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Is Saturday the “Jewish Sabbath”?

Is Saturday the “Jewish Sabbath”?

Many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, refer to the seventh-day Sabbath—the only biblical Sabbath—as the “Jewish Sabbath.” But is this an accurate label?

We know that devout Jewish people have kept the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath for many centuries. But is there more to the story? Did God intend the Sabbath to be kept only by Jews?

To find the answer, we need to go back in time—to a time long before a Jewish nation existed. In fact, we need to go back to the very beginning of life on Earth. Let’s take a close look at Genesis 2:1–3: “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, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.”

The Bible is telling us that right after God finished creating life on this earth, He ceased His work, rested, and blessed and sanctified the seventh day. It’s pretty obvious what “blessed” means, but what is “sanctified”? What did God do to the seventh day that made it different from the other six days of the week?

In this context, to sanctify something means to declare it holy, to set it apart for a divine purpose, to make it sacred. God set an example for us in resting on the seventh day. The Sabbath was to be, from that time forward, a sacred day of rest and special communion with the Creator. Because of the timing—at the end of creation week—it’s obvious that the Sabbath was meant for all mankind down through the ages.

In fact, Jesus confirmed this when He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

Later, when the Ten Commandments were given to the Jewish nation, God specifically stated, in the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8, emphasis added). Why would God tell them to “remember” unless they had forgotten about it? These Hebrews who had just been rescued from Egyptian captivity had, while in bondage, forgotten about the long-established Sabbath of the Lord.

In fact, mankind was aware of God’s laws long before they were given on Sinai. For example, Joseph refused to give in to Potiphar’s wife, saying, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). Joseph was aware that God had forbidden adultery long before the Ten Commandments were given.

Finally, the Sabbath will be kept in the new earth. Isaiah 66:22, 23 says: “For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, … “from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me.”

The Sabbath is a special gift from God to all humankind. It’s meant as an eternal blessing for those created in His image.
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