In the beginning, when God looked upon the vast chaos of eternity and the darkness of the water, He said, “Let there be light” and saw the light was good. He divided the light from the darkness and christened the day and night.

He divided the waters from the heaven and the earth and created the wonderful evaporation process and gathered the dry land into one place. He planted seeds for every plant known to man, and He saw it was good. He spanned the heaven and covered the blackness with stars and set the moon to rule the night and to regulate the seasons and hurled the blazing sun into the sky to rule the day.

“God saw that it was good.” In the next two days, He brought living creatures upon the earth and, finally, He put man and woman on the earth. He saw all of His creations were good.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day, God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

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.
—Genesis 2: 1-4


God set apart one day in seven for His children to remember what He had done for them. God’s request to remember the power in the creation and the wondrous miracles He set in motion would help his children understand He had power to help them through any trouble they might face.

Sadly, the people did not continue to remember the Sabbath day. In Noah’s time …

GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
—Genesis 6:8

They didn’t even remember who had created the earth and probably denied the existence of a Supreme Being. The Lord destroyed the wicked with the flood, giving the world a new start. Basically saying, “If you do not appreciate what I have given, I will take it away.”

When the Lord’s finger penned the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone on Mount Sinai, he included the admonition:

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: 8-1

The Lord was very meticulous in teaching His children about the Sabbath day. The children of Israel were led through the wilderness by his mercy. Daily they were given manna for food and were taught to gather manna only enough for the day, except on the sixth day. On that day, they gathered twice as much so they would not have to work the Sabbath.

As generations passed, the people added rules and regulations to the law as spelled out in the Ten Commandments.

Jewish law prohibits doing any form of melachah (“work,” plural “melachot”) on Shabbat …

There are 39 categories of activity the Talmud prohibits Jews from engaging in on Shabbat …

Along with the list of don’ts, there was a list of things to do:

Spending Shabbat together with one’s own immediate family; Temple attendance for prayers; Visiting family and friends (within walking distance); Hosting guests (hachnasat orchim, “hospitality”); Singing zemirot, special songs for the Shabbat. Reading, studying and discussing Torah and commentary, Mishnah and Talmud, learning some Halakha and Midrash —The 39 prohibited Sabbath activities.

Many Jewish people observed the Sabbath with pure intent and they grew closer to the Lord, but there were those who were more concerned about counting how many steps and what they could not do on the Sabbath – they forgot the Lord entirely. Along with the list of don’ts, there was a list of things to do.

There were always questions about what was right and what was wrong. How much of this can I do and still be considered keeping the Sabbath? Then there were the finger-pointers. Did you count your steps? Did you pick up a hammer? This behavior led Jesus to explain. He said unto them:

The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.
—Mark 2:27

This set of man-made rules came down the generations to the Puritans and was imbedded in the early American culture.

The book Johnny Tremaine, a historical novel by Esther Forbes, gives insight to how the Sabbath was observed in the Revolutionary War times. Young Johnny was a silversmith apprentice. He had a high-paying job to make a silver cup for a rich man. The deadline for the cup landed on Monday.

This necessitated working on the Sabbath. He closed all the curtains and posted a sentinel so no one would see him work on the Sabbath for fear of physical retribution.

When I was growing up, the shops were closed, the fields were empty of equipment, and church parking lots were filled with cars. Sabbath Day observance was at a premium. Of course there were not Sabbath police, as in Colonial times, but for the most part, people respected and remembered the Sabbath as God’s special day.

There were few stories of abandoned children, divorce and dysfunctional families. Yes, there were problems, but schools, theaters and churches were safe places to be. Police and military personnel were respected, and the law was upheld for the most part. We proudly stood for the flag and held our hand over our hearts when the “Star Spangled Banner” was played.

People felt accountable to God, and they looked to Him for protection and miracles in times of need, and we saw miracles and reaped the blessings of the Sabbath.

In the ’60s, things began to change. The hippie movement brought a break from tradition and from God. Today, the trend pushing the “in-crowd” and the media is leading us to Noah’s plight. The “imaginations of our hearts” are pointed toward “evil continually.”

We watch the news and find fabricated stories and character slander. We seldom hear or see uplifting messages in movies or music. The government has ruled against the sanctity of life and moral principles. They have outlawed God in the public arena. We listen to the minority and silence the majority.

There are more people in the parking lots of casinos, theatres and sporting events than there are in churches. Many of our children know more about the NFL lineup than they know about Peter, James and John. They can recite the chemical elements, but they can’t recite the Lord’s prayer.

Many have not even heard of the Sabbath Day, let alone have reason to keep it holy. In fact, “holy” has become a slang word, meaning nothing.

People have forgotten keeping the Sabbath Day holy has great blessings attached to it. Honoring the Sabbath isn’t a bunch of rules spelling out the “do’s and don’ts.” Rather, it is a simple process that brings rewards. We center our thoughts and actions on the Lord and his goodness. Isaiah makes it clear:

If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

In modern language: If we find joy in doing the Lord’s work and speaking His words without seeking our own entertainment, we will be honoring the Sabbath as God wishes.

Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

He will give us His highest blessings to guide us and protect us. If we honor the Lord, He will give His honor back to us.  end mark

Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.