SABBATH IN HISTORY
From the book "A Gift of Time SABBATH" by Bonnie Saul Wilks
Three Outstanding Purposes
The remembrance and observance of the Sabbath serves many purposes. Both the Jewish Bible and Sabbath prayer books outline and underscore three outstanding expectations.
1. A ceremonial celebration1 remembering the Israelites' redemption from Egyptian slavery.
2. A ceremonial celebration honoring Gods creation of the universe in seven days, and his resting or ceasing from work on the seventh.
3. A glimpse and foretaste of the "Age to Come"—what it will be like in Messianic times.
These three purposes serve as the foundation of Sabbath practice, although the second reason rises above the others in people's minds and actions. The need for rest is paramount to humankind and, meets an immediate need. With the routine practice of keeping the Sabbath, the other two begin to emerge and take shape—becoming more clear, beautiful, and distinct with reinforcement and the continued practice of Shabbat discipline and ritual.
Legend tells us that rabbis wondered what God meant when he said in scripture that on the seventh day he finished the work he had been doing (Genesis 2:2). They reasoned the world had already been created in six days, but what was missing? The only thing it lacked was rest, peace, tranquility, and quiet. Sabbath, the day of respite, was added to make the week complete, to make it perfect, they concluded.
Sabbath foundation and meaning is deeper than it appears. Its ritual and observance go beyond God's need for rest, tranquility, peace, and quiet after the work of creation in six days. I believe the Lord of all creation sat back to enjoy what he spoke into existence, just as any builder would.
As a stain-glass artist, I revel in my accomplished pieces, often taking time to view them after hours of labor. I like to soak in their beauty and artistic quality, and I also like to find the flaws or see how to improve the next piece. Sometimes, I call my husband and daughter in to view what I have created.
I think that is one of the most valid reasons God stopped to rest. He paused to absorb it all. His vast creation became so magnanimous, magnificent, and exquisite—beyond our scope of understanding— truly worthy of a day of honor. The Designer's invitation that we stop with him to enjoy life by resting and recreating ourselves is small compared to the gift of life and beauty around us.
King Solomon in all his wisdom wrote: "...it is the glory of God to conceal a matter but the glory of man to uncover it" (Proverbs 25:2). All the benefits of the Sabbath are hidden beneath the surface and must be stripped away by humankind's feeble attempts to obey by "resting" on the seventh day. The Lord knows we may try and fail and try and fail... in the action to please, we become kind to our bodies, souls, and spirits. Physical and spiritual riches are uncovered and free for the taking…..
As Old as Creation
It is amazing to imagine that Sabbath respite sprang out of creation. Most think of the Ten Commandments as being the original law denoting the importance of keeping the Sabbath holy. But God declared a day of rest at the end of six days of creating in Genesis 2:1—3). He blessed the day and sanctified it or set it apart from all other days. It is beyond our finite imagination that the omniscient and omnipresent Creator took a day of rest. This is the ultimate example in Scripture of why it is vital to rest, cease from activity and reflect.
If God, who is the Supreme Being in the known universe, saw value in a period of rest, recreation, and reflection at the end of a six-day work period, then how much more should we frail humans need to follow his example? This also implies that this pause is good for all mankind, not just the Jewish people. Adam and Eve were not Jewish. They were born years before Abraham, the father of Judaism. The Genesis account of creation is persuasive: God intended Sabbath keeping to be a gift for all of his glorious creation.
He commanded a time of holiness that was set apart from all other days to the first people on earth. They were to be examples of how men and women should live on earth to all generations who would follow after them. That makes the Sabbath decree as old as creation, beneficial for all humankind, and worthy of serious consideration.
Later, God's instruction through Moses as the Israelites left Egypt included the gathering of extra manna on the sixth day. They were not to collect on the seventh day in order to be prepared exclusively for rest. This directive and lifestyle practice also predates the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. It is another demonstration that delineates God's heart for his people.
This example shows why we should consider just how serious God was and is in revealing to us our need for weekly break. The Jewish [Israel - all 12 tribes - the Jews are but 3 tribes Judah, Benjamin and Levi - Keith Hunt] people, who came out from Egypt with Moses, experienced many Shabbats together. It probably didn't take them long to learn the importance and reward of rest. If they went to gather manna on the Sabbath, they found nothing. They discovered their labor was in vain, and they went hungry!…..
Sabbath Keeping through the Centuries
Both Jews and Christians have taken Sabbath practice serious through the centuries. Here are a few quotes.
"For almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries [Lord's supper] on the Sabbath of every week." Socrates Scholasticus, Eccl. History.
"Then the spiritual seed of Abraham [Christians] fled to Pella, on the other side of Jordan, where they found a safe place of refuge, and could serve their Master and keep His Sabbath." Eusebiuss Ecclesiastical History.
"The primitive Christians had a great veneration for the Sabbath, and spent the day in devotion and sermons ... They derived this practice from the Apostles themselves, as appears by several scriptures to that purpose." D. T H. Morer (Church of England) Dialogues on the Lords Day, London, 1701.
2nd, 3rd, 4th Centuries
"From the apostles' time until the Council of Laodicea [364 ad], the holy observation of the Jews' Sabbath continued, as maybe proved out of many authors: yea, notwithstanding the decree of the council against it." John Ley, Sunday A Sabbath, London, 1640.
"As early as 225 ad there existed large Sabbath-keeping bishoprics or conferences of the Church of the East stretching from Palestine to India." Mingana, Early Spread of Christianity.
"In the church of Milan (Italy) it seems that the Saturday was held in a fair esteem. Not that the Eastern churches or any of the rest which observed that day, were inclined to Judaism; but that they came together on the Sabbath day to worship Jesus the Lord of the Sabbath." Dr. Peter Heylyn, History of the Sabbath, London, 1636.
"For more than 17 centuries the Abyssinian Church continued to sanctify Saturday as the holy day of the 4th commandment." Ambrose de Morbius.
"Ambrose, the celebrated bishop of Milan, said that when he was in Milan he observed Saturday, but when in Rome observed Sunday. This gave rise to the proverb, 'When you are in Rome, do as Rome does."' Heylyn, History of the Sabbath
Persia 335--375; ad "They [the Christians] despise our sun-god. Did not Zoroaster, the sainted founder of our divine beliefs, institute Sunday one thousand years ago in honor of the sun and supplant the Sabbath of the Old Testament? Yet these Christians have divine services on Saturday." O. Teary The Syriac Church and Fathers.
"Augustine [whose testimony is made the more impressive by his being a committed Sunday-keeper] shows... that the [seventh-day] Sabbath was observed in his day 'in the greater part of the Christian world.'" Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 1st series, vol. i, pp. 353, 354.
"Down even to the fifth century the observance of the Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian church." Lyman Coleman, Ancient Christianity Exemplified, p. 526.
"In 411 [Mingana, leader of the Eastern Churches] appointed a metropolitan director for China. These churches were sanctifying the seventh day." J. F. Colthart, The Sabbath Through The Centuries, p. 11.
"In this latter instance they [the Scottish Church] seem to have followed a custom of which we find traces in the early monastic church of Ireland by which they held Saturday to be the Sabbath on which they rested from all their labors." W. T. Skene, Adamnans Lfe of St. Columba, 1874, p. 96.
On Columba of lona: "Having continued his labors in Scotland thirty-four years, he clearly and openly foretold his death, and on Saturday, June ninth, said to his disciple Diermit: 'This is the day called the Sabbath, that is, the rest day, and such it will truly be to me; for it will put an end to my labors."' Butlers Lives of the Saints, article on "St. Columba."
"It seems to have been customary in the Celtic churches of early times, in Ireland as well as Scotland, to keep Saturday... as a day of rest from labor. They obeyed the fourth commandment literally on the seventh day of the week." Jas. C. Moffatt, The Chutch In Scotland.
From Gregory I, Pope of Rome 590-604: "Roman citizens: It has come to me that certain men of perverse spirit have disseminated among you things depraved and opposed to the holy faith, so that they forbid anything to be done on the day of the Sabbath. What shall I call them except preachers of anti-Christ?"
India, China, Persia, etc. "Widespread and enduring was the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath among the believers of the Church of the East and the St. Thomas Christians of India, who never were connected with Rome. It was also maintained among those bodies which broke off from Rome after the Council of Chalcedon, namely the Abyssinians, the Jacobites, the Marionites, and the Armenians." New Schaff Hertog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, article "Nestorians."
"On the seventh day we offer sacrifices, after having purified our hearts, and receive absolution for our sins. This religion, so perfect and so excellent, is difficult to name, but it enlightens darkness by its brilliant precepts." China, 781 ad The China Monument
"Pope Nicholas I, in the ninth century, sent the ruling prince of Bulgaria a long document saying in it that one is to cease from work on Sunday, but not on the Sabbath. The head of the Greek Church, offended at the interference of the papacy, declared the Pope excommunicated." B. G. Wilkinson, Ph.D., Truth Triumphant, p. 232.
"The Nestorians eat no pork and keep the Sabbath. They believe neither in auricular confession nor purgatory." New Schaff Hertog Encyclopedia, article, "Nestorians."
"Margaret of Scotland in 1060 attempted to bring ruin to Columba's spiritual descendants by moving against those who observed the seventh-day Sabbath instead of Sunday." Reported by T. R. Barnett in Margaret of Scotland; Queen and Saint, p. 97.
Concerning the separation of the Greek Church from the Latin Church in 1054: "The observance of the Saturday, is, as everyone knows, the subject of bitter dispute between the Greeks and the Latins." J.M. Neale, A History of the Holy Eastern Church, vol 1, p.731.
"Traces of Sabbath-keepers are found in the twelfth century in Lombardy." Strongs Encyclopedia.
On the Waldenses of 1120: "Observance of the Sabbath. . is enjoined." Blair, History of the Waldenses, voi.1, p. 220.
France: "For twenty years Peter de Bruys stirred southern France. He especially emphasized a day of worship that was recognized at that time among the Celtic churches of the British Isles, among the Paulicians, and in the great Church of the east, namely, that seventh day of the fourth commandment." Coltheart; p. 18.
"Canons Against Sabbath keepers, Council of Toulouse, 1229: Canon 3. The lords of the different districts shall have the villas, houses, and woods diligently searched, and the hiding places of the heretics destroyed. Canon 4. Lay members are not allowed to possess the books of either the Old or the New Testaments:" Hefele.
"The Paulicians, Petrobusians, Passaginians, Waldenses, Insabbatati were great Sabbath-keeping bodies of Europe down to 1250." Coltheart, p. 19.
"In 1310, two hundred years before Luther's theses, the Bohemian brethren constituted one-fourth of the population of Bohemia, and were in touch with the Waldenses who abounded in Austria, Lombardy, Bohemia, north Germany, Thuringia, Brandenburg, and Moravia. Erasmus pointed out how strictly Bohemian Waldenses kept the seventh day Sabbath." Robert Cox, The Literature of the Sabbath Question, vol. 2, pp. 201, 202.
Norway: "Also the priests have caused the people to keep Saturdays as Sundays." Theological Periodicals For the Eva?igelical Church in Norway," voi.i, p. 184.
"Erasmus testifies that even as late as about 1500 these Bohemians not only kept the seventh day scrupulously but were also called Sabbatarians." R. Cox. op. cit.
Norway, Catholic Provincial Council at Bergen, 1435: "We are informed that some people in different districts of the kingdom, have adopted and observed Sabbath-keeping. It is severely forbidden—in holy church canon—one and all to observe holy days excepting those which the holy Pope, archbishop, or bishops command. Saturday-keeping must under no circumstances be permitted hereafter further than the church canon commands. Therefore we counsel all the friends of God throughout Norway who want to be obedient towards the holy church to let this evil of Saturday-keeping alone; and the rest we forbid under penalty of severe church punishment to keep Saturday holy." Dip. Norveg., 7, 397.
Norway 1544: "Some of you, contrary to the warning, keep Saturday. You ought to be severely punished. Whoever shall be found keeping Saturday must pay a fine of ten marks." Krag and Stephanius, History of King Christian III.
Liechtenstein: "The Sabbatarians teach that the outward Sabbath, i.e., Saturday, must still be observed. They say that Sunday [as the weekly day of worship] is the Pope's invention." Wolfgang Capito, Refutation of the Sabbath, c. 1590.
India: "The famous Jesuit, Francis Xavier, called for the Inquisition, which was set up in Goa, India, in 1560, to check 'the Jewish wickedness, Sabbath-keeping."' Adeney The Greek and Eastern Churches, pp. 527, 528.
Abyssinia: "It is not in imitation of the Jews, but in obedience to Christ and His holy apostles, that we observe that day [the Sabbath]." From an Abyssinian legate at the court of Lisbon, 1534, quoted in Geddes's Church History of Ethiopia, pp. 87, 88.
"About 100 Sabbath keeping churches, mostly independent, flourished in England in the 17th and 18th centuries." Dr. Brian W. Ball, The Seventh-Day Men, Sabbatarians and Sabbatarianism in England and Wales, 1600-1800, Clarendon Press, Oxford University, 1994.
Germany: "Tennhardt of Nuremberg holds strictly to the doctrine of the Sabbath, because it is one of the ten commandments." J.A. Bengel, Lehen und Wirken, p. 579.
"Before Zinzendorf and the Moravians at Bethlehem [Pennsylvania] thus began the observance of the Sabbath and prospered, there was a small body of German Sabbath-keepers in Pennsylvania." Rupp, History of the Religious Denominations in the United States.
"The Abyssinians and many continental Europeans, especially in Romania, Bohemia, Moravia, Holland and Germany continued to keep the Sabbath. Wherever the church of Rome predominated these Sabbatarians suffered confiscation of property, fines, imprisonment and execution." Coltheart, p. 26.
China: "The Taipings when asked why they observed the seventh-day Sabbath, replied that it was, first, because the Bible taught it, and second, because their ancestors observed it as a day of worship." A Critical History of Sabbath and Sunday.
"Thus we see Dan. 7:25 fulfilled, the little horn changing 'times and laws.' Therefore it appears to me that all who keep the first day for the sabbath are the Pope's Sunday-keepers and God's Sabbath-breakers"." T.M. Preble, American Seventh Day Baptist, 1845.
Charles E. Bradford - A MINISTER OF THE SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH WROTE A BOOK IN 1999 CALLED "SABBATH ROOTS - The African Connection"
ON PAGE 14 HE WROTE: "Africa is becoming the centre of they Christian world. The number of Christians in sub-Saharan Africa today is 309,639,000. And by the year 2000 the projected figure will be 338,285,000. Africa also has the largest concentration of believers in the ancient Bible Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, to be found on this planet."
BACK IN THE TIME THE AUTHOR WROTE HIS BOOK HE SAID THERE WAS ABOUT 20 MILLION 7TH DAY SABBATH OBSERVERS ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT; ONLY 2 MILLION WERE SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISTS.
BACK AT THE YEAR 2000 YOU HAD ABOUT 18 MILLION 7TH DAY SABBATH KEEPERS WHO WERE NOT PART OF THE SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH.
WHERE DID ALL THOSE MILLIONS OF 7TH DAY SABBATH OBSERVERS COME FROM?
WELL WE MAY HAVE A PART KEY AND ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION IN THE BOOK OF ACTS….. ACTS 8: 26-39.
DID THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH GO BACK TO HIS HOME LAND AND NOT TEACH ABOUT CHRIST AND THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, AND THE FAITH HE WAS NOW GIVEN?
I DOUBT IT VERY MUCH INDEED.
THAT EUNUCH WOULD HAVE SHARED HIS CHRISTIAN FAITH, AND 7TH DAY SABBATH OBSERVANCE WITH MANY OTHERS.
I HAVE GIVEN YOU PROOF ON THIS WEBSITE THAT WHEN THE CHURCH OF ROME ENTERED BRITAIN HUNDREDS OF YEARS AFTER THE START OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH; IT WAS REPORTED BACK TO THE POPE THAT THE NATION WAS FULL OF "JEWISH HERETIC RELIGION" - ONE OF THE HERESIES BEING 7TH DAY SABBATH OBSERVING, THE OTHER BEING PASSOVER OBSERVANCE AND NOT EASTER AS THE CHURCH OF ROME TAUGHT.
THE TRUTH OF GOD HAS ALWAYS EXISTED SOMEWHERE ON THIS EARTH. JESUS SAID HE WOULD BUILD HIS CHURCH AND THE GATES OF THE GRAVE WOULD NEVER PREVAIL AGAINST IT.
NOW THROUGH THE EFFORTS OF GOD'S MINISTERS AND EVANGELISTS IN INDIA, A MIGHTY WORK IS NOW BEING DONE IN THAT COUNTRY TO BRING THE TRUE GOSPEL TO THOUSANDS.
GOD'S TRUTH IS MARCHING ON !!!