Teaching Errors About The Sabbath
There is an increasing tendency by Christians in America to defend the public display of the Ten Commandments in the courtrooms and other state or federal governmental buildings, in an effort to publicize the foundational nature of God's Law in the fabric of the nation's legal system, and promote their enduring value to the general welfare and safety of the public at large. This puts the majority of Christian pastors in a very awkward position when it comes to preaching the value of observing the Ten Commandments, because when it comes to the Sabbath commandment (third by Catholic count, and fourth by some Protestants), the Sunday keeping preacher needs to explain, somehow to his congregation, just why it is that God's eternal law commands the keeping of the seventh day (Saturday), but that is no longer valid―that God's Law has been changed, and it is now the first day of the week (Sunday) that should be kept holy today by Christians.
A diligent search of the New Testament will discover no command from Jesus or the Apostles to cease keeping the Sabbath, or that it has been replaced by the first day of the week, yet the Sunday keeping Protestant pastor finds himself in the predicament of exhorting his congregation to keep Sunday, in striking contradiction to God's clear command to keep the seventh day Saturday Sabbath.
Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary Chapel Albuquerque has a rather remarkable sermon on his web site regarding the Sabbath / Sunday issue. It is part of a series on the Commandments called God's Top 10. Here is the video:
Relax! Thatís an Order! Part 2
Excerpts from the sermon are in the boxes, followed by my comments.
When did the Sabbath change to Sunday? You want to know what the answer is? It never changed. It never changed. The Sabbath has always been Saturday and will always be Saturday.
On this point he is correct. The Sabbath is indeed Saturday, not Sunday. Yet it is apparent that the vast majority of what calls itself Christianity does not consider the Saturday Sabbath commandment to be binding, and instead they observe Sunday. Just how does Skip Heitzig explain this?
Why do Christians meet on Sunday? What are we celebrating? The resurrection. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He then quotes early church fathers to show that Sunday keeping by Christians began long before the Sunday law of Constantine in the fourth century. He also cites Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 16:2 and Rev 1:10 as evidence that Christians had begun observing Sunday as the Lord's day honoring the resurrection. There is no doubt that the Apostles met on Sunday, but Did the Apostles Abandon The Sabbath And Keep Sunday Instead To Honor The Resurrection?
Then there is this:
So, the final question is, well then, is the Sabbath New Testament? Is it for Christians? The answer is - yes and no. Allow me to explain. The concept is New Testament, the day is irrelevant. The concept is New Testament, the day is not. Here's why.
First of all, we don't exactly know when Saturday is. You say well yah sure I do, Saturday was yesterday. No it wudn't. Everybody who has studied chronology will tell you that the calendar has changed a few different times so that presently today, and I am not being funny here, they will tell you, we don't know if this really is the - yesterday really was the seventh day and this is the first day. This might be Tuesday. We don't know. The calendar has gotten away from us.
This is such an outrageous and egregious error that it is hard to believe Skip Heitzig did any research at all on the subject. I would suggest that he cannot provide any documentation to support his claim. In fact, it is easily refuted.
Inquiries made in 1932 to the United States Naval Observatory, in Washington D.C., and the Royal Greenwich Observatory in London, England, have confirmed that the weekly cycle of 7 days as observed today has not been altered, and remains as it has been since before the time of Christ.
Now, as a Sunday keeper, Skip Heitzig apparently has no doubts or problems when it comes to Christians faithfully keeping the first day of the week to celebrate the resurrection, and that this has been practiced from very early in the church. Catholics in particular, will assert that Sunday was kept by the Apostles in the first century, and maintained by their church faithfully as a holy day ever since. However, when it comes to the previous day, the seventh-day sabbath, suddenly there is talk of calendar changes and doubt that we can really know the correct seventh day? How does one lose track of the seventh day of the week while strictly and faithfully keeping the next, the first day of the week? Is this not an absurdity of monumental proportions?
Jesus Knew And Kept The Sabbath Day.
Have the Sabbath keeping Jews ever been confused by calendar changes such that they lost track of the seventh day of the week? Since Jesus was God, he knew exactly which day was the genuine seventh-day sabbath:
Luke 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
Jesus Himself was a keeper of the seventh-day sabbath. Now, if the Jews had somehow lost track of the sabbath day since the time of Moses, Jesus would have certainly corrected them, but this was not necessary, since they were already observing the right day. As this establishes a firm reference point in history, it remains for the skeptic to try and prove that the Jews, and the rest of the world, somehow collectively lost track of the seventh day Sabbath in the 2000 years since the time of Christ, a period which is very well documented.
So the facts are, the Jews have never lost the seventh day Sabbath, and Catholics have never lost the first day of the week. Anyone who asserts that Saturday has been lost in calendar changes simply does not know what they are talking about.
See also Patrick Madrid, the Sabbath, and the Calendar
Number two, this fourth commandment is the only commandment of them all that is non moral and purely ceremonial.
Absolutely nothing is presented to support this assertion.
The seventh day Sabbath originated at creation, and was made for man (Mark 2:27-28). It was in effect and practiced before Mount Sinai (Exo 16). At Sinai, the Ten Commandments, which define sin (1 John 3:4), were written in stone by the finger of God, and placed in the Ark of the Covenant (Deu 10:3-5). The ceremonial law was written by Moses in a book, and placed separately in the side of the Ark (Deu 31:26). The Ark was kept in the Holy of Holies of the Hebrew sanctuary, and the Ten Commandments it contained represented the standard for judgment for all mankind. See: The Hebrew Sanctuary and The Seal of God in the Old and New Covenants.
The Ark containing the exact same Ten Commandments is seen in heaven in Revelation 11:19 at the end of time:
Rev 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
All other commandments are repeated, expanded, reiterated in some form or fashion throughout the New Testament, but not this one.
Exo 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Exo 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
Exo 20:10 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:
Exo 20:11 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.
The fourth commandment is the one commandment that identifies the Lord as the creator, and the following verse explains why the Lord is to be worshipped:
Rev 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Note that the fourth commandment is referred to in these verses in Revelation:
Rev 5:12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
Rev 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Rev 10:6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
The fourth commandment is referred to in the book of Revelation in conjunction with judgment and commandment keeping:
Rev 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Rev 14:7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
Rev 14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
Rev 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
Rev 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
Rev 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Rev 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
Revelation 14:7 is a loud call proclaimed near the end of time, a strong warning to keep the forth commandment, because it stands in opposition to, and prevents the commandment keeping saints from receiving the mark of the beast.
The fourth commandment is also cited twice in the book of Acts:
Acts 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
Acts 14:15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
The apostle Paul also refers to the fourth commandment in his epistle to the Colossians:
Col 1:16 For by him 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 third, that sort of plays on that, there is no explicit New Testament command to keep the Saturday Sabbath. Jesus didn't say "Oh and by the way, make sure when I leave that you keep the Saturday Sabbath".
Mat 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
Mat 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Mat 19:18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
Mat 19:19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
Note that in answer to the question regarding eternal life, Jesus omits the first four commandments dealing with worship of God. Can we logically conclude that because of this omission the commandment regarding worship of other gods (Exo. 20:3) had been abolished? No, it would be foolish to assume that. Had the commandment against bowing down before idols (Exo. 20:4-5) also been abolished? No. Had the commandment forbidding taking the name of God in vain (Exo. 20:7) been abolished? No. It is absurd to conclude these commandments were abolished by Jesus simply because He did not mention them. How can anyone conclude, then, that the one commandment that calls us to remember the sabbath day to keep it holy is not included when Jesus said, in answer to the question "if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Surely it was included implicitly as a commandment to be kept, therefore Jesus did teach the keeping of the seventh day Sabbath when He said "keep the commandments."
Speaking of the Ten Commandments, Jesus also said:
Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Mat 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Note that commandment keeping is again declared a characteristic of the people of God:
1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1 John 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
Rev 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Next, the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 is discussed, that the council made no mention of Gentiles needing to keep the Sabbath. Using that logic again, does that mean that the other commandments not mentioned are not binding on Gentiles? The councils list of recommendations was quite short:
Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
Acts 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Are we to believe this was intended as a comprehensive list for Gentile Christians? Were the Gentiles free to lie, steal and covet, as the council does not mention them? Obviously not. Neither then does this mean the Sabbath commandment was repealed for Gentiles by the council.
Then, it is claimed that the letters of Paul do not teach the keeping of the Sabbath. Note what Paul had to say to the Corinthian church:
(NKJV) 1 Cor 7:19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.
The apostle Paul also says this to the church at Rome:
Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Rom 3:29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
Rom 3:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
Rom 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
Rom 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
Rom 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Romans 14:5-6 is then interpreted by Skip Heitzig as saying that one could choose the day, or days, be it Saturday, Sunday, or every day to worship God, that by this Paul was in effect nullifying the fourth commandment. However, the overall context of Romans 14 is that of doubtful disputations (v. 1) regarding food, eating or not eating meat (v. 2), fasting or not fasting (vs. 3, 6, see Luke 18:12), and food offered to idols (v. 14, see 1 Cor 8:7-13, 1 Cor 10:25-28). It is in that context of food that esteeming or regarding a day is mentioned, in other words, a day was esteemed by either fasting or not fasting (v. 6), which has nothing to do with nullifying the fourth commandment.
For his final point, Skip Heitzig cites the second chapter of the epistle to the church at Colossae as evidence that Paul taught that the fourth commandment is not binding on the Christian:
(NKJV) Col 2:14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Col 2:15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Col 2:16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,
Col 2:17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
The sabbaths of verse 16 do not include the seventh day Sabbath of the fourth commandment, as only the yearly ceremonial sabbaths were shadow sabbaths, which is to say prophetic in nature. They were set by new moons, and involved food and drink offerings, and illustrated the plan of salvation by typifying the ministry of Jesus as our high priest. See The Shadow Sabbaths of Colossians 2:17 for a more detailed explanation.
There is simply nothing in the epistles of Paul, or the rest of the New Testament, that demonstrates the Apostles had ceased keeping the Sabbath, or that they had begun to keep Sundays to honor the resurrection. The fourth commandment, the seventh day Sabbath, is commemorative of creation (Exo 20:8-11, Deu 5:12:15), and declared by God to be a test of obedience (Exo 16:4, 26-28).
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
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The Seal of God and the Mark of the Beast.
Did the Apostles Keep Sunday To Honor The Resurrection?
Offering Strange Fire Before The Lord.
The Seal of God in the Old and New Covenants
The Abomination of Desolation
The Battle of Armageddon.
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