Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it. Six days shall you work and accomplish all your work; but the seventh day is Sabbath to Hashem, your God; you shall not do any work-you, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maidservant, your animal, and your convert within your gates- for in six days Hashem made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, Hashem blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it. (Exodus 20:8-11 from the Tanach, Stone Edition).
This commandment is the only one of the ten, given on Sinai and expounded on by Jesus, that the majority of the Christian world does not follow. This article will have three sections. The first will be examples from the Old Testament (Tanach) that show where it originated and why it is important.
The second section will be from the New Testament and show how important the commandments are. It will use the Gospels, Letters, and Revelation to show the importance of keeping all the commandments by those professing faith in Christ.
The third will be historical looks on the changing from Sabbath worship to Sunday worship. It will use writings of main denominations of Christianity. And it will look at how the Roman Catholic church looks at the ability and reason for the change and their views on the biblical Sabbath.
This debate of Sabbath v Sunday will probably be debated through Christendom until the second coming of Christ. But this article will show the biblical (not man’s interpretation) of God’s Holy determination of the day of worship.
Old Testament Views
The heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array. On the seventh day God finished the work that He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work that He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it God ceased from all the work of creation that He had done (Genesis 2:1-3). The first book of Moses shows us why the day is sacred, and the day of holy rest. It was the only day sanctified by God himself. Six days God worked creating everything. He took the seventh day and sanctified it as a rest day. When God brought the Israelites from Egypt to Mt. Sinai, he made it clear in his commandments that because he sanctified it at creation, they were to keep it sanctified in their faith. It was retold to them in Deuteronomy 5:12-14 & Leviticus 23:3.
We learn in Numbers that the Sabbath rest also was extended to gentiles and had penalties for breaking its observance. But the person, be he citizen or stranger, who acts defiantly reviles the LORD; that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has spurned the word of the LORD and violated His commandment, that person shall be cut off—he bears his guilt. Once, when the Israelites were in the wilderness, they came upon a man gathering wood on the sabbath day. Those who found him as he was gathering wood brought him before Moses, Aaron, and the whole community. He was placed in custody, for it had not been specified what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death: the whole community shall pelt him with stones outside the camp (Numbers 15:32-36).
New Testament Views
The Gospels tell us of the important parts of Christ’s life and ministry. Such things as his birth, miracles, baptism, death, and most important of all, his resurrection. Being brought up in the Jewish faith, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath.He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom (Luke 4:16). At a few points, the Pharisees asked why he would profane the Sabbath by doing healings and getting food to eat from the fields. He gave them a couple different answers like reminding them of God’s compassion (healings) and of David eating food meant for the priests (gathering food).
But he also expounded on the Sabbath as a hallowed day. Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28).There are theologians who will say that this proves that Jesus, while reverencing the day hallowed by God, that because he is the Lord of the Sabbath, he changed its meaning and importance. Two issues arise from this perspective. The first being, he never said it was open to interpretation or that it didn’t need to still be followed. The second issue comes from the understand that he was God in the flesh “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.The same was in the beginning with God.All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (John 1:1-4,14)” and that God never changes “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever (Matthew 13:8)”.So saying Jesus was indicating that the validity of the sanctity of the Sabbath was no longer important, is saying that Matthew 13:8 is a lie. Since the scriptures tell us “AllScripture isGod-breathedandis usefulforinstruction,forconviction,forcorrection,and fortraininginrighteousness,so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17), that would be the same as calling God himself a liar.
We find in Acts and in various letters by the apostles that they followed the Sabbath as the holy day.And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures (Acts 17:2). And Paul said Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). We also see that those gentiles seeking to hear of Jesus observed the Sabbath because it is when Paul and other disciples preached to them. So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them,persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God (Acts 13:42-44).
In many places of the New Testament, Jesus tells his followers what it takes to be saved and earn eternal life.If yekeepmy commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love (John 15:1). If ye love me, keep my commandments. He that hath my commandments, andkeepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him (John 14:15, 21).
In Revelation we are told through John’s writing are those that will see eternal life with God. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, whichkeepthe commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17). Here is the patience of the saints: here are they thatkeepthe commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).These few verses, as well as others, should make it important to understand that the commandments and faith in Christ are needed to make it to a heavenly reward of eternal life.
History of Change
The bible prophesied the change of times and laws. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time (Daniel 7:25). There is only one commandment that is also a time. The fourth commandment (law) is the command for Sabbath (time) holiness. Let look to see where that change came from.
The Catholic Catechism states in Part 3 Section 2 Chapter 1 Article 3 Subsection 2 Line 2174 “Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.” Because it is the “first day,” the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead”. What is interesting is that they use the pagan vernacular “the day of the sun”. They also say they celebrate for two reasons. Christ rising from the dead on the first day AND God’s “separation of light and dark” on the first day of creation.
Since the Bible writers didn’t say that God the father or God the Son (Jesus) changed the rules of the fourth commandment, it has to be understood that the Catholic Church got that ability from somewhere. The church tells us where that power came from. “ “All power is given Me in heaven and on earth; as the Father sent Me so I also send you,” said our Divine Lord in giving His tremendous commission to His Apostles. “He that heareth you heareth Me.” We have in the authoritative voice of the Church the voice of Christ Himself.The Church is above the Bible; and this transference of Sabbath observance from Saturday to Sunday is proof positive of that fact.Deny the authority of the Church and you have no adequate or reasonable explanation or justification for the substitution of Sunday for Saturday in the Third – Protestant Fourth – Commandment of God. As the Rev. Mr. Smith rightly points out: “The Jewish Sabbath is not Sunday, the Lord’s Day. Christians are all wrong in speaking of the Sabbath as Sunday.” The Christians who so speak are “Bible Christians,” those who make the Bible the sole rule of Faith; and the Bible is silent on Sunday observance, it speaks only of Sabbath observance. The Lord’s Day – Dies Dominica – is the term used always in the Missal and the Breviary. It occurs in the Bible once (Apoc. 1.10;) in Acts xx. 7 and 1 Cor. xvi., 2 there is a reference to “the first day of the week;” but in none of these is there the remotest intimation that henceforth the first day is to take the place of the seventh. That is the crux of the whole question, what authority does the Bible give for the change? And that difficulty Mr. Smith and his critics, though pious and effusive and vaguely eloquent about many things, have each and all sedulously evaded.
If affects very materially and very intimately the question of the proper observance of the Lord’s Day.
In the first centuries the obligation of rest from work remained somewhat indefinite. The Council of Laodicea, held at the end of the fourth century, was content to prescribe that on the Lord’s Day the faithful were to abstain from work as far as possible. At the beginning of the sixth century St. Cesarius and others showed an inclination – very familiar to us – to apply the law of the Jewish Sabbath to the Christian Sunday. But the Council of Orleans in 538 reprobated this tendency as Jewish and non-Christian.
Thus by the same Divine authority, in virtue of which she did away with the Jewish Sabbath and substituted therefor the Christian Sunday, the Catholic Church legislated as to how the Lord’s Day should be observed.
Due to the exaggerated importance given the Bible after the Reformation and to the influence of Puritanism, the Lord’s Day in England and still more in Scotland began to take on all the rigorism of the Jewish Sabbath. That heritage, though somewhat softened, we still have with us. A game of ball where participants and spectators enjoy health-giving rest and recreation in the open air is “desecration of the Sabbath.” The swimming pool controversy is another good example.
We would not be misunderstood. With much of the activity of the Sabbatarians we are in sympathy. Their insistence on a day of rest being given all workers is admirable. But their muddle-headed confusion of the Lord’s Day with the Jewish Sabbath – against which the Rev. Mr. Smith so vigorously protests – finds no sympathy amongst the Catholics who receive the Lord’s Day itself as well as its mode of observance from the Church and not from the Bible”(Saturday, September 1st, 1923 edition of The Catholic Record of London, Ontario, Canada, Volume XLV, #2342 and appeared on page 4http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/c-record.htm).
The Bible does not say that God or Christ (or the Apostles through leading of the Holy Spirit) changed the day of worship or said that the commandment was void. The Catholic Church admits that they changed it and call those that worship on the day set aside by God are ‘B ible Christians’. So do you follow traditions set by man or are you a “Bible Christian”?
Jesus called out the Pharisees of his day. But he is also talking to the Pharisees of our day.
He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition (Mark 7:6-9)