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The Christian Counter

     

Five Essential Bible Truths – Part 4

What Happened to the Lord’s Day?

 

Most Christians today recognize Sunday as the Lord’s day, a day to attend church and worship God. However, since World War II, the significance of observing Sunday as a “holy” day had dropped dramatically. Yes, church bells still ring and people attend church on Sunday morning, but Sunday afternoon is considered a holiday instead of a holy day.  The Bible teaches that God Himself, blessed the Lord’s day, called it holy and rested from His work the entire day. If God rested the entire day, then shouldn’t we observe the Lord’s day all day? Has our society become so degraded that we no longer know what holy and scared means? Does worshiping God on His holy day include shopping, conducting business, washing the car, watching TV, mowing the lawn, cleaning out the garage, attending ball games or skiing? Many Christians believe it does. However, what was God’s intention for his holy day? Answers to these and other questions about the Lord’s day are found only in the Bible.

 

The Lord’s Day Created

 

At Creation, the Lord set aside one day of the week that belongs to Him. He included a seventh day in the weekly cycle at the time of Creation for the benefit of man. So, the Lord’s day is as old as our world and God designed it to be special. He did not make the first six days of the week holy. Notice this verse: “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And the Lord blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2-3) This verse states that the Lord only made one day of the week holy at the time of Creation. Webster says the word holy means “to set apart” or “to make unique.” For example, when a couple marries, God makes their relationship holy and they are “set apart” from the dating crowd. In like manner, God “set apart” the seventh day of the week from His work of creating our world; He blessed the seventh and then declared it holy. If God Himself rested from His labors on the seventh day, what do you think He required Adam and Eve to do each week? Consider this profound point: There is a direct link between observing the Lord’s day and honoring the Lord. If His people do not carefully observe the Lord’s day, they will eventually forget the Lord. Two Biblical examples illustrate this point. First, the antediluvians forgot God and His laws governing the universe, which include His weekly day of rest. Second, the nation of Israel also forgot God and His holy day. (Genesis 6:5-6; 2 Peter 3; Ezekiel 28) If history proves anything, it proves that it does not take long for succeeding generations to forget the Lord. The time period from Adam’s creation until the flood is a mere ten generations. In that short span of time, mankind became so wicked that God grieved that He had created man.  By the time of Noah’s birth, the world had forgotten God and consequently, Adam’s descendants eventually neglected the Lord’s day. Because of this neglect, it should not be a surprise that the antediluvians doubted the Lord’s promise to destroy the world with a flood.

 

 Lord’s Day Renewed

 

Eight hundred years after the flood, God called Moses to lead Abraham’s descendants from Egyptian slavery to the Promised Land. However, before God delivered Israel, He required the slaves to rest from their weekly labor on the seventh day of the week as a condition to obtain freedom. God’s demand was bittersweet. Naturally, every slave welcomed a day of rest. Every Hebrew also wanted to be delivered from Egyptian bondage. However, after Israel kept their first Sabbath, Pharaoh sensed he was losing control of the Hebrews. Therefore, he required the slaves to produce the same quota of bricks in six days as they had in seven. In addition, he required them also gather straw for the bricks as well! This unreasonable demand pushed the Hebrews beyond their physically ability and stamina. Their failure proved the “license” he needed to beat the Hebrew slaves unmercifully, since they could not meet the demands for bricks. (See Exodus 5.)

 

Note: Scholars debate whether Moses and Aaron called for God’s seventh day Sabbath to be observed, thereby causing a work stoppage. Even though the Bible does not specifically say that, the slaves observed the seventh day Sabbath, this question can be resolved in four texts:

 

  1. The language Pharaoh used supports the claim that Moses and Aaron had called upon Israel to rest from their usual labor. Pharaoh’s words in Exodus 5:5, “…You make them rest from their labor” (KJV) or “You are stopping them from working.” (NIV) identify two points. First, Pharaoh blamed Moses and Aaron for leading the slaves to rest from their labor by emphasizing “You…” Second, the word for rest Pharaoh used was shabath (Strong’s #7673). This is the same and idea expressed in Genesis 2:2 when God “rested” or ceased His creative work on the seventh day. To suggest that God, through Moses and Aaron, told the Hebrews to rest from their labors on any day of the week other than His holy day is inconsistent with the events that soon followed in the wilderness.

 

  1. The Bible identifies only one holy day between Creation and the Exodus, the seventh day of the week. (Genesis 2:2,3)

 

  1. The Bible reveals that God tested Israel on their observance of His seventh-day rest before He spoke the Ten Commandments from Mt. Sinai. (See Exodus 16.) For example, God’s provision of manna proves two interesting things: First, Israel knew about God’s seventh day rest before He gave the Ten Commandments. Second, the holiness of the seventh day was important to God before He spoke the Ten Commandments. God’s intention for the seventh day – that it was set apart and special – did not change between Creation and the Exodus.

 

  1. When the Lord spoke the Ten Commandments from Mt. Sinai, He expressly required observing the seventh day as a day of rest. The fourth commandment begins with, “Remember the Sabbath day….” (Exodus 20:8) If Sabbath observance were a new concept of worship codified in the Ten Commandments at Sinai for the Hebrews, as some scholars maintain, why would the fourth commandment begin with the word “Remember?” The wording of the fourth commandment makes it clear – the holiness of the seventh day did not suddenly begin at Mount Sinai. The holiness of the Lord’s day, God’s Sabbath rest, began at Creation and the patriarchs who walked and talked with God knew of the Creator’s holy day. In addition, the word “Sabbath” (Strongs #7676), in the fourth commandment, is a derivative of shabath – the word Pharaoh used when he accused Moses and Aaron of making the Hebrews rest from their labor. Further, God’s caution to “Remember” His holy day is necessary, for when it is neglected, people soon forget the Lord! Therefore, if we honor the Lord by keeping the Lord’s day holy, we will not forget the Lord!

 

As we carefully analyze these four points, it is obvious that the work stoppage caused by Moses and Aaron came because Israel elected to honor God and His Sabbath rather than submit to Pharaoh demands. Obedience to God and deliverance by God are inseparable. It is possible for a person to knowingly disobey God and at the same time receive His favor. Moses told the Hebrew elders that deliverance form bondage was based on Israel’s submission to the God of Abraham. Israel’s faith in the Most High God was to be tested by observing God’s higher law and disobeying Pharaoh’s lower law. Further, when Moses explained the corporate guilt of Israel to Israel’s leaders, they earnestly sought reconciliation with God by asking Pharaoh for a three-day pass to offer sacrifices for atonement, “…or he may strike us with a plague or with the sword.” (Exodus 5:3)

 

The Ten Commandments

 

The fourth commandment is the only commandment that requires man to do nothing at the right time each week! Here is the law: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20: 8-11)

 

This command states four principles that should be carefully considered:

 

  1. Do not forget to set the seventh day of the week apart from the other six.

 

  1. Do not work on the seventh day.

 

  1. Do not allow others who are under your authority to work on the seventh day, whether man or animal.

 

  1. The seventh day belongs to God. It is the Lord’s Day because He rested on the seventh day, blessed the seventh day and made it holy.

 

Principle 1

 

God was very specific when He said, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” Amazingly, some people say, “It does not matter which day of the week I worship God.” God’s law refutes this. Some people say, “I worship God every day of the week. Therefore, one day is just like any other – every day is the same.” God’s law refutes this. Some people say, “The Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross and the observance of the seventh day is a Jewish requirement – not for Christians. If the Sabbath commandment is so important, why is it mentioned in the New Testament? These statements are untrue. Jesus said, “,The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27,28) If Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath (has dominion over the Sabbath), then He can tell us how and when to observe the Sabbath. If the Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross, then God’s grace is no longer needed and we are not sinners. Sin is the violation of the law. If there is no law, there can be no sin. (Romans 4: 15) If the Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross, then God has no law against adultery (and judging by what goes on today, many people really believe the Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross.) So, if there is no law, who needs grace from the penalty of a law that does not exist? The fourth commandment is mentioned in numerous places within the New Testament, including Hebrews 4. Paul clearly says: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God, for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:9,10)

 

Note: Many Christians believe the duties and sacredness of the seventh day Sabbath were transferred to the first day of the week when Christ was resurrected. However, the Bible does not explicitly place man under any obligation pertaining to Sunday observance. Part II includes a presentation on the change from Sabbath to Sunday observance.

 

Principle 2

 

The law says, “You shall not do any work on the seventh day…” This principle raises several questions. Primarily, what is meant by “work?” Work is defined as something we do for gain, something we do for survival, or something that we have to do. Does this “no work” commandment mean that we should stay in bed on the Lord’s Day? No. Instead, the fourth commandment means we should no do any work on the Sabbath that we normally do during the week.

 

How can a dairy farmer observe this commandment without causing injury to the cattle? How can a nurse keep the Lord’s Day when patients need his or her service in a hospital? How can a police officer keep the Lord’s Day when criminals (lawbreakers) are at work every day of the week? How can a mechanic, responsible for generators that provide electricity to thousands of homes, take the Lord’s Day off? How can a cook in a nursing home observe the Lord’s Day when the elderly need food seven days a week? When God gave the fourth commandment, didn’t He anticipate the problems we would face in the twentieth century? Yes, of course. So, how can these situations be reconciled?

 

For a balanced perspective regarding this aspect of the fourth commandment, we need to look at how Jesus regarded the Lord’s Day. This is the first of three important texts: “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread – which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple descrete the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:1-8)

 

In this text, Jesus makes four points. First, gathering food to eat “on the way” is not necessarily a defiant violation of the Sabbath. In other words, there are some instances when one cannot prepare food for the Lord’s Day of rest. (Exodus 16:23,24 for the basis of the Pharisee’s complaint.) Second, motive appears to be an important issue. Jesus illustrated this point by sharing how David and his men ate the “holy” bread that was in the tabernacle without offending God (I Samuel 21: 1-6). Third, certain tasks may be performed on the Sabbath. Jesus used the work the temple priests did on the Sabbath (which desecrated the day) as an example. Even though the Sabbath was a busy workday for them, they were not guilty of contempt for God’s law. (Note: The priests rotated assignments to that no priest was continuously desecrating the Sabbath – see Luke 1:8.) Last, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because as Lord of Sabbath, He –not they – was in a position to interpret how man should observe the Sabbath.

 

The next text brings more understanding to the subject of Sabbath observance: “Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how thy might kill Jesus. Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was.” (Matthew 12:9-16)

 

From this text, we glean two important points: First, Jesus did good for others on the Sabbath. He did not sleep the Sabbath away and pass the Lord’s Day in a hangover from having overworked on the previous six days. No, He used the Sabbath to minister to others. Second, Jesus affirmed again that there are certain matters that do not violate the intent of the Sabbath. If rescuing an animal is not a violation of the intent of the law, then rescuing a human being certainly is not offensive to God and the proper behavior in light of the fourth commandment.

 

The last text reveals two key issues dealing with the observance of the Lord’s Day. The setting is the rebuilding of Jerusalem under the leadership of Nehemiah. He writes, “In those days I saw men in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day. Men from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah. I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this wicked thing you are doing – desecrating the Sabbath day? Didn’t your forefathers do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity upon us and upon this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.” When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day. Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem. But I warned them and said, “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will lay hands on you.” From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath. Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember me for this also, O my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.” (Nehemiah 13”15-22)

 

These verses illustrate that conducting business on the Lord’s Day is offensive to God – whether it is for food or merchandise is immaterial. Like the Levites of old, we should “guard” the gates of our house in order to keep the Sabbath Day holy. Did you notice that Nehemiah clearly associates the wrath of God (Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem) with the desecration of the Sabbath? Just as in Nehemiah’s day, I believe the basis of God’s coming wrath upon the world is due, in part, to the lack of respect for His holy day. When the Great Tribulation begins worldwide, then God’s authority will be placed in its proper perspective.

 

We honor God by resting during the Sabbath hours from our work. If we honor God, He will bless us. The Lord told Isaiah, “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not ding as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 58:13,14)

 

Observing the Lord’s Day

 

So, how do we solve the problems represented by the dairy farmer, the nurse, the cook, the police officer, ect? What principles do we apply to these types of situations? Here is my view on the matter. The Lord’s Day is the Lord’s Day – all day long – from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. (Genesis 1; Leviticus 23:32) The Sabbath was made for man. It was to be a day of rest and renewal each week, both physically and spiritually. Preparation for the observance of the Lord’s Day, as far as possible, will help us recognize God’s intended blessing. The weekly Sabbath is not for God’s benefit, but ours!

 

The Bible reveals that preparation for the Lord’s Day is important. In ancient times, the Jews did not have names for the days of the week. Instead, they used numbers, such as “the first”, or  “the third day of the week.” After the Babylonian captivity, the sixth day of the week became known as “The Preparation” as it summarized the urgent importance of being prepared for the Lord’s Day. (Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54)

 

Therefore, the second principle mentioned in the fourth commandment is that any activity bringing the blessing of Sabbath to others is permissible on Sabbath. Sharing the blessing of Sabbath can be a good meal for a patient or helping victims from a tornado. Yes, the dairy farmer has to milk cows and the doctor must respond to an emergency. The nurse may render care and the preacher may work harder on the Lord’s Day than any other. However, the primary issue each of us has to consider when trying to resolve this matter for themselves is this: How can I best honor the Lord on His holy day? Yes, the dairy farmer should milk the cows, but should the barn be cleaned on the Lord’s Day? Yes, the doctor should rush to the hospital to care for a patient in an emergency situation, but should usual and customary services be provided on the Lord’s Day? The nurse can provide care for patients, but must he or she serve others on every Lord’s Day? The preacher has to serve people on the Lord’s Day, but does he have to preach every week? As the general statement, there are two basic principles for rendering service on the Lord’s Day: First, do not ruin God’s purpose for the Lord’s day with continual desecration. It is permissible to serve as emergencies warrant, but do not make it a customary process. Second, neither charge nor receive compensation for the services rendered on the Lord’s Day. When financial gain is taken out of the picture, “work” scheduling becomes quite clear. If by law, you must be paid for services rendered on the Lord’s day, donate it to the Lord’s work since you used His day to earn that income. Third, Nehemiah’s actions clearly indicate that commerce on the Lord’s Day is offensive to God. As far as possible, do not buy or sell on the Lord’s Day. Conduct business at other times. Look at the big picture, we have six days – God has one. Live accordingly.

 

Therefore, spend the Lord’s Day in activities that are physically, mentally and spiritually renewing. Worshiping God on His holy day is an invigorating and spiritually renewing exercise. We can make the Sabbath a delight for others by visiting those in prison, sharing music with nursing home residents, holding Bible studies in our home, or reading a Bible or character building story to a child. A hike in the woods or a drive to a scenic overlook can enhance emotional, physical and spiritual renewal. Each of these activities can promote re-creation in all three dimensions: physical, mental and spiritual. In His wisdom, the Lord does not mandate how His holy day is to be spent except to say that one must not work. Your relationship with the Lord will determine, largely, how you spend His day and the benefit you will receive.

 

 

 

Principle 3

 

The fourth commandment says “Do not work others under your dominion whether man or animal on the seventh day.” This concept raises some interesting questions. For instance, would it be fair of God to require His dominion (you and me) to work on the Lord’s Day while He rested? No, of course not. Instead, God’s Kingdom works this way: If God, the ruler of all the Universe, gives rest to His servants each week, then it is altogether fitting that you, His Earthy servants, give your dominion rest as well.

 

Perhaps the most often asked question regarding this element of the fourth commandment is the question of “eating out” on the Lord’s Day. Does “eating out” violate the intent of the fourth commandment? Yes, if you allow yourself to become too busy and neglect to prepare for the Sabbath. No, if circumstances (such as travel or emergency) prohibit you from preparing food for the Sabbath.  The underlying principle is this: God has one day we have six. Live accordingly.  

 

Principle 4

 

The seventh day belongs to God. It is called the Lord’s Day because He rested on the seventh day and made it holy. A wonderful experience awaits those individuals who are willing to take God at His word and honor Him by keeping the Lord’s Day. Here is how it works:

 

To properly observe the Lord’s Day is a challenge and according to the prophecies of Revelation, it will become increasingly difficult as time draws to an end. For some people, the commitment to keep the Lord’s Day holy has meant the loss of income, job or career. Other people have faced rejection and ridicule by family members and friends. Keeping the Lord’s Day always puts a person at odds with the pace or activities of the world. When you experience this kind of conflict, it is often difficult to believe that God has a purpose behind all the struggles you face regarding His holy day. Yet, from the very beginning of time, God’s purpose for creating a day for Himself, included a PLAN that is far more encompassing than most people realize. Not only does it bring rest to the faith-full who are weary from their weekly labors, but the Lord’s Day will also become a definitive test of faith to determine who trusts God implicitly during the Great Tribulation. The command to rest sounds so easy, but in fact, it becomes hard because it is a test of faith. The devil has made sure that the seventh day, the Lord’s Day, has been forgotten by most of the world. In its place, he has developed two spurious days – one for the East (Friday) and the West (Sunday). However, there is still no rest on this planet! Nevertheless, there is a wonderful experience behind the command to keep the Lord’s

Day holy: If wee rest according to the commandment of God on His holy day, He sustains all that we laid down for 24 hours so that when we resume our activities, not one thing will be lost or hurt. If it is the charge of every faithful steward to see that the King suffers no loss when He arrives, what can be said of the Faithful King who personally sees to it that every faithful steward is rewarded for his faithfulness?

 

The people who honor the Lord’s Day honor God. Regardless of your background, when you honor God, you are considered a descendant of Abraham. (Galatians 3:28,29) This is why He said: “The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.” (Exodus 31:16,17)

 

Summary

 

The obligation to observe the Lord’s Day is both timeless and universal. Many individuals do not regard the Lord’s Day, as they should. The race to make more money and capture market share is a powerful economic force that pushes God out of the weekly cycle. Overextended people use what available free time they have for pleasure and entertainment. This leaves very little time for God. A nation without God is a nation in moral darkness. Further, most people are not aware of the requirements in the Ten Commandments. They do not concern themselves with the law of Almighty God. This point is self-evident each time we hear the news. We have become a lawless society. Why? “If I were called upon to identify the principle trait of the entire 20th century, I would be unable to find anything more precise than to reflect once again on how we have lost touch with our Creator…Men have forgotten God” (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Readers Digest, September 1896).

 

Think about this: If a man is caught breaking the law, even though he innocently thinks that he is “within the law” the arresting officer will tell him that ignorance of the law is no excuse. If this is true of man-made laws, what can be said of the law of God? When the Great Tribulation begins, billions of people will be surprised at God’s response to our world’s corporate ignorance and disobedience. So, why not begin exercising your faith and honor the Lord on His holy day. Enter into an experiment with God and watch what He will do to honor your faith!

 

What Happened To The Lord’s Day

 

Most Christians believe Sunday is the Lord’s Day. They believe that Jesus transferred the sacredness of the seventh day Sabbath to Sunday, the first day of the week, when He was resurrected. If Jesus did indeed make this change, there should be sufficient evidence in the Bible to prove or disprove the claim. Because the topic of the Lord’s Day is highly important (as written earlier), is important that we know which day of the week is The Lord’s Day.

 

New Testament Review

 

There are only eight texts in the New Testament that mention the first day of the week. Biblical support for the sacredness of Sunday, if it exists, would have to come exclusively from these verses. Here are the texts:

 

 

  1. Matthew 28:1

 

  1. Mark 16:2

 

  1. Mark 16:9

 

  1. Luke 24:1

 

  1. John 20:1

 

  1. John 20:19

 

  1. Acts 29:7

 

  1. 1 Corinthians 16:2

 

The first six texts refer to the resurrection of Jesus on the first day of the week – a well-known fact. However, none of these texts says anything about the sacredness of Sunday. In fact, Luke 23:56 points out that a group of women did not prepare Jesus’ body for burial on Friday (the day called Preparation), but instead, rested on the Sabbath “according to the commandment.” Obviously, by the time of His death, Jesus had not informed His followers that the fourth commandment was going to be made void because of His resurrection.

 

Since the first six texts simply discuss the resurrection of Jesus, we will investigate the remaining two verses and note the absence of any command to observe Sunday as the Lord’s day.

 

Acts 20:7

 

Some Bible students refer to Acts 20 as evidence that Sunday worship was practiced by the apostles. Notice, “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people, and because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.” (Acts 20:7) Let us consider the details within this verse.

 

In Bible times, a day began at sunset and ended the following evening. Since creation, the rotation of the earth has produced this unchanging process. (See Genesis 1.) The Jews in Christ’s time regarded a day form evening to evening and kept the Sabbath from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. (Compare Luke 23:50-56 with Leviticus 23:32) Therefore, the actual timing described in Acts 20:7 is as follows: Paul stayed with the believers at Troas for seven days. (Acts 20:6) At the beginning of the first day of the week, at suppertime, the believers came together to eat supper with Paul and to say goodbye to their friend. Remember, the first day of the week in Paul’s time began Sabbath evening at sundown, or what we call Saturday evening. After supper, Paul preached until midnight (Saturday midnight). A few hours later on Sunday morning, the first day of the week, he left Troas for Assos.

Therefore, Paul met with believers for supper and preached until midnight, Saturday night. Does a farewell supper and Saturday night meeting change or abrogate the fourth commandment of God? No. Even if Paul chose to worship on Tuesday night, would this make void the law of God? No. Only God can void His own law.

 

Some students claim that the term “breaking of bread” indicates Paul’s visit was a communion or worship service. Not so. In Luke 24:13-31 Jesus “broke bread” at supper time with two companions after He walked more than seven miles to Emmaus with them. Even to this day, the breaking of bread remains a custom in the Orient since bread is baked firm and is literally “broken” before it can be eaten. We also know that Jesus broke bread on Thursday night with His disciples at Passover. If “breaking bread” means a worship service was conducted, why would Jesus conduct a worship service at sundown in Emmaus, just when the second day of the week was beginning? If Paul’s meeting was supposed to be a worship service, Acts 20:7 gives no indication that this occurred.

 

I call Acts 20:7 a mystery text because Paul did not conduct a Sunday service in Troas. Actually, he held a meeting on Saturday night – the first part of the week in Bible times – but today is considered the last part of the seventh day. (Jews still reckon a day from sundown to sundown. Today, we “Gentiles” reckon a day from midnight to midnight.) So, if early Christians really followed Paul’s example as authority for the time of worship, they would worship on Saturday night (between sundown and midnight). Again, an honest, objective look at this text indicates that God gave no authority for Sunday observance.

 

1 Corinthians 16: 2

 

Some Christians use the following text to demonstrate how Paul insisted that the first day of the week be used to collect offerings for the poor. Notice: “Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of the week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-3)

 

In Paul’s day, money was not a common medium of exchange as it is today. Most trading was done through bartering. For example, a person might trade a chicken for cloth or pottery. Paul instructed the church in Corinth to begin each week with selling or trading so they might obtain a sum of currency. He preferred to take money with him to give to the persecuted believers in Jerusalem, since travel with roosters, goats, pottery and other things of value, was nearly impossible. Consequently, he asked that they take care of this matter, “first thing after the Sabbath.” (Compare with Nehemiah 13:15.) Again, the appropriate question is, “Does Paul’s instruction change or make void the fourth commandment that God gave?” Not at all.

 

 

 

Thoughts on Romans 6

 

Currently, the most common reason Christians use to defend Sunday worship is Jesus’ resurrection on Sunday morning, the first day of the week. Yes, the resurrection is important and the Bible does provide a celebration of the resurrection! It is called baptism. Notice what Paul says, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized in to Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:1-4)

 

However, does baptism change or abrogate the fourth commandment? Not at all. In fact, not one of the eight New Testament texts says that the holiness of the seventh day was transferred to Sunday!

 

What was Nailed to the Cross?

 

Many Christians believe that the Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross. If it was not the Ten Commandments, then what was nailed to the cross? Most people are surprised to learn that the ceremonies relating to the sanctuary services, which were a shadow or explanation of the plan of salvation, were nailed to the cross. The key word here is shadow.  Notice what Paul said, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority….When you were dead in your sins and in the circumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross….Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize…” (Colossians 2:9-18)

 

If you look at these verses carefully, you will see that Paul is discussing the regulations regarding religious feasts, New Moon observances and Sabbath days. The “Sabbath days” that Paul is referring to is not the seventh day Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Rather, the term “Sabbath days” applies to Sabbath “feast days,” such as the Passover or the Day of Atonement. (Leviticus 16:31) Feast days often fell on different days of the week (like our birthday) because they occurred on the same date each year. These feast days were special Sabbaths of rest that pointed forward to different aspects of Jesus ministry and death. For example, the Passover not only reminded the Jews of deliverance from Egypt, but also pointed forward to a time when the Passover Lamb – Jesus Christ – would die, so all people could be delivered from the bondage of sin!

 

The Jews confused the Ten Commandments Law of God with the laws given to Moses, much like the Christians to today. The permanence of the Law of God versus the law of Moses can be seen in several ways. First, the greater law, the Ten Commandments, was written on stone by God’s own finger and kept within the ark. The law of Moses (ceremonial or lesser law) was given by God to be written by Moses (man) and kept in a pocket on the side of the ark. (See Deuteronomy 10:1,2; 31:26.) One law was permanent the other was temporary. This is why the ark was often called the Ark of the Covenant, since the Ten Commandments are the basis of God’s covenant with man. This covenant says, “If you choose to obey me, I will be your God.” (Deuteronomy 30:9-11)

 

What about Romans 14?

 

What about Romans 14? Some Christians use Romans 14 to prove it does not matter which day of the week we use to worship God. Notice the text: “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands and falls.  And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more scared than another; another man considers everyday alike. Each should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meant, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” (Romans 14:1-10)

 

The context of these verses does not imply that we can worship God whenever we feel like it. No, this text is addressing a specific problem that early Christians had to deal with, namely, the religious customs of the Jews. In other words, if a new believer in Jesus felt he needed to observe Passover, Paul did not condemn the new believer except to say that his faith was weak. In addition, if the new believer could not consciously eat meant purchased in the marketplace, for fear it had not been killed correctly or that had been offered to idols, Paul said to leave these people alone! (The Jews would not purchase not eat meant unless it was killed according to Mosaic code. Leviticus 19:26) Today, many clerics use this text as support for Sunday worship; however, I wonder if this same liberty will be offered to those who choose to honor God’s fourth commandment when the one world religious/political government is established during the Great Tribulation?

 

Some Christians believe that Pentecost fell on Sunday during the year that Christ died, therefore, proving that Sunday is God’s holy day. However, Pentecost has always fallen on Sunday – ever since the Exodus. The Wave Sheaf offering was always made on the first Sunday after Passover, and Pentecost followed 50 days later (counting inclusively), always occurring on a Sunday. Leviticus 23) So, if the annual Pentecost feast occurred on Sunday for more than a millennium before Jesus was on earth, how does this make the fourth commandment void? It does not. 

 

Some Christians teach that the Sabbath mentioned in the Ten Commandments is “Jewish” because God delivered His commandments to the Jews. If we extend this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, then we must conclude that all Ten Commandments are “Jewish.” (Remember, they came in a package of ten.) Obviously, this line of reasoning implies that titles are not under the obligation of the fourth commandment. However, God created the seventh day Sabbath and made it holy long before Abraham, the first Jew, lived on the earth. Could this be why the fourth commandment begins with “Remember the Sabbath day…”?

 

Last, some clerics claim that nine of the Ten Commandments are mentioned in the New Testament, but the fourth commandment is missing. This statement is not true. In fact, the absence of any argument from the Jews or Jewish converts indicates the assumption by New Testament writers that the Sabbath remained intact without question (especially when one considers the abundance of controversy over the issue of circumcision or eating meat offered to idols.) However, Paul clears this matter in the New Testament by saying, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:9,10)

 

Which is the Greatest Law?

 

As you might expect of a legalistic society, the Jews loved to argue about their laws. An expert lawyer even challenged Jesus with a test to see which law was the greatest! (Matthew 22:34-40) I believe the spiritually of the Jews degenerated into a great legal system of darkness, because they generally misunderstood the purpose of God’s laws. (Matthew 23:2-15) When the apostle Paul began to explain the purposes and relationships between the ceremonial laws and God’s moral law, you can understand the Jewish hatred exercised against him. Paul claimed that the laws of Moses had expired and this was more than the Jews could tolerate! Paul was captured and eventually beheaded for his convictions. (Acts 21:27-36)

 

Paul is very explicit in Colossians 2 and Ephesians 2 that the laws nailed to the cross were shadows of the real thing and these laws, cam to an end at the cross. Now, in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile. The ceremonial laws requiring the observance of new moons, Sabbath feasts and the sacrifice of lambs have become unnecessary because the Lamb of God has died, removing the shadow over salvation and making it visible to all. In other words, ceremonial laws were temporary until their meaning was fulfilled.

 

So, consider Paul’s dilemma, How could he get the Jews to understand the true meaning of ceremonial laws and cease doing something they had been doing for 1,800 years? We have the same problem today. How can a whole nation change from Sunday observance to Saturday observance?

Paul is very clear in Hebrews 10 and Galatians 3 & 4 that these ceremonies never brought salvation to the Jews in the first place; rather, they were temporary and designed to teach how salvation occurs!

 

Paul makes it equally clear that obeying the Ten Commandments cannot produce salvation either, because salvation comes only by faith! The problem today is that most Christians think that faith and grace make the moral law unnecessary. Does love between husband and wife eliminate the necessity for fidelity? No. Neither does living together make two people married. The relationship between love and obedience is simple. God grants salvation to everyone who becomes willing to do His will. He does not grant salvation to us on our ability to do His will. We demonstrate our willingness by receiving strength from God to do what He wants. Paul understood this process. (See Romans 7.) In fact, all through his Christian life (which took place after Calvary), Paul faithfully observed the seventh day Sabbath. (See Acts 13:44; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4,11.)

 

If any question remains about the sacredness of the seventh day Sabbath after Calvary, perhaps this last point will clarify the issue. Jesus confirmed the holiness of the seventh day Sabbath by specifically saying to His disciples that they should pray that their escape for the coming destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) would not be in the winter nor on the Sabbath day. (Matthew 24:20) Why did Jesus say that early Christians should make this a matter of prayer? Because escape and survival from the enemy during winter months would obviously bring physical hardship. Sickness, even death to those who escaped. But, why did Jesus specifically mention the Sabbath day as a bad time to escape from the coming Roman siege? For two reasons: First, early Christians would be torn between observing God’s Sabbath day (a moral issue) and escaping on the Sabbath day (a survival issue). Second, by focusing on the Sabbath day, Jesus indicted how sudden and short the window of opportunity for escape would be. Apparently, early Christians understood this prophecy accurately, for historical records indicate that the Christians were not among those who perished when Jerusalem was destroyed.

 

Cannot Break One Commandment

 

If we take the position that Jesus nailed the fourth commandment to the cross, then we must conclude that He nailed the other nine too. Whatever we do with the fourth commandment, we must also do with the other nine. The issue will become an important distinction between those who love God and those who rebel against Him during the outpouring of God’s judgments. The Ten Commandments are nonnegotiable. They stand, as one unit representing the revealed will of God. The Ten Commandments were written on two tables of stone because they are based on two enduring principles – love for God and love for man. The first four commandments explain how we are to love God. The last six commandments explain how we are to love our neighbor. One more point: Maturity in Christ begins when we acknowledge the claims of God’s law upon our life. Then, realizing our great weakness, we place our faith in Jesus so that we can fulfill His law through His indwelling power. Paul knew all the Ten Commandments were intact. He said: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what is was to covet if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet.” (Romans 7:7)

 

James wrote: “If you really keep the royal law found in the Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right! But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the laws as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” (James 2:8-11)

 

James brings us to an important and fundamental conclusion regarding the royal law, or the King’s law. He says we must obey all the commandments. If we break any of them, we are guilty of breaking them all, because the King’s law is only fulfilled through love. We must first love God with all our heart, mind and soul and then, our neighbor as ourselves. How should we express our love for God? Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”  (John 14:15)

 

Keeping the Sabbath holy will not save anyone. Mandating Saturday laws will not save anyone either! This is why the final exam for the human race is carefully designed to test our relationship with Jesus. The basis for salvation is faith. Faith is doing what God requires at any cost. Since eternal life comes only through faith, and since every means of human survival will be removed in the future, you and I will need great faith in god in order to remain loyal to Him! If it seems hard to obey God now, what will it be like then?

 

The Seventh Day of Creation is Our Saturday

 

The Bible reveals how God’s subjects are to worship Him. This is not a matter left to human design. Unfortunately, the devil, during the past 6,000 years, has obstructed God’s truth and implemented many false religions around the world. For example, suppose you came to Earth on a spaceship and you met three religious leaders. The first was a Moslem, the second, a Jew and the last, a Christian. You ask the each person the same question: “What day of the week do you worship on?” The Moslem would say, “The sixth day, or Friday, because Mohammed rested on Friday from travel.” The Jew would say “I worship on the seventh day of the week, or Saturday, as the fourth commandment requires.” The Christian would say, “I go to church on Sunday, the first day of the week, because of Christ’s resurrection.” As you leave Earth in your spaceship, you marvel at this interesting point: These three religions represent 50% of Earth’s inhabitants and each religion claims to have the truth about God.  Each religious system also declares that the other two religious systems are false and yet, they unwittingly confirm the truth. Their diversity confirms that the weekly cycle remains intact. Here is how: The sixth day of the week is adjacent to the seventh day, which just happens to be adjacent to the first day of the week. In other words, each religious system worships on unique days that are adjacent to each other. This fact confirms the perpetuity of Creation’s week since Jesus was on earth and shows that the weekly cycle has not been altered.  The Israelites have formally worshiped on the seventh day ever since the Exodus in 1437 B.C., the Christians in Rome, according to Justin Martyr, have formally worshiped on the first day of the week since A.D. 150, and Moslems have formally worshiped on the sixth day of the week since the sixth century A.D. If the weekly cycle had been altered in any way, these holy days of worship would not be adjacent to each other! The seventh day (Saturday) is still God’s holy day, just as it was at Creation.

 

So, What Happened?

 

So, how did Sunday become the day known as the Lord’s Day? Who made the change and how did it occur? Material documenting first century Christianity is meager and imperfect. The best records for this period are known as the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. These documents are not part of the Bible, nor do they have the authority of the Bible. However, they do offer a glimpse into the religious thinking of that era.

 

 Apostolic Age

 

This part includes several ancient references for the consideration because a great number of scholars have tried to prove from the ancient writings that Sunday observance was a widely accepted practice during the apostolic age (A.D. 30 – A. D. 100). Early Christian writings however, reveal a sinister process at work. The writings reveal how God’s word became corrupted, even in the hands of well-intentioned people. Consider these references and draw your own conclusions. The first mention of worship occurs about A.D. 97 when Clement of Rome wrote to the believers in Corinth. He wrote: “These things therefore being manifested to us, and since we look into the depths of divine knowledge, it behooves us to do all things in (their proper) order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. He has enjoined offerings [to be presented] and services to be performed [to Him], and that no thoughtlessly or irregularity, but at the appointed times and hours.”(Clement of Rome, Epistles to Corinthians, Vol I Ante-Nicean Library, (Buffalo, 1887) p.16.)

 

As you can see, Clement did not endorse a particular day of the week for worship. This early quotation, however, is included because some scholars claim that Clement of Rome defended Sunday observance in A.D. 97.

 

Here is another early reference that people often use to support Sunday observance in the early Christian Church. Pliny the Younger, the pagan governor of Bythinia, wrote this statement about A.D. 107. Writing to Emperor Trajan, he requested advice about Christian assemblies in his province. At that time, Roman leaders anticipated civil revolts in a number of provinces and Pliny was especially cautious of a new sect of people called Christians. He wrote:

 

 “They [the Christians] affirmed that the whole of their guilt or error was that they met on a certain stated day before it was light and addressed themselves in a form of prayer to Christ as to some God…” (Pliny the Younger, Pliny’s letter to Trajan, Harvard Classics, Vol 9, (New York, 1937) p. 404)

 

Again, Pliny did not say which day of the week the Christians were meeting. All that we can learn from him is that they met for prayer before it was light.

 

Post Apostolic Age

 

As Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, certain compromises and transformations within Christianity were made for a variety of reasons. Initially, Christians in Rome were regarded as a dangerous sect since they refused to regard Caesar as a divine god. As time passed, however, Christianity began to appeal to the educated and wealthy in Rome. These individuals could afford manuscripts and they had influence within the government of Rome. By A.D. 150, the Roman Christians and pagans had found areas of mutual respect. About this time, a well-educated man named Justin Martyr became a Christian and tried to soften the hostility existing between Romans and Christians. One area of compromise was religious meetings on Sunday. The Romans regarded Sunday as a holiday. As Christians in Rome began to worship on Sunday, they found that they met little resistance, since the pagans regarded Sunday as a holiday. Justin Martyr writes:

 

“But Sunday is the day on which we hold our common assembly because it is the first day on which God, having wrought change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.” (Justin Martyr, First Apology of Justin Martyr, Ante-Nicean Christian Library, (Boston 1887) p. 187 Chapter 67.)

 

Justin Martyr’s justification for holding a common assembly on Sunday is interesting. He sited the separation of darkness and light on the first day of Creation as grounds for holding a common assembly, and then, the resurrection of Jesus. Martyr offers no Scriptural authority for holding an assembly on Sunday, but his remarks do support the idea that Roman Christians were anxious to divorce themselves from the cradle of Judaism.

 

Christianity had no “central office” in those days and each geographical location adjusted doctrine to meet their needs. During the last part of the second century A.D., Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, became alarmed at a number of heresies that had infiltrated the Christian movement. He knew that Christians in Rome were meeting on Sunday and that they had abandoned the seventh day Sabbath. He spoke against the practice when he wrote:

 

“For He [Christ] did not make void, but fulfilled the law [Ten Commandments].” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Vol 1 Ante-Nicean Christian Library, (Boston, 1887) p. 471.)

 

Terullian, another church father, wrote extensively about Christian doctrine. He, like Irenaeus, was alarmed by the practices of certain Christians, especially those in Rome. In regard to the seventh day Sabbath he wrote:

 

“Thus Christ did not all rescind the Sabbath. He kept the law [Ten Commandments] thereof….He restored to the Sabbath the works for were proper for it.” (Terullian, Book IV, Chapter 12, Vol 3 Ante-Nicean Christian Library, (Boston, 1887) p. 362.)

 

Many leaders considered Sunday observance in those early days. Bishop Archelaus wrote in his disputation with Manes:

 

“Again as to the assertion that the [seventh day] Sabbath has been abolished we deny that He [Christ] has abolished it plainly. For He Himself was also Lord of the Sabbath.” (Archelaus, The Disputation with Manes, Vol 4 ante-Nicean Christian Library, (Boston 1887), p. 217.)

 

By the time Christianity reached the end of the third century A.D., confusion was taking a heavy toll on Christian doctrine. Christians had spread to every province within the Roman Empire. Christians in Alexandria and Egypt (the South) were beginning to defend views different from those in Rome (the North). The authority of the Church was being discussed. Church doctrine needed stronger and clearer definition. Questions were raised for which there was little agreement. Cultural, linguistic and social factors were beginning to define Christendom according to geography. The result, which could be easily anticipated, was a highly fractured church. A “central office” for church leadership was needed. The Christians in Rome believed they were in the best position to lead a universal Christian Church, since the Roman government was looking more favorably toward Christianity. When Constantine came to the throne, he used Christianity for political advantage. Constantine thought that Christianity could unify the Roman Empire. By endorsing a “Roman version” of Christianity, Constantine set a powerful sequence of events into motion. In future years, the Church of Rome would dominate all factions of Christianity.

 

What do these events have to do with Sunday observance? The Roman Christians were the first group to adopt Sunday observance. Strange as it may seem, they never claimed divine authority for this action. Further, the Roman Christians did not consider Sunday work as sinful. Instead, Sunday was regarded as a day of celebration and rejoicing, not a day of fasting or reflection.

 

Constantine was an astute politician. When he ascended to the throne, the Roman Empire was fractured by ethnicity. Constantine was looking for a way to unify the empire and he saw Christianity as a means to an end. Therefore, “he got religion” and baptized his army into Christianity by marching them through a river. To further promote his religion and political interests, he implemented the first Sunday law in A.D. 321: 

 

“Let all judges and all city people and all tradesmen, rest upon the venerable day of the Sun. But let those dwelling in the country freely and with full liberty attend to the culture of their fields; since it frequently happens, that no other day is fit for the sowing of grain, or the planting of vines; hence the favorable time should not be allowed to pass, lest the provision of heaven be lost.” (Cod. Justin, III Tit 12, L.3., March 7, A.D. 321.)

 

Of course, this decree brought great pleasure to the bishop of Rome since the aims of the Roman church and the aims of the government were on parallel courses. The government wanted a stable empire and the church wanted control over one universal Christian church.

 

There is a World Out There

 

Even though the Roman church was meeting on Sunday when Constantine issued his decree, most Christians were still observing the seventh day Sabbath. Socrates wrote at the turn of the fourth century:

 

“Such is the difference in the churches on the subject of fasts. Nor is there less variation in regard to religious assemblies. For although almost all churches through the world celebrate the scared mysteries on Sabbath of every week, yet the Christian of Rome and Alexandria have ceased doing this.” (Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, Book V, Chap 22, Ante-Nicean Christian Library, Vol II, (Boston p. 132.)

 

However, Constantine’s decree did not reduce the importance of the seventh day Sabbath for most Christians Something else would need to occur before the importance of the seventh day could be minimized. The church in Rome needed an elaborate doctrine that dealt directly with the issue of the “Lord’s Day.” Church leaders in Rome needed to present a strong case to the Christian body. Therefore, Eusebius, a Christian confident and advisor to Constantine masterminded the doctrine of Sunday observance. Notice his argument for the observance of Sunday:

 

“Wherefore as they [the Jews] rejected it [the Sabbath law], the Word [Christ] by the new covenant, translated and transferred the feast of the Sabbath to the morning light, and gave us the symbol of true rest, viz., the saving Lord’s day, the first [day] of light, in which the Savior of the world, after all his labors among men, obtained the victory over death, and passed the portals of heaven, having achieved a work superior to the six-days creation. On this day, which is the first [day] of light and of the true Sun, we assemble, after an interval of six days, and celebrate holy and spiritual Sabbaths, even all nations redeemed by him throughout the world, and do things according to the spiritual law, which were decreed for the priests to do on the Sabbath. And all things whatsoever that is was the duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord’s day, as more appropriately belong to it, because it has a precedence and is first in rank, and more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath. All things whatsoever that it was the duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord’s Day.” (Eusebius’s Commentary on Psalms 92, quoted in Cox’s Sabbath literature, Vol I, p.361.)

 

Eusebius, who lived three hundred years after Christ, is the first man to be documented as claiming that Christ changed the day of worship. THEN, Eusebius testifies that he (and others) “have transferred all things, whatsoever that it was the duty to do on the Sabbath” to Sunday. Notice that Eusebius offers no Scriptural authority for the change. Further, no church father or authority during that time period seconded the claims of Eusebius, nor did Eusebius quote from another source. Eusebius just took the thorny problem of worship in hand and became the father of a false doctrine that favored the Church of Rome. Can mere mortals change the law of Almighty God? In just three hundred years, Christians repeated the failures of the Jews. Christians altered the plainest truths of God’s Word. Jesus said of the Jews, “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Matthew 15:9)

 

Even with Constantine’s blessing upon Eusebius’ writings, the seventh day Sabbath did not die in Christian churches. By the year A.D. 460, Sozoman wrote: “Assemblies are not held in all churches on the same time or manner. The people of Constantinople and almost everywhere assemble on the [seventh day] Sabbath as well as the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or Alexandria.”(Sozeman, Ecclesiastical History, Book VII, Chap 19, Ante-Nicean Christian Library, Vol II, (Boston 1887) p. 390.)

 

Students of church history know the Church of Rome eventually dominated Christianity. Eventually, the Roman Empire and the bishop of Rome became the Bishop of the Universal Christian Church. For nearly 13 centuries, the kings and queens of Europe were subservient to the Bishop of Rome. This great time period of church domination was appropriately called the “Dark Ages” because religious dominion is a cruel master.

 

 Summary

 

Sunday observance started in Rome as a compromise with the pagans. Most Christians were not of Jewish descent so Judaism and its seventh day Sabbath was not considered a high priority issue. In fact, early Christians in Rome did not want to be identified with Judaism since the Jews were hated in Rome. The early Christians in Rome were predisposed to meet on Sunday for religious celebrations (since this was the pagan practice in Rome) and did not view their actions as having serious ramifications in ages to come. However, as centuries passed, the church in Rome became the world’s leading Christian church. It was strategically located close to the leaders of world government. About the third century A.D., the Lord’s Day became an issue of significant concern. Eusebius constructed a doctrine to justify Sunday observance and Constantine implemented a Sunday law in A.D. 321 to unify the Roman Empire. Today, almost all of

Christianity worships on Sunday. Protestant denominations still show allegiance to the Church in Rome by worshiping on Sunday.

 

There is no biblical basis for Sunday sacredness and no Biblical basis for observing the Lord’s Day on Sunday. The support for Sunday observance and sacredness as the Lord’s Day is based on tradition and the arrogance of man. God’s law has not changed. The Ten Commandments stand without impeachment. If ten thousand men were to justify the change from Sabbath to Sunday, this does not change the law of God. The fourth commandment still establishes the seventh day of the week as God’s holy day.

 

I would like to close this part with three texts. The first is written by King Solomon. “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man for God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14) Jesus said, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:10) Surrendering your life to Jesus means you resolve to obey God’s commandments at any cost, which includes His Sabbath. Think of it this way: God offers you and me a one-day vacation each week from the cares of the world. He promises to sustain everything we do until we return to work, so that nothing will be lost. Faith in God means being willing to obey God. When you consider His wonderful offer, what could keep any intelligent person from accepting it? Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) 

 

 


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