Sunday, 21 June 2009

Doctrine : About The Sabbath and Christmas (part 3)

SABBATH DAY


“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God ….Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy”.
(Exodus 20:8-11)

When the ancient Romans first embraced Christianity, they dedicated their most important day of the week, Sunday, to Christ. There was no evil intention then. But by doing so, they had done the Christian Church a great wrong; for it went against one of God’s own commandments. The ancient Romans had worshipped a Sun-god. To them the sun is the most powerful element, followed by the moon and then the stars. The Hebrews (Israelites) have always regarded the last day of the week, Saturday, as the Sabbath day. It is the day of rest, the day that God had rested, the day that God had asked His people to remember and to keep it Holy.

In 321 CE, the Roman Emperor Constantine had not wanted to change their pagan Sun-worshipping custom. He had designated Sunday to be the Holy day for the early Christians to worship God. By doing so, he had caused the early Christian Church to break the fourth Commandment. They also went one step further by designating the Sun’s birthday to be Jesus Christ’s birthday. As we are aware that the shortest day of the year is on 22nd December. The day starts to lengthen on the 23rd, and again on the 24th. When the day continues to lengthen on 25th December, the ancient Sun-worshiping people were all very happy. They then designated 25th December to be the Sun’s birthday (or Sun-god’s birthday) and held a huge celebration. The Romans also wanted to keep this annual celebration. So it was conveniently given to Christ as His birthday and renamed it, Christmas day. These were all the wrong doings of the Roman Church.

The Protestants realized the wrong doings of the Roman Church and tried to undo some of the Roman customs that had been incorporated into the Christian church. They abolished the worship of idols that were said to be in the likeness of Mary, Jesus and the countless numbers of saints. (Clearly, the second Commandment forbids the making of idols in whatever images and worshiping them). However, Sunday remained as the day to worship God. Only this time, with a different reason because Sunday was regarded as the Lord’s day. They had assumed that Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday.

In Revelation 1:10-11, John did mention the Lord’s Day. But he did not say that it was a Sunday. Moreover, Jesus had said that He was the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28), which meant that the Sabbath day was also the Lord’s Day. Jesus Himself observed the Sabbath and so did His disciples. We should do the same.

Those who believe that Jesus was nailed to the cross on Friday and then resurrected on Sunday are wrong. Let us set the facts right. All the four gospels recorded that early on the first day of the week (the day after Sabbath), very early in the morning before the sun had risen, Jesus had already been resurrected. (Matt 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1, John 20:1) This narrowed down the time of Jesus’ resurrection to between Friday night (the beginning of Sabbath) to Sunday morning before sunrise. In Matthew 27:46, it was recorded that Jesus died in the ninth hour, (i.e. 3pm). If it were Friday afternoon, then the first day would be from Friday 3pm to Saturday 3pm. The second day would be from Saturday 3pm to Sunday 3pm. Note that Sunday morning was part of the second day still. Also, recall that Jesus had always said that he would be resurrected on the third day. Therefore, that would be after the second day. Not during and not before. So the first assumption that Jesus was nailed to the cross on Friday could not be right.

Now, the Jewish day begins on sunset and ends on the sunset of the following day. Sabbath day therefore begins on Friday evening and ends on Saturday evening. Preparation day is the day before Sabbath. It begins on Thursday evening and ends on Friday evening. In Matthew 27:62 was recorded, “The next day, the one after Preparation day, the chief priest and the Pharisees went to see Pilate …” It stated very clearly, “the next day, the one after Preparation day”, NOT Sabbath day. This is because Preparation day starts on Thursday night, and the day after Preparation Day is Friday. If it had been Sabbath day, the chief priest and Pharisees would all be in the temple and would not be able to go to see Pilate.

Jesus was therefore nailed to the cross on Thursday. He died around 3pm on that Thursday afternoon and was placed in the tomb on the same Thursday night. The first day after His death was therefore from Thursday 3pm to Friday 3pm. The second day was from Friday 3pm to Saturday 3pm. The third day was from Saturday 3pm to Sunday 3pm. Now, knowing that Jesus was already resurrected before the sunrise on Sunday, then the most likely resurrection time would be on Saturday, just after 3pm. Actually, it is not important to know on which day Jesus was resurrected. Even the Angel did not want to reveal the exact time. Jesus had only asked His disciples to remember His death through participating in the Holy Communion and not the day that He was resurrected!

Jesus observed the Sabbath and so did his disciples and followers. (Luke 4:16, Mark: 6:2, Luke 23:25, Acts 13:14, Acts 16:13, Acts 17:2, Acts 18:4.). Jesus had said very clearly, “The Sabbath was made for man (i.e. all mankind and not only the Jews), not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27). Jesus observed the Sabbath but he criticized the Pharisees’ overly strict rules and regulations concerning the day of rest. Sabbath day is a gift from God, to be enjoyed by believers who will praise and thank God and who will receive His blessings. It is not a day to be burdened by man-made rules and regulations.

The Church Council of Laodicea circa 364 CE ordered that religious observances were to be conducted on Sunday, not Saturday. Sunday became their ‘new’ Sabbath. They ruled: “Christians shall not Judize and be idle on Saturday, but shall work on that day.” There are many indicators in the historic records that many Christians ignored the Church’s ruling. Sabbath observance was noted in Wales in 1115 CE. Francis Xavier was concerned about Sabbath worship in Goa, India in 1560 CE. A Catholic Provincial Council suppressed Sabbath worship in Norway in 1435 CE. All these proved that making Sunday as the ‘new’ Sabbath is a creation by man and not by God.

The ancient Israelites had defined sundown as the end of a day. Therefore, the Sabbath day ran from local sundown Friday night until sundown Saturday night. For that reason, the Jews have carefully kept the Saturday Sabbath for many millennia.

All the references found in the history of the Jewish people, the life of Christ, the practices of the disciples and other followers of Christ had pointed to the observance of Saturday Sabbath. One would naturally assume that Christian churches would continue with the Saturday Sabbath. In fact, Saturday was so closely linked to the Sabbath that in over 100 languages, the name of Saturday is some variation form of the word “Sabbath”.

From historic records, the change of Sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday was a decision made by man, had been proven. It was for people’s convenience then and not, as they tried to justify, a new covenant.

There are eight references in the New Testaments to the “first day of the week”, as it was referred to in those days, which we now know to be Sunday:

Five of them refer to events during Christ’s resurrection.
(John 20:19) describes events during, what we would call, a Sunday evening. The disciples were gathered together. Some people had speculated that this might had been the first Sunday service. But from the text, it was clear that they were together for their own protection out of fear of attack by the Jews. It was not that there was regular Sunday Sabbath service.
(Acts 20:7) Paul was recorded to preach on a Sunday evening. It was an evening because the passages were being lit. Some Christians promoted this text to be demonstrating that Paul held a religious service on a Sunday. However, judging from the text, he seemed to have given the teaching on a Sunday evening (when we would call it a Saturday evening) because the first day of the week started on Saturday sundown, in the 1st century CE Palestine. In any case, Paul was going to leave the next morning, was it not normal to have another evening gathering together even if it was a Sunday?
(1 Corinthians 16:2) Paul instructed the Christians at Corinth that each of them should put aside some money every Sunday that would later be collected for the Christians in Jerusalem. Some interpreters believed that this might refer to a collection of money during Sunday religious services. Again from the text, it was obvious that each believer had set aside money separately and privately as in saving money independently with a weekly dateline. It was not that there was any usual Sunday Sabbath service.

Keeping the Sabbath is one of God’s Ten Commandments, handed down by God personally to Moses. The Sabbath let us rest. We should spend time with God, either on our own or in a gathering with our fellow Christian brothers and sisters. We sing praises to Him and meditate on His teachings.

Sabbath day is God’s gift to us and it is the day that God had blessed. It is also a day when God will bless those who believe in Him. Keeping the Sabbath will bring us closer to God. By not keeping the Sabbath will show disobedience and will liken to breaking God’s commandments. Hence, alienating us from God. Remember, the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. God has given us this great gift. Who are we to reject it?


CHRISTMAS DAY

Christmas is celebrated throughout the world and there is no one, whether Christian or otherwise, who is ignorant of the event.

It is a good thing as it means that Jesus is known in every corner of the earth. It is a bad thing for man had used his own wisdom to create this man-made event to rejoice and commemorate the birth of Jesus. They do not realize that in doing so, they have made our Lord Jesus into a mortal.

Mortal man has a birthday and a day of death. Our God “is alpha and omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Rev 22 v 13). God was there before the creation of the world and He will be there till the end of time. He has neither a birthday nor a day of death.

The first things that come to mind when the word Christmas is mentioned are festive fare and presents galore. It is a time for departmental stores, shopping centres, hotels and entertainment centres to do brisk and high volume business. For them it is also the biggest profit making time of the year. The festive crowd comprises both Christians and non-Christians alike. Previously there were still some indications of the significance of the event but this is becoming less and less obvious. The more prominent characters and figures featured are Santa Claus and Rudolf, the red-nose reindeer; the fairies and the elves. It is a time of merry-making.

It is a well known fact that 25th December is not the day Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Then why was this day chosen? This has to do with a tradition that the Greeks had. They used to celebrate their Sun God’s (Baal) birthday three days after the Solstice which is the shortest day of the year. That day was supposed to symbolize their Sun God’s death. Three days later, however, the daylight hours begin to lengthen again. And that would symbolize the rebirth of their god. That tradition was so deeply rooted in their culture that after their conversion to Christianity, that day continued to be popular and a convenient date to be used, when there was the need to find a date to commemorate the birth of Jesus. Therefore, be aware that you are actually celebrating the birthday of Baal (a god of the gentiles) when you celebrate Christmas.

Jesus came into the world as God manifested in the flesh. His birth is significant as it was God living amongst man, to be and feel like a man. The actual day that he came into the world is not important. It was not put on record to avoid Jesus being treated like a man. And celebrating Christmas is precisely doing that!

Let us not add to nor remove from the scriptures because we are warned in the Book of Revelation that “If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Rev 22 v 18 – 19).

RESURRECTION DAY
JESUS - THE RISEN CHRIST



A Time of Love,
A Time of Hate,
How do we measure Time?

A Time of War,
A Time of Peace,
How do we know the Time?

The Time Jesus died,
The Time Jesus arose,
Who wants to know the Time ?


I – SEVEN DAYS

Today most of us observe the seven-day week. It is recorded in history, around 2350BC, that the Sumerian civilizations in Mesopotamia founded the seven-day week based on the septimal law by observing the stars in the heavens (sky). From these seven heavenly bodies or stars, the Sumerians named the days of the week.

This seven-day week system was adopted by the Babylonians and followed through the ages by the Greeks, the Romans, the Hindus, and also those in China. The Jews (ever since Abraham began his journey from Ur, Mesopotamia) also have observed the seven-day week on account of the Creation.

The Romans who adopted the system after the Babylonians, still name the days according to the stars or planets. Thus, the seven-day week has the similar names of old till this modern day.


BabylonianRomans
Sunday Shamash – SunSun God / Emperor
MondaySin - MoonLunar
TuesdayNegal - God of WarMars
WednesdayNabu - God of ScribesMercurius
ThursdayMarduk - Supreme GodJupiter
FridayIshtar - Goddess of LoveVenus
SaturdayNinurta - God of farmingSaturnus

Saturday or Saturnus was the Sabbath day for the Jews and early Christians although it was inauspicious for the Romans. The Italians still name it Sabato and the Spanish Sobota. In 321AD, Emperor Constantine had decreed that the cities of his empire rest on Sunday – the Sun’s day. Since three centuries earlier when Octavian(Caesar Augustus) the first Roman Emperor permitted the practice of a seven-day week with its Sumerian planet style gods, the Sunday (dies solis) was mildly auspicious. The Christians at that time made this Sunday a special congregation day, for prayer linked to the Resurrection. Then called it the Lord’s day. Emperor Constantine chose this Sunday to gratify both the Christians and the Sun worshippers. As an edict of the emperor, Sunday was then proclaimed a rest day for the Unconquered Sun.


II – JEWISH DAY & CALENDAR

During the Roman period, the day began at moonrise or sundown (1800h). A whole day became an evening and a morning. The evening was divided into four 3-hour watches.

The Jewish Day
There were 8 equal parts from sunset to sunset. Each watch being 3 hours, there were 12 hours in darkness and 12 hours in daylight (altogether 24 hours in a day-cycle).

First WatchSunset to 9 p.m.
Second Watch 9 p.m. to Midnight
Third WatchMidnight to 3 a.m.
Fourth Watch3 a.m. to Sunrise
First HourSunrise to 9 a.m.
Third Hour 9 a.m. to Noon
Sixth HourNoon to 3 p.m.
Ninth Hour3 p.m. to Sunset










The Jews base their calendar acccording to the movement of the moon and thus the beginning of the lunar month starts with a new moon. The first lunar month of the year is known as NISAN (Mar-Apr) in Spring. However, the Jews begin their new year in TISHRI (Sep-Oct) which is the first lunar month of their Civil Calendar. In this numbering, NISAN becomes the seventh month.


The Jewish Calendar
There are two kinds of calendars:
Sacred Calendar - from which festivals were computed.
Civil Calendar - official calendar of kings, childbirth, and contracts.

Names of

months

Corresponds

with

Month of

Civil Year

Month of

Sacred Year

TISHRISep – Oct 1st7th
HESHVANOct – Nov2nd8th
CHISLEVNov – Dec3rd9th
TEBETHDec – Jan4th10th
SHEBATJan – Feb5th11th
ADARFeb – Mar6th12th
NISANMar – Apr7th1st
IYARApr – May8th2nd
SIVANMay – Jun9th3rd
TAMMUZJun – Jul10th 4th
ABJul – Aug11th5th
ELULAug - Sep12th6th











The feast of the Passover (a seven-day festival) begins on the 14th evening of Nisan and ends on the 21st. Note that the 15th of Nisan will be the 1st day of Passover and it was customary for Israelites to select the Paschal lamb, four days before the beginning of Passover (14th evening). That will bring us to the 10th of Nisan. And whenever this 10th day falls on a weekly Sabbath day, this Saturday (being also day for the selection of Paschal lamb) is called a ‘Great Sabbath’.
During that year, Jesus had returned to Jerusalem to observe the Passover (a once in a year festive). The Jews regarded the 1st day of Passover or the Feast of the Unleavened Bread as a ‘high’ Sabbath day. A high Sabbath in Hebrew is called a Shabbaton. During the week of the Passover, there is an extra Sabbath besides the weekly Sabbath.


III – EVENTS OF NISAN IN THAT YEAR :
(PASSOVER, JESUS’ CRUCIFIXION AND RESURRECTION)

NISSAN

DATEDAYTIME
EVENT
09
FRI

Jesus came to Bethany to observe the Passove
10
SAT

Selection of the Paschal lamb

Weekly Sabbath (also Great Sabbath)

11
SUN

Jesus' entry to Jerusalem
12
MON

Jesus' visit to the temple
13
TUE

Jesus gave warning about His death

The disciples were sent to locate a place for the Passover

14
WED

evening

Jesus had last supper with disciples-Passover feast

Jesus at Garden of Gethsemane

Jesus betrayed and arrested

Jesus trial before the high priests

15
THU

morning

third hour

sixth hour*

ninth hour

evening


Trial before Pilate

Jesus prepared for Crucifixion

Darkness fell over the whole land - the first day

Jesus breathed His last

Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus' body

Joseph buried Jesus in a new tomb

Feast of Unleavened Bread - "high"

Sabbath - a day of rest

16
FRI

sixth hour*

evening

- the second day

Weekly Sabbath began

17
SAT

sixth hour*

evening

- on the third day

Jesus had risen

End of Sabbath

18
SUN
morning
Mary Magdelene came to the empty tomb

NISAN – 1st month of the Jewish SACRED CALENDAR
7th month of the Jewish CIVIL CALENDAR


09 the ninth day
John 12:
1 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.


10 the tenth day
Exodus 12:
3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, …’
4 ‘Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; …’
Leviticus 23:
26 And the Lord spoke to Moses saying,
27 ‘On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement: ...’
32 ‘It is to be a Sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your Sabbath.’


11 the eleventh day
Mark 11:
1 And as they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples,
2 and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here.
3 “And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it; and immediately he will send it back here.”


12 the twelfth day
Luke21:
5 And while some were talking about the temple, and it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said,
6 “As for those things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down”.


13 the thirteenth day
Matthew 26:
1 And it came about that when Jesus had finished all these words. He said to His disciples,
2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming and the Son of Man is to be delivered up for crucifixion.
Luke 22:
1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover was approaching.
8 And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it."


14 the fourteenth day
Leviticus 23:
6 In the first month, on the fourteenth days of the month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover.
Mark 14:
22 And while they were eating, He took some bread and after a blessing He broke it; and gave it to them, and said “Take it; this is My body.”
Matthew 26:
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
Luke 22:
48 But Jesus said to him, “Judas are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
52 And Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him “Have you come out with swords and clubs as against a robber?”
53 “While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.”
54 And having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest.
61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a cock crows today, you will deny Me three times.”


15 the fifteenth day – the first day - Crucifixion
Matthew 27:
1 Now when morning had come all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death;
2 And they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him up to Pilate the governor.
John 19:
16 So he then delivered Him to them to be crucified.
Mark 15:
24 and they crucifed Him and divided up His garments, among themselves casing lots for them, to decide what each should take.
25 And it was the third hour when they crucified Him.
Luke 23:
44 And it was now about the sixth hour and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour,
And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said “Father, INTO THY HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” And having said this He breathed His last.
Mark 15:
42 And when evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is the day before the Sabbath,
43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.
John 19:
40 And so they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen wrappings with spice, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
41 Now in the place where He was crucifed there was a garden; and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been laid.
Leviticus 23:
6 Then on the fifteenth day of same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.


16 the sixteenth day – the second day
Leviticus 23:
3 For six days work may be done; but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the Lord in all your dwellings.


17 the seventeenth day - the third day - Resurrection
Matthew 12:
39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;
40 for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Luke 24:
46 and He said to them “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day.


18 the eighteenth day
Matthew 28:
1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdelene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
Mark 16:
1 And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdelene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come anoint Him.
2 And very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.
5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.
6 And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He had risen; He is not here; behold here is the place where they laid Him.


IV - EPILOGUE
Jesus was crucified on a Thursday afternoon, sixth hour*, (15th day of Nisan) and was buried on that very evening (beginning of preparation day). He rose on the third day (17th day of Nisan) – Saturday.

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