Since the law is spiritual, there is no escaping the fact that the holy Sabbath is a spiritual institution. It was a day of “holy convocation” (Leviticus 23:3). The joyful quality of the day is expressed by David in Psalm 42:4; “When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, which a multitude that kept holyday.”
The fact that the Sabbath was to be devoted entirely to the Lord, the fact that it was to be spent as a day of joy and praise, proves that the provisions of the fourth commandment contributed more toward making man spiritual than any other commandment of the ten. To deprive man of the spiritual advantages of the Sabbath, the enemy has always sought to lead man to profane the Sabbath day?” “What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day?” (Nehemiah 13:17). To profane the Sabbath day was, in the eyes of the Lord, an evil thing.
The thought that the Sabbath is a spiritual institution is beautifully brought out in Isaiah 58:13, 14: “If thou turn away they foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.” The Sabbath was always to be a refreshing time when men were in a special sense to delight themselves in the Lord.
A verse found in Acts will explain the spiritual advantages the Lord intended the Sabbath to bring to those who in spirit observe it: “On the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither” (Acts 16:13).
We see from this statement that, just as in Old Testament times, so also in the days of the Apostle Paul, the Sabbath was a day of gathering for prayer and worship. Supporting this thought, we read that “the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.” Paul agreed to this, “and the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God” (Acts 13:42-44). Thus we find that, in apostolic times, the Sabbath was looked upon as the day for coming together “to hear the word of God.”
The Sabbath is the Lord’s appointed day for laying aside all thoughts and activities of a secular nature and for coming together to hear the Word of God. So when Paul said, “The law is spiritual,” he included the institution of the Sabbath, which was to be devoted exclusively to things that are spiritual. We inquire: Was that gathering when almost the whole city came together to hear the Word of God of “intrinsic value” to those who were present? We find here – and there is no escaping the fact – that the same use was made of the Sabbath in New Testament times as in the days of the ancient prophets. The New Testament references are as clear and plain as those which we have cited from the Old. The institution and its purpose continued. It was not Sabbath rest, but man-made regulations as to how it should be kept, that was the yoke of bondage.
To the uninformed, certain attacks on the Sabbath day tend to breed a feeling of contempt and disregard for it, and that is just what Satan wishes. But it is the Lord’s will that we call the Sabbath a delight. The word “delight” as here used suggests something that brings spiritual joy and happiness. This being the case, how it must displease the Lord of the Sabbath day to hear it belittled, denounced, and set at naught!
– The Law and the Sabbath, Allen Walker, p. 57, 5
– From the Joe Crews Radio Sermon Library
Today I want to answer the question which so many listeners have been concerned about since our first broadcast on the Sabbath question. How did the change take place, substituting Sunday for Saturday as the day of worship? This is possibly one of the most disturbing religious questions among thinking Christians today. Unfortunately, the issue is not examined publicly very often for reasons that we’ll consider today. But multitudes have wondered when, how and why the change came about. We have established in previous broadcasts that the Bible itself speaks with absolute consistency on this subject.
No Change Documented in the Bible
In both Old and New Testament there is not a shadow of variation in the doctrine of the Sabbath. The seventh day, Saturday, is the only day ever designated by the term Sabbath in the entire Bible. Not only was Jesus a perfect example in observing the weekly seventh-day Sabbath, but all His disciples followed the same pattern after Jesus had gone back to heaven. Yet no intimation of any change of the day is made. The apostle Paul, who wrote pages of counsel about lesser issues of Jewish and Gentile conflicts, had not one word to say about any controversy over the day of worship. Circumcision, foods offered to idols, and other Jewish customs were readily challenged by early Gentile Christians in the church, but the weightier matter of weekly worship never was an issue. Why? For the simple reason that no change was made from the historic seventh day of Old Testament times, and from creation itself. Had there been a switch from the Sabbath to the first day of the week, you can be sure the controversy would have been more explosive than any other to those Jewish Christians.
History Gives Some Clues
If the change did not take place in the Scriptures or through the influence of the apostles, when and how did it happen? In order to understand this, we must understand what happened in that early church soon after the apostles passed off the stage of action. Paul had prophesied that apostasy would take place soon after his departure. He said there would be a falling away from the truth. One doesn’t have to read very far in early church history to see just how that prophecy was fulfilled. Gnosticism began to rise up under the influence of philosophers who sought to reconcile Christianity with Paganism. At the same time, a strong anti-Jewish sentiment became more widespread. Very speculative interpretations began to appear regarding some of the great doctrines of Christ and the apostles.
The Conversion of Constantine
By the time Constantine was established as the emperor of Rome in the early fourth century, there was a decided division in the church as a result of all these factors. I think most of you know that Constantine was the first so-called Christian emperor of the Roman Empire. The story of his conversion has become very well known to students of ancient history. He was marching forth to fight the battle of Milvian Bridge when he had some kind of vision, and saw a flaming cross in the sky. Underneath the cross were the Latin words meaning “In this sign conquer.” Constantine took this as an omen that he should be a Christian, and his army as well. He declared all his pagan soldiers to be Christians, and became very zealous to build up the power and prestige of the church. Through his influence great blocks of pagans were taken into the Christian ranks. But, friends, they were still pagan at heart, and they brought in much of the paraphernalia of sun-worship to which they continued to be devoted. We mentioned in a previous broadcast about the adoption of Christmas and Easter into the church. At the same time, many other customs were Christianized and appropriated into the practice of the church as well.
You see, at that time the cult of Mithraism or sun-worship was the official religion of the Roman Empire. It stood as the greatest competitor to the new Christian religion. It had its own organization, temples, priesthood, robes—everything. It also had an official worship day on which special homage was given to the sun. That day was called “The Venerable Day of the Sun.” It was the first day of the week, and from it we get our name Sunday. When Constantine pressed his pagan hordes into the church they were observing the day of the sun for their adoration of the sun god. It was their special holy day. In order to make it more convenient for them to make the change to the new religion, Constantine accepted their day of worship, Sunday, instead of the Christian Sabbath which had been observed by Jesus and His disciples. Remember that the way had been prepared for this already by the increasing anti-Jewish feelings against those who were accused of putting Jesus to death. Those feelings would naturally condition many Christians to swing away from something which was held religiously by the Jews. It is therefore easier to understand how the change was imposed on Christianity through a strong civil law issued by Constantine as the Emperor of Rome. The very wording of that law, by the way, can be found in any reliable encyclopedia. Those early Christians, feeling that the Jews should not be followed any more than necessary, were ready to swing away from the Sabbath which was kept by the Jews.
Some of you may be greatly surprised by the explanation I’ve just made, and I’m not going to ask you to believe it blindly. I have before me a multitude of authorities to verify what has been said. Here are historians, Catholics and Protestants, speaking in harmony about what actually took place in the fourth century. After Constantine made the initial pronouncement and legal decree about the change, the Catholic Church reinforced that act in one church council after another. For this reason, many, many official statements from Catholic sources are made, claiming that the church made the change from Saturday to Sunday. But before I read those statements I shall refer to one from the Encyclopedia Britannica under the article, Sunday. Notice: “It was Constantine who first made a law for the proper observance of Sunday and who appointed that it should be regularly celebrated throughout the Roman empire.” Now you can check these statements in your own encyclopedias or go to the library and look into other historical sources.
Here is a statement from Dr. Gilbert Murray, M.A., D.Litt., LLD, FBA, Professor of Greek at Oxford University, who certainly had no ax to grind concerning Christian thought on the Sabbath question. He wrote: “Now since Mithras was the sun, the Unconquered, and the sun was the Royal Star, the religion looked for a king whom it could serve as a representative of Mithras upon earth. The Roman Emperor seemed to be clearly indicated as the true king. In sharp contrast to Christianity, Mithraism recognized Caesar as the bearer of divine grace. It had so much acceptance that it was able to impose on the Christian world its own sun-day in place of the Sabbath; its sun’s birthday, the 25th of December, as the birthday of Jesus.” History of Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge.
Looking a bit further into historical statements, Dr. William Frederick says: “The Gentiles were an idolatrous people who worshipped the sun, and Sunday was their most sacred day. Now in order to reach the people in this new field, it seems but natural as well as necessary to make Sunday the rest day of the church. At this time it was necessary for the church to either adopt the Gentile’s day or else have the Gentiles change their day. To change the Gentiles day would have been an offense and stumbling block to them. The church could naturally reach them better by keeping their day.” There it is, friends, a clear explanation by Dr. Frederick as to how this change happened. Another statement very parallel to this one is found in the North British Review.
But let’s move on to a statement from the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 153. “The church after changing the day of rest from the Jewish Sabbath or seventh-day of the week to the first, made the third commandment refer to Sunday as the day to be kept holy as the Lord’s day.”
Catholicism Takes Credit for the Change
Now a quote from the Catholic Press newspaper in Sidney, Australia. “Sunday is a Catholic institution and its claims to observance can be defended only on Catholic principles. From the beginning to end of Scripture there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first.”
The Catholic Mirror of September 23, 1894, puts it this way: “The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday.”
To point up the claims we’re talking about, I want to read from two Catechisms. First, from the Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine by Reverend Peter Giermann. “Question: Which is the Sabbath day? Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day. Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church in the Council of Laodicea transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.”
Second, from Reverend Steven Keenan’s Doctrinal Catechism we read this: “Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept? Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her; she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day; a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.”
Then from Cardinal Gibbons’ book, The Question Box, p.179, “If the Bible is the only guide for the Christian, then the Seventh-day Adventist is right in observing Saturday with the Jew. Is it not strange that those who make the Bible their only teacher should inconsistently follow in this matter the tradition of the Catholic Church?”
One more statement taken from the book, The Faith of Millions, p. 473. “But since Saturday, not Sunday, is specified in the Bible, isn’t it curious that non-Catholics who profess to take their religion directly from the Bible and not from the Church, observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Yes, of course, it is inconsistency but this change was made about fifteen centuries before Protestantism was born, and by that time the custom was universally observed. They have continued the custom even though it rests upon the authority of the Catholic Church and not upon an explicit text from the Bible. That observance remains as a reminder of the Mother Church from which the non-Catholic sects broke away like a boy running away from home but still carrying in his pocket a picture of his mother or a lock of her hair.”
That is a most interesting statement, is it not, friends? And it is a very true statement. There is some inconsistency somewhere along the line, because we have examined the statements of history, and you can check them for yourself in any library. I’m not reading anything one-sided here at all. I’ve tried to give you an unbiased picture. Although we have seen the claims made by the Catholic Church in their publications, we are not reading them to cast any reflection upon anyone, by any means. We are simply bringing you a recital of what has been written and what claims have been made.
– From the Joe Crews Radio Sermon Library
|by David Boatwright & Doug Batchelor
An Amazing Fact: One hour of sleep deprivation increases the number of highway accidents by eight percent and an hour of extra sleep decreases them by eight percent! It’s true-it happens twice a year during the daylight savings time adjustments. Your efficiency driving after you have been awake for 18 hours is about the same as driving after drinking two alcoholic drinks. When you have been awake for 24 hours, your driving efficiency deteriorates to the equivalent of driving under the influence of four to six drinks! Optimum performance comes with nine hours of sleep each night.
The Scriptures also teach that spiritual and physical rest is so essential for man’s happiness that God set aside a holy day for that purpose during Creation and then commanded the human race to “remember” it (Exodus 20:8-11).
The Sabbath truth has come under a special attack in recent years because the devil knows that all love relationships are nurtured in the environment of quality time. The Sabbath was designed by God to be the ultimate in quality time with our Redeemer and Maker. By twisting or abolishing that holy time, the devil has sought to erode man’s relationship with his Saviour.
Today there are many intense debates about which day is the correct Bible Sabbath and whether or not it even matters.
There are only two days of the week that seem to have any modern claim of being the Christian Sabbath: the seventh day, commonly called Saturday, and the first day, Sunday. In the Bible all the days of the week were named. The central name was Sabbath, which means “rest.” Then came the first day after the Sabbath, the second day after the Sabbath, and so on until the sixth day which was called the preparation day (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54). Each day was named in relation to the Sabbath.
A Solid Foundation
The establishment of the seventh day as the blessed Sabbath is one of the most firmly established facts in the Creation account. God emphatically said the “seventh day” three times in the first three verses of Genesis 2: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (emphasis added).
God’s people always kept the Sabbath from sundown on preparation day (Friday) until sundown on Sabbath (Saturday night) (Leviticus 23:32). The concept of beginning and ending days at midnight was introduced in modern times with the development of accurate clocks. The biblical account of the women who were preparing spices for the burial of Christ tells that they ceased their preparations Friday at sundown “and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56).
The commandment referred to here is the fourth of the Ten Commandments. It states in part, “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work” (Exodus 20:9, 10). Note that the day is called “the sabbath of the Lord thy God”-not “the Sabbath of the Jews” as some claim.
Jesus Himself told the religious leaders that He was “Lord also of the sabbath” (Mark 2:28). Because Jesus did all of the work of creation (John 1:3), it was He that blessed the seventh day and rested with Adam on that first Sabbath in Eden.
In fact, Jesus gave the vision of Revelation to the Apostle John on the Sabbath when he was a prisoner on the lonely isle of Patmos. John simply described it as happening “on the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10). But which day is the Lord’s day? In Isaiah 58:13, God refers to the Sabbath as “my holy day.” Never, not once in the Bible is the first day called the Lord’s day!
So … What About Sunday?
But what biblical claim does the first day of the week have to being called the Sabbath? History records that Christians didn’t generally observe Sunday as a day of rest or worship until almost 300 years after Christ. Certainly none of the apostles ever observed the first day as a day of worship in place of the Sabbath.
Some try to use Acts 20:7, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread,” as evidence that the disciples were having a communion service on the first day, thus designating it as the new day of worship. But the New Testament records that the disciples broke bread from house to house “daily” (Acts 2:46).
Even if the disciples had held a communion service on the first day of the week, that would not be proof that it designated a new Sabbath day-the Lord’s supper was first instituted on a Thursday night.
Others cite 1 Corinthians 16:2 as an argument against the Saturday Sabbath. “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” Instead of proving that Sunday was kept as the new Sabbath, this text actually proves the opposite. Paul instructs the Corinthians to set funds aside at home on the first day so that no offerings need to be taken during corporate worship on the Sabbath.
The Bible record is clear that the apostles worshiped on the seventh day and taught others to do the same. The women who followed Jesus kept the Sabbath on the seventh day (Luke 23:56). Paul kept the seventh-day Sabbath while carrying the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 16:13, 17:2, 18:4). John kept it during his exile on the isle of Patmos (Revelation 1:10).
Jesus, the supreme example for all Christians, kept the Sabbath by consistently worshiping in the synagogue on Sabbath (Mark 6:2; Luke 4:16). Nowhere did He command that a different day should be kept or seek to cancel even the smallest of the commandments (Matthew 5:17-19)! In fact, Scripture clearly records that the redeemed from all nations will keep the Sabbath in the new earth (Isaiah 66:23).
A Subtle Change
Even in the absence of biblical evidence, much of the Christian world looks to Sunday, the first day, as the Christian day of rest. When and how did this come about? The change happened slowly, beginning about 300 years after Jesus returned to heaven.
The pagan Romans called the first day of the week “the venerable day of the sun,” or Sun Day. Gentile Christians and Jews alike were Sabbathkeepers, while all of the polytheistic (many gods) pagan religions centered on sun worship on the first day of the week. However, in the Roman Empire the Jews were “a fly in the ointment” because they constantly rebelled and their monotheistic (one God) religion was at odds with every other. Because the Jews kept the Sabbath, all Sabbathkeepers became highly unpopular by association.
In A.D. 313, the Roman Emperor Constantine, who had been a pagan solar worshiper, nominally accepted Christianity and put into effect the first Sunday-worship law.1 Many of the Gentile Christians quickly accepted this change in an effort to distance themselves from the odious Jews because of their common day of worship.
Constantine sought to make it easier for the pagans in his realm to embrace his new politically correct religion. So he encouraged all the Christians to adopt the pagan solar holidays by renaming them after the Christian God or various Christian saints. Sincere Christians resisted this compromise, but because the majority was willing to capitulate, they were soon overpowered. Over a period of several hundred years Sunday gradually became known as the Christian Sabbath and observed as such.
When modern Christians discover and embrace the biblical Sabbath truth they usually encounter a barrage of differing arguments. Typically this opposition comes from other Christians who feel compelled to the point of obsession to dissuade them from their biblical position. These contradictory arguments often serve to convince more than discourage.
One gentleman who worked in a large grocery chain in the Midwest, through study of the Scriptures, discovered the Sabbath truth. He was so excited with this blessed revelation that he immediately went to his employers and told them that he would no longer be available for work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. During the following week each worker in his department approached him with a potluck of arguments to deter him from his new “un-traditional” commitment to Sabbathkeeping.
The first one told him that the Bible says, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). The co-worker tried to explain that the text meant he could do whatever seemed right to him and that he wasn’t required to keep any particular day.
“Fine,” his friend replied. “I’ll take the Sabbath. I’m fully persuaded that that’s the day to keep.”
Seeing his cohort’s failure, another worker approached the Sabbathkeeper with this argument. “It doesn’t really mean that we have to keep Saturday. What the Bible really means is that we are to rest every seventh day and it doesn’t matter what day we start counting on as long as we rest one day in a sequence of seven.”
“Fine,” he replied. “If it doesn’t matter, I’ll take Saturday as my one day in seven.”
The next co-worker told him that in the New Testament there was no specific day set aside for worship. “You’re supposed to keep every day holy,” he explained.
The new Sabbathkeeper replied “I do believe I should worship God every day, but if I’m keeping every day holy and resting from work. That wouldn’t be holy; that would be lazy.”
Another worker told him that the Sabbath was only for the Jews. The new Sabbathkeeper asked, “Then why did Jesus say, ‘The sabbath was made for man’ (Mark 2:27). That’s a funny way to spell ‘Jew.’ Was Adam a Jew when Jesus spent the first Sabbath with him in the garden of Eden?”
Still another told him that it was not necessary to keep the Ten Commandments because we are no longer under the law but under grace. “Are you saying that I can now steal your money and covet your wife?” he responded.
One night during an evangelistic series I was presenting the Sabbath truth when a Sunday minister interrupted me. He said I was teaching “legalism.” I asked the man whether or not he believed that God wanted us to keep the Ten Commandments. At first he said, “No.” Then when he realized how ridiculous that sounded, he changed his answer to, “Yes.” But then he quickly added, “Nine of them.”
“So,” I responded, “are you telling me that the one commandment God wants us to forget is the only one that begins with the admonition to ‘Remember’?” He left the meeting with a red face and never returned.
Still another pastor embarrassed himself when he said, “The calendar has been changed several times so we can’t really know which day is the seventh day.”
“If that were true,” I answered, “then I guess you wouldn’t know which day was Sunday either? But the fact remains that no calendar adjustment has ever had any effect on the weekly cycle.”
There is no question about which day is the seventh day. Any dictionary will tell you: “Sat·ur·day (sàt_er-dê, -dâ´) noun Abbr. S., Sat.1. The seventh day of the week.”2
The Bible plainly tells us that Jesus died on Friday, rested in the tomb on the Sabbath from His work of saving man, then rose Sunday morning to continue His work as our high priest (Luke 23:54; Hebrews 7:25).
In fact, in more than 145 major languages of the world, the word used for the seventh day is the equivalent for the word Sabbath or rest day. Such as Spanish, Sabado, or Russian, Subotah.
Another creative man told me that, “When the sun stood still in the days of Joshua, Saturday turned into Sunday”!
All these convoluted attempts to dispense with the simple command of God are compelling evidence that many churches are building on the sand of popular tradition. Jesus said, “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. … Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:7, 9).
Contradictory arguments highlight the big problem associated with getting rid of the Sabbath. It’s impossible to justify abandoning the Sabbath without getting rid of the whole law-they end up having to throw the baby out with the bath water. James points out that breaking even one of the Ten Commandments makes us guilty of violating the whole. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
A Pivotal Verse
Some Christians sincerely believe that the whole law, including the Sabbath, came to an end with Jesus’ death. These people point to the well-worn verses in Colossians 2 as evidence: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; … Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come” (verses 14, 16, 17).
However, getting rid of the law is a reckless and dangerous thing to do. The first four commandments define our responsibility to our Creator. The last six are the foundation of all human civil law. If the moral law were rescinded, there would be no safe place on earth for anyone.
Paul says, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Romans 2:13). He also adds, “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (7:12).
So what do the verses in Colossians mean? There are two primary laws taught in Scripture: the moral law of the Ten Commandments and the ceremonial law contained in ordinances. One was written by God’s finger on stone and the other by the hand of Moses on parchment.
Notice how Deuteronomy 4 distinguishes between the two:
Moral Law: “And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone” (Deuteronomy 4:13).
Ceremonial Law: “And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it” (Deuteronomy 4:14).
Colossians 2:14 tells us that the law that was nailed to the cross was the “handwriting of ordinances,” not the finger writing. And which law was that? “They will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses” (2 Chronicles 33:8, emphasis added). The law nailed to the cross in Colossians 2 was written on paper and “against us.” (Plus, it is very difficult to nail stone tablets to anything.)
“Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee” (Deuteronomy 31:26, emphasis added). The Ten Commandment law, written by the finger of God on tablets of stone, was inside the ark; the ceremonial law, written by the hand of Moses, was placed in a pocket on the side of the ark.
So we can see that Colossians 2 is speaking of the ceremonial laws and annual sabbaths (feasts) that were nailed to the cross. That’s why when Jesus died, the veil in the temple was torn (Matthew 27:51).
Sadly, most of the Jewish nation was so engrossed in types and shadows that they failed to see the fulfillment of those Messianic symbols in Jesus. Even the Christian church had a hard time separating the shadow and the reality. Some Jewish Christians required all the Gentile converts to observe all the Jewish ceremonies that pointed to the Messiah. Somehow they didn’t yet see the big picture-that the coming of the Messiah had done away with the need for those types and shadows. This is why the Apostle Paul exhorts the Colossian Christians to not allow anyone to judge them in respect of the sabbath days, “which are a shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:17).
God Does Not Change!
But what if we keep the law and just change the Sabbath commandment from seventh-day worship to first-day worship? The first roadblock is that such a change simply isn’t biblical. That really makes it impossible for anyone to keep Sunday holy. You see, the commandment doesn’t say to make the Sabbath day holy. It says that God made it holy and set it apart for holy use (sanctified it). We can find no place in Scripture where God transferred the sanctity of Sabbath to Sunday. Therefore, there is no way to keep the first day holy since He didn’t make it holy in the first place.
Ultimately one needs to ask the hard question. Since Jesus made the Sabbath before the entrance of sin, and that which God blesses is blessed forever(1 Chronicles 17:27), why would He need to change His own eternal law? He declares, “I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3:6)!
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Why would God write the Sabbath commandment in stone with His own finger, speak it with His own voice, and than change it with out even producing a vague biblical reference?
The bottom line is to determine why God made the Sabbath and what advantage there might possibly be in changing it. For one thing, God wanted man and domestic beasts to enjoy physical rest that day. During the French Revolution, in the backlash against the church abuse, the atheistic leaders called for doing away with anything religious. Included in the religious ban was a change in the weekly cycle. They could find no astronomical reason for the seven-day week, so they concluded that the weekly cycle was intrinsically religious. They replaced it with a ten-day work cycle but soon found that, not only were the people dissatisfied because of physical exhaustion, but also the draft animals were constantly fatigued. It wasn’t long before France returned to the seven-day week.
But physical rest was only a minor part of the full blessing God had in mind for mankind. God wants to enjoy spiritual fellowship with His created beings. The Bible gives no indication that there was a week or a Sabbath in heaven before Creation. The Sabbath was made for man, not for angels. However, God enjoys it so much that He intends to keep it with us throughout eternity. Someday He is moving His universal capitol to this earth (Revelation chapter 21), and He invites all the redeemed to meet with Him for Sabbath each week (Isaiah 66:23).
The Sabbath is, among other things, a memorial of God’s creative and redemptive power. It is also a sign of His re-creative power in our lives. “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them” (Ezekiel 20:12).
The weekly Sabbath rest also points to the eternal rest that God is preparing for the redeemed (Hebrews 4:1-11). This rest was typified by entering into the promised land for ancient Israel. Spiritual Israel looks forward to the promise of a new earth “wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1).
Jesus is inviting you now to experience the spiritual and physical rest of this blessed day in His presence.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
1. Colliers Encyclopedia, vol. 7, page 212.
2. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third
|“But pray ye that your flight be not in winter, neither on the Sabbath day.” Jesus, Matthew 24:20
Institution Of The Sabbath
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” Luke 4:16
“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:16-17
“But pray ye that your flight be not in winter, neither on the Sabbath day.” Matthew 24:20.
Jesus asked his disciples to pray that in the flight from the doomed city of Jerusalem they would not have to flee on the Sabbath day. This flight took place in 70 A.D. (40 years after the Cross).
“And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” Luke 23:56
“And Paul, as his manner was went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures” Acts 17:2
Paul And Gentiles
“And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. And the next Sabbath came almost the whole city together to hear the Word of God.” Acts 13:42, 44.
Here we find Gentiles in a Gentile city gathering on the Sabbath. It was not a synagogue meeting in verse 44, for it says almost the whole city came together, verse 42 says they asked to hear the message the “next Sabbath.”
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” Rev. 1:10 (Mark 2:28, Isa.58:13, Ex.20:10, Clearly show the Sabbath to be the Lord’s day).
“There is not any city of the Grecians, nor any of the Barbarians, nor any nation whatsoever, whither our custom of resting on the seventh day hath not come!” M’Clatchie, “Notes and Queries on China and Japan” (edited by Dennys), Vol 4, Nos 7, 8, p.100.
Declares the seventh day to be a festival, not of this or of that city, but of the universe. M’Clatchie, “Notes and Queries,” Vol. 4, 99