They had thought that Christ was introducing novelties, preaching new things, contrary to established church cus tom and practice. He showed them that He really stood for the old and established things of God's Word, and that their own religious customs, however old, were really the novelties, without divine authority. He said,
"In vain do they worship Me,-teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." And finally He added the words quoted above, " Every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up."
Let the principles be applied to the question of Sabbath observance. Sometimes in our day those who preach the word of God regarding the abiding holiness of the seventh- day Sabbath are accused of preaching new doctrines, con- trary to the traditions and customs of the church. But really, the observance of Sunday, the first day, is the innovation; the seventh-day Sabbath is of ancient foundation.
Is the Seventh-day Sabbath a Plant of Our Heavenly Father's Planting ?
Which of these two institutions has our heavenly Father planted? It is possible to ascertain to a surety; for every plant of His planting, every doctrine of His truth, will be found rooted in the Holy Scriptures. 2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
The Old Testament Record
From the Beginning. When the Creator made the earth and man upon it, He made the seventh day of the weekly cycle His holy Sabbath.
To sanctify is "to set apart," and so the day made holy and blessed by God was set apart for man. Then it was, as Jesus said, that "the Sabbath was made for man." Mark 2:27. Here the Sabbath institution was planted at the be- ginning of the world.
At the Exodus.
The people of Israel, in their bondage in Egypt, had fallen away from the knowledge of God and be come corrupted by the idolatrous worship of Egypt. Hence, as the Lord called them out to be His people, He tested their loyalty to His law by observing how they regarded His holy Sabbath:
When the time came that the Lord would speak His holy law from heaven, the eternal foundation of His moral government, the Sabbath precept was enshrined in the heart of it:
Through Israel's History.
Sabbath keeping was the great mark of loyalty to God. When Israel fell into idolatry, they "observed times" (see 2 Kings 21:6), doubtless such heathen festivals to the sun god and other deities as were common among the idolatrous nations. These observances of other days meant Sabbath breaking. "Neither shall ye ... observe times. . . . Ye shall keep My Sabbaths." Lev. 19: 26-30. The. Lord had promised concerning Jerusalem:
The divine pleading was slighted, and Jerusalem's fall and, the Babylonian captivity came as the result of the Israelites' disregard of God's holy day.
Thus throughout the inspired record of the Old Testament the seventh-day Sabbath appears as a plant of the heavenly Father's own planting.
The New Testament Record
The Example and Teaching of Jesus. It was Christ's "custom" to worship on the seventh day. Luke 4:16.
Jesus, who Himself made the Sabbath at creation (John 1:3), taught that it was "made'for man,"for the human race, and declared, " The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath." Mark 2:27 28. It is therefore, "the Lord's day." Rev. 1: 10.
He.did on the Sabbath only that which was "lawful," or according to the law of God's holy day. Matt. 12:12.
He kept His Father's commandments throughout His earthly life. John 15:10.
And giving instruction regarding events to take place many years after His ascension, He showed that He recog- nized the continued existence of the Sabbath in the command, "Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day." Matt. 24:20.
Among New Testament Disciples. The women, after the crucifixion, "rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment." Luke 23:56.
Inspiration says that the apostle Paul's custom was to preach the gospel publicly Sabbath after Sabbath. Acts 13:14; 16: 13; 17: 1, 2; 18: 4. When the Gentiles of Antioch heard the gospel preached by the apostle one Sabbath, they "besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath." Acts 13:42.
Throughout the New Testament, written years after Christ's ascension, the Holy Spirit, speaking of the seventh day, calls it "the Sabbath" upwards of fifty times. "Sabbath" means rest; therefore when the Holy Spirit, in the Christian age, calls the seventh day the rest day, it must infallibly be the day of rest for Christians, the Christian Sabbath.
In the Levitical or sacrificial ordinances of the sanctuary services there were annual sabbaths and feasts, associated with meats and drinks and ceremonial observances. But in appointing these the Lord specifically distinguished between them and the one and only weekly Sabbath, which was from the beginning. "These are the feasts of the Lord," He said, "beside the Sabbaths of the Lord." Lev. 23: 37, 38.
Feasts pointed forward to our Savior; but the Sabbath of the Lord was made blessed and holy by God at the creation, before sin had entered the world, before any sacrificial or shadowy service was instituted to point to a coming Redeemer. It is a fundamental and primary institution, a part of the moral order of God's government for man, the same as the obligations set forth in each of the other commandments.
And Inspiration declares the eternal perpetuity of the blessed Sabbath day in the future home of the saved, when the prophet describes the felicity cf the redeemed, as from month to month, and "from one Sabbath to another," all flesh shall come to worship before the Lord. Isa. 66: 23.
Thus we find the seventh-day Sabbath a plant of the heavenly Father's planting, rooted deep in all Holy Scripture and abiding eternally in the world to come.
Is the First-day Rest an Institution of God's Planting?
In the beginning, the first day was employed by God in the work of creation. Gen. 1:1-5.
Throughout all the Old Testament history it was one of
'the six working days." Eze. 46:1.
Thoughout the New Testament in continues to be one of the six working days.
It was the day of Christ's resurrection; and Inspiration says specifically that "the Sabbath was past" when that "first day of the week" came. Mark 16:1, 2. Inspiration called this first day merely by the ordinary secular name in common business use, with never a suggestion of attaching any sacredness to the day.
For some of the disciples it was a day of journeying, in which the risen Christ joined them. Luke 24: 13-29.
Later, in the evening [which would be the beginning of the 2nd day of the week] He appeared to the other disciples in Jerusalem, gathered not in meeting, they "were assembled for fear of the Jews, (John 20:19) and at supper in their common dwelling house. Mark 16:14.
The only religious meeting recorded as occurring on the first day of the week was that held at Troas. (See Acts 20: 6-13.) The context shows that it was an evening meeting, after the Sabbath, Saturday night, as we would call it, for the Bible reckoning is from evening to evening. It was the last time the believers were ever to see the apostle's face, and as they lingered after the close of the Sabbath, he held an all-night farewell meeting, breaking bread with the believers, and leaving at daybreak Sunday morning for the eighteen- or twenty-mile journey afoot, across country to Assos. And while he spent the first day traveling afoot, his companions were journeying by boat.
Conybeare and Howson (of the Church of England), in that standard work, "Life and Epistles of St. Paul," tell the plain fact of the inspired record, save that manifestly they should not. have applied the title "Jewish" to God's Sabbath; for it was not the Sabbath of the Jews, but "the Sabbath of the Lord thy God:"
"There is nothing to prove public assemblies, inasmuch as the phrase (by himself, at his own house') implies that the collection was to be made individually and in private."
And Neander's Church History says:
To meet the emergency of need in Judea, these believers were asked to look over their business affairs at the beginning of each week, until Paul should come, laying aside a gift as God had prospered them.
No Sunday Sacredness in the New Testament
This is the record not one suggestion in all the New Testament of Sunday sacredness, to say nothing of precept or commandment of the Lord. The late R. W. Dale, D. D., a leading Congregationalist of England, wrote:
That religious classic, Smith and Cheetham's "Dictionary of Christian Antiquities," says that the
Dr. E. E. Hiscox, author of "The Baptist Manual," says:
Such declarations by well-known scholars might be multiplied, but it is not necessary. The record is open any one may see it. There is not a word in the Holy Scripture of any first-day sacredness. The Sunday institution is not a plant of our heavenly Father's planting.
How the Change Came About
There has been no change of the Sabbath by divine authority. Men may choose to rest on any other day, but that can not make such a day God's rest day, His holy Sabbath. One cannot change one's birthday by celebrating"' another day as such. It is a fact of history that on a certain day of the month one was born. That fact cannot be changed by choosing to celebrate another day as the birthday. Just so it is a fact of divine history that God rested on a given day of the week, and on no other. That made the seventh day His rest day.
It is different from other days in character also, for He blessed it and made it holy. To deny the difference between common days and the holy day is to say that when the great Creator blesses and makes holy, it is a vain performance. That cannot be. It would take away all hope of holiness or salvation for men. The blessing is upon the day, as every soul finds who keeps it by faith.
When men choose to set apart another day than that blessed and sanctified of God, it is plainly a setting up of the humanly appointed time against the divinely appointed tune. It is exalting man's sabbath against God's Sabbath. It is man exalting himself "above all that is called God." 2 Thess. 2:4.
This was what made the Roman Papacy. The apostle Paul wrote that in his day the spirit of lawlessness was already working. He said it would lead to a "falling away" from the truth of God, and the full exaltation of the man of sin. 2 Thessalonians 2. The falling away came. As Dr. Killen (Presbyterian), of Ireland, says in the preface to his "Ancient Church:"
"In the interval between the days of the apostles and the conversion of Constantine, the Christian commonwealth changed its aspect. . . . Rites and ceremonies, of which neither Paul nor Peter ever heard, crept into use, and then claimed the rank of divine institutions."
In his "Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine," Cardinal Newman (Roman Catholic) tells how rites and ceremonies were borrowed from paganism:
Thus along with other adaptations came "the venerable day of the sun" (Sunday). It was by gradual process that it supplanted the Sabbath. Sir William Domville wrote:
This law of Constantine's was as follows:
Commenting on this law, Prof. Hutton Webster, of the University of Nobraska, says:
"What began, however, as a pagan ordinance, ended as a Christian regulation; and a long series of imperial decrees, during the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, enjoined with increasing stringency abstinence from labor on Sunday.""Rest Days," pp. 1SS, S70.
Dean Stanley (Church of England) writes:
Thus the Sunday institution comes in, marked by its pagan origin, and adapted to ecclesiastical purposes by the church of the "falling away" that grew into the Roman Papacy.
[True, there had been anti-Jewish sentimentsi n some Christian centers prior to Constantine, with some Christians meeting on Sunday and honouring it as the day of resurrection, else Constantine would have had no common link by which to unite Christians and Sun worshippers, the seeds of apostacy had already been planted prior to Constantine and now fully took root.]
To quote again from the Baptist author, Dr. Hiscox:
No wonder that with the coming of the latter days, and the proclamation of the message of preparation for Christ's second coming, there should come a call to Christians to follow Christ and Holy Scripture in keeping God's holy Sabbath.
Again the voice of Jesus is heard in protest against traditions that make void the commandment of God.