WHO CHANGED THE SABBATH DAY?
Question: "Why do most churches keep the sabbath day on Sunday when it was never changed by God but only by the Pope, yet it's still one of God's commandments?"
Answer: The purpose of this column is not to explain why most churches do what they do but to try and explain what the Bible says. The Lord's church will always do what God's word teaches. And whether we must keep the sabbath day or not is certainly a question that can be answered from God's word. So, what does the Bible say about it?
First, the question as asked is based on a misconception. No one--neither God nor the Pope nor anyone else--changed the sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday. Moses said in Deuteronomy 5.1-14, "Hear, O Israel, the statutes which I speak in your hearing today.... Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy....Six days you shall labor...but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God." The sabbath day is the seventh day. It always has been and always will be.
But notice also to whom this commandment was given. It was given to Israel. And it was not revealed unto them until they received the law through Moses on Mt. Sinai (Nehemiah 9.13-14). There is no evidence that the sabbath day was ever given to anyone other than the nation of Israel during the time that the Mosaic covenant was in force. That would exclude those who lived before then, Gentiles during that time, and everyone since then.
The issue, then, is not who changed the sabbath, but was there a change in the law that required sabbath keeping? The answer is yes. Hebrews 7.12 says, "For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law." The Old Testament was God's law to Israel. It had priests of the tribe of Levi. Jesus came as our High Priest, but He was of the tribe of Judah. So the whole law had to be changed for Jesus to be High Priest. When the old law was taken out of the way, all of its commandments were removed, including Levitical priests, animal sacrifices, and the sabbath. We can learn much from the Old Testament, but it is not God's law today.
Any requirements for us must be found in the New Testament law of Christ. And nowhere in the New Testament law of Christ are Christians (or anyone else) ever commanded to keep the Sabbath. Rather, Acts 20.7 tells us of the followers of Christ in the first century, "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight." These disciples met for worship on the first day of the week, not the Sabbath which is the seventh day of the week.
Some people claim that the Sabbath was changed from the seventh day to the first day, and call Sunday "the Christian sabbath." Yet, that is not in the Bible either. So true disciples of Christ today still worship God on the first day of the week, which we call Sunday, because that is what the Bible tells us to do. The Bible does not say that the Sabbath is still God's command for us today, so we do not keep it at all--either on Saturday or Sunday. "Let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths" (Colossians 2:16). Brotherly, Wayne S. Walker
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