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February 14, 2014

A case for the Sabbath

Fri Feb 14, 2013

Many persons might observe that once a week, on Saturday, Adventists are dressed up and often colourfully parading to church. To many this might seem strange or even odd, as most Christians attend their weekly church service on Sunday. If asked about their unique practice, Adventists would have a ready response: Saturday is the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week (according to the Bible). For those who are generally interested, they might inquire more. Others might get defensive or offended, as they belong to a faith tradition that practises otherwise.{{more}} Then there are those who just leave the topic alone because it seems too confusing or just another religious fight that has no place in their quest for peace and harmony. But on a deeper level, there seems to be something to this Sabbath “thing”. Maybe there is a good argument that can be made in regards to its observance. When considering the weight of evidence and the abundance of supporting elements, it seems to me that a case can be made for the Sabbath.

In the case for the Sabbath, it is first noteworthy that the astronomical evidence supports the veracity of the biblical claim. Namely, our seven-day week cycle. The fact of the matter is that there is no scientific or astronomical reason as to why humans on earth keep a weekly cycle. Every other cycle we keep has an explanation in the heavenly bodies. Our yearly cycle is as a result of the earth’s revolution around the sun (approx. 365 days). Our monthly cycle is as a result of the moon’s revolution around the earth (about every 30 days), and our daily cycle is as a result of the earth’s rotation on its axis (approx. 24 hrs). But strangely enough, there is no natural astronomical reason as to why humans all over the world follow a seven- day weekly cycle. The only real reason that exists as to why humanity on earth follows a seven-day weekly cycle is the Genesis creation account. God created the world in six days, rested on the seventh day and there ended the first week. The weeks started over from there; and so it has been ever since. Humans on earth are following what God has instituted from the beginning. We only need to follow what he has instructed for the seventh day.

Secondly, there is the matter of world languages that makes a case for the Sabbath. For some reason (that cannot be fully explained by anthropology), in many of the world’s primary languages, the word for the seventh day is the word for Sabbath (meaning rest). A study of languages (if you include ancient languages) show that in about 160 languages, the word for the seventh day is “rest day” ( Dr William Meade Jones, 1887). Even Babylonian – which is thought to have been in use hundreds of years before Abraham – calls the seventh day “sa-ba-tu,” meaning “rest day”. Today, not only does over 100 languages worldwide ( Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Afghan, Russian, Arabic, and a host of African languages) use the word “Sabbath” for Saturday, but what is remarkable that “there is not even one language that designates another day as ‘day of rest’” (Emily Thomsen, 2010). Only the seventh day is called Sabbath. While there might be a million explanations put forth for such a finding, the most reasonable explanation is that humanity on a whole (from the beginning of time) was very aware of the Sabbath command and the practice of rest that God instituted. Somewhere along the line when the languages were divided, this knowledge and truth was reflected within the new languages. This evidence reflects one other reality. That is, the Sabbath was not just a Jewish religious institution; it was undeniably a gift (and a command) to all mankind.

Thirdly, and finally, for those who wonder whether the seventh day could really be proved to be Saturday, then there is the evidence of “the Jews”. Not only is there no historical evidence for a change in the numbering of our week days, but the Jews, who have held the Sabbath as sacred for thousands of years, observe Saturday as the seventh day. Now if some change had occurred, surely the Jews would have kept the original seventh day (just like they kept the original start of day to be sunset instead of midnight, which was introduced by the Romans). Now, if the Jews are keeping Saturday as the seventh day, then we have strong reasons to trust that Saturday indeed is the seventh day.