Some people find it difficult to believe that
the "day after the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:11,15,16), which is Sunday, should
really have been observed for Firstfruits and Pentecost, as dictated by
a literal application of the scripture. Therefore, they emphasize
that Abib 16, the third day after the Passover is correct.
Leviticus 23 says these festivals should be observed after they "reap the
harvest thereof" (verse 10). Nothing is mentioned to attach this
feast to the Passover, as the Jews do today.
As previously noted (http://www.revelado.org/lordsday.htm), Firstfruits was to be kept at the "beginning of harvest" on the "day after the Sabbath." If Sunday was in fact kept, then Sunday's typification of Christ's resurrection from the tomb and Pentecost's glorification of the church were shadowy, and abolished in the New Testament. For reasons that God only knows, the Bible has no literal application of these Scriptures, and the debate will continue, among those who do not take the Bible literally, until we no longer "see through a glass darkly" (1 Cor. 13:12). Regardless of conflicting interpretations, Sunday was still the day of Christ's resurrection, so the following article was written to show that Sunday was perpetually abolished at Calvary, regardless of what day the Jews observed in the Old Testament.
Several years ago I conducted a telephone survey by questioning the clergy of prominent denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church. My questions were an attempt to discover their beliefs on the validity of the ten-commandments, and especially the necessity of observing the fourth commandment that says to keep the Sabbath holy. The overwhelming majority replied "Yes, the law of God is still valid and supplies the knowledge of sin." Concerning the Sabbath commandment, though, they felt that the New Testament church observed Sunday as the new Sabbath. Over one billion Christians around the world share this view and feel that the resurrection of Christ on Firstfruits Sunday, and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples at Pentecost's Sunday, inaugurated a new Sabbath, and therefore, Sunday should now be kept sacred.
This theory permeates Christendom to the point that some well-meaning people advocate legislating a Sunday rest-day. A prime example of this is THE VATICAN'S APOSTOLIC LETTER DIES DOMINI. It states in part: "Christians will naturally strive to ensure that civil legislation respects their DUTY to keep Sunday holy" (paragraph 67). The word DUTY strongly implies that somewhere in the Bible there is a divine command to keep Sunday sacred, yet a diligent search of scripture reveals just the opposite--that Sunday itself is not sacred, and was perpetually abolished at Calvary.
If the simple fact that the Bible records a "typified" event happening on a specific day makes that day sacred, then one might choose Passover Friday to keep holy because Jesus, the Majesty of Heaven, offered His life a ransom for humanity on that special Friday. God calls these Old Testament festivities, including the Passover, Firstfruits, and Pentecost, "holy convocations" (Leviticus 23:2), and they were to be observed annually. There is not a single verse in the New Testament that says one of these "holy" days would become a new Sabbath; in fact, there an not a single example of Sunday being specifically observed as a sacred day of worship anywhere in the Bible, especially by the New Testament Church.
The "Acts of the Apostles" records thirty-one years of church history, from Christ's ascension to heaven in 31 AD, to Paul's Roman imprisonment in 62 AD. In studying such an extended record of church activity, one would expect to find many examples of Sunday sacredness if their reasoning is correct; however, there is not a single occurrence. No, not one! In fact, of the two Sunday events recorded during this long period, both display the performance of Sunday activities that would have been considered violation of the Sabbath. For example, let us examine Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians.
To properly understand these verses, one must recall that Paul previously organized the Corinthian church and was planning a return visit. This visit would include his collection of an offering for the saints in Jerusalem. When Paul originally established this church in Corinth, he preached "in the synagogue EVERY Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and Greeks" for a "year and six months" (Acts 18:4,11). Now Paul sends a courier ahead with a letter announcing his impending arrival. Paul is fully aware that his epistle will be read in the synagogue as the saints meet on Saturday, the Sabbath. Fearing that a zealous saint may sin by preparing an offering after church by performing work during the sacred hours remaining in the Sabbath, Paul wisely instructs them in a manner to ensure that they wait until after sundown, which is Sunday. If Paul did not have this concern, he would have instructed them to prepare their offering on Friday, which is the preparation day for the Sabbath.
Keep these thoughts in mind as you read his instructions, which I quote from the Catholic Douay Bible: "On the first day of the week [Sunday, i.e., tonight after sunset or tomorrow], let every 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 [next Sabbath]" (1 Cor. 16:2). Other translations similarly indicate that this is not a church service, as Paul instructs each one to do this work individually. Working ALONE, OR AT HOME, is not in harmony with popular teachings implying a Sunday church service. And we will remind you of this fact: Performing work by preparing an offering AT HOME is not the same as presenting that offering at church.
These verses are an excellent reminder that we should not use Saturday 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. The other Sunday occurrence recorded in Acts also displays the performance of work on Sunday.
In Acts 20:7-11, Luke records several events that would never have been permitted on Saturday because traveling more than about one mile (1.61 KM) on the Sabbath was considered work and prohibited. This is based on their application of Exodus 16:29: "Abide every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day" (also see Acts 1:12). When reading about this second Sunday event, one should realize that Luke is describing a meeting on Saturday night because "there were many lights in the upper chamber" (Acts 20:8). The disciples performed work after sundown Saturday (actually Sunday) by raising their anchors and rowing from the dock to open sea. There they hoisted their sails and sailed a distance of about 97 KM (60 miles) around a peninsula from Troas to Assos. During this time, Paul preached until morning, then he walked about 32 KM (20 miles) all day Sunday across that peninsula from Troas to Assos to meet the disciples: "And we went before to ship, and sailed to Assos, there intending to take in Paul for so had he appointed, minding himself to go by foot" (Verse 13, 14).These verses merely record a Sunday event of an extra meeting, similar to our Wednesday night prayer meetings, or farewell gatherings of today--they do NOT demonstrate sacredness.
Some liberals, and advocates of Sunday sacredness, point to Jesus and his disciples harvesting wheat on the Sabbath as evidence that the Sabbath was violated because it is no longer valid. You will notice in these verses (Matthew 12:1,2; Mark 2:23,24; Luke 6:1,2) that it is the Pharisees that accuse Him, who knew no sin, of transgressing the Sabbath commandment. These verses state that the disciples were hungry and EATING. This is not harvesting! Picking food from someone's field was not considered harvesting unless they either took a sickle to the grain or filled a basket--to do so would also be considered stealing. Moses instructs as follows: "When you come into your neighbor's vineyard, then you may EAT until full at your own pleasure; but you will not put any in your vessel. When you come into standing grain of your neighbor, then you may pick the grain with your hand; but you must not move a sickle into your neighbor's standing grain" (Deuteronomy 23:24,25). There is no record of Jesus or His disciples reaping or placing food in a vessel. By merely EATING, Jesus and his disciples were in complete harmony with God's instructions. To harvest the field as his accusers implied by their traditional interpretation would be considered working, and if Jesus was harvesting from another's field, He was also stealing. Therefore, Jesus was merely EATING from the standing grain on the Sabbath as allowed by the Law. This, you will agree, is much easier than carrying a sack of grain for several hours just to eat at lunch time. Jesus mentioned the Sabbath more than any other commandment. He was merely showing that it is lawful to eat on the Sabbath. Similarly, He emphasized that it was also lawful to save life and eliminate suffering--it was made for man's benefit (Mark 2:27; 3:1-5; Luke 6-10). Therefore, Jesus did not alter a "jot or tittle" of the His Father's Sabbath commandment (See Matthew 5:18).
We have only touched on a few instances of Sabbath observance. If one can not find an example of Sunday sacredness, or the abolishment of the Sabbath in the New Testament, then there is obviously a blemish to the theory that Sunday became the new Sabbath. The two festivals they say authenticated Sunday were actually typified in the Old Testament laws of Firstfruits, and seven weeks later, Pentecost.
Firstfruits met fulfillment at Christ's
resurrection from the grave: "Christ the [resurrected] firstfruits, afterward
those who are [raised as] Christ's at His coming" (1 Cor. 15:23). Then,
seven weeks later came Pentecost [meaning fifty]. This holy convocation
also occurred on Sunday and met fulfillment as follows: "Now when the Day
of Pentecost was fully come... suddenly there came a sound from heaven....
and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost..." (Acts 2: 4).
Because these Old Testament festivals occurred on Sundays at the time of Christ, instead of inaugurating Sunday as the new Sabbath, as proclaimed from pulpit, brochure, and legislature, their attachment to Sunday assures their abolishment. In other words, because these events occurred on a Sunday, their significance now identifies them with that day--they were typifying specific events that were abolished. In addition, the Firstfruits festival did not require abstinence from common work. This adds to the dilemma of those who attempt to use Bible precedents to mandate a Sunday rest day.
Let me state it this way: Without a clear
command to keep the first day of the week, one must realize that Sunday's
usage terminated its significance--Sunday's potential for usage on a "holy"
event was terminated at Calvary. The Apostle Paul emphasizes this very
point to a group of people who were subjecting themselves to "regulations--do
not touch, do not taste, do not handle...", but Paul says that 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 a holy day, or of the
new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come;
but the body is of Christ' (Colossians 2:14-23).
In our minds, Sunday has become indelibly married to the events that literally occurred on Firstfruits and Passover, but the Sunday resurrection of Christ and the Sunday glorification of His church were "shadowed" in type. Therefore, these festivals will never be observed again--the utilization and potential "holiness" of Sunday met fulfillment at Calvary, and Sunday is now a perpetual working day--all year. This means that even if the date of the abolished Firstfruits or Passover should fall on a Sunday, it met its substance in the first century, and will never, ever, throughout the endless eons of eternity, be kept sacred again. Sunday is not binding and should not be venerated from the pulpit or courthouse.
How important it is for us to respect the religious beliefs of others; yet now, as in the past, people are meeting persecution 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, church, or government, to ostracize others for their beliefs. The church of Rome received a letter from the Apostle Paul condemning this very practice, even upon their own membership: "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). In the future, everyone, including those who force religious dogma, 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 church or civil legislation, and tolerant of the
belief of others, while diligently striving to preserve these God-given
Copyright September 7, 1999 by Charles Clever. All rights reserved.