I came across some interesting information this week regarding the Sabbath which made my head spin. I’ve always known that historically speaking, the Sabbath was practiced on Saturdays. What I never understood was why church is held on Sundays. The fourth commandment tells us to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Do we? There is little evidence of that. In fact, many people party pretty hard on Saturday nights. I’d hardly call that keeping it holy. Where did the tradition of Saturday night partying come from? The pieces are starting to fit together…maybe.
This past week, I watched a biblical documentary which discussed the Sabbath and how the church got away from it. By the time I finished watching it, I was floored. According to certain theologians, we are worshipping our God on the very day the pagans worshipped their “Sun god” (Sundays), so apparently we are doing it wrong. We are not following the fourth commandment, we are not remembering the Sabbath, and we sure aren’t keeping it holy.
The change supposedly occurred when the emperor of Rome, Constantine, brought Christianity to his people. They already worshipped the sun god on Sundays, so Constantine thought it would be an easier transition if he left worshipping day as Sunday, but switched out the god they worshipped. What a politician. In the 4thcentury, the Council of Laodicea urged Christians to honor Sunday by abstaining from work on that day and prohibited them from abstaining from work on the Sabbath. Prohibited Christians from following the fourth commandment? Exactly what were they up to?
To this day, we worship on Sundays because that’s when churches offer services, and now we know why they offer them on Sundays. So, are we doing it wrong? According to the fourth commandment, yes, but most churches don’t have Saturday church, and most of us probably won’t start a Saturday church. The disciples worshipped God on the Sabbath and also other days of the week, including Sundays. So, it’s true we worship God on pagan holidays, but they were God’s days first, so I see no problem with taking them back, and really, any day that we worship God is the Lord’s day. Everyday can be the Lord’s day. He did create them, after all.
According to my research, the Sabbath began on Friday at sundown and lasted until Saturday at sundown, during which many people would fast. At Sabbath’s end, the people would end their fast and break bread together and worship God. Did this spark the Saturday night out tradition? What was the Sabbath established for anyway?
According to Jesus, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath—so man could rest just like God rested on the seventh day. He knew we’d need it. If we choose to neglect something God says we need, then it hurts us. The Sabbath is so important to God that He included it in the ten commandments. Having said that, we are not to be like the Pharisees who focused so much on the law they completely missed the Son of God standing right in front of them. We are to focus on God Himself and build a relationship with Him. If we listen, we will know with certainty His instruction, which according to Micah 6:8 is this: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
We are not perfect. We are not sinless. That’s why we need grace. We are expected to follow all the commandments. However, the focus should not solely be on the law itself, but the God who wrote the law to help us, to keep us from earthly troubles, the God who loves us as we love our own children, who wants to protect us and keep us safe, as we want to keep our own children safe. So, what’s the bottom line here: rest on Saturdays, keep it holy, and worship on any other day of the week you like.