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Counterfeit Sabbath - Part 3

Scripture: Daniel 7:25, John 14:15
There are Sunday blue laws still on the books in many states in the U.S. Does this make this day holy? Theologians from many denominations have recognized that there is not Scriptural support for Sunday sacredness. The Bible speaks of an apostate power seeking to change times and laws in the book of Daniel.
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An archaic remnant of early American history still exists on the law books of most of the United States. I am speaking of the so-called Blue Laws that restrict various activities of Sunday. The laws are religious and discriminatory but tradition still keeps them on the books. For example, in one state it is illegal to shave on Sunday, and in another it is illegal for a man to kiss his wife in public on Sunday. One state allows you to open your barber shop on Sunday, but not your beauty shop. In others you can buy alcohol but not milk, comic books but not clothes, hammers but not nails, and on and on.

There are the Sunday laws based on a belief in the sacredness of Sunday. But as we are seeing in recent broadcasts, there is no scriptural basis for observing Sunday as a day of worship.

Here is in interesting statement by Dr. Edward Hiscox, author of the Baptist manual, from a paper before a Baptist minister's conference in New York a number of years ago; "There was and is a commandment to keep holy the sabbath day, but that sabbath day was not Sunday. It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week, with all of its duties, privileges, and sanctions. Earnestly desiring information on this subject which I have studied for many years, I ask, where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament, absolutely not. There is no Scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the seventh to the first day of the week." Notice his concluding thought. "What a pity that Sunday comes branded with the mark of paganism, christened with the name of the sun god, then adopted and sanctioned by the papal apostasy and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism." Now, friends, that is a pretty strong statement. Here is another one of interest by Dean Stanley, a historian in his book, Lectures on the Eastern Church. "The retention of the old pagan name, dies solas, day of the sun, (Sunday) for the weekly Christian festival is in great measure owing to the union of pagan and Christian sentiment, with which the first day of the week was recommended... to pagan and Christian alike as the ‘venerable day of the sun.'"

Could it be then that we will have to change the support for Sunday? We found nothing for it in Scripture. Could it be that we have to revise the pillars, the foundation upon which Sunday is based? Friends, on the basis of our study in this series, I think we can come to no other conclusion. I think we are led to agree that the first day of the week is based, not on Scripture, not upon a command of our Lord's, not upon a "thus saith the Lord," but upon tradition.

Now, I want to say this as kindly as I know how. We must take one more look for a moment in the Old Testament for I want to show you that God is never caught unaware. God foresaw this change centuries before it came about. The book of Daniel was written about seven hundred years before Christ. Daniel is describing a vision which he had and he is describing an apostate power that was to arise. Notice his description. Daniel 7:25. "And he (that is this great apostate power) shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High (persecution, you see) and think to change times and laws." God says through the prophet Daniel here that a religious power would arise and actually seek to change God's Law. We can see that is just exactly what happened. A religious power arose in the form of the apostate church and sought to put in place of the day that God had given, a man-made institution. Is it any wonder that Jesus had so much to say during His ministry about "in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men?"

In 321 A.D., the pagan Roman emperor, Constantine, passed a civil statute setting aside Sunday as a civil day of rest. That was the first civil Sunday law.

How long was it before Sunday became common Christian practice? I want to read a sentence from Socrates, a historian in the fifth century (not to be confused with Socrates, the Greek philosopher) Writing in 440 A.D., he says,Although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries (or the Lord's Supper) on the Sabbath every week, yet the Christians at Alexander and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this." Did you catch the significance of that statement? For nearly five centuries almost all of the Christians of the world were still keeping the Sabbath, except at Rome and Alexandria where this compromise began to come in.

Now, someone says, "That is all very clear, but there is one thing that bothers me very much. How about all of the Christians who have lived and died keeping earnestly and honesty another day? What is God going to do with them?" May I share with you an illustration that I think will help clarify that question? Let's say that a lady goes down to the dry goods store in your city to buy some yardage. The clerk measures it off there on the counter and she takes it home and stretches it out on the floor and lays the pattern out on it. But, it won't quite fit, and she thinks. Why, that is strange. I wonder why that is." Then she turns the pattern all around, but it just won't go on that material. So, she wraps it all up and puts it back in the sack and takes it back to the store. Laying it down on the counter, she says, "You short changed me." The man is embarrassed and says, "I am terribly sorry; let's see." Then he stretches it out on the yardstick there and it measures just right. Now, she is embarrassed, and so she takes it back home rather crestfallen and stretches it out on the livingroom floor again and gets the pattern down and very carefully places it just as the instructions say. But, lo and behold, it comes out short. She just can't figure it out. So, she gets out a yardstick and she measures it. Sure enough, according to her yardstick, it is short. She wraps the material back up again and this time with the material under one arm and the yardstick under the other, she marches back down to the store, saying, "This is short! I measured it by my own yardstick." So, he lays her yardstick out on the counter with his and finds that they are a different length. Now, who is right? Well, the only thing they can do is to have a man from the Bureau of Standards come and, with an official yardstick, measure to see which one is right. Sure enough, the one that was built into the counter years ago is short.

Now, the man who owns the store feels very badly, but the history of the store is like this. Many years before, a man built the store and in building the counter had a yardstick built in that was intentionally short. He figured that over the course of years he could measure off the material and save a little. That way he would be adding a little to his profit. Some years later, he retired and willed the store to his son. The son knew nothing about the short yardstick. So, all during the time he owned the store he had sold material by this short yardstick. Then the son sold the store to its present owner, who also knew nothing about the shortage, and through the years he has sold material there, too.

Let me ask you a question. Was the man guilty who built the store and built this short yardstick into it in the beginning? Absolutely! Was the son who inherited it and sold, as far as he knew, a good yard's worth of material every time, was he guilty? Absolutely not! He was living up to the best of what he knew; he was being an honest man. Was the present owner being dishonest up until this time. No, of course not. He thought he was giving full measure. Ah, but listen. Now, when the light comes to the owner and he sees that that yardstick is short, now he has a new responsibility, doesn't he. He must make a correction in his dealings. Do you see the point?

Back there in those days when the Sabbath was changed, when that short measure was put into the yardstick, that power which made that change is guilty and stands before God condemned. But, all of the honest people who through the centuries have kept the man-made day, living up to the best of their ability, following God to the best of their knowledge, God takes that into account for He only holds us responsible for what we know, for what we understand of His will. All through these years, I am sure there are many here who have been keeping Sunday, honestly and earnestly desiring to do the Lord's will, and God doesn't count that against us. However, when the light comes, then there comes with it a responsibility, doesn't there?

We have one more text to read. I want us to look at it because these are words from the lips of our Lord, and they are so important in our study that we cannot ignore them. The verse is scarcely one line long. John 14:15, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." We keep the Sabbath because we love Jesus Christ, and that is the only reason.

An evangelist was studying with a lady, and when he came to this subject, she invited the pastor of her church for the study. They had a wonderful time fellowshipping together. Then, after they were through with the study, she turned to the pastor of her church and said, "Pastor, how about it? What do you think about this Sabbath business." He said to her, "Well, what he says here is true and it is all right, but really, I don't think it makes much difference. I don't think there is anything for us to be concerned about." Oh, friend, listen, some day that minister and the evangelist are going to stand before the judgment bar of God, and either it makes a difference or it doesn't. Either Sunday is the day which Christians ought to keep, or the Sabbath is the day which Christians ought to keep, because we have discovered the Lord has a day. As we stand before the judgment and God says "You kept the wrong day, you disobeyed me." Do you know what I am going to say? I am going to turn to Matthew and I am going to say, "Matthew, I very earnestly and very carefully studied your book, seeking to know the Lord's will for my life. You lived with Jesus, you knew about the change, why didn't you leave it for me to read?" Then I am going to turn to Mark and I am going to say, "Mark, why didn't you record that in your gospel? It is the shortest one. Your's is just summary, but surely this was one of the most important things Jesus ever did. Why didn't you leave us a record of it." Then I am going to turn to Luke and say "Luke, you were a physician, you were a careful historian. Why is it that you didn't say something about the change?" Then, I am going to turn to John, the disciple Jesus loved, and say, "John, why didn't you tell us? You told us what it meant to love Jesus; you told us how we should follow Him because we love Him. Why didn't you say something about a new day of worship in the place of the Sabbath?" Then I am going to turn to Paul and say, "Paul, you wrote half the New Testament. You were the apostle to the Gentiles, and yet you said not one word about a new day of worship taking the place of the old. Why not?" Then, very reverently, I am going to turn to Jesus and say, "Lord, my only desire in life was to do Your will. My only goal was to be what You wanted me to be. My only desire was to please You in everything I did. I earnestly searched for some word to the contrary to what I was doing, but I found nothing. Why didn't you leave that record?"

On the judgment day, friend, if God says, "Joe, you kept the wrong day," that is what I am going to do. But if in the judgment day, a Sunday keeper comes up and God says, "Why did you keep the wrong day?" to whom can he turn?

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