As I write this blog millions of Christians around the world are making preparations to celebrate Easter. Many will call their services "Resurrection Sunday" instead of using the easter word. As I contemplated what I could write to address this issue I felt led to address the subject of "The Lord's Day", and His resurrection on the first day of the week. Christians around the world hold to the belief that the Sabbath of YHWH was changed to Sunday because that was the day that Christ arose from the dead. I have Scriptural problems with this scenario.
Yes, Yeshua did arise on the first day of the week, but it was because it was His Father's Appointed Time of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:9-14) and not because He was trying to establish a new Sabbath for His people. Along with celebrating the Appointed time of Firstfruits, Yeshua's disciples would have also been celebrating The Appointed Time of “Weeks” or “Shavuot” (Pentecost). All of the Appointed Times of YHWH point to Yeshua.
In Leviticus chapter 23, and elsewhere, in the Torah we are commanded to keep the Appointed Times of YHWH. In the Spring these Appointed Times are Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost. Pentecost is called Shavuot in Hebrew and it means "weeks". In these and other Scriptures we are given the dates that these Appointed Times are to be celebrated. They are all to be celebrated, in their proper order, beginning on the 14th day of the first month with Passover; followed by Unleavened Bread on the 15th and continuing for 7 days, then Firstfruits which usually falls within the 7 days of Unleavened Bread, and then Shavuot. The Word instructs us that Firstfruits is to be celebrated on the DAY AFTER the weekly Sabbath during the week of Passover.
Now, Passover can fall on any day of the week, but Firstfruits cannot. Firstfruits is to be celebrated on the day after the weekly Sabbath. Well, anyone can look at a calendar and tell that our Sunday is the day after the Sabbath. (That is if one understands that our Saturday is Yahweh's Sabbath)
Now, in order for us to know when to celebrate Shavuot we must fully grasp when Firstfruits takes place, for Shavuot is a counting of 7 weekly Sabbaths beginning with the weekly Sabbath before Firstfruits.
This all gets confusing if a person is not following the correct calendar. You see, the majority of the world pays attention to the Gregorian Calendar. However, this is not the calendar that YHWH uses and it was not the calendar that Yeshua used. In fact, it was Pope Gregory that gave us this calendar long after the time that Yeshua walked the earth. When a person does not recognize God's calendar they can become confused by "dates, seasons and times". They would not understand the words and phrases used to describe YHWH's "dates, seasons and times".
The Gospels record (in most English Bibles) that the women went to the tomb on the “first day of the week” and saw that Yeshua's tomb was empty.
Matthew 28:1 "Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb." (NKJV)
Mark 16:2 " Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen." (NKJV)
Mark 16:9 "Now when He rose early on the first day of the week." (NKJV)
Luke 24:1 "Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared." (NKJV)
John 20:1 "Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb." (NKJV)
John 20:19 “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Yeshua and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace unto you.”
Now, when reading these scriptures it appears quite clear that emphasis is put on the "day" of the week (Sunday) and not on the “Appointed Time” that YHWH is concerned about, because His Son, Yeshua, was bringing to a higher level of understanding His “times and seasons”.
A little research will reveal that more is being said here. If we look more closely at the Greek we will see a clearer picture emerge. Notice in the scriptures above that I made bold the word "day". I did this so that the reader would notice that the word "day" is in italics in any good Bible. That is because the word "day" was not in the original manuscript. The words should read "on the first of the weeks" the women came to the tomb. This is exactly what the Greek bears out; "in the first of the Sabbaths". The word for week is the plural of the Hebrew word for Sabbath. What all of these scriptures are saying is that they had arrived at Firstfruits. The day being spoken about was firstfruits, the day that Yeshua arose. Yeshua arose on the day of Firstfruits because He was the Firstfruits of the Resurrection. Scriptures tell us that on Firstfruits the count begins for 7 weeks, which is the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot. The day Yeshua arose was the "first week" toward the count of seven weeks; the Appointed Time of Shavuot. Hence, we have recorded in the gospels that the women went to the grave on “the first of the weeks”.
You see, the emphasis is not on the "day" of the common week, the emphasis is on YHWH's Appointed Dates and Times. Yeshua arose on Firstfruits, which is always on a first day of the week, and on Firstfruits YHWH commands that we begin the counting of seven weeks, counting seven Sabbaths, it is the Festival of Weeks.
When a person celebrates "easter Sunday" or "Resurrection Sunday" they are missing the mark. Yeshua was crucified on Passover and He arose on Firstfruits, which was the beginning of the counting of weeks (Shavuot). In some years, there is a whole month between easter and Passover. In this situation, the majority of Christians around the world are caught in a dilemma of celebrating His resurrection before He was ever crucified.
Now, one may say what difference does it make? Well, I guess it doesn't make any difference to a person that has that mindset. However, for me, I prefer to celebrate YHWH's Appointed Times as I am commanded. When I do this I am assured that I will not only celebrate Yeshua's resurrection on the correct date, based on Passover starting on the 14th day of the first month, but also His birth; for all of YHWH's Appointed Times point toward Yeshua. Yeshua Himself celebrated His Father's Appointed Times and instructed us that when we partake of the bread and wine of Passover that we are to remember that He shed His flesh and blood for our sins. He became our Passover Lamb! He did not become our easter Bunny! He is not a "fertility goddess!"
As concerning the issue of early Christians meeting together on the first day of the week for Bible reading and worship, I will not argue against this tradition. However, again one must follow the correct calendar. The Book of Acts makes it plain that both Jew and Non-Jewish believers in Messiah Yeshua were meeting together on the Sabbath during the first century. What they fail to also understand is that believing Jews and God-fearing Non-Jews also met together after the ending of the Sabbath each week to close out Sabbath and to welcome the coming of the new week, (they would break bread together). Jews have followed this custom for ages. It is called Havdalah and means separation. Hence, they are separating the Sabbath from the rest of the week. On YHWH's calendar, a day begins at sundown. They would meet at sundown after the ending of the weekly Sabbath, which would be our Saturday night after sundown. On YHWH's calendar this would already be the first day of the week (Sunday).
Christians meeting on the first day of the week would have begun with the Jews' Havdalah service. When persecution came to the Jews after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and especially after the Bar Kokhba Rebellion in 135 AD, the Christians began to separate themselves from the Jews. This separation came about by fault of the Christians as well as the Jews but this cannot be discussed in detail in this blog. The point is, the book of Acts and history bears it out, that early Non-Jewish God-fearing Christians and Messianic Jews met together on the weekly Sabbath and then they usually met together at the ending of the Sabbath for Bible discussion, worship and the sharing of a meal together. This was the first day of the week.
The phrase “And upon the first day of the week” appears only two more times in scripture. In Acts 20:7 and I Corinthians 16:2.
Acts 20:7 “And upon the first day of the week, (upon the first of the weeks) when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.”
Again, here they would have been meeting at the closing of the first Shabbat towards Shavuot. To prove that what I am saying is correct, if we keep reading, we find:
Acts 20:16 “For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.” (Shavuot – Feast of Weeks)
See, it clearly states they were counting toward Shavuot (Pentecost) and as commanded in Torah, the Apostle Paul desires to be in Jerusalem for Shavuot.
Again, in I Corinthians 16:2: “Upon the first day of the week (first of the weeks) let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”
Here if we keep reading we will find that we are dealing with the Feast of Weeks.
I Corinthians 16:8 “But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost” (Shavuot)
The same time period is being addressed again; the counting of seven weeks, the Feast of Weeks. Paul wanted the collections to be collected during the Feast of Weeks so that the collections could be taken to Jerusalem by himself or whoever they sent at Shavuot.
The Bible commands that “we forsake not the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25). YHWH commanded His people to assemble on the weekly Sabbath and on His Appointed Times. It would have been most common for His disciples to meet together at the ending of each Sabbath during the counting of weekly Sabbaths towards Shavuot. This was an Appointed Time. Please read
So, we see here that there was no changing of the weekly Sabbath taking place in any of these scriptures. We see that instead the early Apostles and disciples were keeping the Appointed Times of YHWH. We also see that the emphasis of Yeshua's resurrection should be that it took place on the Appointed Time of Firstfruits, which just happens to be on our Sunday. This does not mean that Sunday as a day was what was important, but the fact that it was a “time and season” of YHWH.
A better understanding of the Bible will take place if YHWH’s calendar and ways are understood. Instead of trying to make His Word fit our calendar and plans, try making our calendar and plan fit His “times and seasons”.
The term "the Lord's Day" or “Day of The LORD”, does not apply to the "day" of Sunday and never has. Throughout Scripture when that phrase occurs it is speaking about the end of days when YHWH will pour out His wrath on the wicked and bring His salvation to the righteous. It refers to the "time and seasons” of YHWH between Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).
I hope this teaching has brought a better understanding of the Jewishness of Messiah Yeshua, His first century disciples and the New Testament (Brit Hadashah).