Deuteronomy 5:15—Was the Sabbath instituted because of God’s rest from creation or His redemption of Israel from Egypt?

Problem: When Moses first gave the Law to Israel, the reason stated for the Sabbath observance was because “in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth ... and rested the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Ex. 20:11). But, when Moses repeated the Law to the new generation entering the Promised Land, the reason given was that “God brought you out from there [Egypt] by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath” (Deut. 5:15). Why two different reasons?

Solution: These are simply two reasons for the same observance. The first reason was patterned after God’s rest from creation and the second after His act of redemption. Both are true and legitimate reasons. The former was the initial reason, and the latter was the subsequent reason. Since God had performed both mighty acts for them, He had a right to state both as grounds for observing His law.

See All Problems

This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.