Seventh-Day Adventists/Gen. 2:2-3
Why do SDAs always harp on Gen. 2:2-3 when discussing if the Sabbath is for all people or just the Jews? There are many other OT verses that show that the Sabbath was only for the Jews as their special sign with God. And there are no NT verses that say the Sabbath is for Christians. What's up here? Why the obsession?
Dear Brother Tom:
Genesis 2:2-3 is to "go to" text for sabbatarians. By this text they intend to prove that the 7th day Sabbath was given to Adam & Eve before the Fall and, therefore, all people must keep the Sabbath not just those under the Old Covenant. So let's look at that text.
Note: there are other texts that sabbatarians might bring up, but those tend to rely to some extent on the Genesis text.
"By the seventh day God completed 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 NASB).
The first thing we should notice is that the text does not even mention the Sabbath, the text does not say God instituted the Sabbath, the text does not say that God gave the Sabbath to Adam, the text does not say that Adam kept the Sabbath, the text does not even use the word "Sabbath".
"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 NKJV).
Since the text does not say that God instituted the Sabbath at Creation for all people, how have sabbatarians come to the conclusion that He did? I believe that many already view the Sabbath as a Creation Ordinance before they even study the text. Then they attempt to press the text into a doctrinal mold so that it will fit with what they believe. In an effort to make Genesis 2 fit some sabbatarians highlight the words "blessed" and "sanctified" in v. 3. They say that if God blessed and sanctified the 7th day then He must have given it to Adam as the day of worship. Sabbatarians read the Sabbath into Genesis 2. It simply is not there as an honest, unbiased reading of the text shows. If God did institute the Sabbath at Creation why didn't He inspire Moses to use the word "Sabbath" in Genesis 2? Why is there no record of Adam being told to observe the Sabbath? Why is there no record of Adam observing the Sabbath? Why is there no record of God explaining to Adam how to properly observe the Sabbath? Why is there no record of God explaining to Adam what violates the Sabbath? Why is there no statement as to who the Sabbath was meant for? With these questions in mind, let's now look at the first mention of "Sabbath" in the Bible and then compare it with Genesis 2:2-3.
21 Morning by morning they gathered it (manna), each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.
22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” 24 So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.” 27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See! The Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. (Exodus 16:21-30 ESV).
Does the proposed Sabbath institution text use the word "Sabbath"? Genesis 2-no, Exodus 16-yes (vs. 23, 25, 26, 29). Does it command Sabbath observance. Genesis 2-no, Exodus 16-yes (vs. 23, 25, 29). Does it record Sabbath observance? Genesis 2-no, Exodus 16-yes (vs. 23-26). Does it explain what violates the Sabbath? Genesis 2-no, Exodus 16-yes (vs. 27-29). Does it say who the Sabbath is meant for? Genesis 2-no, Exodus 16-yes (v.29). It is obvious to me that Exodus 16 has a better biblical basis for being seen as the institution of the Sabbath then does Genesis 2.
However, I don't see a formal institution here. Exodus 16 is more of an introduction of the Sabbath to Israel. God was teaching Sabbath observance for the first time in human history. He was teaching Israel that there would be no work allowed on the Sabbath day not even daily necessities like gathering food. More than this God was teaching them that He would take care of their needs during their Sabbath rest. The Sabbath was part of an obedience test for Israel.
"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily'" (vs. 4-5 ESV).
After initially failing (vs. 27-28), Israel passed the test (v. 30). Shortly thereafter the Sabbath was officially made law for Israel when it was included in the covenant document known as the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11).
In his recounting of salvation history, Ezra locates the Sabbath with Moses and Israel and not with Adam and Creation. Note the phrase "made known" which indicates the establishment of the Sabbath for the first time in history.
"You came down also on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven,
And gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments.
You made known to them Your holy Sabbath,
And commanded them precepts, statutes and laws,
By the hand of Moses Your servant" (Nehemiah 9:13-14 NKJV).
Ezekiel also locates the Sabbath with Moses and Israel and not with Adam and Creation.
"So I took them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. I gave them My statutes and informed them of My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live. Also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them" (Ezekiel 20:10-12 NASB).
Note: In both accounts the Sabbath was given to Israel at the same time as the ordinances, laws, statues, and commandments. In other word, the Sabbath was part and parcel of the Old Covenant. The same covenant which was later taken away at the Cross (cf. Matthew 27:51; John 19:30; Hebrews 7:18-19; 8:13; 9:16-17; 10:8-10).
Note: Ezekiel uses the plural designation "Sabbaths". The 7th day Sabbath is included here as a part of the package of Sabbaths as recorded by Moses in Leviticus 23.
As I pointed out earlier there are more passages to review in a thorough study of the origin and validity of the Sabbath for today. So I'm not saying that this is a complete study that answers all questions. However, I do believe that I have adequately addressed your particular concern about Genesis 2:2-3.
God Bless You,