Sunday Was Abolished at Calvary
presented by Charles H. Clever
Because of Jesus' sacrifice, we are not required to keep Jewish festivals:
"He... [brought] an end to sacrifice and offering" (Daniel 9:27).
Perhaps Christianity's best-kept secret is the fact that Sunday
was typified in Old Testament ordinances and met fulfillment in the resurrection
of Christ on the Firstfruits Sunday, and Pentecost Sunday's glorification
of the church.
Believing that God's foreknowledge of Satan's perversion of the Sabbath would move Him to preserve deeper truths in His Word, I knew there had to be something in the Bible to refute the substitution of Sunday for the Sabbath--God's sacred day (Gen. 2:2,3; Isa. 58:13, etc.). For several weeks I computer searched the Bible for word combinations to reveal Sunday events. In the Old Testament, the term "first day of the week" (Sunday) is limited to the Genesis account of creation; and "the day after the Sabbath" (Sunday) is mentioned in Nehemiah's closure of Jerusalem's gates to prevent desecration of the Sabbath; and in Leviticus' symbolic, and therefore abolished, festivals (Neh. 13:19; Lev. 23:11,15,16). God has undoubtedly suppressed a simple Bible fact until our time, because He will have a people sensative to fundamental truths, and who know the cost of sin and the perfection that God demands (Matt. 5: 18-20, 48). They will keep His commandments while the world transgresses and erroneously glorifies a spurious day (James 2:10; Rev./Apo. 12:17; 14,12).
Even though Sunday's utilization has met fulfillment at Calvary, today there are many who do not rightly understand Scripture's application of Sunday and are pressuring legislators for Sunday-rest laws. These well-meaning people often do not boldly proclaim religious motives for this legislation as the Vatican did in The Vatican's Apostolic Letter Dies Domini -- "Christians will naturally strive to ensure that civil legislation respects their duty to keep Sunday holy" (paragraph 67), but they are just as surely motivated by their religious inclinations to support what they erroneously call "the Lord's day."
The Bible's obvious meaning on this important topic is now distorted because the ordinance of the Sunday Firstfruits was falsely assigned to follow the Passover celebration which was strictly observed on Abib (Nisan) 14. This adds confusion because the Passover falls on a different day of the week each year; yet Firstfruits, followed by Pentecost, were definitely Sunday occurrences because they were to be kept at the beginning of harvest on "the day after the Sabbath," which is Sunday (Lev. 23:11, 15, 16).
At the time of
Christ, Firstfruits was celebrated yearly on Abib 16, the third
day following the Passover. A study of the scriptures does not record
the exact day of Israel's Firstfruit observances. The first
Passover after crossing the Jordan is also a subject of debate, and is
the only implied Firstfruit-event (Joshua 5:10-12), and it did not establish
a pattern for future Firstfruits.
One was considered harvesting when they put produce in a vessel or used a sickle for gathering (Deu. 23:24,25). Jesus plucking grain "on the second Sabbath after the first" (Luke 6:1) does not indicate that Jesus was harvesting, and Firstfruits could have been observed any time earlier in the year, even before the Passover. One must realize that Barley is a crop that grows in the winter and its harvest initiated Israel's compliance with Firstfruits Sunday. You may recall that the "barley was in the head" prior to Israel's first Passover in Egypt (Exodus 9:31). Barley ripens at different times early in the year as determined by the planting date, and annual variances in rainfall and temperature.
The reason many
believe that the Firstfruits should be kept on the third day after the
Passover (the second day of Unleavened Bread) can be attributed to authors
like the first century Jewish historian,
Flavis Josephus. He writes in Antiquities 3.10:5 (250):
"But on the second day of unleavened bread, which is the sixteenth day of the month, they first partake of the fruits of the earth, for before that day they do not touch them. And while they suppose it proper to honor God, from whom they obtain this plentiful provision, in the first place, they offer the first fruits of their barley. . . . [And continuing with 6.(252)] "When a week of weeks has passed over after this sacrifice (which weeks contain forty and nine days), on the fiftieth day, which is Pentecost, but is called by the Hebrews Asrtha, which signifies Pentecost, they bring to God a loaf, made of wheat flour, of two tenth deals, with leaven; and for sacrifices they bring two lambs. . . ."Josephus writes of practices that occurred over 1,400 years after they were given to Moses at Sinai. Sometime in the past, the Jews obviously deviated from a literal application of Leviticus 23. Instead of observing "the day after the Sabbath" (Sunday), when they first harvested, they ignored the weekly Sabbath and kept Firstfruits on Abib 16, the day following two consecutive festive days--the Passover (Abib 14) and Unleavened Bread (Abib 15).
To prevent error, God repeated His instructions to observe these feasts at the beginning of harvest (not Abib 16). Please observe Deuteronomy's application of these Leviticus festivals--you will notice the repetition of God's instructions to link Pentecost to the first day of [Firstfruits] harvest, not from Abib/Nissan 16: "Seven weeks shall thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks [for Pentecost] from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn" (Deuteronomy 16:9). Deuteronomy's repetition enforces the command to keep Firstfruits on Sunday (the day after the Sabbath at the beginning of harvest), and Pentecost seven weeks later on Sunday of every year. This is because, like your birthday, Abib 16 falls on a different day of the week each year--by the Jews observing Abib 16, every few years "harvest day" would have coincided with the Sabbath. Harvesting--"Beginning to put the sickle to the corn"--on the Sabbath would therefore force a transgression of God's ten-commandment law. Every Jewish festival commanded: "You shall do no servile [common] work" (Lev. 23:7,8,21,25,35,36), except for Firstfruits--it required harvesting. God, who commanded a man to be stoned to death for presumptuously gathering firewood on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:30-36), would never have commanded the Jews to begin the harvest on the Sabbath. Obviously, our God intended that Firstfruits and Pentecost occur on the common working day of Sunday, "the day after the Sabbath," every year.
Before one becomes encumbered with thoughts from those who do not believe in a literal application of the Bible, it would be worthwhile to observe some additional facts: Firstfruit offerings were neither relevant to the date of Israel's first observance, nor does Leviticus stipulate a "high sabbath" or Abib as the month of compliance. Instead, it required observance when they began (beginnest) to "reap the harvest thereof..." (Lev. 23:10; Deu. 16:9). This means that even if the barley ripened earlier in the year, they would not refrain from eating "bread, nor roasted grain, nor fresh grain (Lev. 23:14) until Abib 16, but could begin earlier (Matt. 28:1-7; also see: Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12 and John 20:1,2).
Does this all sound confusing to you? You must agree on this simple fact: The full meaning of these Sunday events is not perplexing because they literally transpired on Sunday in the year of Christ's crucifixion. This is because Firstfruits fell on that atypical Sunday, "the day after the Sabbath" (as it also fell in 1998 according to the Hebrew calendar). Jesus' Sunday resurrection and Pentecost was previously kept in type, and therefore is not the new Sabbath.
With this thought, we emphasize that Jesus fulfilled several events by His crucifixion, entombment, and resurrection. First, the Passover: "For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed [crucified] for us" (1 Cor. 5:7). Next, Jesus' death in the tomb, on the day following Passover, was symbolized in the Feast of Unleavened Bread when Israel yearly typified our Lord's unleavened (unrisen) body in the tomb (Leviticus 23: 5-6; John 6:33). Notice that those "shadows" only symbolized the event, not the day. And then, the Firstfruits Sunday ("the day after the Sabbath") where Christ was the beginning of humanity's harvest. That was when God, one might say, beginnest to put the sickle to the corn (Deut. 16:9) and "Christ the [resurrected] firstfruits, afterward those who are [raised as] Christ's at His coming" (1 Cor. 15:23). Seven weeks after the Firstfruits offering, as you will see, the last Sunday event of Pentecost would also meet fulfillment.
It was observed "...fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord" (Leviticus 23:16). Pentecost means 50, and it met completion as follows:
"Now when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2: 1-4).Many sincere Christians, and publications, including the Vatican's Apostolic Letter Dies Domini, emphatically state that these events inaugurated Sunday as the new Sabbath, and are therefore binding upon Christians today. Quite the opposite is true. Because these events were atypical (shadows of future events), they are therefore perpetually abolished at Calvary. This means that if the date of these abolished festivals should ever coincide with a Sunday throughout the endless days of eternity, it is meaningless--Sunday will never be used again to typify these special events--they have met an eternal fulfillment. In addition, Firstfruits Sunday did not require abstinence from common work; in fact, it required work (harvesting). This adds to the dilemma of those who attempt to use the Bible to legislate a Sunday "Lord's day" rest day.
It is difficult
for one to change the customs of a lifetime, and some members of the New
Testament church were trying to retain these events by subjecting themselves
to "regulations--Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle...", but the
Apostle Paul says Jesus has "wiped out the handwriting of ordinances that
was against us... and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross..."
and "Therefore let no one judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect
to an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a
of things to come; but the body is of Christ" (Colossians 2:14-23).
If you walk down the street with the sun to your back, you may notice that you are preceded by your shadow. If someone standing inside a doorway sees the shadow approaching, they know a person will also arrive. Likewise, the Sunday resurrection of Christ and the Sunday glorification of His church were "shadowed" in type; consequently, the utilization of Sunday was abolished at Calvary. It met its substance in the first century--Sunday is not binding and should never be venerated from the pulpit or courthouse.
While visiting a Sunday-observing
church in a small desert community, a bulletin board posting caught
my attention. It encouraged the congregation to "bring a benevolent offering
next Sunday as Paul [allegedly] instructed the Corinthian church."
If you have studied 1 Corinthians 16:1 before, perhaps you have wondered
why Paul sent this letter ahead of his arrival telling the Corinthian congregation
to perform work by preparing an offering on Sunday, instead of "preparation
day," which is Friday.
To properly understand this, you must realize that preparing finances on Saturday was a practice the Jews considered desecration of the Sabbath. Therefore, the answer to this riddle is quite simple. Luke informs us in Acts, chapter 18, that when Paul previously established the church at Corinth, he preached on Sabbaths there for at least one and one-half years: "And he reasoned in the synagogue EVERY Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks...." "And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them" (Acts 18: 4, 11). Paul plans to return to Corinth and sends this epistle ahead. He is well aware that his instructions will be read to the Corinthians as they gather to worship on THAT DAY, Saturday. Knowing that some anxious saints may sin by preparing an offering after his letter is read in church, Paul wisely counsels them in a manner to ensure they will not desecrate God's holy day by working on the Sabbath. He wisely writes: "On the first day of the week [Sunday, that is, tonight after sundown or tomorrow], let each one of you put aside AT HOME and lay up whatever he has a mind to so that the collections may not have to be made after I have come" (1 Cor. 16: 2, Douay). Other translations similarly indicate that this is not a church service, as Paul instructs each one to do this work INDIVIDUALLY. Working ALONE, AT HOME, is not in harmony with Protestant (or the Vatican) documents implying a Sunday church service. And we will remind you of this fact: Preparing an offering on Sunday is not the same as presenting that offering during church on a Sabbath.
These verses are just a reminder that we should not use the Sabbath for common purposes.
Therefore, Sunday is an excellent day to withdraw funds from the bank, to go to your storage shed,
granary, or even the market place, and prepare an offering to give the needy when the missionary
collection is taken the next Sabbath.
it is for us to respect the religious beliefs of others; yet now, as in
the past, people are being exploited throughout the world for their faith.
A nation's most productive and noblest citizens are frequently demonized
because of the way they serve their God or practice their religion.
It is NOT the place of an individual or government to ostracize a class
of people or individuals. The church of Rome received a letter from the
Apostle Paul condemning this very practice, even within its own sanctuary:
"But why do you judge your brother? or why do you set at naught your brother?
for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ" (Romans 14:10).
One day everyone, including those who force religious dogma upon others,
will answer to their Creator.
Our forefathers paid a tremendous price for the religious freedoms we enjoy today. With this thought, we must be cautious with legislation, tolerant of the belief of others, and careful to remember the errors of the past while diligently striving to preserve this God-given right.
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Copyright © June 11, 1999 by Charles Clever. All rights reserved.