We must have heard a lot about the Sabbath. In this article, I will try to explain the history of the Sabbath, and why many Christians observe the Sabbath on Sunday. The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, which is Saturday. The Sabbath is the only day mentioned in the Bible as a day of worship and rest. Most Christian churches worship on Sunday, the first day of the week.
Gradually, the first day of the week (now called Sunday) grew in prominence as an additional day, but it was eventually appointed to replace the Sabbath by the civil and religious authorities. The first legal code to legalize this was the Law of Constantine of 321 AD. For the next several centuries, there were still people who observed the Sabbath in secret.
The Development of the Established Sabbath in the Old Testament
The seventh-day Sabbath has a lot of history in the entire period of human history that the Bible summarizes. In Genesis 2:1-3 it is stated that God finished his work in forming the earth and all that is in it on the seventh day. Therefore He rested. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day He rested from all His work of forming the world.
Also note, since the day of creation, a week of 7 days has never changed. As civilization progressed, the measurement of time became more complex, starting from days, weeks (7 days), months, and years. In the Old Testament, the Sabbath is also mentioned in Ex 20:11, Lev 23:3, and Deut 5:12-15 to tell the Israelites to stop working and worshiping on the Sabbath.
The Progress of the Sabbath in the New Testament
In the New Testament, it is stated that Jesus used to go to the synagogue every Sabbath (Luke 4:16). It is also mentioned that Jesus taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath (Luke 13:10). In Mark 3:1-6, it says that Jesus healed a man's hand on the Sabbath in the synagogue. The things above are just a few accounts of Jesus' activities on the Sabbath. His habit of going to the synagogue every Sabbath was significant. In New Testament times, the synagogue was a place where God-fearing Jews and Gentiles gathered on the Sabbath to worship. Worship in the synagogue includes reading Catholic Bible studies, praying, and listening to sermons.
When Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath as was the custom of the people, He fulfilled the commandment in Lev. 23:3, to make the Sabbath a "holy assembly." This example of joint worship in the synagogue is followed by Christian churches in carrying out services or mass until now. After Jesus died and the meaning of Jesus' resurrection ascended to heaven, the apostles were sent to spread the teachings of Christ. The first Christians also continued to worship together every Sabbath. The Sabbath is devoted to hearing the Word of God (Acts 15:21, Acts 16:13-14).
The Purpose of the Sabbath
When the Israelites were led out of bondage in Egypt, God instructed them when and how to count the Sabbath. These instructions are given and relate to God's promise to give them Manna to eat during their wilderness journey to the promised land. Here are some of the purposes for observing the Sabbath in the Bible as follows:
An Everlasting Warning Sign for Creation
Each week the history of the Sabbath reminds us of Creation, reminds us of the origin of this world. The Sabbath is meant to give us a break in our busy lives, so that we have the opportunity to identify ourselves as believers in Christ and acknowledge God as our Creator.
Giving Rest Instructions After Work
In addition, God gave the Israelites further instructions about the Sabbath in the 10 Commandments. The commandment how to keep the Sabbath day holy and reminded the Israelites that God rested after working to create the world for 6 days. Resting on the Sabbath is also done on a humanitarian basis.
This instruction was given to the Israelites in the context of making the Sabbath a memorial of their suffering in slavery in Egypt, and how God put an end to that slavery. Whenever the Israelites rested on the Sabbath and gave rest to their servants and beasts of burden, they gratefully acknowledged their release from slavery. Therefore, the Sabbath became an important institution in the social and religious life of the Israelites. Obedient Israelites (Jews) have continued to observe the Sabbath since the time of Moses until now.
Change from Sabbath to Sunday
As we know, the first Christians lived under the colonial rule of Ancient Rome. Constantine, Roman Emperor converted to Christianity. To unite people and strengthen his power, he tried to get the Romans to embrace the new religion. He changed the pagan festivals to Christian ones with a view to Christianizing the Romans. In the custom of the Romans, Sunday was the time to worship in the temples of their gods. Emperor Constantine turned Sunday into a day of worship in the church, replacing the historical Sabbath. 66 years later, to be precise in 387 AD.
Today, most churches celebrate Sunday services. “Sunday” was adapted from Spanish and Portuguese, namely “Domingo”, which means “God's Day”. However, there are also our brethren, the Adventists, who still observe the Sabbath on Saturday. Adventists don't celebrate Christmas. In my personal opinion, celebrating worship at church on Saturday or Sunday is the same, the most important thing is our intention and purpose in going to church.