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#4.32 WHEN DID GOD SANCTIFY THE SABBATH DAY?

This bible study uses the Hebrew Unicode font "David" which comes with later versions of Windows, and is printer friendly.

Greek Word Study on 4521 σάββατον sabbaton Sabbath.
Hebrew Word Study on 7676 שַׁבָּת shabbat Sabbath.
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Introduction 4.23

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day. He blessed the seventh day and sanctified it (Genesis 2:3). That means it was "set apart" for sacred use. Other ways of saying it are; it was "made holy", it was "consecrated", or it was "hallowed". These terms are fairly synonymous. Now the scripture states:

(Ecclesiastes 3:14) "Whatever God does it shall be for ever. Nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it, but God does it that men should fear before him."

So once the seventh day was sanctified, it remains sanctified for all time. No man can change it. However there are those who would argue about when the Sabbath day was sanctified, for if it was sanctified at creation it supports the argument for man always keeping the Sabbath. If it was not sanctified until much later, even at the time of Moses, then it argues against early man keeping the Sabbath day. This bible study explains when the Sabbath day was sanctified by God.

#4.32 WHEN DID GOD SANCTIFY THE SABBATH DAY?

Hebrew Text - GENESIS 2:1-3 - English Translation
וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ, וְכָל-צְבָאָם. 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
וַיְכַל אֱלֹהִים בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה; וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, מִכָּל-מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה. 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.
וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת-יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ: כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל-מְלַאכְתּוֹ, אֲשֶׁר-בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת. 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.

Note 1: I readily grant that the seventh day was classed with the other days of the week, and that it was sanctified - set apart for sacred use - and in that sense it was not like the other days. However the question that confronts us here is, When was it sanctified? Was it sanctified, set apart at the creation? Was it sanctified at the time when God rested, or did the sanctification take place at some time after God rested? What does the passage say? "And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because in it he had rested." 'Had rested' is past perfect tense of the verb in the Hebrew and refers to an action completed sometime in the past. But if we regard it as simple past tense, the fact still remains that the day was sanctified some time following the rest. There is nothing to indicate that it was set apart at creation. Moses wrote the record of it about 2,500 years after God rested, and at the time he wrote the day was sanctified, but it is up to someone to prove that it was sanctified 2,500 years before Moses' time, if they wish to claim it was.

Note 2: In answering this argument, we must first correct the definition of the Hebrew perfect tense.

(GESENIUS HEBREW GRAMMAR edited by E. KAUTZSCH and A.E. COWLEY p309)
"The perfect serves to express actions, events, or states, which the speaker wishes to represent from the point of view of completion. Whether they belong to a determinate past time, or extend into the present, or while still future, they are pictured as in their completed state."

Therefore trying to base any argument on the time of something happening based on the use of the perfect tense doesn't really help very much, although it is agreed the most natural use is that of a past tense. The question we must now answer is, When did God sanctify the Sabbath day? To do this we must first show that the seventh day in which God rested was the Sabbath day, and we can do this in two ways. First:

(Exodus 16:26) "Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none."
(Exodus 20:10) "But the seventh day is the Sabbath of YHWH your God:"

These scriptures plainly show that the seventh day is the Sabbath day, and that "seventh day" and "Sabbath day" are interchangeable terms when seventh refers to days of the week. So God rested on the Sabbath day. Second: God himself refers to the day he sanctified as the Sabbath day:

(Exodus 20:11) "For in six days YHWH made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day: therefore YHWH blessed the Sabbath day, and sanctified it."

Here God called the day he blessed and sanctified in Genesis 2:3 "the Sabbath day", which shows that the Sabbath day existed as far back as the seventh day of creation. Next we need to explain how God does things:

(Ephesians 1:4) "According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:"
(Hebrew 4:3) "As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world."
(1 Peter 1:20) "Who indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,"

God declares the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and these scriptures show that in the mind of God everything is worked out before the foundation of the world. So when did he sanctify the Sabbath day? In his mind before the foundation of the world. God knew that he was going to do it and as far as he is concerned, when he decides something it is as good as done. Now let us show when this was manifested.

(Deuteronomy 5:12) "Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as YHWH your God has commanded you."

God told his people to keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, because that is what he did to sanctify it. When he rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2) he was sanctifying the day. He commanded us to keep it to sanctify it because the scriptural principle is that we should do the deeds of our Father.

(John 8:39) "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham."
(John 8:44) "You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do."
(John 9:4) "I must work the works of him who sent me,"
(John 10:37) "If I do not do the works of my Father, do not believe me."

So God sanctified the Sabbath day when he kept it by keeping it, and if we are to follow God's example, while we are working in the world, then we ought to rest on the seventh day as God did. God sanctified the seventh day (Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:11), and he told us how to do it also:

(Exodus 20:8) "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."
(Exodus 35:2) "Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD:"
(Leviticus 23:3) "Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no work in it: it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings."
(Deuteronomy 5:12) "Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it."

So we have answered the question, "When did God sanctify the Sabbath day?" He sanctified it on the seventh day of creation by resting on that day.

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