SABBATH IN HISTORY and Calendar Changes
All right, I can see that the Sabbath according to the Scriptures is the seventh day of the week, but how can the modern believer be sure that Saturday is the seventh day?
To prove that the day called Saturday is the seventh day of the week we will consider the history of mankind in three parts:
1. From the creation of the world to Israel's Exodus from Egypt
2. From the Exodus to the Apostolic era - when the Messiah walked on this earth
3. And from the Apostolic era to the present time.
1. FROM THE CREATION TO THE EXODUS
We will suppose for the moment that the Sabbath was "lost" between the creation and the exodus. It may not have been of course, for Yahweh's laws were known and kept by faithful believers long before they were given to Israel at Mount Sinai (see
Genesis 26:5) and the sacred calendar and weekly cycle was followed as far back as the days of Noah (Genesis 7:11, 8:9-14) but even supposing that the Sabbath had been lost we can be certain that it was identified and established again by the Almighty in the days of Moses.
Here is how we know this fact. In Exodus 16:14-30 we read of how the Almighty fed Israel with manna. By the following three miracles - performed every week - Yahweh made known His Sabbath day to the whole nation.
* He gave Israel twice as much manna on the sixth day
* He withheld manna on the Sabbath, the seventh day
* And He kept the manna given on the sixth day from spoiling overnight - which it normally did - in order that His people might rest on the seventh day.
By these three distinct miracles which occurred every week for 40 years Yahweh identified the seventh day as His Sabbath.
2. FROM THE EXODUS TO THE APOSTOLIC ERA
Was the identity of the seventh day "lost" between the exodus and the time of Christ? The answer is no it wasn't; but again for the sake of this investigation we'll assume that it was.
We can be certain that it was again identified when the Messiah observed it, for just prior to his death on Calvary the Saviour categorically stated that he had kept his father's commandments. (John 15:10) He could hardly have said this if the day that he had been keeping for some thirty three years was the wrong one. Besides, if he
had kept the wrong day he would have been a sinner and that would have disqualified him from being our Saviour.
We are, therefore, certain that the Saviour kept the correct seventh day Sabbath.
3. FROM THE APOSTOLIC ERA TO THE PRESENT TIME
Has the identity of the seventh day of the week been "lost" over the past 1900 years? We can assure the reader that it hasn't been. Here is the proof.
Soon after the capture of Jerusalem in AD70 the diaspora took place. The diaspora is the scattering of the body of Jews to lands other than their own. Initially the exiles had fled to the surrounding countries of Egypt, Syria and Phoenicia, but in the course of time, as persecution mounted, the Jews went further and further afield and today you will find Jewish communities in every country on the face of the earth.
With them the Jews took the Holy Scriptures and their knowledge of the true Sabbath day. Every seventh day since then orthodox Jews all over the world have remembered the seventh day.
And what do we find in the 20th century? We find the Jews still keeping the original seventh day Sabbath, the same day they knew at the time of the diaspora, which was the same day Jesus kept.
There is absolutely no disagreement or dispute amongst the Jews - scattered as they still are - as to which day is the seventh day of the week. Every synagogue in every country is in perfect agreement that Saturday is the seventh day.
Had there been any change of the day, any loss or gain of time, any deliberate or accidental slip or alteration in the weekly cycle -which would have resulted in the Jews in one country observing a different weekly Sabbath from Jewish believers in the next - then we would readily agree that the identity of the seventh day of the week was in doubt. But we do not find that situation anywhere on earth. Instead we have in total agreement amongst all the Jews of all nations that the day known throughout the world as Saturday is the seventh day of the week.
Some point out that the civil calendar was changed in the sixteenth century and the weekly cycle itself was altered - all over the world - so no one can be certain that Saturday is the true seventh day of the week.
Those who use this argument are misinformed. Here are the facts of history: In the year 1582 the Julian calendar (named after the Emperor Julius Caesar) was found to be 10 days late when compared with the position of the sun. That is, the vernal equinox was not occurring on or about March 21st - as it should do in a correct solar calendar - but was gradually receding towards the beginning of March. The reason for this error was that the Julian calendar worked on the basis that a year was 365=BC days in length, whereas in truth it is about 11 minutes more than that. Over the centuries this 11 minute discrepancy accumulated causing the Julian calendar to steadily recede, till by the sixteenth century it had lost 10 days and the equinox was occurring on March 11th.
To correct this discrepancy Pope Gregory XIII ordered that 10 days be added to the Julian calendar dates to bring them into line with the sun. The month of October was chosen for the amendment and in the calendar of 1582 that month appeared as follows:
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
1 2 3 4 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
You will notice from the above that the weekly cycle, the order of the days of the week, remained unchanged even though the Gregorian calendar dates had increased by ten between the Thursday and the Friday. In other words in both calendars the day after Thursday 4th was still a Friday.
This amendment understandably, was not very popular in some countries mainly because it had been organised by a Roman Catholic Pope. Several Protestant countries refused to acknowledge it and continued to use the Julian calendar; but one by one they came into line. Here is a short list of when they did:
Germany (Catholic States) 1583
Germany (Protestant States) 1700
Rumania, Turkey and Russia 1919
All those years between 1582 and 1919 while both calendars were in use, the sequence of the days in the weekly cycle was the same in every country. In other words Sunday in Rome in 1900 was also Sunday in Russia in that year even though both countries were using a different calendar. And as each nation adopted the Georgian calendar it simply added 10 days to its Georgian Calendar date. There was no need to change the order of the days of the week, because they already agreed.
* Yahweh re-identified the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath in the days of Israel's Exodus from Egypt
* The Messiah kept the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. Had he not done so he would have been a sinner.
* Calendar changes did not affect the weekly cycle.
* Jewish communities around the world have since the diaspora kept track of the seventh day Sabbath, and all agree it is the day called Saturday.
These facts prove that Saturday is the seventh day of the week.