God Said, Remember

How do we know that Saturday, the seventh day of the week, is really the Sabbath? I was asked this question one Sabbath by a woman who was visiting my church. She had visited almost all, if not all, of the Sunday-keeping churches in our town in search of the truth and had finally decided to see what this Saturday-keeping church was all about.

After a couple of weeks of attending church with us, she point-blank asked me, “How do we know?” I asked her a question in return, “When Jesus was here on earth, on what day does the Bible say He went to church?” She thought a minute and replied, “The seventh day.” Then I asked her, “Do we all agree that God established the seventh day as His Sabbath at creation, that He reaffirmed that day in the ten commandments on Mt. Sinai, and that Jesus Himself worshiped on the seventh day of the week?” She replied, “Yes.”

“Since God was the One who established the Sabbath in the beginning, would it not make sense that if He intended to change the day from the seventh to the first day of the week, He would have Himself done so in the person of His Son Jesus during His life here on earth? Wouldn’t Jesus have established and attended a church that worshiped on the first day of the week, and instructed His disciples and those who followed Him to do so?” She said, “Yes, that does make sense.”

That all may sound very logical, but we need to go to the Bible and fully confirm with absolute certainty that the seventh day, Saturday, was, is, and will forever be, God’s Sabbath.

A couple of ground rules before we get started. First rule, the Bible will always explain itself and does not contradict itself. So the study of any scriptural topic must be based on the preponderance of Biblical evidence. That means gathering all the texts on a given subject and comparing them together, not taking a text that might alone seem contradictory to try to prove false all the other texts, or to take one or two texts out of context and manipulate them to support a cherished belief.

The second rule is that all scriptures must be read and taken in their intended context. Context includes the time, place, and circumstances in which a scripture is found. An example is Peter’s vision found in Acts 10:11, the representation of the sheet filled with all kinds of beasts and birds descending out of heaven. This text is most often taken to mean that there are certain foods that we should not eat (Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14). Peter himself, at first, thought that was the meaning of the vision. But when read within its proper context, it is understood that God was giving Peter a mission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, specifically, in Acts 10, Cornelius in Caesarea, but it was necessary for Peter to first understand and give up his own prejudices against the Gentiles.

The Beginning

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. For six days, God, through His Son Jesus, created the world and everything in it. We know this to be true because John 1:1–3 also tells us, “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” So Jesus is the Creator.

After the six days of creation, Genesis 2:1–3 tells us, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work, which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” In Genesis, we find, then, that God blessed and sanctified (set apart, made holy) the seventh day.

Just briefly, let’s look at sanctification. When God sanctifies something, it is set apart in holiness. It is something made pure and sacred. We see the word sanctification used in the Bible many times in reference to the process through which sinful man passes to achieve a perfected character, thus making him ready to spend eternity with God. Being made holy is a two-part process: justification and sanctification. First John 1:9 tells us how justification occurs: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Then having been justified by faith, we are made heirs with Christ (Titus 3:7). Justification then leads to sanctification, which is a life-long journey.

“Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime. It is not gained by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living for Christ. … It is only by long, persevering effort, sore discipline, and stern conflict … .

“[It is] a living, active principle, entering into the everyday life.” The Faith I Live By, 116

God says, “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Jeremiah 31:33

God has sanctified and made holy the seventh-day Sabbath. It is also His purpose to keep man holy. The man who chooses to allow God to write His law in his heart, and thereby transform his life, God will sanctify and make holy as long as that man keeps the law in his heart. But man was given free will and can decide to go back to sinful living. God can make a man holy, but the man must choose to be kept holy and show that choice in his daily life.

“The institution of the Sabbath was made when the foundation of the earth was laid … . Like the other nine precepts of the law, it is of imperishable obligation. It is the memorial of God’s creative power, the reminder of His exalted work. The fourth commandment occupies a sacred position in the law, and bears the same hallowed nature as do the other great moral precepts of God.” The Signs of the Times, January 8, 1894

The Flood, Egypt, Mt. Sinai, and the Wilderness

Once sin entered the world, the wickedness of man became so great that he began to worship the created rather than the Creator. Early forms of paganism were developed and only God’s faithful few obeyed His commands. The flood was the result of man’s wickedness (Genesis 6:5–8), and only eight people followed God’s commandments and were saved when the flood came.

After the flood, Genesis follows the genealogy of man through time to Abraham, Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Jacob, and Joseph. Joseph’s obedience to God while in slavery in Egypt, ultimately resulted in his being given a high position in Pharaoh’s government, making it possible for him to preserve the family of Jacob in the land of Goshen when the seven years of drought fell upon the land (Exodus 1).

But after the deaths of Jacob and Joseph, the Egyptians became afraid as the children of Israel multiplied. Thus they were made slaves and cruelly treated; their lives were hard and severe. It is here we find that the children of Israel were still keeping the seventh-day Sabbath as instituted by God at creation. “At the time of the Exodus from Egypt, the Sabbath institution was brought prominently before the people of God. While they were still in bondage, their taskmasters had attempted to force them to labor on the Sabbath by increasing the amount of work required each week. Again and again the conditions of labor had been made harder and more exacting. …” Prophets and Kings, 180, 181

But God raised up Moses to deliver the Israelites (Exodus 2–4). He became God’s spokesman, delivering His message to Pharaoh to release the children of Israel from their bondage (Exodus 5–12).

We find in Exodus 16, having been freed from their Egyptian slavery and beginning their trek across the desert to the promised land, God gave the children of Israel manna for food. His instructions regarding the collection of the manna was that it would fall every day for six days, but on the seventh day, Sabbath, it would not fall. Each day for the first five days of the week, they were to gather only enough manna for that day because any more than that would spoil, but on the sixth day, they were to gather a double portion so that they would have enough for the sixth and seventh days, and God preserved the excess to be eaten on the Sabbath. Verses 22–26 tell us, “And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread [manna], two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. Then he said to them, ‘This is what the Lord has said: “Tomorrow is the Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.” ’ So they laid it up till morning as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it.’ Then Moses said, ‘Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.’ ”

But we see in verse 27 that some of the children of Israel still went out on the seventh day looking to collect manna, only to find that there was none, just as God had said. In response, God says in verses 28 and 29, “ ‘How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See! For the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.’ ” And finally, in verse 30, we read, “So the people rested on the seventh day.”

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8–11

Leviticus 23:3 is very similar in wording to what we read in Exodus 16: “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.”

God wrote this and the other nine commandments on stone with His own finger. How much more permanent could they be? “God has declared that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord. When ‘the heavens and the earth were finished,’ He exalted this day as a memorial of His creative work.” Prophets and Kings, 180

The New Testament

We are told that “He [Christ] came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.” Luke 4:16. Notice, it was Jesus’ custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. To this point in Scripture, we find nothing that indicates that God changed His Sabbath from the day He set apart at creation to any other day than the seventh day. So Jesus, as was His custom, went each seventh day of the week to worship in the synagogue. If it was divine intention to change the seventh-day Sabbath to the first day of the week, why not sometime during the years of Jesus’ life?

Or perhaps, during the 40 days Jesus was on earth after the ascension, He could have instructed the disciples to keep the first day of the week because He rose from the grave on that day. But we are not told to keep the first day of the week as Sabbath because of His resurrection. Instead we are to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection because it gives us hope of our own “resurrection,” by the death of the old man and the birth of the new man as symbolized in baptism.

“And I saw that if God had changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day, He would have changed the writing of the Sabbath commandment, written on the tables of stone, which are now in the ark in the most holy place of the temple in heaven; and it would read thus: The first day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. But I saw that it read the same as when written on the tables of stone by the finger of God, and delivered to Moses on Sinai, ‘But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.’ I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers; and that the Sabbath is the great question to unite the hearts of God’s dear, waiting saints.” Early Writings, 33

I would like to suggest that the reason God has not changed His Sabbath is found in Malachi 3:6 where God says, “ ‘For I am the Lord, I do not change.’ ” We must also remember that “God’s law is the transcript of His character. It embodies the principles of His kingdom.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 305

To change the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day would be changing who God is. As a consequence of sin, we were changed, and if we wish to be with God in His kingdom, then we must be changed back to be as we were meant to be before sin. But there is nothing in the Bible that says God changes. To the contrary, the following texts affirm that God does not change.

“I AM who I AM.” Exodus 3:14

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Numbers 23:19

“Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89

“But You are the same, and Your years will have no end.” Psalm 102:27

I don’t believe that we can in any way doubt that God says what He means and means what He says. He instituted the seventh-day Sabbath at creation, He reiterated it by inscribing it with His own finger as the fourth commandment on tables of stone at Mt. Sinai, and the life of Christ reflected obedience in keeping the law of God, including the seventh-day Sabbath.

There is a popular religious belief that the ten commandments were nailed to the cross and are no longer binding, but the cross did not do away with the ten commandments or any part of them. What it did do was make the earthly sanctuary and all the animal sacrifices, rituals, ceremonies, and feast days connected with these animal sacrifices no longer a part of the worship of God’s children (Colossians 2:14–23). Why? Because all of those things pointed forward to His coming—both His first advent and His second—as Messiah and Saviour of man. In their place, Jesus established the communion service and the ordinance of humility.

“In this ordinance, Christ discharged His disciples from the cares and burdens of the ancient Jewish obligations in rites and ceremonies. These no longer possessed any virtue; for type was meeting antitype in Himself, the authority and foundation of all Jewish ordinances that pointed to Him as the great and only efficacious offering for the sins of the world. …

“It was Christ’s desire to leave to His disciples an ordinance that would do for them the very thing they needed,—that would serve to disentangle them from the rites and ceremonies which they had hitherto engaged in as essential, and which the reception of the gospel made no longer of any force. To continue these rites would be an insult to Jehovah.” The Review and Herald, June 14, 1898

“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.’ Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of Me—to do Your will, O God.’ ” Hebrews 10:1–7

Another popular belief is that the ten commandments were replaced by the two found in Mark 12:30 and 31. Jesus said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.’ ”

When we look at the ten commandments, it is clear that they are divided into two sections. Commandments 1–4 regard our direct, personal relationship with God, and commandments 5–10 regard our relationship with our neighbor, as well as with God. Jesus wasn’t saying to do away with the ten and then just love God and love your neighbor. These two principles found in Mark are a summary of the ten commandments, and in loving our neighbor, we are showing that we love God.

We are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and spirit, and this love for God is displayed by our obedience to His commandments. This is clearly stated in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Our love for God is also displayed in how we treat and love the people with whom we share this world. Jesus died for all of mankind regardless of the color of their skin, the culture or country they came from, or their particular religious beliefs; if we truly love Him, then we will love all those for whom He died.

Another important consideration in keeping the ten commandments is found in James 2:10, 11: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” This same principle would apply if one did not keep the seventh-day Sabbath of the fourth commandment, even though they might faithfully keep the other nine.

Someone might say, “But the seventh-day Sabbath is kept by the Jews. It is a Jewish Sabbath.” Let’s see, does Mark 2:27 say, “The Sabbath was made for the Jews, and not the Jews for the Sabbath?” No, it says, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” To be clear, the Greek word used here for man is anthrópos, meaning, generically, to include all human individuals. So, the seventh-day Sabbath was not created and given strictly as a Jewish Sabbath. It was meant for, and given to all of mankind.

“The Sabbath is not Jewish in its origin. It was instituted in Eden before there were such a people known as the Jews. The Sabbath was made for all mankind, and was instituted in Eden before the fall of man. The Creator called it ‘My holy day.’ Christ announced Himself as ‘the Lord of the Sabbath.’ Beginning with creation, it is as old as the human race, and having been made for man it will exist as long as man shall exist.” The Signs of the Times, November 12, 1894

The Change

There are Christian denominations that teach that the sacredness of the seventh day as given by God at creation has been transferred to Sunday because Christ rose from the grave on the first day of the week following the crucifixion. Some denominations teach that the Sabbath day was changed because of the activities recorded in Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2. But there is not a single text in the Bible to support the supposed transfer because of the resurrection, nor are there any activities recorded in the Bible and performed on any first day of the week that included the sacredness, the act of setting apart, as described in Genesis 2. However, Daniel 7:25 tells us, “He [meaning the beast identified in Daniel 7] shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. …” There is only one commandment in all the ten that deals with time—the fourth.

The book of Daniel identifies this beast power as Rome, which ultimately became the Holy Roman Empire or the Roman Catholic Church. This is the power that has sought to change times and laws.

Cardinal James Gibbons is quoted in The Faith of Our Fathers (1917 ed.) 72, 73, “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 [the Catholic church] never sanctify.”

And again Cardinal Gibbons states:

“Is Saturday the seventh day according to the Bible and the ten commandments? I answer yes. Is Sunday the first day of the week and did the Church [the Catholic church] change the seventh-day Saturday for Sunday, the first day? I answer yes. Did Christ change the day? I answer no!”

Chancellor Albert Smith’s letter dated February 10, 1920, reads, “If Protestants would follow the Bible, they should worship God on the Sabbath day. In keeping Sunday, they are following a law of the Catholic Church.”

From Our Sunday Visitor, February 5, 1950: “Practically everything Protestants regard as essential or important they have received from the Catholic Church … . The Protestant mind does not seem to realize that in … observing Sunday, in keeping Christmas and Easter, they are accepting the authority of the spokesman for the church, the Pope.”

Monsignor Louis Segur, Plain Talk about the Protestantism of Today, 213, “Observance of Sunday by the Protestants is a homage they pay in spite of themselves to the authority of the Catholic Church.”

During a lecture at Hartford, Kansas, February 18, 1884, Catholic Priest T. Enright CSSR said, “I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. … The Bible says, ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ But the Catholic Church says, ‘No, by my divine power, I abolish the Sabbath day … keep the 1st day of the week.’ And lo! The entire civilized world bows down in a reverent obedience.”

“Regarding the change from the observance of the Jewish Sabbath to the Christian Sunday, I wish to draw your attention to the facts:

“1) That Protestants, who accept the Bible as the only rule of faith and religion, should by all means go back to the observance of the Sabbath. The fact that they do not, but on the contrary observe the Sunday, stultifies them in the eyes of every thinking man.

“2) We Catholics do not accept the Bible as the only rule of faith. Besides the Bible we have the living Church, the authority of the Church, as a rule to guide us. We say, this Church, instituted by Christ to teach and guide man through life, has the right to change the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament and hence, we accept her change of the Sabbath to Sunday. We frankly say, yes, the Church made this change, made this law, as she made many other laws, for instance, the Friday abstinence, the unmarried priesthood, the laws concerning mixed marriages and a thousand other laws.

“It is always somewhat laughable, to see the Protestant churches, in the pulpit and legislation, demand the observance of Sunday, of which there is nothing in their Bible.” Peter R. Kramer, Catholic Church Extension Society (1975), Chicago, Illinois.

By its own admission, the Catholic Church accepts responsibility for changing God’s appointed day of worship to their own, and Protestant churches around the world have accepted this change, although the Bible proves over and over that the seventh-day Sabbath is the only day sanctified by God.

It seems very clear that by man’s own words he knows, or should know, that Sunday worship was a change made by man, insinuated into the religions of man by the devil himself, to deceive good, honest Christ-seeking people into believing that they are doing what the Lord wants them to do, when in fact, they are breaking His law. Remember what we read above in James 2, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”

People of all faiths endeavor to do what is right. They go to church, they pay their tithe, they help their neighbor, they work to keep their minds and hearts pure from the wickedness of the world, but in this one point, not following the Bible’s direction to keep the seventh-day Sabbath, they choose to observe a day instituted by man, not God.

Friend, God has clearly defined that the way to the city of God is by obedience. We find this stated repeatedly in the Scriptures. But the devil has changed the signpost, pointing it in the wrong direction. He has established a false Sabbath and has deceived and confused men and women for millennia to think that by resting on his day, they are obeying the command of God our Creator. Many Protestant ministers today will preach that God requires obedience, but in teaching their congregations to worship on Sunday, they are teaching them disobedience to His law.

Soon the time will come in this earth’s history when the great controversy between God and evil will reach its climax—the point at which all alive on this earth will have to make a choice. There are only two choices: to obey God or not. Obedience to God means keeping all of His law, including the seventh-day Sabbath. The fourth commandment specifically states who God is—the Creator—and what is His. Therefore, the devil has done everything in his power for six thousand years to destroy the Sabbath.

“Those who dishonor God by transgressing His law may talk sanctification; but it is of the same value, and just as acceptable, as was the offering of Cain. Obedience to the commandments of God is the only true sign of sanctification. … Obedience is the sign of true love.” The Review and Herald, October 26, 1897

Things are so bad in the world that we cannot imagine they can be worse. But they can be worse, and they will be according to the Bible. Those who obey God will be called troublemakers. Christian will turn against Christian. Family and friend will turn against each other. One day very soon a man-made law will be passed, a Sunday law, that will dictate that we must keep Sunday as the day of worship. We can already see many not-so-subtle attempts to accomplish this today. And most of the world will follow this law believing that they are serving God.

The time is coming when the people of the world will have to choose. Those who choose to be obedient to God’s law and keep the seventh-day Sabbath will then be unable to buy or sell or work, they will lose everything they have, they will be persecuted, imprisoned, and some may even lose their lives. We cannot wait to make that choice. We must be choosing now, every moment of the day, to obey God.

Those who choose not to obey God’s law by disregarding one or all of His commandments and who follow the Sunday law, will be filled with the spirit of the one they serve. The world must be warned now so that they can choose to obey God while they still have the opportunity. One day soon Jesus will stand up and pronounce, “It is finished!” and probation will be over, destinies decided. We must decide now to do what is right, because there will be no second chance.

“So long as the heavens and the earth endure, the Sabbath will continue as a sign of the Creator’s power. And when Eden shall bloom on earth again, God’s holy rest day will be honored by all beneath the sun.” The Desire of Ages, 283

“This law [of God] will maintain its exalted character as long as the throne of Jehovah endures.” The Review and Herald, October 10, 1899

“God’s law is unchangeable; and though by human beings it has been slighted, scorned, and rejected, it will ever stand as firm as the throne of Jehovah.” Ibid., September 24, 1901

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

Judy Rebarchek is the managing editor of the LandMarks magazine. She may be contacted by email at: judyrebarchek@stepstolife.org