On the First Day of the Week
It was Our Lord Yeshua’s practice to visit the local synagogue on the Sabbath day (Lk 4.16). It was for the Messiah a day given to healing (Jn 5.5-9) and to education (Lk 4.31; 6.6). Messiah, indeed, proclaimed himself LORD of the Sabbath (Mk 2.28). Later, during Rav Shaul’s ministry, the apostle was rejected by a number of synagogues. This was primarily due to their misunderstanding of his position in relation to the Torah (the Law of Moses) as it pertained to various Gentile congregations under his care. Certainly the Biblical record makes it abundantly clear that to his dying day Paul was obedient to God’s revelation (Torah). Paul’s personal physician, Luke, clarifies this fact in his account of the Acts of the Holy Spirit (commonly called ‘The Acts of the Apostles’). In this document it is shown that Paul remained faithful to the teaching (Torah) he received from God, proclaiming his revelation (Torah) to both Jews and Greeks in the school of Tyrannus (Ac 19.8-10).
Similarly, the IMCF meets in the homes of believers and in hired halls and presently owns no buildings of its own.
Considering the doctrinal tenets to which we cling, we deemed it more appropriate to hold our teaching assemblies on the day which biblically honours God rather than meet on a day which represents (among other things) the symbol of 4th century apostasy when the Jewish Sabbath was officially exchanged, by the edict of the Roman Emperor and head of the Western church, for the first day of the week.
It is freely acknowledged by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church that the original Sabbath day (the Jewish Sabbath, Saturday) was changed by their church very early in ecclesiastical history, and consequently it was substituted by the pagan Sunday as the proscribed day of worship. Indeed, a nineteenth century papist catechism states:
“Q. Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?
“A. Had she not such power, she would not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her; – she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority” (Dr Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism, 1876, 174).
Ignoring the plain statements of their spiritual forebears, some Protestant “scholars” have scurried through the pages of the sacred Scriptures vainly attempting to locate evidence of early Sunday keeping in the primitive Messianic Community of God. All attempts to date which have tried to justify their Romanist-inherited practice of observing “the Lord’s Day” from the internal information contained within the Bible have failed miserably. One needs only to scan the pathetic arguments gathered in buttressed form in Francis Nigel Lee’s The Covenantal Sabbath (1966) published by the Lord’s Day Observance Society of London to appreciate the position we have taken. [The Messianic Rebbe has given a series of indepth lectures on the “The Festivals of Israel” in which the subject of the Sabbath is given a more thorough treatment. Members of the IMCF have the privilege of studying under the Rebbe’s tutelage.]
Certainly, we will agree wholeheartedly with Roman Catholic scholars when they say that any further attempts to prove such a fallacious nonsense are also unequivocally doomed to utter failure! New Testament texts to substantiate Sunday worship? There aren’t any!
It may come as a complete surprise to our readers but every reference to “the first day of the week” in the Messianic Scriptures (the so-called ‘NT’) are distorted corruptions of mia ton sabbaton. It is this expression which appears on eight occasions in each of the three most ancient manuscripts. We have also satisfactorily revealed that even Christian scholars, ensnared by treasured church tradition and the threat of being ostracised by their professional colleagues, have — like the Constantinian bishops before them — purposely wrested, twisted and garbled the very words breathed by the holy Spirit into an earthly tongue.
- In brief, they have altered “one” to read first, inserted “day” where it does not even appear, then changed “sabbaths” (plural) to week (singular).
Dr Alfred Marshall, in his literal English translation of the Nestle Greek Text, was honest enough — in at least one of the eight NT references (Mt 28.1) — to give the proper intended meaning of the original language. But even then he qualified what he had plainly translated! In his own words: “mia ton sabbaton: on the sabbath = on the first day of the week”!
To most Christian scholars, the text does not make sense translated any other way than “the first day of the week.” This is because they fail to appreciate Jewish thoughtforms. And how can these sincere men and women think otherwise? After all, the Western church threw the Jewish baby out with the Jewish bath water in the fourth century! Today even the Jewish Yeshua has become “Gentile Jesus, weak and mild.”
The inspired Jewish NT Scriptures plainly state that there were two Sabbaths and therefore two preparation days in the week Messiah died! These Sabbaths were annual high days as well as the weekly seventh day. Had they understood Jewish thoughtform Christian scholars would have comprehended what the apostle John had to say and they would never have gone astray in this matter of erroneous textual translation.
John wrote plainly enough that Yeshua died on the preparation day BEFORE the ANNUAL SABBATH (called “a high day”) of the festival of Unleavened Bread (Jn 19.31). This was decidedly not the normal customary preparation day (Friday) before the weekly Jewish Sabbath (Saturday). Having said this in no way are we saying that the IMCF and BRI is a “Judaising” Work! In fact, nothing could be further from the truth!
As far as we are concerned, the Sabbath has its place in the economy of God in both the fact of its being firstly a memorial of God’s creative activity in bringing planet Earth into stellar significance, and secondly, of being the memorial of a completed redemption by Messiah’s resurrection from the dead on the Sabbath as an eschatological promise of our own entering into God’s rest (shabbat) in God’s continuous recreative activity.
In BRI/IMCF theology YESHUA HAMASHIACH (Yeshua the Messiah) IS OUR EDENIC SABBATH, and therefore we are in an ever-present and continual spiritual rest. For those who have ears to hear, our redemption — our continuing change from corruptible carnality into the divine spiritual character image of the Archetypal Man (Yeshua the Messiah) — cannot be crammed into a mere 24 hour day. The Messiah is always calling us into tomorrow. Mashiach presently inhabits eternity where there is no yesterday or today. He is beyond Time and Space (really, Spacetime). If we are IN Mashiach, and this concept has the full approbation of Rav Shaul, then we also are in Spirit and by faith occupying eternity.
Our worship therefore has no bounds and cannot be circumvented by parameters of time.