From Here to Forever


How the Sabbath was “Changed”

Prophecy declared that the papacy was to “think to change times and laws.” Daniel 7:25. To afford a substitute for the worship of idols, the adoration of images and relics was gradually introduced into Christian worship. The decree of a general council (See Appendix) finally established this idolatry. Rome presumed to expunge from the law of God the second commandment, forbidding image worship, and to divide the tenth commandment in order to preserve the number. HF 33.3

Unconsecrated leaders of the church tampered with the fourth commandment also, to set aside the ancient Sabbath, the day which God had blessed and sanctified (Genesis 2:2, 3) and in its stead exalted the festival observed by the heathen as “the venerable day of the sun.” In the first centuries the true Sabbath had been kept by all Christians, but Satan worked to bring about his object. Sunday was made a festival in honor of the resurrection of Christ. Religious services were held upon it, yet it was regarded as a day of recreation, the Sabbath being still sacredly observed. HF 34.1

Satan had led the Jews, before the advent of Christ, to load down the Sabbath with rigorous exactions, making it a burden. Now, taking advantage of the false light in which he had caused it to be regarded, he cast contempt upon it as a “Jewish” institution. While Christians generally continued to observe Sunday as a joyous festival, he led them to make the Sabbath a day of sadness and gloom in order to show hatred of Judaism. HF 34.2

The emperor Constantine issued a decree making Sunday a public festival throughout the Roman Empire. (See Appendix) The day of the sun was reverenced by his pagan subjects and honored by Christians. He was urged to do this by the bishops of the church. Inspired by thirst for power, they perceived that if the same day was observed by both Christians and heathen, it would advance the power and glory of the church. But while many God-fearing Christians were gradually led to regard Sunday as possessing a degree of sacredness, they still held the true Sabbath and observed it in obedience to the fourth commandment. HF 34.3

The archdeceiver had not completed his work. He was resolved to exercise his power through his vicegerent, the proud pontiff who claimed to represent Christ. Vast councils were held in which dignitaries were convened from all the world. In nearly every council the Sabbath was pressed down a little lower, while Sunday was exalted. Thus the pagan festival came finally to be honored as a divine institution, while the Bible Sabbath was pronounced a relic of Judaism and its observance declared accursed. HF 34.4

The apostate had succeeded in exalting himself “above all that is called God, or that is worshiped.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4. He had dared to change the only precept of the divine law that points to the true and living God. In the fourth commandment, God is revealed as the Creator. As a memorial of the work of creation, the seventh day was sanctified as a rest day for man, designed to keep the living God ever before the minds of men as the object of worship. Satan strives to turn men from obedience to God's law; therefore he directs his efforts especially against that commandment which points to God as the Creator. HF 35.1

Protestants now urge that the resurrection of Christ on Sunday made it the Christian Sabbath. But no such honor was given to the day by Christ or His apostles. The observance of Sunday had its origin in that “mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7, RV) which, even in Paul's day, had begun its work. What reason can be given for a change which the Scriptures do not sanction? HF 35.2

In the sixth century, the bishop of Rome was declared to be the head over the entire church. Paganism had given place to the papacy. The dragon had given the beast “his power, and his seat, and great authority.” Revelation 13:2. (See Appendix) HF 35.3

Now began the 1260 years of papal oppression foretold in the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation. Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5-7. Christians were forced to choose either to yield their integrity and accept the papal ceremonies and worship, or to wear away their lives in dungeons, or to suffer death. Now were fulfilled the words of Jesus: “Ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.” Luke 21:16, 17. HF 35.4

The world became a vast battlefield. For hundreds of years the church of Christ found refuge in seclusion and obscurity. “The woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Revelation 12:6. HF 36.1

The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. Faith was transferred from Christ to the pope of Rome. Instead of trusting in the Son of God for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation, the people looked to the pope and to the priests to whom he delegated authority. The pope was their earthly mediator. He stood in the place of God to them. A deviation from his requirements was sufficient cause for severe punishment. Thus the minds of the people were turned away from God to fallible and cruel men, nay, more, to the prince of darkness himself who exercised his power through them. When the Scriptures are suppressed and man comes to regard himself as supreme, we look only for fraud, deception, and debasing iniquity. HF 36.2