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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Did God designate a certain day (or days) for Christian worship? (Part I)

I have observed the Friday sundown to Saturday sundown Sabbath since 1978. I became convinced as a teenager that the only proper day to worship God was what many referred to as the Jewish Sabbath. For me, observance of the Sabbath became the test for determining whether or not someone was really a Christian. This conviction led me to regard all Sunday-keeping Christians as being deceived and prevented me from acknowledging them as my brothers and sisters in Christ. I honestly believed that there wouldn't be any Sunday-keepers in God's kingdom.
However, over the years since I began observing the Sabbath, I have had the opportunity to study the subject more thoroughly. As a consequence, it became apparent to me that I didn't know as much as I thought I did as a teenager. What follows reflects some of the things that I have learned along the way. It is my hope that this study may be of some use to others who have studied and wondered about this topic.
This article will appear as a series of posts on this blog. Thoughtful comments, criticisms and counter-arguments are welcomed here.

Some people claim that Christians should worship on Sunday - others say that the Jewish Sabbath is the only God ordained day of worship. What is the truth? Did God designate one of these two days as the only appropriate day for Christians to worship Him?
In beginning to answer this question, we must remind ourselves about what was said about the subject in the Old Testament. We read there that God designated the seventh day as holy time when he had finished creating everything. (Genesis 2:1-3) We are also informed that God commanded the Israelites to observe this day at Mt. Sinai: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, 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) So the instruction to observe the Sabbath day was made a part of God’s Fundamental Law: The Ten Commandments.
Later, we read that God commanded the observance of this day as a part of the terms of his covenant with Israel: “And the Lord spake unto Moses saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.” (Leviticus 23:1-3) Moses then proceeds to list the other holy convocations of the Lord – the Festivals of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Wave Sheaf, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles (divided into a seven-day feast and a special Sabbath on the eighth day. (Leviticus 23:4-44) Likewise, we can read in other places that there were special offerings, sacrifices and ceremonies associated with these holy days. (Leviticus 16 and Numbers 28 & 29)
Although it is important to understand that a distinction existed between God’s Fundamental Law (The Ten Commandments) and the other commandments, ordinances, statutes and instructions (as evidenced by Christ’s special treatment of them), it is also important to understand that all of these things were understood to be a part of God’s Law and his covenant with the Israelites. (Exodus 15:26 and Deuteronomy 6:2, 13:18, 15:5, 27:1, 28:1, 30:10) Indeed, the Jews regard everything contained in the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) as The Law. Hence, when we compare the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, it will be important to notice which components of the old were made a part of the new (if any). Indeed, this is the crucial element in settling the debate between Sunday observers and Sabbath keepers.

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