Most professing Christians observe Sunday as their weekly day of worship. Do you know why? Have you ever looked into it? Most people have not.
If they did, they might be surprised by what they find.
Sunday has been considered the first day of the week throughout human history. Yet the Bible commands a seventh-day Sabbath. Jesus Christ, after whom Christianity is named, observed a seventh-day Sabbath.
Should you keep Saturday? Should you keep Sunday? Can you keep any day you choose? What is the source of the Sabbath?
The Bible gives us the true and inspiring answers. Doing an honest and unbiased study of this subject could revolutionize your life. It can unlock special blessings from God!
Do You Follow Christ?
Luke 4:16 tells us that Jesus observed the Sabbath day “as his custom was.” The word custom means “your regular practice or habit; your regular routine.” It was His regular habit to keep the seventh-day Sabbath; it was part of His routine.
A Christian is one who follows Christ. Jesus Christ set the perfect example in all things, including His Sabbath observance. So isn’t it amazing that most people who call themselves “Christian” observe a different day of worship than Christ Himself did? Shouldn’t a true Christian seek to follow the example Christ set in this matter?
Jews observe the seventh day, and many people believe the seventh-day Sabbath is a Jewish observance. Yet Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27)—for all human beings. The Sabbath wasn’t made only for Jews or for the ancient Israelites. God created this day of worship for all mankind. Then Jesus said, “Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (verse 28). Jesus Christ rules over the Sabbath.
Christ taught that we must live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4). Is it really possible that so many Christians could be wrong in their Sunday observance—even deceived about it?
The Ten Commandments
The Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments. You can read these yourself in Exodus 20. Verses 8-11 say, “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 … 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.”
God clearly observed the seventh day. And the Ten Commandments plainly tell us to follow His example.
Who is the source of the Ten Commandments? Most people believe it is Moses. That is a big mistake. We all must recognize the true source of the Ten Commandments!
Though Exodus 20 is where the Commandments are listed, the preceding chapter gives us the setting.
There God instructed Moses to gather the people of Israel at the base of Mt. Sinai. Once they assembled, “there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled” (Exodus 19:16). What a magnificent, terrifying, awe-inspiring, supernatural display! Verse 18 says the whole mountain “was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.”
“Imagine that vast sea of people—millions of them—stretching as far as eye could see!” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in his booklet Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath? “Then terrifying flashes of blinding lightning, and crashes of thunder that would almost break eardrums! And the great God Himself in the midst of this eye-blinding, ear-splitting display, preparing to thunder His great law in the hearing of that vast assemblage! …
“Think of it! A whole nation of millions gathered together in one vast, tremendous, history-making assemblage! And the very God Himself speaking through fire, and flashing lightning, and deafening peals of thunder, and a great supernatural voice that needed no microphones or loudspeakers or public-address systems to be heard by millions.” (We will gladly send you a free copy of Mr. Armstrong’s booklet at your request.)
God spoke with Israel face to face (Deuteronomy 5:4). God was reaching millions of people! Think of the Super Bowl, to which an average of about 100,000 people gather. That is nothing compared to what took place at Mt. Sinai! God was speaking to 3 to 4 million people.
That was not Moses’s voice. It was God’s voice out of a fiery, quaking mountain!
What Israel experienced that day was no ordinary occasion. God spoke in a way these people had never experienced before to convey that this was special and important—something they should never forget. God was dramatically and passionately emphasizing the importance of His law! And the Sabbath day is a central aspect of that holy law.
Today, most Christians are taught that Moses gave Israel the law. Moses did no such thing. This was too important, too extraordinary, for any man to carry out!
The Ten Commandments are the basis of the Old Covenant. But did you know they are also the basis of the New Covenant? God doesn’t say that the New Covenant does away with the law—He says, “For this is the [new] covenant that I will make … saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Hebrews 8:10). God is doing this today! He is writing His wonderful law in the hearts of His people! And that very law includes the Sabbath command!
Failure to observe God’s Sabbath is breaking God’s law. That is how God defines sin (1 John 3:4). And the Apostle Paul wrote that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Eternal salvation is at stake! So surely we ought to know about the Sabbath and which day God says we should “remember,” and on which we should “not do any work.”
If there were no God, no supreme, all-loving Creator, then it wouldn’t matter on which day or whether or not to obey the Sabbath command. But there is a God, and He cares about His Sabbath. Proper Sabbath observance matters—for all eternity!
Who Can Make Time Holy?
In his 1876 book The Faith of Our Fathers, James Gibbons, a Catholic cardinal, wrote something that may shock you. But you need to deeply consider it because your eternal salvation is at stake. He wrote: “Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practice. Not to mention other examples, is not every Christian obliged to sanctify Sunday and to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work? Is it not the observance of this law among the most prominent of our sacred duties? But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify” (emphasis mine throughout).
Cardinal Gibbons admitted that Catholics keep Sunday, yet the Bible commands seventh-day observance. But he didn’t believe that this proved they are disobeying God—he said it proved that the Bible is insufficient! “We must, therefore, conclude that the Scriptures alone cannot be a sufficient guide and rule of faith,” he wrote.
Does that make any sense to you?
This Catholic cardinal admitted that not a single line in God’s Bible authorizes the sanctification of Sunday. Some people may disagree with that—but what does God say? God agrees with the man: Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we should worship on Sunday! What day does God authorize for holy observance? If the Sabbath is part of the law of God, and our eternal salvation is at stake, then we must know the answer!
Is any man or church authorized to change God’s law? Can a man sanctify or set apart a day? Can a man make a day holy?
How can a day be made holy? The first book of the Bible tells us! It says that on the sixth day of creation God made man. But the creation didn’t stop there. “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 …” (Genesis 2:2-3).
There was a double miracle here. God “sanctified” the seventh day, which means He set it apart for holy use—for all time, forever. But this also says “God blessed the seventh day.” God pours all kinds of blessings into that day! The seventh day is truly a blessed day!
The seventh day points us back to the creation. It reminds us that God is our Creator. He created physically, and He is working out a spiritual creation in His Family today. No other day is a memorial of creation.
Sunday is the first day of the week. That is not the day God blessed and sanctified. God’s divine, holy presence is in the seventh day. That is not true of any other day of the week—not Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. No other day is holy.
When Moses saw God in a burning bush, God told him to remove his shoes, “for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). The ground wasn’t holy a mile away. It was holy where God’s presence was. God’s presence makes the Sabbath holy, and we need to symbolically “remove our shoes” in reverence. We had better tread carefully in the presence of God.
God commands us to “remember” the Sabbath day. When God says to remember something, too often carnal-minded man forgets. For example, Jesus Christ said we must keep the law: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19). Christians today believe and teach that Christ did away with the law. But that is the opposite of what Christ Himself said!
We are to keep the Sabbath day holy. God made the seventh day holy, and we must keep it that way through proper observance. We can’t keep a day holy that was not already made holy by the Creator! You can’t keep ice water hot; it must already be hot to be kept hot. Only one day was set apart and bears God’s presence. You may disagree with that, but you had better prove this to yourself because so much is at stake.
A Sabbath Covenant
Some time after God gave the Ten Commandments, He emphasized the Sabbath command by creating a special Sabbath covenant.
Read it in Exodus 31:12-13: “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.” This special covenant shows us why the Sabbath: It is a sign between God and His people.
A sign outside a business premise identifies the business. God says proper Sabbath observance identifies where God is and who His people are.
Notice, God says “I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.” As He does with the seventh day, God sets apart for holy use His people who keep the Sabbath!
It might seem strange to you that God made a sign to identify His people. Isn’t it true that all Christians are God’s people and know God?
Well, is that what God teaches in His Bible?
God tells us that Satan the devil deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9). The Apostle Paul calls him “the god of this world”—and then warns that “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness …” (2 Corinthians 4:4; 11:14-15).
Do you believe that some who look like ministers of righteousness are actually Satan’s ministers? That is a hard truth for most people to accept. But the fact is, Satan is a great counterfeiter.
Whether or not they realize it, people who say they are Christian—followers of Christ—yet keep a different day of worship than Christ Himself did, are practicing a counterfeit form of Christianity! We must be honest about this.
We must get to know the true God. The God of the Bible gave the Sabbath to man for the purpose of keeping us in the true worship of God.
Christ referred to His body of believers—those who stay loyal to Him and what He teaches—as a “little flock” (Luke 12:32). And Scripture says you could know those people because of a sign: God’s Sabbath day.
Notice the rest of that Sabbath covenant: “Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 31:14-15). When God initially delivered that commandment to ancient Israel, it was physical. He wasn’t working with them spiritually. But today, if we break the Sabbath, we must repent or we will experience eternal death! It is that serious!
A Day to Grow Spiritually
“Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:16-17). This commandment wasn’t just a sign until Jesus Christ’s first coming. It is perpetual! It is forever.
The Sabbath is a day that refreshes God. It refreshes all those who observe it! It lifts your spirits. It is filled with blessings. Why don’t people keep it as God commands? It comes with awesome, stupendous blessings that we don’t receive any other way!
God created that day for a wonderful, inspiring purpose. It is to help man build righteous spiritual character. The Sabbath is holy time set apart that we might grow spiritually and build the very holiness of God! Of course, we should build God’s character on other days as well. But the Sabbath is vastly different from every other day because God’s presence is in it. We can fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ in a special way on the Sabbath through God’s Spirit (1 John 1:3).
“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words” (Isaiah 58:13). The Sabbath is not for doing our own deeds, seeking our own pleasures or even speaking our own words. It is a special day—God’s holy day! We are to honor Him in our observance. If we do, we can expect blessings.
“Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (verse 14). That is truly an amazing promise to all people who will keep God’s Sabbath day!
We need to completely give ourselves to God on the Sabbath. If we do, He says we will ride on the high places of the Earth! The greatest blessings will be poured out to us. The “heritage of Jacob” is prosperity without limit! That is the promise God gives to us. That is the truth contained in His Word. That is the great abundance that comes from proper observance of God’s true Sabbath day!