|Home | Beacon Magazine | Beacon Magazine Articles|
Discovering the Sabbath
Whichever day you keep as a day of rest and worship, the chances are it’s a continuation of your parent’s beliefs and practices. On the other hand, there are many who consider every day alike (Rom 14:15), and work even on weekends to earn a living.
My widowed mother raised me a Sunday keeper. Then I got married to a Baptist seminary graduate. The more Sunday keeping became a way of life for me and my family. We do so to honor what the mainstream Christianity calls the “Lord’s Day”, in the (mistaken) belief that the Savior’s resurrection occurred Sunday morning.
Before I met my wife, she was employed by a Baptist Foreign Mission under the Youth Evangelism Program. But as a matter of church policy, when she got married her monthly salary was eventually cut off---relegating her down to volunteer church worker.
Having a degree in Elementary Education, in the year 1965 my wife accepted a teaching position in a little town in the province of Sorsogon, Philippines. She was assigned to teach in a remote village accessible only by motorized or paddle canoe.
The lack of regular transportation required her to stay there and come back to town only to get her salary, submit monthly reports and procure supplies. Worried by the thought of staying in such a semi primitive place away from me and our two little daughters, she pleaded with me to quit (temporarily) my insurance selling job, and that we settle down in her place of work until she qualified for assignment to other schools along regular transport route.
A week before the opening of classes, the Head Teacher accompanied and helped us find accommodation near her school. We adjusted quite fast to the simplest of living. No appliances---not even a radio receiver. But health wise, we were gainers. The pesticide free and organically grown produce plus the wild varieties in the area was more conducive to health. The network of pristine rivers teemed with several species of fish, and a teen-age boy taught me fishing with a hook and line (minus a fishing rod). Seated in the canoe, we just held the line with our bare hands, wait for a tug and then quickly pull the fish out of the water. Thus my family’s protein needs were met, along with native chickens we raised. And surprisingly, serious crime was unheard of in the area. We learned to love and enjoy living in the place.
But then one problem surfaced. We missed the Sunday service and fellowship with brethren.
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another: as so much the more, as ye see the day approaching, Heb. 10:25.
My wife and I discussed the matter. Solution. There is a protestant church in the town proper, and we decided to affiliate. Delightedly, the Pastor (an old bachelor) and his members welcomed us with open arms. So, I bought a small canoe. Thenceforth, every Saturday after lunch, I sweated it out paddling my canoe along the network of rivers to town with my family. Exhausting---but I thought it to be good exercise. We’d spend the night at the Parsonage. It became a weekly family routine.
Three years later, I accidently got hold of a little book---the U.S. and British Commonwealth in Prophecy. The main topic of the book is about Sabbath keeping as the identifying SIGN of [Yahweh’s] people, and concerns the “lost ten tribes” of Israel. It’s about how and why they lost their identity.
Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, “Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am [Yahweh] that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy unto [Yahweh]: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath Day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days [Yahweh] made the heavens and earth, and in the seventh day he rested and was refreshed, Ex. 13-17.
Accordingly, the ten tribes lost their identifying sign---the Sabbath---subsequently losing their identity. After reading the book, I was overwhelmed with emotions. Shocked. Stunned. Bewildered. Then I was angry with the author Herbert W. Armstrong, and muttered, “Does he mean that because we are not Sabbath keepers, we are not G-d’s people? Why---the Sabbath is only for the Jews and Sunday is now the L-rd’s Day.”
I tried and tried again to brush aside and forget what I read in that book. Still, an uneasy feeling kept bothering me. What if what Mr. Armstrong wrote were true? Meanwhile, my wife enjoys her job, teaching grade I and II and oblivious of the emotional and mental dilemma besetting me. More still, I began to have a strange feeling, i.e. as if my family is on board a sinking ship.
Back to my senses, I found myself angry again with Mr. Armstrong. I said to myself, “I will prove him wrong.” It was then I decided to look deeper into the Scriptures.
Quest For Sunday Keeping Texts
During my wife’s studies in the seminary, the American Missionaries gifted their students with books. Among these are Thomson’s Chain Reference Bible, a Bible Dictionary and Cruden’s Concordance. Ah-- with Cruden’s I thought, I can easily find lots of New Testament texts that will uphold our Sunday keeping.
So, one morning I began my diligent research. Back home by noontime, my wife finds me engrossed in biblical study. She attended to our little girls and instructed our house help to set food on the table.
“Aren’t you hungry?” she asked, “Come, let’s have lunch.”
“Go ahead,” I replied, “I’ll eat later.”
Unknown to my wife, at the moment food was the least of my concerns. You see, I’ve got a problem. For the first time in my life, I found in the concordance that there are only eight verses in the New Testament that refers to the first day (Sunday) of the week. And, unlike the Sabbath, not one of these verses enjoins believers the keeping of Sunday for rest and worship. Still determined to defend our Sunday keeping, I decide to analyze the 8 passages.
Analyzing the 8 Texts
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,” Matt. 28:1.
2.) “And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun,” Mark 16:2. It’s the same event as in Mat. 28:1. No hint of Sunday becoming a day of rest and worship.
3.) “Now when (Yahshua) was risen, early the first day of the week He appeared to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils,” Mark 16:9. Still no Sunday observance here. The Savior’s appearance to Mary Magdalene doesn’t in any way transform Sunday into a set-apart day in lieu of the Sabbath.
4.) “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,” Luke 24:1. Luke’s account of the women’s visit to the tomb neither indicates rest or worship. They came purposely to anoint the body of (Yahshua) with spices, thinking it is still in the tomb.
5.) “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,” John 20:1. The same event as recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke and irrelevant to Sunday keeping.
6.) “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 (Yahshua) and stood on the midst, and saith unto them, ‘Peace be unto you’,” John 20:19. The disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews- -not for worship. Note that the doors were shut (probably barricaded).
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,” Acts 20:7. This is not a Sunday morning worship service. The disciples were gathered together to eat a common meal. Compare Acts 2: 44 & 46. Note that in the Jewish reckoning of the day, the event happened early on our Saturday evening. And there were many lights, verse 8. The fact that Paul was ready to depart on the morrow (a Sunday), shows that he has no regard for the first day of the week. Paul is a Sabbath keeper, Acts 17:2.
8.) “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as (Elohim) hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come,” 1 Corinth. 16:2. I used to take this verse as a typical example of Sunday worship service. However, considering that the entire New Testament is devoid of a command to observe Sunday, I began to see that Sunday keeping based on 1 Corinth. 16:2 rests on mere conjecture.
The question is: Did Paul and the apostolic Assemblies do a turnaround, i.e, embracing Sunday in lieu of the Sabbath? I decided to find out more, beginning with Paul.
a.) “As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,” Acts 17:2.
b.) “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the (Elohim) of my fathers, believing all things written in the law and in the prophets,” Acts 24.14. Evidently, Paul remained steadfast and true to his convictions. The same is true with the other believers, as Luke, who was with Paul in his travels, put on record details of their activities in the book of Acts. There is nothing at all in Luke’s writings to suggest that the early assemblies changed their day of worship to Sunday.
Paul’s Writings Misunderstood
Sunday keepers have taken the writings of Paul as an intimation of Sunday having become the (new) Sabbath of NT believers. But the book of Acts and historical records disproves this as evidence by the severe persecutions of Sabbath keepers during the Roman Empire.
The word “collection” in 1 Corinth. 16:1 is from the Greek word logia (#3048 of Strong’s Dict.), which also means contribution, gathering. It should not be equated with the collection “purse” that is passed around during a Sunday service in the Christian church.
Rather, this collection was a special Fund intended to alleviate the hardship and sufferings of the Judean brethren, where each one must set aside by himself until Paul comes to collect it.
And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea: which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul, Acts 11:27-30.
Obviously, the famine was more severe in Judea, and the brethren there came to be in dire need, especially in Jerusalem. So, this prompted Paul to solicit assistance from the other Assemblies least affected as in Corinth, Galatia and Macedonia, 2 Corinth. 8:3-4, 9:1-5.
And considering the Agricultural economy, maybe part of these collections could be farm produce such as grains. But why on Sunday? Well, Sunday is an ordinary working day. As regards to Paul’s writings, the apostle Peter explains and admonishes, “…even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction,” 2 Pet. 3:15-16
The Pastor’s Animosity
Considering my wife’s seminary training and deep-seated beliefs, I deemed it best not to discuss the matter with her yet. Meanwhile, I decided to continue with my research and find out more. Come Saturday, off we go to town again. At the Parsonage that evening, the Pastor showed me a magazine.
“Beware of this magazine, brother,” he warns, “It has already led many astray, especially young people. And it is being sent free.”
As I turned the front cover to see the contents, I was surprised to see that name again---Herbert W. Armstrong. Why---he is the same man who wrote that book about the lost tribes of Israel. What a coincidence! The more I became curious.
During the service, we had as our guest speaker a high ranking church official---the district superintendant. At the pulpit, the eminent Pastor waved the magazine and thundered, “Brothers and Sisters, you’d better be aware of and avoid reading this publication, etc.,etc.”
The animosity of the pastors toward the magazine intrigued me more. So, instead of complying with the warning, I decided to write and requested for a subscription. Eventually, I enrolled in the publisher’s Bible Correspondence Course. Thus I learned of the origin and true nature of Sunday observance---essentially an outgrowth of sun worship---well documented and makes interesting reading in encyclopedias.
Sabbath in the New Testament
Having failed to find a command in the New Testament relative to the sanctification of Sunday, my object of interest turned to the Sabbath. What day did (Yahshua) and His followers keep? How extensive or consistent is Sabbath keeping in the New Testament?
* “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,” Luke 4:16.
* “and they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the Sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught,” Mark 1:21.
* “and He said unto them, ‘the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” Mark 2:27
* “But when they (Paul & Co.) departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and sat down,” Acts 13:14.
* “And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath,” Acts 13:42
* “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,” Acts 17:2. Clearly, the Savior and Paul showed that Sabbath observance, the 4th in the ten commandments, remains binding on man and inviolable. After the death of (Yahshua), the book of Acts bears witness that the apostolic Assemblies were steadfast in keeping the Sabbath.
The OT Sabbath on Focus
During his sojourn on earth, it is apparent that the Savior attended public worship regularly in the synagogue. In like manner, going to the synagogue on the Sabbath day was a way of life for Paul, Acts 17:2. So, to know more of the Sabbath, I have to go to the source---the Old Testament. The fact is, most so-called Bible based religions take the Old Testament only for its historical as well as literary value.
And on the seventh day (Elohim) ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And (Elohim) blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all his work which (Elohim) created and made, Gen. 2:2-3
Of course I have read these passages many times, but then it didn’t make sense to me. But now, as I sincerely seek for the truth, the darkness gives way to light.
The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple, Ps. 119:130.
And in that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness, Isaiah 29:18.
The significance of the seventh day begins to unfold before my eyes. I noted that there are three distinct features of the seventh day that makes it really unique and different from day one to day six.
It is the only day that was 1) blessed, 2) sanctified (set apart), and 3) honored by the Creator Himself by resting on this day from all His work of creation.
Note also that in the Decalogue, the 4th commandment is superseded only by the preeminence of the Almighty and His Name.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all they work: But the seventh is the Sabbath of (Yahweh) thy (Elohim): 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 (Yahweh) made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day: wherefore (Yahweh) blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, Ex. 20:8-11.
The pastors say the Sabbath is only for the Jews---calling it “Jewish Sabbath.” But verse 10 says it is the Sabbath of Yahweh. Interestingly, the Sabbath is also for the stranger or gentile.
Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to (Yahweh), to serve Him, and to love the Name of (Yahweh), to be His servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath, from polluting it, and taketh hold of My covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer: their burnt offerings and sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar; for Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people, Is. 56:6-7.
And remarkably, even the beast of burden (cattle) should be rested too on the Sabbath.
It’s Truth That Matters
I begun my research purposely to demolish Sabbath observance---hoping to uphold my Sunday keeping. Ironically, my research ended up two ways i.e., defeat and victory. Absurd? Not quite. Here’s why. It is true that my endeavor to uphold Sunday keeping ended in defeat. But at the same time, such defeat led to my discovery of the truth of Yahweh’s Sabbath. What happened was a triumph of the truth.
And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free, John 8:32.
With all the evidence I have gathered and compiled, my wife’s Baptist training was no match for the truth. She, too, saw the light and accepted the Sabbath. For a time we were in a dilemma. We had forged a close and beautiful friendship with several hard core protestant families. Now, because of the Sabbath, the prospects of losing their friendship loomed ahead.
Nonetheless, we decided to uphold and keep the Sabbath. We value the truth more than we love friends. It really hurts to lose our friends, but we can not be a friend to the world, James 4:4.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Corinth. 6:14)
Now, my wife and I knew better. This brings us to the heart of the matter. Why on earth have we relied on blind guides to lead us in our spiritual life?
Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch, Matt. 15:14.
…let (Yahweh) be true, but every man a liar, as it is written, “That though mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged,” Rom. 3:4.
Neither is there a compromise, nor a substitute, for truth. And the truth of the Sabbath stands forever.
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 (Yahweh), Isaiah 66:23.
My discovery of the Sabbath yielded a bonus. It set the stage to my discovery of more truths-- ulminating in the knowledge of Almighty Yahweh, and Yahshua the true Messiah. HalleluYah!
-Elder A. S. Untalan, Sr
© 2009 Yahweh’s Assembly in Yahshua
View us online at: www.YAIY.org
Call Toll Free: (877)