Since God made the Sabbath, many objections have been made against it. Apart from those studied before, more arguments have been heard, which may be summed up in one remark: "I refuse to keep God's Sabbath." So people prefer to Sunday, and most of the world now rest on Sunday, while true Sabbath-keepers are relatively few. It appears that God has failed, and the devil is succeeding. What does the future hold? We shall search the Bible for an answer, as we now consider a few more objections.
1) Since people don't want to keep the Sabbath, they are free to do as they please; why must they bring arguments against the Sabbath? Is it because they want to justify themselves and prove God wrong?
Answer: No, not exactly. You see, many who object to the Sabbath are people who believe in God. They don't say God is wrong, but only want to prove that those who keep the Sabbath are wrong. Some enemies of the Sabbath say that the Ten Commandments have been abolished, others say only a part of the ten---especially the Sabbath command---is abolished.
2) I don't understand why people who believe in God and love Him would oppose His command and His Sabbath.
Answer: This is indeed strange. We need to pray for them, for many don't understand. They are used to keeping Sunday, so when they learn that it is not God's holy day, they try to find various excuses. The most common one is that Jesus has abolished the law, even though He has said, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law, till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commmandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matt 5:17-19.
Some who dislike God's commandments have a strange way of responding. They say, "I would rather be the least in the kingdom of heaven and not be great." Whoever says that does not appreciate the spirit of Crist's words, but is looking for loopholes, as he is determined to fight against the greatest of God's commandments. For the Sabbath command takes up one third of the words in all Ten Commandments. The Chinese translation, "he in the kingdom of heaven shall be called least" gives the impression that one who breaks the least of God's commandments can still be in the kingdom. Actually, the phrase "in the kingdom" does not refer to the commandment-breaker, but to those in the kingdom who have a very low regard for the breaker of God's commandment. Actually, the least quantity is zero. Jesus` words are plain enough: Whoever thinks that any part of God's law can be abolished, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and all the angels in heaven will say, Such a man can be abolished!
3) It is strange that such stubborn enemies of God's Sabbath should call themselves Christians!
Answer: Yes. They often use Galatians to accuse commandment-keepers of trying to be saved by keeping the law, while they are saved by grace. They claim to be justified by faith, and say that commandment-keepers are trying to be justified by works. Actually, Galatians was written to address the question of circumcision. Gal. 5:3 says, "I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole [ceremonial] law." In 1 Cor 7:19 Paul says, "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters." Jesus says, "Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." Matt 5:20.
4) Another way people oppose the Sabbath is to dilute it---with a lofty spiritual experience; they make every day a Sabbath!
Answer: That's right! It may be called superseding the Sabbath---a unique way to abolish it. They say, "I daily enter the Holy of Holies with Jesus. In Him I enjoy rest in the Holy Spirit, making every day a Sabbath." Yet the ultimate purpose is to abolish the Sabbath, to weaken your regard for God's holy day. Such people think themselves wiser than God, turning His one holy day into seven holy days, so God might as well fold up His day and put it away! Such a trick aims at diverting our attention from the Sabbath. God says, "Six days you shall labor and do all your work." But they say, No, six days you shall rest! What about the children and servants? Will they enter with them daily into the Holy of Holies and enjoy rest? It is all a lot of high flown language designed to defeat God's commandment---just another way to disobey God under a pious pretext.
5) You are right. I see that Satan is back of all this---causing men to come up with strange ideas to defeat the Sabbath.
Answer: Yes. Speaking of strange ideas, I've heard of one that says, when Joshua was fighting a war, he commanded the sun to stand still. (The story is recorded in Josh 10) As a result, the seventh day of the week became the first day. An original idea!
6) This is the first time I've heard that. How should we understand it?
Answer: Jesus is our example. He says, "Follow Me." "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father1s commandments and abide in His love." John 15:10. The miracle of the sun standing still occurred before the time of Christ. But the day Christ kept holy was still the seventh-day Sabbath. So we are safe in following His example. However, it is strange how people can think up so many ideas in their attempt to abolish God's Sabbath.
7) I've heard one preacher quote Hos. 2:11, which says, "I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her New Moons, her Sabbaths---all her appointed feasts." How do you explain this passage?
Answer: Note to whom this passage is addressed. Compare it with Isa 58:13,14. God calls the Sabbath "My holy day" and "the holy day of the Lord." But Hos 2:11 speaks of Israel, that "Her mirth, her feast days, her new moons, her Sabbaths and all her appointed feasts" are to cease. The entire chapter concerns her penalty---she will no longer enjoy these blessings. It does not say that God's Sabbath will cease. We should remember that the Sabbath is God's gift to us---a day of blessing.
8) Since all arguments against the Sabbath cannot stand, is there any Bible text telling Christians to keep the first day holy?
Answer: No. There are 8 texts in the New Testament that mention the first day of the week. But not one of them says that it is a holy day ordained of God. Six of them are related to Crist's resurrection (twice each in Mark 16 & Jn 20). If God meant to make it a day to celebrate Crist's resurrection, it would have been most appropriate to state it in these texts. But not once is it so stated. As for the meeting mentioned in Acts 20:7, we will study it in our next talk. The eighth text speaking of the first day is 1 Cor 16:2, which says, "Concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches in Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come." Here the original Greek word for "lay something aside" is simply "lay by himself," proving that Paul is not telling them to take up an offering in a meeting. This plan is a Jewish habit. Friday is always a busy day, when there is no time to count money. After sundown Saturday, they have time to check and see how much they have gained through the week.
9) The debate over the Sabbath is heated; there are even some who call the Sabbath truth a heresy. Can it be that serious?
Answer: That is due to strong prejudices. Yet there are many zealous and honest Christians who see the truth, and know that the Sabbath command is far from being a heresy, but is, rather, timely truth for our day, which should be proclaimed far and wide. God's command must be obeyed, His name must be honored. H. Fenn, a missionary to China who compiled the Concordance for the Union Version Chinese Bible, used to worship on Sundays. But during his work of compilation he was struck by more than 170 references to the Sabbath in the Bible, and noted how highly God regards His holy day. So he made up his mind to "turn away" his foot from trampling on the Sabbath and observe it according to God's will. He even wrote a tract to help others see the light. In earlier studies we introduced the truth that God gave the Sabbath as a sign of sanctification for His obedient people. See on Exod 31:13; Ezek 20:12,10. Satan hates this sign, and is determined to counter it with his own sign, in direct opposition to God's. This conflict has become global. Jesus calls the devil the "prince of this world," because since Adam sinned, Satan has usurped the power originally given to Adam by God. But God has not thereby relinquished His sovereignty. In a revolted world, He has a chosen people who are loyal to Him. They are defending His stronghold---His true Church on earth. Over it flies the banner, "Here is the patience of the saints, here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."Rev 14:12. And Rev 12:17 also says, "who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
You asked if the matter could be that serious. Some have thought that a difference of 24 hours should not cause so much tension. But it's like Adam eating a fruit. The act is small, but the principle involved is great, having to do with God's honor. If the children don't obey their parents, the parents lose prestige. If nobody keeps God's Sabbath, He is dishonored and has no glory.
10) Are your words related to Rev 14, which deals with the mark of the beast? Is this mark related to the Sabbath?
Answer: Yes, the mark of the beast is related to the Sabbath, and has very much to do with it. We've just said that the devil hates Godís Sabbath, because it is Godís sign of sanctification. So Satan has a mark to counter Godís sign. We will soon give special study to this topic very soon.
You see, our reply to the arguments against the Sabbath and promoting Sunday is part of the conflict between the seal of God and the mark of the beast. You have seen that many who oppose the Sabbath call Christ Lord, but do not do His Fatherís will. Jesus says, "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" Matt 7:22,23. "I never knew you" means that though they call Him Lord, and even preach, cast out evil spirits and perform miracles in Crist's name, yet they failed to do His Father's will. They regarded God's Sabbath as heresy. They were out of harmony with God's law, so Christ regards them as total strangers, saying, "I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness."
11) Again I ask, Can it be that serious? The church is a pure, holy institution; how can its preachers practice lawlessness?
Answer: They can. Study Revelation carefully, and you will understand: the focus of the struggle between good and evil is, Whom do you obey? John 8:47 says, "He who is of God hears God's words, therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God." It's just that simple. Since antiquity Satan has tried to make man disobey God. Rev 12:9 says that the devil "deceives the whole world." 2 Cor 11:3 says, "I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." A simple, honest heart does what God says. A corrupt heart disobeys God under a pious pretext. One example is to break the Sabbath by observing another day under the pretext of honoring Crist's resurrection.
12) Will you please review the historical background of this shift from Sabbath to Sunday?
Answer: The gradual change from a pure religious body to a corrupt institution has been repeated through the centuries. After Moses received the Decalogue, he taught the Israelites, saying, "Take careful heed to yourselves, . . . lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: . . . And take heed lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage." Deut 4:15-19.
Eventually, that is just what they did: they followed pagan nations in worshiping the sun and many idols. 2 Kg 23:4-11 speaks of king Josiah's work of reform: "The king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, . . . to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the articles that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of Kidrom. . . Then he removed . . . those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the constellations, and to all the host of heaven . . . Then he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the Lord, . . . and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire."
History records that it is difficult to keep a religious body pure, but easy for it to degenerate. Ezek 8:16 records the following scene: "He brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house; and there, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the sun, and they were worshiping the sun toward the east." The twenty-five men were made up of the twelve courses of two priests every month who served in the temple, plus the high priest. The figure indicates that the apostasy was total.
In less than a hundred years the early church was already endangered by the rise of "Antichrist." 2 John 7 says, "Many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an anti-christ." 2 Thess 2:3,4 says, "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." This evil power is the chief advocate of the day observed by ancient sun-worshipers.
So we face a solemn issue. It requires much time and study to make it clear so that all may have the facts to make the right decision. We pray that every one who knows these facts will resolve by the grace of God to win out in this battle between good and evil that goes on in our hearts. May we all receive the seal of the living God, is our fervent prayer for every one of our friends.