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“He answered and said, Every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” Matt. 15: 13.
The scribes had come to Jesus with the complaint, "Why do Thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?' Jesus answered them with another question, "Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?”
They had thought that Christ was introducing novelties, preaching new things, contrary to established church custom and practice. He showed them that He really stood for the old and established things of God's Word, and that their own religious customs, however old, were really the novelties, without divine authority. He said,
“In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” And finally He added the words quoted above, “Every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up."
Let the principles be applied to the question of Sabbath observance. Sometimes in our day those who preach the word of God regarding the abiding holiness of the seventhday Sabbath are accused of preaching new doctrines, contrary to the traditions and customs of the church. But really, the observance of Sunday, the first day, is the innovation; the seventh-day Sabbath is of ancient foundation.
Is the Seventh-day Sabbath a Plant of Our Heavenly
Father's Planting? Which of these two institutions has our heavenly Father planted? It is possible to ascertain to a surety; for every plant of His planting, every doctrine of His truth, will be found rooted in the Holy Scriptures. 2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
The Old Testament Record From the Beginning.- When the Creator made the earth and man upon it, He made the seventh day of the weekly cycle His holy Sabbath.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. . . . And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made." Gen. 2: 1-3.
To sanctify is "to set apart," and so the day made holy and blessed by God was set apart for man.
Then it was, as Jesus said, that “the Sabbath was made for man.” Mark 2:27. Here the Sabbath institution was planted at the beginning of the world.
At the Exodus.- The people of Israel, in their bondage in Egypt, had fallen away from the knowledge of God and become corrupted by the idolatrous worship of Egypt. Hence, as the Lord called them out to be His people, He tested their loyalty to His law by observing how they regarded His holy Sabbath:
“Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law, or no.” Ex. 16:4.
So through the forty years the Lord sent the manna for them to gather on the six working days, withholding it on the Sabbath. (This scripture shows also that the Sabbath was a part of God's law before He spoke it from Sinai.)
At Sinai.— When the time came that the Lord would speak His holy law from heaven, the eternal foundation of
His moral government, the Sabbath precept was enshrined in the heart of it:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Ex. 20: 8-11.
Through Israel's History.--Sabbath keeping was the great mark of loyalty to God. When Israel fell into idolatry, they “observed times" (see 2 Kings 21:6), - doubtless such heathen festivals to the sun god and other deities as were common among the idolatrous nations. These observances of other days meant Sabbath breaking. “Neither shall ye . . . observe times. Ye shall keep My Sabbaths." Lev. 19: 26-30. The Lord had promised concerning Jerusalem:
"If ye diligently hearken unto Me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work therein; then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, . . . and this city shall remain forever." Jer. 17:24, 25.
The divine pleading was slighted, and Jerusalem's fall and the Babylonian captivity came as the result of the Israelites' disregard of God's holy day.
Thus throughout the inspired record of the Old Testament the seventh-day Sabbath appears as a plant of the heavenly Father's own planting.
The New Testament Record
The Example and Teaching of Jesus. — It was Christ's
. "custom" to worship on the seventh day. Luke 4:16.
Jesus, who Himself made the Sabbath at creation (John 1:3), taught that it was made for man,"— for the human race,- and declared, “The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath." Mark 2:27 28. It is. therefore, "the Lord's
. day.” Rev. 1: 10.
He did on the Sabbath only that which was “lawful," or according to the law of God's holy day. Matt. 12: 12.
He kept His Father's commandments throughout His earthly life. John 15: 10.
And giving instruction regarding events to take place many years after His ascension, He showed that He recog
nized the continued existence of the Sabbath in the command, "Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day." Matt. 24:20.
Among New Testament Disciples.-- The women, after the crucifixion, "rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment." Luke 23:56.
Inspiration says that the apostle Paul's custom was to preach the gospel publicly Sabbath after Sabbath. Acts 13: 14; 16: 13; 17:1, 2; 18:4. When the Gentiles of Antioch heard the gospel preached by the apostle one Sabbath, they “besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath." Acts 13:42.
Throughout the New Testament, written years after Christ's ascension, the Holy Spirit, speaking of the seventh day, calls it “the Sabbath” upwards of fifty times. “Sabbath” means