The issue of Sunday sacredness keeps popping up like a recurring decimal – only this time there are disturbing undercurrents of a possible agenda to introduce this day as “the” National Day of Worship. Such a move would inevitably have very serious implications for minority interests who hold to other days of worship and to the principle of religious liberty which generally affects all members of society. We would do well therefore to heed the words of the late columnist Mr. Gladstone Holder who was wont to remind us; “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance”.
The proposers of Sunday worship do not bring any evidence from Scripture to show its sacredness and this is, in itself, cause for great concern to those who would pay the ultimate sacrifice for Truth!
It is time therefore for a calm, dispassionate look at the matter because of the stakes involved. Indeed, the question of whether Saturday, the seventh day of the week, or Sunday, the first day, is the authentic Sabbath is no mere trivial question to be decided by the casting of lots or the flipping of a coin. This matter transcends politics, culture, sectarianism, nationalism or traditionally held views. This is the case, for as Christians who believe in the Resurrection and the Final Judgement, we have to accept also that there is a Law and a Law-Giver Whose rulings are final, Who is no respecter of persons, and before Whom all mortals must give an account of their deeds.
The original, authentic Sabbath dates to the very beginning of Creation – Genesis chapter 2, verses 2 & 3 – and was repeated in a definitive manner via the Law of the Ten Commandments given thousands of years later to a nation chosen by God to preserve and disseminate the knowledge of His righteous character and perfect ways to a world largely given over to idolatry. Many of the principles of this law, quite significantly, are reflected in the judicial systems of all nations.
This Law of Ten Commandments, written on two tables of stone by God Himself, is a Law of Love; (a) Love to God, and (b) Love to one’s neighbour (Matthew chapter 22, verses 36 – 40). Since God is love, this Law is an expression of His unchangeable character as stated in Malachi chapter 3, verse 6.
Nothing emphasizes God’s unchangeable Law and character as much as Jesus’ life of rejection, humiliation and death at Calvary. God allowed Himself to be done to death by His creatures rather than change one “jot or tittle” of His Law! It is as simple and yet as profound as that.
Other Scriptural references to God’s Sabbath and its permanence are found in Ezekiel chapter 20, verses 12 & 13; Isaiah Chapter 56, verses 13 & 14 and Revelation chapter 22, verse 14; “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they might have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
The question remains as to why the overwhelming majority of Christians today, and for many centuries, have adopted Sunday as their Sabbath.
The Roman Catholic Church quite candidly admits or claims responsibility for having instituted the change, and there is abundant evidence of this.
In one of the catechisms of the church is this statement:
“Ques: How prove you that the Church hath power to command feasts and holy days?
“Ans: By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly [foolishly] contradict themselves by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same church.”
[Henry Tuberville, An Abridgement of the Christian Doctrine – 1833 approbation]
Stephen Keenan in “A Doctrinal Catechism” put it this way:
“Ques: Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept?
“Ans: Had she not such power she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her; she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week for the observance of Saturday the seventh day as a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.”
Finally, there is the following assertation by Lucius Ferraris in “Prompta Biblioteca”:
“The Pope is of so great authority and power that he can modify, explain, or interpret even divine law, since his power is not of man, but of God, and he acts as viceregent of God upon earth.”
Please compare the foregoing statements with Daniel chapter 8, verse 25; “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws.”
It all boils down to the question of whom we will obey as St. Peter stated in Acts chapter 5, verse 29; “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
Osbert C. Ward