The Seventh Day Sabbath in Scripture and History with Commentary

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Seventh Day Sabbath

in Scripture and History, with Commentary

by Larry R. Lasiter  1996

Almost all professing Christians accept Sunday as their day of worship. Some believe that Sunday is the "Lord's Day". Which means, they believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected on Sunday morning. Others believe the Apostle Paul set us an example by observing this first day of the week. Still others embrace the concept that it simply does not matter which day is acknowledged, because they believe the "law has been replaced by grace." 

But there are a few that insist the seventh-day Sabbath is still binding, and failure to keep it holy, is to sin. To break it regularly, is to live in a state of sin. 

This is an extremely important subject, not only because keeping the Sabbath holy is one of the Ten Commandments that were actually written in stone by the finger of God, but also because Jesus said that God must be worshipped in Truth. (John 4:24)   

IN SCRIPTURE   

*The first Sabbath mentioned in Genesis was made for God, Himself. After working the first six days of the week in creating this earth, our great God rested on the seventh-day. (Genesis 2:1-3)   

*This memorialized that day as God's rest day. "Sabbath Day" means "rest day". To illustrate: When a person is born on a certain day, that day thus becomes his "birth day". When God rested on the seventh day, that day became His rest, or Sabbath day.   

*Therefore, the seventh day must always be God's Sabbath day, and a memorial of creation. Can you change your birthday from the day on which you were born to one on which you were not born? Likewise, neither can you change God's rest day to a day on which He did not rest. Therefore, the seventh day will always be God's Sabbath day.   

*The Creator blessed and sanctified (Set apart) the Sabbath day. (Genesis 2:3/Exodus 20:11)   

*Jesus said the Sabbath was made for "man". That is, the human race. The word "man" is unlimited, hence, it is for the Gentile as well as the Israelite. It was first given to Adam, the head of the entire human race. (Mark 2:27/Genesis 2:1-3)   

*The Sabbath is not an Israelite, or Jewish institution. It was given 2,300 years before the birth of Judah, who is the father of the Jews.   

*The Bible never calls it the "Jewish" Sabbath, but the "Sabbath of the Lord thy God". We should not add a label to this day that God has not. Men should be cautious how they stigmatize God's holy rest day. Much of this comes from anti-Semitism.   

*It was a part of God's Law before the Commandments were given on Mt. Sinai. (Exodus 16:4)   

*God placed it in the very heart of His moral Law, the Ten Commandments. Why did He Place it there if it was not like the other nine commandments, which most all Christians admit to be immutable? One should carefully, and prayerfully study this to be sure, because by God's own words, it is a "commandment" not a "suggestion." In the Garden of Eden, God had given Adam and Eve the "command" to not eat of the forbidden tree, but when they broke His command, He cursed them with death. They both had excuses. Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the Serpent. But you see, God had deliberately placed that forbidden tree in the garden, and deliberatelyallowed the serpent in to tempt them. He wanted to see if they would obey Him or not. It was a test for them to see if they would be obedient to Him. They failed the test, and were cursed as a result. Likewise, observing the Sabbath in a world that does not, can be difficult, can't it? But you see, God knew that all along, didn't He?(Exodus 20:1-17)   

*The Sabbath was commanded by the VOICE of God, WRITTEN with His own finger and engraved in STONE.Of all the Laws and Commandments of God, only the TEN COMMANDMENTS were written in stone by the finger of God. Does this indicate an enduring, imperishable nature? (Deuteronomy 4:12,13/Exodus 31:18/Deuteronomy 5:22)   

*The Commandment to Remember the Sabbath is sacredly preserved in the Ark of the Covenant, and is ever before God in the Holy of Holies of His Temple in Heaven. The Tabernacle in the wilderness, and the Temple in Jerusalem were made after the pattern of the heavenly ones in the Third Heaven, which is the abode of God, Himself. (Deuteronomy 10:1-5/Hebrews 8:1-5)   

*It is a "sign" of the true God, by which we are to know Him from false gods. Notice Ezekiel 20:19-21 -"I AM the Lord your God; walk in MY statutes, and keep MY ordinances, and observe them. And sanctify MYSabbaths; and they shall be a SIGN between Me and you, that you may KNOW that I AM the Lord your God. But the children rebelled against ME; they did not walk in MY statutes, nor were they CAREFUL to observe MYordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will LIVE; they profaned MY SABBATHS. So I resolved to pour out MY WRATH on them, to accomplish MY anger against them in the wilderness."   

Did you notice that God never called it their Sabbaths, or the Sabbaths, but "MY Sabbaths"?   

* God forbade the people to work on the Sabbath, even during the time of harvest. (Exodus 34:21)   

*Manna, the bread sent from Heaven, did not fall on the Sabbath. (Exodus 16:26)   

*The observance of the Sabbath is a "TEST" Commandment. Notice Exodus 16:4-5 -"Then the Lord said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from Heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may TEST them, whether or not they will walk in MY instruction. And it will come about on the SIXTH DAY, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be TWICE AS MUCH as they gather daily." Now Notice Verses 27-28 -"And it came about on the SEVENTH DAY that some of the people went out to gather, but they found NONE. Then the Lord said to Moses, "How long do you REFUSE to KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS and My instructions?" These were not the Laws of Moses, but of Almighty God.   

*God destroyed many of the Israelites in the wilderness, because they profaned HIS Sabbath Day. (Ezekiel 20:12-13/Ezekiel 20:19-21)   

*God promised that Jerusalem would stand forever if it's citizens would keep the Sabbath Day holy. (Jeremiah 17:19-27)   

*Sadly, the people of Jerusalem did not repent of profaning the Sabbath, and were conquered.   

*Jerusalem, as well as all of Judea, was given into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 B.C.. Jerusalem was completely destroyed, and God's holy Temple was plundered and burned, and the people carried away to Babylon to serve as slaves. (Daniel 1:1-2/2 Chronicles 36/2 Kings 25:1-21) Even the magnificent Temple of God, which King Solomon had built for the Lord was destroyed! Solomon's father David greatly desired to build God a beautiful Temple to replace the Tabernacle (tent) in the wilderness, in which would house the holy Ark of the Covenant, etc. God ruled that his son, Solomon should build this House of the Lord. This Temple was one of the wonders of the ancient world, kings, Queens and dignitaries traveled thousands of miles to see this magnificent House of God. Even the very spirit of the Lord dwelled in the inner chamber, called the "Holy of Holies". When it was dedicated, the glory of the Lord shone around about it. Yet God allowed it to be ransacked and destroyed by a Gentile army, WHY? Could it be that God considers OBEDIENCE more important than SACRIFICE? The answer is "Yes".(1 Samuel 15:22)

If the people were unwilling to repent of profaning His holy Sabbath Day, then their sacrifices and offerings were worthless to Him. Even though the people had sacrificed greatly to build a Temple for God, even bringing great cedars all the way from Lebanon, it meant nothing to God, if they were unwilling to obey Him. NoticeNehemiah 13:15-18 -(Note: Nehemiah wrote after the Babylonian captivity, when the Jews were allowed to return to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple) "In those days I saw in Judah some who were treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sacks of grain and loading them on donkeys, as well as wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of loads, and they brought them into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So I admonished them on the day they SOLD FOOD." Verse 17 -"Then I reprimanded the nobles of Judah and said to them, "What is this EVIL THING you are doing, by PROFANING the SABBATH day?" "Did not your fathers do the same so that our God BROUGHT ON US, and on THIS CITY, all THIS TROUBLE? Yet you are adding to the WRATH on Israel by profaning the Sabbath."   

*God promised blessings to the Israelites if they would faithfully keep His Sabbaths holy. (Isaiah 56:2)   

*God promises to honor the worship and sacrifices of the Gentiles (Non-Israelites) IF they will faithfully remember His Sabbath and keep it holy. (Notice Isaiah 56:6-7 -"Also foreigners (non-Israelites) who join themselves to the Lord, to minister (serve) Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, every one WHO KEEPS FROM PROFANING THE SABBATH, and holds fast My covenant; Even those I will bring to MY holy Mountain (into the Kingdom), and make them JOYFUL in My house of Prayer." Commentary: When a gentile wished to come to know the Lord of Israel, he was required to be obedient to the same Laws and Commandments as the Israelites. To those who will faithfully observe this wonderful day of the Lord's rest, God promises JOY. Keeping the Sabbath is a blessing.   

*The Sabbath is your weekly appointment with your heavenly Creator, and is a tremendous blessing from God.(Leviticus 23:1-3)   

*It is a 24-hour time period specifically set aside for devotion to God and fellowship with the people of God.(Hebrews 10:23-25)   

*It is a full 24-hour day in which one can study God's Word, pray more, visit the sick or lonely, assemble with the people of God to offer songs of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, encourage others in their Christian walk and hear the holy Word of God expounded. Jesus entered the assembly every Sabbath of His life to read aloud Himself the holy scriptures, and hear others read and expound them.   

*God tells us to call the Sabbath Day a "delight", and "honorable". Notice Isaiah 58:13 -14 -"If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your OWN PLEASURE on MY holy day, and call the Sabbath a DELIGHT, the holy day of the Lord HONORABLE, and shall honor it, desisting from your OWN WAYS, from seeking your OWN PLEASURE, and speaking your OWN WORD, Then you will take delight in the Lord. And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."

Those of you who carelessly take delight in calling the LORD'S DAY (Sabbath not Sunday) that "old Jewish Sabbath", or "a yoke of bondage", best meditate seriously on this Scripture. It is not a day of bondage, but of liberation. A 24-hour time period set aside for devotion to the service of God and His people. A day when you are freed from having to work, or worry about the cares of this world in which we live. The Sabbath, the Lord's Day, the day He rested, is truly a blessing.   

*After the return of Jesus Christ, as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, He will establish Sabbath observance to the entire world, and all mankind will remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, and will know that the Lord whom they serve, is the Creator of all things. (Notice Isaiah 66:23 -"And it shall be from new moon to new moon (commanded assemblies on the first day of each new month), and from SABBATH TO SABBATH, ALL MANKIND (not Jews or Israelites only) will come to bow down (worship) before Me, says the Lord." God will restore to the world the sacredness of the Seventh day.   

*All the holy Prophets of God observed the Sabbath day.   

*When Jesus, the Son of God came, He kept the Seventh-day Sabbath all His life. (Luke 4:16/John 15:10)   

*Instead of abolishing the Sabbath, Jesus carefully taught how it should be observed, and that it should not be a burden. (Matthew 12:1-13)   

*Jesus vindicated the Sabbath as a merciful institution designed for Man's good. (Mark 2:23-28)   

*Jesus taught His disciples that they should do nothing on the Sabbath day but what is "lawful". (Matthew 12:12)   

*When Jesus' disciples asked Him what the signs would be leading up to His return and the end of the world, He told them many things to watch for and He said that armies would surround Jerusalem, and that when this occurs, let them (Christians) that are in Judea, flee to the hills. Then He instructed them to pray that their flight would not fall on the Sabbath day. Notice Matthew 24:20-21 -"But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a SABBATH; for then there will be GREAT TRIBULATION, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall." Commentary: If Christians living in the time of the great tribulation are to pray that their flight from the Antichrist not fall on the Sabbath, doesn't it stand to reason that it will still be considered holy to God, and also to the Christians praying this prayer? This instruction from Jesus, is for His followers living in the end-time,(notice verse 3) the time when this will be fulfilled. Ask yourself, How many professing Christians today are praying that prayer, which Jesus Himself commanded? Why would they? If it doesn't matter to them now, it won't then. But obviously, it mattered enough to Jesus that He had this instruction recorded in Holy Scripture.   

*The pious women who had followed Jesus carefully kept the Sabbath after His Death. (Luke 23:56)   

*The Apostle Paul kept the Sabbath. Notice Acts 17:2 -"And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures." Notice Also Acts 13:42 -"And as Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next SABBATH." Commentary: This was forty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and Paul was still preaching weekly on the Sabbath day.   

*Paul also preached to the Gentiles on the Sabbath day. Notice Acts 13:44-48 -"And the NEXT SABBATH nearly the WHOLE CITY (Gentile city) assembled to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the crowds,they were filled with jealousy, and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It is necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For thus the Lord has commanded us, -"I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles, that you should bring salvation to the end of the earth." And when the GENTILES heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed."   

*The book of Acts alone records Paul holding eighty-four meetings on the Sabbath day. (Acts 13:14,44/Acts 16:13/Acts 17:2/Acts 18:4,11)   

*The Bible records no dispute between the Christians and the Jews concerning the observance of the Sabbath day. There was a dispute whether the Gentile converts to Christianity were to be circumcised or not. A dispute so great that a general church council was held to settle the matter.(Acts 15) The fact that there is absolutely no council held nor dispute concerning Sabbath observance proves that Christians kept the same day as the Jews did. Adding to this, Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles kept it "as was his custom", we can see no real reason to believe that the early church kept another day.   

*The Apostle Paul was accused by the Jews of teaching against the Law, but other than saying circumcision is no longer of the flesh but of the heart, he denied this allegation against him. Paul was arrested on this charge, notice his own defense before the governor Felix, Acts 24:13-14 -"Nor can they prove to you the charges of which they now accuse me. But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect (Christianity) I do serve the God of our fathers, BELIEVING EVERYTHING that is in ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW and that is written in the Prophets." Sabbath observance was Law.   

*Never in the Scriptures was Paul accused of teaching against Sabbath observance.   

*The Sabbath is mentioned fifty-nine times in the New Testament alone, and always with respect, bearing the same title it had in the Old Testament, -"the Sabbath Day."   

*God has never given permission to any man to work on the Sabbath except the Priests in their service in the Temple. By what authority can one take it upon himself to use this holy, sacred day for pleasure or common labor?   

*No Christian of the New Testament, either before or after the resurrection, ever did ordinary work on the seventh day. Find one case and we will yield the question. Why should modern Christians do differently from Christians in the early church?   

*There is no Biblical record of God ever removing His blessing or sanctification from the Sabbath.   

*The new day begins at sundown according to the Bible, so the Sabbath begins at sundown Friday, and lasts until sundown Saturday. (Joshua 8:29/2 Chronicles 18:34/Nehemiah 13:19/Mark 1:32)   

*On the Sabbath, we see that all members of a household were to rest from labor, even servants, guests and animals. (Exodus 20:8-11) Obviously, it must have been a delight to those in the bondage of slavery in times past. It truly was a day of liberation for them. Your servants must be free from work also.   

*The Sabbath was not just a religious ritual for the Tabernacle or Temple; it was an observance for every individual home throughout the land. (Leviticus 23:1-3)   

*God told the Israelites to TEACH THEIR CHILDREN His Laws and Ways, including the Ten Commandments.Notice Deuteronomy 6:6-7 -"And these words, which I am commanding you today (Ten Commandments), shall be on your heart; and YOU SHALL TEACH THEM DILIGENTLY TO YOUR SONS and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." Commentary:How many people does this today? Examine yourself, do you faithfully honor and teach your children God's Ten Commandments? If you do teach them, do you teach all ten, or just nine? Do you teach your children to keep the Sabbath holy as the Lord commands? Sunday is not the Sabbath. Remember "Sabbath" means "seventh". And it is the day on which the Lord rested after six days of creation. Notice what Jesus taught, -Matthew 5:17-19 -"DO NOT THINK that I came to ABOLISH THE LAW (Commandments) or the Prophets; I DID NOT come to abolish but fulfill. For truly I say to you (and that means you who are reading His words now), until HEAVEN and EARTH PASS AWAY, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. WHOEVER then ANNULS one of the least of the commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and TEACHES THEM (as to your own children), he shall be called GREAT in the kingdom of heaven."

Commentary: Jesus said nothing will pass from the Law until Heaven and Earth pass away. Certainly, this has not happened yet, has it? Which of the Commandments do you think is "least"? Is it the Sabbath commandment? If you believe this to be the commandment that doesn't really matter anymore, and thus you annul it in your life and in the life of your family and children by teaching against its observance, then aren't you going to be called "least" in God's kingdom? Do you want to be known as the "least" in the kingdom of heaven because you were unwilling to obey all Ten Commandments? Jesus didn't actually say these people would BE IN the kingdom, perhaps they will be rejected by God and called "least" by those who are admitted into the kingdom of God. Jesus did not say they would BE LEAST, but CALLED LEAST. Only God knows for sure, but are you daring enough to take that chance?   

*Besides possessing the indwelling of the holy spirit, the keeping of the Commandments along with the testimony of Christ, is an identifying sign of a true Christian in the end-time. Revelation 12 tells the story of God's people from ancient Israel to the "spiritual Jew" called the Christian today. According to this Scripture the church (symbolized as a woman) is attacked by an army (flood) provoked by Satan, but God will cause the earth to open and swallow up the army.(as the Red Sea swallowed the attacking Egyptian army during the exodus)The Dragon (Satan) will then turn to attack the "offspring" of the church elsewhere. Notice Revelation 12:17 -"And the Dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, WHO KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD and hold to the testimony of Jesus." These END-TIME Christians hold both the teachings of Jesus and the Commandments of God. The book of Daniel records this "war" against the "saints" as well. (Daniel 7:21-22) So these "saints" of God are one and the same as the "offspring" of the "woman"(church of God), and they keep the commandments. Which means they must keep the Sabbath, because it is one of the Ten Commandments. Break one & you break all.(James 2:8-13)   

*Jesus told a young rich ruler to keep the Ten Commandments if he wished to enter into eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 19:16-26/Mark 10:17-27/Luke 18:18-27) When the young man asked Jesus "which commandments" He was referring to, Jesus answered naming only part of them. Because of this some claim that since Jesus neglected to actually "name" the Sabbath Commandment here, that keeping it is no longer necessary to inherit eternal life. But a closer examination of this account reveals that Jesus neglected naming the Commandment to "Not take God's Name in vain", and to "Not bow down to Idols" and even the one that Jesus had said was the greatest commandment of all, the first, -To "Love the Lord with all your mind and all your heart, and serve Him only." Are we to assume that obedience to these Commands are no longer necessary, because Jesus did not specifically name them to this young man? The answer to that is obvious, isn't it? Jesus was simply identifying the Ten Commandments by naming a few off-hand, in order to distinguish them from the mass of Jewish traditions that had been placed on the people.   

*There remains a "REST" (Gk. Sabbatismos) for the people of God. Notice Hebrews 4:9-11 as rendered by the New King James translation, -"There remains therefore a "REST" for the people of God. For he who has entered His REST has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that REST, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience." Commentary: Although the author of Hebrews is not named, I believe the Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church, because Polycarp, a disciple of John recorded that he did. Paul is telling the church that just as there REMAINS a weekly "rest", there also remains "rest" in the Kingdom of God. The New Testament is written in Greek, and normally the Greek word for "rest" is "katapausis", and in fact, that is the very word used for "rest" in Hebrews Chapters 3 and 4. But here in Hebrews 4, verse 9 the Greek word "Sabbatismos" is suddenly used, which is Greek for "Sabbath rest".

Notice this from the Anchor Bible Dictionary, about the meaning of "Sabbatismos", -"The words Sabbath rest' translate the [Greek] noun Sabbatismos', a unique word in the New Testament. This term appears also in Plutarch....for SABBATH OBSERVANCE, and in four post-canonical Christian writings which are not dependent on Hebrews 4:9, for SEVENTH-DAY SABBATH celebration." In summary, The Anchor Bible Dictionary decisively and correctly concludes that "Sabbatismos" means KEEPING THE SEVENTH-DAY SABBATH. Therefore Hebrews 4:9 stresses the need to continue to KEEP THE SABBATH in a New Covenant context, even though the day also embodies all it meant under the Old Covenant."

More Commentary: Some translations of the Bible correctly translate this passage into English. The New American Standard translation is considered the most literal translation in print, Notice how it renders Hebrews 4:9-11, -"There REMAINS therefore a SABBATH REST for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also RESTED FROM HIS WORKS, as GOD DID from His. Let us therefore BE DILIGENT to ENTER THAT REST, lest anyone fall through following the same example of DISOBEDIENCE." Do you want to be a "disobedient" "Christian"?   

IN HISTORY   

*The forsaking of the Sabbath, and the enforcing of Sunday observance was instigated by a Roman Emperor who was a devoted "Sun-Worshipper". Here are bits and pieces from a letter he wrote in about A.D. 365 to the "heretics" (non-Catholics / true Christians), -"Forasmuch, then, as it is no longer possible to bear with your pernicious errors, we give warning by this present statute (Law) that none of you henceforth presume to assemble yourselves together. We have directed, accordingly, that you be deprived of all the houses in which you are accustomed to hold your assemblies....Take the far better course of entering the Catholic church."(Eusebius' -Life of Constantine, Book III) Commentary: Notice that even after more than 300 years Christians were still observing the Sabbath day.   

*Although the abolishment of the Sabbath and establishment of Sunday worship came through the Roman Catholic church, they freely admit there is absolutely no Biblical authority for it. Notice these statements by Roman Catholic Cardinal Gibbon, -"Is not every Christian obliged to sanctify SUNDAY, and to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work? Is not the observance of this LAW among the most prominent of our sacred duties? But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of SUNDAY. The SCRIPTURES enforce the religious observance of SATURDAY (Seventh-day), a day we never sanctify." (Faith of our Fathers, by Cardinal Gibbon)   

Commentary: The official Catholic position is that their authority is above the Holy Scriptures. They believe Jesus' statement to His disciples that whatever they bind on earth would be bound in Heaven, gives them the authority to change even the practice of carefully observing the Commandments of God. Although the Protestants rejected the divinity of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the supreme authority of the Pope, they never returned to keeping all Ten Commandments, as they adopted the same worship day as their mother church.   

More Commentary: I believe the Bible substantiates an end of the Sabbath resurrection. The empty tomb was discovered on the first day, but I believe He had already risen at the close of the Sabbath. (For and explanation, please write or call) But for those who truly believe that Jesus rose on Sunday morning, and then want to commemorate that, I see nothing wrong with it. But one should ask himself, -"does that cancel the Sabbath?" "Does it suddenly make the Sabbath no longer holy?" "Does your observance of Sunday to commemorate your belief in the resurrection of Christ on that day, give you the authority to profane the Sabbath which is a memorial of Creation?" "Does it give you the right to actually break one of the Ten Commandments on a regular basis?" "A Commandment written on a tablet of stone by the finger of God?"   

*According to the noted historian, H.G. Wells, Christian Sunday worship was borrowed from Pagan Sun-Worship. "During this indefinite time a considerable amount of a sort of theocrasia (intimate union) seems to have gone on between the Christian cult and the almost equally popular and widely diffused Mithraic cult, and the cult Serapis-Isis-Horus. From the former it would seem the Christians ADOPTED SUNDAY as their chief DAY OF WORSHIP instead of the Jewish SABBATH." (The Outline of History 1, pg 455)   

Commentary:These Pagan Idol-worshippers who worshipped the Sun as their chief god, all held the FIRST DAY as sacred. In the Roman world, the First day had previously been called "Saturday", after "Saturn" their god of fertility and planting. They honored him by keeping a festival called the "Saturnalia" (called "Christmas" today)But as worship of the Sun as god became more popular in the empire, Sunday, previously known as the Second day, was moved up to First. God gave man His sacred calendar in the very beginning. Even when He destroyed the world with the flood, His calendar was in use.

Notice that the flood began on the 17th day of the second month, and ended the 17th day of the seventh month.(Genesis 7:11/8:4) In God's calendar all the weekdays were numbered rather than named, but the seventh, which God named the "Sabbath Day" * Jesus warns throughout the Gospels that false teachers would come teaching heretical doctrines in His Name. So did the Apostle Paul, John, Peter and Jude. Jude was the half-brother of Jesus Christ, and at the time of his writing, false teachers were infiltrating the churches of God everywhere. So much so, that he was inspired to write a general epistle (letter) that was sent to all the churches. In it he warned that false teachers had crept in the churches teaching doctrines that were far removed from theoriginal teachings of the Apostles, and were leading many of the brethren to their destruction.

Even after the Apostle Paul had traveled the world, starting churches in many cities, and even after all the letters of instruction to them; at the end of his life he told young Timothy that ALL THE BRETHREN IN ASIA had LEFT HIM. (2 Timothy 1:15) These all warned of the rise of FALSE CHRISTIANITY. A religion coming in the Name of Christ but not holding to the "faith once and for all delivered to the Saints" by the Apostles. (Jude vs 3)

In 3 John we read that a man named Diotrophes had gained preeminence in the church, and would not accept John, or what he taught. He would not receive the teachings of even an original Apostle of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that those who would not receive His disciples were not receiving Him.(Matthew 10:14-15) He even put brethren that accepted John out of the church. Here in the Scriptures we actually see the rise of false Christianity taking place. This was about A.D. 97, and all the other original Apostles had been killed, only this aged, beloved one of Jesus remained, but was unwelcome in some of the churches. Although these churches ceased to be God's churches because they had forsaken the Truth of God, they still carried on in the Name of our Lord. One should ask, "where are they today?"   

*The original churches generally held the Sabbath for some time. "The ancient Christians were very careful in the observation of Saturday, or the seventh day...It is plain that all the Oriental churches, and the greatest part of the world, observed the Sabbath as a festival...Athanasius (A.D. 297-373, Bishop of Alexandria) likewise tells us that they held religious assemblies on the Sabbath, not because they were infected with Judaism, but to worship Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. Epiphanius says the same." (Antiquities of the Christian Church, Vol. II, Bk.xx, Ch.3, Sec 1, 66. 1136,1137)   

*In 781 the famous China Monument was inscribed in marble to tell of the growth of Christianity in China at that time. The inscription of 763 words was unearthed near the city of Changan in 1625 and now stands in the "Forest of Tablets" at Changan. The extract from the tablet states as follows. "On the SEVENTH-DAY we offer sacrifices, (possibly offerings of praise and thanksgiving) after having purified our hearts, and received absolution for our sins. This religion (Christianity), so perfect and so excellent, is difficult to name, but it enlightens darkness by its brilliant precepts.(Laws)" Christianity in China, Vol.I, Ch.2, pgs 48-49, by M. 1'Abbe Hue)   

*Sabbath observance was widespread and appears to have been opposed by the Roman Catholic Church. It was kept holy by Christians in Egypt in the third century, as the Oxyrhynchus Papyrus shows.(c. 200-250 A.D.)"Except ye make the Sabbath a real Sabbath [Greek, "sabbatize the Sabbath"], ye shall not see the Father." (The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Pt. 1, pg 3, Logion 2, verses 4-11, London: Offices of the Egyptian Exploration Fund, 1898)   

*Early Church leader, Origen also enjoined the keeping of the Sabbath. "After the festival of the unceasing sacrifice (the crucifixion) is put the second festival of the Sabbath, and it is fitting for whoever is righteous among the saints to KEEP ALSO THIS FESTIVAL of the SABBATH. There remaineth therefore a sabbatismus, that is a keeping of the Sabbath, to the people of God."[Hebrews 4:9] (Homily on Numbers 23, para. 4, in Migne, Patrologia Groeca, Vol. 12, cols. 749,750)   

*The early church taught the Sabbath was for God's work of providence and meditation on His way of life."Thou shalt observe the Sabbath, on account of Him who ceased from His work of creation, but ceased not from His work of providence; it is a rest for meditation of the law, not for idleness of the hands." (Constitution of the Holy Apostles, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7, pg 413, 3rd century) This was over 300 years after the resurrection of Christ.   

*In an effort to stamp out Sabbath keeping the Roman church commanded Christians to fast on that day. (Go without food or water, 24 hours). From canon 26 of the Council of Elvira (c.305 A.D.) It appears that the Christian church in Spain were Sabbath keepers. Rome had introduced the practice of fasting on the Sabbath to counteract Sabbath keeping. Pope Sylvester (314-335) was the first to ORDER the churches to fast on the Sabbath, and Pope Innocent (402-417) made it a binding law in the churches that obeyed him.   

*The Sabbath keeping Churches in Persia underwent forty years of persecution under Shapur II from 335 to 375 specifically because they were Sabbath keepers. "They despise our SUN-GOD. Did not Zoroaster (Prophet of Mithra, the sun-god), the sainted founder of our divine beliefs, institute Sunday one thousand years ago in honour of the sun and supplant the Sabbath of the Old Testament. Yet these Christians have divine services on Saturday." (The Syriac Church and Fathers, by O'Leary, pg 83-84)   

*Notice this puzzling quote from the historian Socrates. "For although almost all Churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and Rome (Catholics), on account of some ancient tradition, refuse to do this." (Ecclesiastical History, Socrates, Bk 5, Ch.22, pg 289) This ancient tradition was the keeping of Sunday as their day of worship. Sunday worship existed long before the birth of Jesus Christ.   

*The Roman Catholic Church pronounced all Christians keeping the Sabbath as being condemned and cut off from Christ. Council of Laodicea (c.366), Canon 29, -"Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day honouring rather the Lord's day (reference to Sunday) by resting, if possible, as Christians. However if any shall be found Judaizing, let them be ANATHEMA for Christ." (Mansi, II, pgs 569-570, also Hefele Councils, Vol. 2, b. 6) Notice the definition of "anathema" according to the World Book Dictionary, -"A person or thing that is utterly detested or condemned." And, -"A solemn curse by church authorities excommunicating some person from the church." Also, -"The act of denouncing and condemning some person or thing as evil."   

*The Sabbath was kept in the early Eastern Churches, and some Churches of the West. "For in the Church ofMillaine (Milan), it seemes that Saturday was held in a farre esteeme... Not that the Easterne Churches, or any of the rest which observed that day were inclined to Judaism; but that they came together on the Sabbath day, to worship Jesus Christ the Lord of the Sabbath." (History of the Sabbath, Dr. Peter Heylyn, London 1636, Part 2, para. 5, pgs 73-74)   

*Sabbath keeping was the original position of the Church. "Sabbath-keeping, the original position of the Church, had spread west into Europe and from Palestine it spread East into India (Early Spread of Christianity, Mingana, Vol. 10, pg 460) and then into China. The introduction of Sabbath-keeping to India caused a controversy in Buddhism in 220 A.D. According to Lloyd (The Creed of Half Japan, pg 23), the Kushan Dynasty of North India called a council of Buddhist priests at Vaisalia to bring uniformity among the Buddhist monks on the observance of their weekly Sabbath." Even many Buddhist monks embraced the Sabbath after receiving and studying the Holy Bible.   

Check These Historical References For Yourself   

FACTS ABOUT THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK   

*The very first thing recorded in the Bible is work being done on the first day of the week. (Genesis 1:1-5)   

*God commanded men to work on the first day of the week. (Exodus 20:8-11)   

*By the express command of God, His holy people used the first day of the week as a common working day for thousands of years.   

*God calls the first day of the week a "working" day. (Ezekiel 46:1)   

*God never rested on this day.   

*God never sanctified nor blessed the first day as holy.   

*This day has never been blessed by God, Christ or any of the Apostles.   

*Its observance has no Divine authority by the Holy Scriptures.   

*The New Testament teaches against doing what is "unlawful" on the Sabbath, but nowhere forbids work on the first day of the week.   

*It is never called the "Lord's Day" in the Bible. Revelation 1 is referring to the "Day of the Lord", which is the day of the Lord's return, then gives events leading up to that day. It is not referring to a week day.   

*It is never called even a rest day. No sacred title is ever applied to it in Scripture.   

*Jesus is never recorded as mentioning it even once in the Bible.   

*Paul directed the saints to look over their secular affairs on that day. (1 Corinthians 16:2) Paul told them to set-aside goods on this day for famine relief in Jerusalem, so that when he came it could be gathered together and took to the poor brethren in Jerusalem.   

*The Bible nowhere says that the first day of the week commemorates the resurrection of Christ, even though portions of it were written as long as 60 years later. Sunday observance is a TRADITION of MEN, which contradicts the LAW of GOD. (Matthew 15:1-9) According to God's Word, Baptism commemorates the burial and resurrection of Jesus. (Romans 6:3-5)   

*Finally, the New Testament is totally silent with regard to any change of the Sabbath day or any sacredness for Sunday, the first day of the week.   

SCRIPTURES USED TO DENOUNCE SABBATH OBSERVANCE   

Those who teach that it is Biblically permissible to worship any day of the week often use three scriptural passages in the epistles of the Apostle Paul. Although we have proven by the historical accounts of many that the early church of God did indeed observe the Sabbath as was their custom for at least more than 300 years, and although the Roman Catholic Church who instigated the replacing of the Sabbath with Sunday worship claims no Biblical reason for doing so, and in fact freely admits the Word of God teaches the observance of the seventh-day, -still, let's examine these three scriptures carefully.   

Romans 14:5-6 "One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike, let each man be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God."   

Is Paul telling the Church at Rome that it was permissible to forsake the Sabbath for another day if he is "fully convinced in his own mind"? Does this mean that the Sabbath is no different than any other day of the week? Notice carefully that this scripture nowhere mentions the Sabbath by name, but simply "days". Is it feasible that this is referring to a day of rest and worship? Paul told the church in Hebrews 10:25 to "not forsake assembling together" for weekly services. Romans 16 reveals that the brethren in Rome met in MANY different homes, owned by individual brethren, are we to assume that any member could come for services in another's home whenever he chose? I think not, that would be a great nuisance to the owner of the home if every member of his congregation decided to meet at his home on a different day.   

If one carefully reads the entire Chapter, it is evident that the context is about whether to eat meat or be a vegetarian. Paul is telling the brethren at Rome that were meat-eaters to be tolerant of the vegetarians in the assembly. The whole Chapter is about food, drink and tolerance for one another. So why the reference to"observing days" in verses 5 and 6? There is no Biblical connection with the Sabbath and vegetarianism, but notice that at the end of verse 6 Paul ties these "days" with food, why? At the time of this writing it was customary to set-aside "special days" for feasting or fasting. The Pharisees of Jesus' time fasted twice each week on days that had specially set-aside for the observance. Notice this record of a Pharisee's prayer in Luke 18:12, -"I FAST TWICE A WEEK; I pay tithes of all that I get."

Now notice this quote from The Expositor's Bible Commentary, -"The close contextual association with eating suggests that Paul has in mind a SPECIAL DAY set apart for observance as a time FOR FEASTING or as a time OF FASTING."   

Notice this from The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, -"The context shows us that some members of the congregation there were eating meat, and others were abstaining from eating meat. The vegetarians were likely members who "feared lest they should (without knowing it) eat meat which had been offered to idols or was otherwise ceremonially unclean (which might easily happen in such a place as Rome), that they abstained from meat altogether."

Why are these "days" and "avoiding meats" mentioned in connection in this passage? Probably because a member's REASON for not eating meat was connected to the "special days" the Romans sacrificed to their gods. After being sacrificed, the meat was put in the market to be sold, some Church members may have feared eating ANY MEAT sold there, because it was impossible to know if it had been offered to idols or not. This meat would be more likely bought on days of sacrifices to idols.   

The issue Paul is addressing is tolerance and eating meat and which days one may eat or fast, but one would have to read the Sabbath into this passage, because Paul makes no mention of it. Since only two of the twenty-three verses in this passage on eating meat mentions observance of "days", and those in connection with eating,one would have to take great liberty with the Word of God to use this Scripture to cancel out a direct commandment from God, along with the multitude of other scriptures and historical record previously stated.   

Galatians 4:8-10 -"However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You OBSERVE DAYS and MONTHS and SEASONS and YEARS."   

The Church at Galatia was a Gentile (non-Israelite) congregation living in a Gentile city devoted to idol worship, as were all the non-Israelite cities in the world at this time. Notice that Paul said that they formerly had not known the true God, but were in fact slaves serving idols, "which by nature are no gods".

These people had come out of their former worship of idols, of observing "days", "months", "seasons" and "years". These "days" are not the Sabbaths of God because being Gentile converts they had not practicedobservance of the Sabbath before conversion to Christianity. These were obviously days, months , seasons and years for honoring the false gods of the land. These members were RETURNING to former Pagan practices.Paul told them that they were returning to what had formerly enslaved them, which was the worship "those which by nature are no gods." Though they had come to KNOW GOD, and to be KNOWN BY GOD, they werereturning to the religious practices that had before they had known God. This passage is not about the Sabbath, nor the annual Holy Days of God that are commanded and outlined in Leviticus 23.   

Colossians 2:16-17, -"Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day, -things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ."   

Is Paul telling the brethren in Colossae not to let JEWS act as their judge for NOT keeping God's commanded festivals and Sabbaths?

Or was he telling them to NOT allow their unconverted relatives, friends and citizens of Gentile, idol-worshipping city to judge them FOR KEEPING the commanded observances of God.

After all, if the brethren here in Colossae, who had formerly been Pagan idol-worshippers, observing special days to their gods, had suddenly forsaken these practices and had begun observing God's Festivals (Lev.23)and the weekly Sabbath, then certainly they would be questioned by those who had known them as worshippers of the gods of the land. This would have been a radical change, wouldn't it?

The Bible speaks of problems such as these occurring among brethren who were formerly involved in Pagan worship festivities. Notice 1 Peter 4:3-5, -"For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and ABOMINABLE IDOLATRIES. And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and THEY MALIGN YOU. (Speak evil of you) But they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead."   

If Paul was telling them not to let the JEWS judge them for NOT keeping the Festivals and Sabbaths, then one must wonder why he taught the Corinthian Church, also a Gentile congregation, in a Gentile city, to "keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." This is clearly a reference to the observance of the Festival called the "Days of Unleavened Bread" commanded by God in Leviticus 23, and Deuteronomy 16, which begins the day after Passover. Notice I Corinthians 5:7-8, -"Clean out the old LEAVEN, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact UNLEAVENED. For Christ our PASSOVER ( Passover Lamb) also has been sacrificed. LET US THEREFORE CELEBRATE THE FEAST, not with old LEAVEN, nor with the LEAVEN of malice and wickedness, but with the UNLEAVENED BREAD of sincerity and truth."   

Another explanation for Colossians 2 is that Paul was combating GNOSTIC TEACHERS that were troubling the churches. They professed to be Christians, but were quite different in many ways. They worshipped KNOWLEDGE supposedly revealed by spirits.(fallen Angels) They held the belief that FLESH and in fact ALL MATTER itself was EVIL. They believed in SELF-ABASEMENT of the body. Christian Gnostics frequently harmed themselves to "crucify the flesh". They would deny themselves comfort or common pleasures, and infiltrated especially the Catholic church for hundreds of years. Many of the Catholics that have been pronounced "SAINTS" of the Catholic church had the Gnostic mentality. Some wore belts of nails their whole life. One lived on an open platform in all types of weather his entire life. This caused open sores on his arms and legs in which even the flies laid eggs in. It is recorded, that if even a maggot fell out, he would carefully pick it up and put in back in saying, -"eat my flesh little one."   

The reason I brought this up is that the context of Colossians 2 appears to be referring to the infiltration of Gnostics. Notice Verse 8, -"See to it that no one takes you captive through PHILOSOPHY and EMPTY DECEPTION, according to the TRADITION of MEN, according to the ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES of THE WORLD, rather than according to CHRIST." These FALSE TEACHERS that Paul was warning about were teaching "Philosophy" according to the TRADITION of MEN, not according to CHRIST and not according to the COMMANDMENTS of GOD. JEWS would have come teaching obedience to the commandments of God, not using "philosophy" according to the "elementary principles of the world".   

Now notice Verses 20-23, -"If you have died with Christ to the ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES of the WORLD, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, "Do not handle", do not taste", "Do not touch!"(which all refer to things destined to perish with the using) -in accordance with the COMMANDMENTS and TEACHINGS of MEN? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and SELF-ABASEMENT and SEVERE TREATMENT OF THE BODY, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence." Paul is teaching these brethren to stop submitting themselves to decrees (Laws) in "accordance with the commandments and teachings of men", not the commandments and teachings of God.

These false teachers were teaching a "SELF-MADE RELIGION". A religion that taught "self-abasement" and"severe treatment of the body". Certainly Paul could not have been referring to Jewish teachers judging the brethren for NOT KEEPING the FESTIVALS and SABBATHS of GOD. These practices were handed down to them from God, they are in no way "self-made". And they never taught "self-abasement" or "severe treatment of the body". These were probably Gnostic "Christians" that were not actually critical of the Colossians observing these commands of God, but may have been critical of the way they observed them.

But what this passage does not say, it that Jews were trying to force the COMMANDMENTS OF GOD on the Church in Colossae, but that false teachers were trying to force "Philosophical" doctrines, "according to the COMMANDMENTS AND TRADITION of MEN", and "according to the elementary principles of the world",rather than Christ.   

PARTING COMMENTS   

I was happy to give possible explanations of the three verses used to give permission to regularly ignore and profane the seventh-day Sabbath. But in some ways it saddens me that I feel that I have to answer these Scriptures that so many use as excuses to forget this Commandment. With so many Scriptures that are crystal clear on this subject, and the abundance of historical proof that the Sabbath was kept by most all the early Christian world, it seems strange that one would try to turn one of these Scriptures into a "loophole" to break the Sabbath.

Didn't the early Church which had the Apostles understand whether the Sabbath was to be replaced with another day? Yet, historically we find that the entire Apostolic Church of God kept the Sabbath as their day of worship, and considered it holy. Only later in history do we see that the transferring of the Sabbath to Sunday taking place. And we see that the power behind this movement was the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, who was a devoted Sun-worshipper until he was on his deathbed. It was he that gave the power to the Church at Rome; to demand the churches to forsake the Sabbath and embrace the day of the Sun-god. He simply wanted unity in his kingdom, and wanted to bridge the gap between Pagans and Christians.

But even then, as we see, many remained faithful to this Commandment of God, and resisted, and for years, were severely persecuted and killed. And still today there are millions who faithfully "Remember" this holy day, and honor God on it each week. Only when one blesses the Sabbath with its observance, can they come to truly realize and understand how great a blessing it is to them.   

If Jesus did not come to abolish His Father's Commandments (Matthew 5:17-19), then He did not change the Fourth one. I don't ask you to assume that I am right, like so many have assumed that the Sunday-keeping world is right in ignoring the Sabbath; no, you prove it yourselves by the pages of your own Bible. Look at it with an open and honest mind, willing to seek the truth, without looking for loopholes to get around God's holy Word. If Christians are to observe the Ten Commandments, then how can we neglect the fourth?

I would venture that many of you do not know why you don't observe this Commandment.I'm sure that's why I hear so many excuses. Wouldn't it be a much stronger "LIGHT" to this dark world, to be able to say, -"I keep the Sabbath because it is the fourth Commandment, Jesus kept it, Paul, Peter and John all kept it, History proves the early Church kept it, and the Bible teaches it observance?"   

Thank you for considering these things, and for allowing me to share this blessing with you.   

May God be with you in your study of His holy Word.   
   

REFERENCES: The Holy Bible, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Eusebius' Book of Constantine, Faith of Our Fathers-Gibbon, Sunset to Sunset God's Sabbath Rest-UCG, Thanks to Christian Churches of God -Australia, 100 Bible Facts 

 

 

 

 

 

Points of Truth Ministries