*Note. I found this great article on the Sabbath I think the author has a lot of knowledge regarding the Sabbath. But in some places this writer deviated from the Sabbath and went into other nonrelated areas. I do not agree with this person in all his beliefs, so I edited out the parts which had nothing to do with the Sabbath, and only made a few minor changes but overall this article is intact. - George Cardenas
Most professing Christians observe Sunday. Yet, the Jewish people (and a few others) keep the seventh-day Sabbath. Was this day only for the Jews, or only for ancient Israel? Does the New Testament establish Sunday, as the Lord’s Day—or is the Sabbath still in effect? Does it make any difference? If so, which day is the Christian Sabbath? Can it be proven?
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter One — Astonishing Admission
Chapter Two — From the Beginning
Chapter Three — Law of God, Not Moses
Chapter Four — The Perpetual Sabbath Covenant
Chapter Five — The Church Christ Heads!
Chapter Six — Israel and Judah Go Into Slavery—and Why!
Chapter Seven — Sabbath or Sunday in the New Testament?
Chapter Eight — Sabbath Assembly and Fellowship
CHAPTER ONE – Astonishing Admission
I grew up in a large, respected Protestant church. I can recall sitting on a stool wearing a bow tie in Sunday school at age three, surrounded by other children. As I grew older, Sunday school became Sunday church services, with everyone taking for granted that we were there on the right day. No one remotely suggested otherwise. We all appeared weekly in our “Sunday best.”
In 1966, at age seventeen, I was challenged to look into the Bible to see what it actually says on the matter of Sunday-keeping. I was absolutely shocked by what I found! You will be also.
While the world is geared contrary to Sabbath observance on the seventh day of the week, I realized there was no excuse for breaking the Sabbath. I found the Bible was plain, leaving no room for doubt. The scriptures about the Sabbath and Sunday were most clear. I saw that common objections to Sabbath observance were easily disproven, if one had an open mind.
Unless God did not exist, and the Bible was the word of men—merely ancient Hebrew and Greek literature—I had no choice but to observe the Sabbath. Since proving that God exists and the Bible is His Word, and since seeing proof of the Sabbath command from the Bible, I have not attended church on Sunday or observed that day. I found that the Fourth Commandment is a law. When kept, it brings spiritual blessings, “keeping” those who obey it. When broken, it brings spiritual curses, “breaking” those who disobey it.
There are approximately two billion professing Christians on earth. They attend over 2,000 different church denominations and organizations in the United States alone. This number continually increases, bringing no end of confusion over beliefs and disagreement between them. However, almost all professing Christians are in agreement about Sunday observance, thinking it to be the “Lord’s Day” of the New Testament.
Are they correct? Does the New Testament establish Sunday in place of the Old Testament seventh-day Sabbath? Did Christ do away with the Sabbath, making Himself “Lord of Sunday”? Vast numbers are told—and believe—that He did. But, if Christ established Sunday to replace the seventh-day Sabbath, why did He tell His disciples, “Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Mark 2:28)?
Have you ever noticed this verse? Probably not. Yet there it is in the New Testament. Most ministers are fond of preaching from the New Testament, almost to the complete exclusion of the Old Testament. But have you ever heard a preacher mention this passage? Almost certainly not—and this is just one of many plain scriptures about the Sabbath.
Most people never ask why they believe what they believe or why they do what they do. In a world filled with popular customs and traditions, few try to determine the real origin of things. Most generally accept common religious practices without question, choosing to do what everyone else does because it is easy, natural and comfortable—because there is a certain “safety in numbers.” The power of peer pressure alone makes most practice what is acceptable—and fashionable.
Most follow along as they have been taught, assuming what they believe and do is right. They take their beliefs for granted, almost never taking time to prove them.
Nowhere is this more true than Sunday observance. Two billion people keep Sunday without knowing why—or where this practice originated. Most suppose it is found in the Bible because they see so many professing Christians observing it. Surely billions cannot be wrong. Or can they?
A study of the Bible, on almost all doctrines generally accepted by the churches of this world—professing Christianity—reveals that they have almost no biblical basis whatsoever. This statement is shocking, yet true!
But here is an irony: When confronted with the truth of what the Bible really says on a matter, most will attempt to deny the facts, however indisputable. They will twist, distort and blur the issues in order to hold to cherished beliefs, preferring what is familiar to what is right—and true!
The Sabbath question is somewhat different. Though, in the end, most people are unwilling to observe it, many ministers, theologians and religionists openly acknowledge what the Bible says about the Sabbath. When pressed, they admit the Bible authorizes observing the seventh day. You will be stunned at their honesty!
Roman Catholic Admission
Catholic publications, popes, cardinals, bishops, theologians, historians, professors, and the Vatican itself, have candidly admitted there is no biblical basis—whatsoever!—for Sunday observance. You will be astonished at the extraordinary candor with which Catholic leaders address this subject.
It is critically important to take the time to read what those who keep Sunday say about their authority—or lack of authority—for doing this. Using their own words, we must first establish why 1.2 billion Roman Catholics believe they are no longer obligated to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. They tell the whole world openly!
The Bible plainly states that Christ is the Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). Rome, supposing that Christ, in effect, delegated away His authority over the Church to Peter—who they proclaim was the first pope—speaks plainly of how they have used this “authority.” Just as God’s statements about the Sabbath were shocking to me, so should the following statements be shocking to you! (Many are included for emphasis.)
“For example, nowhere in the Bible do we find that Christ or the Apostles ordered that the Sabbath be changed from Saturday to Sunday. We have the commandment of God given to Moses to keep holy the Sabbath day, that is the 7th day of the week, Saturday. Today most Christians keep Sunday because it has been revealed to us by the [Roman Catholic] church outside the Bible.” - Catholic Virginian, “To Tell You the Truth,” p. 9, Oct. 3, 1947
“From this same Catholic Church you have accepted your Sunday, and that Sunday, as the Lord’s day, she has handed down as a tradition; and the entire Protestant world has accepted it as tradition, for you have not an iota of Scripture to establish it. Therefore that which you have accepted as your rule of faith, in adequate as it of course is, as well as your Sunday, you have accepted on the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.” - D.B. Ray, The Papal Controversy, p. 179, 1892
“I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. There is no such law in the Bible. It is a law of the holy Catholic Church alone. The Bible says, ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ The Catholic Church says: ‘No. By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and command you to keep holy the first day of the week.’ And lo! the entire civilized world bows down in a reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church.” - Bishop T. Enright, C.S.S.R., in a lecture at Hartford, Kansas, Feb. 18, 1884
“There is but one church on the face of the earth which has the power, or claims power, to make laws binding on the conscience, binding before God, binding under penalty of hell-fire. For instance, the institution of Sunday. What right has any other church to keep this day? You answer by virtue of the third commandment [the Papacy renamed the fourth commandment, calling it the third], which says, ‘Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.’ But Sunday is not the Sabbath. Any school boy knows that Sunday is the first day of the week. I have repeatedly offered one thousand dollars to anyone who will prove by the Bible alone that Sunday is the day we are bound to keep, and no one has called for the money. It was the holy Catholic Church that changed the day of rest from Saturday, the seventh day, to Sunday, the first day of the week.” - T. Enright, C.S.S.R., in a lecture delivered in 1893
“The Catholic Church…by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday.” - The Catholic Mirror, official publication of James Cardinal Gibbons, Sept. 23, 1893
“Is Saturday the seventh day according to the Bible and the Ten Commandments? I answer yes. Is Sunday the first day of the week and did the Church change the seventh day—Saturday—for Sunday, the first day? I answer yes. Did Christ change the day? I answer no!” - James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore (1877-1921), signed letter
“Reason and sense demand the acceptance of one or the other of these alternatives: either…the keeping holy of Saturday or Catholicity and the keeping holy of Sunday. Com promise is impossible.” - James Cardinal Gibbons, The Catholic Mirror, Dec. 23, 1893
“A rule of Faith, or a competent guide to heaven, must be able to instruct in all the truths necessary for salvation. Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practice. Not to mention other examples, 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, a day which we never sanctify.
“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.” - James Cardinal Gibbons, Faith of our Fathers, 88th ed., p. 89
[Author’s Note: The apostle Paul, under inspiration by God, disagrees. Speaking of just the Old Testament books, which were available to him, he wrote this: “And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (II Tim. 3:15-16).]
“The Bible everywhere enforces the sanctification of Saturday the seventh day of the week…You Protestants have to admit the authority of the Roman Catholic Church that is branded on you when you observe Sunday because you have no other authority for Sunday but that of the Roman Catholic Church.” - James Cardinal Gibbons
“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.” - James Cardinal Gibbons, The Catholic Mirror, Sept. 23, 1893
“Question: What Bible authority is there for changing the Sabbath from the seventh to the first, day of the week? Who gave the pope the authority to change a command of God?
“Answer: If the Bible is the only guide for the Christian, then Sabbath keepers are right in observing the Saturday with the Jew. But Catholics learn what to believe and do from the divine, infallible authority established by Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church…Is it not strange that those who make the Bible their only teacher should inconsistently follow in this matter the tradition of the Church?”- “Question Box,” Conway, 1903 ed., pp. 254, 255
“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.” - Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism, p. 174
“Our Lord rose from the dead on the first day of the week,” said Father Hourigan of the Jesuit Seminary. “That is why the Church changed the day of obligation from the seventh day to the first day of the week. The Anglican and other Protestant denominations retained that tradition when the Reformation came along.” - Toronto Daily Star, Oct. 26, 1949
“Some theologians have held that God likewise directly determined the Sunday as the day of worship in the New Law, that He Himself has explicitly substituted the Sunday for the Sabbath. But this theory is now entirely abandoned. It is now commonly held that God simply gave His Church the power to set aside whatever day or days she would deem suitable as Holy Days. The Church chose Sunday, the first day of the week, and in the course of time added other days as holy days.” - John Laux, A Course in Religion for Catholic High Schools and Academies, vol. 1, p. 51, 1936
“Nowhere in the Bible is it stated that worship should be changed from Saturday to Sunday…Now the Church…instituted, by God’s authority, Sunday as the day of worship. This same Church, by the same divine authority, taught the doctrine of Purgatory long before the Bible was made. We have, therefore, the same authority for Purgatory as we have for Sunday.” - Martin J. Scott, Things Catholics Are Asked About, p. 136, 1927
“Regarding the change from the observance of the Jewish Sabbath to the Christian Sunday, I wish to draw your attention to the facts:
“1) That Protestants, who accept the Bible as the only rule of faith and religion, should by all means go back to the observance of the Sabbath. The fact that they do not, but on the contrary observe the Sunday, stultifies them in the eyes of every thinking man.
“2) We Catholics do not accept the Bible as the only rule of faith. Besides the Bible we have the living Church, the authority of the Church, as a rule to guide us. We say, this Church, instituted by Christ to teach and guide man through life, has the right to change the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament and hence, we accept her change of the Sabbath to Sunday. We frankly say, yes, the Church made this change, made this law, as she made many other laws, for instance, the Friday abstinence, the unmarried priesthood, the laws concerning mixed marriages, the regulation of Catholic marriages and a thousand other laws.
“It is always somewhat laughable, to see the Protestant churches, in pulpit and legislation, demand the observance of Sunday, of which there is nothing in their Bible.” - Peter R. Kraemer, Catholic Church Extension Society, 1975
“We move from the ‘Sabbath’ to the ‘first day after the Sabbath’, from the seventh day to the first day: the dies Domini becomes the dies Christi!…By contrast, the Sabbath’s position as the seventh day of the week suggests for the Lord’s Day a complimentary symbolism, much loved by the Fathers. Sunday is not only the first day, it is also ‘the eighth day’, set within the sevenfold succession of days…” - Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini, Vatican, May 31, 1998
“Only gradually did Christians begin to observe Sunday as a day of rest…In the third century, as we learn from Tertullian, many Christians had begun to keep Sunday as a day of rest to some extent…
“The real need of Sunday as a day of rest as well as worship came much later…” - “Yes, I Condemned the Catholic Church,” p. 4 (Supreme Council, Knights of Columbus)
“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 (A.D. 363), transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.” - Peter Gerermann, “The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine,” 2nd ed., p. 50, 1910
[Author’s Note: At this same fourth century Council of Laodicea—in A.D. 363—the following edict was passed: “Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath.” The penalty for disobedience was death!]
Protestants Follow Rome
Eight hundred million Protestants also observe Sunday. Before examining what they say about why they observe the first day of the week, here are several quotes from the Catholics explaining their view of why the Protestants do what they do. Consider them carefully.
“Practically everything that Protestants regard as essential or important they have received from the Catholic Church. They accepted Sunday rather than Saturday as the day for public worship after the Catholic Church made that change.
“But the Protestant mind does not seem to realize that in accepting the Bible, in observing the Sunday, in keeping Christmas and Easter, they are accepting the authority of the spokesman for the church, the pope.” - Our Sunday Visitor, Feb. 5, 1950
“It was the Catholic Church which, by the authority of Jesus Christ, has transferred this rest to the Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord. Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Catholic] church.” - MGR. Segur, “Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today,” p. 213
“Question: How prove you that the Church hath power to command feasts and holydays?
“Answer: By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same Church.
“Question: How prove you that?
“Answer: Because by keeping Sunday, they acknowledge the Church’s power to ordain feasts, and to command them under sin: and by not keeping the rest [of the feasts] by her commanded, they again deny, in fact, the same power.” - Henry Tuberville, D.D., “An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine” [R.C.], p. 58
“Catholic: Is the Bible the rule or guide of Protestants for observing Sunday?
“Protestant: No, I believe that Christians who keep the Sabbath are the only ones who know the Bible in the matter of Sabbath observance.” - “The Bible an Authority Only in Catholic Hands,” pp. 25, 26
What Protestants Confess
Protestant officials from many denominations have also candidly admitted there is no biblical authority for Sunday observance. Here are their many quotations, categorized into Protestant denominations.
Lutheran: The first true “protestant” was Martin Luther. No record of Protestant teaching is complete without the words of this greatest protesting reformer of all.
Notice this quote pertaining to Luther’s commentary on Exodus 16:4, 22-30, regarding the Sabbath: “Hence you can see that the Sabbath was before the Law of Moses came, and has existed from the beginning of the world. Especially have the devout, who have preserved the true faith, met together and called upon God on this day.”—Translated from Auslegung des Alten Testaments (Commentary on the Old Testament), in Sämmtliche Schriften (Collected Writings), edited by J.G. Walch, Vol. 3, col. 950 [St. Louis edition of Luther’s Works, 1880]).
[Author’s Note: Martin Luther also personally kept the Sabbath. The next source reveals why he did not urge others to do the same.]
“Luther himself, while it is said believed in and practiced the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, did not prescribe it in his articles of faith for his followers, in the copies that we now have access to. However, it has been said that in his original thesis, Luther advocated the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, but that his colleagues objected on the grounds that it was an unpopular doctrine, which would have a tendency to repulse supporters of the Reformation who were not as pious as they should have been, but were of great assistance against the usurpations of the papacy.” - Dugger and Dodd, A History of the True Religion, pp. 196-197
“They [Roman Catholics] refer to the Sabbath Day, as having been changed into the Lord’s Day, contrary to the Decalogue, as it seems. Neither is there any example whereof they make more than concerning the changing of the Sabbath Day. Great, say they, is the power of the Church, since it has dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments!” - “Augsburg Confession of Faith,” art. 28, by Melanchthon, approved by Martin Luther, 1530, The Book of Concord of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Henry Jacobs, 1911 ed., p. 63
“We have seen how gradually the impression of the Jewish Sabbath faded from the mind of the Christian Church, and how completely the newer thought underlying the observance of the first day took possession of the church. We have seen that the Christians of the first three centuries never confused one with the other, but for a time celebrated both.” - The Sunday Problem, a study book of the United Lutheran Church, p. 36, 1923
“The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a Divine command in this respect, far from them, and from the early apostolic Church, to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday.” - Dr. Augustus Neander, The History of the Christian Religion and Church, Henry John Rose’s translation, p. 186, 1843
“But they err in teaching that Sunday has taken the place of the Old Testament Sabbath and therefore must be kept as the seventh day had to be kept by the children of Israel…These churches err in their teaching, for Scripture has in no way ordained the first day of the week in place of the Sabbath. There is simply no law in the New Testament to that effect.” - John Theodore Mueller, Sabbath or Sunday, pp. 15, 16
Anglican/Episcopal: “And where are we told in the Scriptures that we are to keep the first day at all? We are commanded to keep the seventh; but we are nowhere commanded to keep the first day…The reason why we keep the first day of the week holy instead of the seventh is for the same reason that we observe many other things, not because the Bible, but because the church [Roman] has enjoined it.” - Isaac Williams, Plain Sermons on the Catechism, vol. 1, pp. 334, 336
“There is no word, no hint, in the New Testament about abstaining from work on Sunday…into the rest of Sunday no divine law enters…The observance of Ash Wednesday or Lent stands exactly on the same footing as the observance of Sunday.” - Canon Eyton, The Ten Commandments, pp. 52, 63, 65
“We have made the change from the seventh day to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday, on the authority of the one holy Catholic Church.” - Bishop Seymour, Why We Keep Sunday
Baptist: “There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week…Where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament absolutely not.
“To me it seems unaccountable that Jesus, during three years’ intercourse with His disciples, often conversing with them upon the Sabbath question…never alluded to any transference of the day; also, that during forty days of His resurrection life, no such thing was intimated.
“Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history…But what a pity it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of the sun god, adopted and sanctioned by the papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism!” - Dr. Edward T. Hiscox, before a New York ministers’ conference, Nov. 13, 1893, New York Examiner, Nov. 16, 1893
“There was never any formal or authoritative change from the Jewish seventh-day Sabbath to the Christian first-day observance.” - William Owen Carver, The Lord’s Day in Our Day, p. 49
Congregationalist: “…it is quite clear that however rigidly or devotedly we may spend Sunday, we are not keeping the Sabbath…the Sabbath was founded on a specific Divine command. We can plead no such command for the obligation to observe Sunday…There is not a single sentence in the New Testament to suggest that we incur any penalty by violating the supposed sanctity of Sunday.” - Dr. R. W. Dale, The Ten Commandments, pp. 127-129
“…the Christian Sabbath [Sunday] is not in the Scriptures, and was not by the primitive Church called the Sabbath.” - Timothy Dwight, Theology: Explained and Defended, ser. 107, vol. 3, p. 258, 1823
Disciples of Christ: “‘But,’ say some, ‘it was changed from the seventh to the first day.’ Where? when? and by whom? No man can tell. No; it never was changed, nor could it be, unless creation was to be gone through again: for the reason assigned must be changed before the observance, or respect to the reason, can be changed! It is all old wives’ fables to talk of the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day. If it be changed, it was that august personage changed it who changes times and laws ex officio—I think his name is Doctor Antichrist.” - Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist, vol. 1, no. 7, p. 164, Feb. 2, 1824
“The first day of the week is commonly called the Sabbath. This is a mistake. The Sabbath of the Bible was the day just preceding the first day of the week. The first day of the week is never called the Sabbath anywhere in the entire Scriptures. It is also an error to talk about the change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. There is not in any place in the Bible any intimation of such a change.” - First Day Observance, pp. 17, 19
Methodist: “But, the moral law contained in the ten commandments, and enforced by the prophets, he [Christ] did not take away. It was not the design of his coming to revoke any part of this. This is a law which never can be broken…Every part of this law must remain in force upon all mankind, and in all ages; as not depending either on time or place, or any other circumstances liable to change, but on the nature of God and the nature of man, and their unchangeable relation to each other.” - John Wesley, The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, A.M., John Emory, ser. 25, vol. 1, p. 221
“Take the matter of Sunday. There are indications in the New Testament as to how the church came to keep the first day of the week as its day of worship, but there is no passage telling Christians to keep that day, or to transfer the Jewish Sabbath to that day.” - Harris Franklin Rall, Christian Advocate, p. 26, July 2, 1942
Presbyterian: “The Sabbath is a part of the decalogue—the Ten Commandments. This alone forever settles the question as to the perpetuity of the institution…Until, therefore, it can be shown that the whole moral law has been repealed, the Sabbath will stand…The teaching of Christ confirms the perpetuity of the Sabbath.” - T. C. Blake, D.D., Theology Condensed, pp. 474, 475
Dwight L. Moody: “The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. This fourth commandment begins with the word ‘remember,’ showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote the law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?” - D. L. Moody, Weighed and Wanting, pp. 47, 48
Worship Christ in Vain?
It is ironic that at least three well-known Protestant figures here freely admit that the Sabbath has never been changed and is still binding on Christians—but do not keep it themselves!
Here is what Christ said about the popular commandments and traditions of the world—and its churches: “In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men…Full well [these men know exactly what they are doing] you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:7, 9).
Let’s plainly frame the question: Do we observe the day that GOD commands—or do we observe the traditional day that the Roman Catholic Church commands, and Protestants endorse? This church and its daughter churches are wrong on virtually every doctrine in the Bible—salvation, heaven, hell, method of baptism, the Law, the definition of sin, the trinity, which annual days should be observed by Christians, prophecy, and many more. Over and over, it has substituted its commands and traditions in place of what God plainly says in His Word. Should you follow its authority, believing it to be greater than the authority of God?
It is possible to worship God in vain. Therefore, you must find out, once and for all, whether Sunday-keeping and worship is what God expects of you—or even permits.
Though we will see that a few, very weak arguments are put forth in favor of Sunday, in a sense, there is no further room for argument. If those who keep Sunday will so freely acknowledge that they have no authority from God—in His Word, the Holy Bible—for doing so, and the plain biblical command is seen, observance of the Sabbath has been clearly established!
But God has much to say about the crucial importance of observing His Sabbath every seven days. This includes understanding why Christians must do this. What you will read in the remainder of this article is not supposition. It is scriptural fact—proof from God—that the Sabbath was commanded 6,000 years ago. You will see that neither God nor His command has ever changed!
CHAPTER TWO – From the Beginning
We will examine many verses from the Old Testament. Of course, it is there that the Sabbath is first mentioned. However, one of the strongest verses in the entire Bible on the subject of God’s Sabbath day is found in the New Testament!
Speaking to His disciples, Christ said, “The sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). This is a powerful statement. Immediately following this verse, we read: “Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” (This is repeated in Luke 6:5.) Any who wish to superimpose the idea that Christ did not keep and endorse the Sabbath must face this enormous first obstacle. This plain passage cannot be dismissed. We will see there is a reason it follows verse 27 as it does.
But what did Christ mean when He said, “The Sabbath was made for man”? Haven’t you always been taught, “The Sabbath was made for the Jews”? If so, why did Christ say, in the New Testament, “for man”? We must go to the creation account to find the answer.
The Real Beginning
Genesis means “beginning.” Most people assume this is where one learns of the beginning of God’s revealed knowledge. The true beginning of all things—where the account of God’s creation really starts—is not found in Genesis 1. It is found in the New Testament, in John 1. This is where the Bible records who or what existed before the creation recorded in Genesis.
Here is how John writes of the earliest time the Bible records: “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 [“the universe” – Moffatt translation of same word in Hebrews 1:2] were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made” (1:1-3). This is all-encompassing.
But who is “the Word”? John answers a few verses later: “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” (vs. 14).
In the original Greek, the term “the Word” actually means “Spokesman.” While Christ only became the Son of God at His human birth, He was eternal —He was “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life” (Heb. 7:3).
Plainly, these verses speak of Christ both before and after His human birth. Only one God “became flesh and dwelt among us.” But verse 1 reveals more! Notice it says that Christ, the Word, “was” God and was also “with” God.
Ephesians 3:9, written by Paul, confirms John 1: “God…created all things by Jesus Christ.” Having been “the Word”—the Spokesman—for all eternity, Christ said many times throughout His ministry that He only stated what God wanted Him to say. Since Christ was “the Word,” we can understand why Psalm 33 states, “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens [the universe] made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth…For He spoke, and it was done” (vs. 6, 9).
Understand what we have just read! The Jesus Christ of the New Testament was the God of the Old Testament. They are not two separate Beings. Notice this: “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they [ancient Israel] drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (I Cor. 10:4). We will examine this later in greater detail.
The One who led ancient Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness was Christ! The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob—and David (Psa. 18:2)—was Christ! Paul wrote that God created “all things—by Jesus Christ”!
Let’s read one final scripture demonstrating, from the New Testament, that Christ, in fact, was the God of the Old Testament who did all the creating: “For by Him [Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him…And He is the Head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:16, 18).
This passage is all-inclusive. The fact that Christ created everything that exists in the entire universe must be understood before continuing.
The Creation of Man
“And God [Elohim] said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them…And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Gen. 1:26-27, 31).
The last part of Genesis 1 records the creation of man on the sixth day. This passage reveals that God created man for a great purpose—to reflect physically and take on spiritually God’s “image” and “likeness.”
Sabbath Created Next—for Man
Recognizing that Christ is doing the creating, here is the next passage following the creation of man and the completion of the sixth day: “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” (Gen. 2:1-3).
The very first thing that CHRIST created after man was the Sabbath. This occurred over 2,000 years before the first Jew (Judah) was born. The Sabbath was never merely for the Jews, or ancient Israel. The Sabbath was made “for man”—first, Adam and Eve in the Garden, and all other men ever after.
Christ created man—and He created the Sabbath. No wonder He said He was “Lord of the Sabbath.” Christ knew who He had made it for and why! Ponder this. Nowhere does Christ ever say He was Lord of Sunday. He never said that He made Sunday for man. Instead, we can now understand why He could say He was Lord of the seventh day. Christ personally rested on, blessed and sanctified this day from the beginning of creation.
God does everything for a purpose. He wanted His creation, man, to be able to rest one day after working for six previous days. We will learn later that the Sabbath involves a special covenant—a Sabbath covenant—between God and His true servants.
Pharisees Miss the Point!
Some, missing the entire point of Mark 2:27-28, referenced earlier, have used this account to show that Christ did away with the Sabbath. This account and others we will examine are misused to say that Christ voided the Sabbath. They say no such thing!
The Mark 2 account occurs on the Sabbath and begins in verse 23, with the disciples plucking ears of corn for food as they strolled along listening to Christ’s instruction. The Pharisees challenged them, thinking they were doing things “not lawful” on the Sabbath. Christ’s response was to show that, as the Author, Creator and Lord of the Sabbath, He—not the Pharisees or anyone else—could speak with authority about how to observe it. In other words, Christ governs all matters in relation to the Sabbath. As Maker, Sustainer and Author of the Sabbath Covenant, He alone deserves the title “Lord of the Sabbath.” Neither any church nor any man can take this role from the One who created the Sabbath for His own purpose!
The Pharisees had 65 separate “do’s” and “don’ts” governing almost every tiny aspect of how the Sabbath should or should not be kept. Their man-made regulations, developed over centuries, had turned the Sabbath into bondage instead of the blessing for mankind that God intended it to be. Many things were considered “not lawful.”
Jesus stressed that the Sabbath was made for man’s needs—to rest, be refreshed and commune with God. The Pharisees acted as if man was made for complying with their endless rules. Their maze of regulations separated them from the Sabbath’s true meaning.
Christ showed that the Pharisees’ condemnation of gathering corn to be eaten on the Sabbath was wrong (vs. 23-26). It was permissible to gather food on the Sabbath to satisfy immediate hunger.
Also, in Mark 3:1-6, the Pharisees watched Christ to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. When He perceived that they sought to accuse Him, Christ asked, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? To save life, or to kill?” (vs. 4). The Pharisees would not answer Him. Christ immediately healed the man, after which the Pharisees sought to kill Him. What an indictment against self-righteous human nature! Christ’s example shows that it is permissible to do good on the Sabbath and, in certain circumstances, to relieve suffering. This is in harmony with the spirit and intent of the Fourth Commandment.
In the same account found in Matthew 12:11-12, Christ used the analogy of rescuing an animal in distress. To this the Pharisees agreed. Yet they did not allow for Christ to heal people on the Sabbath. He used this same analogy in Luke 13:15-17, of loosing livestock from a stall to lead them away for watering on the Sabbath, with which the Pharisees also agreed. But they protested Christ’s healing of an Israelite woman bound with an 18-year affliction.
While these accounts are never a license to break the Sabbath, they explain that Christ allowed certain necessary physical duties to be carried out on this day. The Sabbath is made for mankind, as a blessing—not to create a list of strict man-made “do’s” and “don’ts,” thereby making it a curse.
God Did Not Need to Rest
Exodus 31:17 states, “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed.” Did Christ need to rest? The Bible states plainly that God “faints not, neither is weary” (Isa. 40:28). While God certainly was refreshed, it was not because He was tired and “needed a break.”
It would make no sense for God to make a day of rest on the first day of the week. Think about this. What would be the point of God making the Sabbath to begin the week so that He could rest from six days of work He had yet to perform? Christ says in both the Old and New Testaments that He never changes (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8). Therefore, God (Christ) could not ordain the Sabbath as the seventh day of the week only to later change it to the first day.
Invariably, when people are tired, they must rest. The purpose for God resting was entirely different—and far greater in meaning than first meets the eye. This is important because some assert God rested on the seventh day to satisfy His own personal fatigue. Of course, this makes no sense whatsoever if the Sabbath was made “for man.” It was never “for God.”
Exodus 20:11 shows that God “hallowed”—made holy—the seventh day of every week. Other scriptures will make this absolutely plain. God “blessed the seventh day.” From this moment forward, the seventh day is made special—it has God’s blessing on it. The phrase “and sanctified it” helps clarify what this means. Dictionaries define the word sanctify as “set apart for a holy use or purpose.” This makes the Sabbath God’s time, not ours. Remember, in effect, Christ said He is Lord of this block of time. Four thousand years after creation, Christ said He was still Lord of this same special holy time He had given to man.
When placed together, the terms hallowed, blessed and sanctified show that God made the Sabbath holy, special for all time—throughout all ages! This was God’s intended purpose. This is what His resting—when He did not need to rest—achieved. When this is understood, it is easy to see why no MAN—or church—has the authority to make the Sabbath, or any other period of time, holy. Just as men cannot cause some other day to be holy, their ignorance or rejection of what God has made holy cannot make it UNHOLY.
The Sabbath is a 24-hour period of time God has made holy once every seven days. It begins at sunset Friday and ends at sunset Saturday.
The Bible Can Be Proven
We will see that God commands men to remove their foot from this special time. He does not want men trampling on, profaning, His Sabbath.
Before we discuss how God makes things holy, and what this means, none of this would make any difference if the Bible is not God’s Word—and cannot be proven to be divinely inspired.
You must come to realize the Bible has supreme authority in all spiritual matters, involving both belief and practice. Romans 8:9 says that one is not a Christian if he does not have Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, living within him. God’s Spirit is holy. It will not enter one who refuses to follow that which is holy.
Christ kept the Sabbath (Luke 4:16). Remember, the Bible states that He is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8), and does not change (Mal. 3:6). Christ will still keep the Sabbath in you!
Do these words, and other passages cited in this book, carry the authority of a Supreme Being? Can one actually prove the Bible? This is itself a huge question! Just as most never seek to prove the existence of God, most never concern themselves with proving the authority of the Bible. They either have no interest in such proof or assume there is none—that it cannot be done!
What about you? Have you taken the time to seek actual, tangible proof of the Bible’s authority? As with the existence of God, have you been taught that you must accept the Bible “on faith”? Most people are never challenged to find real proof that this Book is the inspired record of a Supreme Being. Circumstances rarely force people to undertake such a task. This is probably the single biggest reason that most never do. While I regularly attended church when growing up, I was never required, nor felt compelled, to prove either that God exists or that He authored the Bible. Nor was any proof of these ever given or offered to me prior to my calling! And not one person ever suggested to me that I should even be concerned with proving the answers to these two towering questions.
But unless you do this, you will never remove your activity from what God tells you He has made holy—the Sabbath. Again, no man has the authority to make a day holy. Only God does—and He commands us to keep His Sabbath in the condition we found it. But you must prove if the Bible command carries weight. Let’s see further what holy means.
I ask again: Does it make any difference to God which day men choose to make holy? Can they arbitrarily select any day they wish and designate it “holy”?
A well-known Bible example illustrates the point. Exodus 3 gives the account of God speaking to Moses from a burning bush. While most who know anything of the Bible are familiar with this passage, there is an overlooked lesson in it pertaining to the Sabbath. The setting is Moses leading a flock of sheep to Mt. Sinai (Horeb). He came to a bush that was burning, yet was not burning up.
God commanded Moses, “Draw not near here: put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place whereon you stand is holy ground” (vs. 5). Moses did not argue about whether he thought the ground was holy. He simply took his shoes off. Much was at stake here. Had Moses done otherwise, reasoning like so many today, who argue about what God has made holy, God would have been unable to use him to lead Israel from bondage in Egypt.
It was God’s presence in the bush that made it holy. Surrounding bushes or ground were not holy. God designated only a certain piece of ground as holy, as having His presence. The account does not indicate that the ground looked or felt or in any way appeared different from the surrounding landscape. God had to reveal to Moses that the ground was holy—that He was present in it—that Moses must remove his shoes from it. Moses was given no choice but to treat that ground as special and holy. But appearance did not tell him this. God had to reveal it to him!
There is a direct connection to the Sabbath in this point. Here is what the prophet Isaiah wrote: “If you turn away your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure [business] on My holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words: Then shall you delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it” (58:13-14).
This plain passage explains that there are ways to profane God’s holy Sabbath. Like the ground around the burning bush, we are commanded to take our feet (our shoes) off God’s holy time—time that points to Him and has His holy presence in it. Either we believe the ideas and customs of men—and their churches—or we believe the plain commands from ALMIGHTY GOD! Either the opinions—and acceptance—of God-rejecting human beings are important to us, or the opinion of God is! Which do you value?
God Kept Track of the Weekly Cycle
After making it holy 4,000 years earlier, Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath—and His presence is still in it today, 2,000 years later. Obviously, as its Maker, Christ would not be confused about which day to keep the Sabbath (Luke 4:16). But we should take a moment to briefly overview the pattern of Sabbath observance through the 4,000 years from its creation to Christ’s First Coming.
Adam and Eve kept the Sabbath almost immediately after they were created on the sixth day. Their son Abel is called “righteous” (Matt. 23:35). Since Psalm 119:172 explains, “All your commandments are righteousness,” Abel kept the Sabbath. Since Enoch “walked with God” (Gen. 5:24), as a preacher of righteousness (Jude 14-15), he obviously kept the Sabbath. Noah, also a “preacher of righteousness” (II Pet. 2:5), would certainly have kept the Sabbath. All these preachers—Abel, Seth, Enos, Canaan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch and Noah—were direct descendants of each other (Seth was Abel’s brother) in this order and their lives overlapped for hundreds of years. (It can be demonstrated that Adam died only about 125 years before Noah was born.) No one would have lost track of the weekly cycle—and therefore which day was the Sabbath—during this period. Certainly Shem would have been taught by his father Noah to keep the Sabbath. History also records that he was “righteous”—and he overlapped 150 years into Abraham’s lifetime.
Abraham, often called “the father of the faithful,” kept God’s Sabbath. Notice: “Because that Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Gen. 26:5). This verse is most plain. Abraham kept God’s Sabbath! It is the Fourth commandment.
There is a reason this is especially critical to understand. Many who refuse to accept God’s Sabbath, forgetting it was made at creation, claim that God’s Commandments did not exist until Moses received them at Mt. Sinai—430 years after the promises were made to Abraham. How then did Abraham know of them? Because they were all given at creation. The weekly cycle has never changed since the original creation week.
“Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4). Because the Law did exist from creation, God could tell Cain, before he killed Abel, that “sin lies at the door” (Gen. 4:7), if he did not control his attitude.
Human beings must justify their rebellion against God’s Commandments. Human nature hates His law (Rom. 8:7), preferring the traditions and commandments of men in its place (Mark 7:6-9). Yet, God commands in the New Testament that to break any one of His laws is sin (Jms. 2:10-11).
Israel Forgets the Sabbath
Most know the story of Israel’s slavery in Egypt and her Exodus under Moses. A 1950s Hollywood movie made it famous. Before the Exodus, Jacob and his sons had joined another of his sons, Joseph, in Egypt. Later, after Jacob died, a different Pharaoh came into power and enslaved the Israelites for over 150 years. They were not permitted to keep the Sabbath and had no priesthood to guide them. Since Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible later, they would not yet have had any Scriptures available to teach them.
Notice Israel’s condition: “Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Rameses…And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigor” (Ex. 1:11, 13-14).
The Bible records there were 600,000 men, age 20 and above, who left Egypt with Moses. This means there were three-to-four million Israelites, counting women and children. All of them lacked formal knowledge of the Sabbath. By the time they reached the Wilderness of Sin, two months after leaving Egypt, they were hungry and complaining because of lack of food in the desert.
The Manna Miracle Reveals the Sabbath
Understand! Israel reached the wilderness before receiving the Ten Commandments. We know that God gave the Sabbath to Israel through Moses. But why did He do this? He had to! Again, Israel had just spent almost two centuries in slavery in Egypt. They had not been allowed to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for all those years. When God liberated them, they had long forgotten the identity of the true God and His Sabbath.
This is why the Sabbath command begins, “Remember the Sabbath day.” Israel had forgotten it. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had kept God’s Law (Gen. 26:5), but knowledge of the Sabbath had become lost through the centuries.
God decided to make the Sabbath command clear to Israel while they were in the Wilderness of Sin (Zin). He had to reveal to them that this time was holy. Israel had left behind the “flesh pots” of Egypt and grumbled to Moses. God had to test whether they would obey His Law. This was a specific test designed to teach Israel the uniqueness of the Sabbath’s holy time. The account is found in Exodus 16. It also illustrates how people today can think that “time has been lost,” regarding the weekly cycle for Sabbath-keeping.
This Old Testament account of God feeding manna (and quail) to Israel is well known. Notice: “Behold, I [Christ] will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I [Christ] may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no” (vs. 4). Continuing, “And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord hears your murmurings” (vs. 8). The test had begun: Would Israel keep God’s Law—keep His Sabbath? Would they walk in His Law or not?
The context continues, “And Moses spoke unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the Lord [Christ]: For He has heard your murmurings. And it came to pass, as Aaron spoke unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud…And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: And in the morning the dew lay round about the host” (vs. 9-10, 13).
It is important to understand that the quail did not come up until after dusk (sunset) on what we would call Saturday night. Also, Israel was assembled as a congregation on the Sabbath. Moses, like God to Adam and Eve when He offered them eternal life (Gen. 2:15-17), was preaching to them. They were gathered for a religious service. The quails appeared when the Sabbath was over, and people were permitted to gather them for the evening meal.
The next morning was the first day of the week and the first time that manna appeared. People were instructed to only gather enough for each day, or it would breed worms and stink (16:20). The people disbelieved Moses and attempted to gather extra manna. Just as God said, it bred worms and stank.
However, verse 22 explains that on the sixth day of the week they could gather twice as much, so they would have food for the Sabbath, and it would not breed worms and stink. God said this because “Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord” (vs. 23). Verses 25-26 re-emphasize the importance of the Sabbath.
As is always the case, some did not believe God and tried to gather manna on the Sabbath—the seventh day (vs. 27). Just as God had said, they found none. How quickly some become confused about time! These Israelites must have thought “time had been lost” and that the manna would be there even though God had told them it would not. Others thought the manna could be held over on days other than the sixth day, when it could not. God’s response to those who became confused was, “And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse you to keep My commandments and My laws? See, for that the Lord [Christ] has given you the sabbath, therefore He gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide you every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day” (vs. 28-30).
Set all confusion and Israel’s disobedience aside. The sole purpose of this test was to show, through miracles, that God made a specific time, the seventh day, holy! Israel had to be shown—more than two weeks before the Ten Commandments were given—which day this was.
God says, “The Eternal has given you the Sabbath.” We have seen that this world’s theologians have given mankind and professing “Churchianity” Sunday (the day of the sun)—and we will learn that it comes from rank paganism!
CHAPTER THREE – Law of God, Not Moses
Think for a moment. Almost everything God says to do, men do not do. Almost everything God says not to do, men do. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ says, “Swear not at all.” Yet people routinely swear, over Bibles in courtrooms and about nearly everything else one can think of. He says, “Love your enemies,” so men hate them and kill them in war. Also in the Sermon on the Mount, He says, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law,” yet preachers declare, “You can’t keep the law. Christ did away with it because He kept it for us.”
Why do men seemingly examine the Bible for everything God says in His Word, only to find a reason to do or believe the exact opposite?
The Sabbath Command
Just shortly after the manna test, the three-to-four million Israelites arrived en masse at Mt. Sinai. There, they were given the Ten Commandments by God through Moses. The Sabbath is the fourth command.
Let’s read the entire Sabbath commandment: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God: In it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: Wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Ex. 20:8-11).
Several points are vital to understand. First, God said, “Remember the Sabbath.” Again, Israel had forgotten it during their time in Egypt. God had just miraculously revealed the Sabbath—through the manna—as holy time and He wanted Israel to “remember” this time that they had forgotten. Why do men today want to forget a commandment that begins with the word remember? In a world that has forgotten it, God tells you—today—to remember the Sabbath. Will you?
Second, God commands us to abstain from work on the seventh day. God made the Sabbath as a time for man to rest from the previous six days of work. The rest command is all-encompassing. He knew that man would need this rest—physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. This is another reason the Sabbath is literally “for man.” It is a weekly opportunity to break away from the daily routine, commune more closely with God and reflect on our purpose for being.
God does command human beings to work six days. He wants man to provide for himself (and his family) and manage his life and finances in accordance with His laws. Many verses, such as John 5:17, 36, show that both God the Father and Christ work—so should we.
Third, is the critically important point revealing that God regives the Sabbath by hearkening to its place and creation in the original creation week. Exodus 20:11 uses practically the same language as Genesis 2:2-3. More than 2,500 years had passed from the time of creation. God explains that the Sabbath is still holy—hallowed—time.
An important side note is in order here. Though Genesis 2:2-3 does not use the term “the Sabbath day,” Exodus 20 does. This is critical because Exodus 20 directly references the Genesis 2 creation account. While both use the term “the seventh day,” Exodus merely adds that this is “the Sabbath,” therefore making it one and the same as the Sabbath from creation. The Sabbath did not, technically, first appear at Mt. Sinai as some claim. Remember, the same Christ who was Lord of “the Sabbath” made it at creation. The “seventh day” and “the Sabbath” are synonymous! Do not let anyone cleverly twist terms to “prove” that the Sabbath is 2,500 years newer than God says it is!
Fourth, the seventh day is called “the Sabbath of the Lord”—not “the Sabbath of the Jews” or “the Sabbath of the Israelites.” The phrase “of the Lord” connotes possession. An equivalent way of saying this is “the Lord’s Sabbath.” Following basic reasoning, the seventh day is “the Lord’s day.”
No wonder Christ called the Sabbath “the Lord’s day.” Sunday has never been the Lord’s day—it is “the Sun’s day,” plain and simple. Yes, men have given the seventh day the pagan name of Saturday (Saturn’s day), but it has always been God’s day—the Lord’s day. Also, since the original Sabbath command uses the term “the Sabbath of the Lord,” it should be easy to see why the same Lord (Christ) would say to the Pharisees that He was “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5).
Surely some will cite Revelation 1:10 and try to apply the term “Lord’s Day” there to Sunday. This is usually done by saying that Christ’s Resurrection from the tomb was on a Sunday.
We have seen that many theologians and religionists have long admitted that the true Sabbath of the Bible is the seventh day. Saturday is the seventh day of the week (any good dictionary states this), and the weekly cycle has never been broken. However, the ministers of this world have had to carefully devise “explanations” that dismiss many clear scriptures about God’s plain command to keep His Sabbath. Instead of letting God’s Word change their beliefs to conform to His truths, they change the words or their meanings to make them fit their beliefs! They justify Sunday-keeping even though God’s Word has never justified this!
God has always said, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8). He has never said, “Remember the first day (the pagan Sun’s day) to keep it holy,” or authorized His Church or mankind to do this. Nor did He ever command or allow His people to observe numerous other pagan festivals and days of worship, kept by this world’s churches.
We have just introduced why theologians and so many others must conclude that Christ’s Resurrection was on Sunday! Consider. This is why Sunday is commonly referred to as “the Lord’s Day.” While the true “Lord’s Day” of the Bible is actually the Day of the Lord—the Day of His Wrath (Rev. 1:10; 15:1, 7; Joel 2:1-11 and over 30 other places in the prophets)—the term, the Lord’s Day, has come to be synonymous with Sunday. But why? The reason is simple. If Sunday can be established as the day Christ was resurrected, it becomes a means of validating and “authorizing” the keeping of Sunday by the churches of the world, in place of God’s true Sabbath.
It is interesting that the churches of this world will often admit to making a half-hearted effort at keeping nine of the Ten Commandments. Typically, they will acknowledge that it is wrong to steal, kill, covet, bear false witness, and commit adultery. They will also acknowledge that honoring one’s father and mother, avoiding idolatry and taking God’s name in vain—while also claiming to follow the God described in the First Commandment—are basically good things to do. However, most do a poor job of actually keeping these nine Commandments, and teach that Christ officially did away with them and “kept them for us.” But most will agree, at least tacitly, that these nine commandments are “nice principles.”
Exodus 20:8-11 reveals Sabbath-keeping is the Fourth Commandment—a fundamental law of God! The Sabbath was hallowed—made into holy time—by God at creation. God never hallowed the first day of the week.
Therefore, more than the Good Friday-Easter Sunday tradition collapses if Christ was in the grave for 72 hours instead of 36. (This is discussed in Chapter Seven.) The largest single “reason” for the unscriptural tradition (recall Mark 7:7) of Sunday-keeping collapses at the same time. Again, God has always said, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy,” never “Remember Sunday to keep it holy—and just call it the Lord’s day!” Actually, Christ’s Resurrection occurred late Saturday afternoon, between 3 and 6 p.m. If the day of His Resurrection is important—then it points to the sabbath, not Sunday!
All arguments that Sunday is the Lord’s Day are easily exposed as a product of rebellious human reasoning from people who refuse to OBEY God!
According to James (2:10-11) If a person breaks any “one point” of the Law, he is guilty of sin. The Fourth Commandment—fourth “point”—in the Law James speaks of is “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” Sabbath-breaking is still sin today. Once again, so says the New Testament!
Jesus said it clearly (Matthew 5:17)“ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill”. This includes the Sabbath.
The prophecy in Isaiah 42:21 says, “The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honorable.” This must include the Sabbath.
God’s Law, including the Fourth Commandment, is binding on His Church today. It has not been done away. It was sent “unto us.”
The Sabbath is the giving time back to God through worship, prayer, Bible study, and meditation on Him, His creation and His purpose. Certainly worshipping God according to his instructions is giving to Him.
The Sabbath is a matter of obedience, and, as the Fourth Commandment, is directly tied to receiving eternal life. But it also yields benefits in this life. Understand. It is possible to obey God, but the world is ignorant of this because its ministers and theologians tell them it cannot be done or that Christ did it for them.
In the next chapter, we will learn that God has established a special, permanent Sabbath covenant with His people.
CHAPTER FOUR – The Perpetual SABBATH COVENANT
When it comes to God’s command to “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8; Lev. 23:3; Deut. 5:12), practically all church-goers find a way to relegate the Sabbath to “something that the Jews do,” or “something lost in antiquity.” Or they claim, “It doesn’t matter what day you keep, as long as you keep a day.” Others say, “Sunday has replaced the Sabbath.” Most simply believe it has been “done away.” They concoct endless arguments as to why the Sabbath command no longer applies. But God’s Word reveals that the Sabbath was made for all people, for all time.
Be willing to open your Bible and honestly accept what it says about the Sabbath. Many have supposed that Christ “nailed it to the cross” along with most everything else in the Old Testament.
The Additional Sabbath Covenant
The Sabbath originated before the Old Covenant was established. It had been in force since creation.
After God had completed His covenant with Israel, He introduced another very special and unique covenant. It pertained solely to the Sabbath: “And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak you also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily My sabbaths you shall keep…” (Ex. 31:12-13).
Make no mistake. All Sabbaths belong to God—He calls them “MY sabbaths.” This connotes ownership—they are His. They belong to no man, including the Jews.
The Sabbath is a Sign
In Exodus 31:12-17, God made a special covenant with Israel regarding His Sabbath. Continue in verse 13: “For it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the Lord that does sanctify [set apart] you. You shall keep the sabbath…the seventh [day] is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord…Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath…for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested.”
Recall that this last phrase proves that the Sabbath was established from the creation week, over 2,500 years prior to Exodus 31.
God explains that His purpose is that the Sabbath “sanctifies” those who keep it. They are set apart as belonging to—being owned by—God. Christians are told, “You are bought with a price; be not you the servants of men” (I Cor. 7:23) and “You are bought with a price: therefore glorify God” (I Cor. 6:20).
Those who observe the Sabbath are signified as God’s people—and that He owns them. They are also publicly identified as people who keep the Commandments. Civil laws require people to keep several of the other Commandments (against stealing, murder, lying [perjury], etc.). Therefore, obedience to most or all of the other Commandments, which the world at least generally acknowledges in one form or another, does not identify one as a commandment-keeper!
The Sabbath does! It is a sign that people are of God, since no human would ever think or choose to keep this law without it having been divinely revealed by God.
Understand. God had to reveal this sign so that people would appreciate how it functions, what it represents. Take a drive down the street. You will notice all kinds of signs connoting ownership of various businesses and retail establishments. If you are looking for something in particular, the signs are important to you as a shopper. When God says the Sabbath is a sign, He intends and uses His sign in the same way the proprietor of a business does.
Notice that God established the Sabbath as a “perpetual covenant” to be kept “throughout your generations”—and “forever.” This is ironclad. God’s command is for all time. The Sabbath was to be kept forever! Doing this keeps people in touch with the true God. It is the way God intended that people never lose sight of who He is (their God)—and who they are (His people)! If all peoples and nations kept the Sabbath, as Israel was commanded to do, no one would have ever fallen into idolatry and the worship of other gods—which has happened to all nations who have not kept it!
The Sabbath identifies God for who—which God—He is!
Someone will surely ask: “Couldn’t Sunday point to the true God?” Absolutely not! Here is why. Recall that God tied the Sabbath to the creation week: “It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested.” God’s rest was on the seventh day, not the first. Only by keeping the Sabbath are people forced to look back to the creation, and this forces them to focus on which God did the creating. Sunday-worship and Sunday-keeping does not do this, and obviously no other god but one created all things!
All others thought to be “gods” are made of things that God made. The Sabbath points to God as Creator, and the creation is a proof that God exists! “That Does Sanctify You”
Not only does the Sabbath point those who observe it back to the true God, it also sets apart those who do this as different than all others around them. Recall that Exodus 31:13 states, “…that you may know that I am the Lord that does sanctify you.”
I cannot overstate the vital, crucial meaning of this phrase. Sanctify means “to set apart for a holy use or purpose.” Consider. In a world filled with Sunday-keepers (Muslims keep Friday), and even among those who keep no day at all, the Sabbath-keeper sticks out like the proverbial “sore thumb.” No one observing the seventh day can avoid this.
Every time one keeps the Sabbath day, he puts up a neon sign pointing to the God who created the heavens and earth and rested on the seventh day. When one begins keeping the Sabbath, it immediately separates him as different from everyone else.
This World’s God
Now we must ask: Which commandment would Satan choose to overthrow? Which one would he hate most—and why? Which commandment signifies that those who obey it do not belong to him? The only commandment signifying (is a sign) that one belongs to God—and the only commandment that directly points to the true God of creation, thus displacing Satan, is the SABBATH!
Satan most hates the Fourth Commandment! There is no way to get around whether one does or does not observe the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. Either you do or you do not. God and Satan are not confused on this point. They know what is at stake. And the world can readily see whether one keeps the Sabbath or not.
The Bible calls the devil the “god of this world.” To most, this is a truly shocking revelation! Yet, II Corinthians 4:4 states, “In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel…should shine unto them.”
Satan blinds the world to the real gospel for a personal reason. It describes the kingdom of God—God’s soon-coming world-ruling government. Of course, Satan seeks to block people from understanding this marvelous truth. He does not want light to shine on God’s incredible purpose for mankind. He wants humanity, collectively and individually, to think that it has no future.
The devil also recognizes that the arrival of God’s kingdom means he will be banished from his current position (Rev. 20:2-3) of great influence as the god this world unwittingly worships. He will no longer be permitted to deceive (Rev. 12:9) or weaken the nations (Isa. 14:12). He also understands that he can never have what God has offered to all men who obey Him.
In John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11, Christ refers to Satan as “the prince of this world.” All these verses state that the “prince of this world” will one day be judged. Read them! John 12:31 parallels the judgment of this world with Satan’s judgment.
Why? Because this world is his! He is its “god.” This is the plain truth from your Bible! Man’s civilization, with its cultures, ways and systems, is under the control of the devil!
Since Satan has deceived the entire world (Rev. 12:9), then this cannot be God’s world. And since the whole world is deceived, it is cut off from God. Deceived people do not know their purpose for being, and practice lives that reflect this ignorance (Isa. 59:1-2).
How can a single being deceive over six billion people? There are two primary ways.
First, Revelation 12:9 concludes with, “He was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Notice that it says, “his angels.” These beings, which he leads, are referred to as demons (or fallen angels) and they assist Satan in his role of super deceiver. Therefore, Satan does not work alone—he has millions of deceived spirit beings helping him.
Try telling people that the devil influences and controls the entire world. Try telling them he is this world’s “god.” (Do not actually try this.) You would quickly learn how complete is his deception. Recent surveys show that he has convinced nearly 60 percent of all Americans that he does not even exist!
As the god of a completely deceived world, which must, therefore, include all the differing forms of Christianity and other religions, Satan has his own agents. He uses these agents to unwittingly spread his false doctrines. Yes, he has been able to achieve this great success because he has his own ministers! Of course, his agents—his ministers—are themselves deceived into believing that they are God’s ministers. Some teach a few aspects of God’s truth, but none of His most important truths! Virtually all of them teach that his Sabbath is done away with.
The second way is this. Notice II Corinthians 11:13-15. Paul warned of the cunning with which Satan’s ministers successfully deceive: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Yes, Satan has his ministers! And they do not teach you that you must obey God—that the Fourth Commandment is still in effect!
The True God Requires Obedience
I have never heard anyone, professing to believe in the God of the Bible, suggest it is alright to knowingly serve another god. Of course, the vast majority do this unwittingly—unknowingly! But that is another matter. Virtually no one actually deliberately sets out to worship the wrong god.
People will generally, at least tacitly, acknowledge that the other nine Commandments should be kept, yet they refuse to keep the Sabbath. The Sabbath is more than an identifying sign, it is the test of obedience.
Remember, God inspired Paul to summarize what obedience—to any god or authority—means: “Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death [Rom. 6:23], or of obedience unto righteousness [Psa. 119:172]?” (Rom. 6:16).
The world serves a different god. Soon, it will understand that more is at stake regarding Sabbath observance than anyone could now dream. The Bible speaks of a coming “mark” of the beast—the resurrected supposed “Holy” Roman Empire—that involves “buying or selling”—holding a job and earning a living.
Explaining a Covenant
The Fourth Commandment is the only one upon which a covenant was made. The two Commandments that are the most lengthy and detailed—the Second and the Fourth—are the ones that most churches have altered for their own convenience. (They often combine the Second Commandment with the First, which diminishes its importance.) We have seen that these churches claim the authority to effectively change the Sabbath from the seventh day of the week to the first. This ignores the fact that the Sabbath is a special covenant, as God said, “between Me and you” (Ex. 31:16).
Webster’s II Revised Dictionary defines a covenant this way: “A binding agreement: compact.” Anyone who has ever signed a contract—an agreement or covenant (compact)—knows that it involves a certain payment, compensation or reward by one party to another for fulfilling a certain stipulated function or performance.
While the Old Covenant was entirely physical in nature—Israel was to obey certain laws and receive physical blessings as a result (including the promise of being “above all people” as a nation)—the New Testament is different.
It is “…a better covenant…established upon better promises” (Heb. 8:6). The New Testament carries “the promise of eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). It carried rewards that greatly exceed physical blessings or even being “above all people.”
Remember, once a covenant is finalized, sealed or signed, nothing can be added to it (Gal. 3:15). Ancient Israel sealed its covenant with God in blood (Ex. 24:6-8). But the special Sabbath covenant does not appear until Exodus 31—seven chapters later. Yes, the Sabbath had already been given in chapter 20, but Exodus 31 came much later. Do not forget that God also presented the Sabbath to the people before they got to Mt. Sinai. The Sabbath got special emphasis—twice. It was to be a special sign.
How do we know that the Sabbath is an enduring covenant, binding today on any who are God’s people? Exodus 31:16 states, “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” Further, verse 17 says, “It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever.”
What could be plainer? The Sabbath is an on-going—perpetual—covenant between God and Israel “forever”—“throughout their generations.”
How Serious is God?
How serious is God about Sabbath observance? In Israel, all who worked on this day were put to death (Ex. 31:14-15; 35:2). II Corinthians 3:7-8 describes the Old Testament administration of a civil death penalty, which is no longer applicable. (This is because, as we will see, God is now building the nation of spiritual Israel.) Of course, God has always said, “The wages of sin is [eternal] death” (Rom. 6:23; Gen. 2:15-17).
It would be terribly inconsistent of God to require the death penalty for those who ignored the Sabbath in ancient Israel, and to say that “all flesh” will keep the Sabbath during the millennium (Isa. 66:23)—yet declare that He does not care whether His people—spiritual Israel (explained thoroughly in the next chapter)—keep it during the Christian era!
There is another reason God is serious about His Sabbath. Most have no idea that the Sabbath is also a type of God’s coming millennial rest (Heb. 4:1-9), when Satan will be bound (Rev. 20:2-3) and all mankind rests from practicing sin. This is another reason why Isaiah 66:23 states that all nations will keep the Sabbath test commandment of obedience during Christ’s 1,000-year reign on earth. Observing the Sabbath is a weekly reminder, pointing directly to this wonderful future time (Rev. 20:4-6)!
Binding on More Than Israel
Almost everyone who is unfamiliar with the Bible almost eagerly asserts that God only bound the Sabbath on Israel, which most suppose to be just the Jews. Recall that they were only one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
But suppose for a moment that the Jews are the only Israelites alive today. All would agree the Sabbath is clearly binding on them—on “their generations.” Those who acknowledge that the Sabbath is binding on the Jews put themselves directly into a box canyon.
Here is why. Romans 1:16 states that the gospel is the power of God “unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” None doubt that salvation is open to both Jew (including all the other tribes) and Gentile. Paul actually stated that salvation is open to the “Jew first.”
Remember, the Jews must keep the Sabbath, so it must be admitted that becoming Christian does not eliminate this responsibility for them. But are the Jews required to keep the Sabbath while other Christians are free to ignore it, keeping Sunday instead? Are there two standards for Christianity—two kinds of Christians?
We have introduced the fact that Christianity involves more than physical Israelites, that Gentiles are included and must meet on the same day as the Jews or Israelites—and that Christ has a New Testament Church!
CHAPTER FIVE – The Church Christ Heads!
Mark 1:1 begins with “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Christ’s gospel concerned His world-ruling supernatural government—the kingdom of God—to come to this earth (it was not a message about His Person). In verse 15, Christ commands people to repent and believe this gospel to be saved!
In verse 21, Christ gathered His disciples and “they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day He entered into the synagogue.” We earlier referenced Luke 4:16, which establishes Christ’s approach toward the Sabbath: “And, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.”
Building His Church
Later, in Matthew 16:18, Christ made one of the most fundamental statements in the entire Bible: “I will build My church.” No matter how men interpret it, this verse speaks of a single organized Church! Christ continued, “and the gates of hell [the grave] shall not prevail against it.” He promised that His Church could never be destroyed. After His Resurrection, in A.D. 31, Christ kept His promise to build His Church. That Church is alive on earth today!
Some additional things are important to understand. Let’s read all of Matthew 16:18-19 first for background: “And I say unto you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
In order to understand the meaning here, we must start reading from verse 13. Christ asked the disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?”
Founded on The Rock
Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (vs. 16). Then Christ responded, “You are Peter [petros, which means “little rock or pebble”], and upon this rock [petra, means “very great rock”] I will build My church” (vs. 18). John 1:40-42 describes Peter’s brother, Andrew, bringing him to Christ: “And when Jesus beheld him, He said, You are Simon [Peter] the son of Jona: you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone” (vs. 42). A stone is not a giant rock. But Christ is!
Most people—and the Catholic Church—assume Christ meant He would build His Church on Peter. This is not what it says. Christ—not Peter—is the great “Rock” upon whom the Church is built (Deut. 32:3-4, 15, 18; I Cor. 10:4; Eph. 2:20; Psa. 18:2).
Verse 13 mentions that Christ was speaking at Caesarea Philippi. It is significant that He chose this site to speak of His Church! Here is why.
This city is in the far north of Israel, about 25 miles north of Capernaum and the Sea of Galilee. Located at the foot of Mt. Hermon, it is where one of the three main branches of the Jordan River originates. It is a beautiful setting.
I have stood on the spot from which Christ delivered these words. This is what I saw—and what anyone would see: Immediately above where the river springs from the base of a cliff is a massive rock outcropping that dominates the topography. Its presence towers over the landscape. None who were present when Christ spoke these words could possibly have believed He was talking about building His Church on Peter, whom He compared to a little rock. The enormous physical size of the rock looming directly over Christ’s head reinforced His message that He was building the Church on a giant Rock—HIMSELF!
Recall this proof that Jesus was the God—the ROCK—of the Old Testament: “And [Israel] did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (I Cor. 10:4). Yet, once again, theologians and religionists try to place Christ in conflict with—in opposition to—the God of the Old Testament. How absurd!
Christ was the Word—the Spokesman—who inspired the Bible to be put into print. He was telling Peter that He (Christ) was about to build the New Testament Church on himself, lead it as its Head (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18; 2:19; Rev. 1:13-18), be with it always (Matt. 28:20), never leaving or forsaking it (Heb. 13:5), with the gates of hell (hades—the grave) never prevailing against it, just as He had been the Rock of, and led, the “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38).
God’s Church was to continue to exist, doing His Work through the ages as a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), until the end of the age, when it would reach all nations with the good news of the kingdom of God (Matt. 24:14). This Church would be persecuted (John 15:20; 16:33), but would never die out, remaining and enduring until Christ’s Return.
Matthew 7:24 instructs Christians to build their “houses” on a rock (Greek: petra). No one would suggest that a house could be built on a small stone or pebble. This alone eliminates the Church being built on Peter. He was not the first pope, given the “keys” authorizing him to change Scripture at will—including which day is the Christian Sabbath! Grasp this! Jesus was not appointing Peter and his successors to head the Church as Christ’s earthly replacement (a Vicar: “in place of”)!
In Matthew 16:19, Christ stated, “And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…” The “keys” He is referring to is symbolic language meaning that He gives His ministers the knowledge of how to enter the kingdom of God. This knowledge shows the way of life a Christian must follow in order to achieve salvation. Luke 11:52 shows Christ reproving certain lawyers for hiding or suppressing this knowledge, thus preventing themselves and others from entering the kingdom.
Let’s better understand Christ as the Rock the Church is built upon. Since Christians are to build on this Rock to enter the kingdom of God (Matt. 7:24-26), we must understand more fully what this means. It will make even clearer that the Church was not built on Peter, as the first pope, thus empowering him and his successors to change doctrines—including the Sabbath—at will.
Notice what Peter later said about Christ: “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious: and he that believes on Him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the Head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed” (I Pet. 2:6-8).
Peter was quoting Isaiah: “Therefore thus says the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: he that believes shall not make haste” (28:16).
These verses unmistakably show that Jesus Christ is the Rock—the living God—of both the Old and New Testaments!
Note that Peter, when using the word stone, cited a different Greek word, lithos, meaning “a stone, millstone, or stumblingstone.” This would be more like a medium-sized stone—neither a massive rock nor a small pebble—such as the stones used to build the temple or as a stone sealing a tomb. This is how lithos is used in other places. In other words, people trip—stumble—over a rock the size of a “lithos.” They never even got to the point where they were willing to build on the massive Rock—Christ’s words (Matt. 7:24)! We have seen Christ’s words include that He is “Lord of the Sabbath”!
Now notice: “And [the saints] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20). In reality, Christ is the Head (Chief) Stone of the Church and its true foundation: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11). Peter also calls all Christians “lively stones” (lithos), in I Peter 2:5, who are part of Christ’s “spiritual house”—“temple” (I Cor. 3:16-17).
Promise of the Holy Spirit
Christ promised to send His Spirit to build His Church after He was resurrected and returned to heaven: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send [It] unto you” (John 16:7).
Receiving the Holy Spirit at repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38) places one into the Church of God. Notice: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (I Cor. 12:13).
The Greek word for Church is ekklesia, meaning “the congregation of called out people.” It is not a reference to a physical building, but rather to the begotten sons and daughters of God—God’s temple—who will one day be born into the kingdom of God (Rom. 8:29-30; I Cor. 15:50-54; I Thes. 4:13-18). These are those who have been led of God’s Spirit and been made partaker of God’s “divine nature” (II Pet. 1:4).
Today, and for over 1,900 years, Christ has been the living head of His Church, guiding it, and holding Supreme authority over all matters within it.
A Christian is one who yields to God’s authority. Christ said that He is LORD (Master, Ruler) of the Sabbath. While it may make no difference to men which day they keep—because God does not seem real to them—He is very much in the picture, and will judge all human beings. Someday, many will regret their carelessness with Christ’s definition of sin, and which day He made holy!
People’s opinions do not count. What counts is the opinion of the living, Almighty God who made the entirety of heaven and earth. He gave a law that would bring all the good things in life—happiness, abundance, peace and security—en route to His greatest gift, eternal life!
Christ is the only Rock upon which all who wish to be in His one Church must build. He alone has the authority to tell us which day is His Sabbath.
Israel Intended to be Model Nation
Israel’s Sabbath-keeping was intended to be an example seen by other nations. It was always God’s purpose that Israel be a light to the nations around her. Yet, she failed utterly in carrying out this responsibility, instead choosing to COPY surrounding nations, including many of their abominable pagan customs.
Some wonder why God started with the particular nation, Israel. The single biggest reason God started with Israel, instead of any other nation, is merely because He had to start with just one nation. He selected a poor, down-trodden slave people (yet having exceptional potential) to show that, when He worked with a nation, they could come to greatness and enjoy many wonderful blessings. Also, no Gentile nations had ever served God. But Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, from which the twelve tribes sprang, had once known God. So God started with this small nation of slaves.
God intended that other nations would see Israel’s blessings—her prosperity—and want the same for themselves. He wanted all nations to see Israel’s wisdom—and that she served a different God than any known to them. The nations of the world had completely lost track of the identity of the true God. From the Garden of Eden—and Adam and Eve’s rejection of God’s offer of eternal life—had sprung every conceivable false god and goddess.
The world’s nations have literally “reaped what they have sowed”—and what Adam and Eve sowed on behalf of all mankind. Only a very few had been faithful to God by the time He called Israel—Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job and possibly a few others. The entire world had rebelled, and suffered the consequences of confusion, war, famine, disease, poverty, misery, religious deception and more.
But God understood that the nations around Israel would inquire of her as to why she had such wisdom and enjoyed so many material blessings (Deut. 4:6-8). That was His purpose.
So in a world cut off from God, He called the little slave-people nation, descended from Abraham. Their down-trodden condition made it possible for them to listen to God. They could then be a light to other nations who would inquire about their laws, statues and other customs, taught them by God.
In Isaiah 43:21, God said, “This people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise.”
Being His example was God’s plainly intended purpose for this nation. God performed one mighty miracle after another for Israel. The world was able to see these awesome events—such as the plagues used to deliver them from Egypt. Yet Israel still rebelled. Why? Her citizens had human nature. The world has also rebelled, because it also has human nature.
Church Also to be a Model!
We have seen that the Church is spiritual Israel. It is those whom God has called and chosen—and in which He has put His Spirit. From the time of Christ’s ministry, God has used the Church to be a model of obedience to His ways—and to reflect—“show forth”—the blessings of happiness, peace and unity in truth that He intends all peoples to enjoy.
Notice what Christ taught His disciples: “You [Christians] are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14, 16). This verse sounds much like “they shall show forth My praise.”
Christians are to set a right example. People should see vibrant, happy, productive lives in those God has called to Himself and to His way.
The Sabbath was not made for the Jews only. It was made “for man.” And this includes the Gentiles. Why do so many think that Christ came to say, in effect, “I could never get Israel to obey Me, and keep the Sabbath, so I guess it was a bad idea. We’ll just get rid of it. And if the world thinks that it was always only for the Jews—who cares? I have done away with it anyway”?
Such shallow reasoning. God’s laws are called pure, clean and perfect (Psa. 19:7-11)—and they work!
Here is what God inspired Paul to write to the GENTILE Ephesian converts. It is an extensive but important passage, revealing how Gentiles become partakers of the exact same promises God made to Israel 3,500 years ago: “Wherefore remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh…That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who has made both one…that He might reconcile both [Jew and Gentile] unto God in one body by the cross…and preached peace to you which were afar off…For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (2:11-19).
This passage is most clear regarding Gentiles. They have access to the same promises, confirming Romans 1:16, read earlier.
God intended that Israel be modeled in the same way! God always permitted Gentiles to enter the congregation of Israel—also called the “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38).
Notice Exodus 12:38: “And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.” Thousands of Gentiles were permitted to enter Israel and become naturalized citizens. Here is how it was to happen: “And when a stranger shall sojourn with you, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: For no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourns among you” (vs. 48-49).
Again, does God have two different standards for Sabbath-keeping—one for Jews and another for Gentiles? Many claim this is the case. But God says He is “not a respecter of persons.” He does not have one standard for one person and a different standard for someone else.
God says that He is “not willing that any should perish” (II Pet. 3:9) and that He would “have all men to be saved” (I Tim. 2:4). Of course, Gentiles are certainly part of “all men.”
I Corinthians 12:13 said that both “Jews and Gentiles” enter the Church through the receiving of God’s Spirit. They both live under the same standard.
Jesus plainly taught, “Every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matt. 12:25). The Church of God could not have some brethren keeping Saturday and some keeping Sunday. Impossible! Notice: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:28-29).
God promised that “all nations” would be blessed through Abraham. This means the promise of salvation is open to all, including Gentiles. Paul wrote, “But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that works good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile” (Rom. 2:10). This was said to the congregation at Rome, which was primarily Gentile.
The promise was “to the Jew first.” The covenants and the promises of God are clearly made to Israel. This is also found in Romans: “Who are Israelites; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises” (9:4).
But if the promises are only made to Israelites, how are Gentiles included? Paul explained: “Wherefore remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh…” (Eph. 2:11). The Greek-born Ephesians were only Gentiles “in the past.” They had become converted and were now spiritual Israelites.
The next verse makes this clearer: “That at that time [the past, before conversion] you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (vs. 12).
I grew up believing that all the Israelites were Jews (yet, as explained, Judah [the Jews] is only one of the twelve tribes of Israel), that I was a Gentile, and that Christianity is basically a Gentile religion. The truth of the Bible is that Gentiles must become spiritual Israelites. Can you see how God’s truth seems upside down to the world (Acts 17:6)?
The Ephesians were Gentiles who had become spiritual Israelites. They went from being “strangers” from God and His promise, and without hope, to being included in God’s Plan: “But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ…” and “Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph. 2:13, 19).
Once again, that settles it! All are one in Christ. God does not have different standards for different people. All people become spiritual inheritors with Abraham, the grandfather of Israel (Jacob). But let’s see this from a different perspective.
Hosea’s Prophecy for Today
The prophet Hosea brought a remarkable prophecy that applies to the Ten Tribes of the House of Israel. This prophecy describes them in a pathetic condition, having lost all knowledge of the true God.
In the Old Testament period, the Israelites were God’s only people. In Hosea 1:9, God describes Israel as “Loammi,” which means “NOT My people.” By Hosea’s time, they had rejected God’s Sabbath, replacing it with Jeroboam’s first day of the week observance—Sunday.
Israel was prophesied to get confused about her “paths.” Notice: “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths” (Hos. 2:6).
This prophecy reveals that Israel was to lose her identity!
Here is why: “For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal” (vs. 8). People have forgotten how much God has given them. “Baal” is the sun god and Sunday is Baal’s day—as are Christmas, Easter, New Year’s and other pagan holidays, which have been borrowed from ancient heathen religions and inserted into modern professing “Christianity.”
The plain truth is that God hates Sunday worship and all the days that point to Baal. Yet hundreds of millions unwittingly follow the authority of the Roman church—and ignore God’s plain commands to keep His day holy!
All this comes at a great price for rebellious Israel. Notice how the blessings begin to disappear: “Therefore will I return, and take away My corn in the time thereof, and My wine in the season thereof, and will recover My wool and My flax given to cover her nakedness” (vs. 9).
Numerous prophecies, including Christ’s in Matthew 24:7, foretell of famines that now lie just ahead for the people. I said that God hates these holidays, and Sunday, which men have substituted for His Holy Days and Sabbath. Notice: “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts…” (vs. 11).
Take careful note of this verse. God is not speaking of His own Sabbaths, but of the days Israel adopted (“her” days) from the nations around her who worshipped Baal. These were Baal’s feasts!
God adds more: “And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them [Baal’s holidays], and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgot Me, says the Lord” (vs. 13).
Let’s carefully read this crucial passage in Hosea. It describes God talking to Israel while she is in slavery, but then ready to hear His instruction: “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be at that day, says the Lord, that you shall call Me Ishi [my Husband]; and shall call Me no more Baali. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. And in that day will I make a covenant [the New Covenant] for them…And I will betroth you unto Me forever…in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth you unto Me in faithfulness: and you shall know the Lord. And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, says the Lord…and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not My people, you are my people; and they shall say, you are my god” (vs. 14-23).
Obviously, Israel never became the model nation God intended. All Gentile peoples did not observe her example and seek God.
But God has always had a plan for all human beings. The vast majority of peoples on earth are Gentiles, not Israelites. All Israelites make up less than 10 percent of the world’s population. But the world thinks the Sabbath was only for one tribe, Judah, and that the only people God chose were the Jews. However, God does have a specific plan for any Gentiles who wish to be included!
By now you have seen that God does not have one Sabbath standard for the Jews and another for Gentiles. Let’s now see this even more plainly.
Isaiah removes all doubt about this. Let’s begin in chapter 56: “Thus says the Lord, Keep you judgment, and do justice: for My [Christ’s] salvation is near to come, and My [Christ’s] righteousness to be revealed” (vs. 1). This verse sets the stage. It also begins with a “Thus says the Lord.” This establishes God’s authority to say all that will follow in the next sequence of verses.
Let’s be absolutely sure of the time-setting—of exactly when Christ’s righteousness will be revealed to the world. We will put several verses together: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:27-28).
Do you see this? Carefully follow the point. Christ’s righteousness will be revealed when He appears—at His Second Coming. Here is the timing of salvation revealed plainly: “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ” (Rev. 12:10). This obviously refers to Christ’s Second Coming. And further, “And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:12).
Once again, I have taken the time to link these verses because they show the critical element of the timing of Isaiah’s prophecy. Now let’s continue with Christ’s prophecy in Isaiah: “Blessed is the man that does this, and the son of man that lays hold on it; that keeps the sabbath from polluting it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the son of the stranger, that has joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord has utterly separated me from His people” (56:2-3).
Let’s grasp this vitally important verse. It speaks to all Gentiles who wish to become converted, joined to Christ and receive salvation. Christ plainly states that no “stranger” should declare himself “separated” from Christ. Verses 6-7 expand on this prophecy and should excite all Gentiles who read it. Carefully read: the sons of the stranger [Gentiles], that join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, every one that keeps the sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of My covenant [Ex. 31:12-17]; Even them [Gentiles] will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them [Gentiles] joyful in My house of prayer…for Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.”
Why do some ignore that God’s Sabbath was established “forever,” as a “perpetual covenant”? And why do so many believe that it was only binding on Israelites? (Of courses, we have also seen that converted Gentiles are spiritual Israelites—and Israelites were commanded to keep the Sabbath “throughout their generations.”) Forever is forever—and, on God’s authority, I tell you that every stranger may freely “join himself to the Lord.” As a matter of fact, Gentiles are told not to say that they are an exception to God’s command to NOT pollute His Sabbath day, if they are to see Christ revealed unto their salvation!
CHAPTER SIX – Israel and Judah Go Into Slavery—and WHY!
Understand again this critical point, now lost to the world. The Israelites sprang from Jacob’s sons. There were twelve sons. All grew into a tribe of Israel (Joseph son's Manaseh and Ephraim were considered as tribes, while Levi was scattered among all Israel.)
The term Jew actually denotes the descendents of Judah. When the kingdom split into the Southern and the Northern Kingdom, the southern Israelites became known as Jews. Since the Southern kingdom outlasted the northern kingdom eventually all Israelites became identified as Jews.
Consider. The very first place in the entire Bible in which the term “Jews” is found describes a war occurring between the Jews and ISRAEL! Let’s read it: “Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drove the Jews from Elath” (II Kgs. 16:5-6).
This was not Jews fighting Jews. Most people have no idea that the nation of Israel had become divided—into two different nations, representing two separate kingdoms. When Solomon died, Israel rebelled against the oppressive tax rates he had imposed. The price of Solomon’s luxurious lifestyle came on the backs of the Israelites he overtaxed. His son Rehoboam ignored the wise counsel of those who advised him that reducing taxes would stop a revolt developing under a high-ranking leader named Jeroboam, appointed by Solomon. Instead, Rehoboam listened to younger men who told him to actually raise taxes.
The result? Ten tribes rebelled, leaving only Judah and Benjamin still loyal to Rehoboam. These tribes pulled away from Jerusalem as their capital, much like the Old South seceded from the American Union in 1861. Two separate kingdoms—the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah—emerged, with two separate capitals, Samaria (Israel) and Jerusalem (Judah).
Sin and Jeroboam
The Bible speaks continually of the “sins of Jeroboam.” Over and over, in the books of Kings and Chronicles, this term is found. We will learn what they were.
First, recognize that sin is sin—whether committed by Israelites or Gentiles (I John 3:4). When people break God’s great spiritual Law, the penalty is always the same. They are robbed of peace, happiness, abundance and prosperity. Because God loves all people, He punishes all for disobedience. Everyone must learn that sin cannot be taken lightly. All sin is serious! When people break God’s Sabbath, or any other point in His Law, a loving God must spank—punish—them. Otherwise, what would be the point of keeping a law? Certainly everyone understands that if you break the law of gravity, by jumping from a cliff or a building, a terrible price will be paid. Hence, only those who are suicidal consider such an action. It is the same with God’s Law.
God hates sin. He understands that it steals happiness from the lives of all those who commit it. Therefore, He must punish for disobedience. His Law does that automatically—just as it brings automatic blessings for obedience!
Jeroboam Changes Israel’s Sign
I live in Ohio. It is one of fifty states in America. While I am an American, as are all Ohioans, all Americans are not Ohioans. Some are Californians, others New Yorkers or Floridians, and so forth. Grasp the following point! All Jews are Israelites, but all Israelites are not Jews. The Jews are a comparatively small amount of the total number of Israelites.
Israel and Judah were totally separate kingdoms.
Following the split of the twelve tribes of ancient Israel, Jeroboam was king over the northern Ten Tribes. He had to find a means of consolidating his kingdom, insuring it would never reunite with Judah and Benjamin. He recognized the great danger of people returning to Jerusalem to keep God’s feast days (annual Sabbaths or Holy Days) and then deciding to leave him. He had to take specific—and swift—political actions to diminish the threat to his new solidarity over the Ten Tribes, and protect his power.
Since the Temple of God was in Jerusalem, the capital city of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, Jeroboam feared that his kingdom would rejoin itself to Judah. Notice what he did: “Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold your gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (I Kgs. 12:26-28).
Does this sound far-fetched? Not only did it happen, but history records many millions bought the idea.
In quick succession, Jeroboam created a new religious system to distance the people in his kingdom from worshipping at Jerusalem. This included building the two large idols for worship in the towns of Bethel and Dan, at the far northern and southern points of his kingdom. He also established a festival to replace the Feast of Tabernacles—a God-ordained festival. In Leviticus 23:34, God ordained the keeping of this Holy Day and Feast: “The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord.” However, Jeroboam made the observance of his festival on the eighth month! (See I Kings 12:28-33.)
He made one other critical decision that eventually pushed most of the Levites back into alignment with Judah and Benjamin. Recognizing they were the most educated and were the leaders, Jeroboam demoted them. Also, because the Levites were supported by God’s tithes, they had been accustomed to receiving larger incomes. Jeroboam set baser, less-educated people to be Israel’s priests. The Levites became disgruntled and eventually many returned and intermingled with Judah.
II Kings 17:16 records, “And they [the Israelites] left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.” The people of Israel followed Jeroboam’s lead, and worshipped the pagan god Baal, the supposed “sun god,” or “lord of the sun.”
Hislop’s The Two Babylons and Webster’s “Rest Days” explain how this “lord of the sun” was specifically worshipped on the day we now call SUNDAY. Israel’s example of worshipping on this day demonstrates how quickly the entire nation began to observe Sunday. They ignored God’s Sabbath command—“Remember the Sabbath day.”
How do we know that Israel disobeyed this command? II Kings 17 stated that they had “left all the commandments of the Lord their God”—this would have included the Sabbath!
Recall that, in Hosea, God warned Israel—almost 200 years after Jeroboam’s rebellion—about what will happen because of her Sunday-worship. Hosea 2:11 stated, “…her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.” God calls Sunday worship Israel’s sabbaths—not His! His Sabbath falls on Saturday—and identifies His people!
The true originator of Sunday observance is Baal, and God will punish those who participate in it: “And I will visit upon [punish] her [for keeping] the days of baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgot Me, says the Lord” (vs. 13).
Jeroboam caused Israel to forsake God’s Sabbath day—the seventh day of the week, in order to worship Baal the lord of the sun, on Sunday—the false “lord’s day.” His proclamation, setting the “day of the sun” as the national day of worship, led ancient Israel to lose—and never return to—the observance of the true Sabbath!
The acceptance and observance of the “day of the sun god,” Sunday, is a deadly sin with grave repercussions. The result of Jeroboam’s decisions was that all Ten Tribes of Israel, through seven successive dynasties and nineteen kings, practiced the two basic “sins of Jeroboam”—sabbath-breaking and idolatry!
Israel Goes Into Slavery
Jeroboam was the only king in Israel’s history noted to have actually “made” the people sin. Notice: “…and Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them” (II Kgs. 17:21-22). Jeroboam bringing Israel to sin caused God to “remove Israel out of His sight…” Verse 23 further records that the outcome of their Sabbath-breaking was captivity and slavery: “Until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.”
God caused the Assyrians to take the House of Israel into captivity in 721-718 B.C. The Assyrians literally enslaved them and carried them far away from their homeland to Assyria on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea.
Several generations later, the Babylonian (Chaldean) Empire came to power under Nebuchadnezzar. They entered Judah and took the inhabitants captive into the land of modern-day Iraq, over the period from 604 to 585 B.C.
Most of the people never again returned to Jerusalem. The Book of Ezra tells us that only a remnant of the people returned. The rest were scattered through the nations, losing their own language and spoke the languages of the nations they lived in. They became known as the Diaspora Jews. Those are the Israelites who hundredths of years later would come during the feasts of Israel.
The Jewish historian Josephus, writing nearly one hundred years after Christ, said these ". . . tribes are beyond the river Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, not to be estimated by numbers" (Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI, Chapter 5, Section 2)
Why God Allowed Israel’s Defeat
God never allows people to decide what is right and what is wrong. That is His prerogative—and He exercises it. But He does allow them to decide whether they will obey Him—or whether they will disobey.
In Leviticus 26, during Moses’ time, God carefully outlined what He expected of His people. This chapter promises national blessings for obedience and national cursings for disobedience. Take time to read it all. God cited two particular sins—two Commandments—upon which everything hinged.
Here were His terms: “You shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall you set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God. you shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence My sanctuary: I am the Lord” (vs. 1-2).
God specifically warned against Sabbath-breaking and idolatry. These Commandments were so critical, so vital, to God’s Plan that—“IF you walk in My statues, and keep My commandments and do them”—He would pour out blessings upon Israel. He described those blessings in the next 11 verses (vs. 3-13). This was followed by 20 verses (vs. 14-33) explaining all of the curses that would come if these two Commandments were broken. God explained that, for 2,520 years, Israel would lose all prosperity, be conquered, taken from their land into slavery and suffer plagues, sickness and disease.
Sabbath-breaking and idolatry were the triggers God stated would bring captivity. Yet these were the very first things that Jeroboam instituted after the nation of Israel was divided into two nations. The result: The Assyrian king Shalmaneser defeated and enslaved Israel.
Why the Jews Were Taken into Slavery
The House of Judah remained a nation for another 117 years, until 604-585 B.C. Over this 19-year period, they were also taken captive. The reason was directly related to Sabbath-breaking.
Jeremiah prophesied a time when many Jews would return to the Holy Land (29:10), 70 years after entering captivity, to rebuild the temple and restore the knowledge and worship of the true God.
Here is what the prophet Nehemiah said 70 years earlier about events leading up to Judah’s captivity: “In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: And I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that you do, and profane the sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? Yet you bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath” (13:15-18).
Disobedience to God’s commands is a serious matter. Let’s review: Sin is the transgression of God’s holy, righteous, and perfect spiritual Law (I John 3:4; Rom. 7:12, 14). When people break God’s Law—any part of it—the penalty is death (Rom. 6:23). God says, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” Men say, “Ignore this command and keep Sunday holy instead.” This is a colossal sin, carrying terrible consequences!
God Warned Judah
Like any human parent, before God punishes, He warns of consequences for disobedience. He carefully explains the terms—what will trigger the punishment—so there can be no misunderstanding what will happen. God’s prophets always foretold His purpose.
Here is how God inspired Jeremiah to warn the House of Judah on His behalf: “Thus says the Lord; take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do you any work, but hallow you the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers…But if you will not hearken unto Me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day…”—and if Judah disobeyed, “…then will i kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched” (Jer. 17:21-22, 27).
Judah rejected God’s warning. Since God does not warn in vain, here is the price they paid: “Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, and burned the house of the Lord, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire” (Jer. 52:12-13). Make no mistake—God brought this captivity!
Why Jewish People Have Retained Their Identity
The modern world knows who the Jews are. Have you thought to ask why? Why does the world believe that the Jews are God’s chosen people? This must be understood.
The answer: The Jews have retained the Sabbath. They do not keep it holy, nor as God instructed, but they have not switched to Sunday, or Friday, as have professing Christians and Muslims. They have generally retained the Sabbath.
The Jews, therefore, have not become lost! They know who they are. As one historian put it, “More than the Jews having kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews!” How true!
But with all this comes an irony. Again, the world has come to believe the Jews—exclusively—are God’s chosen people.
God’s Sabbath day is binding—and even more so on the modern nation of Israel. While we have seen that Gentile Christians today must keep the Sabbath, because they are spiritual Israelites, it is doubly vital for the nation of Israel to understand that the One who says, “I change not!” (Mal. 3:6) commands to keep the Sabbath.
Now we must learn what is at stake for the nation of Israel, if they do not obey God’s Sabbath, while there is yet time in this age.
God’s Warning to Israelite Nation Today!
Millions of professing Christians have the attitude of Israel and Judah—that God does not really mean what He says. But God DOES mean what He says!
God used the prophet Ezekiel to warn today’s descendants of Israel of these same things. We will see that God outlines the consequences of disobeying His Sabbath MOST PLAINLY!
Ezekiel was sent with a special warning from God to the House of Israel. Here is what God told him: “Go speak unto the House of Israel” (3:1). This is vital to understand, because Ezekiel lived over 100 years after Israel had been taken into captivity. Ezekiel himself was a Jewish captive—a slave—in Babylon. So it is obvious that the House of Israel still existed at that time.
Ezekiel 20 - We will focus on chapter 20 of Ezekiel, verse-by-verse. This chapter begins with God recounting to “certain of the elders of Israel” His repeated warnings to cease their rank idolatry. We pick up in verses 10-12. Notice how it parallels the Exodus 31:12-17 Sabbath covenant: “Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. And I gave them My statutes, and showed them My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. Moreover also I gave them My sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them”—why?—“that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.”
God reminded Israel that the Sabbath was His identifying sign as the God who set them apart. Verse 13 describes Israel’s approach to His Sabbath: “But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness: They walked not in My statutes, and they despised My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them: And My sabbaths they greatly polluted: Then I said, I would pour out My fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them.”
Notice God’s repeated use of the pronoun “MY.” This is important. Next, God pleads with the following generation of Israel: “But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk you not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: I am the Lord your God; walk in My statutes, and keep My judgments, and do them; and hallow My sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God” (vs. 18-20).
It is important to make a crucial distinction at this point. Some get confused about God’s use of the words “MY” and “THEIR.” Grasp this. God is not condemning His own Sabbaths in the same breath He is condemning Israel for polluting them. The problem was that Israel would not keep GOD’S Sabbaths. They wanted to keep their own statutes and their own judgments. (Recall Mark 7:7-9, and how so many worship Christ in vain as they hold to the “traditions and commandments of men.”)
In Ezekiel 20:21, God plainly said, “They polluted MY Sabbaths!” Of course, Israel paid a terrible price for what they did: “I lifted up Mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries” (vs. 23). Why? “Because they had not executed My judgments, but had despised My statutes, and had polluted My sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers’ idols” (vs. 24).
God never leaves any doubt as to exactly why His purpose is carried out as it is. It is important to Him that people keep His Sabbath—it makes a difference to Him!
Verse 33 speaks of God’s “fury poured out”: “As I live, says the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you.” Now compare Revelation 16:1: “And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of god upon the earth.” God’s fury always refers to the seven last plagues!
Ezekiel’s prophecy continues with a description also found in Jeremiah 23:7-8. Now continue in Ezekiel 20, with Christ’s promise to gather His people back to Him: “And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein you are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out [on the world and nations who took her captive]. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face” (vs. 34-35).
You may scoff or sneer at this, but not for long!
Israel was given a unique opportunity by God to become an example unlike any other nation. Notice: “He shows His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto Israel. He has not dealt so with any nation: And as for His judgments, they [other nations] have not known them” (Psa. 147:19-20).
Israel defaulted on their responsibility. God cannot ignore this. Now notice Amos 3:1-2: “Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth: Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
Look around you. All that you see will soon change—DRAMATICALLY! People you know and love are being spoken of in this prophecy. Think about it. Meditate on it—and hear this warning from God through Ezekiel, and through this book, TO YOU! Will you hear my voice, or will the pull of the rebellious majority of mankind around you be too strong, causing you to receive what is foretold to come upon them?
Yet God pleads with all who will listen. He told Israel, “Hallow My Sabbaths.” Continuing in Ezekiel 20, here is how He pleads similarly with YOU: “Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, says the Lord God. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: And you shall know that I am the Lord” (vs. 36-38).
The future carries a wonderful, happy ending for the people of Israel. God promises to reveal Himself to them. When Christ returns, establishes His government—and gathers His people—here is what happens: “And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up Mine hand to give it to your fathers. And there shall you remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein you have been defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that you have committed. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have wrought with you for My name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O you house of Israel, says the Lord God” (vs. 42-44).
You can be spared from all that is prophesied to happen soon to the nation of Israel. What will you do? Will you keep God’s Sabbath? Will you receive His identifying SIGN? I pray you have eyes to see and ears to hear the strong, plain words of this book!
CHAPTER SEVEN – Sabbath or Sunday in the New Testament?
We have already seen that Christ’s custom was to enter the synagogue “on the sabbath day” (Luke 4:16). We also saw that He is “Lord of the sabbath” (Mark 2:28) and that He never changes (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8).
But what other New Testament evidence is there of Sabbath observance? Are there other passages revealing what day Paul kept—and what day he used to teach those Gentiles God was converting? Let’s examine a series of verses.
Paul and Barnabas Teach on the Sabbath
Acts 13:14-15, 42-44 contains an account of Paul and Barnabas teaching Jews on the Sabbath: “But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, You men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on” (vs. 14-15).
The account picks up in verse 42: “And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.” Why would he not tell them to just show up the next day—Sunday—instead of requiring them to wait an entire week, until the next Sabbath, for further instruction? The account says nothing of Paul telling the Gentiles that they no longer had an obligation to keep the Sabbath—that it had been done away. While one might suppose that the Jews still carried this obligation, why did Paul not at least explain to the Gentiles, in a message about the “grace of God,” that the Law had been nailed to the cross? He could have easily explained that the Sabbath was no longer binding in the New Testament era.
Notice verse 43: “Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of god.”
But more time passed. People wanted to hear more of the “word of God.” Paul required everyone to wait another week—a second time. Another lost opportunity to point the Gentiles to Sunday. Now read: “And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God” (vs. 44). “Continuing in the grace of God” meant learning to observe the Sabbath!
Gentiles Also Assemble on Sabbath
James mentioned four points in Moses’ law that should still be kept. Now notice verse 21: “For Moses of old time has in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” This verse is crucial. It reveals that Gentile converts were attending services and hearing the first five books of the Law “every Sabbath day.” The New Testament records this important clue for those seeking to know which day God’s people were keeping after Christ’s Church began—“every” week.
Why did the apostle’s letter not tell the Gentiles to stop meeting “every Sabbath”? Think of it. This is a giant omission—an enormous missed opportunity to correct what many believe is the greatest burden of all—Sabbath-keeping! It is evident that Gentile converts were routinely instructed to begin meeting on the Sabbath day. This is the message of verse 21! How far some will go to get away from the Fourth Commandment!
Next we examine Acts 16:12-15, an account of Paul and Silas observing the Sabbath in Philippi. Careful reading of the account shows that it was a custom for people to meet on a river bank each Sabbath: “And from there to Philippi…and we were in that city abiding certain days. And 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 spoke unto the women which resorted there. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And…she was baptized.”
Obviously, Paul and those with him kept the Sabbath each week. This required them to find where Sabbath assembly regularly took place locally.
Paul Kept the Sabbath
The next account, Acts 18:1-11, is remarkable. It reveals that Paul worked during the week and kept the Sabbath—“every” Sabbath: “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; and found a certain Jew named Aquila…with his wife Priscilla…and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks [Gentiles]…and he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (vs. 1-4, 11). Eighteen months is equivalent to 78 weekly Sabbaths on which Paul taught God’s Word!
Verse 6 shows that the Jews became angry and, blaspheming, departed from Paul. This left him teaching Gentiles only—and yet he continued teaching them on the Sabbath! The argument that he met on the Sabbath to satisfy the Jews holds no water.
Paul taught both Jews and Gentiles each Sabbath. And he worked the other six days in accord with “Six days shall you labor, and do all your work.” If Paul was also observing Sunday, he would have been routinely violating the other aspect of the Sabbath command, having but five days to work.
Finally, notice that Acts 17:2 states that Paul, when in Thessalonica, “…as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures.” This was also a Gentile city.
The pattern is clear. Paul kept the Sabbath, meeting with and teaching brethren everywhere he went. Now consider what he instructed the Gentile Corinthians: “Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Cor. 11:1).
But is Sunday Mentioned in the New Testament?
What we have just seen should settle the question of which day New Testament converts—Jews and Gentiles—observed. The matter should be settled. But human nature still looks for evidence to prove Sunday is the New Testament day of worship.
Does the New Testament mention Sunday? No, but it does mention the “first day of the week” in eight places. They are not difficult to examine. Before we begin, recognize that at least one of these passages must clearly authorize Sunday observance. In light of all the Old and New Testament evidence we have seen, such a passage, to even be considered, must carry absolute authority supporting Sunday!
John 20:19 “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said unto them, Peace be unto you.” Was this a Sunday worship service? Was it to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection?
Christ had just been resurrected—late Sabbath afternoon, between 3 and 6 p.m. Some disciples had gone to the tomb early Sunday morning to see if He was there. Other accounts we will review demonstrate that He was already gone—already “risen.” His first opportunity to see the disciples would have been on Sunday—the first day of the week. He had just been horribly tortured and crucified, and gone for three days in the tomb. It was natural for Christ to meet with them right after this had happened.
The account says nothing of this being a “worship service,” or a “resurrection service.” The brethren were meeting privately, probably secretly in a closed room, “for fear of the Jews.” Remember, the Jews had crucified their friend and Master. Also remember that they had all been living together in this single upper room (Acts 1:13). It was also impossible that it was some kind of “Sunday resurrection celebration,” because the disciples did not believe that Jesus was risen (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:37, 39, 41).
There is certainly nothing in this account that references either Sunday or that the Sabbath is done away. Therefore, we conclude that it contains no authority for changing God’s Sabbath to Sunday.
Matthew 28:1 “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.”
Matthew wrote this verse six years after this event occurred. Take the verse at face value. Matthew used the Sabbath as a point of reference—to show it was drawing toward or into the first day of the week from what Matthew still understood was the Sabbath. The Sabbath was still the seventh day of the week from Matthew’s perspective—and he wrote under inspiration of God!
Consider one other point. Matthew is describing events that occurred three days after Christ supposedly abolished the Sabbath, with all other things that were supposedly “done away,” or “nailed to the cross.” This verse refutes the argument that merely “keeping any day in seven holy” is acceptable.
This second passage in no way authorizes Sunday-keeping. No religious or resurrection service is mentioned. It does introduce the third reference.
Mark 16:2 “And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.”
Mark wrote his gospel account ten years after Christ’s Resurrection. Like Matthew, he still uses the Sabbath as a reference. His purpose for using “the first day of the week” was merely to identify when Mary Magdalene and two other women (vs. 1) came to the tomb to anoint Christ’s body with spices. This passage carries no authorization for Sunday-keeping, and speaks nothing of any kind of religious service. The fourth reference is a few verses later.
Mark 16:9 “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils.”
Some use Mark 16:9 to prove the Sunday worship theory. But again, there is no reference to any kind of resurrection service.
This verse is nothing more than a factual account of Mary Magdalene appearing at the tomb. It carries no greater meaning than this. There is no statement about Sunday-keeping, worship services or doing away with the Sabbath.
Luke 24:1 “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.”
Comparing this account with the parallel account in Matthew and Mark reveals that these women had waited until the Sabbath was over to do certain work. One verse earlier, in Luke 23:56, it states that these women had “rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.”
This would be strange if the women had been taught, throughout Christ’s 3½-year ministry, that He intended to “nail the Sabbath to the cross.” Of course, they knew that the Sabbath was ordained forever and that Christ did not abolish it. How could these women “rest…according to the commandment” if the Fourth Commandment had been done away?
Does Luke 24:1 authorize Sunday-keeping? Quite the opposite! It validates Sabbath-keeping, as do the accounts of Matthew and Mark, written years later. Luke actually emphasizes that the first day of the week is a normal work day.
John 20:1 “the first day of the week comes Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulcher.”
This account merely validates Matthew, Mark and Luke. It contains nothing new. However, John wrote his gospel 63 years after Christ’s Resurrection. At the end of the first century, he held no doubt about whether the Sabbath was still in effect. No authorization for a change here either!
Acts 20:7-8 “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.”
This account does, in fact, speak of a religious meeting on the first day of the week. But it had nothing to do with a Sunday morning worship service. Paul was a visiting apostle. Such an event was special onetime deal, and people wanted to hear him preach as long as possible. And it was a farewell sermon.
What Does “Break Bread” Mean?
This is an interesting account for other reasons. Paul was visiting the Troas congregation immediately after the Days of Unleavened Bread (vs. 6). Here is what the others traveling with him did: “And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: For so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene” (vs. 13-14).
Paul’s plan was to walk an arduous journey of 19½ miles across a peninsula to meet his companions. These men had to sail 60 miles around the peninsula to their rendezvous point with Paul. Both Paul and his companions were going to be doing very hard work, all day, on the first day of the week. They had enjoyed the Sabbath together and Paul was “ready to depart on the morrow” (vs. 6), or Sunday morning. Verse 6 also shows that this occasion had occurred “after the days of unleavened bread”—one of God’s annual Feasts.
Again, Paul had spent an entire Sabbath preaching to the brethren, continuing well into Saturday night—or the first day of the week—which started at sundown Saturday evening. Some claim Acts 20:7 refers to keeping the Lord’s Supper on Sunday morning because the term “break bread” was used. This assumption is not true. Paul’s long preaching had left people hungry. It was midnight. They wanted to eat. This is why verse 11 says those present “had broken bread and eaten.” This was an ordinary meal, not the observing of the Lord’s Supper. Other passages prove this.
Acts 2:46 speaks of the disciples who, “continuing daily…breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness.” The account shows that the brethren were doing this daily for fellowship only. Obviously, human beings do eat daily, especially with friends.
Further, Acts 27:34-35 explains, “Wherefore…take some meat…he took bread…and when he had broken it, he began to eat.” Finally, even Christ said, in Matthew 26:29, that He would not take the “Lord’s Supper” until after He had returned to earth and was in His kingdom. However, Luke 24:30, at a later time, shows Him to have sat “at meat,” or eating a meal, with the disciples. He broke bread and blessed it on that occasion. There are cultures today, particularly in Europe, who still use the term “break bread” to mean the actual breaking of a certain type of bread as they eat a meal.
The Acts 20 account provides no authority for Sunday-worship. It is not even talking about Sunday morning, except that Paul had an all-day walk ahead of him starting then. Rather, it validates that the brethren met on the Sabbath with Paul, and that he and his companions were perfectly willing to perform hard labor—after the Sabbath, on the first day of the week.
I Corinthians 16:2 “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”
Before examination, let’s read the first three verses of this chapter to put verse 2 in context: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do you. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever you shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.”
This passage supposedly gives authority for passing the “collection plate” every Sunday. Does it represent a general command to all Christians, for all time, to give freewill offerings at “Sunday services”? No! However, the passage does speak of an offering, a collection to be taken up for a specific purpose. The offering described here is unique in five ways. As you read these points, see if there is even a remote indication or hint that God in any way commands or authorizes Sunday-keeping.
First, it is a specific offering described in Romans 15:25-28: “But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it has pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It has pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal [physical] things. When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.”
This passage shows the collection was “for the poor saints…at Jerusalem.” It was not a collection plate passed on Sunday. The Jerusalem saints were to receive food because they were suffering from drought and famine. The Greek word translated “fruit” can also refer to grain, produce or wine, which can be stored for long periods.
There is no reference to money here. There is also nothing about giving a collection to the minister or a church hierarchy.
Second, it was done at one specific time—when Paul passed through (“I will come by you into Spain”).
Third, it was given at one specific place (“let everyone of you lay by him in store”). This is because Paul would come later (vs. 3 – “when I come”) to gather what brethren had been saving at home (“lay by him in store”). This was not an offering kept at the church, or given every—or any—Sunday.
Fourth, this command is specific to the Corinthians (vs. 1). There is no command for Sunday collections here, but merely instruction to local brethren to store an important offering for poor brethren!
Fifth, this letter was received in Corinth during the Days of Unleavened Bread. “First day of the week” should properly be translated “first of the weeks (plural).” The collection was almost certainly to happen immediately after the Days of Unleavened Bread, in the first week counting toward Pentecost.
Verse 4—“and if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me”—coupled with verse 3 referencing “them,” shows that it took several people to transport this large offering to Jerusalem. This would not be necessary if it was simply cash and coins taken up in an offering plate. It would be necessary if much food and drink was involved.
Eight Passages—No Sunday Authority!
Objective people will admit we have seen no evidence—no proof whatsoever—for Sunday-keeping in these eight passages. There is not the slightest suggestion in any of these passages that Sunday should be kept, or that the Sabbath is done away. Nor does Revelation 1:10, mentioned earlier and referencing “the Lord’s day,” have anything to do with Sunday, as some claim. We saw that it refers to the Day of the Lord, or Day of God’s Wrath, to occur just before Christ’s Return.
Instead, we have seen that Christ, Paul and the New Testament brethren (Jews and Gentiles) all kept the Sabbath. blessings for obedience, and cursings and captivity for disobedience—and polluting it—have been explained.
Christians are to “live…by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4). God’s “mouth” has spoken much about how the Sabbath is holy to Him—“blessed” and “hallowed”—and that it commemorates the creation week of the true God. God calls the Sabbath “My holy day” (Isa. 58:13). Truly, the Sabbath is “the Lord’s day.”
Then Where Did “Sunday-keeping” Come From?
God commanded that the Sabbath be kept forever. How then did Sunday-keeping originate? It certainly did not come from God or His Church.
We now understand that Sunday is commonly referred to as “the Lord’s day.” Remember. While the true Lord’s Day of the Bible is actually the Day of the Lord—the Day of His Wrath (Joel 2:1-11; Rev. 1:10; 15:1, 7), the term, “the Lord’s day,” has come to be synonymous with Sunday.
Introduced with some review, here is why. Many have assumed that since Christ was resurrected from the tomb on Sunday. Then that “authorizes” the keeping of Sunday by the churches of the world—in place of God’s true Sabbath. But there is no such authorization anywhere in the scriptures.
Many pagan festivals, including Christmas (Saturnalia), Easter (the festival of Ishtar) and worship on the day of the Sun, were observed throughout the Roman Empire long before Christ. The apostate church (the false “woman” church of Revelation 17) simply adopted them into practice, and enforced them on all citizens in the empire through the civil government. Actually, the first one to enforce Sunday worship was not a Pope or a church, but was Constantine, the Roman emperor.
Here is what happened next. At the Council of Laodicea, in A.D. 363, the following formal decree was passed: “Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, resting rather on Sunday. But, if any be found to be Judaizing, let them be declared anathema from Christ.”
Understand what this decree meant. When one was branded “anathema” (accursed or heretic) by the church, he was arrested by the state and tortured, which, unless he recanted, continued until death. This was enforced so strictly that people were required to rest on Sunday, and work on Saturday, in order to engage in business or hold a job.
Changing “Times and Laws”
Daniel 7. Verse 25 sheds important light on what happened in the Roman Empire. Daniel wrote, “And he [the little horn] shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High”—now get this next point and do not misunderstand—“ and think to change times and laws”!
This is a remarkable statement about how the great false “woman” church sought to alter God’s law as it had to do with time. The single most obvious way was to change the time of God’s Sabbath to the pagan sun’s day (the day long set apart by men for worship of the sun)—thus altering the fourth great law of God! Chapter One of this article cited many quotes proving the Roman Catholic claim of authority to “change” God’s “times and laws.” Their system was prophesied to appear!
How plain has been the work of this church in its efforts to “wear out the saints”!—and to speak against “the most High”! Eventually, God will pour out His wrath without mercy on any who would dare to do these things to Him and to His people! This time is coming soon.
God has never authorized His Church or mankind to keep the pagan Sun’s day. Nor did He ever command or allow His people to keep numerous other pagan festivals and days of worship. He has always commanded against them!
Here is a great irony! When people celebrate Sunday as the “Lord’s day,” they unwittingly celebrate the very wrath that God will pour out on a rebellious mankind for keeping this pagan custom in place of His Sabbath! While astonishing, this is true.
Exodus 20 showed Sabbath-keeping is the Fourth Commandment! The Sabbath has always been the seventh day of the week, and God never authorized Sunday, the first day. God hallowed the Sabbath at creation, and has always said, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” He has never said, “Remember Sunday to keep it holy—and just call it the Lord’s day!”
To those who say, “Well, the Sabbath was only made for the Jews and Israel,” Christ has answered, “The sabbath was made for man…Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).
God said to remember the Sabbath, but today many ministers say Forget the Sabbath, who are you going to listen to? God or men?
Yes, Christ is Lord of the Sabbath, not the Lord of Sunday! The Sabbath was not made for the Jews or Israel only, it was made for MAN—for all humanity. But humanity has rejected it! Will you keep God’s time holy?
CHAPTER EIGHT – Sabbath Assembly and Fellowship
As part of Sabbath observance, assembling is a clear Bible command. This instruction also carries a prophesied end-time warning.
Our First Glimpse of the Church
Acts 2:1 records an historic scene: The disciples are together and the New Testament Church is about to come into existence. Luke writes, “They were all with one accord in one place.” Peter gives a powerful sermon. Miracles are recorded. The Holy Spirit is given. After repentance is explained, thousands request baptism. About 3,000 are “called” (vs. 39) and “gladly receive his [Peter’s] word” (vs. 41). Probably the largest single group baptism in history occurs. The New Testament Church is born!
What did this signify—what did it mean? Of course, the Church of God was established, but what else? Even in its infancy, there were clues. Allow the Bible to answer.
What did this new Church look like? Here is what Luke records: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42).
Why is this significant? The two earliest and most defining features of God’s Church are evident: (1) Steadfastness in the apostles’ doctrine, and (2) fellowship. After verse 43 explains that the fear of God is apparent in “every soul,” verse 44 adds, “All that believed were together.” Verse 46 also states that they continued to be of “one accord [agreement],” meeting together “daily” in various houses in “singleness of heart.” The Church was unified!
God’s purpose—His intent—for His faithful servants is that they remain together, believe the full truth, submit to His government, and actively continue His Work (Matt. 24:14, 44-45; 28:19-20; Ezek. 33:7-9; Isa. 62:6).
God is Present on the Sabbath
We have seen many places where God has made the Sabbath holy. Literally, God is present in this day. Those who are meeting together are meeting in God’s presence. All that is done occurs in His presence.
John explains the real basis of fellowship, both with other spirit-led Christians and with God: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ…If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:3, 6-7).
True fellowship is with God and flows through Christ. He taught, “I am the Vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5). Christians “abide in Him” (vs. 4). Like grapes cut from a vine, without spiritual contact with Christ, Christian growth is impossible. Christ explained, “For without Me you can do nothing” (vs. 5).
Understand. You cannot go it alone. If any limb of a body is severed (arm, leg, hand, finger), it will live for a little while—but only for a little while. It will die, unless it is successfully grafted back onto the body: John 15:15 speaks to any who might try to have a “just you and me, God” attitude. (See I Cor. 12:12-20.)
Vast millions meet every Sunday, having no idea that God is not present in this day. They suppose that they can force Him to be involved by claiming that He is. God has never been present on Sunday. Regardless of what men say, it will always be a normal workday to God. Christ established His presence on the Sabbath by resting on that day. We have read that He does not change. By meeting on this day, those who have God’s Spirit (Rom. 8:9, 14; Acts 2:38; 5:32) fellowship directly with Christ and the Father.
Worshipping in Truth
The Bible teaches, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). We have seen that the truth of God’s Word—the Bible—is that the Sabbath was made holy. While the world teaches that religion is a “personal thing” and “each person must act as they see fit, according to their own conscience,” God has never stated this is an acceptable way to worship Him. Here is what He tells you: “You worship you know not what: We know what we worship: For salvation is of the Jews…God is a Spirit: And they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:22, 24).
Notice what Paul told the Philippians: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (2:5).
Here is what he told the Colossians: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (1:27).
This is what He told the Galatians: “I am crucified with Christ: Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (2:20).
Christ kept the Sabbath. His “mind” in us will always keep the Sabbath. He has not changed! He would NEVER keep a pagan day in or through you!
Jesus was a Jew. We have seen that Jews at least tacitly accept the Sabbath. But many people denigrate God’s day with the contemptuous, derisive cliché of “that Jewish Sabbath.” They seem to almost spit out these words. I have heard the bigotry and scorn in their voices. Romans 8:7 explains why so many deceivers today speak with such contempt and scorn for God’s wonderful Sabbath.
We just read that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). Now notice what Paul wrote: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom. 2:28-29).
Yes, a true Christian is a Jew. Have you ever heard that before? Jesus Christ is the Jew who is living inside all those begotten of God. Technically speaking, a Christian could correctly be spoken of as either a “Christian” or a “Spiritual Jew.” And it makes no difference whatsoever whether or not one is born a Jew, an Israelite or a Gentile. All who are baptized and converted (Acts 2:38) have the Spirit of God. This means that they obey God (Acts 5:32).
Christ led a perfect, sin-free—Commandment-keeping—life. His role as our Savior depends on this. This means He kept the Fourth Commandment perfectly for an entire lifetime. Could any think He did this for 33½ years just so He could say it is now done away? He had already been Lord of the Sabbath for 4,000 years. He still is!
To all of you who may be Gentile-born, read Romans 11:17-18, 23-26. And recall Ephesians 2:11-12. The promises made to Israel now apply to you.
Make note of this point. The very word Gentile means “unbeliever.” This is all that the word means! Once one has repented, accepted Christ, been forgiven, baptized and received the Holy Spirit, he is no longer an unbeliever! He is now a BELIEVER. Quite literally, he is no longer a gentile. He is a spiritual Jew—a Christian!
The Spirit of God in you will help you obey the Sabbath. Ancient Israel was given a physical law of ceremonies and rituals (Gal. 3:16-19) because they did not have God’s Holy Spirit living within them. Various animal sacrifices, washings and other ceremonies were simply a “schoolmaster” (Gal. 3:24) intended to help their physical minds observe God’s Law until Christ came and offered His Spirit. The Sabbath is a spiritual command and God’s Holy Spirit will help you keep it. God explains that His love is “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 5:5). This means you will have the spiritual love, for God and man, to be capable of fulfilling His Law (I John 5:3; Rom. 13:10). Let no one tell you otherwise!
All those seeking to worship God in spirit and truth will want to be together. They will want to be with others who think, believe, understand, live and endure the same things—while seeking the same goal!
God Commands Assembly
We started this chapter by explaining that Christians are commanded to assemble every Sabbath. By what authority do I say this?
God instructed Moses to write, “…the feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are My feasts. Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings” (Lev. 23:2-3).
The Hebrew word for “holy convocation” is miqua, meaning “something called out, an assembly, a reading.” This is a commanded assembly. It is inseparable from the overall keeping of the Sabbath—and is as important as “resting” and “[doing] no work therein.”
If Sabbath assembly is optional, then what is the point of Hebrews 10:23-26? WHY do we need to assemble? What are the purposes for this command?
In John 21:15-17, Christ directly told Peter (three times) that, if Peter loved Him (Christ), he would “feed My sheep.” This admonition was not lost on Peter. Later in his ministry, Peter instructed elders to “feed the flock of God which is among you” (I Pet. 5:2).
Paul admonished the assembled elders at Ephesus in the same way: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He has purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
God’s ministers do not take this lightly. Ask: How could God command His ministers to feed sheep who were themselves not commanded to attend and eat the spiritual food served?
Here is why God has ordained a ministry: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things” (Eph. 4:12-15). Also read I Cor. 12:28-29.
A Vital Warning
Hebrews 10 states, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: And so much the more, as you see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins” (vs. 23, 25-26).
Let’s take a closer look. Several points are important in this passage: (1) The context is holding fast to the truth. (2) This must be done without wavering—going back and forth. (3) We must never stop assembling. (4) Some do adopt this approach to Sabbath attendance. (5) We are to exhort others to attend. (6) It is “so much the more” important as we “see the day [of Christ’s Return] approaching.” And finally, (7) this is in the context of a direct warning against willful sin—leaving “no more sacrifice for sins.”
We have already seen throughout this book how God views observing the Sabbath, and keeping His time holy. This passage ties ignoring the need to assemble and fellowship to the unpardonable sin—“sinning willfully.”
Christ’s sacrifice does not license us to override acting on true knowledge. This is unforgivable. Notice that in Hebrews 4:9, Paul reminded God’s people that “There remains therefore a rest [Greek: Sabbatismos—most margins say “a keeping of the Sabbath”] to the people of God.” This is another New Testament passage emphasizing God’s Sabbath command is still binding. Study it!
You must never “forsake the assembling of yourselves together” when within reasonable distance (Heb. 10:25). Just a few verses later, God gives insight—and powerful instruction—through Paul, regarding how He views those who waver, cease to hold fast and pull back from faithfulness: “But if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (vs. 38-39). Do you believe God’s instruction throughout this book?
Remember that the people of the true Church of God will always continue steadfastly “in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship”!
Why Assembling Builds Faith
There is another critical aspect of Sabbath assembly that is little understood. As you listen to spiritual messages and news of God’s Work around the world, something is quietly happening within you. Let’s see!
Notice this: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14).
Yes, ministers are necessary so that people can be properly led within the truth. Yet members also have responsibilities toward the Church.
Desire to learn is important. In Acts 8:31, an Ethiopian eunuch answers Philip’s question, “Understand you what you read?” with his own question: “How can I, except some man should guide me?” In this question, he sought help. It took humility to admit that he did not “know it all.” He sought guidance. Yet the context shows that he was familiar with Isaiah’s writings and must have had his own personal copy. Like the eunuch, you must be willing to let God’s Church teach you.
Paul continues in Romans: “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (10:15). God’s ministers are always sent by him. They never come of their own authority, in rebellion against God’s chosen leadership.
Paul further continues: “…as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah said, Lord, who has believed our report? so then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of god” (Rom. 10:15-17).
Listening to God’s instruction through His true servants is a faith-building exercise. God’s Word is living—dynamic! It is not sterile or useless to those hearing it. When sitting in Sabbath services, you are not simply “marking time,” you are growing in faith—if you are actively engaged in every word that is being spoken. People leave services stronger than when they arrived.
The biggest reason we are to assemble on God’s Sabbath is to be spiritually nourished with the pure word of truth and “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27, NKJV). This is one of the most important ways that your faith is strengthened!
Remember this vital principle and how it works within the mind of a converted person! To Praise God
The second reason God’s people must assemble together is perhaps best summarized by three verses in Psalms: “Let them exalt Him also in the congregation of the people” (107:32), “Sing unto the Lord a new song, and His praise in the congregation of saints” (149:1), and “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him” (89:7).
These scriptures show that we come together to praise God as we learn to fear and reverence Him—and we are to do this with other brethren, assembled as the Church!
The third purpose for attending Sabbath services is to enjoy right, godly fellowship. It is a weekly opportunity for those who fear God to speak “often one to another” (Mal. 3:16).
This is one reason the New Testament records so many accounts of the brethren being “together” (I Cor. 5:4; 11:18; Acts 20:1-6). You have already seen several.
You may become part of a small congregation, one at the stage where you feel you are like Archippus, “The Church in your house” (Phm. 2), or as Paul wrote to the Romans about Priscilla and Aquila, “The Church that is in their house” (Rom. 16:5). Do not forget that Lot was alone. So was Noah. Like these men, you may be among a very few scattered in the “Sodom” of this world, but you are very important to God.
Do not to “despise the day of small things” (Zech. 4:10). While the Church will grow larger, the New Testament era will almost certainly end as it started—many small home congregations full of zealous people. But in this age, when a pastor or elder cannot always be present, brethren must often gather around a videotape or a recording to be fed God’s precious truth.
But Only with the Living, Active Church
To those who are unsure about which Church of God to attend, do not misunderstand! You cannot please God and assemble with leaders who compromise with God’s truth. That does not please God! Read II John 7-10, Titus 3:9-11 and Romans 16:17.
The Final Decision
“Many, having read this far, will say—‘But I can’t keep the Sabbath. I’d lose my job.’
“Let me tell you something! I have known of hundreds of such cases! It takes living faith to OBEY God! Can you trust HIM, even with your job? Unless you can, I wouldn’t give you a counterfeit penny for your chances of escaping the Lake of Fire!
“Never ask an employer if you can have Saturdays off. Use a little wisdom—and pray for God’s help. Then tell your employer, in a quiet but earnest and positive manner, that you have learned that Saturday is a day made holy by God, and that He commands you to keep it holy. You are very sorry if it inconveniences him in any way—but you will not be able to work anymore during that day. Say it in a friendly, but firm manner. Tell him you are willing to work Sundays, if that would help.
“Out of hundreds of experiences, I have found that nine in ten do not lose their jobs! If you first pray, and ask God sincerely to give you grace and favor in your employer’s eyes, and then tell him firmly but politely and kindly, it makes it pretty hard for an employer to interfere with your religion!
“Nine in ten have not lost their jobs, as they probably expected they would. And the one in ten who did? Nearly always, the few who did lose their jobs soon found better ones.
“You can TRUST God! “This is where you have to mix living faith with obedience!
“Finally, remember once again, God has decided what is sin—He compels you to decide WHETHER to sin, or to obey! Now It’s UP TO YOU! “It is now up to YOU!
“I have given you God’s Word faithfully. It is not popular. It is not what the popular majority tell you. “But now you KNOW! You will be judged by what you do with this knowledge! “You must make your own choice. Rebellion means eternal punishment of everlasting death. God will save no person He does not rule. “You must choose between God’s ways, and man’s ways he falsely calls ‘Christian.’
“My responsibility ends with telling you. I have cried aloud. I have lifted my voice. I have told you your sin in this regard. God calls you to repentance. But He will not force you. You must make your own decision, and what you sow you shall reap.
“You shall be saved by grace, but God does lay down conditions. You can comply, and receive glorious grace—or you can rebel, and pay the death penalty—for eternity!
Where to Keep the Sabbath?
“Often, when people learn about the Sabbath, they seek some religious group to assemble with. But it is not enough to meet with just any religious body because it may accept the ‘Sabbath argument.’ This does not necessarily mean it is the true Church of God. “God commands us to seek the body which is empowered by God.”
“It is doing the Work of God. It is, as Jesus said it would be, ‘a little flock,’ persecuted, despised by the world. But it does have dedicated, consecrated, converted, fully instructed and trained, ordained ministers.
“[Many]…are being converted—their lives changed—by this Work of God…Some, not realizing one of God’s own called and consecrated ministers could call and explain, and answer questions, have joined one of the churches of this world. You cannot join the true Church of God—the Almighty God puts you in.
THE SABBATH OR SUNDAY?
*Note. I found this great article on the Sabbath I think the author has a lot of knowledge regarding the Sabbath. But in some places this writer deviated from the Sabbath and went into other nonrelated areas. I do not agree with this person in all his beliefs, so I edited out the parts which had nothing to do with the Sabbath, and only made a few minor changes but overall this article is intact. - George Cardenas