5. What the Fourth Commandment Requires
THE fourth commandment simply requires that day of the week to be kept holy on which the Creator rested. This, we have proved over and over again, was the seventh day of the week.
He rested on one day only of the weekly cycle, and this rest was long ages in the past when the command was given, and could not, therefore, be changed. Hence the fourth commandment can be made to sanction Sabbatizing on no other day of the week than the seventh. One cannot change his birthday. Independence Day cannot be separated from the Fourth of July; for the events occurring in 1776 fix it on that day, and they cannot now be changed. So of God’s rest day; the facts are such that before it could be changed, the whole work of creation would have to be done over again. God rested on the seventh day of the first week of time. We are to rest on the same day of the week to keep that great fact in memory. What would we think of the propriety of appointing some other day besides the fourth of July to commemorate the independence of these United States? It would be no more absurd than to observe some other day than the seventh to answer the claims of the fourth commandment.
This command is inseparably connected with the day of Jehovah’s rest. It is the particular day of God’s rest which the command requires to be kept holy, and no other. It is not a seventh part of time that the commandment specifies. Neither merely one day in seven after six of labor; but it is the seventh day on which God rested from the work of creation, which is appointed for man to keep as it comes to him in the weekly cycle.
God was at this very time showing the people, by weekly miracles in the fall of the manna, which day this creation Sabbath was. There could be no doubt on this point, no time lost. They then had the right day from creation. The God of all the earth was pointing it out to them every week. The true weekly cycle was therefore known at the time the law was given. Doubtless, it had always been kept by the patriarchs from the time of creation to this time, as it was by the Jewish people till the time of Christ.
The speaking of the law on Sinai by the Creator of the universe, and his writing it on the imperishable tablets of stone with his own finger, marks a most important epoch in the religious progress of the race. The fact that the creation Sabbath was given such great prominence as to be made the central and most lengthy precept in it, demonstrates the exalted position it occupied in the Lawgiver’s estimation. No satisfactory reason can be assigned for this high honor, other than that the Sabbath, which was “made for man,” was exceedingly important for his well-being. It was the day for religious benefit, for spiritual improvement—the day in which to remember our Creator, and that we are the workmanship of his hands. Mark this fact well: the principal object of the Sabbath, according to the commandment, is not mere rest from physical toil. It is to be kept “holy,” for it was made holy at the creation. The facts of creation are to be remembered. Religious contemplation and rest from secular labor are the main objects of the day. It is God’s day, and not ours. He has never given us this day to use for our purposes.