Did the Sabbath exist before Israel?

A reader of mine pointed out that the Sabbath didn’t exist before the time of Israel. He mentioned that it was only a command given to Israel. Thus, the Fourth Commandment is not applicable to Christians today.

Is this true?

Is this something that we, as zealous followers of God and His Son, must believe?

I understand that what my reader believes is something that most Christians believe. Thus, it’s important for us to respond to his claim.

Let’s take a look at what the Scripture says.

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The Sabbath in the creation week

This is what we read in Genesis 2:1-3:

Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 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.

If you looked into the Hebrew word “rested” here, it is “shabath.” It is the root word for “Sabbath.” This is where it all began. God showed us an example of how we must keep the Sabbath by resting on the seventh day.

Blessed and sanctified

The Genesis account tells us that Yahweh blessed the Sabbath. This means that He pronounced a SPECIAL blessing upon the Sabbath. It means that those who keep the Sabbath will also be blessed.

Now, notice, Yahweh didn’t simply bless the Sabbath, he also sanctified it!

Sanctify means to set apart for a holy and special purpose. Notice that God, in this case, didn’t choose other days, but He chose the SEVENTH day.

God was telling us that the Seventh day is a special and holy day that we must all keep.

Did Adam and Eve keep the Sabbath?

Most people argue that Adam and Eve didn’t keep the Sabbath.

However, is this really the case?

Remember that God just blessed and sanctified the seventh day. Now, why would God do that and will not expect Adam and Eve to observe it?

It is just illogical.

Surely, Adam and Eve would have kept the Sabbath.

I would even say that God used the Sabbath as a day for Him to teach Adam and Eve His way of life.

Was the Sabbath kept before the Sinai covenant?

A lot of Christians would argue that the Sabbath was barely mentioned before the time of creation to the time of Sinai. This proves that the Sabbath was insignificant.

Now, that’s a dangerous argument that won’t stand in court.

For one, if the Bible is silent about a particular topic, does that mean that it is not important anymore?

If this is the case, does this mean that God approves of Jacob having two wives? We don’t see God condemning Jacob for this. So, did God say that is okay?

The Bible didn’t mention gambling. Does this mean that gambling is acceptable?

In the same manner, if the Bible didn’t say a lot about the Sabbath from creation to Israel, does this mean that it is not important anymore?

Of course, not.

Notice Christ’s response when asked what must be done to receive eternal life (Mark 10:18-19):

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 19 You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”

Christ didn’t mention the Fourth Commandment. 

Why? Because Christ knew that the Sabbath is commonly observed during His time and thus, it is not something that He needs to reiterate anymore.

Notice as well that Jesus or Yahshua didn’t mention the first, second, and third. Does this mean that we can now worship idols? We can now use God’s name in vain?

Of course not.

Remember the Sabbath

The Fourth Commandment starts with the word, “Remember.”

Why? Because the Sabbath has been being observed long before the giving of the Ten Commandments!

Moreover, the Ten Commandments were given in Exodus 20. Yet, prior to that, we find God teaching the Israelites about the Sabbath in Exodus 16.

Now, whether people were keeping the Sabbath or not, it doesn’t mean that the Sabbath wasn’t commanded yet.

God commanded them to keep the Sabbath and it is up to them whether to keep it or not. Their decision does not affect the existence of the Sabbath.

In the same manner, if the law says don’t cross the street, people don’t render it obsolete by breaking it.

There remains a Sabbath rest

For those Christians who don’t keep the Sabbath, let me just leave you one verse:

“There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).

Blessings come to those who keep Yahweh’s Sabbath rest.


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2 thoughts on “Did the Sabbath exist before Israel?

  1. There is no written scripture that will support your claim that the people before Moses observed sabbath. What you have is assumption and your own conclusion without evidence. You cannot compare the gambling against the sabbath, gambling is not important compared to sabbath, besides Jesus warned us about the love of money is the root of all evil.

    Since you use the word “Remember” as evidence, yes sabbath was given before the institution of the ten commandments. When? It was one and a half months after the Israelites went out of Egypt. You already read it in Exodus 16, it was the second time the sabbath was mentioned next to Genesis. On verse 5 you will read “And it shall be on the sixth day”, its a command from God. He did not mention anything about remember. Then on verse 22, you should notice that after the people gathered the twice amount of bread, the rulers of the congregation went to Moses and told him. They are waiting for instruction from Moses what to do next. They do not know. That was the only time Moses told the Israelites about Sabbath and he did not use the word remember. You will also notice how Moses gave them detailed instruction on what to do and what not to do. If sabbath was given before this time of Moses, this is the right time to use the word remember. God uses the word remember when He gave the sabbath in the ten commandments because indeed He already gave that command to the Israelites about one and a half months ago before they reached mount Sinai. There is a written verse as a proof.

    To support my argument, you will find an article “The Sabbath Observing Gentile: Halakhic, Hashkafic and Liturgical Perspectives”, it states there that “the mitsva of Shabbat was assigned solely to Am Yisrael and not to Benei Noah. Moreover, not only is a gentile absolved of the obligation to observe Shabbat, he is actually enjoined from doing so.” Its the opposite of what you are teaching. Infact, it states there that a gentile who rests [on the sabbath] incurs death penalty (sanhedrin 58b). I wonder if gentiles are observing sabbath during that time except for proselytes. Another reason why sabbath is for Jews alone? Because sabbath is the perpetual binding covenant of God to the people of Israel (Exodus 31:13, 17), its like marriage. Why do you want to claim other’s covenant with God, we have our own covenant, it is through Jesus Christ the messiah. The covenant for all people.

    With regards to Jesus’ sabbath keeping, again there is no written scripture that Jesus worships in the synagogue during sabbath as you claim from tour previous response. To know their customs is to know their history. According to the history of the synagogue, it was built for reading Torah and for teaching of commandments, as well as hostel, water, room, lodging etc. You can read it from www. Worldhistory.biz/ancient-history/52996-the-theodotus-inscription.html. Another proof, from the time of Moses God gave a specific place of worship and that is the tabernacle (Exodus 26), God’s dwelling place. That was replaced by the temple in Jerusalem made by King Solomon and the second temple made by Herod. Since Moses time, God did not gave any other place of worship. If worship is being done in synagogue then it was only instituted by man. This is all clear to Jesus because He proclaimed that the temple in Jerusalem is His father’s house (Luke 2:49, John 2:16). Jesus knows the place of worship and i believe Jesus did not observed any law or tradition instituted by man. Going to synagogue on a sabbath does not mean that they are observing sabbath. There are rituals that the jewish people need to perform in order to say that they are observing sabbath.

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    • Hi BhelaiM,

      What is it in the Sabbath that you really hate? No matter how hard you try to explain it away, it will still stand. You can’t deny the fact that the early Christians in the first century kept the Sabbath, the same day Christ and the Apostles kept.

      How long would you keep the traditions of men? Study your history books. It will show you how the Sabbath was done away not by God, but by men. I’ll not respond to any argument that you present regarding the Sabbath anymore. This is a futile discourse. As Christ said, let the dead bury their dead. If you choose to follow the commandments of men, go on. I will not stop you. I don’t even force you to keep the Sabbath right from the start. You have your free will. But as for me and my house, I will serve Yahweh and I’ll keep on serving Him by keeping His commandments and that includes the fourth commandment.

      May God bless you and lead you to all His truth.

      Regards,
      Joshua

      (P.S. feel free to email me, joshuainfantado@gmail.com.)

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