What do you think of the Seventh Day Adventists and their thinking that Saturday is the God-ordained day of worship?
The Seventh Day Adventists deserve credit for their courage and sincerity in holding to a command which they feel is crucial to their salvation.
However, with equal sincerity, we believe that which specific day is kept as Sabbath no longer makes a difference, as long as one day a week is observed in the proper and reverential manner due a Sabbath day. Admittedly, sincerity concerning a mandate of God and our future life is of itself, insufficient. Anyone can be sincerely wrong. Our booklet, The Sabbath, covers most aspects of the subjects. But I will offer some comments here.
Sabbatarians claim a continuous and unbroken succession of seven day weeks from the creation of the planet, a succession that corresponds with our Sunday through Saturday, the terminal day being the Sabbath. After much discussion with Sabbatarians and searching for historical evidence, we cannot uncover any substantiation of this claim, but there is much information (or lack thereof) that makes subscribing to such a claim difficult at best.
A central complication is, that to say our “Saturday” is the “Sabbath” is to combine and equate two calendars based on the movements of two different celestial bodies. We are not able to find any conclusive evidence of a connection between the seventh day of the Hebrew calendar used by God’s people in Biblical times and the Saturday of our week. The Hebrew calendar by which Sabbaths were determined was a lunar calendar, and the Gregorian calendar we use today is solar. These two calendars do not equate nicely. The first of the years have varied widely over the course of history and the evolution of the Gregorian calendar in use today has been a long and multi-staged development. For instance, around 46 BC 90 intercalary days were added (ninety is not evenly divisible by seven) and in 1582 ten days were skipped. Certainly this would wreak havoc on a smooth succession of weeks, not to mention its being in parallel with the Hebrew calendar, and no one living can track this development completely, nor have we any God-inspired record. We are much dependant upon historical accounts which are often incomplete and contradictory.
As far as we are able to determine, about the time of Christ the days of the week were called first day, second day, third day, etc. Names were added, not purposefully by God, but relatively arbitrarily by the Emperor Constantine about the year A.D. 321. “The days assigned by the Romans to the Sun, Moon and Saturn were retained for the corresponding days of the week in English and several related languages. The other week day names in English are derived from Anglo-Saxon words for the gods of Teutonic mythology” (Encyclopaedia Britannica). And, nowhere in the Bible do the words “Sunday” or “Saturday” appear. It is then, at best, an unqualified statement, to say definitively that the Lord’s Sabbath day is Saturday.
Under Mosaic law and the Hebrew Calendar, the first Sabbath of the year is the seventh day of the month of Abib, whose start was marked by the new moon in the spring. This Sabbath of Mosaic law only occasionally coincides with a Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. For example, the new moon of Abib in 1989 occurred on April 7. This means that April 7 was the first day of the week and April 13 (Monday) was the first “Sabbath”. Thereafter all Mondays were Sabbaths until the next new-year moon in the spring of 1990. During many years the Sabbatarians who so religiously keep Saturday as the Sabbath are no nearer the correct date than are those who make no attempt to keep it.
We believe there is no way to be absolutely certain of what day on our calendar would match the Sabbath as given to the children of Israel. We do not believe that it is necessary to know. We do not believe God is concerned with when we worship, only that we worship; and that we worship properly and place Him first every day. Paul admonished: “let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Col. 2:16-17). He also warned against an overemphasis on observing “days, and months, and seasons, and years” (Gal. 4:10). God is looking for worship every day, for love given with “all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
If the Lord had intended that we observe a specific day each week, we feel He would have made it plain how to arrive at the exact date and would have commanded us to keep it. In the absence of that knowledge we continue to observe one day out of seven, and we observe that day not as the holy Sabbath but as a day of worship to the Lord.