After God made the earth suitable for humans and created Adam and Eve, what did He do? He created the Sabbath day, blessed it, set it apart and rested on it.
The historical record of God preparing the earth for mankind is documented in the first two chapters of the Bible. Here we find that God spent six days establishing and perfectly balancing all the aspects of our planet that make it hospitable for human life.
Commenting on this monumental task, the Bible says, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished” (Genesis 2:1).
Thus Genesis 2 summarizes the details of Genesis 1. The six days of creation week were filled with amazing accomplishments and evidence of God’s awesome intelligence and design. This was capped with the creation of the first man and woman in God’s likeness.
But God’s creation wasn’t finished yet.
What is the original Sabbath day?
Then Genesis 2 describes a new act of God’s creation as He made of a day of rest.
“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, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (verses 2-3).
The seventh day was the original Sabbath day, and it has never been changed.
Why did God rest? Not because He was tired
When God ceased from His creative work, it wasn’t because He was tired. As Isaiah 40:28 explains: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.”
Having spent six days preparing the earth for man’s physical needs, God was now establishing the seventh day of the week as a time during which man could rest from his physical labor and have his spiritual needs met. God rested to teach us to rest. He created the Sabbath day to be a blessing for everyone who will follow His example and His command.
Genesis 2:3 explains that God “blessed” and “sanctified” the seventh day. As additional translations make clear, this means God made this day “holy” (New International Version and Bible in Basic English) and “set it apart as a special day” (Good News Bible) unlike any other day of the week.
Sabbath linked to the creation
Although the word Sabbath isn’t technically included in this passage, “the cognate verbal form sabat (to cease, to stop, to rest) is used and the latter, as noted by U. Cassuto, ‘contains an allusion to the name “the Sabbath day”’” (Samuele Bacchiocchi, Divine Rest for Human Restlessness, p. 34).
Additionally, when God spoke His commandments from Mount Sinai, He linked the Sabbath with His resting on the seventh day at creation.
At the end of the Fourth Commandment God said, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11). Hence, it is clear what God had in mind for this day.
God repeated this connection between the Sabbath and creation in Exodus 31:17. He said the Sabbath “is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.”
The Bible shows that the Sabbath was made as a blessing for all of mankind, not just the children of Israel. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man [not just the Jews], and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).
God has never revoked this blessing for the seventh day or bestowed a similar blessing on another day.We have to go to other biblical passages to see how God instructs us to observe the Sabbath, but from mankind’s earliest days on earth, God had designated which day of the week had His special blessing. God has never revoked this blessing for the seventh day or bestowed a similar blessing on another day.
Other evidence for the Sabbath before the giving of the 10 Commandments
As for instructing mankind about His Sabbath, God may have begun this instruction for Adam and Eve on the very Sabbath He blessed the seventh day. The Bible reveals that God personally talked with Adam and Eve and others from the earliest days, but it doesn’t include all of these conversations.
But when God gave the ancient Israelites manna to eat, which was before He gave the 10 Commandments from Mount Sinai, He already expected Israel to be keeping His commandments and laws (Exodus 16:4, 28-29). It doesn’t make sense for God to rebuke these people for not keeping the Sabbath and His other laws if they didn’t know about them.
Another indication of the Sabbath being kept prior to God listing the Sabbath along with the other commandments repeated at Mount Sinai can be found in the life of Abraham. Of him, God said, “Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Genesis 26:5).
For additional study on the existence of God’s laws prior to Mount Sinai, see our article “Were the 10 Commandments Around Before Moses?”