“And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:2-3). This is what the Sabbath (Hebrew Shabbath) means, it means “day of rest”.
This does not seem to be a religious ordinance between Adam and Mt. Sinai. The great patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob shows no evidence in keeping the seventh day as a religious ordinance.
Exodus 24:15-18 states, “Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. And Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”
From this scene we find the offerings for the tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the table for the Bread of the Presence, the Lamp-stand all of which reveals something of the presence of God in their midst. These are key signs of understanding the New Testament, the tabernacle today houses the Eucharist, the Ark of the Covenant is a type of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Ark contained the 10 Commandments, the rod of Aaron, and a golden pot of manna. These items point to the person of Jesus Christ the Virgin Mary conceived by the power of the Holy spirit.
The Ark of the Covenant was recognized as the Lord’s presence among his people, it always went before them when ever it traveled anywhere. It was the center of the worship when it rested in the tabernacle, a forbearance of the Eucharist in the Tabernacle today.
Concerning the Bread for the Tabernacle, Leviticus 24:5-8 states, “And you shall take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes of it; two tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake. And you shall set them in two rows, six in a row, upon the table of pure gold. And you shall put pure frankincense with each row, that it may go with the bread as a memorial portion to be offered by fire to the Lord. Every sabbath day Aaron shall set it in order before the Lord continually on behalf of the people of Israel as a covenant forever.”
It is clear that the sabbath day was central to the covenant. Exodus 31:15-16 states, “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord; of whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
The bread for the Tabernacle is a sign of the Old Testament Covenant much as the Eucharist is the sign of the New Covenant. This is a type of the Eucharist, a foreshadowing of the Eucharist. The authority of the priesthood of Levi does end and the priesthood of Christ does supersede the Old Testament covenants.
Exodus 35:10 says, “And let every able man among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded: the tabernacle, its tent and its covering….” Consider Hebrews 13:10-14, “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. The bodies of the animals whose blood the high priest brings into the sanctuary as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the gate, to consecrate the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach that he bore.”
Israel was warned about the worship of other gods throughout their history, yet we see them falling into pagan worship. Ezekiel 8:15-18 states, “Then he said to me, ‘Have you seen this, O son of man? You will see still greater abominations than these.’ And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord; and behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about 25 men, with their backs to the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward the east. Then he said to me, ‘Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too slight a thing for the house of Judah to commit here, that they should fill the land with violence, and provoke me further to anger? Lo, they put the branch to their nose’.
There were cultures and pagans who worshiped the sun, this is nothing new, the Egyptians call the sun god “RA”, the Babylonians worshiped “Utu or Shamash, the god of the sun. The most notable pagan god worshiped by the Israelites was the god “Baal” which was suppose to be the son of Dagon, the god of the Philistines. All of this broke faith with the Covenant of the Lord.
Because of the peoples unfaithfulness, God allowed them once again to go into bondage, this time was under the Babylonians as they were taken away from their homeland. A scene much like Nazi Germany when the Jews were gathered and collected up and sent to camps, here, the Jews were sent to Babylon.
Not far from Jerusalem was a place called “Ramah” very close to Bethlehem.
Ramah would become the staging area for the Jewish slaves taken into captivity to Babylon. The lamentation of the people was heard from heaven and God made this promise.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 says, “”Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
St. Matthew recalls how terrible the lamentation was saying, “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more” (Matthew 2:18).
As the Israelite were saved from the Angel of Death by the blood of innocent spotless lambs blood applied on the lintel and two doorposts using a hyssop branch, the spotless Lamb of God was crucified between two thieves shedding his blood on behalf of all the world.
After receiving wine offered on a hyssop branch, Jesus from the cross says, “It is finished” marking the end of the Old Covenant and the beginning of the New Covenant.
It was here that Jesus transforms the Passover to the Mass. He received the cup that sealed the end of the Old Covenant, it is finished. The priesthood of Levi is no more. It was destroyed at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. Just as Jesus predicted it would. The Catholic Priesthood now serves the tabernacle not holding the burned offering of animals, but the glorified risen Christ, the Eucharist.
From this point on the Mass have become the center of Christian worship. The means by which Gods people can renew the new and everlasting Covenant. From the earliest times, “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42).
“On the first day of the week when we gathered to break bread…”, St. Paul raised Eutychus from the dead, then returned, “broke the bread, and ate; after a long conversation that lasted until daybreak, he departed” (Acts 20:7,11).
I often refer to this scene as the first recorded Midnight Mass! St. Paul refers to the “breaking of bread” and the cup of the “new covenant” saying, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
From the very beginning, the Mass (liturgy of the word and the Eucharist) was the center of Christian worship. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; “the chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all which partake of one bread.”
St. Paul continues, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons”.
It is interesting that St. Paul referred to the cup as the “cup of blessing”! The cup of blessing was the third cup in the Passover meal. The fourth cup Jesus postponed until he was on the cross.
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”
The New Testament Scripture makes clear that the apostles recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread (Luke 24:35). St. Paul wrote that if you didn’t recognize Jesus’ body in the breaking of bread, “you bring judgment to yourself” (I Corinthians 11:29). The other apostles were in unison with this teaching (Acts 2:42-47).
The language ties in perfectly with the aforementioned statement of the apostle Paul: “present your bodies as a living sacrifice; holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).
The Question remains, does the Catholic Church have the God given authority to follow Christ and through Christ worship God on Sunday? Absolutely, as the Passover sacrifice was transformed into the Lord’s Supper, so to the sign of the covenant also changed through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 15:28 states, “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity.” The Catholic Church from the Council of Jerusalem in 49 A.D. took a clear shift from the Law of Moses, from the Old Testament Covenant, to the New Testament law of grace.
The apostolic Church is clear that the sabbath was no longer the worship of God’s people, centered on the Covenant made with Abraham. This has been changed by Jesus giving his Apostles the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Rather, St. Paul, the apostles would go to the Jews and reach out to them, calling them to the New Testament. A converted Jew is a fulfilled Jew, a converted Protestant, is a fulfilled Christian. A practicing faithful Catholic points the way to the fullness of truth.
The Didache states, “But every Lord’s day . . . gather yourselves together and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned” (Didache 14 [A.D. 70]).
The Letter of Barnabas states, “We keep the eighth day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead” (Letter of Barnabas 15:6–8 [A.D. 74]).
St. Ignatius of Antioch ordained as Bishop by the Apostle Peter, urged believers to “partake of one Eucharist, for one is the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one the cup to unite us with His blood.” St. Ignatius also warned the Ephesians that if they “abstain from the Eucharistic Celebration because of their doubts; they will die in their doubts.”
St Ignatius also around 110 AD, wrote to the Magnesians: “no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s [Day]“. This was recognized as “living according of the Lord’s life”. St. Ignatius received from the heart and mind the teaching of St. John the Apostle what day the “Lord’s Day” referred too! It was the first day of the week, Sunday. The Early Christians recognized Jesus rising on Sunday, broke Bread on Sunday, and the descent of the Holy spirit came upon the Church on Sunday.
During the middle of the second century, St. Justin the Martyr states, “on the day which is called ‘Sunday,’ we have a common assembly….The Eucharistic elements are distributed and consumed.”
About 140 A.D., St. Justin writes the following:
“No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.
We do not consume the Eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.
On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts.
The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings.
Then we all stand up together and pray.
The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.
We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.”
Jesus Christ is this “pure offering”. The sacrifice is the Mass, Jesus offers himself to the Father in an unbloodied sacrifice, a perpetual Sacrament offered continually. Jesus died only once and for all, but the efficacy of that sacrifice is presented in the Mass.
Those who accuse Constantine for changing the sabbath day to Sunday is just not accurate at all, Constantine simply made Sunday accessible for the Christians who previously worshiped the Lord in secret, in catacombs, caves, and homes.
Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and will dine with him, and he with me. I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne.”
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