Upon tables of stone God wrote the great, unchanging law of the ages. Every word was serious and meaningful. Not one line was ambiguous or mysterious. Christians and non-Christians, educated and uneducated, have no problem understanding the simple, clear words of the Ten Commandments. God meant what He said and said what He meant.
Most of the ten begin with the same words: “You shall not,” but right in the heart of the law, we find the fourth commandment introduced with the word “Remember.” Why is this one different? God was commanding His people to call something to memory that existed but had been forgotten. Genesis describes the origin of the Sabbath in these words: “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done. … Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:1–3).
Which day did God bless and sanctify? The seventh day. How was it to be kept holy? By resting. Could any of the other six days be kept holy? No. Why? Because God commanded work on those days, not rest. Does God’s blessing make a difference? Of course. This is why parents pray for God to bless their children. They believe it makes a difference. The seventh day is different from all the other six days because it carries God’s blessing.
The seventh day is akin to celebrating the birthday of the world, a memorial of a mighty act. The Sabbath memorial could never truly be changed because it points back to an established event in history. In the United States, for instance, July 4 is Independence Day. Can it be changed? No. Because the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. Your birthday cannot be changed, either. It is a memorial of your birth, which happened on a set day. History would have to run through again to change your birthday, to change Independence Day, or to change the Sabbath day. We can call another day Independence Day, and we can call another day the Sabbath, but that does not make it so.
Did God ever give man the privilege of choosing his own day of rest? He did not. In fact, God confirmed in the Bible that the Sabbath was settled and sealed by His own divine selection and should not be tampered with. Read Exodus 16 concerning the giving of manna. For 40 years God worked three miracles every week to show Israel which day was holy: (1) He rained manna from heaven for His people to eat. (2) It did not fall on the seventh day. (3) Although it spoiled if kept overnight, it remained sweet and fresh when kept over the seventh day.
“Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?” (Exodus 16:27, 28).
Perhaps these people had the same idea as many modern-day Christians and thought another day could be kept just as well as the seventh day. Maybe they were planning to observe the first day of the week, or some other day that was more convenient to them. What happened? God immediately and clearly declared that they were breaking His law. Would God say the same thing today? Yes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). “I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
God made it very clear that, whatever their selfish justification for it, those who went out to work on the Sabbath were guilty of breaking His law. James explained that it is a sin to break even one of the Ten Commandments: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law" (James 2:10, 11).
Can’t we keep holy any day of the week? By this argument Satan is preparing the world to accept a substitute for the Sabbath that God clearly commanded.