The resurgence of obedience to Torah among Christians has resulted in a lot of fresh and unique, though not necessarily new, teachings to Believers who have never heard them before. Among the most popular are teachings about the mo’edim: The Holy Days of our God. The word mo’edim simply means “a set apart time” and generally it is used to refer to the Holy Feasts that occur in the Spring and Fall of the year, though many include two of the minor Hebrew Feasts as well—Purim and Hannukah—because there is a valid argument that Yeshua our Messiah celebrated both of them.
Another set apart time, however, that should not be forgotten is Shabbat—The Sabbath Day. This is the time period on the seventh day of the week according to the Hebrew Calendar that is consecrated by God for man. It is a day of rest from our labor. It was given at the culmination of Creation when God Himself rested or ceased from His work of creating all life on the Earth.
This has led to a rigorous debate as Christians begin to rediscover their Shabbat that was lost nearly 2,000 years ago, just a few centuries after the Apostles established what most refer to today as the “New Testament Church”. From this heavily debated topic, many have proposed that the day of worship long held by Christians, the day that today we refer to as “Sunday”, is a day of pagan worship to the “sun god” and as such they deem Christians who go to a “Sunday Church” to be worshiping the pagan sun god instead of Yahweh the true and living God.
In this message I am going to tackle this issue head on. I am sure I will make a few enemies within the Messianic/Torah/Hebrew Roots Movements, but I am also sure I will set at ease the minds of many who are confused about the issue and unsure what to do. Should you leave your Church because they meet on Sunday? Should you begin pulling your friends out of Church, anyone who will listen, and begin your own fellowship on the Sabbath Day? Have you been unknowingly worshiping a pagan sun god? Come with me on this journey as we look at the issue and arrive at a logical and historically accurate conclusion on the matter.
Ra – The Sun God
Let’s begin by taking a look at who this sun god was. While perhaps not the first name of a “sun god” in the ancient world, it appears that the most prominent character to hold the title of sun god is the Egyptian god named “Ra” (or sometimes “Re”). He is depicted with the body of a man and the head of a falcon. His head is adorned with the image of a cobra and the “sun disc”, which is also seen placed in artwork depicting notable people throughout history. This is where the image of a “sun disc” behind the images of saints in Roman Catholic religious artwork is said to come from, though some refute this claim under the banner of “sensationalism”.
The Routledge Dictionary Of Egyptian Gods And Goddesses describes Ra as the “Creator sun-god of Heliopolis” and goes on to say of him:
Ra is the quintessence of all manifestations of the sun-god, permeating the three realms of the sky, earth, and Underworld. Hence many deities enhance their own divinity by coalescing with this aspect of the sun-god, e.g. KHNUM-Ra, AMUN-Ra.
His main cult centre was at Heliopolis (Greek for ‘sun-city’), now all but disappeared through depredations or below the suburbs of modern Cairo. The sun-temple area was called ‘Iunu’ by the Ancient Egyptians (‘On’ in biblical literature) and was written by a hieroglyph representing a column, clearly the ancient cult image on the site.
The physical manifestation of Ra is most commonly a falcon wearing the fiery disk of the sun on its head. The disk is surrounded by the body of the cobra-goddess, ‘coiled one’, symbolising the god’s power of delivering instant death. In the Underworld his form is that of a ram-headed god. He is called ‘sacred ram in the west’ or, indicating his life-giving properties, ‘ram in charge of his harem’. In literature the sun-god is occasionally described as an ageing king whose flesh is gold, whose bones are silver and whose hair is lapis lazuli.
Inscriptional evidence for the cult of the sun-god is found in the name of the first pharaoh of Dynasty II – ‘Raneb’ r ‘Ra is lord’. Architectural symbolism in the form of both the stepped and true pyramid – stairway to the sun-god and image of the ‘high sand’ at Heliopolis on which the creator-god stood to form the cosmos – provides continuing evidence of sun worship during Dynasties III and IV. Courtiers of Dynasty IV proclaim their office of ‘great seer’ or high priest of Heliopolis.
Further description of the sun god is available in an article published by Encyclopædia Britannica titled Sun Worship that details the worship of a sun deity:
Sun worship, veneration of the sun or a representation of the sun as a deity, as in Atonism in Egypt in the 14th century bce.
Although sun worship has been used frequently as a term for “pagan” religion, it is, in fact, relatively rare. Though almost every culture uses solar motifs, only a relatively few cultures (Egyptian, Indo-European, and Meso-American) developed solar religions. All of these groups had in common a well-developed urban civilization with a strong ideology of sacred kingship. In all of them the imagery of the sun as the ruler of both the upper and the lower worlds that he majestically visits on his daily round is prominent.
The sun is the bestower of light and life to the totality of the cosmos; with his unblinking, all-seeing eye, he is the stern guarantor of justice; with the almost universal connection of light with enlightenment or illumination, the sun is the source of wisdom.
These qualities—sovereignty, power of beneficence, justice, and wisdom—are central to any elite religious group, and it is within these contexts that a highly developed solar ideology is found. Kings ruled by the power of the sun and claimed descent from the sun. Solar deities, gods personifying the sun, are sovereign and all-seeing. The sun is often a prime attribute of or is identified with the Supreme Deity.
While the most prominent attribution to a sun god is the ancient Egyptian Ra, I should also take a moment to talk about the Roman god Mithras, which is derived from the Persian sun god Mithra. If you take time to study this topic more deeply than what this article presents, you are sure to encounter claims that Sunday worship comes out of the cults of Mithraism. This is all connected to the Roman god Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun).
As previously mentioned, the use of a “sun disc” placed behind the head of prominent figures in early Christian faith on artistic renderings was common practice. This appears to derive from the worship of Mithras. All of this, however, seems to be most heavily influenced by the Egyptian Ra, the most well known of all the ancient concepts of a sun god. I know there are some who may disagree or find fault with my research to this point. However, I want to make the point that I am presenting this information simply to build some sort of a foundation on what sun god worship actually was in the ancient world.
These pagan sun gods are clearly not what you find Christians worshiping in their Churches on Sunday mornings. The idea that some have proposed that Christians today are worshiping an ancient pagan sun god simply does not seem to hold up to the facts about what sun god worship actually was. Sure, there are flaws with modern Christian faith, and we’ll consider that in this study. But you cannot claim that actual literal sun god worship is going on in Christian Churches.
Sunday, The Day Of The Sun
One of the more popular arguments floating around to say that Christians Churches meeting on Sunday are involved in “pagan worship” of the sun god is based on the fact that the name for the day is derived from the worship of the sun god on the first day of the week, which today we call Sunday. At first glance this argument appears to make a lot of sense, considering that the sun god is a real historical pagan deity and Sunday is named after this sun god. However, a simple assessment of the names of the other days of the week along with a little bit of common sense shows that this argument really just doesn’t hold up. Let’s take a look at the days of the week.
Sunday: Named for worship of the sun god, probably the Roman Sol Invictus, which probably traces back to the Egyptian god Ra, though there are many sun gods in throughout ancient cultures: sun god day – Sunday.
Monday: Named for worship of the moon god, probably from the Roman goddess Luna/Diana, also known to the Greeks as Selene/Artemis, which probably traces back to the Egyptian god Osiris, though there are many moon gods in ancient cultures: moon god day – Moonday.
Tuesday: Named for the Germanic-Norse pagan sky god Tiw, also called Týr: Tiw’s day.
Wednesday: Named for the Germanic-Norse god Woden/Odin: Woden’s day. (You may recognize this name if you read my message Meet Santa Claus as this pagan god is the primary influence for the popular Christmas mythology that for some odd reason Christians love to celebrate despite their God telling them not to worship idols and not to worship Him in the same way pagan people worship their gods.)
Thursday: Named for the Germanic-Norse pagan god Thor: Thor’s day. (Yes, Thor is a pagan god from Norse pagan mythology… for those who love to watch all the comic book movies being produced these days.)
Friday: Named for the Germanic-Norse pagan goddess Frigg/Frija: Frigg’s day, Frija’s day.
Saturday: Named for the Roman pagan god Saturn: Saturn’s day.
Now, let’s take a look at this using plain common sense. The argument is that Sunday Church is pagan worship because Sunday is named after worship of the sun god. But we have a problem here: Every day of the week is named after a pagan god. So, based on this argument there are two pagan god’s whose days fall on portions of Shabbat: Frigg and Saturn. So, under this argument that Sunday Church is pagan sun god worship because Sunday is named for the sun god, any meeting that takes place on the Sabbath Day would be either worship of Frigg if you meet on Friday night or Saturn if you meet on Saturday.
You see, you cannot define Sunday Church as pagan worship under the Gregorian calendar days of the week and then turn around and define Sabbath Day worship as Scriptural under the Hebrew calendar days of the week. Days on the Hebrew calendar do not have names, they are simply the first day through the seventh day. If the argument uses a pagan calendar system to falsely judge Christians who meet on Sunday of being involved in pagan worship while using the Hebrew calendar to justify worship on the Sabbath Day then a double standard is created.
I saw an Internet MEME recently that shows Phil Robertson, most known from the television show Duck Dynasty, but also a prominent Christian speaker, holding a crawfish (which is a small freshwater shellfish that looks like a lobster, also called a crayfish or a crawdad), which is a popular food item in the Southern United States. The MEME text was: “Homosexuality is a sin Lev. 18:20/Eating crawfish is a sin Lev. 11:10”. The point was to say that it is a double standard to speak out against homosexuality if you eat unclean things, which is true. This begs the question: How can we get the message of Torah across when we accuse Christians of having a double standard if we too create a double standard in defining an unjustified distinction between the Sabbath Day and Sunday?
Plain and simply, if people who meet in worship on Sunday are worshiping a pagan god than so are people who meet on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or, yes, even Friday and Saturday—that is, even on the Sabbath Day.
The Post-Resurrection Yeshua
One of the major reasons given among Christians for gatherings on the first day of the week – the day we call Sunday – is connected to the day Yeshua rose from the tomb and some of the events that followed. Let’s take a look first at the record of His Resurrection.
Now after Shabbat, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week, Miriam of Magdala and the other Miriam came to look at the tomb.
~Matthew 28:1 (TLV)
When Shabbat was over, Miriam of Magdala, Miriam the mother of Jacob, and Salome bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Yeshua’s body. Very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they come to the tomb. They were saying to each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” ~
Mark 16:1-3 (TLV)
When you study the events in the proper context it becomes known that the day of the Resurrection was the Feast of First Fruits, which is part of the week of Pesach—the Passover—not “Easter Sunday”. While that is another matter altogether, I wanted to at least make mention of it as it is an important detail. The Bible follows the Hebrew calendar system, so we should be doing the same today if we want to properly understand the text.
The emphasis I want to draw from these two accounts is that they both agree that Yeshua rose on the first day of the week. While it is debated by some, the Feast of First Fruits seems to always fall on the first day of the week: Sunday (the same is true of Shavuot, the Day of Pentecost, which is counted exactly 50 days after First Fruits, placing it on a Sunday as well). I cover this in more detail in the messages Taking Back Our Holy Days: The Passover and Taking Back Our Holy Days: The Day Of Pentecost.
The Scripture also tells us that this event took place after the sun had risen. Since Messiah had already fled the tomb, all indications appear to be that He actually rose while it was still dark. For this reason the “Easter sunrise service” concept really makes no sense as nothing of any biblical significance was really happening during the sunrise. Also, a “sunrise service” can cross a line into a pagan practice. Deuteronomy 12:4 (NLT) says, “Do not worship the Lord your God in the way these pagan peoples worship their gods.” With this in mind, consider a disturbing account recorded by the Prophet Ezekiel:
So He brought me into the inner court of Adonai’s House. Behold, at the door of the Temple of Adonai, between the porch and the altar, were about 25 men, with their backs toward the Temple of Adonai and their faces toward the east—and they were bowing in worship eastward toward the sun.
He said to me, “Have you seen this, son of man? Is it too light a thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations they practice here, that they must also fill the land with violence and provoke Me still more? Look, they are putting the twig to My nose! Therefore I will indeed act in fury. My eye will not spare you nor will I have pity. Though they cry into My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.”
~Ezekiel 8:16-18 (TLV)
What this record is describing is not too far off of the practice of these sunrise services that do appear to come out of pagan sun god religion. I will come back to this in a moment, but for now I want to share about several encounters that allegedly took place between Yeshua’s Resurrection and His Ascension back to the Father.
I have heard it argued by some who would go on a strict defense of Sunday worship that Yeshua appeared to people, ate with them, and taught them on “the first day of the week” several times following the Resurrection. However, when examining the “proof texts” provided, using three popular English translations of the Bible, I either didn’t see where the “first day” was stated or the mention of the “first day” was actually the day of the Resurrection. So this really proves nothing except to say that He visited a number of His followers on the day of His Resurrection.
With that said, the mere fact that He rose on the first day of the week, regardless of it being on the day of the Feast of First Fruits, providing prophetic significance, would seem to be plenty of justification for Christians to conduct a worship service on a Sunday if they so desire. And if that’s not enough, as I will get into shortly, we are free to worship Yahweh in a corporate setting every day of the week.
Late Early Church Records Indicate Sunday Gatherings
I want to take a look at a couple of records from early Christian leaders, men who are listed as “Early Church Fathers” under the Roman Catholic order. Many people claim that Sunday worship was started by Constantine when he perverted the Christian faith by mixing it with pagan beliefs he did not renounce upon embracing Christianity. It was almost like an early form of New Age religion that we see today where people just embrace whatever they like from all religions. New Age, if you are not already aware, does use a lot from Christian faith and the Bible as well.
There is a creed that was instituted under Constantine, and all who converted to Christianity under his rule were to make this declaration. It is available in a number of places; including a book by renowned Messianic musician Paul Wilbur titled Touching The Heart Of God: Embracing The Calendar Of The Kingdom. The creed states:
I renounce all customs, rites, legalisms, unleavened breads, and sacrifices of lambs of the Hebrews, and all other feasts of the Hebrews, sacrifices, prayers, aspirations, purifications, sanctifications and propitiations, and fasts, and new moons, and Sabbaths, and superstitions, and hymns and chants, and observations and synagogues, and the food and drink of the Hebrews. In one word I renounce everything Jewish, every Law, rite and custom; and if afterward I shall wish to deny and return to Jewish superstition, or shall be found eating with the Jews, or feasting with them, or secretly conversing and condemning the Christian religion instead of openly confuting them and condemning their vain faith, then let the trembling of Cain and the leprosy of Gehazi cleave to me, as well as the legal punishments to which I acknowledge myself liable. And may I be an anathema in the world to come, and may my soul be set down with Satan and the devils… Furthermore: I accept all rites, legalism and feasts of the Romans, sacrifices, prayers, purifications of water, sanctifications by the Pontificus Maximus, propitiations, feasts, and the New Sabbath, Sol Dei (Day of the Sun), all new chants and observances, and all the foods and drinks of the Romans. In other words, I absolutely accept everything Roman, every new law, rite and custom of Rome and the New Roman Religion.
That right there is where this whole issue came to a head. Clearly Constantine and the New Roman Religion, which is what we know as the Roman Catholic Church today, and the Pontificus Maximus – the Pope – is the basis for a LOT of what Christianity continues to practice today. Sadly, what people don’t realize is that Christianity as it is known today is a 500 year old religion that split from the Roman Catholic Church but held onto many of the pagan customs and traditions that come right out of this creed, especially the hateful renouncing of all thing Hebrew.
Everything about the Bible is Hebrew. Every author of the Bible was Jewish/Hebrew with the possible exception of Job, because his life predates the establishment of the Hebrew people under the Abrahamic Covenant, and maybe Luke because it is debated whether he was of Jewish or Gentile lineage. Everything about the Bible is Hebrew, and the plague of Constantine’s Creed continues today to deceive people into renouncing the very Messiah they think they are placing their faith in and the very Bible they think they are basing their faith on. You can’t do either if you have been led to renounce all things Hebrew because the Messiah and the Bible are wholly, completely, 100% Hebrew.
So, yes, Constantine formally and officially changed the Sabbath Day to “Sol Dei”: the day of sun worship. However, this still does not mean that gathering in fellowship and corporate worship on the first day of the week is sun god worship. It is only paganism if you are still following a form of Christian faith that traces its roots back to Constantine’s Creed. There were Believers who were meeting on the first day of the week prior to Constantine’s edict, the difference is that they did not claim that this day was the so-called “new Sabbath”.
As a side note, here’s a question to ponder: Why would Constantine have to make a formal decree for people to renounce the Sabbath and change it to Sunday in the early fourth century unless Believers, for the most part, were still keeping the Biblical Sabbath? Something to think about, as this would have been roughly 350 years after the Apostolic Writings were penned by men like Paul, Peter, John, Luke, Matthew, Mark, James, and others—men who were said throughout the record in the Book of Acts to keep the Sabbath, attending Shabbat services in the Synagogues as was their custom.
If therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things that have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s day, on which also our life has sprung up again by him and his death.
But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.”
However, the very next thing Justin Martyr says is:
For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.
While these records are often used as “proof” that the early Christians renounced the Sabbath Day and chose to worship on Sunday, we must consider that these are not the first generation of Christians and that these men were Gentile converts. There are many theological problems with the works of the “Early Church Fathers” of Roman Catholicism and in some cases there is even blatantly Gnostic teaching in them. The teachings of many of these men were specifically chosen and exalted by the Church of Rome because they fit with their agenda. Obviously, these texts support the ruling of Constantine to do away with the Sabbath of Yahweh and replace it with the “Day of the Sun”. It should also be noted that the statement of Justin Martyr doesn’t actually promote sun god worship, it merely acknowledges the use of the Roman names for the says of the week as named for pagan gods.
I will remind you that there is record of over 80 specific times in the Book of Acts where the Apostles made it their custom to attend weekly Shabbat services in the Synagogues. Yeshua Himself is shown to have made this His custom as well. Yeshua and the Apostles alike are seen observing the Hebrew Feasts, maintaining a kosher diet, and following all of the instructions of Torah. There is, however, one lonely record of a “New Testament Church” gathering on the first day of the week that should be considered.
Now on the first day of the week, we gathered to break bread. Paul was talking with them, intending to leave the next day, so he prolonged his speech till midnight. There were many lamps in the upper chamber where we were meeting. Now a young man named Eutychus was sitting in a windowsill, sinking into a deep sleep as Paul kept on talking. Overcome by sleep, he fell from the third story and was picked up—dead.
~Acts 20:7-9 (TLV)
Now, this sounds a lot like a modern Christian Sunday service. They ate together, like many Christians who eat together after the service. Paul preached the house down, going until midnight. And some poor soul even fell asleep while the preacher was preaching. If that doesn’t describe a Christian Church service, I don’t know what does!
OK, all jokes aside, we cannot overlook the fact that the Apostles were OK with a gathering of this nature on the first day of the week. They weren’t worshiping a sun god. They weren’t breaking the Sabbath. They were “having Church”, as Christians like to say, on the first day of the week. As I’ve said in the past, you can only break the Sabbath on the Sabbath, so it is impossible to break the Sabbath on a Sunday regardless of whether or not you go to a Church service or gathering on a Sunday.
Let me just say, you can’t worship a sun god when you are gathered together to worship Yahweh the true and living God. You can’t break the Sabbath on a day that is not the Sabbath. The appearance by the records of Ignatius, Justin Martyr, and others of the time is that they were not keeping the Sabbath, and that’s a whole different issue. The point here is that they weren’t breaking the Sabbath by meeting on the first day of the week; they were breaking the Sabbath by breaking the Sabbath. I go into a lot more detail about what the Sabbath Day is, how you keep it, and what you have to do to break it, in a message I put out some time ago titled Taking Back Our Holy Days: Remember The Sabbath Day.
In describing a group called the Ebionites the early Christian writer Eusibius says in his work Ecclesiastical History: “The Sabbath and the rest of the discipline of the Jews they observed just like them, but at the same time, like us, they celebrated the Lord’s days as a memorial of the resurrection of the Saviour.” Jerome, another early Christian writer, in a letter to Augustine says of the Nazarene sect:
In our own day there exists a sect among the Jews throughout all the synagogues of the East, which is called the sect of the Minei, and is even now condemned by the Pharisees. The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes; they believe in Christ the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again, is the same as the one in whom we believe.
In another writing Jerome describes the Nazarenes as those “who accept Messiah in such a way that they do not cease to observe the old Law.” You may recognize the sect of the Nazarenes if you are familiar with the Book of Acts; they were the Jewish sect led by the Apostles, of whom Paul was called their “ringleader”. The Ebionites may have had some connection to the Nazarenes, but it also appears that they had some controversial beliefs as well. Another interesting point is that Jerome and Augustine’s correspondence took place around 404 AD, roughly 350 years after Paul was labeled the ringleader of the Nazarenes.
In other words, what Christians like Jerome, Augustine, and Eusibius were dealing with were the remnants of the true faith-group of the Book of Acts after Christianity and Judaism had split into two distinct religions, both with aspects of truth and both deviating from the truth. The Jews had never accepted Yeshua as their Messiah, but the Christians were rejecting Torah and all things Hebrew. All the while, there were these groups that maintained the truth, accepting Yeshua as their Messiah, but without rejecting the Torah and the Hebrew heritage as a guideline for their faith. While the Christians influenced under the growing “New Roman Religion” considered these Nazarenes to be heretics, the reality is they appear to be that true biblical minority who continued in the whole truth, not choosing sides.
Today there are many who are coming to realize this and return to the true faith held by these Nazarenes led by Paul, those who simply called themselves “The Way” in the first century movement. As a result they are quick to notice that there are many errors in both Christianity and Judaism today. Where these well-intentioned Believers err themselves is in creating false accusations against Believers, like saying that meeting on a Sunday is some type of pagan sun god worship. This argument simply does not hold up and makes Believers who are experiencing the truth of Torah look ignorant, which results in the larger bodies of Christians and Jews writing off the Torah-Movement crowd a wild cult-sect
Why can’t we all—Christians, Jews, and those in the Torah-Movement—just go to the Bible and do what it tells us? We don’t need to take away from the Scripture as Christians have done, and we don’t need to add to it as Jews have done, but we also don’t need to make false accusations as Messianic, Hebrew Roots, and Torah-observant Believers are doing. The truth alone is enough proof, and that truth is found in the Bible. All you have to do is read it.
The Sunday – Sun God Connection
Now that I have hopefully cleared the air that it is not “evil pagan worship” when people gather on a “Sunday”, or the first day of the week, to worship Yahweh, I do want to get into the actual connection between Sunday and sun god worship. The truth is, there actually is a connection, and it is not something that should be taken lightly.
One of the most concise works on the evolution from the Sabbath Day to Sunday worship is in a book titled From Sabbath To Sunday: A Historical Investigation Of The Rise Of Sunday Observance In Early Christianity by Samuele Bacchiocchi. It’s a rather peculiar resource as Bacchiocchi was a Seventh Day Adventist and The Pontifical Gregorian University Press – essentially the Vatican – published the work. (NOTE: I do not endorse the beliefs and doctrines of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, I am sharing this primarily for historical purposes, not to endorse the teachings of a very questionable sect.) Despite this, there seems to be an unparalleled amount of truth in the history provided. In opening the eighth chapter “Sun-Worship And The Origin Of Sunday” the author states:
The choice of Sunday as the new day of Christian worship cannot be explained solely on the ground of negative anti-Judaic motivations. For instance, Christians could have achieved the same objective by adopting Friday as a memorial of Christ’s passion. We might say that anti-Judaism created the necessity for substituting a new day of worship for the Sabbath, but it did not determine the specific choice of Sunday. The reasons for the latter must be found elsewhere.
Several significant studies have suggested that Christians may have derived “a psychological orientation” toward Sunday from the sectarian solar calendar used by Qumranites and similar groups, where the annual omer day and day of Pentecost always fell on Sunday. Though allowance must be made for such a possibility, we are at a loss to find any explicit patristic reference associating Easter-Sunday or weekly Sunday with this sectarian solar calendar. Moreover, if our thesis is correct that Sunday observance originated in Rome by the beginning of the second century, rather than in Jerusalem in the apostolic period, it seems most unlikely that Christians of pagan background would have derived the date for their annual and/or weekly Sunday festivities from a Jewish sectarian liturgical calendar, especially at a time when new festivals were introduced to evidence separation from Judaism.
The influence of Sun-worship with its “Sun-day,” provides a more plausible explanation for the Christian choice of Sunday.
While I do not agree that the majority of Christians today are blindly worshiping a sun god when they go to a Sunday-meeting Church today, there is a real historical connection between the official establishment of Sunday as a replacement of the Sabbath and ancient sun worship. We see this quite plainly in the Constantine Creed and we see the direct influence in some of the writings of early Christians, even in the second century, where Greeks began to rise into leadership roles and deviate from the Hebrew faith delivered to them.
As a result, there are most certainly aspects of pagan sun worship still resident in Christianity today. As I alluded to earlier, “Easter sunrise services” are likely derived from pagan sun worship practices and then molded and twisted until a “believable” false doctrine is established. What we need to do is study these things out and use simple common sense. If there is a fraction of a percent of a chance that a Christian tradition is connected to paganism and there is no clear indication in Scripture that we should be doing it, then we should just stop it.
Not only are most of the traditions associated with Christmas and Easter blatantly connected with pagan religions, but the holidays themselves are clearly derived from pagan festivals in honor of pagan gods. These two celebrations also have absolutely nothing to do with the Bible and there are actual biblical celebrations during both times: Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits takes place at approximately the same time as Easter most years and Hanukkah falls around the same time as Christmas. There is really no valid biblical justification anyone can make for Christmas or Easter, so why are we celebrating them?
Is the Bible not enough? I mean, seriously! While worship gatherings on the first day of the week aren’t necessarily wrong, many of the traditions that have come out of “Sol Dei” (Sun-Day) are blatantly pagan and they need to go if we expect people to embrace and take seriously the message of the Gospel in this information age where everyone has access to facts and truth on their phone. It matters less what days of the week you choose to gather than it does what is actually being taught from the pulpits and what traditions are being upheld within the walls of a Church.
It’s Not Complicated!
Not too long ago I was listening to a message by a particular minister who was talking about the Sabbath Day and how, in their opinion, people put way too much effort into it by weekly trying to figure out when sunset is. It was this person’s stance that the word “evening” is not necessarily defined by the transition from day to night at sunset, but that it can be defined by a specific time: 6:00pm. The argument was made to just keep it simple; 6:00pm Friday evening to 6:00pm Saturday evening is the Sabbath.
This sounds good, and there are some people who take this approach, but it’s also not correct. Historically the Sabbath Day is from sunset Friday evening to sunset Saturday evening, regardless of what time that occurs on or whether or not you live in an area that observes a Daylight Savings Time system. But that doesn’t mean we can’t “keep it simple”.
As I have stated many time in the past, the commandment to keep the Sabbath is specifically toward resting from our labor, whatever you do for work to earn a living. It’s very simple: You don’t WORK on the Sabbath Day. When you study it out, there is no actual commandment to gather for a corporate worship meeting on the Sabbath Day, and everywhere in Scripture where we see that Yeshua and the Apostles attended weekly Shabbat services at the local Synagogues it was always mentioned as their custom, not the fulfillment of a commandment.
In addition to this, it is debated—even in Israel from what I have been told by a close friend who visited the land not so long ago—whether or not corporate gatherings as conducted today cause people to break the Sabbath by “working” during the course of the service. Things are different today than they were in antiquity. In modern society there needs to be personnel on call to do things like maintain the restrooms, control the sound, and even monitor security in some larger facilities, to name a few “jobs” that are required to conduct a worship service these days.
So, do we conduct a service on the Sabbath Day? Sunday? Some other day of the week? Honestly, the Bible seems to indicate that we can and perhaps should gather for worship daily, though that may not always be possible in today’s society either. When you think about it though, the record of the first century Believers tells that they met daily (see Acts 2:46). Then we are told not to neglect meeting together, as is the habit of some, and even to meet more frequently (see Hebrews 10:25). It’s entirely possible that it would be more Scriptural to assemble every day of the week, not just the Sabbath, and possibly every day except the Sabbath to prevent some from “working” on the Sabbath in order to conduct a service. Just a thought, something to meditate on a while.
Now, please understand, I am not promoting Sunday worship with this message and I am not opposing Shabbat gatherings. With these statements I’m just hoping to get you, the reader, to think things through and consider all potential possibilities before making a hard and fast judgment on people who are gathering to worship the same God you do: Yahweh the Creator of life. They may have a lot of work to do in keeping Torah, but renouncing the practice of gathering together on a Sunday morning is clearly not included in that. Sunday Churches can start keeping the Sabbath Day without actually changing their service schedule.
Here’s the thing: when you look at all the evidence it turns out that worship on the first day of the week is perfectly fine and even justifiable from Scripture, while corporate gathering on the Sabbath Day doesn’t even have the Scriptural mandate that many claim it does.
I sense that a lot of people who are spreading hate with the claims that the gathering of Christians on a Sunday is pagan sun worship have things a bit backwards. There are certainly a great number of pagan traditions that come out of sun god worship that have made their way into Christianity today, but that does not mean that a Sunday gathering is pagan sun god worship. If a Torah-observant congregation were to choose to meet on a Sunday, or a Church that currently meets on Sunday embraces a Torah-observant doctrine but does not change their Sunday meeting times, and there was not trace of sun god worship practices or traditions (or other forms of paganism and idolatry), then there would seemingly be nothing wrong with it.
Why Sunday Church Still Matters
Ideally, the more I think about it, the more it seems that a Shabbat service, be it Friday evening or sometime during the daylight hours of Saturday, along with a “first day” gathering would be a rather ideal model. It is my opinion that the better option may be to conduct a Torah-based service on Friday evening, allowing the annual time changes to “split the difference” and have your Shabbat service during Sabbath Day hours for half the year and leading into Sabbath Day hours the other half, and a Sunday service where you can more easily deal with “New Testament” topics on the day Christians are accustomed to meeting on. At the conclusion of the Friday evening service you could go into a fellowship area and have a weekly Shabbat celebration, which would be quite Scriptural as the Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:2 when God “rested” on the seventh day is “shabath” and among the possible definitions of this word is “to celebrate”.
One thing I have noticed, though this may not be the case in all localities, is that traditional mid-week Bible studies have dwindled in numbers. This would have a major impact on the individual Church and its ability to continue in its mission. These services are typically held on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday night. Why not try something different? Such a ministry could easily move that service to a Friday evening, placing a major focus on leading people deeper into the Torah that more and more Believers are hungry for. This would also leave the majority of the Sabbath Day, the daytime portion of Saturday, for what it seems the Sabbath was truly meant for in the first place: rest, relaxation, restoration, revitalization, reflection, rejuvenation, and recreation. Shabbat was made for man, not man for Shabbat (Mark 2:27).
We must always keep in mind, as we continue to grow in the knowledge of Torah, that our primary mission in ministry is to lead people to the saving knowledge of Yeshua Messiah. You may be thinking right now, “I’ve read some of your other work, and you said our primary mission is the care of Creation.” That’s true; our primary mission on this Earth is to care for all life that God created, but I said our primary mission in ministry, not on this Earth. In order to more effectively fulfill our mission on Earth we must find as many people as we can to embrace that mission. This is where true Evangelism comes into play.
Should I Leave My Christian Church?
I was watching a short video put out by a ministry called New2Torah, hosted by a man named Zachary Bauer, titled Should I Still attend Church, where he shares his thoughts about leaving the Christian Church and talks about his own experience with the matter. The video teaching was made in response to a question he received about whether or not he advised staying in Church, and the person that asked the question stated that the Church they attend is moving toward Torah on some level but still holds onto some aspects of paganism like Christmas and Easter. Bauer, who has gained some level of influence in some Torah-focused groups, makes some valid points, and for some people leaving a local Church might be an acceptable option. I would encourage you to watch his message, it’s only about eleven minutes long and provides a valid perspective on the issue, but I also want to consider a few points about why I feel it is important to maintain fellowship if you are currently involved in a standard American Christian Church.
1. Most Christian Churches are actually full of truth and teach truth, they simply err in a few things. Yes, those are often “big deal” things, but if you know the truth then they would not effect you. Think of it like the laws being made to legalize drug use in areas, such as marijuana. Just because it is legalized does not mean you have to use it. Alcohol is legal throughout America, but a large portion of Christians still abstain from drinking. So it is with a Christian Church. If they have a Church picnic, you can either skip out or simply choose not to eat the hot dogs and ribs. Chances are they are serving all beef hamburgers and/or barbecued chicken as well. So what if they have the Church decorated for Christmas as early as October, if you know the truth and keep Torah yourself this is easily ignored. After all, Christmas, Halloween, Easter and other holiday décor does not stop you from going to the grocery store.
2. You are called to be a light in the darkness. As Bauer points out in his message, there is a lot of light in Christian Churches but there is also a lot of darkness. If all of the light leaves, however, there will be nothing left but darkness. Every time a truly committed Believer leaves a Church because they’ve “had enough” of the hypocrisy that ministry moves that much closer to total darkness.
3. Continuing your involvement in a Christian Church allows you to continually see first hand the errors of the Church and pray for God to continue revealing Himself and His Torah to the Pastor and the congregation.
4. Isolation is never the will of God and people who teach or even allude to isolation as being a viable solution are not teaching the will of God. Now, this is not an accusation toward Bauer and his statements, he clearly says that he continues to engage with Christians on some level and does not appear to be promoting total isolation. But that is what some have gone on to promote. Getting on the Internet and receiving from a teaching or an “online fellowship” has its place, but it does not replace in-person fellowship. Unless you have a Church in your area that is fully Torah-observant and meets on Sundays it seems advisable to maintain fellowship in a Christian congregation. You may not agree with everything that is said or done there because you know the truth from Torah, but at the same time you don’t know who is going to see the light in you and come out of the darkness with you. I know this is true. I have had many people from Sunday Church associations who have read my work and realized that there is something more than what they get from Church alone.
I don’t know if Mr. Bauer would ever read this message, he is certainly busy with his own ministry efforts for the Kingdom and he runs a homestead, something I believe is needed more today instead of relying on the Babylonian system of cities, governments, and corporations to provide our essential living needs, so he’s not exactly a part of my target audience. It’s pretty apparent that he is on a path of Torah and the primary mission of my work is to reach people who have not fully embraced Torah, hoping to compel them toward the truth. However, I am sure that if I did speak to Bauer we would find that we agree on much more than we disagree on and regarding this matter we would most likely agree to disagree as Brothers in Messiah. I just want to make that perfectly clear in case anyone wants to accuse me of “attacking” the ministry of a fellow Torah-observant Believer who, through his choice to live “off the grid” in a homestead environment, is probably living a whole lot closer to God than most.
If you have the option of a good Torah-focused fellowship to join, that’s great! But if not, think long and hard and spend a lot of time seeking the Father before you walk out on your Church. I know there are some Churches, particularly those in major Protestant denominations that have seemingly abandoned God and the Bible a long time ago, where it’s probably best to just leave. But there are a lot of Churches that are making a transition, even if it seems like it’s an extremely slow transition, into Torah. If a Church appears to be doing that, if the Pastor is teaching Torah even a little bit, should you leave? I don’t think so! They need you a lot more than you might realize.”Come out from among them, and be separate,” (2 Corinthians 6:17) doesn’t mean: “Leave the Christian Church/Faith and go live in isolation.”
I’ve had numerous people from a Sunday-meeting Church approach me about the idea of starting a Torah study group through the Church. I have entertained the idea, though it has not happened quite yet. I know the Pastor teaches strongly on keeping Torah, but other leaders do not seem to be fully on board with it yet. I do know the idea has been proposed to leaders at the Church and if they decide to do it and I am still available to assist them, I will fully support the group in any way I possibly can.
Whether the hardcore Sabbatarians like it or not, people today are accustomed to going to Church on Sunday. Too much change too fast is hard for people to accept. Establishing that a corporate Church gathering on Sunday is not sun god worship, unless those gathered are really engaged in things that derive from actual sun god worship, it would seem that Sunday would be the ideal time to conduct traditional Evangelism-minded services. If it is a truly Torah-observant Church – keeping kosher, celebrating the Holy Feasts, not celebrating pagan holidays, not working on the Sabbath Day, and everything else that makes a congregation uniquely Torah-observant – than a Sunday gathering would be quite far removed from sun god worship.
In this case Sunday would be when you conduct those updated, progressive services that people are familiar with, creating that certain allure that draws people to come, so long as you are not doing things that actually do violate Scripture. I make that last point because a lot of Churches actually do things, usually out of ignorance but they still do them, which are direct violations of Torah and anger a holy God. As I have said in the past, you don’t need to drop plastic eggs out of a helicopter or have a Santa Claus in the fellowship area to attract people to Church and create a modern feeling environment. Your Bible says that if you lift Him (Messiah) up, He will draw all men into His body. All you need is Messiah. You don’t need attractive cultural norms that are rooted in paganism to build your Church.
This does not mean that a Torah-focused service on the Sabbath Day is boring and old-fashioned or that everyone has to start acting like modern Jews. Quite the contrary. People are excited about the message of the Torah as it is, and there are all sorts of reasons for it. The Feasts are quite appealing because, oddly enough, they are new and fresh to Believers who have never experienced them before. The use of tallits and shofars, as well as other traditional Hebrew articles of worship connected to Torah, have a unique and powerful anointing on them that brings the atmosphere of praise in a way that many Christians have never felt in the Churches they were raised in, even “fire-baptized Pentecostal Churches”.
The point is that we should not discount the usefulness of Sunday services toward drawing people to the truth. Sure, there is a lot that has been done wrong by Christianity and that has led many to want to separate completely from the ways of mainstream Christian Churches. And that is sure to continue and maybe get worse before it gets better. But I also think that as the movement to embrace Torah continues to grow there will be more leaders rise up who are actually educated in the real history of the Church, those who know how to study real information and not web-based satire, those who go to the Word of God instead of the latest sensational nonsense, who will bring balance to the situation and bring everyone together under Messiah.
When it’s all said and done, the major point here is that Sunday Church is not sun-god worship and folks need to stop making that claim: Stop being an “accuser of the brethren.
~Blessings and Shalom~
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