Many have never heard of the sabbath. If they have, it is almost always understood to be a Jewish day of worship. I am one who never heard of the word until my mid-twenties. As a former Catholic I had attended church on Sundays just as most Protestants. It wasn’t until a friend shared with me her new-found faith that I was introduced to God’s blessed day of rest. Right there, smack dab in the middle of the law of God, appeared the sabbath commandment. Huh! I had attended Catholic schools my entire life. Why had I not seen this before?Perhaps it has been obscured or concealed. Let’s look at the Ten Commandments found in Genesis 20, then we’ll compare it to the version I was taught in Catechism class:
- I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me.
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.
- Honor thy father and thy mother.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness.
- Thou shalt not covet.
Now, notice thechanges found in the Catholic version:
- I am the Lord your God: You shall not have strange Gods before me.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
- Honor your father and mother.
- You shall not kill.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
Notice that the Second Commandment referring to idols is absent in the Catholic Catechism. The Fourth Commandment has also been changed in the Catholic version from “Remember the Sabbath Day” to “Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.”(More on this later).
Furthermore, because the Second Commandment was removed in the Catholic version, it was necessary for them to create an additional Commandment to complete the “Ten.” This was accomplished by splitting the Tenth Commandment into two.
The elimination of the Second Commandment was expedient to the Catholic Church to avoid any criticism of idolatry. As a former Catholic and altar boy I can tell you first-hand that statues (graven images) abound within the church. Not only are they revered, but in many cases,people bow down to these statues of Mary and other saints in hopes of gaining a blessing. Claims of miraculous healings simply from touching these relics abound.
The change of the Seventh-day Sabbath to the first day of the week was very subtle.In the Exodus account the Fourth Commandment explicitly states thatthe seventh day is our day of rest:the day God appointed by God to be kept holy. Its observance is based upon the creation account found in Genesis, where God created “the heaven(s) and the earth” within six literal days. (See Gen. 1: 1; 2: 1). Clearly, the memorial of creation and the Creator Himself is reflected in the Fourth Commandment. It should come as no surprise that the commandment which points specifically to God and His authority is the one under attack today. The enemy of God, Satan, aims to redirect our worship of the true God to himself. (See Isaiah 14: 12-14; Ezek. 28: 11-15). The core issue within the sabbath debate involves worship.Do you desire to worship God? Worship Him on the day which glorifies Him.
The phrase, “The Lord’s Day,” is found only once, in Revelation 1: 10. This day no doubt refers to one day, and one day alone: “For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day” (Matt. 12: 8). Of course, “the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it” (Ex. 20: 11). It was the day that Jesus observed throughout His life on earth: “And as His custom was, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day” (Luke 4: 16). Many claim that the seventh-day Sabbath was specifically for the Jews. But there were no Jews in Genesis! The Sabbath was given for all men. Jesus plainly states in Mark 2: 27: “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.”
Others argue that the Sabbath was changed by Christ and the disciples from Saturday to Sunday. Yet,it was Jesus whowarned His disciples to praythat the destruction of Jerusalem would not occur on the sabbath day because it would catch them unprepared: “But pray ye that your flight (from destruction) be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day” (Matt. 24: 20). Clearly, if Jesus and the disciples had changed theseventh-day Sabbath to the first day of the week, why would He speak of its observation some 40 years after His death (AD 70)! The truth is, His disciples continued to observe the seventh day Sabbath: “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made” (Acts 16: 13).
The claim that Revelation 1: 10 refers to Sunday, the first day of the week, is without any merit. It is, in reality, an attempt by man (i.e., man’s systems and institutions behind which stands Satan himself) to destroy the sabbath as a perpetual reminder of God’s authority. How clever! But we knew that from the beginning, for “the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field” (Gen. 3: 1), and he parades around today as “an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11: 14). Thus, his counterfeit day of worship is designed to draw to himself the glory and worship belonging to God alone. When was this counterfeit day of worship first introduced?
History teaches us that Augustine introduced Sunday as a day of rest in AD 321. This was done partly in an effort to attract the idolatrous pagans who worshipped the sun into Christianity, thereby increasing the church’s coffers. It also served to distinguish the Christians from the Jews who, at that time, were hated by the Romans. Although the seventh-day Sabbath was still observed at that time, over time the Sunday was adopted as the Christian day of rest. The criteria cited to justify its observance in place of the seventh-day Sabbath was the resurrection of Christ upon the first day of the week. To this day Sunday, the first day of the week, is held by Christians despite the Biblical evidence to the contrary. Of the seven references in Scripture where the phrase, “the first day of the week” is found, not one corroborates any change of the seventh-day Sabbath. Yet, these texts continue to be used to justify Sunday observance. But in the words of Christ Himself: “Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all things be fulfilled” (Matt. 5: 18). Christ came to earth because the law of God could not be altered. “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3: 4), and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6: 23). Now, if the law could be changed, it is illogical for Christ to have to die for our transgressions. He simply could have changed His law! The fact that He didn’t is proof of its eternal nature. The law is a reflection of His love, a transcript of His character; and God “changeth not” (Malachi 3: 6). This law of love Satan hates.
Isn’t it interesting that Christians continue to advocate for 9 out of the 10 Commandments, while teaching the Fourth Commandment was “done away with.” The Commandment being especially controverted is the very one God says to “remember”! God apparently knew that the Commandment commemorating Him would be forgotten and obscured!
As my marriage anniversary approaches, I am preparing to wow my wife with fresh evidence of my love for her. Men, you know not to forget this important date.To do so could be hazardous to your health if you know what I mean! In celebrating this date, we commemorate the day we joined our lives together in holy matrimony. Wedding anniversaries also serve to mark our growth together and our continued commitment to love one another. Now, can I change the date of my anniversary? Can I declare to the love of my life that I didn’t really forget our special day, I simply moved it to the following week? No! She wouldn’t buy that for a second. I can’t change the date of our anniversary just as I cannot change my birthday. Neither can we presume to have the authority to change the day God set as a memorial of creation.
The seventh-day Sabbath is an anniversary of sorts. Unlike our wedding anniversaries or birthdays which we celebrate yearly, the Sabbath is celebrated weekly. God tells us what it commemorates in these words:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy 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” (Exodus 20: 8-11).
Think about it. God loves us so much that He desires time with us. To remind us of our origin (genesis) and who we are – sons and daughters of God, and why we’re here – to share in His love – God gave us the Sabbath day. When we keep the Sabbath,we are less prone to wander into a life of selfishness, emptiness, despair, loneliness, and hopelessness.The Sabbath is also a reminder of God’sdesire to re-create us into His image. And this brings us to yet another reason to keep the seventh-day Sabbath.
What makes the seventh-day Sabbath special apart from the first six days? Is it simply because God commands it? That, of course, would be reason enough. But as we shall now see, it is much more than that. God has blessed it, sanctified it, set it apart for a special purpose.It is the presence of God Himself which makes the day holy, just as the ground on which Moses stood was “holy ground”(Exodus 3: 5). While God is with us every hour of every day, the only day made holy is the seventh day Sabbath. On this day we are privileged to set aside all our work and distractions and spend the sacred hours in fellowship with Him and with like-minded believers.
The sabbath also symbolizes Christ’s work in our lives. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4: 3). Our sanctification (to be made holy) is possible only through a saving relationship with Christ. This, like successful marriage relationships, requires intimate time together. The more time we spend with Christ, the more we become like Him. “By beholding, we become changed” (2 Cor. 3: 18). There is no better opportunity to draw close to Christ than on the day He promised to meet with us. God even tells us plainly in Leviticus 20: 8: “Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.”
This study was not meant to be polemical as much as practical. I challenge you, therefore, to personally experience the blessing God has in store for you this coming Saturday (Sabbath), and every Sabbath thereafter. Jesus entreats us: “If ye love Me, keep My Commandments” (John 14: 15). It is love, not fear or obligation, that motivates us to do the will of God. It is love for our Creator and Redeemer that compels us to keep our date with Him. The Sabbath was made especially and uniquely for man. In fact, this blessed memorial will be celebrated for time and for eternity:
“And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 66: 23.