Sunday church was a central part of my life growing up. I attended weekly services as a child, sang in the choir, and played handbells. I never questioned Sunday worship because it was just what everyone I knew did. My family went to church on Sunday. Period. As an adult, I continued to attend Sunday church services until God showed me His Sabbath.
Many years ago, our family had some visitors from New Zealand. After spending several days with us and learning about our Messianic walk of faith, they asked if they could stay for Sabbath. While reading some Scriptures on the Sabbath, the husband interrupted and asked why the church doesn’t keep the Sabbath. Before anyone in our family could answer his question, his wife responded, “The catholic church changed it.” Not only did they change it, they said we are now obliged to Sunday instead of the ‘ancient Sabbath.’
“Instead of the seventh day, and other festivals appointed by the old law, the church has prescribed the Sundays and holy days to be set apart for God’s worship; and these we are now obliged to keep in consequence of God’s commandment, instead of the ancient Sabbath” (The Catholic Christian Instructed in the Sacraments, Sacrifices, Ceremonies, and Observances of the Church By Way of Question and Answer, RT Rev. Dr. Challoner, p. 204.)
Sunday is named for the ‘sun’ and probably came from ancient Egyptian ‘sun god’ worship. Sunday worship has its roots in the history of the church fathers and the Roman Catholic Church who developed the idea that Sunday was suddenly the memorial for Jesus’ resurrection.
In 321 CE, Constantine decreed that Sunday would be observed as the Roman day of rest:
“On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church: Vol. II: From Constantine the Great to Gregory the Great A.D. 311–600 (New York: Charles Scribner, 1867) page 380 note 1.)
This doctrine of Sunday was codified at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE with its many other anti-semitic regulations further separating the Jewish Sabbath from the Christian Sunday. In 363 CE, the Council of Laodicea prohibited Christians from observing the Biblical Sabbath and encouraged them to work on Saturday and rest on Sunday. The fact that this edict was issued with prohibitions indicates that Sunday worship was still not totally accepted by followers Yeshua.
Yeshua sent an angel to the church in Laodicea warning them about mixing the holy and the profane, the hot and the cold. It makes him vomit! He tells this lukewarm congregation that he stands at the door and knocks, and if anyone hears his voice and opens the door, he will eat with them (Revelation 3:14-20). This is a reference to the Sabbath day, the fourth commandment. Yeshua already knew that Laodicea would fall away from the Truth and mix it with lies. Only those with ‘ears to hear’ would be victorious and overcome the lies.
Contrary to God’s command for the Sabbath day, Sunday worship was mandated by the Roman Catholic Church as the sabbath of Christian worship. According to all calendars, historic and modern-day, Sunday is the first, not the seventh day of the week. The outline of God’s creational week of working for six days and resting on the seventh was transformed into a Sunday ‘sabbath’ of having people rest on the first day of the week and then working. I remember when an elder in a church I attended brought that little fact to my attention. Because we worshiped on Sunday, he commented, “I wonder how God will deal with the church for turning His order around –– resting then working rather than working then resting.”
We can worship God any day of the week we desire. In fact, we should worship Him every day giving Him thanks for all the blessings He brings into our lives. However, that doesn’t mean His Sabbath should have become a day ignored by Christianity because of anti-semitic edicts. Blatantly misinterpreting Scriptures that undeniably prove that Jews and gentiles came together on the seventh-day Sabbath in synagogues to hear the reading of the Torah and the Prophets, doesn’t change the facts written in Acts.
“On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.”
Is it really possible that Paul would begin to speak during a Sunday morning worship service and continue until midnight and then leave the next day? Would people really sit for 15-20 hours to listen to Paul’s discourse when today an hour is too long?
Verse 8 gives an important detail to understanding this event, “There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting.” Biblical days are rendered sunset to sunset. This means that when Paul started speaking on the first day of the week, it was after sunset or Saturday evening. He talked four or five hours which is more realistic than 15-20. Eutychus goes to sleep because of the late hour, falls out the window, and dies. After Paul raises Eutychus from the dead, he leaves in the morning which would be Sunday morning.
“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made” (1 Corinthians 16:2).
This verse is often used to support collecting tithes and offerings at Sunday church services. Does this verse really suggest passing the offering plate at Sunday services? No, it says that on the “first day of the week,” when business began again after the Sabbath, offerings should be set aside so that when Paul returned, there would be no need for a collection on the Sabbath. Taking verses out of context of the people and culture of Israel has dangerous consequences.
“And let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
There is nothing in this verse to suggest that meeting together was to happen on the ‘first day of the week’ or forsaking the fellowship meant ‘not going to church on Sunday.’ Though it’s very important to meet together, to encourage one another, the ‘first day of the week’ is not specifically mentioned for fellowship; while the Sabbath and other Biblical holy days were already the established meeting times.
Sunday is often called ‘The Lord’s Day’ as if the Yeshua actually honored it as such. Yeshua said, “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28). At the time he made this statement, the Sabbath was still the seventh day, therefore the ‘Day of the Lord,’ if used in this manner, should still be the seventh-day Sabbath. Since the word Sabbath has its Hebrew root in sheva or ‘seven,’ it would always be the seventh day, not the first, third or any day that man desires.
“On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches” (Revelation 1:10).
Many interpret this Scripture to mean that on a Sunday morning, the apostle John was in the Spirit and given the revelation of Yeshua. However, nowhere does the passage say that John received revelation on a Sunday. This idea comes from centuries of Christian theology that moved the Sabbath to the ‘first day of the week’ and then called it ‘the Lord’s Day.’
John was Jewish and well-versed in the Hebrew language of the Hebrew Scriptures. To him the Hebrew phrase en teé juriake´heem´ra, translated ‘the Lord’s Day,’ would mean the ‘Day of the Lord,’ or the time of judgment that brings forth the Messianic Era.
There are other clues in the passage to the timing of ‘the Lord’s Day,’ and neither have anything to do with Sunday. John heard a loud voice that sounded like a trumpet. Since the book of Revelation prophetic, to have the sound of the trumpet as a prophetic voice is appropriate. Also, the Feast of Trumpets the time for preparing for God’s judgment; therefore, it could be argued that the ‘Day of the Lord’ begins on Feast of Trumpets. The trumpet ‘voice’ tells John to send seven messages to the seven churches in East Asia. These messages contain warnings for the ‘Day of the Lord’ so those in the congregations who have ‘ears to hear’ will recognize the times and be prepared.
Still, Christians perpetuate Sunday as ‘the Lord’s Day,’ but this is really nothing more than ignorance. When they wish someone a ‘Happy Lord’s Day,’ they are really wishing them a ‘Happy Judgment Day’ which is very different from saying, ‘Shabbat Shalom’ or ‘Sabbath Peace.’ The real blessing of ‘the Lord’s Day’ is not about wishing someone a great worship time on Sunday, but taking the time to read book of Revelation and the prophecy it contains in its Hebrew context (Revelation 1:1-3).
“He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east” (Ezekiel 8:16).
The prophet Ezekiel had a vision of the Temple in Jerusalem before the glory of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh departs through the Eastern Gate and stops over the Mount of Olives. Digging through a hole at the entrance to the Courtyard, Ezekiel witnesses seventy elders of Israel offering incense to foreign gods. Twenty-five men are in the Inner Court near the Altar. They face east with their backs toward the Temple and bow to the sun. These detestable things, the worship of the sun in the east, force God to remove His glory from the Temple. His glory will not return until Yeshua sets his feet on the Mount of Olives and all the detestable practices of the nations are removed from Israel.
“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you” (Galatians 4:8-11).
After learning about some of the pagan roots of Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and Sunday, perhaps Paul’s words to Galatia can be read and understood in the context in which he wrote them to gentile followers of Yeshua. Perhaps the words of Joshua will also bring light into what God wants from those who fear Him and want to serve him.
“Therefore fear Adonai, and serve him truly and sincerely. Put away the gods your ancestors served beyond the [Euphrates]River and in Egypt, and serve Adonai! If it seems bad to you to serve Adonai, then choose today whom you are going to serve! Will it be the gods your ancestors served beyond the River? or the gods of the Emori, in whose land you are living? As for me and my household, we will serve Adonai!” (Joshua 24:14-16)
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