True reason why the Sabbath day was shifted to Sunday

‘’In the beginning, when God created the universe, the earth was formless and desolate….By the seventh day, God finished what he had been doing and stopped working. He blessed the seventh day and set it apart as a special day’’ (Genesis 1: 1, 2: 2). The seventh day which is Saturday is universally known as THE SABBATH DAY and man should abstain from all forms of servile works devoting it wholly to the worship of Almighty God. Furthermore, God commanded that all should observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy… (Exodus 20: 8-11).

Based on the directives given in this 4th Commandment of God, controversies arise as to which day should be kept as the day of the Sabbath. In other words, did God actually create the universe in 7 days? Remember that a day to the Lord is like a thousand years (Psalm 90: 4, 2 Peter 3:8). This might mean that it took him 6000 years to create the whole universe and he rested for 1000 years. Furthermore, in Leviticus 25: 2-5, it says ‘’When you enter the land that the LORD is giving you, you shall honor the LORD by not cultivating the land every seventh year. You shall sow your fields, prune your vineyards, and gather your crops for six years. But the seventh year is to be a year of complete rest for the land, a year dedicated to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not even harvest the corn that grows by itself without being sown, and do not gather the grapes from your unpruned vines; it is a year of complete rest for the land.’’ This goes to show that the Sabbath has no fixed day. Refer to Genesis 1: 5; it specifically reads ‘’ that was the first day’’ and not the first of the week. This can be likened to the case of a man asked to fast for six days without a definite instruction on when to commence. Any time he decides to start will be his first day. He will stop and rest on the seventh day.

God is a caring and considerate father of creation for he appreciates the importance of rest from work after laboring for, so to speak, six days. Relaxing from stressful duty is of utmost importance for both physical and mental health for continuous hustling is injurious and damaging to the body. This stresses the need for a day of rest. However, Sabbath day is wholly for worshipping God, singing songs of praises and exultations. Words of God which are contained in the Holy Bible should be read diligently with great devotion.

SABBATH IN CHRISTIANITY

Sabbath is a day set aside in Christianity for rest and worship, a practice that was mandated for the Israelites in the Ten Commandments in line with God’s blessing of the seventh day making it holy ‘’because, on it God rested from all his works that he had done in creation’’. {Genesis 31: 17}. The practice was associated with the assembly of the people to worship in synagogues on the day known as the Shabbat.

Early Christians, at first mainly Jewish, observed the seventh-day Sabbath with prayer and rest, but gathered on the seventh day, Saturday, reckoned in Jewish tradition as beginning, like the other days, at sunset on what would now be considered the Friday evening. The Jewish sunrise starts at 72 minutes before mid-night which means that sunset ends at some 71 minutes and few seconds before sunrise. The Shabbat therefore coincides with what is now commonly identified as Friday sunset to Saturday night when three stars are visible in the night sky. At the beginning of the second century, Ignatius of Antioch approved non-observance of the Sabbath. The now majority attitude of Christians is to observe Sunday, called the Lord’s Day, rather than the Jewish seventh-day Sabbath as a day of rest and worship.

Possibly because of a movement initiated in the early 14th century Ewostatewos, which gained approval under Emperor Zara Yaqob, Christians in Ethiopia kept a two-day Sabbath covering both Saturday and Sunday. In line with ideas of the 16th and 17th-century Puritans, Presbyterian and Congregationalist, as well as Methodist and Baptist Churches, enshrined first-day {Sunday} Sabbatarian views in their confessions of faith, observing the Lord’s Day as the Christian Sabbath. First-day Sabbatarian {Sunday Sabbatarian} practices include attending morning and evening services on Sundays, receiving catechesis in Sunday school on the Lord’s Day, taking Sunday off from servile labor, not eating at restaurants on Sundays, not Sunday shopping, not using public transportation on the Lord’s Day, not participating in sporting events that are held on Sundays, as well as not viewing television and the internet on Sundays; Christians who are Sabbatarians often engage in works of mercy such as evangelism as well as visiting prisoners in jails and the sick at hospitals and nursing homes.

In the gospels, the women are described as coming to the empty tomb ‘’on the first {day} of the Sabbath’’ which is the day after Sabbath, meaning ‘’on the first day of the week.’’ {Mathew 28: 1-8, Luke 24: 1-12, Mark 16: 1-10, John 20: 1-10}. This is made clear in Acts 20: 7-12 when Paul continued his message ‘’until midnight’’ and a young man named Eutychus went to sleep, fell out of the window and died. But Paul went down and threw himself on him, hugging him. He said ‘’don’t worry, he is still alive’’. Then Paul went back upstairs, broke bread and ate. After talking with them for a long time, even until sunrise, he left. They took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted. This incident took place at Troas on the Sabbath Day at the point of midnight while the lad was restored to life the following day being Sunday. Christians celebrate on Sunday because it is the day on which Jesus Christ had risen from the dead and on which the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles: Acts 2: 1-4. The relevant chapters of the gospels on Jesus Christ’s resurrection had early been quoted.

Although Christians meeting for worship on the first day of the week {Sunday for Gentiles} dates back to Acts and is historically mentioned around 115 AD, Constantine’s edict was the start of many more Christians observing only Sunday and not the Sabbath. Patristic writings attest that by the second century, it had become commonplace to celebrate the Eucharist in a corporate day worship on the first day of the week. A Church Father, Eusebius, who became the bishop of Caesarea Maritima about 314 AD, stated that for Christians, ‘’ the Sabbath had been transferred to Sunday’’. In his book From Saturday Sabbath to Sunday, Adventist theologian Samuele Bacchiocchi contended that the transition from the Saturday Sabbath to Sunday in the early Christian church was due to pagan and political factors, and the decline of standards for the Sabbath day.

THE BOTTOM LINE AND THE CONCLUSION

Jesus Christ made us to understand that he has not come to abolish the laws and the prophets but to accomplish them in full. As he was approaching Jerusalem with his disciples, they came to cornfields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began to pick ears of corn and eat the grain. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to Jesus, ‘’Look, it is against our law for your disciples to do this on the Sabbath!’’. Jesus answered, ‘’Have you never read what David did that time when he needed something to eat? He and his men were hungry, so he went into the house of God and ate the bread offered to God. This happened when Abiathar was the High Priest. According to our law, only the priests may eat this bread _ but David ate it even gave it to his men.’’ And Jesus concluded, ‘’The Sabbath was made for man; man was not made for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.’’{Mark 2: 23-28}. Again in Luke 13: 10-17, while Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, a woman who was bent over for 18 years and could not stand up straight came to him pleading for mercy. Jesus healed her but an official of the synagogue rebuked her for coming to be cured on a Sabbath instead of the six days when work could be done. When Jesus heard this, he was furious and castigated the Pharisees calling them hypocrites. He justified his good work, arguing his case thus ‘’anyone of you would untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and water it on a Sabbath. Now here is this descendant of Abraham whom Satan has kept bound up for eighteen years, should she not be released on the Sabbath’’. The Pharisees, his enemies, were dumbfounded and ashamed while the people rejoiced on the wonderful things he had done. This happened in a village near Jerusalem, his destination. The Sabbath forbade the Jews from doing any work even emergency cases.

Furthermore, on entering Jerusalem, a man with swollen hands and legs approached him on a Sabbath in a leading Pharisee’s house. Jesus asked the teachers of law and the Pharisees, ‘’Does our law allow healing on the Sabbath or not?’’ They said nothing. He then took the man, healed him and sent him away. Jesus turned to the Pharisees and said, ‘’If any of you had a son or an ox that fell in a well on a Sabbath, would he not pull him out at once?’’{Luke 14: 1-6}. The Pharisees could not answer him about this. The incident took place while Jesus went to eat at the home of one of them. Again, near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, there is a pool with five porches; in Hebrew it is called Bethzatha or Bethsaida. A man was there who was ill for thirty-eight {38} years. Jesus saw him lying there and he knew that he had been ill for such a long time. He out of pity asked him, ‘’Do you want to get well?’’. The sick man answered, ’’Sir, I have no one here to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am trying to get in, somebody else gets there first.’’ This happened on a Sabbath. Jesus then said to him, ‘’Get up, pick your mat, and walk.’’ Immediately the man got well, and picked up his mat and started walking. The Pharisees authorities told the man who had been healed, ‘’this is a Sabbath, and it is against our law for you to carry your mat.’’{John 5: 2-10}.

The intriguing thing was that the ancient Jews attached so much load to the Sabbath and it was the less privileged that bore the burden most. The early Church Fathers criticized the idleness placed on the observance of the Sabbath. It forbade people from cooking, humanitarian aids, emergency rescue operations, caring for the sick and the aged, etc. It was because of the sinfulness, stubbornness, rebelliousness and high handedness of the old Israelites that these harsh restrictions were imposed. It can be recalled how God rescued them from the captivity of the Egyptians and led them to the Promised Land by the hand of Moses and Joshua. He guided them through the right route by cloud during the day and light of fire at night in the wilderness. Yet they sinned exceedingly against the LORD, joined themselves to Baal-peor and ate the sacrifices of the dead while worshipping demons, sacrificing their sons and daughters to the idols of Canaan. They even made a golden calf at Horeb in the desert when Moses went to meet God at Mount Sinai and stayed there for forty days and forty nights. They thought he had died and forced Aaron, a skilled craftsman, to mold the golden calf using the necklaces and gold of their women which they worshipped forgetting the awesome and wondrous deeds of the LORD in the land of Egypt.

Because of the foregoing accounts, the early Christians ceased from observing the Sabbath on Saturday but shifted it to Sunday. A popular Latin maxim has it that ‘’vox populi, vox Dei’’ meaning ‘’the voice of the people is the voice of God’’. God confirmed it in 1 Samuel 8: 6-9 when the Israelites requested for a king. He was grieved because they rejected Him as their defender and protector. Nonetheless, He directed Samuel to grant their request. St Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church, supported the changeover. Other prominent ancient church scholars concerted to the departure. Moreover Jesus Christ, our role model, was without sin and carried our sins to the Cross of Calvary. Therefore, there is no need to sacrifice pigeons, goats, cows, etc. to atone for our sins. Sunday, the Lord’s Day, has replaced the Sabbath.

Nevertheless, we are to work for six days and rest, worshiping God on the seventh day. Sunday is the day of worship for Christians, Saturday remains for Judaism while Muslims perform theirs on Friday.

Credit: Ofomah E S CPA, MBA writes from
St David’s Catholic Parish,
Azigbo. Nnewi South LGA. Tel:0810 132 7059

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About Ofomah Stephen 88 Articles
My name is Ofomah Stephen. I'm a Catholic writer. I publish articles based on Catholic teachings and doctrines which will help you to understand and know more about the Catholic practices, history, doctrines and teaching.

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