Cliff's Edge

Sabbath, Culture, and the Mark of the Beast

Clifford Goldstein
Sabbath, Culture, and the Mark of the Beast

It’s freaky (scary, actually) how Protestant-Catholic-Orthodox Christians (and all the incantations in between) remain so passionately wedded to their Sunday, even if the vast majority don’t keep it. Unless going to church for a few hours, followed by shopping, the NFL, and dining out—count. (You got to hand it to the Chick-fil-A guy; he puts his money where his faith is, closing his chain every Sunday.) Yet however lamely, if at all, Sunday-keepers keep Sunday, they will not easily yield it for the biblical sabbath.

Though details about how the pagan day of the sun usurped the seventh-day Sabbath mold and fester under centuries of tradition and history, enough of the truth protrudes for those who want it. As more and more Gentiles joined what was, at first, a mostly Jewish movement; as the Jews, meanwhile, became more hated by the Romans (revolts, etc.), the church in the first few centuries—sometimes mistaken for Jews (Christians worshipped a Jewish Messiah, read Scriptures written mostly by Jews, and kept the “Jewish” Sabbath)—began to distance itself from the Jews. And almost no practice distinguished the Jews more than did their keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. At the same time, seeking to be more like the culture around them (the whole problem with ancient Israel), the church began adapting pagan rites and rituals, including Sunday, the day of the sun, which over time conveniently replaced the seventh-day Sabbath, long associated with the hated Jews.

Sunday had become so wired into the Christian psyche that about 1000 AD, when the Orthodox split from Rome, and about 500 years later, and when the Reformers did—Sunday piggybacked right along with them. Even later groups such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who pride themselves on their independence from Rome, remain shackled to Rome’s Sunday nonetheless.

Not long after Jesus’ first coming, Satan patiently pried the church away from the Bible’s most basic symbol of the six-day creation (see Gen. 2:1–3: Ex. 20:8–11); today, not long before Christ’s second coming, Satan has all but pried the church away from the six-day creation itself (see Gen. 1–2), replacing it with evolution, about as opposite of the biblical creation account as possible. And he’s using, basically, the same process he used so successfully with the early church (and with ancient Israel): incorporating error from culture into the faith.

One big difference, however, was that while it took early Christianity—even with the added incentive of anti-Judaism—centuries to reject the biblical memorial to creation, it took contemporary Christianity almost no time to reject the biblical creation itself. It was Christian clergy, not scientists, who immediately scarfed up Darwin’s theory. Today, way too many Christians have capitulated to a creation model that assumes billions of years of violence, suffering, and death as our loving God’s method of creating beings who He—by dying on the cross—sought to save from violence, suffering, and death. (Makes great sense, doesn’t it?) This irrationality, along with the inconvenient truth that the Bible, God’s official account of creation, teaches nothing about suffering, violence, and death as part of the creation process (it teaches the opposite)—still weren’t enough to blunt the blitzkrieg of culture.

Between all but eradicating, first, the biblical symbol of the six-day creation and, then, the six-day creation itself, Satan is setting up the world for the final deception. Only a fool would face economic hardship (Revelation 13:17), or even death (Revelation 13: 15), over a day—already “replaced” by Sunday—that memorializes a six-day creation which, we’re assured, really took billions of years, anyway.

How much more relevant, then, could the Three Angels’ Messages be? We are called to “worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water” (Rev. 14:7) and to manifest that worship by keeping “the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12, KJV). And, according to the Bible, He made the earth, the sea, the springs, everything, in six days—an act memorialized every week in the fourth commandment, which has been buried under 1,500 years of tradition that Christianity still hasn’t shaken off and, tragically, for the most part, won’t.

How crucial that we cling to the six-day creation, and to the seventh-day Sabbath, the biblical sign of that creation, especially before a world, including a Christian world, that has mostly abandoned both.

Clifford Goldstein is editor of the Adult Bible Study Guide.

Clifford Goldstein