God has commanded that we do our heavy cooking—roasting, baking, boiling, broiling—on the day before the Sabbath. The command to do this is clear. It is interesting to think about how frequently men think that "what God says" does not really apply to them or that it does not matter. What they are doing is presuming to add or subtract from His Word.
God said that He was going to give Israel a test (Exodus 16:4). The test dealt with keeping the fourth commandment, the Sabbath. He wanted to see whether they would obey Him. He then commanded them to prepare for it, so that they could pass the test!
Does God mean what He says? He is serious enough about our keeping of the Sabbath that He added an additional commandment to make sure that we are prepared to keep it and thus pass the test. The test, then, is not whether we know about the Sabbath but how we keep it. To keep the Sabbath, we must prepare for it.
Whether or not we will live by God's Word depends upon our faith because, in reality, the test is of our faith. It tests whether we believe what God says. If we are depending only upon our eyes—our senses—we are quite limited. There are things we cannot see or hear that are very important to God. By appearance, the Sabbath is no different from any other day of the week. This means everybody is confronted by a test of faith in keeping it, and preparation is a key to keeping it properly.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 5)
Because God rested after six days of labor, the Sabbath is also our day of rest and a memorial of Creation. He wants us to remember, not only what He did in the physical creation, but also that His spiritual creation continues in us now. When God blessed and sanctified the seventh day, He made it holy, set apart for God's use! Only God can make a day holy, and He does this by putting Himself, through His Spirit, into it.
We are then instructed to "keep" it holy. Various scriptures give examples of things God prohibits on His Sabbath: working, cooking, carrying burdens. God does not make a comprehensive list of "dos and don'ts" for us to follow. Instead, He gives us principles of what is proper and improper Sabbath behavior, and we then must use God's Spirit to decide our actions.
Martin G. Collins
The Fourth Commandment
This is the first use of the English word "Sabbath" in the Bible. This usage comes from the Hebrew word shabbath (Strong's 7676). The word shabbath comes from a primitive root word shabath (Strongs 7673) which is translated in various places "cease," "rest," "away," "fail," "celebrate," and miscellaneous other words, some of which precede this usage of the word shabbath. For example, Genesis 8:22 uses "cease," and both Genesis 2:2-3 and Exodus 5:5 use "rest."
Moses was transmitting to the Israelites a Sabbath commandment from God, four chapters before their arrival at Sinai where the tablets of stone (the Ten Commandments) were given. There is no indication that this Sabbath commandment was something that was newly initiated by God at this time. In fact, other verses state that the Sabbath Day of rest was initiated at creation (see Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 20:11). God said through Moses, "Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest...". He did not say, "This is a new command: from now on, every seventh day is to be a solemn rest, etc."
This appears to be a reminder to the Israelites of God's Sabbath requirements, and specifically with regard to the collection and preparation of manna. It must be remembered that the Israelites had been in captivity for hundreds of years, and that they had not, during those years, enjoyed the freedom to obey God's Sabbath commands (see Exodus 5:1-5). Now that they were free from Egypt and the restrictions of slavery, they needed to be reminded of their obligations as the children of God. This verse reiterates that the seventh day was set apart by God to be holy.
The Israelites were commanded to rest solemnly. This does not mean that they were to be miserable, but that they were to be strict in their keeping of this period of rest. Even their food preparation was used as an example of God's intent: Other verses show that they were to collect twice as much manna on the previous day. This verse states that they were to do any preparation and cooking of the manna on the previous day. Any leftover, unprepared manna could be left unconsumed until the Sabbath without fear of it rotting (as it did on the other six days of the week). This was a miracle, which proved to the Israelites on a weekly basis that God continued to put His blessing on the Sabbath day. It also clearly revealed to them, after hundreds of years of slavery, which day was God's Sabbath.
These scriptures give a few examples of things God prohibits on His Sabbath: working, cooking, carrying burdens. God does not make a comprehensive list of "dos and don'ts" for us to follow. Instead, He gives us principles of what is proper and improper Sabbath behavior, and we then must use God's Spirit to decide our actions.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The inference is obvious. Moses gave this instruction so that the Israelites would not work on the Sabbath day. The first commandment that God specifically revealed to His people after coming out of Egypt was the Sabbath, the commandment most important for keeping people free. If people miss their weekly appointment with God because they have something else going, then they are missing the opportunity to remain free, squandering the time that God has given to mankind to help them to enter His Kingdom. The Sabbath is a wonderful gift He has given to us.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 1)
Exodus 16 begins the miracle of the manna. Instructions were clearly given to Moses, which he in turn passed on to the children of Israel, about what they were supposed to do on Friday. They were to gather twice as much on Friday, because they were not to gather manna on the Sabbath day.
This principle is still in effect. We should not say that we do not have the time to prepare. If we lack the time to prepare, something is wrong with our use of the other six days of the week. Maybe our habits of organization and priorities need to be changed. The preparation day for the Sabbath begins at sunset on Thursday (since Friday is the preparation day, and the day begins at sunset). Meals can be prepared ahead of time, even including leafy salads. If they are prepared properly with fresh ingredients, they will be nice and crisp on the Sabbath day, twenty-four hours later. God says to prepare because He does not want ordinary weekday work done on the Sabbath day.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 4)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Exodus 16:23: