Sunday, April 02, 2006

# 137: Something To Remember

Exodus 20:8, Commandment # 4: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” Check your calendar to confirm which day is the seventh day; is it Saturday or Sunday? If your calendar is like mine, Sunday is the first day of the week and Saturday is the seventh. Could it rightfully be said that if any day is special and belongs to the Lord our God, it is Saturday, the Sabbath day for the Israelites, the only day that our Lord blessed and made holy? The answer is an unequivocal yes.

What this post will question is this: Why, then, is Sunday observed as the day Christians worship since it is the first day of the week? It is called by some Christian groups “The Lord’s Day” and by others “The Sabbath day.” Did God change His mind and make Sunday His day? If so, let’s examine the New Testament to see where and how the change was made; or did God delete the fourth commandment from the ten, leaving only nine?

The “first day of the week” is mentioned two times in the complete New Testament, first in Acts 20:7: “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.” This gathering was in a house church. This verse can be interpreted in two ways. The first is that the believers made a special effort to meet on this Sunday because they met every Sunday to break bread. If this is true, it says nowhere else in Scripture that the first day of the week is the day DESIGNATED to meet, worship and break bread. Or was it a day that men/women of God set aside as the day of worship? Most likely, since Paul intended to leave the next day, Sunday was the last chance to visit and say goodbye to his dear friends in Troas.

The second way this verse can be interpreted makes more sense and leaves less room for assumption. Let us presume for a moment that they could have come together the next day instead to break bread. Would that then make Monday another potential day of worship for Christians? (I am being facetious, of course.) As memorialized in 1 Corinthians 11:20-34, the breaking of bread was a special time for the believers to get together to eat a common meal, worship, and praise God while sharing their lives at each others’ homes. I am sure that the believers came together whenever they had a need for it. It might have been on Sunday, Monday, or any other day of the week.

As Paul left the Jewish faith, he was no longer under the regulation of man-made traditions. Man-made rules are a worthless means of pleasing God, and no one—not even Paul—had the right to designate Sunday as a day of worship. Even if believers met regularly on Sunday, there is no compelling precedent or designation in New Testament Scripture for that day being special or made holy unto the Lord.

Some believe Sunday is the Lord’s Day because Jesus Christ our Lord rose from the dead on Sunday. Does it really matter what day of the week He rose from the dead? The important fact is that He rose from the dead to free us from man-made rules and from sin.

Here is another interesting anecdote: Paul was continually hounded and persecuted by the Jews because of his staunch opposition to outward circumcision as a sign of being justified before God. Strange as it may seem, in all of his letters, along with the book of Acts, never once was he accused of breaking the Sabbath or teaching the Jews that once people become Christians, they don't have to observe the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath. Imagine how much more ammunition the Jews would have had against Paul if that hadwere indeed been the case. In fact, in Acts 16:13, Paul speaks of going on the Sabbath to a place of prayer. It doesn't say that the people at these places were believers; the place for Jews to pray was at the synagogue. Therefore, there is a very good chance that they were believers in the Lord Jesus Christ or that they were people who might have been interested in learning about Christ, as was Lydia.

The second time the first day of the week was mentioned was in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2: “Now about the collection for God's people [Christians Jews who lived in Jerusalem]: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should SET ASIDE a sum of money in keeping with his income, SAVING IT UP, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” [EMPHASIS ADDED]. This verse does not state or infer that they got together on the first day of the week; in fact, it implies the exact opposite: “set aside . . . saving it up” is not done amongst a gathering, but at home.

Here is a fact that we must remember from Paul's two letters to the believers in Corinth: Most of the believers were of gentile origin and possibly a few were Jews. In the Gentile world, people did not have a regular day of rest as did the Jews. They may have worked seven days a week—when work was plentiful—and gotten paid on the seventh day. Since that is the case, the first day of the week would be a good time to arrange one’s budget. Paul indicates the next thing of importance: Giving should be done regularly; he states “every week” and that all must give if they are working when he says “in keeping with his income.” This fact of regular giving is of greater importance than the saving on the first day of the week. Therefore, it merely outlines something they were supposed to do once one’s pay was in his/her hands, and that was on the first day of the week. I am certain this directive was not aimed at the Christian Jews since they most likely didn’t work on Saturday since it was their Holy Sabbath day of rest. And it may be that Paul didn’t force gentiles to abstain from working on Saturday as he seems to have described in the next paragraph.

Even though Romans Chapter 14 is mainly talking about how they should regard certain foods, and refers to them as disputable matters, he does mention in the fifth verse of Chapter 14 these instructions: “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He, who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.” These few verses are a bit dubious since they are smack-dab in the middle of a complete chapter concerning food; Paul is not that kind of writer. His writings are better organized than that. With that said, the thing which is certain to displease God, to say the least, is not so much Sunday worship—God would love to have His people worship together every day if it was possible—but when His Holy Sabbath day of rest is abandoned and replaced by man for another one (Sunday) and is then CALLED His Holy Sabbath day of rest, or the Lord’s Day.

In the Jewish nation, the Sabbath was regarded as a special day unto the Lord, the Lord's Day. In the New Testament, the phrase “the Lord’s Day” is mentioned once. The apostle John, a Christian Jew, says, “On the Lord's day I was in the Spirit. . . .” (Revelation 1:10). Since John was a Jew, I am sure that this refers to the seventh-day Sabbath. To think otherwise would be to do a lot of assuming. To early Christians, this Scripture probably became the go-ahead sign to worship on the first day of the week (Sunday) and call it “The Lord’s Day.”

Suppose we concede that the early Christians did come together as a tradition on Sunday, the first day of the week. This might be because they wanted to separate themselves from the Jews and their tradition of the keeping of the Sabbath (the Jews’ very special, visible trademark of separation from the Gentile world). One thing I am sure of is that the observance of Sunday did not come as a mandate to gentile believers or Jews as the other rules and regulations that Paul gave them. If it had, that fact would have become very evident somewhere in Scripture. I believe that keeping Sunday as the day of worship crept into the early church slowly, and as time went on, it was eventually taken as a standard Christian practice. Once established, Sunday was not referred to as “the Lord’s Day” until Constantine started the pagan Christian Church. Who of the laity would have known better? They had no available Bibles to show them otherwise. All well-guarded, written manuscripts were in the possession of corrupt church leaders. This is the reason other ungodly traditions came into existence and stayed there, even to this day.

Nevertheless, here are two scriptural texts that say the Sabbath will still be in existence after Christ’s death and therefore is still here to this day. In Matthew 24:2, Jesus is talking about the end times and/or the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.: “Pray that your flight will not take place in the winter or on the Sabbath.” Also, in Matthew 12:8, Jesus says, “For the son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Is he still Lord of the Sabbath? I suppose that some revisionists might say, “No, he changed his mind.”

Although the majority of Christians worship on Sunday (a manmade, religious tradition since who-knows-when) and to them it is the Lord’s Day/Sabbath, there was, and still is, according to the Bible, only one day that the Lord God blessed and made holy: That is the seventh-day Sabbath.

I don’t believe there is a spiritual death sentence hanging over Sunday worshipers for violating the fourth commandment—although I may be wrong—but they may be missing out on many of God’s vital blessings, and along with that, they may get involved in other spiritually negative complications. Also, just because someone does keep the Sabbath day holy, it does not automatically give a person a free ticket to the pearly gates.

Bottom line: Even though the Sabbath was made for man/woman (refraining from all types of work–except for an emergency), the Sabbath is a special, lazy day, set aside by the Lord for His people to show honor and reverence to their creator. How do you personally show honor and reverence to the Lord on Sunday other than “worshiping” in a church building for an hour or so? Do not underestimate the power of the enemy (Satan, the great deceiver) who works through our sinful human nature.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

SUN-DAY...MOON-DAY...SATURN-DAY AND SO ON DO NOT BELONG TO THE LORD OUR GOD. THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE, SO BE GLAD IN IT. THE SYSTEM WE LIVE UNDER IS NOT OF GOD AND THAT IS WHY WE LOOK FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD. WHEN SOMETHING IS COMING IT'S NOT THIER YET. THY KINGDOM COME THY WILL BE DONE (WHERE?) ON EARTH. WE HAVE TO MANY DOCILE CHRISTIANS WHO ARE JUST GOING ALONG TO GET ALONG, AND EVERY FEW YEARS THE DOCTRINE CHANGES FROM SATURDAY TO SUNDAY SO ON AND SO ON BUT NO REAL CHANGES IN THE PEOPLE OF GOD WERE WE BECOME A DEVINE REFLECTION OF GOD IN HIS IMAGES AND AFTER HIS LIKENESS...EX.19:9 BUT THE PEOPLE WERE AFRAID FOR GOD TO SPEAK TO THEM EX.20:18-21, IT'S LIKE PLAYING COWBOYS AND INDIANS ON EVERY CORNER IN AMERICA, ON SUNDAY OR SATURDAY I'M A CHRISTIAN BUT THE REST OF THE WEEK I RASIE AS MUCH HELL AS I CAN BUT I GO TO CHURCH I'M A GOOD MAN. NOW WE HAVE FOOTBALL STADIUMS AS CHURCHES MAN THIS THING IS GETTING CRAZY AS (HELL) BRO.AL I'LL LEAVE YOU WITH THIS HEBREWS 8:1-13 KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK YOU ARE TRULY A VOICE IN THE WIL-DERNESS PEACE BE UNTO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY...BRO. JEFF

al thinker said...

Jeff, thanks for your comment. I agree with you; the religious world is in a bigger mess then human minds can contemplate. Most can't realize it because they have their heads stuck in the sand. This blog-site can do very little to make more of God's truth known. But with the help of God, we will just keep plugging away. Thanks again.

PS
To God, little things mean a lot.