Chapter 2

Who Made and Established the Sabbath?

From the book Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?
By Herbert W. Armstrong

Jesus Christ had considerable to say and to teach about the Sabbath, and its observance.

In Mark’s Gospel we read of the beginning of His ministry, and the gospel He taught. Repeatedly He said this gospel came direct from God the Father—God’s message to mankind.

Mark 1:1: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ .” The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a gospel from men about the person of Christ. The gospel OF Christ is Christ’s gospel—the gospel Christ preached—the gospel God sent by Jesus for mankind!

Gospel of Kingdom

Jesus came into Galilee, after John the Baptist was thrown into prison, preaching the good news of the Kingdom (government) of God, calling on men to repent, and to believe. Yes, but to believe what? Believe this very gospel which Jesus brought from God, so Jesus Himself said! (Mark 1:15).

He called His disciples, and immediately “they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue …” (verse 21). It was Jesus’ custom to attend the synagogue services on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16).

That same synagogue where Jesus attended at Capernaum lies in ruins today. I have visited it—walked around among the fallen stones and columns and Jewish carvings.

Also the synagogue at Nazareth, mentioned in Luke 4:16, and the site on which Jesus undoubtedly had attended every Sabbath as He grew up from babyhood, remains apparently identifiable today. Most of the present structure had been restored in the second century. It has been excavated, with a stairway leading down into it. I have visited this synagogue. It brought vividly to mind the close resemblance, in size, to some of the little churches in which I preached in the early years of my ministry. It was very small—probably seating not more than 50 people. It was built entirely of stone. I thought, as I stood and walked around in that little room, of how even Jesus, by whom God created the Earth, started out His earthly ministry in a very small, humble place. I can’t describe my feelings at that moment—but I assure you it was a tremendous experience!

Jesus preached in the synagogues in towns throughout Galilee (Mark 1:38-39). A little later Jesus and His disciples went through the cornfields on the Sabbath day (Mark 2:23). The Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of breaking the Sabbath by plucking ears of corn to eat.

Jesus, teaching as part of His gospel how to observe the Sabbath, said: “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).

It Was MADE!

I want you to read that pivotal text again!

Jesus said, “The sabbath was made.” It is one of those things that was made. It had to have a Maker. Who, then, made the Sabbath?

God is the Creator. But it is written in Ephesians 3:9, “… God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.”

John’s Gospel begins: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him …” (John 1:1, 3-4, 14-15).

That “Word” was Christ. Christ was with God the Father from eternity. Christ was God! All things were made by HimJesus Christ! The Sabbath is one of those things that was made. So it was Jesus Christ who made the Sabbath. God made it through Jesus Christ, or by Him!

Notice further: “For by him [Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible …. And he is the head of the body, the church …” (Colossians 1:16, 18).

Very few realize it today—but the Sabbath was made by Jesus Christ! No wonder, then, He said plainly that He is Lord also of the Sabbath! (Mark 2:28).

When, and for Whom?

Notice Mark 2:27 again! It was not only one of those things that was made—it not only had a Maker—but it was made for someone. Now today the prevalent idea seems to be that it was made “for the Jew.” But what did Christ Himself say? He said it was made “for man”!

If it was made for mankind, we should suppose it was made when man was made. But we must not “suppose.” We must have Bible authority!

Let’s turn back to the description of the time when man was made.

“And God said, Let us [more than one—the Father and Christ] make man in our image, after our likeness …. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27).

Now when was this? Verse 31 says it was the sixth day of creation week. Further, man was the very last thing or being created on that day. Man came into being, then, probably in the late afternoon of the sixth day.

Now continue: “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 seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:2-3).

Notice now! When “God said, Let us make man,” who did the speaking? The original Hebrew word here translated “God” is Elohim. This Hebrew word for God is a noun plural in form (collective noun) meaning more than one Person, yet one God. God is a Kingdom—a Family. There is the Father. Jesus is the Son. Christ is also the Word—that is, the Spokesman. He speaks only as the Father directs. God created all things by Jesus Christ! Therefore, it was Jesus who spoke! It was Jesus who said: “Let us make man.” It was Jesus who did the work of creation, as directed by the Father!

Notice again! Did Jesus complete His creating on the sixth day? Does it say that on the seventh day He ceased to create? Not at all! Notice more carefully. “On the seventh day God ended”—what? Not creating! He ended “his work which he had made.”

There were a full seven days of creation! Not six—seven! On the seventh day He MADE THE SABBATH! But the Sabbath was made, not by work, but by rest. What He ended on the seventh day was the work of creation—that which was created by work! On the seventh day He rested! He created the Sabbath by resting.

Was God Tired?

Now why did Jesus Christ, who had done the work of creation, rest? Was He “all tired out”? Was He so fatigued He was forced to stop and rest? Positively not, for God “fainteth not, neither is weary”! (Isaiah 40:28).

Yet, this was a real rest, because in Exodus 31:17 it is written: “… in six days the Lord [Christ] made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” Since He was “refreshed” by this rest, it was a real rest. Yet He was not tired or weary!

Why did He rest? To put His divine presence in that day! He made the Sabbath on that day by resting, whereas He had made all other things by working!

Notice further! Also He “blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it”! What does “sanctified” mean? Look in your dictionary. It means “set apart, for holy use or purpose.” He set apart this day from other days—set it apart for holy use—for a day of physical rest, in which His people may assemble and worship God!

Also He “hallowed” the seventh day of every week (Exodus 20:11). He made it holy. It is, as we shall see in the Scriptures later, holy to God. Now the Sabbath is a day. It is the particular seventh day of the week (Matthew 28:1). Therefore what God did—and God did it by Christwas to make future TIME holy!

Now ask yourself, and answer: Does any man have authority to make future time holy? No man is holy of himself. No man has power to make anything holy. God alone is holy—or whatever God has made holy! No group or organization of men has authority to make future time holy!

The Sabbath is a space of time. God set it as that space of time from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Whenever that time comes to us, we are in holy time! It is God’s time, not ours! God made it holy—and in the Ten Commandments, as we shall see in detail a little later, He commanded us to keep it holy! Many do not realize today that it is a sin to profane that which is holy to God!

“Take Your Foot Off”

But does it make any difference whether we keep this very day God blessed and made holy? Must the Christian respect what God makes holy?

God gives us a very plain explanation in an experience of Moses.

Moses, raised from a baby as a prince by Pharaoh’s daughter, had killed an Egyptian guard, and fled to the land of Midian, near Mt. Sinai. There he had married a daughter of Jethro the priest. Moses, leading a flock of sheep, came to Mt. Horeb (Sinai). There he saw a large bush burning. But Moses noticed that the bush was not consumed. It kept on burning, yet the bush itself was not burnt.

The Eternal (Christ) called to Moses out of the midst of the burning bush.

“Moses! Moses!” called God, “… put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is HOLY GROUND” (Exodus 3:2-5).

Now suppose Moses had been like most people today. He probably would have argued: “Well, Lord, I don’t see where it makes any difference where I take off my shoes. I don’t want to take them off here, on this ground. I’ll wait and take my shoes off a mile down the way.”

Had Moses rebelled and said that, he would have never been used to lead God’s people out of Egyptian slavery.

The ground a mile away was not holy. Why did it make any difference whether Moses took off his shoes—or where? Here is why! The ground where he then stood was holy. He was required, by God, to treat holy ground with a respect he did not treat other ground.

And why? Well, what made that particular bit of ground holy? God’s very presence was in that ground! God is holy! God’s presence in that bush made the ground around it holy!

In the very same manner, God’s presence is in His Sabbath. He rested on that first Sabbath to put His presence in that day! This made it holy time! Four thousand years later, when this same “Logos,” or “Word,” was made flesh—when He came as Jesus Christ in the human flesh—He was still putting His presence in that same weekly recurring Sabbath—He went into the synagogues as His custom was!

Jesus Christ is still the same, today, as He was yesterday, and shall be forever (Hebrews 13:8). Do you believe that? Is your Bible an authority? Do you accept it as AUTHORITY? Unless Jesus Christ, in Spirit, is today living in your flesh—actually living your life for you—you are none of His—you are not a Christian (Romans 8:9). And if He is, He has not changed—He is still putting His presence in His Sabbath!

Moses was commanded, by the Eternal, to take his shoes off that holy ground. Disobedience would have been sin, with the penalty eternal death.

Mankind is commanded, by the same Eternal, to take his foot off from trampling over and profaning God’s holy day! God requires His children to treat that holy time with a respect not required in other time.

Notice a prophecyfor our time now: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight [not a yoke of bondage], the holy of the Eternal, honourable; and shalt honour HIM, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Eternal hath spoken it”! (Isaiah 58:13-14).

There is a plain “thus saith the Lord”!

We honor God by keeping holy those things that He has made holy! We dishonor Him when we speak our own words, saying, “Well, I think the ideas and ways of men—of all of this world’s churches—must be right. I’d rather do as they do, and honor them, and be well thought of by them.”

God commands: “Take your foot off my holy time! Quit trampling all over that which is holy and sacred to me! Quit profaning my holy things—whether it be my name, my tithe of your income, or my holy day.”

The sin is in profaning that which God made holy!

God has never made any other weekly day holy! Man has no authority to make a day holy. You cannot keep a day holy, unless God has first made it holy, any more than you can keep cold water hot—unless it has first been made hot! God made this space of time holy—He commands you to keep it that way!

Abraham Kept It

This world, and all its civilization—including its religions—consists of a system of beliefs and customs that have been derived from “the way which seemeth right unto a man.” God says that way incurs the penalty of eternal death. That way—the way that seems right—is the way of sin.

If the world’s religions really accepted the Bible as their authority, they would all believe exactly the same thing—all would follow God’s ways, and the customs He has ordained. Many who profess Christianity also profess to follow the Bible—and the Bible only. Yet they believe the very opposite of the plain teachings of Scripture and of Christ. They follow customs of pagan origin condemned by God in the Bible! Truly this world is deceived!

Men evolve many arguments to evade the commandments of God—because the carnal mind is hostile to God, and is not subject to His law! (Romans 8:7). When men reject the commandments of God, that they may hold to their traditions (see Mark 7:6-9), they must devise arguments to justify their rebellion. One of the arguments is that God’s commandments did not exist until the children of Israel reached Mt. Sinai.

But Abraham kept God’s commandments 430 years before his descendants reached Sinai.

Read it in your own Bible! “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, MY COMMANDMENTS, MY STATUTES, AND MY LAWS” (Genesis 26:5). God is speaking. He is explaining why He made the great promises to Abraham.

So Abraham kept God’s Sabbath!

We read in the New Testament that to break any one of the commandments is sin (James 2:10-11).

Some try to argue that “perhaps time became lost. Perhaps they lost count of which day was the same seventh day of every week that God rested on.”

Was TIME Lost?

Adam was created and living when sunset came that sixth day of creation week—when God rested from His work. Adam knew which was the seventh day. Jesus called Abel “righteous” (Matthew 23:35), so Abel kept the Sabbath. Enoch “walked with God,” so Enoch kept the Sabbath—and he was “translated” less than a hundred years before Noah. They knew which day was the same seventh day all through this time. Adam lived 243 years with Methuselah, and until Lamech was 56 years of age. These men knew which day was the seventh. Methuselah lived 600 years with Noah, and Lamech lived with Noah 595 years.

Noah certainly learned from them, and others, which was the same seventh day. And Noah kept it, because Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5)—and “all thy commandments are righteousness” (Psalms 119:172).

Shem was also righteous, and he lived until Abraham was 150 years old. Noah died only about two years before Abraham was born.

No, time was not lost down to the time of Abraham.

But, after the death of Jacob, and of Joseph, the children of Israel (Jacob) became slaves in Egypt. “Therefore,” it is written, “they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. … And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage …” (Exodus 1:11, 13-14).

The Egyptians observed no Sabbath. They lashed the Israelites in their slave-labor, on the Sabbaths the same as other days. So these Israelites, for some 150 to 175 years—several generations—were not permitted to keep the Sabbath. They had no priesthood. There was no Sabbath nor religious service. Probably there was no religious teaching—certainly none was allowed on an organized scale.

And there was no Bible—no written record of God’s instruction, or of God’s law! The Bible says “the Word of the Eternal endureth for ever.” If any inspired Word of God had been written prior to Moses, it would be in evidence today. The first Scriptures were written by Moses, after the Israelites were delivered out of Egyptian slavery.

The generation of Israelites which Moses led out of Egypt had had no religious instruction or training. Probably they knew little about the Sabbath. Time could have been lost—to them. But, if so, God revealed it by amazing miracles!

NOW NOTICE! These Israelites, some 3 or 4 million in total number (600,000 men above age 20), came to the wilderness of Sin two months after leaving Egypt, and some two weeks before arriving at Mt. Sinai. Remember, this is weeks before God gave them the Ten Commandments. These people were griping and grumbling because of scarcity of food in the desert.

Miraculously Revealed

And here God revealed to them, by miracles, which day was the Sabbath, and whether it makes any difference whether it is kept.

“Then said the Eternal unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day,”—why?—“that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.”

Read that again! This was more than two weeks before they received the Ten Commandments—before the Old Covenant had so much as been proposed—before the law of Moses. But God’s law was in force and effect. God was going to prove them, whether they would obey one of its points.

“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” (Exodus 16:4-5).

I will show you that God was speaking to them on a Sabbath. It is evident that the Eternal (who, in human flesh later became Christ) first preached to man on the first Sabbath. Adam was created on the sixth day of creation week. Evidently he was created in the late afternoon, since the creation of man was the last act of creation on that day. When the sun had set, immediately after Adam’s creation, God preached to him, offering him the gift of eternal life (through the tree of life), and warning that the wages of sin is death (Genesis 2:15-17).

And here God is again preaching to Israel, through Moses, on the Sabbath.

Read the next verses in Exodus 16. Verse 9, Moses and Aaron gathered the people. Verse 10, they all saw the glory of the Eternal. Verses 11-13, between the two evenings—at dusk—immediately after sunset on that Sabbath, God sent the quails for food, and next morning the manna was on the ground.

Now notice the next miracle. Verse 20: Some tried to save a supply of manna over until next morning, contrary to God’s command. “[I]t bred worms, and stank.”

Now verse 22: On the sixth day they gathered a double portion of manna. Verse 23: Moses explained that “To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Eternal.” And on this sixth day, they were commanded to lay up the Sabbath supply of food, which they did. And, verse 24, it did not breed worms nor decay, as on the preceding five days! Here was another miracle from God, showing them which is the right seventh day!

When the next morning came—the Sabbath, Moses said (verses 25-26), “to day is a sabbath unto the Eternal: to day 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.”

But, did it make any difference?

Was it not all right to go ahead and work on the seventh day, and then rest on the first day of the week? Just like most professing Christians today, some of these Israelites thought that would be better.

NOTICE WHAT HAPPENED! The next verse—verse 27: “… there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none”! These people thought it made no difference which day, or whether they kept it. But it made a difference to God! On the six weekdays God had Himself gone to the work of raining down manna. But God Himself did none of this work on His Sabbathholy to Him! On this seventh day God Himself rested from sending them manna!

Does It Make Any Difference?

Notice verses 28-29: “And the Eternal said unto Moses, HOW LONG REFUSE YE TO KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS AND MY LAWS? See, for that the Eternal hath given you the 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 [to gather—to work] on the seventh day”!

And after that blazing rebuke from God, the people rested on the seventh day! It certainly does make a difference to God! And God is the same today as He was yesterday, and will be forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Notice, now again, these miracles by which God revealed to them which day is His day—His Sabbath. Manna fell for six days—but none on the seventh day. God Himself worked by sending it the six weekdays, but He rested on the seventh day. On the first five days of the week, the manna would decay and breed worms if any was saved over, but on the eve of the Sabbath, the night after the sixth day, it did not decay but remained fresh in perfect state of preservation—and they had no refrigerators! On the sixth day God gave them twice as much. On the seventh day He gave them none.

After all those generations of slavery in Egypt, some might argue that the Israelites lost track of time.

But God revealed by these many miracles which day is His Sabbath. God gave them blazing rebuke for not keeping His Sabbath. He revealed that the keeping holy of the Sabbath was His law, many days prior to the proposing of the Old Covenant, or the giving of the Ten Commandments in the form God spoke them at Sinai.

Thus did God reveal which day is His Sabbath, and also that it does make life-and-death difference—for to break God’s Holy Sabbath is sin, and the penalty is eternal death!

Notice, too—verse 29 of Exodus 16: “[T]he ETERNAL hath given you the Sabbath.” Nowhere in all God’s Word can you find any statement that “The Eternal hath given you Sunday.” Who, then, did give the professing Christian world its Sunday? You can easily find the answer in history—carnal man gave professing “Christianity” its Sunday—pagans cut off from God—men in rebellion against God! It came out of paganism! And the world follows the custom!

What is the source of your religion? Is it man—and majority public opinion and custom of man—or is God Almighty the source of what you believe and do? Which? Is your authority preponderant human acceptance, or is God your authority, and God’s Word, the Holy Bible? WHICH?

Your ETERNITY hangs on your answer to that question!

Moses NOT Giver of Ten Commandments

Millions of people have been taught that Moses gave the children of Israel the Ten Commandments.

One Sunday morning in 1933, I walked into a church in southern Oregon. It was the Sunday school hour. I sat down, a stranger, in the men’s Bible class. A lesson-quarterly was handed me. The lesson for the day was about “Moses giving the Jews the Ten Commandments.” Scanning it quickly I noticed it contained only statements of the sectarian author, or authors, of this denominational quarterly. No Bible proofs!

But immediately a startling and most peculiar thing happened. The teacher of the class stuttered around a minute or so, but was utterly unable to get started teaching his lesson. Then, suddenly turning to me, he blurted out: “Mister, I don’t know who you are, but for some reason I just can’t teach this class this morning—and I know you can. Would you take my place and teach us?”

It was like a sudden bolt out of the blue. Why was he suddenly unable to teach a class he had been teaching regularly? What made him turn to me? Why did he seem sure I could teach them, when he had never seen me before, and we had not even been introduced? I did not know—unless it was because I was the only man in the class who had brought a Bible.

“Well,” I responded, “that’s a rather sudden and peculiar request to make of a perfect stranger who has never been here before. I have taken a quick glance over this quarterly. I will have to say to you that I would be unable to teach you from it, because what it says is not true. But if you men want me to teach you, from the Bible, the truth about who did give the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel, I could do that—but it’s only fair to warn you in advance that your quarterly is totally unscriptural and in error.”

All the men in the class wanted me to go ahead and teach them.

Continue Reading: Chapter 3: God—Not Moses—Gave the Law