The Seventh Day Adventists, Seventh Day Baptists and a few smaller Sabbatarian denominations believe the Bible to teach that the Sabbath is the day we should meet in church to worship. The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week and is the day we call Saturday. Sunday is not the Sabbath and is not even a "Christian Sabbath." I suppose the Sabbatarians would point to the fact that Jesus attended the synagogue on the Sabbath day. Should we be meeting on Saturday instead of Sunday?

The Sabbath was instituted by God Himself at the creation. He worked six days on the creation and then rested on the seventh day. Did God actually get tired from working? Of course not. Then why did He make this a day of rest? Jesus answers that question in Mark 2:27, "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath." The Sabbath was not made for God, it was made for men. God did not need to rest but men do. So God made one day a week a day of rest and as an example rested the seventh day of creation. Notice that there is no worship service of any kind connected with the original Sabbath. (Ever wonder why we have a seven day week and not a six or a ten day week? It is because God made it that way in the beginning.)

It is off the subject, but do you know where we got the English names for the days of the week? All the names are pagan. In English, Sunday gets its name from Sunna, or Sunne, the Germanic sun goddess. Monday gets its name from Mani, the Germanic Moon god. The English name for Tuesday is derived from the Nordic god Tyr, the god of warfare. The name Wednesday comes from the Old English Wodnesdaeg meaning the day of the Germanic god Woden, who was the supreme god of Norse mythology. The name Thursday comes from Thor, the Norse god of thunder. Thor replaced the Roman god of thunder, Jupiter. The name Friday comes from the Old English frigedaeg, meaning the day of Frige, the Norse god of beauty. Frige replaced the Roman god of beauty, Venus. Saturday is the only day of the week to retain its Roman origin in English, named after the Roman god of time, Saturn.

For a little over 1,400 years there was no worship service of any kind connected with the Sabbath day. Then came the Law of Moses which made the keeping of the Sabbath compulsory to the Jews and imposed the death penalty for breaking it. But even with the Law of Moses and the introduction of the Tabernacle there was no worship service connected to the Sabbath. The Sabbath was still a day of rest.

The Law of Moses instituted the Tabernacle worship in which offerings and sacrifices were made. With it God set aside three feasts a year in which all the Jewish males were to come and assemble together: the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Days during these feasts were designated as Sabbath days in which they were to do no work. These were special Sabbath days and not the seventh day Sabbath. But even with the Tabernacle worship the weekly Sabbath remained a day of rest and not a day for worship services.

It seems that David introduced a choir and orchestra to the two regular daily sacrifices required by the Law. Then Solomon came along and built the magnificent Temple in Jerusalem. Still no required worship services on the weekly Sabbaths.

The Tabernacle and Temple worship was not even close to the church services we have today. Other than the feast days there were no regularly scheduled meetings, there were no pastors or deacons, no sermons, no congregational singing and no offerings received. Our church services are more like a synagogue service than the Temple worship.

Some seem to think that the Jewish synagogue (like Jesus attended regularly) was instituted by God. It was not. There wee no synagogues or Rabbis until the Jews wen into captivity around 600 years before Christ. While they were in this 70 year captivity they began to meet together for mutual encouragement, to sing, pray, read the Word of God and to hear someone speak. It is logical to assume that they began to meet on the Sabbath since they were working the other six days and since such a meeting did not violate the Sabbath laws. There was no commandment from God to meet in the synagogue and no commandment from God to meet on the Sabbath day. The Sabbath day was made for resting, not meeting.

It is interesting that a "Sabbath day's journey" is mentioned only once in the Bible. Acts 1:12, "Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey." A Sabbath day's journey, the distance a person could travel on the Sabbath, was not part of the Law of Moses. It was set by Jewish tradition at 2,000 paces or approximately three-quarters of a mile. This was only one of the many rules and regulations Jewish tradition built around the Sabbath day.

Iget a little amused when people say they are keeping the Ten Commandments. I do not personally know of anyone who rests all day Saturday, or even Sunday for that matter. The laws concerning the Sabbath were very strict. The whole household, and any visitors, were forbidden from any kind of work. They were not allowed to cook or even build a fire. One man was put to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath! You see, breaking the Sabbath was a capital offense, as were most of the Ten Commandments.

Sabbatarians will be hard pressed to find any Scripture that commands us to attend a worship service on the - weekly Sabbath.

When Jesus started His church the purposes were entirely different from either the Temple or the synagogue. The purpose of the church was to get the good news of the gospel proclaimed to every creature on earth. His followers are commanded to meet together (Hebrews 10:25). In my own opinion I don�t think God is as concerned with the day of the week we meet as He is with whether or not we are fulfilling the purpose He intended for the church � getting the message of salvation to the whole world.

All that said, it does appear that the early churches met on the first day of the week. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight" (Acts 20:7). And, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come"   (1 Corinthians 16:2).

Even though you and I are not under the Law that commands us to keep the Sabbath, there is a clear principle taught. The principle is that the human body needs rest. Not only does it need to rest every night, it needs to take a break from the rigors of work one day a week and rest. Jesus rested one day a week. He did not eat out, did not play ball in the afternoon or go shopping -- he rested. Why am I so sure of that? Because He kept the Law of Moses to the letter, and that is what the Law required.

In my opinion we would be healthier, happier people if we would observe the principle of the Sabbath and allow our bodies complete rest one day a week.


by Raymond McAlister
January 2006