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What is the Sabbath?
        (rest). The word first occurs in Ex 16:23. but the institution of a day of rest is much older - is founded, indeed, in man's nature, and, like marriage, was instituted in Paradise. Gen 2:2-3. The word usually indicates the seventh day of the week, which by God's appointment was set apart for his service, but it is used also of other days or times separated and sanctified in a similar way. Lev 19:3, 1 Kgs 20:30; Lev 25:4, and in the original text of the N.T. for a whole week. Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2. In a spiritual sense it designates the eternal rest in heaven. Heb 4:9 (marg. and Greek). In the Christian Church the first day of the week has been substituted for the last. There is no explicit command on the subject, but the Church naturally commemorated the great event which was in a sense her birth, the resurrection of Christ. By changing the day the Church threw off the Jewish regulations which had loaded down the Sabbath, and turned it into a day of ecclesiastical bondage. The Jews were not peculiar in their day of rest. It is a natural institution, and was observed also by some pagan nations quite independent of Judaism. Originally it was devoted to simple rest from worldly toil. The fourth commandment, Ex 20:8-11; Deut 5:12-15, enjoins no specific religious service, except in the general direction to keep it holy. But the opportunity thus given was improved. Subsequent legislation made it a day of holy convocation. The sacrifices of the temple were doubled; the shew-bread was changed; the inner court of the temple was opened for solemn services; the prophets and the Levites took the occasion for imparting religious instruction to the people. It was a day of holy joy. There was freedom for so much social enjoyment. Indeed, the fear was that the day would be "wasted by idleness and degraded by sensuality and drunkenness" because it was so joyous. Neh 8:9-12; Hos 2:11. But after the Captivity arose the school of the Pharisees, and by them the attractive character of the Sabbatic observances was destroyed. In place thereof they imposed upon the people the yoke of a pedantic, scrupulous, slavish Sabbatarianism which made the Sabbath an end instead of a means, hampered the spirit of true worship, and laid greater stress upon a punctilious obedience to mere human regulations than upon the commands of the Law. Some of their ridiculous prohibitions are the following: Walking in the grass on the Sabbath, because the bruising would be a kind of threshing; wearing nailed shoes, because they would be a sort of burden; mounting a tree, lest a twig should be broken. It was against this perversion of the commandment that our Lord protested. He refused his sanction to Pharisaic legalism. Much to the consternation of the religious party of the day, he vigorously defended his Sabbath miracles. The example of Christ represents the Sabbath, not as a day of gloom, but as a pleasant and healthful day of rest, quiet religious service, and Christian benevolence. He kept the Sabbath in the highest sense of the term. He observed every jot and tittle of the Mosaic Law in the freedom of the spirit. From him we learn that religion is the uppermost business of the day, that acts of necessity and mercy are to be performed, that worldly occupations are to be put as far as possible out of our thoughts. It is true we transfer the fourth commandment to the first day of the week, but we do not thereby violate the spirit of the divine law: for what God asked for was the entire seventh of our time. We may therefore claim the blessing which God has pronounced upon those who keep the day holy. It is a matter of secondary importance, and yet it shows the natural basis of the fourth commandment, that this division of time is scientifically correct. The night's sleep does not restore all the waste of the day; additional rest, therefore, is demanded for health. It is an interesting fact that the blasphemous abolition of Sunday by the French Revolutionists and the substitution of a day of rest every ten days was found poor policy, as the rest was insufficient. The Christian Church keeps the first day of the week, which celebrates the close of the spiritual creation, just as the last day celebrated the close of the physical creation. We have the fullest warrant for this change. Upon the first day of the week Christ arose from the dead. We find the disciples, before the Ascension, assembled on that day, and Jesus appeared to them. John 20:26. According to tradition, which is confirmed by every probability, the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost was on Sunday. Paul preached at Troas on the first day of the week - evidently, among those Christians, the day of religious service. Acts 20:7. Paul tells the Corinthians that every one is to lay by him in store upon the first day of the week as he is prospered. 1 Cor 16:2. It was upon the Lord's day - and by this name he calls it - that John on Patmos saw through the opened door into heaven. Rev 1:10. The first day of the week is therefore the Christian Sabbath, the day of rest and worship. And God has further confirmed the change by giving it his blessing, as he blessed the Sabbath of creation-week. Around the Lord's day we do well to throw safeguards. It is, in a sense, the palladium of Christian liberty. The various states and cities have good laws for the protection of the civil Sabbath and against its open desecration. The positive observance of the religious Sabbath can, of course, not be enforced by law, and must be left to the individual conscience. The American churches are unanimously in favor of a quiet Sabbath, in opposition to the evils of the so-called "continental Sunday," and earnest efforts have been made to protect us against them. Our Lord states the case most concisely: "The Sabbath was made for man." Mark 2:27. It is the divine gift, which, when accepted and properly used,contributes to man's physical, moral, and spiritual happiness and welfare, and gives a foretaste of the saint's everlasting rest in heaven. The following are among the leading passages of the Bible respecting the Sabbath and its proper observance: The divine institution of the Jewish Sabbath. Gen 2:2-3; Ex 20:8-11; Deut 5:12, 2 Sam 20:15; Eze 20:12; Eze 44:24. Servile labor forbidden. Ex 16:23, 1 Chr 2:29; Ex 20:10-11; Ex 23:12; Ex 34:21; Ex 35:2-3; Deut 5:14-15; Jer 17:21-22; Mark 15:42; Mark 16:1-2; John 19:14, 1 Chr 24:31, 1 Chr 2:42. The profanation of the Sabbath the cause of national judgments. Neh 13:15-18; Eze 20:15-16; Eze 23:38, Eze 23:47. The Jewish Sabbath re-established under the gospel dispensation. Matt 5:17; Josh 12:12; Mark 2:27. The change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week. Gen 2:2; Ex 20:11; Luke 23:56; John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10. The duties of the Sabbath enjoined. Lev 19:30; Num 26:2; Eze 46:3; Mark 6:2; Luke 4:16, 1 Chr 24:31; Acts 13:14-16, Gen 1:27, 1 Chr 2:42, Jer 48:44; Acts 17:2-3. Works of necessity and mercy to be done on this day. Matt 12:1, Num 1:3, 1 Chr 6:5, 1 Kgs 15:7, Jud 4:12, 2 Kgs 11:13; Mark 2:23, Gen 1:27; Mark 3:2-4; Luke 6:9; Luke 13:15-16; Lev 14:3, Deut 14:5; John 5:8-10, 1 Sam 30:18; John 7:22; John 9:14. Blessings promised to those who keep the Sabbath. Isa 56:2, Ex 6:4, 1 Chr 6:5, 1 Kgs 15:7; Isa 58:13-14. Threatenings against Sabbath-breakers. Ex 31:14-15; Num 35:2; Num 15:32-36; Jer 17:27; Eze 20:13, Ex 17:16, Heb 12:23, Jud 6:24; Rev 22:8, Acts 22:14, Eze 22:26, Eze 22:31; Eze 23:38, Eze 23:46. Sabbath privileges taken away. Isa 1:13; Lam 1:7; Am 2:6; Hos 2:11; Am 8:10-11. See Lord's Day.

Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'sabbath' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". - Schaff's

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