A Commandment Before the Commandment
Before calendars were invented, God put His into effect. Before commandments became “official” because they were written down, God gave some basic rules. The history of the beginning of the world given for us in Genesis One denotes “morning and evening” to mark off days. When we get to Genesis Two we find God “resting” from His creative work and making that day of rest holy, set apart, sanctified, reserved for the purpose of rest rather than work.
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing, so on the seventh day he rested from all his work, And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2, 3, NIV)
Later God would issue a command about this day of rest but from the beginning He set the example by resting—even though God doesn’t need a rest. This rest didn’t mean that God abandoned “essential services.” The Jews would later make it impossible for their people to lift a finger on behalf of another on the Sabbath (as did the church), something that God never intended. He comes to our aid, provides for us, maintains the universe and orders the sun to rise and set on rest days just as He does on every other day.
The argument about this seventh day has gone on ad nausea for centuries. The truth is that calendars and the days assigned to them are human inventions, manipulated by men to suit their particular purposes and cultures. It’s the principle that counts here, not a fixed date or day. God showed us by example that one day of seven was to be set apart as holy because even if He doesn’t need to restore Himself physically and spiritually, He knows that we do.