Does the Deuteronomic Sabbath Shatter the YEC argument?

Not so much. Actually, YHWH did

What doesn’t… but I digress too quickly.

The most sacred of the Mosaic Laws are the Ten Commandments. I don’t think I’d find too many who disagree. Philo used them for categories. Paul used them as well. I mean, these are the big ones, right?

The Young Earth Creationist takes to them to prove the point of  a ‘literal six days’, relying only upon Exodus20.11:

For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. (Exo 20:11 NLT)

Of course, that actually could hold a variety of ritual meanings, as most of the Law does. For a better view on this, reading John Walton‘s book on Genesis One.

In Deuteronomy, what is remarkable is the lack of, or the downplaying of, the supernatural. There is no Creation to speak of, and hardly what we would consider miracles (although miracles really aren’t biblical). As a matter of fact, Deuteronomy’s author(s) takes a different approach to the meaning of the Sabbath:

“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your oxen and donkeys and other livestock, and any foreigners living among you. All your male and female servants must rest as you do. Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the LORD your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the LORD your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day. (Deu 5:12-15 NLT)

Here’s the dill, pickle. Either it is a contradiction, or you have to use higher criticism and admit that Deuteronomy is earlier than the Babylonian Exile, before much of the Torah and the infusion of Babylonian polemics (this doesn’t undermine the inspiration of Scripture, otherwise, you couldn’t preach on Sunday mornings, but you do, using the same techniques). Regardless, the Deuteronomic Author(s) did not recognize the ‘literal six day Creation’ as the memorial behind the Sabbath. For our author, it was a memorial to the economic peril of Egyptian slavery. It was the first token of appreciation to the working class, you might say.

So remember, folks, read your bible. All of it.

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

3 thoughts on “Does the Deuteronomic Sabbath Shatter the YEC argument?”

  1. I’d comment on this, but I prefer to read my Bible one verse at a time and completely divorce it from context.

    My bumper sticker reads:
    If it won’t fit on a bumper sticker, then it’s too deep for me.

  2. Can you please expand upon your comment,
    “miracles really aren’t biblical.”

    I realize it isn’t the point of this post, per se, but it stuck out to me and I’d like to understand your reasoning on it. Thank you.

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