March 27, 2023

Sabbath Excuses

So many excuses not to keep Sabbath

Cliff Goldstein

How (I admit) pathetic! It took Seventh-day Adventists to teach a guy named “Goldstein” to keep the Sabbath. Though knowing about the Sabbath, of course, even having lived for a year in Israel, which shut down on Shabbat, I never kept the day “holy,” nor had any idea how to or that I was supposed to. That is until I met Adventists, who also taught me not to eat unclean foods.

When early on I had asked other Christians about the seventh-day Sabbath, they either downplayed or denied it because, they said, as a believer in Jesus, I was “not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). I still remember one fellow, a charismatic named Danny, who said, “We don’t need to keep the Ten Commandments anymore.” As someone who a week before wasn’t sure that God existed, I couldn’t adequately respond, at least then, to such nonsense.

Not much later I met another Christian who flat out told me, “Jesus changed the Sabbath to Sunday,” an angle that at the time I couldn’t refute either but, quickly, could.

During the ensuing decades, I haven’t often heard arguments like these anymore (the Ten Commandments have been abolished, Jesus changed the Sabbath, etc.), as if Sunday apologists have moved beyond them. Instead, their new approaches have become more sophisticated, such as the seventh-day Sabbath has been superseded by Sunday, “the new covenant soteriological-eschatology sign of grace,” and the like. Or that our Sabbath rest is found in Jesus, to which I now reply: “Fine. Yet anyone can say that they are resting in Jesus, but the seventh-day Sabbath is a tangible expression of that rest.”

Not long ago, however, I read something in Christianity Today. It was in the context of an Amazon truck driver fired for refusing to work on Sunday. Talking about the rise of Sundaykeeping in antiquity, the article said: “After the Resurrection, Christians began adopting the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day, but it took hundreds of years to develop the kinds of formal church services we come to associate with weekly worship, historian Craig Harline wrote in his book Sunday. And it wasn’t until the fourth century that Christians began calling it Sunday rather than the Lord’s Day. Before that, too many worried about the pagan connotations around the sun.”*

What a frank admission. And none of the usual Sunday apologetic fare, either. How fascinating (if true) their worry about “the pagan connotations around the sun.” (They didn’t worry enough, obviously.) Also, notice that—in his line about the Christians, after the resurrection, adopting Sunday as the “Lord’s day ”— there’s nothing biblical to back up that claim because, of course, there’s nothing biblical to back up that claim.

Unfortunately, the mammoth weight of tradition, 1,800 years’ worth, has so embedded Sunday into the psyche of Christianity that not even Scripture itself is going to dislodge it. And so, whenever the mark of the beast does arise (see Rev. 13), these Sunday excuses, unless abandoned, will for way too many souls carry tragic, long-term, even eternal, consequences (see Rev. 12:9-11).

* amazon-sunday-delivery-christian-sabbatariandriver-lawsuit.html?utm_medium=widgetemail