What’s your SIGN?
— (singles bar conversation starter)
How many of us remember a great grandparent? Many of us never met any of our great grandparents. How about a great-great-grandparent – what percentage of us would remember having contact with a family member who was that far up the family tree? The percentage would be quite small indeed, wouldn't it?
Let's change the question just a little. How many of us know our heritage back to our great-great-great-grandparents? Who were they? What did they do? Where was their home? What were their customs? What were their religious beliefs? A few of us have done a "hobby" search for our roots and have found the evidence of a single branch of our family tree for one line of ancestors or sometimes perhaps a couple of branches for separate lines of ancestors going back several generations in some cases up to three or four hundred years. Those of us in America who are familiar with our heritage for the last four hundred years are certainly not in the majority. Any of us who might have traced a branch back as far as a thousand years are in the extremely small minority. For anyone to know the details of their family back as far as two or three millennia is practically unheard of for most cultures. An exception to this would be the Jewish community.
The Jewish community, though perhaps they don't know specific family names or details for twenty generations back, have kept in touch with their heritage. The Jewish people have accomplished this even though for nineteen centuries of the last two millennia, they possessed no cultural home. They possessed no homeland. They possessed no nation. They were scattered among numerous other nations of the world. They were uprooted from there homes and re-scattered numerous times due to wars and pogroms. They have been abused as a people throughout the world. It is a miracle that there even remains a Jewish people and culture. And yet, the Jewish people know who they are. Why is that? How have the Jews maintained an identity through the millennia when most all other cultures have not? What separates the Jews as a people from any of numerous other specific peoples, and how did they maintain that separation through the centuries? How is it known not only by the Jews themselves, but by the entire world that the Jews are "God's Chosen People"? Is that not somewhat strange? They had no nation for nineteen centuries. They have been scattered around the world. They have been abused around the world. They have been the victims of attempted genocide numerous times throughout history. And yet, they are still with us as a specific people, and they REMEMBER who they are. And WE REMEMBER who they are. Why is that? Do they wear signs to identify their heritage? When we see the Jews as a people do we see a sign in their homes or neighborhoods telling us of their heritage? How then is it that we suppose or know or REMEMBER that they are “God’s Chosen People”? How do the Jews suppose or know or REMEMBER that they are “God’s Chosen People”? What tells us that they are “God’s Chosen People”?
Exodus 31:13 – (NLT)"Tell the people of Israel to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a SIGN of the covenant between me and you forever. It helps you to REMEMBER that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.
Wow! The Jews do wear a sign. The sign which they wear helps them to remember who they are. The sign also helps us to remember who they are? They are the people who God has made holy. They are God’s holy people! And all it takes for the world to know and REMEMBER that the Jews are God’s holy people is their SIGN. Their SIGN is God’s seventh day Sabbath. The Jews are the only people in the world who as a people have as a part of their culture the keeping and REMEMBERING of the Sabbath day. Because of the Sabbath day, we all know who they are.
There is something about this issue we should not forget, though. It is something that is of utmost importance. The Jews are “God’s Chosen People” alright, but the Jews are only a small portion of “God’s Chosen People.” The Jews are descendents of Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob. ALL the descendents of Jacob’s twelve sons are “God’s Chosen People.” God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Israel had TWELVE sons. One of Israel’s sons was named Judah who was the father of the Jews. So, obviously, YES – the Jews are “God’s Chosen People.” But what about the OTHER eleven sons of Israel (or Jacob)? Aren’t they also “God’s Chosen People”? YES, they absolutely are “God’s Chosen People” just as are the Jews. Then why do we not know and REMEMBER who they are? Could it be that we don’t know who they are because they, as a people and as a culture, FORGOT the Sabbath? Did their FORGETTING the Sabbath cause the whole world, including themselves, to not REMEMBER who they are? Could it be that they ignored and then lost their SIGN from God? So now we know “the rest of the story.” The “LOST TEN TRIBES” are lost because they ignored and lost their SIGN from their God. They have failed to REMEMBER. The lost ten tribes of Israel which made up the “Northern” Kingdom of Israel ceased observing the Sabbath. They are lost to themselves and to the world because they threw away God’s SIGN telling them who they are. But not to worry, they are not lost from God. God knows who and where his people Israel are – all the tribes of Israel. God does not forget.
God also directed that we should not forget. It seems that we have failed. What did God command us not to forget? If God’s people had not forgotten, then the SIGN of the Sabbath would still be with God’s people, and all the world would recognize ALL of “God’s Chosen People” – not just the Jews.
Exodus 20:8 – REMEMBER the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
God’s fourth commandment to us was to REMEMBER his Sabbath. This seems such a simple thing for us to remember, yet except for the Jews, the world has forgotten. Because God’s people Israel have forgotten the Sabbath and lost their identifying SIGN, they have been misplaced and forgotten by the world. Lest we should think, “ah, but we do remember the Sabbath, and we do know what it is,” let’s not ignore the remainder of the fourth commandment which says “to keep it holy.” What people, aside from the Jews, even attempt to keep the Sabbath holy? As a people or a society, only the Jews make such an attempt. The Jews have not been forgotten.
Before we leave this thought about the fourth commandment, we should address that most all people in the Christian community when quoting the fourth commandment, quote only the 8th verse of the 20th chapter of Exodus as shown above. However the entire fourth commandment extends through the 11th verse as shown below.
Exodus 20 9-11 – 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.
It seems that God considers it important for his people to REMEMBER and commemorate his original rest in this space-time continuum. Immediately after the creation of this space-time continuum and the entire universe and all that exists in it, God rested. He directed that his people REMEMBER that rest. We notice that in fact this directive is the fourth of God’s ten major directives to his people. God placed the Sabbath commandment ahead of “do not murder,” “do not steal,” “do not commit adultery,” and “honour your parents”! It is the fourth of the TEN COMMANDMENTS. And the fourth commandment is used as an identifying SIGN by God for his people.
The Christian world of today has determined that the fourth commandment is no longer in effect. Why, we might ask, was that decision made. The Roman Catholics do not observe this commandment because it was changed by a pope in the third century. The Roman Catholics believe that their pope has that authority. When the Protestants left the Roman Catholic Church, they retained the Roman Catholic pope’s decree concerning Sunday worship. So it seems that every Sunday, Protestants worldwide who profess an anathema for the Roman Catholic dogmas and who left the Roman Catholic Church because as Protestants they “PROTESTED” the authority of the pope, yet still do they pay obeisance to that organization and its leader the pope, by their observance of the pope’s declared day of worship! Since the pope originated this Sunday worship, he is the only authority to whom anyone can look for any reason to keep Sunday as a day of worship.
In partial defense of the Protestants, they today do claim another reason other than the pope’s decree as to why they do not observe the fourth commandment. Their supposed reason is that the “New Testament” teaches that the “OLD LAW” has been done away with and replaced by grace. The Protestants teach that anyone who would observe the fourth commandment is trying to be justified by “works of the law,” and is thus without much hope in receiving the grace of Jesus. Let’s understand that these same Protestants for some reason do teach the other nine commandments and do teach that nine of the commandments should be obeyed. Let’s also understand that grace does indeed cover and erase the bonds which pledged us to the consequences of sin and to the decrees of the law. Grace does not, however, abolish the law itself – only the consequences associated with disobeying the law have been removed due to the sacrifice of the Messiah and his grace towards us. Paul told us that we should not have the attitude that we should sin that grace may abound. (Romans 6:1-2)
A noted Protestant teacher has been quoted as saying, “Anyone who believes we are mandated or are supposed to keep the Sabbath in order to please God in some way or for salvation, that person is operating in violation of God's Grace Plan.” From that EXACT SAME LOGIC and line of reasoning, could we not just as easily say “Anyone who believes we are mandated or are supposed to do no murder in order to please God in some way or for salvation, that person is operating in violation of God's Grace plan.” Or we could say, “Anyone who believes we are mandated or are supposed to not steal in order to please God in some way or for salvation, that person is operating in violation of God's Grace plan.” Or we could say, “Anyone who believes we are mandated or are supposed to not take the name of the Lord your God in vain in order to please God in some way or for salvation, that person is operating in violation of God's Grace plan.” Or we could say, “Anyone who believes we are mandated or are supposed to not make unto ourselves any graven images to bow down and worship in order to please God in some way or for salvation, that person is operating in violation of God's Grace plan.” Or we could say, “Anyone who believes we are mandated or are supposed to not commit adultery in order to please God in some way or for salvation, that person is operating in violation of God's Grace plan.” Or we could say, “Anyone who believes we are mandated or are supposed to honor our father and our mother in order to please God in some way or for salvation, that person is operating in violation of God's Grace plan.” Or we could even say, “Anyone who believes we are mandated or are supposed to not have any other gods before our Creator in order to please God in some way or for salvation, that person is operating in violation of God's Grace plan.” We do get the idea, don’t we?
So what we have are professing Christians worldwide who have been inculcated with the teaching that they are to ignore the SIGN from God as to who they are. They have been taught to NOT obey the fourth commandment. And they have been taught that NOT obeying the fourth commandment is somehow righteous and scriptural. Wow! The pope was certainly successful, wasn’t he?
Let’s look now at the supposed reasons why according to “today’s” Protestant teachings, the Sabbath is no longer the fourth commandment. Remember that even though the Protestants teach that they do not have to keep the law, still they teach that they are not to sin (we might ask how we can sin if there is no law??), and still they teach that nine of the ten commandments should be observed (why are only nine kept, and the SIGN thrown away??), and still they teach that Sunday worship is a requirement for a “good Christian.” Can we follow that reasoning?
First let’s review a few of the things we’ve covered in previous chapters, but things that are necessary for explaining the fallacy of the Protestant position concerning God’s Holy Sabbath. Did Jesus keep the Sabbath? Yes, he absolutely did. Did all of Jesus’ Apostles keep the Sabbath even after Jesus’ death and until their own death? Yes, they absolutely did. Did all of the prophets and patriarchs of the “Old Testament” keep the Sabbath? Yes, they absolutely did. Is there any record in all of Holy scripture of any person of God or follower of Jesus ever keeping Sunday as a day of worship instead of the Sabbath? NO, there absolutely is not. Did Jesus teach that as long as Heaven and Earth exist, not one jot or one tittle of the law would be changed? Yes, Jesus absolutely did teach and promote such ideas. Let’s read once again Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 5.
Matthew 5:17-19 – Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 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. 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.
We need to ask, why would anyone want to find themselves in God’s Kingdom with the name of Mr. or Ms. LEAST? It seems that there are those who are actually striving for that title. Let’s understand completely that keeping the Sabbath will not attain our salvation for us. Salvation comes only by the grace and mercy of our Creator. Keeping the seventh day Sabbath could, however, prevent us from being called Mr. LEAST in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Is there any example of Sunday worship in the “New Testament”? In the “New Testament,” Sunday was referred to as “the first day of the week.” Let’s see what is said concerning the “first day of the week,” and let’s look at every instance of its mention in the “New Testament.” The first five references to the first day of the week are all concerned with the Sunday morning after Jesus’ resurrection. Nothing about these verses suggest that we are to keep Sunday as a day of worship; they are simply a report of people going to Jesus’ tomb. Here they are listed:
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 sepulchre.
Mark 16:2 - And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
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.
Luke 24:1 - Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
John 20:1 - The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
The next instance where we find mention of Sunday is in John 20:19. Here we have a record of Jesus visiting the Apostles after his resurrection. We note that nowhere does this verse, nor do any of the surrounding verses, in any way indicate that the Apostles were keeping a Sabbath on Sunday or that we are to do so. It is simply a report of Jesus visiting with the Apostles.
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 saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Below in I Corinthians 16:2 we find instructions from Paul for the Corinthian Church to lay aside gifts for those saints in need. He said that this should be done on the first day of the week. We can assume perhaps that Paul’s instruction for the Corinthians to do this on the first day of the week was intended to give this action a priority, but we can see that there was certainly no indication that Paul was attempting to change the fourth commandment by instituting Sunday worship. We can even note that if we read a few verses down to verse 8, we see that Paul is observing the Day of Pentecost – a High Sabbath.
1 Corinthians 16:2 - Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
And now we come to the verse in the “New Testament” which is perhaps the one most often used by those who would try and convince us that we are to worship on Sunday. After reading this passage, and with only a little thought we can easily deduce from the context that all the local Christians came together after a Sabbath assembly to enjoy a meal together, and to visit with the Apostle Paul prior to his imminent departure. In fact, if we read as far as verse 16, we see again the mention that Paul wanted to observe the Day of Pentecost – a High Sabbath. We could suggest for those who use this verse as their only grounds for Sunday worship, that since this event actually happened on a Saturday night, perhaps they should begin worshiping on Saturday night as opposed to Sunday morning. And they should also always have a meal together on Saturday evening. There is absolutely no indication in this verse or in the surrounding verses that this gathering was the beginning of Sunday worship and the end of the fourth commandment, or that it in any way is a reference to a commanded Sunday worship.
Acts 20:7 – 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.
Jesus kept the Sabbath (which he himself created on the seventh day of creation). All the prophets kept the Sabbath. All the Apostles kept the Sabbath. PAUL KEPT THE SABBATH as is evidenced by Acts 17:2 where it is stated “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” There is not one biblical record of any follower of Jesus (in the “Old Testament” or in the “New Testament”) ever being a Sunday worshiper. NOT ONE INSTANCE! Let’s not forget that Acts 20:7 refers to a “Saturday night” meeting for a meal, and that shortly after this time, Paul left! Paul did not stay around to observe any Sunday worship service. PAUL LEFT THEM AT DAYBREAK ON SUNDAY! The Saturday night breaking of bread was obviously an extension of a seventh day Sabbath worship service, because Paul and his friends knew that he was about to leave.
Let’s look at another scripture which Protestant teachers sometimes use to teach that the Sabbath has been abolished. Protestant teachers use this verse to teach that we should not allow any person to judge us in respect of the Sabbath days, and that this is thus an indication that the Sabbath day has been abolished.
Colossians 2:16-17 - Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
We can readily see and agree that we should not allow any person to judge us in respect of the Sabbath days. But pray tell, where does this scripture indicate that the Sabbath is passé? The people to whom Paul was writing were obviously keeping the Sabbath or else it would not even have been mentioned in this fashion. Where does he instruct them to cease doing so? We find NO directive here or example here or indication here for God’s people to cease keeping the Sabbath and commence observing Sunday. Such teachings are invented from thin air. It is simply a statement that those keeping the Sabbath should not worry about being judged by other people as to HOW they keep the Sabbath. This verse was directed at the traditions of the Pharisees and their numerous “rules” which, according to the Pharisees, were to be followed on the Sabbath.
Perhaps a note here concerning the writings of Paul is in order. Protestants invariably use the writings of Paul to teach that the “old law” has been abolished, and that the Holy Days are no more, and that observance of the Sabbath day is a curse, and that God’s instructions concerning food are no longer of any concern. They do this by selectively picking passages from Paul’s writings that are perhaps vague or difficult to understand or that simply fit their purpose. From Paul’s writings, we can easily demonstrate that Paul taught against sin, and that sin is the transgression of the law, and thus conclude logically that Paul did not think the law was a thing of the past and a thing not to be obeyed. We can easily demonstrate that Paul kept the Holy Days of God, that Paul kept the Sabbath, and that Paul taught obedience to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Protestants rarely or never use the writings of any of the other “New Testament” authors to attempt to do away with God’s instructions in the Torah. How often are the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James or Jude used by anyone in an attempt to teach us to NOT observe the Sabbath? It is consistently Paul and his writings that suffer the abuse of perverse applications.
Though there is a degree of debate about the authorship of “The Letter to the Hebrews,” most experts conclude that it was written by the Apostle Paul. Though the passage below is a little more difficult to understand than most passages – as are many passages written by Paul – close scrutiny will reveal that the author (Paul?) is advising us concerning a SEVENTH DAY SABBATH and the associated rest. These words were most likely written by the Apostle Paul.
Hebrews 4:1-11 - Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
Paul’s writings were not always the simplest and easiest to understand. The perverse interpretations applied to his writings by Protestant teachers are TOTALLY in disagreement with all the other writers of the “New Testament” and all the other writers of the “Old Testament,” and also in disagreement with what Paul was actually saying. But if Paul is more difficult to understand why do we not first become grounded with the writings and teachings of the other Apostles. Paul’s writings MUST agree with the other Apostles or else there is contradiction. Upon close inspection, we always find that Paul absolutely IS in agreement with the other Apostles.
What did the Apostle Peter have to say about Paul?
II Peter 3:15-17 - And always regard the patient forbearance of our Lord as salvation, as our dear brother Paul also has written to you in virtue of the wisdom granted to him. That is what he says in all his letters, when speaking in them of these things. In those letters there are some statements hard to understand, which ill-taught and unprincipled people pervert, just as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own ruin. You, therefore, dear friends, having been warned beforehand, must continually be on your guard so as not to be led astray by the false teaching of immoral men nor fall from your own stedfastness.
How much plainer could the Apostle Peter be? Can we not easily see that it is practically ALWAYS the writings of Paul which are used by ill-taught and unprincipled people to pervert the word of God? The Apostle Peter has plainly warned us to be on our guard. To my knowledge, there is no similar warning concerning ANY of the other forty plus authors of the Holy Bible. But we have been warned to be careful with Paul’s writings because he has written “some statements hard to understand.” We should NEVER think that the instructions of God have changed. We should NEVER think that the Holy Days are no more. We should NEVER think that the instructions concerning food have fallen by the way. We should NEVER think that the SIGN identifying God’s People has been destroyed or abolished. God established the Sabbath for a reason. God listed it in his commandments before the prohibition against murdering. God listed it in his commandments before the prohibition against stealing. God listed it in his commandments before the prohibition against adultery. God listed it in his commandments before the prohibition against bearing false witness. God listed it in his commandments before the prohibition against coveting. God even listed the Sabbath commandment before the admonition to honor your father and your mother. Should we not think that perhaps our Creator God places an importance on His Sabbath?
REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY TO KEEP IT HOLY, FOR THE SABBATH IS A SIGN OF THE COVENANT BETWEEN GOD AND HIS PEOPLE FOREVER.
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE FROM SECULAR SOURCES:
"If Protestants would follow the Bible, they should worship God on the Sabbath Day. In keeping the Sunday they are following a law of the Catholic Church."
— Albert Smith, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, replying for the cardinal in a letter of Feb. 10, 1920
"The Church changed the observance of the Sabbath to Sunday by right of the divine, infallible authority given to her by her Founder, Jesus Christ. The Protestant, claiming the Bible to be the only guide of faith, has no warrant for observing Sunday. In this matter the Seventh Day Adventist is the only consistent Protestant.”
— The Catholic Universe Bulletin, Aug. 14, 1942, p.4
"The observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Catholic] church."
— Monsignor Louis Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today (1868), p. 213
"From the apostles' time until the council of Laodicea, which was about the year 364, the holy observance of the Jews' Sabbath continued, as may be proved out of many authors: yea, notwithstanding the decree of the council against it."
— Sunday a Sabbath. John Ley, p.163. London: 1640
"The seventh-day Sabbath was...solemnised by Christ, the Apostles, and primitive Christians, till the Laodicean Council did in manner quite abolish the observations of it."
— Dissertation on the Lord's Day, pp. 33, 34
"It was the practice generally of the Easterne Churches; and some churches of the west...For in the Church of Millaine (Milan);...it seems the Saturday was held in a farre esteeme... Not that the Easterne Churches, or any of the rest which observed that day, were inclined to Iudaisme (Judaism); but that they came together on the Sabbath day, to worship Iesus (Jesus) Christ the Lord of the Sabbath."
— History of the Sabbath, Part 2, par. 5, pp.73, 74. London: 1636. Dr. Heylyn
"The ancient Christians were very careful in the observance of Saturday, or the seventh day...It is plain that all the Oriental churches, and the greatest part of the world, observed the Sabbath as a festival...Athanasius likewise tells us that they held religious assembles on the Sabbath, not because they were infected with Judaism, but to worship Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, Epiphanius says the same."
— Antiquities of the Christian Church, Vol.II Book XX, chap. 3, sec.1, 66. 1137,1138
"They despise our sun-god. Did not Zorcaster, the sainted founder of our divine beliefs, institute Sunday one thousand years ago in honour of the sun and supplant the Sabbath of the Old Testament. Yet these Christians have divine services on Saturday."
— O'Leary, The Syriac Church and Fathers, pp.83, 84
“Pope Sylvester (314-335) was the first to order the churches to fast on Saturday, and Pope Innocent (402-417) made it a binding law in the churches that obeyed him, (In order to bring the Sabbath into disfavour.) ‘Innocentius did ordain the Saturday or Sabbath to be always fasted.’"
— Dr. Peter Heylyn, History of the Sabbath, Part 2, p. 44
Down even to the fifth century the observance of the Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian church.
— Ancient Christianity Exemplified," Lyman Coleman, ch. 26, sec. 2, p. 527
"The primitive Christians had a great veneration for the Sabbath, and spent the day in devotion and sermons. And it is not to be doubted but they derived this practice from the Apostles themselves, as appears by several scriptures to the purpose."
— Dialogues on the Lord's Day, p. 189. London: 1701, By Dr. T.H. Morer (A Church of England divine).