The Seventh-day Sabbath Has Been Both Changed Many Times
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
Revised April 4, 2017
God and Seventh-day Adventists Have Changed the Sabbath
1. From GENESIS 2:1-3 to EXODUS 16:23-30 God changed the LENGTH of the creation Sabbath rest from an indefinite time into a 24 day in Exodus 16:23-30.
Gen 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
Gen 2:2 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.
Gen 2:3 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.
Gen 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
The Bible specifically states that the first six (6) days all had boundaries of "evening and morning" (Gen 1:5-31). However the inspired Word does not state this about the first Sabbath day which demands the question “Why?”
There is an obvious break between Genesis 1:31 and 2:1. The word “day” in Genesis 2:2 is followed in 2:4 where the word “day” does not refer to a 24 hour period. SDAs claim an invented principle exists in which “days preceded by numbers are always 24 hour days.” However nowhere is this principle stated in Scripture, plus they do not apply this “rule” to numbered prophetic days (such as 1260)!
The Creation Sabbath rest was a period of time when both God and man rested in sinless harmony. We are not told how long that first sinless Sabbath rest lasted. Since "the wages of sin is death," the countdown days of Adam's life would begin when he sinned. Therefore the first “Sabbath rest” may have lasted thousands of years until sin entered.
In fact many believe that we are still living in the original creation Sabbath rest day because God has ceased creating new basic KINDS (allowing speciation) and is still resting from the creative beginnings of the universe.
Since Seventh-day Adventists cannot prove that their viewpoint is the only acceptable possibility, it is, therefore, questionable and most likely outright wrong.
2. From GENESIS 2:1-3 to EXODUS 16:23-30, God changed the Sabbath from an indefinite sinless creation rest in the Garden with Adam into weekly rest inside tents with one's family.
Ex 16:23-30 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 1seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
3. From GENESIS 2:1-3 to EXODUS 16:29, God changed the FOCUS of the Sabbath from sinless Adam into national Israel.
Ex 16:29 See, for that the LORD 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 on the seventh day.
4. From EXODUS 16:23-30 to EXODUS 20:10, God modified the Sabbath from staying at home in the family tent into now causing any person or animal to work.
Ex 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.
5. From EXODUS 16:23-30 to EXODUS 20:10, God permitted Israelite to own bond-slaves. Seventh-day Adventists have changed the literal wording of the Sabbath commandment when they (correctly) describe slavery as a sin.
6. From EXODUS 23:32 to MATTHEW 28:19-20 God reversed His prohibition of Hebrews sharing their covenant with uncircumcised
Ex 23:32 You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.
Deut 7:2 And when the LORD your God shall deliver them before you; you shall smite them, and utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, nor show mercy to them.
7. From EXODUS 31:15 and NUMBERS 15:32 either God or Israel removed the death penalty for Sabbath-breaking; it is never seen again in Scripture and SDA congressmen do not attempt to sponsor legislation to restore it. Yet God's penalty for Sabbath-breaking should remain attached to the Sabbath.
Ex 31:15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever does any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
8. From EXODUS 20:8-11 to EXODUS 31:17, God changed the weekly Sabbath from a memorial of creation into a unique covenant sign only for Israel. Contrary to what SDAs teach, it is never called a "seal".
Ex 31:17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
9. From EXODUS 16:23; 20:8-11 and 31:13-17 to an unknown date God must have changed the Sabbath from a day of total rest into a day of worship and much activity. Contrary to Exodus 16:23-30, very soon it was no longer a sin to move around on the Sabbath outside one's home. Jesus walked to the synagogue to worship on the Sabbath; He and His disciples gleaned in the fields (Mt 12:1); He healed on the Sabbath (Jn 9:14) and He approved pulling animals out of the ditch on the Sabbath (Lk 14:5). This was a change from Exodus 16.
In SDA communities the Sabbath is the busiest day of the week... Traffic is heavy as cars leave for churches many miles away. Contrary to the literal explicit wording of the commandment, SDAs cause others to work when they use roadways, telephones, electricity, natural gas, water, sewage systems, etc.
10. Ignoring EXODUS 31:13-17, Seventh-day Adventists (not God) have changed the Sabbath from a unique cultic covenant sign only for national Israel into an eternal moral principle required from all mankind. This is a serious change. Important: it cannot be for both a unique only for national Israel and also for all mankind.
The Sabbath for Israel is very clear in Exodus 16:23; 20:2, 8-11; 31:13-17; Deut 5:1-3, 12-15. Yet it cannot be an eternal moral principle unless it is discernible by all mankind through nature, conscience and common sense. While 9 of the Ten Commandments are found in remote tribes around the globe, a specific day to worship is not. Mankind living in frigid regions could not keep warm by starting and maintaining fires. The necessary International Date Line in the middle of the Pacific has the possibility of making the Sabbath either a few seconds long to almost 48 hours long. The weekly 7th day Sabbath was not observed by Gentiles and only came via special revelation to national Israel (Rom 1:18-20; 2:14-16; John 1:9).
11. LEVITICUS 23:10-11, JUBILEE: Jesus elevated the IMPORTANCE of the Jubilee Sabbath rest above that of the weekly Sabbath rest when He chose the Jubilee Sabbath as the shadow and type of His gospel message in Luke 4:17-21. (See also Leviticus 25:10-11 and Isa 61:1). Whereas the weekly Sabbath was only a memorial of rest, the Jubilee Sabbath was a shadow of healing, deliverance, recovery and freedom (Lk 4:18).
Lk 4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, [Isaiah 61:1]
Lk 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Lk 4:19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Lk 4:20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
Lk 4:21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
12. NUMBERS 28:9-22: MORE IMPORTANT SABBATHS: God lessened the IMPORTANCE of the seventh-day Sabbath when He added more important Sabbaths requiring far more sacrifices. With the lone exception of the new moon Sabbath, every other Sabbath in the Law required more sacrifices than the weekly Sabbath; this must mean less importance.
Numbers 28:9--22 details the animal sacrifices required for the monthly, weekly and seasonal Sabbaths.
13. Comparing EXODUS 20:8-11 with DEUTERONOMY 5:15, God changed the purpose of the weekly Sabbath from a memorial of creation rest (Ex 20:8-11) into a memorial of freedom from Egyptian bondage Deuteronomy 5:15. It is strange that Christians quote the earlier version from Exodus and not the latest from Deuteronomy 5.
Deut 5:15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
14. ISAIAH 66: By teaching that Isaiah 66:23 proves that the weekly Sabbath will be kept throughout eternity, Seventh-day Adventists err by not teaching the same about the new moon Sabbaths. They ignore the context of Isaiah 66.
66:1-3 destroys the SDA doctrine that God lives in a literal temple patterned after that given to Moses for Israel.
6:10-14 destroys the SDA doctrine that literal Israel and Jerusalem are no longer involved in future prophecy and special God's love.
6:17 refers to unsaved persons attempting to save (sanctify) themselves using methods opposite to that what God teaches.
6:19-21 prophesizes a final gathering of all nations to Jerusalem which is totally ignored in SDA prophecy.
6:22 describes the literal Messianic reign of Christ on earth in terms of "new heavens and the new earth." This is more of a problem text for SDAs than others because they deny a literal Messianic reign of Christ on earth.
6:23 means "every day of the month" and "every day of the week" -- from one month to another; from one week to the next. If (as SDAs insist) 6:23 proves that the weekly Sabbath will be observed throughout eternity, it proves too much because it would also prove that the monthly Sabbath will be also (and SDAs do not teach that).
6:24 disproves the SDA doctrine of annihilation. It also places the events of Isaiah 66 during the Messianic reign on earth (the Millennium) and not following Revelation 21:4.
Rev 21:25 suggests that there will be no days and nights in the new Jerusalem --therefore no divisions of days
SDAs quote none of the texts surrounding 66:23 because their own theology denies both a literal restoration of Israel in the last days and/or any attempt to reconcile the texts in their own eschatological context. While quoting it to convince others, none of it makes sense in their own eschatology.
15. MATTHEW 5:17-19: SDAs change the meaning of Matthew 5:17-19 when they use them to teach the Sabbath. They argue that, since the law is still in force, then so is the Sabbath day.
Matt 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
Mt 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Mt 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Using Matthew 5:17-19 to support weekly Sabbath observance changes God's Word and is self-defeating. The texts correctly literally teach that we are either under all of the Law or none of it. Yet any beginning Bible student can discover that verses 20-48 include examples from the whole law of commandments, judgments and statutes. Therefore, the texts cannot be used to argue that the law here only refers to the Ten Commandments.
16. MATTHEEW 19:16-17: SDAs argue that Sabbath-keeping is essential for salvation by quoting Matthew 19:17.
Matt 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
Mt 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
A. This encounter occurred before Calvary when Jews were under the full jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law. Obedience to the entire Mosaic Law, not merely the Ten Commandments is in view here. Proof that one was a true Hebrew was exhibited by obedience to all of the law and not merely the Sabbath.
B. Neither Jesus, His disciples nor the rich young ruler would have interpreted “the commandments” here as only the Ten Commandments. Yet Seventh-day Adventists want people to conclude such.
C. Either Jesus was teaching salvation by works, or else He was testing the rich young ruler whom He knew lied when he claimed to have obeyed God from his youth (V20).
D. Also, neither Jesus, Paul, Peter nor James would have made such a statement after Calvary. The words “the commandments” are not the same as the words “my commandments” and “commandments” as used by the Apostle in any of his epistles.
E. By "commandments" Jesus meant "What I tell you to do." That which was “Jesus’ commandments” and “my commandments” changed according to Jesus’ audience. He commanded his Jewish disciples to obey the Mosaic Law in Matthew 5:23-24 and 8:4. However Jesus never commanded Gentiles whom he healed to observe the Mosaic Law.
17. MATTHEW 24:20: SDAs change the Sabbath of Matthew 24:20 by removing it from its biblical context of Judea, Jerusalem and the temple on earth.
Matt 24:20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.
A. Mathew 24:20 does not say that Christians were observing the Sabbath day; it merely states that Sabbath observance would hinder their escape if gates were locked and shops were closed.
B. The context of Matthew 24 is last day events concerning Judea, Jerusalem and the temple in Jerusalem. Since SDAs teach that Judea, Jerusalem and the temple on earth are not involved in last day prophecy and make no effort to explain Matthew 24, they have no grounds to pull the Sabbath reference of Matthew 24:20 out of context.
C. The Dispensational interpretation of Matthew 24 best explains the mention of the Sabbath. These events occur during the future 70th week of Daniel when unconverted Hebrews have (wrongly) re-instituted the Old Covenant Law and are observing the weekly Sabbath.
D. If Matthew 24:20 “proves” that the Sabbath was still being observed by Jewish Christians, then, with Acts 21:20-21, it also “proves” that the whole Mosaic Law was still being observed (through ignorantly) by Jewish Christians. Post biblical church history reveals that this church soon rejected Paul, became much more legalistic, became known as Ebionites and Ekiasites, and drifted away from orthodox Christianity before disappearing as an offshoot sect several centuries later.
Acts 21:20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
18. MARK 2:27-28 (Mt 12:8): SDAs change the purpose of the Sabbath when they insist that Mark 2:27 can only be interpreted to include all mankind.
Mark 2:27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
Mark 2:28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
A. SDAs only allow the Greek words, ho anthropos, to mean “mankind” although a different word, phusei, is translated as “race,” “species” or “mankind” in James 3:7. They insist that ho anthropos can ONLY mean “man in general” or “all mankind.” However this is far from conclusive.
B. God gave the Sabbath to national Israel as their special old covenant sign and commanded them NOT to share their covenant. This is clear in Ex 23:32; 31:13-17; Deut 7:2 and Ezekiel 20:12, 20.
C. The “men (anthropos)” in the context are Hebrew men under the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law. Thus Jesus might have been saying “The Sabbath was made for the Hebrew man [who is under the law] and the Hebrew man was not made for the Sabbath.”
D. Because of the Greek definite article ho meaning “the”,” THE “man” could easily refer to Jesus. This is true in 13 of 21 uses in Mark’s Greek text. Thus Jesus could have been saying “The Sabbath exists for THE man, THE Messiah, THE Son of man, and Messiah does not exist FOR the Sabbath.” In other words, Jesus the Messianic “Son of man” did not come to serve the Sabbath, but the Sabbath day was to serve His needs in Israel.
E. As discussed earlier, it is impossible for the Sabbath day to be at the same time “for all mankind” and also be a unique sign of the God’s old covenant with national Israel in Exodus 31:13-17.
19. JOHN 15:11-20, COMMANDMENTS: While Seventh-day Adventists themselves pick and choose when determining which of Jesus’ “commandments” they think still apply to the church, they accuse others of being commandment breakers.
A. No Jewish follower would have subdivided the Mosaic Law into three divisions in an attempt to only observe the Ten Commandments and ignore the remainder of it. Second, when Jesus told his Jewish disciples who were still under the full jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law to “keep his commandments” he was certainly not instructing the post-Calvary mysterious body called the “ekklesia” about sanctification after Calvary. Third, if the SDA viewpoint were true, then they would have little need for the epistles.
B. The only consistent hermeneutic is the one which says that “Only that which is either repeated after Calvary in terms of grace or that which is universally knowable through natural law can be brought forward out of the Mosaic Law into the New Covenant.” That compares to what the U.S. government did when it discarded all of British law and began completely anew writing their own U.S. Constitution.
20. ACTS 15:10: SDAs change the Sabbath by including it into Acts 15:10 when the context clearly rejects it for Gentle Christians.
Acts 15:10 [Peter said] Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
21. ACTS AND PAUL: SDAs change the reason for Paul's Sabbath preaching to prove he kept the Sabbath.
In Acts 13:14 they do not point out that Paul’s pattern was always a) first to the Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath because he had an open free pulpit as a Jew and especially as a highly educated rabbi and b) usually to the Gentiles DAILY after he had been rejected from the synagogues.
In Acts 13:42-44 SDAs conveniently OMIT 13:39 “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” They quote verses 42 and 44 and ignore verse 43 which points out the Gentiles who asked Paul to preach on the following Sabbath wee Jewish God-fearing proselytes who had already been persuaded to observe the Sabbath! They did not turn to the non-proselyte Gentiles who did not worship on the Sabbath until verse 46!
Before quoting Acts 16:13 SDAs also conveniently skip over the very important first Jerusalem church council in Acts 15.
Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except you be circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved.
Acts 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
Paul was opposed by Christian Pharisees who wanted Gentile converts to observe all the Mosaic Law, including Sabbath-keeping.
Acts 15:8-10 And God, which knows the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you tempt God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
Peter had witnessed how God saved Gentiles by faith who had not observed the Mosaic Law. He knew that the Pharisees’ insistence on circumcision and Sabbath-keeping had lost its value.
Acts 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we [Jews] shall be saved, even as they [Gentiles].
After his experience in Acts 10-11 Peter realized that salvation by faith alone also saved the Jews.
Acts 15:24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, You must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment.
James confirmed that the church in Jerusalem had no intention of expecting the Gentile converts to observe the Mosaic Law, including Sabbath-keeping. He called such action “subverting your souls.”
Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.
The Holy Spirit even confirmed that Gentile Christians were not obligated to observe the Mosaic Law; the “necessary things” do not include Sabbath-keeping. Seventh-day Adventists ignore these texts as they progress through the book of Acts to teach Sabbath-keeping out of context.
Acts 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Acts 16:5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
SDAs also ignore the texts which indicate that Paul preached on every day of the week when he had no strictly Jewish or Jewish proselyte audience.
The “decrees” ordained by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem were those from chapter 15 which are ignored by SDAs.
Acts 16:13 And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was expected to be made; and we sat down, and spoke to the women which resorted there.
There was probably no synagogue in Philippi so Paul wisely went to where Jews and proselytes were known to gather for prayer on the Sabbath.
SDAs OMIT the following verses which describe the woman who followed them “many days” while Paul was preaching on other days of the week (Acts 16:18). The sequence of events is repeated in Berea where Paul first went to the synagogue on the Sabbath (17:10) which was followed by the Bereans searching the scriptures “daily” in 17:11. Again while in Athens scripture shows us that Paul did the same thing. In Acts 17:17 “he disputed in the synagogue with the Jews (on Sabbath) and with the devout persons (Gentile God-fearer proselytes) and in the market DAILY with them that met with him.”
Acts 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
Again the Corinthian Greeks in 18:4 are the God-fearer proselytes. Afterwards (18:7) Paul left the synagogue and preached (daily) in the house of Crispus where many believed and were baptized (18:8). Paul stayed in Corinth for eighteen months (18:11) and he was not in the synagogue.
While in Ephesus the Bible tells us that Paul disputed with the Jews in the synagogue for three months (19:8). “But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning DAILY in the school of Tyrannus” (Acts 19:9).
It is amazing how SDAs forget to tell how all of their Sabbath day illustrations end with Paul going to the Gentiles and preaching to them DAILY.
22. ACTS 21:20-21, EARLY CHURCH: Seventh-day Adventists misinterpret and change the Word of God to make it appear that the entire early church worshipped on Saturday Sabbath. Yet history affirms that only the Eastern Roman Empire worshipped on the Saturday Sabbath for several centuries. They did so because they misunderstood the Law (Acts 21:20-21). However, God's Word affirms that Gentiles in the East were not required to worship on Saturday (Acts 15:28 and 21:25).
SDAs do not want others to know that the Western Roman Empire very early worshipped on Sunday. All church historians except SDAs state this correctly. Although Catholics claim to have changed the Sabbath, they distort the truth that Constantine made the decision apart from pressure from the Western papacy. Still unbaptized, Constantine did NOT do this to obey the papacy; he did it to bring unity to his empire.
23. ROMANS 14:5: SDAs change God's Word by twisting the very obvious Sabbath-day reference in Romans 14:5 into something different.
Rom 14:5 One man regards one day above another: another regards every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Unfortunately for the SDA “missing text´ argument, Paul never taught that Sunday replaced the Saturday Sabbath. Instead he taught that there were no long any holy days; all days were equal opportunities to preach the gospel. In Galatians 4:10-11 he opposed any holy day.
Again Paul’s pattern was clearly: a) To Jewish synagogue on Sabbaths where he had an open pulpit until chased out and, then, b) to Gentiles every day of the week. The SDA claim that Paul always observed the Sabbath is unbiblical.
24. EPHESIANS 1:13, THE SEAL OF GOD: SDAs change God's Word for Christians when they teach that the seal of God in Revelation 9:4 is the unique sign of God's Old Covenant with Israel (Ex 31:13). In fact, the Sabbath is never called a "seal" in the Bible. Yet SDAs ignore the two things which are called "seals" -- circumcision and the Holy Spirit. Oddly, they do not refer to circumcision as a sign and seal of righteousness by faith (Romans 4:11). The Bible clearly teaches that believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit in 2nd Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30.
25. CONCLUSION: Who changed the Sabbath? First, God changed it often. Second, SDAs changed it very often. Your comments are appreciated.
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD