How can we really know that the Sabbath day today is the same seventh day in the weekly cycle as God ordained it at the beginning?
This is a secret nagging question in the minds of many, but most dare not ask. Why? The probable negative answer might simply overthrow the faith of many sincere believers. This is because many know that there were many events which happened in man’s long history, and any one of these could have moved the Sabbath off from its original seventh-day position. Among the most fundamental concerns or questions include such topics as:
- What about Joshua’s long day in battle when the sun and moon stood still?
- What about the time when the sundial moved back during Hezekiah’s day?
- What about the change-over from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar?
- Is it also possible that some people have collectively forgotten which day of the week it was?
For those convinced in observing the correct day as God commanded, how can we — in good conscience — really be sure that the day we keep has not been somehow tampered with? Do we have concrete and objective proofs and reliable evidence to really establish the true facts?
This article will honestly answer all these questions. But first, let us understand that God Himself clearly distinguished the seventh day as special, compared to all the other days of the week, for a reason. Let’s read on to the end of this article to know why.
Why Did God Bless THE Seventh Day at Creation?
Most Bible believers know that God Himself rested, blessed, and sanctified [set apart for a holy purpose] the seventh day (eventually called the Sabbath) to be holy, right after the creation of man — thus originally intended as a benefit for all mankind (Genesis 2:2-3). However, since humanity (influenced and spiritually blinded by Satan) rejected God’s commands right from the very beginning, mankind has also lost that blessing, among many others.
But in God’s grace and mercy, He still wants to bless humanity (after we have learned our bitter lessons through disobedience) with worldwide peace, happiness, and prosperity. Therefore, prophecy shows that the Messiah will come back to show humanity that true way — by restoring some of the missing key ingredients to bring about that which mankind has blatantly ignored, and even rebelled against.
Believe it or not, these twin ingredients are God’s time reckoning through His Sacred Calendar (based on the moon cycles, rather than humanity’s confused and conflicting calendars) and the restoration of the seventh-day Sabbath as the true day of worship (Isaiah 66:23). Unbelievable?
“Remember the Sabbath Day, to Keep It Holy…”
Only God can make something holy. Man is not able, nor authorized, to make any other day holy. Thus, God Himself commanded and gave a reminder that the Sabbath day (already made holy) must be kept and maintained holy. Distinctively, He has blessed and sanctified that day, wherein He even rested from all His works [Hebrew “shabath” meaning to cease and desist from work] of physical creation (to set an example for mankind) and shifted to the spiritual work of blessing.
Since God in His wisdom and power has highly honored that seventh day of the week, is it even logical that He will just abandon and forget through the ravages of time what He has blessed? On the contrary, we will see a clear demonstration of His power to safeguard the Sabbath throughout history, in spite of human rebellion and constant failings.
7 Proofs That the Sabbath Reckoning Has Been Preserved Through History
1. The Sabbath Remains Known Before and After the Flood
In spite of man’s rebellion and disobedience starting soon after creation, God looked down upon humanity and noticed two righteous men, which Scriptures say, “walked with God.” One was Enoch, who lived between 622-987 years after creation (Institute of Scripture Research Bible, page 1,244). [This man was actually what we would call Enoch II — whom God took away from his wicked society then (Genesis 5:18, 22, 24) — in contrast to Enoch I (Genesis 4:18) who lived much earlier, and was the son of Cain.]
The second man who “walked with God” was Noah (Genesis 5:29; 6:9). He lived between 1,056-2,006 years after creation (Institute of Scripture Research Bible, page 1,244). The Flood came when Noah was 600 years old. Therefore, that would be 1,656 years after creation (Genesis 7:6).
But what is most significant here (but missed by most readers) is the constant use of the term “seven days” (or Sabbath reckoning) between God and Noah (Genesis 7:4, 10; 8:10, 12). This simply shows that — since Noah “walked with God” and was a righteous man (NAU, NIV, RSV) — the knowledge of the Sabbath which God created and honored was certainly known and practiced by him.
And since he was used by God to traverse the great flood (from the old civilization into the new), he obviously passed on that Sabbath knowledge (among other truths of God) to his own family, and was adopted especially by Shem and his descendants. Prominent among them was the patriarch Abraham, of whom God said this: “Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” This obviously includes the Sabbath (Genesis 26:5).
And through Abraham came the Israelite nation. His descendants eventually went to Egypt to escape a famine in Canaan. So they flourished but eventually became enslaved. Then God raised up Moses to help deliver them out of Egyptian bondage.
2. Sabbath Observance Was Established For 40 Years During Moses’s time
After escaping Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, and reaching the Sinai desert, the Israelites began to run out of food. Then God started supplying them with manna for food, but at the same time instilled in them obedience in keeping the Sabbath for a long period of 40 years (Exodus 16:4-8; 14-31, 35). As we can see, God again reconfirmed for a solid span of 40 years the knowledge of the Sabbath to reach into the next generation of Israelites who left Egypt as children then. Later in the promised land, Israel became a kingdom nation.
3. The Kingdom Nation Observed the Sabbath as Part of Their National Culture
As a nation, it was part of the duty of their kings to enforce obedience to God’s commandments. In fact, among the instructions given to kings are as follows:
Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book… and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.
Based on the history of Israel, some kings were obedient, while others were not. However, all the Laws and Commandments of God (including the Sabbath) were known by all the people. And their violations thereof was one of the reasons they were taken into captivity. Among the 12 tribes, Judah (the Jews) and Levi (the priesthood tribe) were more diligent in trying to obey and preserve God’s laws. It even came to the point where, in repentance, they guarded against future violations of the Sabbath by making many other laws to protect it from being violated even remotely. These man-made laws are contained in their Talmud and other writings.
4. The Established Sabbath was Confirmed by Christ During His Sojourn on Earth
Under Cyrus the Great, the Jews (and the Levites) who preserved their Hebrew language and the Sabbath were allowed to return and rebuild the city of Jerusalem, and later their temple. But the other 10 tribes who earlier went into captivity during the Assyrian invasion became absorbed by the nations into where they were taken. Historically, they became the “lost 10 tribes of Israel.”
When Christ came to earth as a human, He was born into the tribe of Judah in the land of Israel. What is most significant here is that the worship day the Jews observed and preserved was still on the seventh day of the week, called the Sabbath. Christ did not oppose the Sabbath day they were keeping, but only the unbiblical practices they added to the keeping of the Sabbath.
NOTE: Up to this point, we have established that the seventh-day Sabbath was still correct.
5. The Seven-Day Weekly Cycle Is a Basic Feature of Both the Sacred and Roman Calendars
When Christ was here on earth, Israel was under the rule of the Roman Empire. While the Jews have maintained their Jewish or Sacred Calendar, the Romans also have their Roman Julian Calendar which was devised by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. Significantly, they both have one common feature, and that is the seven-day weekly cycle. The first day of the week (Sunday) and the seventh day of the week (Saturday or Sabbath) is exactly the same on both calendars.
6. The Transition From the Julian to the Gregorian Calendars Still Preserved the Weekly Cycle
Because of the drift of 10 days away from the vernal equinox, a new Roman calendar system was adopted in October 1582, during the reign of Pope Gregory XIII. It was named the Gregorian Calendar. But not all countries adopted it at that time.
But again, significantly, both the Julian and the Gregorian calendars never tampered with the weekly cycle of seven days. For example, King Philip II of Spain (ruling also over Portugal then), who was among the first to adopt it, decreed the changeover on 29 September 1582. So, on the Julian calendar of Thursday, October 4, the next day was October 15, Friday in the Gregorian calendar. Notice that while 10 days were dropped, the sequence of the days of the week was never tampered with. Various countries of the world adopted it at different years, with Russia adopting the Gregorian calendar only in 1918.
7. Unchanging Sabbath Practice Among the Jewish People
Significantly, there is a group of people on the face of this earth who are very careful, meticulous, and uncompromising about observing the God-ordained seventh-day Sabbath. These are the Jewish people. That is why, in the letter of Paul to the Gentile Romans, he wrote:
What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God [which of course, includes the Sabbath].
Other Disputed Topics
1. Joshua’s Long Day
The key to properly account for this is to understand God’s definition of a “Day,” which is a period of time from “sunset to sunset” (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31; Leviticus 23:32). In this unusual event, God allowed the sun and the moon to stand still in the sky (to allow Joshua and his men to finish the battle against Israel’s enemies). Yet it was still considered one [long] day, because a day is defined as a period of time from sunset to sunset. This event is described in Joshua 10:12-14.
2. Reversing Time During Hezekiah’s Day
On the other hand, when King Hezekiah of Israel became seriously sick, God sent the prophet Isaiah to tell him to prepare to die. Hezekiah wept bitterly, reminding God of all that he has done to restore true worship in Israel. Instantly, God sent Isaiah back to tell Hezekiah that God is adding 15 years into his life. Hezekiah wanted a sign from God. He chose a sign that seemed impossible, yet God did it! The sundial moved back 10 degrees! [Note: 1 hour = 15 degrees; therefore 10 degrees is two-thirds of an hour, or 40 minutes. While quite insignificant, it is almost like our modern “daylight savings time” adjustment (2 Kings 20:8-11).]
God’s Present Purposes For the Sabbath
God gave the Sabbath as a test command to determine our obedience to “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3; Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4).
God also used it as a sign to determine who are His obedient people (Exodus 31:13, 17; Ezekiel 20:12, 20; Hebrews 4:9; Revelation 12:17; 14:12). Of course, most are still spiritually blinded now, and it is not yet their time to be among the Elect, or God’s “Firstfruits” calling (James 1:18).
Throughout human history, nations have fallen, kingdoms have been subdued, empires have risen and waned, and dynasties have ended. But in stark contrast, God’s Sabbath has existed and endured among His chosen all these six thousand years of human history thus far. Therefore, the Sabbath is reputably the MOST enduring institution ever known to man.
What lesson does that give us? It demonstrates God’s great faithfulness, and His capacity to sustain His command, and therefore, all His promises as well — in spite of human failings and outright rebellion to His Sabbath Laws. Yet, He can still allow a little adjustment to accommodate our needs and wishes, as with Joshua and Hezekiah.
Can your faith and obedience likewise endure, even in your short lifetime? If you’re truly led by God’s Spirit, you’ll also have the Sabbath sign in your life.