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Can you imagine being there, seeing, feeling and hearing what they experienced:
All the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. Exodus 20:18
The multimedia event included the delivering of The Ten Commandments. The fourth commandment, The Sabbath, seems to have its roots in two important Biblical principles. The first principle and focus of this article is anchored to the creation. Without careful pondering we might miss the connection between how God chose to “rest” after creating everything we know, and how He expects us to “rest” struggling through what He created.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, 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. Exodus 20:8-11
Firstly, it may see strange that an omnipotent being needs to rest one day in seven. Part of our confusion may result from the modern lenses through which we read the three creation accounts. Since there are significant differences between the accounts and because Jehovah promises to tell us how the earth was created when He returns[i], we should be using these accounts as divine teaching tools, as we seek to discover the principles He embeds in how the story is told and its context, rather than focusing on the story itself. This article will focus a principle from our creation, related to the Sabbath day only.
The first chapter in Genesis recounts six days of creations beginning with light and ending with man. It is interesting that each day of creation contains or ends with the seeming terminal statement “God saw that it was good” or some variation.[ii] Genesis chapter two declares the completion of each created element leading God to rest.[iii] But, as we have wondered, why would an all-powerful God need to rest? The Hebrew word for rested is shabath, hence the origin of our word “Sabbath”. It can mean rested or simply stopped but there may be a principle here that would reveal itself with further pondering and discovery:
It is interesting that the word for seven in 1:1 is sheba meaning to complete or perfect. It originates from the word shaba meaning covenant or oath.[iv] The word for finished is kalah which can mean accomplished but is also the same word for bride which is used to mean “to perfect or complete”.
In verse 3, God does two things to this seventh time-period. Note, He blesses and hallows, not the creation, but the day. The word hallow is quadash which can mean He made this time sacred or consecrated for a sacred purpose. Of course, the whole of the seven days of creation was sacred, but something more is indicated for the seventh day. Hallow also means “to make whole”; the work of the at-one-ment of Christ.
But, note verse chapter two verse five:
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
The Book of Moses 3:5 adds: for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air
Now, from this, it might be natural to assume that the first chapter, with six days of creation is an account of the spiritual creation, but Joseph Fielding Smith teaches us that all accounts we have are of the physical creation.[v] Is it possible then, that since nothing was yet on the earth that the seventh time-period was used to assemble all the created parts. The account begins with the creation of man out from a mist. Then he plants the garden and brings the animals to him. Was this time hallowed in order to make things whole? Was it made a sacred time used to perfect His creation? Was He putting the puzzle together into one great whole?
Then, we might notice that the seventh day, unlike all other six, has no terminal “it was good”. Are we still living in the seventh time-period during which Jehovah is working, not to create, for that was ended, but to perfect through divine light, within the dangers and potential of agency.
Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. DC 93:31
Is the time of this life, His time to perfect us… if we are willing to participate in His process? He will never infringe upon our agency and He is teaching us how to perfect what we create? Is the commandment to keep the Sabbath a time that enables Him to counteract the dangerous effects of this probationary/preparatory world, so that the perfecting can even be realized? He promises to give us unlimited powers to create universes, dimensions, kingdoms, powers, etc. But a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, we agreed to face memory and identity loss, a weakness for chocolate, a lost ability to fly, a very gradually developing intellect, blindness to all but physical materials, a controlling desire for attention, recognition, curiosity, entertainment, etc.
We agreed to grow up under all those limitations AND face a powerful invisible enemy with a huge army that is dedicated to our destruction or at the very least, distraction from our potential. They know how to use our weaknesses against us. They have weapons and armies skilled in traps, and bait. AND since they are invisible, they have recruited mortals posing as friends and idols to get us hooked on anything from candy to fame. We cannot labor six days in the filth and dangers of such a testing and potentially strengthening environment without getting dirty. So…
That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High; Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times; But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord. And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full. DC 59:9-13
We are given one day in seven during which we allow Him access to our very souls in ways that require self-denial, cleansing and strengthening ordinances, and opportunities, even assignments to instrumentally give His grace to our families and ward members. The manner in which He gives the greatest endowment of His grace is to work through us, not on us. We receive grace for grace and then grow from grace to grace until we receive a fullness.
And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace; And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness… For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.
DC 93:12-13, 20
We know that grace includes all the divine gifts from love to light; from redemption to perfection.
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. Moroni 10:32-33
Finally, in DC 84 Jehovah defined “rest” for us, so that we can understand what He is doing with this seventh day:
…rest is the fulness of his glory. DC 84:24
Without the Sabbath, and without a memory of pre-earth life, we risk becoming so enamored with this telestial world that we may end up living in such a world for eternity. Our telestial addictions are so powerful that one can almost feel the intensity of His pleading, “Fear not I have overcome the world![vi]” and then adds, “I will that ye should overcome the world; wherefore I will have compassion upon you.”[vii] Having endured unto victory, He knows the impossibility of the price and process for us, without divine grace. His grace comes then, not just by avoiding things that break the Sabbath, but that come by keeping the Sabbath. Though in keeping the Sabbath, we may experience the telestial withdrawals of those addictions for a time, we will come, with patience, to experience the “delight”[viii] and “joy”[ix] of promised Sabbath faithfulness.
[i] Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things—
Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof— DC 101:32-33
[ii] Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 31 for days 1-6
[iii] Genesis 2:1-4
[iv] The subject of a next article
[v] Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:76–77
[vi] John 13:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
NOTE: The word peace here in Greek is eirene which literally means unity or at-one-ment.
[vii] DC 64:2
[viii] Isaiah 58:13
[ix] DC 59:13