Almost the entirety of modern Christianity considers Sunday its day of worship, while the Bible speaks consistently of a seventh-day Sabbath. How was the day changed? Does it make a difference? Have you been misled?
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE SABBATH?
by Roderick C. Meredith
Are professing Christian ministers "hiding their eyes" from the very sign God gave to identify His people? By whose authority was the fourth commandment changed or "done away?"
Major denominations are splitting over issues such as homosexuality, abortion and the authority of the Bible. Thousands of "mainstream" churches go along with most any doctrine or behavior as long as they can teach their people to "love Jesus."
But which Jesus do they have in mind? And how will all of this dramatically affect your very life in the near future?
Most of you Tomorrow's World readers undoubtedly wish sincerely to do the will of God and to honor the Jesus Christ of the Bible. You probably realize that our entire civilization is at risk, and that the Creator is soon going to intervene powerfully in human affairs. You may remember studying Revelation 12, where God reveals how He will supernaturally protect His faithful servants during the coming Great Tribulation. Who are these people God will protect? A vital key to their identity is given in verse 17: "And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." The inspired Apostle John also identifies God's true saints in Revelation 14:12: "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." Note that God's people not only have faith in Jesus, but have the very faith "of" Jesus Christ—faith to do what the Father says, even in difficult circumstances!
Many of you have assumed that "Sunday keeping" is a correct way to obey the fourth commandment. You are probably sincere in this—for that is what most of you have been taught. But you could not be more wrong! For God's true Sabbath—as observed by Jesus Christ and all of the early Apostles—is the seventh day of the week! Look it up on your calendar. Which day is the seventh day? Two grievous sins—idolatry and Sabbath-breaking—were the major reasons why God severely punished the ancient Israelites and drove them into slavery (Ezekiel 20). This same national punishment will be meted out on our peoples if we do not repent and begin to acknowledge our Creator by keeping His commandments and His true Sabbaths!
The Jesus Christ of the Bible clearly warned: "Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). Jesus Christ consistently taught obedience to all ten of the Ten Commandments. It was He who, as the God of the Old Testament, gave those commandments to Israel (1 Corinthians 10:4), and He did not "change His mind" later on. In the "Sermon on the Mount"—His foundational teaching of New Testament Christianity—Jesus said: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets…. whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17–19).
Then Jesus began to explain that His followers were to go even beyond the letter of the law. Not only were they forbidden to kill another person; they were not even to harbor hatred (vv. 21–22). They were forbidden to commit adultery, but Jesus magnified the law by stating: "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (v. 28).
Does it sound as though Jesus was doing away with His Father's great spiritual law, the Ten Commandments? Do you think for one minute that, after making the above pronouncements, Christ turned around and abrogated the Fourth Commandment—the command to observe the seventh-day Sabbath? If you are willing to face the plain biblical Truth, read on!
What The Bible Clearly States
Most of you who read this article have been bombarded by all kinds of teachings and reasonings that tell you either that the Ten Commandments were "done away" or that they were somehow altered or "watered down" so that the Fourth Commandment is not literally to be observed anymore! It is somehow "jerked" right out of the middle of the Ten Commandments—where it has always resided—and explained away as part of the "Law of Moses," or else effectively done away by some other clever device.
Is that right? Is that what the Bible teaches? We must be honest!
Even a leading Roman Catholic cardinal admitted the truth of the matter. James Cardinal Gibbons, archbishop of Baltimore, wrote plainly: "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, a day which we never sanctify. The Catholic Church correctly teaches that our Lord and His Apostles inculcated certain important duties of religion which are not recorded by the inspired writers. For instance, most Christians pray to the Holy Ghost, a practice which is nowhere found in the Bible. We must, therefore, conclude that the Scriptures alone cannot be a sufficient guide and rule of faith because they cannot, at any time, be within the reach of every inquirer; because they are not of themselves clear and intelligible even in matters of the highest importance, and because they do not contain all the truths necessary for salvation" (Faith of Our Fathers, 1876).
Gibbons here introduces the common false idea that men can add or detract from what the Bible teaches—the excuse being that the inspired Scriptures "are not of themselves clear and intelligible." Poor God—apparently none of these theologians has been able to "educate" Him as to how to explain things!
Yet these same theologians will admit that Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, said: "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God'" (Luke 4:4). And, as we saw earlier, Jesus also said: "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19).
A young man came to Christ asking: "What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" What was Jesus' answer? Did Jesus say, "Just give your heart to Me" or "Make your decision for Christ"?
The Son of God said: "If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:16–17). And near the end of the inspired Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"(Matthew 7:21–23).
Why Do Theologians Often "Pick On" The Sabbath?
Of all the Ten Commandments, why do men seemingly strive hardest to "do away" with God's command about the Sabbath? Though antagonists try to label the Sabbath a "yoke" of bondage, it would be the easiest commandment to keep in a truly Christian society. "How can that possibly be?" you might ask. Because all day long—seven days a week—true Christians should not engage in sexual licentiousness, or hate, or lying or covetousness. But on just one day of the week, true Christians are commanded to rest and to worship their Creator.
What a "yoke"!
Yet the invisible "god" of this world, Satan the Devil (2 Corinthians 4:3–4), has managed to deceive millions into thinking that God's Sabbath is extremely difficult to keep and is, in fact, a "yoke" of some kind. The truth, of course, is exactly the opposite! If the entire world would observe the true seventh-day Sabbath, then untold millions of men and women would finally have a sense of peace and freedom on at least one day a week. And all mankind would be reminded each week to worship the Creator—the One true God who gives life and breath to everyone. For the Sabbath points to creation, as the full written commandment clearly indicates: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:8–11).
If the true Sabbath were universally observed, all men everywhere would be brought into the knowledge of the true God, the Creator. As He reminded ancient Israel: "Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you" (Exodus 31:13). We need to remember that long before ancient Israel even existed—and before any "law of Moses" was given—the Creator made holy and sanctified a certain period of time. "And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made" (Genesis 2:2–3).
As Jesus Christ said: "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). The Sabbath was made not for the Jew, but for "man"—and it was made when man was made! And who is "Lord" of the seventh day Sabbath—the very Sabbath the Jews were keeping in Jesus' day and which He was discussing with some of their leaders? "The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath" (v. 28).
It is important to note that in the above scripture Jesus said nothing about "changing" the seventh-day Sabbath to the first day of the week—the "day of the sun." Rather, He explained that the Sabbath was created "for man"—as a blessing to man—and not as a "yoke," which some of the Pharisees made it by adding so many "dos and don'ts" that had not been part of the Sabbath commandment given by God.
So why did misguided men during the Dark Ages try to change God's true Sabbath, and move it over to Sunday—the "Day of the Sun"—a day widely honored by the pagans? The change was "institutionalized" by a pagan Roman emperor, Constantine, who "professed" Christianity—but was no more a real Christian than Mickey Mouse! Under Constantine's direction, the Council of Nicaea was held in 325ad. Though he had not yet been baptized, Constantine presided over the council's opening session and took part in its discussions, believing that it was his duty as emperor to oversee the establishment of doctrine for the church. But was Constantine presiding over the council as a former pagan now turned Christian? Or did he use the Council of Nicaea to infuse his pagan background into what would become "official" Christianity? Respected historian Paul Johnson has observed the following regarding Constantine's religious views:
"There is some doubt about the magnitude of Constantine's change of ideas.... He himself appears to have been a sun-worshipper, one of a number of late-pagan cults which had observances in common with the Christians. Thus the followers of Isis adored a madonna nursing her holy child; the cult of Attis and Cybele celebrated a day of blood and fasting, followed by the Hilaria resurrection-feast, a day of joy, on 25 March; the elitist Mithraics, many of whom were senior army officers, ate a sacred meal. Constantine was almost certainly a Mithraic, and his triumphal arch, built after his 'conversion,' testifies to the Sun-god, or 'unconquered sun.' Many Christians did not make a clear distinction between this sun-cult and their own. They referred to Christ 'driving his chariot across the sky,' they held their services on Sunday, knelt towards the East and had their nativity-feast on 25 December, the birthday of the sun at the winter solstice. During the later pagan revival under the Emperor Julian many Christians found it easy to apostatize because of this confusion; the Bishop of Troy told Julian he had always prayed secretly to the sun. Constantine never abandoned sun-worship and kept the sun on his coins. He made Sunday into a day of rest...." (A History of Christianity, Johnson, 1976, pp. 67–69; emphasis ours).
As Jesse Lyman Hurlbut states in The Story of the Christian Church: "As long as the church was mainly Jewish, the Hebrew sabbath was kept; but as it became increasingly Gentile the first day gradually took the place of the seventh day" (p. 4; emphasis ours).
This unbiblical action was obviously taken to make it easier for the surrounding pagans to become "Christian." Yet, by abandoning God's true Sabbath and His law, it resulted in a "Christianity" that was not really Christianity at all! As Hurlbut acknowledges: "The services of worship increased in splendor, but were less spiritual and hearty than those of former times. The forms of ceremonies of paganism gradually crept into the worship. Some of the old heathen feasts became church festivals with change of name and of worship. About 405ad, images of saints and martyrs began to appear in the churches, at first as memorials, then in succession revered, adored, and worshiped" (p. 79).
The ultimate reason men changed their day of worship from God's Sabbath to the pagan Sunday is that the Prince of Darkness, Satan the Devil, will do anything and everything he can to deceive mankind and to cut man off from the knowledge and worship of the true God. Worship on the seventh day, which God "sanctified"—the day that Christ and the original Apostles always observed—had to be "stamped out" because of Satan's desire to confuse this world and to cut mankind off from the Creator God. After Christ returns to this earth, He will send an angel to bind Satan for a thousand years, "so that he should deceive the nations no more 'till the thousand years were finished" (Revelation 20:1–3).
The Entire World Will Observe The Sabbath!
When Christ returns as "King of kings" (Revelation 17:14), there will begin "the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21). The observance of the true Sabbath will once again be practiced as part of the way of life that God has always intended for mankind: "And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me, says the Lord" (Isaiah 66:23).
So what is wrong with the Sabbath? The truth is that God's commanded day of rest and worship at the end of each week—on the seventh day—would be a great blessing if it were universally observed now. For the Bible tells us: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8); the same Christ who gave the Ten Commandments to ancient Israel. God's great spiritual law—[the Ten Commandments]—has not been done away with, and it is not to be "changed" by rebellious men under the influence of Satan the Devil!
Regarding the Sabbath, God's inspired word makes it plain that even the "foreigners"—the Gentiles—will be blessed for observing the true Sabbath: "Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant—even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations" (Isaiah 56:6–7).
Despite the biblical and historical records of the trials of God's true New Testament Church, many called by God later lost faith and forsook the Sabbath, turning to doctrinal error. They were seduced by false teachers. Nevertheless, the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ, kept God's Sabbaths (Mark 1:21; 6:2; Luke 4:16, 31; 6:6; 13:10). The custom of Paul, the "Apostle to the Gentiles," was to worship, and teach even the Gentiles, on each Sabbath (Acts 13:42–44; 17:2; 18:4). Paul never turned away from obedience to God's law, in spite of the fertile imaginations of many scholars. For Paul wrote: "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters" (1 Corinthians 7:19). Throughout history, Sabbath-keeping has been an important identifying sign to look for, to identify the lineage of the true Church of God that Jesus built. How about you? Are you passing God's test? God has not changed (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).
Adapted from “What Is WRONG with the Sabbath?” from www.TomorrowsWorld.org.