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Exodus 20: 8-11, the Fourth Commandment, says [8] “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days you shall labour and do all your work, [10] but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.

In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. [11] For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Was the Sabbath changed from the seventh day (Saturday) of the week to the first day (Sunday)? Well, yes and no. Let’s deal with the ‘no’ first. God, ‘with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning’ (James 1: 17) does not change (Malachi 3: 6). The Israelites received two laws from Moses: The Law of Moses, that of ordinances and ceremonies; and the Law of God, embodied in the 10 Commandments, which is an expression of God’s character.

If God does not change, neither will His law. “My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of my lips,” Psalm 89: 34. “I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it,” Ecclesiastes 3: 14. “The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast forever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness,” Psalm 111: 7, 8. God gave His law to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. Amid thunder and lightning, a thick cloud covered the mountain, and a trumpet blasted. These laws we written with God’s own fingers.

What about New Testament?

In the New Testament, the seventh day of the week is called the Sabbath, which is Saturday; it is mentioned 58 times. The first day of the week is mentioned eight times. It is simply called the first day of the week, and it is always differentiated from the Sabbath. This in itself is evidence for the continued validity of the seventh-day Sabbath. Gospel writers recorded Jesus and the apostles going to the synagogue on Sabbath as their ‘custom’ (Luke 4: 16). Jesus said; “I have kept my Father’s commandments,” John 15: 10. The women who went to anoint His body after his death ‘rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment’ (Luke 23:56). Nearly all of the incidents reported of the apostles’ preaching occurred on the seventh-day Sabbath. Of all the accusations the Jews made against the apostles, never once did they accuse the apostles of breaking the Sabbath after Jesus had left. Taking note that they were all killed in horrible ways except John who’s eyes were gorged out and isolated on the island of Patmos.

Did Jesus, His death change true Sabbath? No

Some teach that after Christ’s death and resurrection, the Old Testament law was done away with and a new covenant took its place. But Jesus Himself said; “Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17, 18). The law of Moses, which foreshadowed Christ’s sacrifice, was indeed made irrelevant, but Paul maintains that the Law of God is to be kept, though we now be under grace. “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31). Paul went to Synagogue (church) on Saturday until his death.

How actually it happened...?

Yet for nearly 2 000 years now, millions of Christians have worshipped on Sunday. So was the Sabbath changed from the seventh to the first day of the week? Let’s look at the ‘yes’ now.
“The Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath,” Luke 6:5. Here Jesus staked His claim and forbade anyone to meddle with the Sabbath. If Jesus did not change it, who did? Yet He knew there would be those who would claim the power to change God’s Law. Through Daniel, He warned of just such a man. Describing a ‘little horn power’ (Daniel 7: 8), Daniel says; “He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws,” Daniel 7: 25. Paul made a similar prediction: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”

Many years before Christianity, Egyptian Mithraists introduced the festival of Sunday, dedicated to worshipping the sun, and many other pagan gods into the Roman Empire. The Roman emperor, Constantine the great, a former sun-worshipper, professed conversion to true Sabbath (Saturday) worshipping Christianity, though his subsequent actions suggest the ‘conversion’ was more of a political move than a genuine heart change. Constantine named himself Bishop of the Catholic (Universal) Church and enacted the first civil law regarding Sunday observance in AD 321. Note that the Catholic church was the only church at that time until the protestant movement years later.

Christianity grew and church leaders wished to increase the numbers of the church. In order to make the gospel more attractive to non-Christians, pagan customs were incorporated into the church’s ceremonies. The custom of Sunday worship was introduced and welcomed by Christians who desired to differentiate themselves from the Jews, whom they hated because of the Jews’ rejection of the Saviour. The first day of the week Sunday began to be recognised as both a religious and civil holiday. By the end of the second century, Christians considered it sinful to work on Sunday.

Note that Constantine’s law did not even mention Sabbath but referred to the mandated rest day as ‘the venerable day of the sun’. And how kind he was to allow people to observe it as it was convenient. Contrast this with God’s command to observe the Sabbath ‘even during the ploughing season and harvest’ (Exodus 34: 21) Perhaps the church leaders noticed this laxity as well, for just four years later, in A.D. 325, Pope Sylvester officially named Sunday ‘the Lord’s Day’, and in AD.

Truth slowly restored

The truth of the true Saturday Sabbath is spreading throughout the world. In Zambia and Zimbabwe, Sabbath worshippers are growing to surpass Sunday worshippers. People are seeking truth through all means.   

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