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Why the Same Days of Worship?

The Roman ‘Christian’ calendar tells us that the day begins at midnight (i.e., the ‘witching hour’). Scripture, however, tells us that the day begins at evening.

B’reisheet (Genesis) 1:31b
31b So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Leviticus 23:32 confirms that Yahweh defines a day as lasting from evening to evening (i.e., from sunset to sunset), rather than from midnight to midnight.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:32b
32b “On the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall celebrate your Sabbath (i.e., rest day).”

The ‘Sabbath’ discussed in Leviticus 23:32 (above) is the Day of Atonement, but the weekly Sabbath also lasts from evening to evening. Luke 4:16 tells us that Yeshua (Jesus) also kept this Sabbath, which lasts from sunset to sunset.

Luqa (Luke) 4:16
16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.

The Apostle Shaul (Paul) also continued to go into the synagogues on the Sabbath day even many years after Yeshua’s resurrection.

Ma’asei (Acts) 13:14
14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down.

In the last chapter we saw how Yeshua told us not to think that the Law or the Prophets had been done away with. There is nothing vague about this.

Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:17-19
17 “Think not that I came to destroy the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but (only) to fulfill.
18 For truly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, nothing at all shall pass from the Law, till all is fulfilled.
19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Nevertheless, the Christian Church tells us that since Yeshua fulfilled the Law, we should no longer keep the Sabbath and Yahweh’s festivals, but that we should keep Sunday, Christmas, and Easter instead. This is very curious considering that Sunday, Christmas, and Easter are never commanded anywhere in Scripture.

When was the switch from the evening to evening Hebrew calendar to the midnight to midnight Roman one? Christian scholars often use Acts 20:7-11 as an alleged ‘proof text’ that the disciples met on the Roman (midnight to midnight) Sunday. This might at first seem to make sense, but in the end it does not add up.

Ma’asei (Acts) 20:7-11
7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Shaul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.
8 There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together.
9 And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Shaul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.
10 But Shaul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.”
11 Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed.

Since first century Judea was under Roman control, it might seem to make sense that the disciples gathered on Sunday morning and listened to Shaul for almost twenty-four hours. However, some things do not make much sense. Why would there be so many lamps in the upper room if the disciples met on a Sunday morning? And why would they only eat one meal in a twenty-four hour period? Considering that Shaul was teaching in a Jewish synagogue, these things do not make a whole lot of sense.

Religious Jews are a very tradition oriented people. They usually worship at their synagogue (or at the temple) on Sabbath; after Sabbath is over they often get together at a friend or a relative’s house to break bread and fellowship, so as to extend the day of worship and rest as long as possible. However, this is not a new day of worship: it is simply a normal extension of the Sabbath. If we read Acts chapter 20 in this light, we can see that the reason there were so many lamps in the upper room is that they initially met after sundown ‘Saturday night’ (and then talked until the break of day ‘Sunday morning’).

So if Sunday worship does not come from Scripture, then it comes from men. History tells us that one of the earliest references to “Sunday” worship comes from the Christian apologist Justin Martyr (circa 150 CE). For example, we are told that all of the people gathered together to worship on “the day called Sunday” (which is named the ‘sun” day in honor of the sun).

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place….
[Justin Martyr, First Apology, Chapter 67 – Weekly Worship of the Christians, circa 150 CE, Biblesoft]

Justin Martyr is using a different practice than is found in Scripture, because Scripture does not call the days of the week by a name. Rather, Scripture numbers the days of the week (first day, second day, third day, and so forth); only the Sabbath has a name (Shabbat). The term ‘Shabbat’ means “the rest” or “the abstention” (from doing our own will).

In contrast to this, Justin Martyr tells us that the reason his assembly worshipped on Sunday (on the Roman Calendar) was that it was the day Elohim (God) made the world, and that it was the day Yeshua first appeared to His disciples.

But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.
[Justin Martyr, First Apology, Chapter 67 – Weekly Worship of the Christians, circa 150 CE, Biblesoft]

Justin Martyr’s reasons for worshipping on Sunday might sound good, except that neither the Messiah nor His apostles met on Sunday. Also, it is not what the Creator tells us to do, so to change the day of meeting is to change the appointed festival times and the law). Nonetheless, Sunday worship slowly began to spread.

Following the same pattern, the Passover began to give way year by year to the pagan festival of Easter (Ishtar). First the date was changed, from the 14th of Nisan (or Aviv) on the Hebrew calendar, to the first Sunday after the Vernal Equinox (which is an important day in pagan sun worship calendars). Finally, the name of the festival was changed from Passover to Easter, in honor of the Babylonian mother-goddess Ishtar (Easter or Ashtoreth). Eventually pagan fertility rites (such as dying eggs in blood) and other sun worship traditions (such as praying to the sun at sunrise) were brought into the worship on those days.

The Church Father Eusebius records that a great crisis called the ‘Quartodeciman Controversy’ erupted when Bishop Victor of Rome began to demand that all of the assemblies keep the Passover on Sunday rather than on the 14th of Nisan (Aviv). The bishops of Asia insisted on keeping Passover on the Hebrew calendar, as the Apostles Phillip and John had taught them.

A question of no small importance arose at that time. For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour’s passover…But it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world…But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the Church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him.
[Eusebius, Church History, Book V, Chapters 23, 25, circa 190-195 CE]

Eusebius also records a letter that Polycrates, a major figure in Asia, personally wrote to Bishop Victor of Rome, protesting his decision to change the date of the Passover from the 14th of Nisan (Aviv) to a Sunday. Polycrates points out that the tradition of keeping the Passover on the Hebrew calendar was passed down by the apostles Philip and John themselves, and that the tradition had been kept over generations by a number of distinguished and devout families. He insists that all believers should do as the Scriptures tell us, rather than accepting man-made traditions instead.

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the Passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘We ought to obey God rather than man’.
[Eusebius, Church History, Book V, Chapter 24. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1.]

Although the apostles Philip and John had personally taught those in Asia to keep Passover on the 14th of Nisan (on the Hebrew calendar), the Roman Bishop Victor excommunicated any assembly which did not keep Passover on a Sunday (on the Roman calendar). While this greatly displeased many of the other bishops (who knew what Polycrates had said to be true), the Roman bishopric won the argument. Although unity was preserved in the church, it was not preserved on loyalty to Scripture, but to the Roman bishopric. Those who kept Passover on the 14th of Nisan (on the Hebrew calendar) were ultimately driven underground. The Quartodeciman Controversy shows us how the Roman Church attempted to change the appointed festival times and the Laws of Moses (just as prophesied over the ‘Little Horn’ in Daniel 9:25).

As we explain in Nazarene Israel, power began to be centralized in the bishopric of Rome immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem and the apostles’ deaths. The Roman Bishop began to decree that pagan symbols and pagan festival days were legitimate, even though this was a direct violation of the Laws of Moses (which tell us to avoid all non-commanded imagery, and all non-commanded festival days).

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:19
19 “And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which Yahweh your Elohim has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.”

Despite Yahweh’s warning, the Roman Christian feast calendar continued to adopt days based on the motion of the sun, the moon, and the stars. Although the exact wording is not preserved, during the Council of Nicea (circa 325/326 CE) the Roman Church decided that Easter was to be celebrated throughout the world on the Sunday that followed the 14th day of the ‘paschal moon.’ However, the moon was considered ‘paschal’ only if the 14th day fell after the spring equinox. Since the equinox is never mentioned in Scripture, this was just another example of how the Christians turned their back on Yahweh’s commandments, deciding instead to implement their own days of worship based on the movements of the sun, the moon, and the stars. This is strictly forbidden.

Some Christians wonder what is wrong with making up our own days to honor Yahweh. To answer this, let us look at the sin of the golden calf.

Shemote (Exodus) 32:4-5
4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
5 So when Aharon saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aharon made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to Yahweh.”

Even though Aharon declared that the festival was in honor of Yahweh, Yahweh did not feel honored. Instead, He became enraged that His people would keep festival days that He did not command.

The only reason the word “Easter” appears in the King James Version is that it was a mistranslation of the Greek word Pascha, meaning Passover. This error has been corrected in almost every other major translation since the King James Version, yet, ironically, people still keep Easter. Why do they do this? The apostles did not reference Easter, but the Passover. (We have marked the Greek word in bold.)

Acts 12:4
4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
TR Acts 12:4
ον και πιασας εθετο εις φυλακην παραδους τεσσαρσιν τετραδιοις στρατιωτων φυλασσειν αυτον βουλομενος μετα το πασχα αναγαγειν αυτον τω λαω

Further, Shaul does not tell us to keep Easter, but rather to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread (which is a continuation of the Passover).

Qorintim Aleph (1st Corinthians) 5:8
8 Therefore let us keep the feast (of unleavened bread) not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Acts 20:6 shows us that the disciples were still keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread (and not Easter) many years after Yeshua’s resurrection.

Ma’asei (Acts) 20:6
6 But we sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread….

In Acts 27:9 the disciples kept the Day of Atonement, here called ‘the Fast’ because it is often observed by fasting. (The reason the voyage was “now dangerous” was that the Day of Atonement takes place in the fall. Boat travel on the Mediterranean can be stormy after that time.)

Ma’asei (Acts) 27:9-10
9 Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Shaul advised them,
10 saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.”

The Apostle Shaul continued to observe the Pentecost on Yahweh’s original calendar.

Qorintim Aleph (1st Corinthians) 16:8
8 But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost…

We know Shaul kept the Pentecost on the Hebrew Calendar (and not the Roman Christian one) because he went up to Jerusalem (rather than Rome).

Ma’asei (Acts) 20:16
16 For Shaul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.

If the apostles continued to keep the original festivals, then why would we want to keep any other days of worship? Let us remember that the apostles received the gift of the Spirit when they were keeping Yahweh’s original festival days. This shows that even after Yeshua’s resurrection, keeping Yahweh’s festivals is still important.

Ma’asei (Acts) 2:1-2
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

In Colossians 2:16-17, the Apostle Shaul tells us that the Sabbath, festivals, and New Moon Days are all prophetic shadow pictures of things “still to come.” This means just as Yahweh poured out blessings on those who kept His festivals in the past, He will again pour out blessings on those who keep His festival days in the future. However, Scripture’s true meaning is lost in most major versions, including the King James Version which inverts the meaning of the passage by two supplied words– “days” and “is.”

Colossians 2:16-17, KJV
16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons, or of the sabbath days:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
TR Colossians 2:16-17
(16) Mη ουν τις υμας κρινετω εν βρωσει η εν ποσει η εν μερει εορτης η νουμηνιας η σαββατων
(17) α εστιν σκια των μελλοντων το δε σωμα του Xριστου

Because of its two supplied words (“days” and “is”) the KJV leads the reader to conclude that we should not let anyone tell us what to eat, what to drink, or what days of worship to keep. If we accept these added words at their face value we can easily conclude that it makes no difference whether we keep the Sabbath and the festival days, or whether we worship on Sunday, Christmas, Easter, the Chinese New Year, Ramadan, or even no festival days at all. Other translations make similar alterations to the text, and these alterations generally help promote the idea that Yeshua really did come to abolish the law and the prophets, even though it flies in the face of His own words at Matthew 5:17-19.

Scripture is very clear that we are not to add anything to Scripture, or take anything away (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6, etcetera). Therefore, once we realize that the supplied words “days” and “is” do not appear in the source texts, we should take them back out of the English translations. Here is the exact same passage from the King James, but with the supplied words “days” and “is” removed:

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons, or of the Sabbath; which are a shadow of things to come; but the Body of Christ.

There are three main ideas here (1-2-3):

  1. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons, or of the Sabbath;
  2. which are a (prophetic) shadow of things (still) to come;
  3. but the Body of [Messiah].

To paraphrase, the Apostle Shaul is telling us (1-2-3):

  1. Let no man judge you with regards to the meat you eat, what you drink, or what religious festival days you keep;
  2. Because these foods, liquids and festival days are all prophetic shadows of things still to come;
  3. Therefore, let only the Body of Messiah tell you what to eat, what to drink, and what festival days to keep!

Those who were not keeping the Laws of Moses were judging the Nazarenes, and Shaul said not to listen to them (for they were not really of the Body of Messiah). This becomes apparent if we rearrange the clauses to make the English read better (3-1-2). Shaul says we should not let anyone but the Body of Messiah judge us in what we eat, what we drink, and/or what festival days we keep, because these are all prophetic shadow pictures of blessings still to come.

[Colossians 2:16-17, reordered 3-1-2]
Let no man (but the Body of Messiah) judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons, or of the Sabbath; for the festivals are shadows of things (still) to come.

Shaul’s true meaning is not reflected in the NIV at all. Rather, the NIV makes it seem like we can do whatever we want (since the Messiah allegedly came to do away with the law and the prophets).

[Colossians 2:16-17, NIV]
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a sabbath day.
17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

The King James, the NIV, and most of the mainstream Christian versions suggest that so long as you know that Yeshua is the Messiah it makes no difference what days of worship you keep, because the festivals are merely shadows of the things that “were” to come. However, this is the opposite of what Shaul said.

The Laws of Moses are called the Torah in Hebrew. As we explain in the Nazarene Israel study, the Torah is a set of instructions that Yeshua’s Bride is supposed to follow in order to purify herself; and it also serves as Israel’s bridal covenant. According to Jewish tradition, the Torah was first given to Israel at Mount Sinai at Pentecost. Thousands of years later the Spirit itself was poured out on those who were in the right place at the appointed time. Thus there have already been at least two fulfillments of the Feast of Pentecost (and Colossians 2:16-17 tells us that there are more on the way).

Western Greco-Roman thought is fairly linear, and it can be “checklist oriented.” Western minds often consider that the prophecies are fulfilled only one time. However, Hebraic thought is sometimes described as being “cyclical,” and in Hebraic thought the prophecies can have more than one fulfillment. A good example of this is how Scripture shows us that there will be many fulfillments of the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Church has long taught that the Messiah was born on December 25. However, if we think about it, Yeshua could not have been born in December, because Luke 2:8 shows us that there were shepherds keeping watch over their flocks, but in Israel flocks are not let out to graze in winter, because there is nothing for them to eat.

Luqa (Luke) 2:7-8
7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

From a prophetic standpoint it makes more sense that Yeshua would be born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, because that would fulfill the first day of the festival. This is likely why Yochanan (John) tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Yochanan (John) 1:14
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us….

The word “dwelt” is the Greek word skenoo, Strong’s NT:4637, meaning “to tabernacle.”

NT:4637 skenoo (skay-no’-o); from NT:4636; to tent or encamp, i.e. (figuratively) to occupy (as a mansion) or (specifically) to reside (as God did in the Tabernacle of old, a symbol of protection and communion):

What Yochanan (John) really said, then, was that Yeshua became flesh and tabernacled among us.

Yochanan (John) 1:14 [interpreted]
14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us….

This makes sense, in that Leviticus 23 tells all native born Israelites who live in the land of Israel to go up to Jerusalem three times a year. One of these three annual pilgrimages is the Feast of Tabernacles. During this festival all Israel must dwell in tabernacles (temporary dwellings) for seven days. In Hebrew these temporary dwellings are called sukkot. In English they are often called booths.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:42
42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths (tabernacles)….

Because Jews are such traditional people, the ruling of the rabbis in the first century was probably the same as the rabbinical ruling of today: for health and safety reasons, anyone who is either sick, old, or pregnant does not actually have to live in a tabernacle, but may rent a room in an inn. However, even though Miriam (Mary) was pregnant, there was no room at the inn, and therefore Joseph and Miriam had to stay in a temporary dwelling (in this case a booth or a manger), fulfilling Leviticus 23.

It might have seemed like a trial to have Miriam stay in a temporary dwelling when she was ready to give birth, yet it came to pass so that Yeshua might be born in a temporary dwelling, in fulfillment of the feast. Yet even though Yeshua already fulfilled the prophetic aspects of the Feast of Tabernacles, Zechariah 14 tells us that there will be another fulfillment.

Zechariah 14:16-17
16 And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
17 And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, on them there will be no rain.

And if that was not enough proof that the festivals are prophetic shadow pictures of things still to come, there is still another prophesied fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles in the book of The Revelation.

Hitgalut (Revelation) 21:3-4
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of Elohim is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and Elohim Himself will be among them,
4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

Shaul told us not to let anyone but the Body of Messiah tell us what days of worship to keep because he wanted us to be able to receive our blessings for keeping the days Yahweh commanded.

Despite all this, circa 311 CE a Roman general named Constantine allegedly became saved, went on to fight many civil wars, and eventually became the Emperor of Rome. He then issued his famous Edict of Milan, which officially proclaimed a degree of religious tolerance within the Roman Empire. However, this religious tolerance was extended mostly to Torahless (lawless) Christians like himself, while it was denied to those of the original Nazarene Israelite faith. By 336 CE Emperor Constantine issued an edict stating that Christians must not “Judaize” by resting on the Sabbath, but that they must rest on “the Lord’s Day” (i.e., Sunday) instead.

“Christians must not ‘Judaize’ by resting on the Sabbath; but must work on that day, honoring rather the Lord’s Day (‘Sun’ day) by resting, if possible, as Christians.
However, if any (Nazarene) be found ‘Judaizing’, let them be shut out from Christ.” (Other translations read, “Let them be anathema to Christ.”)
[Council of Laodicea under the Emperor Constantine; Canon 29, circa 336 CE]

Three hundred years after Yeshua, the Church of Rome officially banned the faith once delivered to the saints.

But why was Emperor Constantine allowed to suppress the original faith (and change the calendar)? Scripture does not say, but it may be that Yahweh knew that the lawless Christian variation of the faith would spread throughout the world much more rapidly than the Torah-keeping variation would—and therefore while it was not as true and correct as the original Nazarene Israelite faith, it did help to foster and spread belief in salvation through a Messiah of Israel.

Now we reach the turning point. While the Father winks at times of past ignorance, now He wants all men everywhere to repent and begin living up to the instructions given through Moses, which we are told were given to us for our own good.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 10:12-13
12 “And now, Israel, what does Yahweh your Elohim (God) require of you, but to fear the Lord your Elohim, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul,
13 and to keep the commandments of Yahweh and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”

If Yahweh gave us these instructions for our own good, then why would we not happily and eagerly embrace them as the divine blessing that they are?

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