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    APOSTASY TO SUN-WORSHIP ALWAYS ACCOMPANIED BY SABBATH DESECRATION

    In the seventeenth chapter of Jeremiah we find a warning and a prophecy that was uttered but a very few years before the final captivity of Israel. The chapter opens thus:—SOOCC 30.1

    “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of i on, and with the point of a diamond; it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars; whilst their children remember their altars and their groves [Asherim] by the green trees upon the high hills.” Verses 1, 2.SOOCC 30.2

    These “groves” were the sun-images, the abominations of the heathen, which the children of Israel had been commanded to dash in pieces and cut down. Exodus 34:13, 14. We see, therefore, that the sin against which Jeremiah was made to proclaim was the sin of sun-worship, into which, as already shown, the Israelites were so frequently seduced by the inhabitants of the land. Now read the special warning and prophecy which the Lord through the prophet gave his people, in view of this very sin:—SOOCC 30.3

    “Thus saith the Lord unto me: Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; and say unto them, Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates: Thus saith the Lord: Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath-day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath-day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath-day, as I commanded your fathers. But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction. And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto Me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath-day, but hallow the Sabbath-day, to do no work therein; then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall remain forever.... But if ye will not hearken unto Me to hallow the Sabbath-day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath-day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” Jeremiah 17:19-27.SOOCC 31.1

    The people of Judah and Jerusalem did not heed this warning. Accordingly, God brought upon them the judgment threatened, as we read in the following scripture:—SOOCC 31.2

    “Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the Lord.... Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which He had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling-place; but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, ...and they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.... To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths; for as long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years.” 2 Chronicles 36:11-21.SOOCC 31.3

    These two passages of Scripture connect most forcibly the abominable idolatry into which the Jews plunged, and violation of the Sabbath. It was for their idolatry, for following the abominations of the heathen in their lascivious sun-festivals, that the people were punished, and carried into captivity; and yet it is stated that their captivity was for gross violation of the Sabbath (see also Nehemiah 13:15-18), showing that idolatry and Sabbath-breaking went together.SOOCC 32.1

    The reason for this is that the true observance of the Sabbath is the highest act of recognition of God. God is distinguished from all false gods by the fact that He alone can create. See Psalm 96:5; Jeremiah 10:10-12. God’s eternal power and godhead are known by His works. Romans 1:21. “The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. His work is honorable and glorious; and His righteousness endureth forever. He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered.” Psalm 111:2-4. The Jewish translation gives the exact rendering of verse 4 thus, “He hath made a memorial for His wonderful works.” God wants His works to be remembered, because it is only by these that He can be kept in mind as Creator and Sanctifier; and the Sabbath is that which He has made as the memorial of his works. See Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11. And so the Lord, in recounting His dealing with the children of Israel, and His efforts to induce them to give up idolatry, especially when He was delivering them from Egypt, with its abominable sun-worship, said: “Moreover also I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” Ezekiel 20:12.SOOCC 32.2

    There is one more factor that should be brought in here. As the Sabbath—the seventh day of the week—was the day which, when properly kept, would fix the minds of men on God as the Creator, the only Life-giver, so there was a day especially devoted to the sun, which the nations substituted for God, as the source of life. That day was the first day of the week. Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary says that Sunday is “so called because this day was anciently dedicated to the sun, or to its worship.” The “Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia” says of it:—SOOCC 33.1

    “Sunday (Dies Solis, of the Roman calendar; ‘day of the sun,’ because dedicated to the sun), the first day of the week, was adopted by the early Christians as a day of worship.”SOOCC 34.1

    The North British Review (vol 18, p. 409) styled Sunday “the wild solar holiday of all pagan times,” and Dr. Chambers in the Old Testament Student (January, 1886), says that Dies Solis, day of the sun, was “its old astronomical and heathen title.”SOOCC 34.2

    Now what appears from all this?—Just this: That whenever the Jews apostatized from God and plunged into some form of sun-worship, they ignored God’s memorial, the Sabbath, and instead performed superstitious and lascivious rites on the day of the sun, the first day of the week, which was “the wild solar holiday of all pagan times.” This is just as sure as is the fact that sun-worship was the universal form of idolatry.SOOCC 34.3

    Let it be well understood, however, that there was nothing of a Sabbatical nature connected with the day of the sun. The heathen knew nothing of a Sabbath-day. Their worship was not solemn and spiritual, but was hilarious, and was marked by festivities. Their feast-days to their gods were holidays, not sacred days. In all pagan countries religion was an affair of the State, and their religious days were public holidays, as the Fourth of July in America or the Bank Holidays in England. No idea of sacredness attached to them, and labor was not forbidden, but the people generally abandoned themselves to wild sports, feasting and dancing. As Mosheim says of the heathen:—SOOCC 34.4

    “Their festivals and other solemn days were polluted by a licentious indulgence in every species of libidinous excess; and on these occasions they were not prohibited even from making the sacred mansions of their gods the scenes of vile and beastly gratification.”—Commentaries (edited by Murdock, New York, 1854), Introduction, chapter 1, section 11.SOOCC 35.1

    So Israel’s apostasy was always accompanied by Sabbath-breaking and by the keeping of Sunday, according to the heathen custom. This marks an important point in our investigation of the origin of Sunday observance in the Christian church. Since sun-worship was the prevailing religion in the Roman Empire, it is easy to imagine what would be the tendency of those members of Christian churches that should apostatize, or were only partially converted from heathenism. The same circumstances would produce the same results after Christ as before Christ. But we will not anticipate.SOOCC 35.2

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