“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. (Mark 7:8)
"Those people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men"(Matthew 15:8-9).
We have already learned from Lesson 10 that the true Sabbath day is the seventh of the week, that is, Saturday, according to the fourth Commandment. Then how is it that presently, Christians in general do not keep Saturday but Sunday as the Sabbath day? What has made the holy Sabbath day change from Saturday to Sunday, the first of the week? There must be some reason for it. Now lets investigate the reason behind this phenomenon by looking back into historical facts.
It seems to be that during the first century A.D., a few decades after Jesus, our Savior went back to Heaven, the Christians kept the true Sabbath day, judging from the fact that the apostle John mentioned nothing about the change of the Sabbath day in Revelation, the last book of the Bible, which was written in the year 98 A.D. However at the turn of the second century, "godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing"(1 Timothy 6:20-21).
It was Clement of Alexandria and Tertullianus, a Cartagian jurist who recorded, for the first time in history, Sunday as the day for Christ, which was in the second century A.D., from then on these records became the basis of the theology promoted by the Roman Catholic Church. During the same century, because the Jews had risen in rebellion against the Roman Empire as many as three times, the Romans extremely hated and persecuted the Jews. The Christians got into a lot of trouble along with the Jews because they kept the same Sabbath day as the Jews. This being the situation, some Christians, if not many, began to keep Sunday, the first day of the week as the Sabbath day instead of Saturday. With this as a turning point, the Sabbath day gradually changed from Saturday to Sunday.
At the time, the system of seven days a week-Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday system-having been introduced from Babylon, was widely used in the Roman Empire, where a considerable number of both Jews and Christians had settled. Both of them observed the Biblical holiday-the Sabbath day.
The most prevailing religion in the Roman Empire at that time was Mithraism. Its believers looked upon Sunday as a fortunate day because it was the day of the Sun and Saturday as an ominous one because it was the day of Saturn. Therefore the Christians had a lot of difficulty in keeping the true Sabbath day. In addition the Royal decree by the Roman emperor Constantine that all the Romans should keep Sunday as a holiday made it more difficult for the Christians to keep the true Sabbath day holy. On the third of July 321 A.D., the emperor announced officially that all the officials, all the citizens and all the workers in the Roman Empire should have a day off on Sunday.
The legend has it that Constantine was converted to Christianity but his conversion is said to have camouflaged his political ambition. By declaring Sunday as a holiday and by pretending to protect the Christians he succeeded in achieving his dual political purposes; that is to please the Christians and force them to keep Sunday as the holiday, on the one hand and to manipulate and influence the Romans on the other. In short, his real purpose was to unify the two religions, Christianity and the Sun worship and by doing so to secure his power over the empire. The result was that it became more and more difficult for the Christians to keep the true Sabbath day under the pressure of the Roman Empire.
It is hard to understand that under these circumstances, the church, which had to strongly oppose it with the true spirit of Christianity, assumed a compromising attitude toward it. The church took the easy way of flattering and toadying the power of the secular word instead of following the truth of God. In the end, the following decision was reached at the Laodicea religious conference around 346 A.D.
The 29th article of the religious rule states:
The Christians should not idle away the Sabbath day like Jews. They should work on that day but should make much of the holiday (Sunday) and should not work on that day. (Hefele, A History of the Councils of the church, Vol. 2, p. 316)
Not only the government but also the church commanded that working should be stopped on Sunday, the common people blindly followed the command. Thus at last, the day for worshipping the sun became a day of rest for Christians and the practice has been handed down up to our time.
You may say that you cannot understand how on earth such a blasphemous practice could be realized so easily. There is evidence that Satan or the devil was active behind the serious treason. The apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit already foretold this, "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come, until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved"(2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4, 7, 9, 10).
From these verses in the Bible, we should take notice of the allusion that anti-christ will come out in the church, which means that we should consider this and be aware of anyone who sets up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. We can see this fact prophesied more clearly in Daniel in the Old Testament.
Daniel dreamed a strange dream in the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon. In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down what had happened in his dream.
Daniel said: "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it. And there before me was a second beast,
which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, Get up and eat your fill of flesh! After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule. After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast-terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.
While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully"(Daniel 7:1-8).
The four beasts seen in Daniels dream symbolize four countries. The lion symbolizes Babylon, the bear, Persia, the leopard, Greece and the fourth terrifying, frightening and very powerful beast symbolizes Rome. The ten horns on the fourth beast represent the ten kingdoms disrupted by Roman Empire. And then there appeared another horn.
Daniel recorded the following about the little horn:
"The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time"(Daniel 7:24-25).
Daniel said that this little horn was different from other horns in its traits and had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully. Then what peculiar power do you suppose arose besides the ten kingdoms in Rome? When Rome was divided into ten countries? A.C. Flick wrote about this as follows on the 150th page of his book. The origin of church in the Middle Ages, from the political ruin of Rome, came out the great moral kingdom called great Roman church; and from this record we can reach the conclusion that the one little horn represented nothing but the power of the Roman church. The prophecy foretold that this little horn would root out three other horns, which proved true historically by the decline of three kingdoms. Heruli perished the year 493 A.D, Vandal in the year of 534 A.D. and Ostrogoth in the year 538 A.D. because they were heathens against the pope's power of Rome. In other words they were ruined because they belonged to Arius, which the Roman church regarded as heresy and heterodoxy.
After the first century A.D., Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and everywhere in the main Roman cities there were churches. Every church had a person in charge of it and among the persons in charge of churches; one who took charge of the Roman church had exceeding power over the other persons. Towards the end of the Roman Empire (around 476 A.D.) the head of the Roman church came to be thought to have the absolute power next to the Roman emperor. In the year of 533 A.D. the Roman emperor, Justinian proclaimed as if to confirm this, The person who is in charge of the Roman Church is the head of all the churches. (Code of Justinian, book I, title) The emperor on another occasion also proclaimed that which to enlighten the heathens sanctioned the pope to have the power. This is how the power of the pope became firmly established.
According to the prophecy recorded in Daniel 7:25, 1) He will speak against the Most High 2) and oppress his saints 3) and try to change the set times and laws. 4) The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.
1.The prophecy that he will speak against the Most High has been realized by the fact that the popes not only have called themselves: God on the earth, Advocate of Son of God, King of the world, King of Kings, Our God, pope but also has asserted that the pope has made no mistakes. (P.F.L Feraries. Ecclesiastical Dictionary)
2. The prophecy that he will oppress the saints means that he will persecute the people of God. History proves that throughout the Dark Ages millions of martyrs were persecuted and killed by the Roman Catholic Church because they didn't obey its authority and its theology.
3. The prophecy that 'he will try to change the set times and laws,' means that the power of the pope changed the Sabbath day set by God in the beginning of time from Saturday to Sunday which is the first day of the week. On the 49th page of The convert's catechism of Catholic Doctrine by Peter Gabriel, we can see the following dialogue:
Q: What day is the Sabbath day?
A: It is Saturday.
Q: Then why do we keep Sunday as the Sabbath day instead of Saturday?
A: The reason why we do so is that Catholic Church changed the holy day from Saturday to Sunday at the council of Laodicea.
We can also find on the 174th page of a doctrinal catechism written by Steve Conan the following question and answer:
Q: Is there any other evidence by which we can prove that the Catholic Church has the authority to establish a code of a holiday?
A: If Catholic Church had not had such authority, it could not have made such change as to keep Sunday as a holiday instead of the seventh Sabbath even though the change has no biblical ground.
Moreover around 1880, Enright, a catholic priest pronounced many times through public sermons; Whoever can prove biblically that we should keep Sunday as a holiday will be given 1000 dollars as a reward. But so far no one has won this prize. Furthermore, the Catholic Church committed the blasphemy of abolishing the second of the Ten Commandments, dividing the tenth into two and changing the fourth one which is the Commandment of the Sabbath into Sunday and making it the third Commandment.
4. The prophecy, The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time indicates the historical fact that the saints who were trying to live a life based on the principle of the Bible had been persecuted under the name of eliminating heathenism for 1260 years(from the year of 538 A.D. to 1798 A.D) during which the pope's power flourished at its zenith; the period is recorded in the Bible as three years and a half but in reality it is 1260 years when translated in the way to interpret the Bible. (We hope that you can learn about this in more detail by studying Daniel in the future.) As is written in Revelation 13, One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal would had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. The Roman Catholic Church, having had its authority fatally wounded in 1789, is now urging the entire world to follow it. The pope is advocating world peace and asking all the Christians to return to their mothers, namely the Catholic Church, insisting that all the churches should be unified. The day when his assertion will come true will be the day when the faith of those who keep the true Sabbath day as God, our Lord commanded will be tested.
In the last lesson we learned about the true Sabbath day and in this lesson we have studied about Sunday. Now the time has come when you should decide which way you should follow. Should we follow the commandment made by men or should we follow the Commandment of God? The apostle Paul recorded as follows "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves you are slaves to the one whom you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?"(Romans 6:16).
We cannot but choose either to follow Gods Commandment in love of the truth or to follow the way of destruction by surrendering to the power controlled by Satan. We really hope that you who have studied this book will choose wisely and become our Lords true children keeping the true Sabbath Day.