Post-Flood Archaeological Evidence of the Seven-Day Week

Post-Flood Archaeological Evidence of the Seven-Day Week

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

In the very beginning of Genesis, God established the seven-day weekly cycle. He worked the first six days, fashioning and forming the face of the earth. On the seventh day He rested and thus established the Sabbath as a memorial of Creation. This continuous seven-day cycle was understood in the early days of mankind. Archaeological evidence supports that humanity was aware of it even after the flood!

In Genesis chapters 6 through 8, we learn about the world-wide flood that happened in the days of Noah. He was instructed to take his family along with some of all animals, including seven pairs of clean animals and two pairs of unclean animals, onto an Ark or large boat. God gave him the instructions to construct this boat so that it would house them all. Noah also understood the concept of the original seven-day week. This is evident in the flood story.

We have some examples below: “For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights…And it came to pass after the seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth” (Genesis 7:4, 10, KJV).

“6 and it came to pass at the end of the forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: and he sent forth a raven, and it went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. 8 and he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; 9 but the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him to the ark; for the waters were on the face of the whole earth; and brought her in unto him in the ark 10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; 11 and the dove came in to him at eventide; and, lo, in her mouth an olive-leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. 12 And he stayed yet other seven days, and sent forth the dove; and she returned not again unto him any more” (Gen 8:6-12, KJV).

After the flood, there were only three families that started the process of repopulating the earth: the three sons of Noah (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) and their wives. The first immediate generations of these three families would have also been familiar with the seven-day cycle.

The Biblical account informs us that people were scattered from a central location in the Middle East (Genesis chapter 11; other cultures have similar stories about this event as well). This means that they started traveling in other directions and developed their own language. Moreover, they developed stories about Creation and the flood. Many ancient cultures had some form of a flood story. These were deviations from the original one that occurred in the days of Noah.

There is archaeological evidence that the immediate post-world flood knew something of the seven-day cycle. We will look at two findings that discuss the seven-day weekly cycle in a manner similar to the account of Noah and the flood. They both date to a time not long after the flood (between 2100-1900 BC).

The first account comes from Sumer, which was an ancient civilization between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Iraq. In their account, the flood lasted seven days and nights.

“All the windstorms, exceedingly powerful, attacked as one, At the same time, the flood sweeps over the cult-centers. After, for seven days (and) seven nights, The flood had swept over the land…” (Pritchard, p 44).

The next ancient reference comes from the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is the oldest recorded epic in history. It tells the story of a man named Gilgamesh. He was on a quest to find Utnapishtim, who survived the great flood by boarding a ship. Gilgamesh wanted to learn the key to eternal life.

In the story, there are three references to the seven-day cycle. In the first reference, the flood subsided on the seventh day. In the second reference, Utnapishtim released a dove on the seventh day (just like in the story of Noah). In the third reference, Utnapishtim asked Gilgamesh to stay awake for seven days. On Tablet 11, we read the following:

“Six days and [six] nights Blows the flood wind, as the south-storm sweeps the land. When the seventh day arrived, The flood (-carrying) south-storm subsided in the battle… On Mount Nisir the ship came to a halt.  Mount Nisir held the ship fast, Allowing no motion. One day, a second day, Mount Nisir held the ship fast, Allowing no motion. A third day, a fourth day, Mount Nisir held the ship fast, Allowing no motion. A fifth, and a sixth (day), Mount Nisir held the ship fast, Allowing no motion. When the seventh day arrived, I sent forth and set free a dove…The dove went forth, but came back; Since no resting-place for it was visible, she turned round. Then I sent forth and set free a swallow. The swallow went forth, but came back; Since no resting-place for it was visible, she turned round. Then I sent forth and set free a raven. The raven went forth and, seeing that the waters had diminished, He eats, circles, caws, and turns not round. Then I let out (all) to the four winds And offered a sacrifice….That the life which thou sleekest thou mayest find? Up, lie not down to sleep For six days and seven nights.”…Up, bake for him wafers, put (them) at his head, And mark on the wall the days he sleeps.” She baked for him wafers, put (them) at his head, and marked on the wall the days he slept. His first wafer is dried out, the second is gone bad, the third is soggy; the crust of the fourth has turned  while the fifth has a moldy cast, the sixth (still) is fresh-colored; the seventh—just as he touched him the man awoke” (ibid, pp 94-95).

These two ancient findings illustrate how the seven-day week at one time had universal exposure after the global flood. They are located in a region many historians call “the cradle of civilization.” It was among the first places that the descendants of Ham, Shem, and Japheth settled. Indeed, all humans would have been near each other for a time immediately after the flood. They were all closely related! The uses of the seven-day cycle in these flood stories mirrors the Genesis account (Gen. 7:4,10; 8:10-12).

One major difference is that the Sumerian and Babylonian accounts never connected the seventh day to the deities of their culture. But remember that they also did not worship the God of the Bible. They were polytheists who worshipped multiple gods.

But even in their amended stories about the flood, they bear witness to Biblical truth and the God-established weekly cycle.  

At some point after the flood, ancient cultures tried to establish their own weekly cycles. Some of them were tied to the heavenly bodies. However, they failed to supplant the seven-day weekly cycle. In past articles, we reviewed failed attempts to change the seven-day cycle (click here to read more about this subject).

Kelly McDonald

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

CALVIN’S AMAZING COMMENTARY— ACTS 20:7 AND I COR 16:2

CALVIN’S AMAZING COMMENTARY— ACTS 20:7 AND I COR 16:2

By Philip Derstine

“Older commentaries on Acts 20:7 exhibit a general consensus that the meeting described here was the first clear-cut example of Sunday worship in church history. W. J. Conybeare and J. S. Howson state: “This is a passage of the utmost importance, as showing that the observance of Sunday was customary.”

One would expect that a fantastic assertion such as this would warrant more than a footnote in a 1000 page book on the life and epistles of Paul. Another example: Charles John Ellicott, commenting on Acts 20:7, says “This, and the counsel given in I Cor. 16:2 are distinct proofs that the Church had already begun to observe the weekly festival of the Resurrection in place of, or where the disciples were Jews, in addition to, the weekly Sabbath.”

Ellicott believes that Paul remained at Troas for seven days in order to “keep the Lord’s day,” even though it is admitted the term Lord’s Day had not yet come into vogue. Here, according to most theologians, is the precedent-setting, earliest case of the transference of the sanctity of the Sabbath to the first day of the week. Thankfully many modern scholars have exposed the presumptions inherent in such views…”

(this article is an excerpt from the March-April 2016 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 7, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/TSS_March_2016.pdf

Sabbath Meditation #33 – 13 Sabbath Promises

Sabbath Meditation #33 – 13 Sabbath Promises
by Kelly McDonald, Jr.

There are many promises given to us in the Bible concerning the Sabbath. Each of them is precious and gives us comfort from the world around us. Despite the world’s best efforts to diminish, despise, and demean our Sabbath observance, these promises remind us that God is with us and will bestow His favor and blessing on our lives. In this meditation, we will review some of these promises (verses found at the end of this article).

Genesis 2:1-3 – All of humanity is promised that the seventh day is blessed and made holy by God.

Ex. 23:12 – We are promised to be refreshed when we observe the Sabbath.

Ex. 31:13 – We have a promise that the Sabbath allows us to know that the Lord sanctifies us. It’s a reminder that He sets us apart from the rest of the world.

Lev. 26:2-13 – We will be blessed in every part of our lives for obedience to the Sabbath.

Isaiah 56:1-2 – We will have blessed happiness in our lives when we keep the Sabbath (this is not a happiness that the world can provide).

Isaiah 56:7 – We are promised that we will be brought to the Lord’s holy mountain, be joyful in the Lord’s house of prayer, and our spiritual sacrifices will be accepted if we obey the Sabbath.

Isaiah 58:13-14 – We are promised that we will find delight in the Lord, ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed on the heritage of Jacob if we obey the Sabbath.

Isaiah 66:22-23 – We have a future promise that all of humanity will keep the Sabbath in the New Heavens and New Earth.

Jeremiah 17:19-27 – God promised to spare Jerusalem from destruction if they would keep the Sabbath.

Ezekiel 46:1-4, 12 – In the Millennial reign of Christ, there will be a Temple built. The gates of the inner court of this Temple will be open every Sabbath.

Mark 2:27-28 – Jesus told us that He is Lord of the Sabbath, which is a promise of His Lordship over time itself. It is a promise for every Christian.

Mark 3:1-4, Luke 6:1-9, Luke 13:10-16, Luke 14:1-5, John 5:9-18 – Jesus taught us that the Sabbath is a day of healing and life.

Hebrews 4:4-11 – The promise of entering God’s rest.

What other Sabbath promises can you find in the Bible?

Selah.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Sabbath promise verses:

Genesis 2:1-3 – 2 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Exodus 23:12 – 12 Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed.

Exodus 31:13 – 13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

Leviticus 26:2-13 – 2 You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary: I am the Lord. 3 ‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, 4 then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. 6 I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid; I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land. 7 You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. 8 Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you. 9 ‘For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you. 10 You shall eat the old harvest, and clear out the old because of the new. 11 I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright.

Isaiah 56:1-2 – Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, For My salvation is about to come, And My righteousness to be revealed. 2 Blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who lays hold on it; Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

Isaiah 56:7 – 7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Isaiah 58:13-14 – 13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, 14 Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 66:22-23 – 22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain. 23 And it shall come to pass That from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 17:19-27 – 19 Thus the Lord said to me: “Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, by which the kings of Judah come in and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; 20 and say to them, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. 21 Thus says the Lord: “Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; 22 nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. 23 But they did not obey nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor receive instruction. 24 “And it shall be, if you heed Me carefully,” says the Lord, “to bring no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work in it, 25 then shall enter the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, accompanied by the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall remain forever. 26 And they shall come from the cities of Judah and from the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin and from the lowland, from the mountains and from the South, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, bringing sacrifices of praise to the house of the Lord. 27 “But if you will not heed Me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” ’ ”

Ezekiel 46:1-4 – ‘Thus says the Lord God: “The gateway of the inner court that faces toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and on the day of the New Moon it shall be opened. 2 The prince shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway from the outside, and stand by the gatepost. The priests shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings. He shall worship at the threshold of the gate. Then he shall go out, but the gate shall not be shut until evening. 3 Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the entrance to this gateway before the Lord on the Sabbaths and the New Moons. 4 The burnt offering that the prince offers to the Lord on the Sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish, and a ram without blemish;

Ezekiel 46:12 – 12 “Now when the prince makes a voluntary burnt offering or voluntary peace offering to the Lord, the gate that faces toward the east shall then be opened for him; and he shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings as he did on the Sabbath day. Then he shall go out, and after he goes out the gate shall be shut.

Mark 2:27-28 – 27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

Mark 3:1-4 – 3 And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might [accuse Him. 3 And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” 4 Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent.

Luke 6:1-9 – 1 Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. 2 And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” 3 But Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?” 5 And He said to them, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” 6 Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. 8 But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Arise and stand here.” And he arose and stood. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?”

Luke 13:10-16 – 10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. 12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” 13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”

Luke 14:1-5 – 1 Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. 2 And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 4 But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go. 5 Then He answered them, saying, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?”

John 5:9-18 – 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” 11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ” 12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” 15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

Hebrews 4:4-11 – 4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.” 6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

Which Law?

Which Law?

By D.J. Wellington

“A lawyer inquired of Yahshua, Teacher, “which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love YAHWEH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets’” (Matthew 22:36-40).

These were not new words. They were straight from words previously spoke. “You shall love YAHWEH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” Deuteronomy 6:5; and “…but you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am YAHWEH,” Leviticus 19:18. But Yahshua added something to them; do you see it? It is a very, very important phrase that most ministers seem to bypass: “On these two commandments depend [hang] the whole law and the prophets! What does that mean?…”“

(this article is an excerpt from the Sept-Oct 2017edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 8, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/Sept-Oct_2017.pdf

Did the Ten Commandments Exist Before Mount Sinai?

Did the Ten Commandments Exist Before Mount Sinai?
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.



Many Christians believe that the Ten Commandments were solely given to the Israelites when God formed a covenant with them on Mount Sinai. However, all Ten Commandments can be found in the Bible before the covenant on Mount Sinai was formed. We have some examples below (this is not an all inclusive list). These verses either display that the commandments existed because God mentioned it or that people were aware of their existence.

No other gods before Him: Gen. 31:30-32, Gen. 35:2-4, Ex. 6:7, 10:7, 12:12

No graven images/idols (and by extension no other gods): Gen. 31:19, 31:34-35, 35:2-4

Do not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain (this literally means to bear or take up His name in vain): Gen. 4:26, 13:4, Ex. 3:15 (there were those who did not call on/take up His name in vain)

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy: Genesis 2:1-3, 8:10-12, Ex. chapter 16

Honor your mother and father: Gen. 26:34-35, 35:21-22, 49:4-5

Do not commit murder: Gen. 4:8-10, 9:5-6, 27:41, 37:19-26, Ex. 1:16, 2:14

Do not commit adultery: Gen. 12:9-20, 19:1-38, 20:1-14, 39:1-12

Do not steal: Gen. 27:15, 30:33, 31:19,30, 44:8

Do not bear false witness (said another way, do not lie): Gen. 4:9-11, 12:9-20, 20:1-5, 27:1-29, 31:7,41, 37:31-35, 39:13-20

Do not covet: Genesis 3:6, Gen. 31:19

These verses make it abundantly clear that the Ten Commandments existed before Mount Sinai and the Old Covenant. Apparently God made these precepts clear to mankind. After all, the world was destroyed by the flood because of sin and violence that people carried out against their fellow humans.

Keep looking for more posts like this one!

God bless!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.
BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

The Child of God Rescue Story

The Child of God Rescue Story

By Mardy Cobb

“In the summer of 2007 I received an email from somewhere in Kenya, asking for help. I thought that it was probably a scam. This email asked for help with two small congregations. It turns out they had been with a Church of God (COG) offshoot for only a short time when tribal conflicts led to a division. They said they were very young in the faith. It sounded sincere and I began a series of questions, calls, emails, follow-ups, and whatever 3rd party verifications I could find. It took a long time, but, about a year after contact, I had done all that could be done from the USA, and everything appeared sincere and legitimate.

I discussed this group’s request with my wife, with the congregation, and asked everyone to pray about it. Eventually, I came to believe that I had to visit this small group to determine the truth or falsehood of their status and frankly, I suspected it would be proven a fraud.

My purpose in going to Africa was to help with the Gospel and the small church. Shortly after my arrival in Kenya in 2008 I met Richard Mogendi, their leader, and was introduced to 27 orphans that were being cared for by the brethren in that church. Some of the children were orphans because of political strife and tribal fighting in the last election….”

(this article is an excerpt from the Nov-Dec 2018 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 11, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/Nov_2018_web.pdf

Sabbath Meditation #32 – The Sabbath and Prophecy

Sabbath Meditation #32 – The Sabbath and Prophecy

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 24:20)

In general, prophecy has to do with promises God has made about future events. Some of the books of the Bible with a prophetic emphasis include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. A survey of the book of Revelation, which is a culmination of many other prophecies, reveals significant repetitions of the number seven. In this book alone, 31 verses mention some subject with the number seven included. I have summarized some of these below:

– Seven Churches represented by seven stars and seven lampstands (Rev. 1:20).

– The Seven lamps which represents the seven-fold Spirit of God (Rev. 4:5).

– A book written sealed with seven seals (Rev. 5:1).

– The Lamb has seven eyes and seven horns with represent the seven-fold Spirit of God (Rev. 5:6).

– Seven angels with Seven Trumpets (Rev. 8:2).

– Seven thunders (Rev. 10:3-4).

– The dragon has seven heads with seven crowns (Rev. 12:3).

– A beast with seven heads (Rev. 13:1).

– Seven Angels with Seven golden bowls which represent Seven plagues (Rev. 15:6-7-8).

– A beast with seven heads which represents seven heads and seven kings (Rev. 17:3, 9-10).

Sevens can be found in other prophetic books as well. In Isaiah 11:15, we learn that the Euphrates will be broken up into seven streams. In Daniel chapter 9, there is a prophecy about the seventy weeks or seventy seven-year periods. The seventieth week is connected to events just before Christ’s return.

These prophetic sevens may have inspired some Christians, such as the Anabaptists in 16th century Germany, to literally obey the Sabbath (click here to learn more about this subject).

It would be difficult for us to review all the references to the number seven as it relates to end-time events and overlook any connection to the seventh-day Sabbath. The Sabbath is mentioned in Matthew 24:20 in a broader discussion about the last days before Christ’s return. It is implied in Rev. 14:12.

But what other implications might there be for the Sabbath in prophecy. Does the Sabbath help open our minds to deeper truths about prophecy? Does the Sabbath help us to connect these prophecies together? Meditate for a moment on how the Sabbath might apply to prophecy. How do you think it applies to prophecy?

Selah.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

The Mark of the Faithful Remnant

The Mark of the Faithful Remnant

By Daniel Botkin

“There has been a significant movement among believers in the past several decades to rediscover and reclaim that which could be called the neglected elements of the Torah.

This movement is especially obvious among Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua, but it is by no means limited to Jewish believers. Because so many non-Jewish believers are now involved in this movement, some people prefer to use terms like “the Messianic Faith” or “the Messianic Movement” rather than “Messianic Judaism” or “the Messianic Jewish Movement” -not to exclude Messianic Jews, but to more accurately describe a movement that now consists of more non-Jews than Jews. In recent years the term “Hebrew Roots Movement” has become popular.

Regardless of which terminology is used to describe this movement, it is an awakening and a phenomenon that is continuing to grow. Even Mainstream Christians are taking note of it and responding to it. Much of the response is unfavorable, but at least Christians are taking note of it. Every sincere believer should prayerfully consider what is happening….”

(this article is an excerpt from the Jan-Feb 2019 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 16, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/Jan_2019_webA.pdf

Sunday Laws in the Roman Empire (Part 2 of 2)

Sunday Laws in the Roman Empire (Part 2 of 2)

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Last week, we reviewed the first five Sunday laws proclaimed in the Roman Empire (CLICK HERE to read part 1 of this series). They were issued from 321 to as late as 373. Two in 321, one at an unknown date, and two more between 368-373. The last two were regional. There would not be another one (that we know of) until 386 AD.

From 386 to 425, eleven laws were enacted that governed some sort of Sunday observance (including the annual observance of Pascha on Sunday). The sudden increase in Sunday laws during this time reflects the continued unification of the Roman Empire and Roman Church. Before we can review these laws, there is some necessary background information for us to review.

Theodosius became Emperor in 379. He heard the religious perspectives of various Christian groups and sided with the Roman Church. He was determined to make the Empire uniform in its view of God. The next year, he issued a decree to force subjects of the Empire to become Roman Catholic. We have an excerpt of this law below:

“To the residents of Constantinople: It is our will that all the peoples whom the government of our clemency rules shall follow that religion which a pious belief from Peter to the present declares the holy Peter delivered to the Romans, and which it is evident the Pontiff Damascus and Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic sanctity, follow; that is, that according to the apostolic discipline and evangelical doctrine we believe in the deity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit of equal majesty in a holy trinity. Those who follow this law we command shall be comprised under the name of Catholic Christians; but others, indeed, we require, as insane and raving, to bear the infamy of heretical teaching…” (CT: 16.1.2 [quoted from Ayers, pp 367-368]).

Notice that the issue of Sabbath and Sunday was never addressed in this law. As reviewed in the January-February 2020 issue of The Sabbath Sentinel, most Christians still kept the Sabbath at that time. The biggest issue which separated Roman Catholic Christians from others was the Trinity; this involved an ongoing argument at that time concerning the nature of God.

Keep in mind that people did not instantly comply with this decree. Laws in the ancient world took time to implement; it does not necessarily follow that people obeyed. Non-Trinitarian groups continued for many centuries inside and outside of the Roman Empire. Decrees such as these reflect Imperial views.

The laws of Theodosius’ reign, such as the one above, appear draconian. However, they were not always enforced. Sozomen, a fourth century Christian historian, said that Theodosius did not enforce the terrible punishments prescribed in his laws (Church history, 7.12). Instead, he wanted to intimidate people into changing their religious views so that there would be greater uniformity. Later in this same work, Sozomen mentioned that most Christians in his time kept the Sabbath (ibid, 7.19). As discussed in the May-June edition of The Sabbath Sentinel, Roman law protected Sabbath observance.

Theodosius completed the merger of the Roman Church and State which began years before under Constantine. This facilitated a series of Sunday laws with Christian meaning to be enacted during his reign; the first one dates to the year 386.

“The same Augustuses (Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius Augustuses) to Principius, Praetorian Prefect. On the Day of the Sun (Sunday), which our ancestors rightly called the Lord’s Day*, the prosecution of all litigation and actions shall entirely cease. No person shall demand payment of either a public or private debt. There shall be no cognizance of any contention, even before arbitrators, whether these arbitrators be demanded in court of voluntarily chosen. If any person should turn aside from the inspiration and ritual of holy religion, he shall be adjudged not only infamous but also sacrilegious” (CT: 11.7.13; Nov. 3, 386) (Pharr, p 300).

*The underlying Latin translated as “our ancestors rightly called the Lord’s Day” is quem dominicam rite dixere maiores (Haenel, 1071). By that time, dominicam had come to be known as ‘Lord’s Day’. Rite means a duty according to religious observance. Dixere means called or said and maiores means ancestors or forefathers. The use of the term maiores does not indicate length of time.

Notice that these Emperors attributed the usage of the term ‘Lord’s Day’ to their forefathers, not God or the Bible. It was common for Roman Catholic writers to do the same (see Eusebius, Exposition on Psalm 93 in Odom, p 292). This is the first Roman law where Sunday is called ‘The Lord’s Day’, and the first one to ascribe direct Christian meaning to Sunday. It reiterated some of the details from Constantine’s law on July 3, 321 (CT: 2.8.1 – CLICK HERE to read last week’s article).

This law was repeated as CT: 2.8.18 and 8.8.3 in the same month and year (Nov. 386); it was later repeated in the Code of Justinian (CJ: 3.12.6). Just three years later, another law will better demonstrate the one result of the Roman State/Church union.

“Emperors Valentinian, Theodosius, and Arcadius Augustuses to Albinus, Prefect of the City. We order all days to be court days. It shall be lawful for only those days to remain as holidays which throughout two months a very indulgent year has recognized as a respite from toil for the mitigation of summer heat and for the harvesting of the autumn crops. 1. We also set aside the kalends of January (January 1) as a customary rest day. 2. To the aforementioned days We add the natal days of the greatest cities, Rome (April 21) and Constantinople (May 11),* to which the law ought to defer, since it also was born of them.** 3. We count the same category the holy Paschal days (Latin: sacros quoque paschae dies), of which seven follow Easter; likewise the Days of the Sun*** which revolve upon themselves at regular intervals. 4. It is necessary for Our anniversaries also to be held in equal reverence, that is, both the day which brought forth the auspicious beginning of Our life and the day which produced the beginning of Our imperial power.  – August 7, 389 (CT: 2.8.19; Pharr, p 44; Latin: Haenel, p 210).

*This law provides us with an overview of the holidays allowed by the merger of Roman Church and Roman State. In it, we can see a mix of the older pagan holidays, such as the summer/autumn rest days, January 1, the founding of Rome and Constantinople, Sun-day, and the Imperial birthdays/anniversaries with newer Roman Catholic days, such as the Paschal days.

**The term ‘Easter’ or an equivalent term was not used at this time. The Latin word used in the sentence is Paschae, which means Passover. The Roman Catholic Church celebrated it on a Sunday. Sunday was not called the Lord’s Day, but dies solis.

A controversy that arose during this time was whether contests in the Circuses should be allowed on the birthdays of the Emperors, even if their birthdays occurred on Sunday. The Circus Maximus was dedicated to the sun; horse races often occurred there (See Tertullian, De Spectaculis, 7-8).

“The same Augustuses to Proculus, Perfect of the City. Contests in the circuses shall be prohibited on the festal Days of the Sun [Latin: Festis solis diebus], except on the birthdays of Our Clemency, in order that no concourse of people to the spectacles may divert men from the reverend mysteries of the Christian law*” – April 17, 392 (CT: 2.8.20; English: Pharr, p 44; Latin: Haenel, p 211).

*This decree contains a clear reference to Christian law (Latin: Christianae legis). During the reign of Theodosius, the term ‘Christian’ was defined as Roman Catholic (see CT: 16.1.2 above). The law allows us to see that the birthdays of the Imperial reign were considered more important than Sunday rest. Just seven years later, another law affirmed this ruling (CT: 2.8.23). However, just ten years later, the Imperial attitude towards this subject changed.

“Emperors Honorius and Theodosius (II) Augustuses to Jovius, Praetorian Prefect. On the Lord’s Day, which is commonly called the Day of the Sun, We permit absolutely no amusements to be produced, even if by chance as the ends of the years return upon themselves the day should be the anniversary of the day when the beginning of Our reign shone forth, or if it should be the day to which are assigned the solemn rites that are due to the birthday” – April 1, 409 (CT: 2.8.25; Pharr, p 45).

In this law, no amusements or spectacles were allowed to be produced on Sunday even if the anniversaries of the Emperors’ reigns fall on Sunday or their birthdays. This shows us that the concept of Sunday rest had even greater weight than it did years before.

Other Sunday laws were adopted which governed human behavior. In 425, the first Roman law was promulgated that labeled Sunday the first day of the week. It also commanded people to worship on certain days each year, including Sunday, the birthday of Christ, Epiphany, Roman Passover, and Pentecost (CT: 15.5.5). More rules governing Sunday observance were enacted in 469 (CJ: 3.12.9); this last Roman law imposed harsher penalties for violations of Sunday rest.

Conclusion about Sabbath and Sunday Laws
Sabbath laws in the Roman Empire protected the existing practice of Sabbath observance for the Jewish people (and by extension Christians). It was not imposed on other people. Furthermore, there was no need for a body of laws to define what keeping the Sabbath really meant – the Bible already provided this instruction.

Conversely, Sunday laws in the Roman Empire were imposed on everyone else. If anything, these laws refute the notion that Sunday observance/rest was an entrenched, established, and developed practice in the fourth century. If the greatest portion of Christians in the Roman world were already keeping ‘Sunday’, then why were rules for its observance constantly adjusted over a hundred-year period and subsequently imposed on others? Because it was not universally observed by Christians.

The whole concept of Sunday as a rest day for Christian gathering is not found in the New Testament. These Roman Sunday laws are proof that it took time to develop the idea of what it really meant to keep Sunday – was it a day of leisure, rest, celebration, or all the above? The Roman church developed this concept partly using Roman law (Catholic Encyclopedia: Canon Law). The Sabbath continued to be observed by most Christians in the East for centuries in the future.

To read more about this subject, download our free booklet Sabbath and Sunday Laws in the Roman Empire by clicking HERE

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Sources Cited:

Catholic Encyclopedia. Article: Canon Law.

Codex Justinian. English. Blume, Fred. Ed. Bruce W. Frier. The Codex Justinian. Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press. 2016. pp 645-647.

Codex Theodosianus. English. Translated by Joseph Cullen Ayers. A Source Book For Ancient Church History. New York. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913.  pp 367-368.

Codex Theodosianus. English. Translated by Clyde Pharr. The Theodosian Code and Novels and the Sirmondian Constitutions. Princeton University, 1952. pp 44, 45, 209, 229-230, 300, 432, 433.

Codex Theodosianus. Latin. Edited by Gustavus Haenel. Novellae Constitutiones Imperatorum Theodosii II., Valentinianii III., Maximi, Severi, Anthemii. Ad XLII Librorum Manuscriptorum Et Priorum Editionum Fidem Recognovit Et Annotatione Critica Instuxit. Lipsiensis, 1841-1842. Vol 2: pp 210, 211. Vol 3: p 1071.

Odom, Robert L. Sabbath and Sunday in Early Christianity. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association. 1977. p 292.

Sozomen. Church History, 7.12, 18-19. Translated by Chester D. Hartranft. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. Second series, Vol. 2. Buffalo, NY: The Christian Literature Co., 1890. p 383.

Sunday Laws in the Roman Empire (Part 1 of 2)

Sunday Laws in the Roman Empire (Part 1 of 2)

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

As reviewed last month, the Roman Empire protected Sabbath observance for hundreds of years. This facilitated the spread of Christians who observed the Sabbath within the Imperial domains (CLICK HERE to read about Sabbath laws in the Roman Empire).  In the fourth century, laws pertaining to Sunday were enacted by Roman Emperors. Unlike Sabbath protections, these were a nuanced ideal.

The first Sunday laws, perhaps in history, were enacted in 321 by Constantine. Before we delve into these two laws, it is important to recognize that he held the title pontifex maximus. This was an ancient pagan Roman title that allowed him to control the religious calendar of the Empire. As we will see, his Sunday laws are consistent with the idea of the pontifex maximus. We have a copy of his first two Sunday laws below:

Law 1: “All Judges and city people and the craftsmen shall rest upon the venerable Day of the Sun*. Country people, however, may freely attend to the cultivation of the fields, because it frequently happens that no other days are better adapted for planting the grain in the furrows or the vines in trenches. So that the advantage given by heavenly providence may not for the occasion of a short time perish” – March 7, 321 (CJ 3.12.2 [some list as 3.12.3], English: Ayers, 284-285; Latin: Krueger, p 127).

*In the Latin manuscript of this law, the phrase translated as “venerable day of the sun” is venerabili die solis. Constantine’s decree was based upon honoring and esteeming the celestial body we call the sun.

Law 2: “Just as it appears to Us most unseemly that the Day of the Sun (Sunday), which is celebrated on account of its own veneration, should be occupied with legal altercations and with noxious controversies of the litigation of contending parties, so it is pleasant and fitting that those acts which are especially desired shall be accomplished on that day. 1. Therefore all men shall have the right to emancipate and to manumit on this festive day [Latin: festo], and the legal formalities thereof are not forbidden” – July 3, 321 (CT: 2.8.1; English: Pharr, p 44; Latin: Haenel, p 207).

Many have assumed that these laws were issued to honor God or promote the agenda of the Roman Catholic Church. This would be a stretch to say the least. These decrees did not mention Jesus or the God of the Bible. No penalty was issued for those who did not comply. Additionally, this law was not designed to mirror the Biblical Sabbath. Notice that farmers were not allowed to take off work on the day. The God of the Holy Bible gave us the Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) as the weekly day of rest for all people, regardless of their occupation.

As the pontifex maximus, Constantine had responsibilities to uphold certain Roman ideals regarding celebrations for the Roman people. The ancient writer Cicero, who lived from about 106 to 43 BC, wrote about this subject. His writings will help clarify the 321 Sun-day laws. In his work On Law, he described special characteristics of the ancient Roman celebrations.

“Next, our provision for holidays and festivals [Latin: feriarum festorumque dierum] ordains rest from lawsuits and controversies for free men, and from labour and toil for slaves. Whoever plans the official year ought to arrange that these festivals shall come at the completion of the various labours of the farm…” (idem, 2.12[29]).

The principles described by Cicero continued to be applied to Roman festivals during the Imperial period. This included the Saturnalia (Dec 17-24) and the Kalends of January (Jan 1-3), which were still celebrated even in Constantine’s time (see Seneca, Epistulae, 18.1-4; Lucian, Saturnalia, sec 2 and Chronosolon, sec 13-14; Dio Cassius, Roman History, 60.19.3; Macrobius, Saturnalia; and Libianus, Oration, 9).

Constantine’s 321 Sunday laws matched the anticipated patterns for Roman festivals described by Cicero and other ancient authors. The issues of work and agricultural toils were addressed in the first law. While farmers were not granted rest on the day, their appropriate behavior was discussed to be consistent with other festivals. Many annual festivals related in some way to the harvest cycle. It was not logical to allow farmers off on Sunday since there is not a weekly crop. In the second law, most legal proceedings were suspended and freedom for slaves were addressed. The Latin word festo was employed in this law.

The day after his first Sunday law, he received a law allowing the pagan soothsayers to enter buildings where lightning had struck (CT: 16.10.1). This decree upheld the ancient Roman custom where a ceremony was used to determine which god or goddess was angry and how to pacify him/her. Tacitus, writing a couple of centuries earlier, mentioned that pontiffs were involved with overseeing the haruspices (Annals, 11.15).

Balkans Inscription

A third Sunday law from Constantine’s reign is recorded on an inscription found in a Slavonian bath house. To understand this inscription, one must grasp that the Romans had two ways that they calculated weeks. There was the market week, which was composed of eight days. Every eighth day was nundinae or market day. The inscription informs us that Constantine adjusted the ancient Roman nundinae or market day so that it would occur every dies solis instead of every eighth day (Orellius, p 140). Despite this ruling, the dual system of eight-day and seven-day weeks continued into at least the mid-fourth century AD.

While Constantine did show favor to Christians, he also continued to honor paganism in obvious ways. He honored the sun god Sol Invictus on monuments and coins; his Sunday laws are congruent with this sentiment. In the case of these Sunday laws, he utilized the title pontifex maximus to promote dies solis as a weekly feast day (in the Roman sense). One can be hardly surprised. His Sunday laws lack the necessary evidence to have firm Roman Catholic influence. First, he did not recognize it as the first day of the week or the Lord’s Day (pagans considered Sunday to be the second day of the week; we will likely cover this subject in a future BSA article). Secondly, the Roman Church did not have a developed theology about Sunday rest in 321 AD. The first Roman Church Council to discuss Sunday rest does not occur until about 364 (Laodicea).

A last, but not least, development which occurred during his reign is the gradual joining of the Roman Church and Roman State. Constantine paid the expenses of some Church Councils (Eusebius, Church History, 10.6). He ruled that clergy and their families did not have to pay taxes (CT: 16.2.10). By law, people could leave property to the Roman Church at death (CT: 16.2.4 [321]). In 326, he passed a law that granted the Roman Church special privileges. All other Christian groups were not allowed these privileges and were bound to public service (CT: 16.5.1).

In addition to these measures, he regulated the number of clergy in Christianity (CT: 16.2.6 [326 AD]). The wealthy were prevented from serving in these positions; only the poor could serve in them ([10.2.6 [326 or 329 AD]). He prevented clerics from being summoned to municipal councils for public service (10.2.6, 10.2.7 [330 AD]). Secular judges were even forced to enforce the decisions of Catholic Bishops; when such a bishop testified, his witness was considered supreme and voided all others (CS: 1 [333 AD]).

During the reign of Theodosius, this union between Church and State was made complete. We will review this occurrence in the second part of this series. The next Sunday law was enacted about 45-50 years later by the Roman Emperors Valentinian and Valens.

“Emperors Valentinian and Valens Augustuses to Florianus, Governor of Venetia. It is our will that no Christian shall be sued by tax collectors on the Day of the Sun (Sunday), which has long* been considered holy**, and by this interdict of our statute we sanction peril against any person who should dare to commit this offense” – April 21, 368, 370, 371 (CT: 8.8.1; English: Pharr, 209; Latin: Haenel, p 754).

*The Latin phrase translated as “long” is qui dudum. It more refers to the present and the immediate past rather than a long period of time (Lewis, A Latin Dictionary). This is different than the Sabbath – which the Roman Emperors viewed as being sacred since ‘ancient times’ (Latin: vetus).

**Notice the word ‘holy’ in the law. This is not a good translation. The underlying Latin word is faustus; it means lucky, fortunate, or a good omen. The word can have religious meaning, but it does not have to. In other words, Sunday was considered a lucky day.

This law was written to the governor of Venetia, which was a province in northeastern Italy. This means that it was likely not applied in other areas. This is the first Roman law that mentions Christianity in relationship to Sunday. Notice that nearly fifty years after the first Sunday laws, Roman Emperors still did not use the term Lord’s day; this continues to show a lack of Roman Church influence.

One thing that we can learn from this law is that there must have been a significant number of Christians in Venetia who kept Sunday. Tax collections still took place on Sunday up until this law was issued. This law was repeated as CT:11.7.10.

We will continue this subject next week!

To read more about this subject, download our free booklet Sabbath and Sunday Laws in the Roman Empire by clicking HERE

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Sources Cited

Ayers, Joseph Cullen. A Source Book For Ancient Church History. New York. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913. pp 284-285.

Cicero, On Law, 2.12(29). Translated by Clinton Walker Keyes. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1928. pp 406-407.

Codex Justinian, 3.12.2. Latin. Corpus Iuris Civilis. Krueger, Paulus, ed. Vol 2. Codex Iustinianus. Berlin, 1892. p 127.

Codex Theodosianus. English. Translated by Clyde Pharr. The Theodosian Code and Novels and the Sirmondian Constitutions. Princeton University, 1952. pp 44, 209.

Codex Theodosianus. Latin. Edited by Gustavus Haenel. Novellae Constitutiones Imperatorum Theodosii II., Valentinianii III., Maximi, Severi, Anthemii. Ad XLII Librorum Manuscriptorum Et Priorum Editionum Fidem Recognovit Et Annotatione Critica Instuxit. Lipsiensis, 1841-1842. Vol 2: pp 207, 754. Vol 3: pp 1070-71.

Encyclopedia Britannica. 11th edition. Article: Mithras.

Lewis, Charlton T. A Latin Dictionary. Oxford, Clarendon Press. 1879. Entry: dudum.

Orellius, Johann Caspar. Inscriptionum Latinarum Selectarum Amplissima Collecto. Romanae Antiquitatis. Vol 1. 1828. p 140, no 508.