Deuteronomy 5:3,12 – The Scope of the Sabbath

By Wayne Jackson

To whom was the seventh-day sabbath a religious obligation? To the whole of humanity from the beginning of time? Or just to the Israelite nation from the era of Sinai? Modern sabbatarians argue for the former view, but the Scriptures support the latter conclusion.

In a preface to the inauguration of the Ten Commandments, Moses declared:

“Jehovah made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day” (Deuteronomy 5:3).

And, of course, nine verses later he gave the command regarding the sabbath day (v. 12).


“Thou [Jehovah] came down also upon mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them right ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments, and made known unto them thy holy Sabbath?” (Nehemiah 9:13-14).

If the sabbath law was not “made known” until Sinai, then it was not a religious duty upon all men from the time of Adam to Moses.

In your margin beside Deuteronomy 5:3, enter this note: Sabbath day not a universal religious obligation from the time of creation; see also Nehemiah 9:13-14.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.