Venerable Day of the Sun

Sunday church was part of my life growing up.  I attended weekly  services as a child and sang in the choirs as a teenager.   I never questioned Sunday worship because it was just what everyone I knew did.  We went to church on Sunday.  Period.  As an adult, I continued to attend Sunday church services until the Lord showed me His better way of the 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, the husband interrupted and asked why the church doesn’t keep the Sabbath any more.  Before anyone in our family could answer his question, his wife responded, “The catholic church changed it.” 

“…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.)

As with Christmas and Easter, Sunday worship has its roots not in the Scriptures, but in the history of the world and ultimately the church fathers who created the idea that Sunday was the memorial day for Jesus’ resurrection. Sunday is named for the ‘venerable day of the sun’ and probably came from Egyptian astrology.    It is also the first day of the week according to all calendars, historic and modern-day.

In 321 C.E., 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 was codified at the Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. with its many other anti-semitic regulations further separating the Jewish Sabbath from the Christian Sunday.  In 363 C.E. the Council of Laodicea prohibited Christians from observing the Biblical Sabbath and encouraged them to work on Saturday and rest on the Sunday.   The fact that this edict was issued indicates that Sunday worship was still not totally accepted by Christians.

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 dalet commandment along with the words, the ruler of God’s creation.  It would seem that 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 sit on thrones to rule and reign with Him. 

Contrary to God’s command for the Sabbath day,  Sunday worship was mandated by the Roman catholic church as the sabbath of Christian worship.   The outline of God’s week of working for six days and resting on the seventh was transformed into a Sunday sabbath 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.  Though we worshipped on Sunday, he commented, “I wonder how God will deal with the church for turning His order around – resting then working rather than working and resting.”   

Of course, we can worship God any day of the week we desire.  In fact, we should worship Him every day as Creator of the Universe and for all the blessings and promises fulfilled in our lives.  However, that doesn’t mean His holy day of Sabbath should have become a day disdained by Christianity and Scriptures misinterpreted that undeniably suggest that early Jews and gentiles worshipped on Sabbath in synagogues.  Acts 20:7 is one example.

“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.”

Without even suggesting that days were rendered evening to evening, is it really possible that Paul began to speak during a Sunday morning worship service until midnight on the first day of the week and then left the next day?  Would people really sit for 15-20 hours and listen to him proclaim the Word of God when today an hour is too long? 

Verse 8 continues “There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting.”  Biblical days are from sunset to sunset.  This means that when Paul started speaking on the first day of the week, it was probably after sunset or Saturday evening.   He talked for four or five hours, Eutychus goes to sleep, falls out the window and dies. After Eutychus is resurrected from the dead, Paul 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 used to support collecting tithes and offerings at Sunday morning church services.  Does this verse really suggest passing the offering plates on Sunday morning?

“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 means not going to church on Sunday.

Sunday is often called ‘The LORD’s Day’ as if the Yeshua actually honored it as such.  In Matthew 12:8 and Mark 2:28, Yeshua said “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”  At the time he made this  statements, the Sabbath was still the seventh day,  therefore the ‘Day of the LORD’ should be the Sabbath.    Since the word Sabbath has its Hebrew root in sheva or ‘seven’, it would always have to 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: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea” (Revelation 1:10).

Many interpret this Scripture to mean that on a Sunday morning,  the apostle John was in the Spirit and given revelation.   However, the passage doesn’t say it was on a Sunday.  This inference 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 a Jew and well-versed in the Hebrew language of the Hebrew Scriptures.  To him the phrase en teé juriake´heem´ra (The LORD’s Day) would imply what is called by the prophets Isaiah, Joel and Amos as “The Day of the LORD” or the time of the coming destruction that brings forth the Messianic age. 

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 is about prophecy, to use the sound of the trumpet as a prophetic voice is appropriate.  Also, the Feast of Trumpets is believed to be the time for preparing for God’s judgment of earth and its people.

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, some Christians perpetuate Sunday as The LORD’s Day, but this is really the result of ignorance.  When they wish someone a ‘Happy Lord’s Day’ they are really wishing them a ‘Happy Judgment Day’ quite different from saying Shabbat Shalom or Sabbath Peace on the Sabbath.   The real blessing of the ‘The LORD’s Day’  is not about wishing someone a  great worship time on Sunday, but in reading book of Revelation and the prophecy it contains (Revelation 1:1-3).

The  change from the Sabbath command to a first day of the week memorial to the god of the sun was not begun by Yeshua or the Apostles, but by the Roman church that didn’t heed Paul’s warnings about arrogance. This catholic mandate brings misunderstanding to the prophetic revelation given to John regarding the events of the ‘Day of the LORD’ and the return of the Messiah of Israel to earth.

“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).

Ezekiel had vision of the Temple in Jerusalem before the glory of the LORD departs through the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem and stops over the Mount of Olives.  Digging through a hole at the entrance to the court, Ezekiel witnesses seventy elders of Israel offering incense to foreign gods.  Twenty-five men are in the inner courts 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 removes all the detestable practices of the nations from his Kingdom. 

Learning about some of the the roots of Halloween, Christmas, Easter and Sunday, perhaps Galatians 4:8-11 can be read and understood in the context in which it was written to gentiles:

“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).

©2015 Tent Stake Ministries (Chapter from Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.)

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