Monument in Time

Monument in Time

Discovering the Joy of the Sabbath

by Shawn BoonStra

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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible texts are from the New King James Version, copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
Or from The New International Version, NIV® Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Printed in the United States of America by Pacific Press Publishing Association Nampa, Idaho / Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

ISBN 9781937173029


Fakes and Frauds......................................................... 5 

Cosmic Con Job........................................................... 6 

In the Beginning ......................................................... 7 

The Sabbath Commandment...................................... 9 

The Joy of the Sabbath ............................................. 12 

Didn’t Jesus Change the Sabbath? ........................... 15 

What About Those Other First-Day Texts? .............. 20 

Then Why Sunday? ................................................... 24 

A Works Trip? …………………………...………… 26

 Does the Day Really Matter?..................................... 28 

A Pause for Peace…………………………………… 30

Fakes and Frauds

Have you ever heard the name Frank Abagnale? For decades he was one of the world’s most notorious and successful con men and forgers. His story was so amazing that it was eventually made into the movie Catch Me If You Can, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio (DiCaprio played Abagnale; Hanks played the FBI agent who caught him).

During one of his many scams, Abagnale faked being a doctor in a Georgia hospital for two years—not just a doctor, but the supervisor of a wing of doctors. No one suspected him being anything other than the MD that the fake certificate on the wall said he was.

He walked around with all the authority and power that comes with having a medical doctor’s license, even though most of the time he merely scribbled his name on the patients’ charts. The only time he came close to getting caught was when an infant almost died of oxygen deprivation because “Frank Conners, MD” had no idea what a “blue baby” was.

There’s no question that the misuse of the symbols of power and authority can have negative consequences. And this is especially true in the world of faith, which is rife with counterfeits and frauds. What’s worse, it’s not just that people are committing frauds, but they are also victims of it.



Cosmic Con Job

According to the Bible, things like fraud, con jobs, and imposters didn’t begin on Earth. The first trickster wasn’t some ancient merchant with his finger on the scales. It wasn’t even Jacob pretending to be his brother Esau in order to steal the blessing from his blind father, Isaac. (Genesis 27:1-20) No, it goes much further back, to Lucifer himself in Heaven.

And what did he attempt to do?

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’” (Isaiah 14:12-14)

Notice, Satan tried to be like God. He wanted the authority and power and prerogatives of “the Most High.” This same principle appears throughout the Bible.

Look at this biblical depiction of another one of Satan’s deceptions, this time through a surrogate.

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

Again, the attempt to be God. There’s a power here seeking to place himself in the position of the Lord Himself, just as Satan had tried in Heaven. Of course, neither Satan nor the proxy depicted here in Thessalonians can actually


take the place of God, just as Frank Abagnale, aka “Frank Conners, MD” could not do the work of a real doctor. The best they can do, instead, is usurp the symbols, the signs, and the outward trappings of those positions in order to fool and con people.

And this leads into one of the greatest deceptions and cons in the history of the world—one that millions of sincere and faithful Christians have fallen for because, quite frankly, they don’t know what’s behind it.

It has to do with the Bible’s first, broadest and most universal symbol of the authority and power of our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the Beginning

Notice the first words of the Bible. They don’t say anything about the death of Jesus on the Cross. They don’t say anything about the Second Coming of Jesus in “the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 24:30) They don’t say anything about “loving your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) They don’t say anything about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. They don’t say anything about the Lord’s Supper, or about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, or about the promise of eternal life in a new heaven and a new earth. (Revelation 21:1) There’s nothing about any of them, though each is an important biblical teaching.

Instead the Bible begins with the doctrine upon which all those other teachings rest—and that is creation. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

Creation is the opening act, the first principle, and the foundation upon which all else in Scripture follows,


because all that follows in Scripture becomes meaningless if severed from the Lord as Creator.

After all, what do the most basic Christians beliefs— salvation, the Cross, eternal life—mean apart from God as our Creator? What are we saved from in a godless universe? From what are we saved if God doesn’t exist? If atheistic evolution explains us, then what is the Cross other than another murdered Jew, one of the hundreds of thousands whom the Romans killed that way?

How do we understand the fall of humanity into sin apart from God as our Creator? What have we fallen from, and to what are we restored? Apart from the biblical account of origins, Christian beliefs—from the Cross to the Second Coming—become nonsense.

Another crucial point is that Scripture intricately ties Jesus as Creator with Jesus as Redeemer. John opens his gospel with words that unmistakably point to Christ, the Redeemer, as Christ the Creator:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)

All things that were made—that is, all things that were created—were created by Jesus Christ.

Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, makes a similar point. Talking about Jesus as Redeemer, he says, “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16, 17)

In Christian theology, Christ’s authority, Christ’s power, and Christ’s efficacy as the Redeemer arise only from His role as Creator. In every sense possible, a major pillar of New


Testament theology rests on Jesus as Creator. Christianity without Christ as the Creator is Christianity without Him as Redeemer. And without Christ as Redeemer, we have nothing. We might as well seek salvation in Harry Potter or Jason Bourne as in Jesus Christ.

Hence, we can see the importance of creation in all Christian theology. That point is so crucial, so basic, that God has given us an in-your-face reminder of it every week. It’s called the Sabbath, and more than anything else, it points to our creation, because on this great truth, and that alone, all these others truths exist.

In fact, God has commanded that we take one-seventh of our lives—one-seventh!—in order to especially remember that He is our Creator—something that He didn’t do for any other Christian teaching simply because no other Christian teaching has validity apart from this one.

That’s how important this doctrine of creation is, and the Sabbath remains its most perpetual, enduring and basic symbol.

The Sabbath Commandment

Most people know the amazing story of the giving of the Ten Commandments to the newly freed Hebrew people. Among those commandments was the fourth, the Sabbath commandment, and it reads:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: 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 the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is,


and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8-11)

Clearly, that commandment goes directly back to the creation of the world, of “the heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.” The link is even more apparent when you read the creation story itself. In the Genesis creation account, God created the earth and sky, and all that’s in them, in six days. After the work of creation was completed, what happened next?

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.” (Genesis 2:1-3)

Notice these two points: First, God blessed and sanctified the seventh day before the entrance of sin, before the fall of Adam and Eve. The seventh day, a sacred and holy time, comes from a perfect world, one in which there was no sin, no fall, and hence no symbols of sin or the fall or the redemption of humanity.

Second, the seventh day as a holy day predated the Jewish nation by thousands of years. The seventh-day Sabbath existed long before the Jewish people did. That the Jews took hold of the Sabbath day and have adhered to it is, of course, undeniable. But that no more makes the seventh-day Sabbath exclusively Jewish than a family deciding to start celebrating Christmas means Christmas becomes exclusively its own. As with the Sabbath, it was there all along; the family just took advantage of it, that’s all.

Thus the Sabbath, both in Genesis and Exodus, not only links the seventh day to God as Creator, but also


stresses that He blessed the day and made it holy. The commandment in Exodus isn’t teaching for the first time about the sacredness of the seventh-day Sabbath as a memorial of creation. Instead, the commandment is simply telling the Jews to “remember” what was already known, that the seventh-day Sabbath was a sacred memorial of creation, having been blessed and made holy at the end of the creation week. This point is revealed in Exodus 16, before Sinai.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day He gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out.’ So the people rested on the seventh day.” (Exodus 16:28-30)

All this occurred about three or four weeks prior to the giving of the law at Sinai, proof positive that the Sabbath wasn’t first introduced there.

Thus, what we see in the Bible is that the first thing that God created holy, the first thing that God “sanctified,” or declared holy, was not a hill, a shrine, or a place—but a block of time, the seventh day.

“Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Genesis 2:3)

Look at how much sense that makes. After all, if God had made one specific place holy—a hill, a spring, a city— not all people would have easy access to it. They would have to travel to worship there. But time comes to us, instead of us going to it.

Once a week, at a thousand miles per hour—the approximate speed at which the Earth rotates on its axis— the Sabbath circles the globe. Arriving on one sundown,


leaving on the next, the seventh day washes over the planet each week. We never have to seek it. The day always finds us! Meanwhile, look at history. Holy cities can be burned. Holy people can be killed. Holy shrines can be looted. But time is beyond all that. You can smash all the clocks in the world, but time marches on, out of our reach even though we are immersed in it.

Therefore, by making a special time holy, God has made the Sabbath invincible, placing it in an element that transcends any devices of mankind. Armies can sack cities, rulers can ban pilgrimages, but no one can keep away the seventh day. We can no more stop the Sabbath than we can the phases of the moon.

The Sabbath has been called “a monument in time” and “a palace in time.” Only those who keep it can know for themselves what a blessing it is to spend time in such a wonderful place as a palace.

The Joy of the Sabbath

One of the greatest ironies of life in the 21st century is this: Everything we have seems to go faster and faster: fast computers, fast cars, fast airplanes, fast cell phones...faster, faster, faster. With the mere flick of cell phone or click of a mouse, we can do what once took weeks, months, or even longer.

Twenty five years ago, scientists were amazed that a massive mainframe computer could process a billion pieces of information a second (a gigahertz), about 2.5 times slower than the speed of the average laptop today. In a few years, a few billion computations a second won’t be fast enough to run most programs. Some computers


are now computing in teraflops (a trillion calculations per second). Eventually, CPU speeds measured in gigahertz will be as antiquated and outdated as 5.25-inch flat floppy drives are now.

And though we’re moving at speeds our ancestors would have deemed miraculous, even supernatural, most people complain about the same thing—there’s not enough time in the day or week.

We’re harried, burned-out and deep-fried in time because no matter what we do and how fast we do it, and no matter where we go or how fast we get there, there’s still more to do, more places to go and not enough minutes in which to do it. If days were 40 hours it wouldn’t matter, would it? We’d still feel as if we need more, right? Time is a tyrant that demands all we have, and we never have enough.

And yet, here’s an amazing gift: Thousands of years ago, the Lord gave humanity a commandment created to protect us from this tyrant. The Lord carved out an inviolable and indestructible refuge from this insatiable silent rush of time that casts us all along in its unrelenting flow.

Of course, we’re talking about the Sabbath com- mandment, the one that started in Eden. Think about it: If God deemed that humans, in a perfect sinless world, needed a Sabbath rest—what about all of us immersed in a fallen world where greed, avarice and the desire to get ahead all but dominates just about everything?

So often in the hustle and bustle of life, in the rush to make money, to advance careers and to get ahead—who gets left behind but spouses, children and loved ones? God is telling us, “No, I don’t want that to happen, and hence I have carved out this refuge for you, this ‘monument in


time,’ where the boss, the bills and the things that dominate you the rest of the week are not allowed in.”

Imagine a wealthy and successful businessman approaching the final days of his life. As he looks back over the many decades, he says to himself, “If I had to do it all over, I wish I would have spent more time at work and less time with my wife and kids.”

Not likely, is it? Who, toward the end of their life, wishes they had spent less time, not more, with their family and loved ones? How many wish they had spent less time chasing money and more time with their family? The Sabbath gives us a block of time, every week—and without exception—that can be dedicated in a special way to the ones we love and care about the most.

How interesting, too, that the seventh-day Sabbath is the only institution, along with marriage, that comes from a pre-fall world. Both existed prior to sin, both come to us from an unfallen world, and both are inherently about relationships.

No marriage worth the name “marriage” can exist without time spent with each other, because only through time spent together can a relationship deepen and grow. Though marriage needs more than the Sabbath, the day does provide an opportunity for special time together. It’s time that—if protected from the weekly distractions of the world—can greatly strengthen the marriage bonds. And in a day and age when marriages are falling apart, how wonderful to have this block of time wrapped in such a special package!

By partitioning for us a special portion of time each week, the Sabbath affords us an opportunity to use this time for what we’ll never regret, such as building relationships with those we love and care about.


Again, folks might regret time wasted on an endless number of things, but who’s going to regret time spent on forging bonds with family and friends? The Sabbath gives us that chance by carving out one-seventh of our lives that can be used just for that, again allowing nothing “worldly” to intrude.

Here’s how one writer expressed his experience with the Sabbath and family:

“I love to walk with my boy through the wooded trails where we live. We can take our time and enjoy what we see because there’s no rush to meet business appointments or to turn on my word processor. Nothing secular is allowed to intrude. My two-year-old son loves to run and yell and laugh and collect sticks and rocks and fallen apples. The richest, happiest, most precious moments of my existence have been on Sabbath afternoons, where I have the freedom to frolic leisurely with my son. Few sounds touch my heart more than his uninhibited shrieks and laughter as he romps free like a little lamb. Sabbath gives us a sacred break, valued beyond money.” (Clifford Goldstein, Pause for Peace, p. 35)

No question, the Sabbath provides us with a wonderful experience each week to rest in Him, and in that rest we can enjoy in a special way the blessings He has given us. It’s a wonderful experience, and only those who enter into it, into this “monument in time” can fully appreciate what a joy it really is.

Didn’t Jesus Change the Sabbath?

Of course, the words written above naturally release a host of questions, such as: “Didn’t Jesus change the seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday? Isn’t Sunday the day we now keep in honor of the resurrection of Jesus? Why do


most Christians keep Sunday instead of the seventh day? Isn’t the keeping of the seventh day an attempt to work your way into Heaven? And, besides, does it really matter which day we keep?”

Those are fair enough questions, and we’ll look at each one. First, we so often hear that Jesus Himself changed, or nullified, the seventh-day Sabbath by His actions and words. This is a common argument, and one that many well-meaning people have used and still use today. But is it correct?

Let’s look at some of those Sabbath incidents with Jesus. As we do, the questions we need to ask ourselves are, “Is Jesus teaching that the Sabbath is to be done away with or changed to another day? Or is Jesus teaching the people how to keep the Sabbath properly?”

These are two radically different positions, and the answer would bring us to radically different conclusions in regard to the importance of the Sabbath. The first would mean that the seventh-day Sabbath is, indeed, abolished— replaced with another day. The latter would mean that Jesus is teaching us how to best keep it—powerful proof of its continued validity!

In the book of Matthew, chapter 12, we see two incidents in which Jesus and the religious leaders clashed over the Sabbath. Again, as we read, we need to ask this question: “Is His purpose to invalidate the seventh-day Sabbath, or to reinforce it by showing us how it is to be kept?”

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, ‘Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.’ He answered, ‘Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and


he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’” (Matthew 12:1-8)

A number of points stand out. First, though they accused Jesus of doing what was unlawful on the Sabbath (picking grain), one can read the Old Testament from beginning to end and find nothing prohibiting what they did. The issue wasn’t whether the disciples broke a biblical command, which they didn’t, but whether they broke some man-made regulation, which they did.

Second, the issue for Jesus was mercy and compassion; people were hungry and needed some food. That’s the real issue here, not some strict man-made rule that, if followed, would have left his disciples hungry (you just didn’t run into the nearest 7-11 back then when your stomach growled).

Third, if Jesus had intended to use this incident to abolish, weaken, or change the Sabbath, then why didn’t He say something about that? What a perfect opportunity to have said, “The Sabbath is Old Covenant; we are entering a New Covenant, therefore, we don’t need to keep it anymore” or something similar?

Instead, what He actually said was, “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Those would be very strange words were seeking, in any way, to abolish, lessen, or change the Sabbath to another day. If anything, those words strengthen the validity of the seventh-day Sabbath.

Right after that incident, Matthew tells of a miraculous Sabbath healing by Jesus:


“Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ He said to them, ‘If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’ Then he said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.” (Matthew 12:9- 13)

Notice the words of Jesus: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Jesus then talks about what one would do on the Sabbath if one of their animals fell into a ditch.

The issue, again, is compassion and kindness—even to animals—on the Sabbath. And if so with animals, then how much more with human beings? What is the issue: Changing the Sabbath, or keeping it properly? The answer is obvious.

Jesus performs a miracle, and instead of focusing on the miracle, the religious leaders focus on the fact that it was done on the Sabbath—an attitude that reveals their twisted and distorted understanding of the Sabbath. And it was this that Jesus came to change: The wrong attitudes about the Sabbath and about how to keep it. It was not to change the day of the Sabbath itself.

After all, if Jesus were seeking to change the Sabbath to another day, or abolish it, these incidents would have given Him the perfect opportunity. Instead, in both cases, as in all the Sabbath conflicts between Jesus and the religious leaders, the issue was never over whether the Sabbath should be kept, but over how. Why would Jesus show people how to properly keep a day that was about to be abolished or changed?


In his famous talk to the disciples about the destruction of Jerusalem—which would occur about 40 years after His death—Jesus said the following:

“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.” (Matthew 24:20)

Had Jesus intended for the Sabbath day to be abolished, why would He have warned His followers about fleeing on that day if it were no longer sacred?

Notice, too, the following words of Luke. Talking about some female followers of Jesus and what they did after His death, Luke wrote:

“And the women also, which came with Him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how His body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. 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 23:55 - 24:1)

Two crucial points stand out as worthy of notice. First, the women who followed Jesus “rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” Which commandment? The fourth, of course, the seventh-day Sabbath. If during His earthly ministry, Jesus had abolished it, or transferred it to the first day, these women obviously knew nothing about it.

Second, notice how the first day of the week is indeed mentioned in these texts, but in direct contrast with the Sabbath. On “the first day of the week” the women came to the tomb in order to bring more spices. Nothing was said about the first day of the week taking the place of the seventh as a holy day. Nothing.

It was simply mentioned in order to show the time frame of the events surrounding the death and


resurrection of Jesus. Nothing in these texts, or any other ones (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16; John 20:1) dealing with the events surrounding His death and resurrection imply that the first day had, in any way, replaced the seventh-day Sabbath.

What About Those Other First-Day Texts?

This mention of the first day in the gospels is exemplary of the other few references to the first day in the New Testament in that nothing is said about the first day being a replacement for the seventh day.

Many look to John 20:19 as an early example of the seventh day being replaced by the first. The verse focuses on the followers of Jesus, still in disarray over His death, and still uncertain about His resurrection. “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, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”

Was this a worship service held in honor of Jesus’ resurrection on the first day of the week, as some argue? No, the text says nothing about that. They were there, not to celebrate the resurrection, but because they were fearful of the leaders who had hounded Jesus and His disciples from the start.

In John 20:20, Jesus showed them “His hands and His side,” indicating that, until He appeared in their midst, they were still somewhat uncertain that He had been resurrected. Thus, why would they be celebrating the resurrection when, until He appeared to them, they still weren’t sure it had happened?


In fact, the only text in the New Testament that talks about any kind of worship service on the first day of the week is Act 20:7. “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.”

Does this teach, as many claim, that the seventh-day Sabbath had been replaced by the first day of the week as the new day of worship?

One argument is that the “breaking of bread” referred to in the text is the Lord’s Supper; hence, this was a worship service on the first day of the week; hence, the seventh-day Sabbath was abolished and replaced with Sunday. Not so fast, though.

Of the 15 times the phrase “to break bread” is used in the New Testament (in various verbal forms), only twice does it refer to the Lord’s Supper. The majority of references deal merely with eating.

Acts 2:46, for instance, talks about the followers of Christ “continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (emphasis supplied).

“Breaking bread” here, as in most instances in the New Testament, doesn’t mean the Lord’s Supper; it simply refers to the eating of meals. Also, Acts 20 suggests that Paul is breaking bread alone: “When he had come up, had broken bread and eaten...he departed.” (Acts 20:11) The verbs are in the singular, so Paul is obviously not participating in a Communion service, and nothing in the whole section says a word about wine.

Doesn’t the text still indicate a Sunday worship service? If Luke used the Jewish ways of reckoning days, which is from sundown to sundown, which he probably did, then


the assembly talked about in the text really happened Saturday night, after the sun had set (Paul talked “even till daybreak”).

If Paul began preaching a Sunday morning sermon, it would have been a very long day, because he went on until midnight. Most likely, they held this all-nighter because he was to depart in the morning.

Finally, as with all the references to the first day of the week, nothing here indicates that it was a sacred time to gather in order to honor the resurrection of Jesus. And even more so, nothing indicates that it was a replacement for the seventh-day Sabbath.

Throughout the rest of the New Testament, the first day appears in only one other text, when Paul wrote to the Corinthians about a relief offering for the poor in Judea. It reads:

“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” (1 Corinthians 16:2)

Again, as with every other reference to the first day, nothing is implied about it being a sacred day to honor the resurrection of Jesus, or that it is a replacement for the Sabbath. Nothing is said about worship. Scholars and historians aren’t sure why Paul mentioned that day in particular to collect the offering for the poor, but the text itself offers no evidence, whatsoever, of Sunday now being the day that supersedes the Sabbath.

Finally, what about John, in the book of Revelation, when he writes that: “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day”? (Revelation 1:10) Doesn’t that prove Sunday worship in the early church?


First, not all scholars agree on what that phrase even means. Second, as we have seen, no New Testament reference ever gives Sunday a sacred character, or depicts it as a new covenant replacement for Sabbath. Third, just because for years Sunday has been called “the Lord’s Day” by Christians doesn’t make it the Lord’s Day any more than the belief that the Earth was the center of the universe made it the center of the universe.

It’s hardly honest or fair to read back into a text something that the Bible itself never calls it. The best evidence we have from the Bible on the meaning of “the Lord’s Day” is, in fact, that it is referring to the seventh- day Sabbath. Why? Because the Sabbath commandment in Exodus says that the seventh day “is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God” (Exodus 20:10), or the Lord’s Day. The Lord calls the seventh-day Sabbath, “My holy day” (Isaiah 58:13), or the Lord’s Day.

And finally, in three gospels, Jesus, the Lord, called Himself “Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5) It is His, the Lord Jesus’ day. Or simply “the Lord’s Day”—a phrase never used in the Bible in reference to the first day of the week.

In a book called The Lord’s Day, written by a man who dedicated his life to promoting Sunday worship, the author said flat out:

“We must admit that we can point to no direct command that we cease observing the seventh day and begin using the first day.” (James Wesberry, The Lord’s Day, Broadman Press, 1986, p. 100).


Then Why Sunday?

The natural question is, “If there is no biblical evidence for Sunday, then why do most denominations worship on that day instead of the seventh day?”

The answer lies buried in antiquity. Historical evidence does show a move away from the seventh day to the first day in the early centuries of the Christian church. Volumes have been written on the topic, with different positions taken.

The best scholarship, at this point, seems to be the following: The early Christian church was a sect of Judaism, or at least deemed that way by the Romans. The founder, Jesus, was a Jew. The earliest followers were all Jews. It used the Jewish Bible. It originated in the land of the Jews. It followed many Jewish practices, including the seventh-day Sabbath.

The only problem was, the Romans hated the Jews, who were constantly revolting against their rule. Over the years, as more and more Gentiles began joining the church ranks, the church wanted to disassociate itself as much as possible from the “unpopular” Jews. The one practice that, more than any other, distinguished the Jews as Jews was— yes—the seventh-day Sabbath.

Because many of the pagans who were becoming Christians kept Sunday (the day of the Sun), over time, Sunday started to slowly replace the seventh day until the seventh-day Sabbath was all but lost to history, at least in the Christian church.

By the time Roman Catholicism became the official religion of the empire, Sunday—instead of the biblical


Sabbath—was firmly embedded in its tradition. The following quotes, just a few of many, are all taken from Roman Catholic publications, and help explain the background of the change of the seventh-day Sabbath to the first day of the week:

“Now in the matter of the Sabbath observance the Protestant rule of Faith is utterly unable to explain the substitution of the Christian Sunday for the Jewish Saturday. It has been changed. The Bible still teaches that the Sabbath or Saturday should be kept holy. There is no authority in the New Testament for the substitution of Sunday for Saturday. Surely it is an important matter. It stands there in the Bible as one of the Ten Commandments of God. There is no authority in the Bible for abrogating this Commandment, or for transferring its observance to another day of the week.

“For Catholics it is not the slightest difficulty. ‘All power is given Me in heaven and on earth; as the Father sent Me so I also send you,’ said our Divine Lord in giving His tremendous commission to His Apostles. ‘He that heareth you heareth Me.’ We have in the authoritative voice of the Church the voice of Christ Himself. The Church is above the Bible; and this transference of Sabbath observance from Saturday to Sunday is proof positive of that fact. Deny the authority of the Church and you have no adequate or reasonable justification for the substitution of Sunday for Saturday...” (The Catholic Record, Sept. 1, 1923)

“Q. Have you any other way of proving that the [Roman Catholic] Church has power to institute festivals of precept?

“A. 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, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.” (Stephan Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism, 3rd American ed., rev.; New York: T.W. Strong, late Edward Dunigan & Bro., 1876, p. 174.) Quoted in Seventh-


day Adventist Bible Students’ Source Book (Review and Herald Publishing Company, Hagerstown, MD, 1962, p. 886.)

Though today, in the climate of a better relationship between Catholics and Protestants, Rome’s tone about the Sabbath has changed, even if the point remains valid: The Bible does not teach anything about the seventh-day Sabbath, a commandment of God, abrogated or transferred to the first day. Sunday, often referred to as the “Christian Sabbath,” is in fact neither Christian nor the Sabbath.

A Works Trip?

But isn’t keeping the seventh-day Sabbath legalistic, a “works trip”—the practice of people who don’t understand that we are saved by the righteousness of Jesus for us, a righteousness credited to us by faith and apart from the works of the law?

Didn’t Paul write: “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law”? (Romans 3:27-28)

It is common to hear that argument, that those who keep the seventh-day Sabbath are legalists, trying to work their way to Heaven. The irony of that charge, however, is laughable. Think about it: How is it that the one commandment devoted to rest, the one commandment that specifically expresses rest, the one commandment that gives us a special opportunity to rest, has been turned into the universal symbol of salvation by works?

How much sense does that make? In fact, far from being a symbol of works, the Sabbath is the Bible’s most


fundamental symbol of the rest that God’s people have always had in Him—from the pre-fall world of Adam and Eve’s Eden, to the New Covenant rest that God’s followers have in Christ’s work of redemption for them.

“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). The Sabbath has always been a real- time manifestation of the rest that Christ offers to all (see Matthew 11:28).

After all, anyone can say that they are resting in Christ, and anyone can say that they are saved by grace. But the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath is a visible expression of that rest—a living parable of what it means to be covered by His grace. Weekly rest from secular, worldly works stands as a symbol of the rest in the completed work of Jesus for His people.

“For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:10)

Obedience to this commandment is a way of saying: “Hey, we’re so sure of our salvation in Jesus, we’re so firm and secure in what Christ has done for us, that we can—in a special way—rest from any of our works because we know what Christ has accomplished for humanity through His death and resurrection.”

It would seem that by obeying the commandments against stealing, or covetousness, or idolatry, or murder, folks could be accused of legalism—salvation by works—if, indeed, anyone can be justly accused of legalism by obeying God’s law.

When was the last time you heard of someone keeping the commandment against adultery or stealing being accused of working their way into Heaven? Yet people are accused all the time of trying to work their way to Heaven because they rest—rest!—on the seventh-day Sabbath!


Does the Day Really Matter?

OK, maybe the seventh-day Sabbath is the biblical Sabbath and there is no evidence for keeping Sunday... ...but does it really matter?

Think back to Frank Abagnale’s bogus MD. It was a usurpation of authority and power that was not really his to begin with. Did it matter? Absolutely.

What about in the grand scheme of things—the biggest of all, in fact—that of creation and of God as Creator (and let’s face it, you can’t get much bigger than that!)

If, as we’ve seen, the seventh-day Sabbath is a sign of God’s authority, power and office, then any attempted usurpation of that sign strikes at the very heart of God’s authority, power and office. To take the specific sign of God’s role as Creator, a sign He instituted Himself at creation, and to replace it with something else, represents a flagrant attack against His authority.

It strikes at the most basic level possible, that of Creator, the position upon which all else He has done depends. The only step further back is to God Himself and, as we saw, Satan wanted to usurp that role right from the start.

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’” (Isaiah 14:12-14)

Of course, unable to do that, he usurped the most basic sign of God’s power and authority—the seventh-day


Sabbath—and replaced it with a day that has no biblical sanction at all.

Thus, looking at it that way—yes, the day does matter. According to the book of Revelation, God is calling people to “worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Revelation 14:7)

That is, to worship Him as Creator (notice, too, how closely linked the language is to that of the fourth commandment, in Exodus 20: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea...”)

Right along with that call to worship, the Lord as Creator is the warning against those who worship the beast and his image.

“If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God...” (Revelation 14:9, 10)

In the final days, there will be a blatant division of all humanity: Those who worship God, the Creator, and those who worship the beast and his image (and thus get the infamous “mark of the beast”).

The key element in this division is worship. Either we worship God as our Creator, or we worship the beast and his image.

And, in the midst of this warning about the beast and the mark of the beast, Revelation describes God’s faithful people:

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12)

They keep the commandments of God and, of all the commandments, only one, the Sabbath, shows why we should worship God—and that’s because He “made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.”


Of course, no one is asserting that the good people who keep Sunday are seeking to usurp God’s authority. On the contrary—most know nothing about what was behind the change to Sunday and would be horrified to know the truth. Nor are people who worship on Sunday, as opposed to the seventh-day Sabbath, under any kind of divine condemnation.

The fact remains, however, that the seventh-day Sabbath is the sign of God’s power and authority, a sign that goes back to the creation itself, and thus the change to Sunday remains the most blatant usurpation of that authority. If that’s not important, what is?

A Pause for Peace

Nevertheless, putting aside for now all the deep theological questions about power and usurpation and authority, we come back to the experience of the Sabbath, this “monument in time,” this “pause for peace.”

Who doesn’t need a “monument in time”? Who doesn’t need a “pause for peace”? God’s Sabbath offers us all that, every week, without exception. It gives us the opportunity to step back, unwind, relax, enjoy our family and friends, recalibrate, reassess, and refocus on what matters in life.

What other commandment gives us a weekly respite from the crushing worldly weights of our existence? What other commandment opens for us the opportunity, for a full day, to delight in our Lord with no secular interruptions allowed?

What other commandment gives us the freedom to say, “I am God’s, first by creation, then by redemption, and for


an entire day I can especially rejoice in my creation and my redemption”?

What other commandment allows us to sing with the psalmist:

“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

Only those who have experienced the Sabbath for themselves can know the joy that comes with it.

Why not enter into this sacred time each week? Experience for yourself the joy that God offers us in this ancient expression of the rest that we have in Christ, our “Lord of the Sabbath!”