“How Old Is the Earth?” series (post #3)
Did you know that the 4th commandment tells us something about the age of the earth? Do you remember which commandment that is? It’s the one about keeping the Sabbath. It goes like this:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11, NKJV)
In the Jewish mind, a day ran from sundown to sundown rather than sunrise to sunrise. This went back to the days of the creation week, which are described as beginning at evening. And why are those days described by that seemingly reversed description? It’s because day one of the creation week began in darkness (Genesis 1:2). Light didn’t enter into the picture until God said, “Let there be light” later that day (Genesis 1:3).
So, a Jewish Sabbath day began at sundown on Friday evening and ended at sundown on Saturday evening (Leviticus 23:32). During those 24 hours a Jew could do no work (Leviticus 23:3). Under the Mosaic law, the penalty for working on a Sabbath day was death (Exodus 31:14, Numbers 15:32-36).
With all this said, I should probably point out that keeping the Sabbath has always been an exclusively Jewish thing. Not only was it a part of their Old Testament law, it was nothing less than a sign that marked the covenant that God had entered Himself into with Israel. Consider carefully God’s words from Exodus 31:16-17:
Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. (N.K.J.V.)
I realize that some well-meaning Christians, in their attempts to make every single one of Exodus chapter 20’s ten commandments applicable today, contend that Sunday is the “Christian” Sabbath and that we should therefore rest on that day. But that simply isn’t a right interpretation or application of the Sabbath. The Sabbath has always been about God’s dealings with the Jews, not the church. I do find it interesting that those who believe that Christians must keep Sunday as a “Christian” Sabbath have no problems whatsoever blowing off the part about inflicting the death penalty upon anyone who happens to do some work on Sunday.
Anyway, I didn’t sit down today to write a post about all the details of keeping the Sabbath. What I sat down to write is a post about how God used His creation week as an example of why the Jews should keep a weekly Sabbath. After giving the Jews the command to keep the Sabbath, what did He say?:
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:11, N.K.J.V.)
And so now I ask you, “How much sense would God’s example have made to the Jews if the days of the creation week were anything other than 24-hour days?” Think about it, God didn’t want the Jews to work six thousand years and then take a thousand years of rest for a Sabbath. He didn’t want them to work six million years and then take a million years of rest for a Sabbath. He didn’t want them to work six billion years and then take a billion years of rest for a Sabbath. Any such interpretations are ludicrous. So what does His use of that specific example tell us about the days of the creation week? I think you know. You see, before we start trying to harmonize the Bible to the beliefs of modern science, we’d better start paying closer attention to what the Bible actually says.