified? We’ve all heard about Good Friday and Easter Sunday, haven’t we?

We know that Jesus did rise on the first day of the week and He died on the day that is commonly called Good Friday. Jesus actually died around five o’clock on Friday afternoon, and was placed in the tomb before sunset. He rose Sunday morning about the breaking of day, thus He rested in the tomb over the Sabbath. Let’s read it in Luke 23 beginning with verse 5. “This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.”

Notice that He died on the day called the preparation day and the Sabbath was approaching. “And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was laid.” Here is something very important friends.

The women continued to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment even after the death of Jesus. The commandment says the seventh day is the Sabbath. So these women, then, were continuing to keep the same seventh-day Sabbath even after Christ died. Please read on in verse 56: “And they returned (that is, they returned home) and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher.” Luke 24:1, 2.

These verses indicate that Jesus arose from the dead on the first day of the week, or Sunday, as we call it. Most of the Christian world celebrates Easter Sunday in honor of that event. But according to our text, “the Sabbath according to the commandment” was the day before He rose from the dead, which is Saturday. It’s the seventh day of the week, the very one which was blessed by Jesus as a holy day.

Someone has suggested that maybe the day was changed at the cross and that we should now observe the day of His resurrection. Friends, there’s not a single intimation that such should be the case. The seventh-day Sabbath continued to be observed by the disciples in the years following the resurrection. His disciples and His mother knew nothing about such a change. In fact, Jesus instructed His disciples to pray that they should continue to observe the Sabbath after His resurrection and Ascension.

Read it in Matthew 24:19, 20. “Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.” Here Jesus is predicting the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in 70 A.D. by the Roman armies. He told His disciples to pray that at that time, forty years after His death, they would not have to flee on the Sabbath. Certainly this shows that Christ had no idea of any other day of worship coming in to displace the Sabbath. It was still His own special day that He made and which He was now sharing with men.

Friends listen, the Sabbath of “paradise lost” will become the Sabbath of “paradise regained.” All who are saved in the kingdom of God will keep the Sabbath by worshipping before the throne of God. In Isaiah 66:22, 23 we read: “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” And so we have the Lord’s Day spanning the ages.

Perhaps you’re thinking that only a small, insignificant number have ever kept the Sabbath, but that’s wrong, friends. The fact is that all the prophets, judges, and patriarchs of the Old Testament were Sabbath-keeper. Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Joseph, all the disciples and Paul were observers of the seventh-day Sabbath. And towering above them all is Jesus, my example and yours, lighting the way by keeping holy the Sabbath He made, that He blessed, and commanded in order that we might share in the blessing which He placed upon it.

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