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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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Awake!  |  September 2011

A Weekly Holy Day—Is It Required?

A Weekly Holy Day—Is It Required?

 The Bible’s Viewpoint

A Weekly Holy Day​—Is It Required?

AROUND the earth, millions of Muslims, Jews, and professed Christians have set apart one day each week for special religious activities. Why? Ibrahim, for example, a devout Muslim who visits a mosque every Friday to pray and hear a sermon explains: “I want to feel close to God and find peace of mind.”

Does the Bible teach that God requires us to observe a weekly holy day? Is worshipping on a particular day the key to finding true spiritual refreshment?

A Temporary Arrangement

More than 3,500 years ago, God used the prophet Moses to provide a special set of laws. That Law included a system of rest days, or Sabbaths, that were set aside for worship. The most frequent rest day was the weekly Sabbath. It began at sunset on Friday and continued until sunset on Saturday.​—Exodus 20:8-10.

Were people of all nations to observe that weekly rest day? No, they were not. The Law of Moses was given exclusively to the Israelites and their proselytes. God said to Moses: “The sons of Israel must keep the sabbath . . . Between me and the sons of Israel it is a sign to time indefinite.” *​—Exodus 31:16, 17.

The Bible says that the Mosaic Law was “a shadow of the things to come.” (Colossians 2:17) Hence, the Sabbath was part of a temporary arrangement for worship that pointed forward to a future, superior arrangement. (Hebrews 10:1) The Bible shows that from God’s standpoint, the Law given to Israel, including the requirement to observe a weekly Sabbath day, came to an end at Jesus’ death. (Romans 10:4) What replaced it?

A New Way of Worship

The form of worship acceptable to God after the Mosaic Law had fulfilled its purpose is clearly described in the Bible. Does it include worshipping on a specific day each week?

The Scriptures indicate that some commands given to Israel also applied to those in the Christian congregation. These included the commands to abstain from idolatry and fornication, as well as from eating blood. (Acts 15:28, 29) Significantly, the commands regarding the weekly Sabbath were not included among the ones that Christians were required to obey.​—Romans 14:5.

What else does the Bible tell us about how first-century Christians worshipped? They regularly met together to pray, read scriptures, listen to talks, and sing songs praising God. (Acts 12:12; Colossians 3:16) At such meetings, Christians received instruction, strengthened their faith, and gave mutual encouragement to one another.​—Hebrews 10:24, 25.

 Nowhere does the Bible say that Christian meetings were to be held on Sunday or any other particular day of the week. So, then, why do many professed Christians observe Sunday as a holy day? The custom of worshipping on Sunday arose after the Bible was completed and a variety of beliefs and traditions not based on the Bible had begun to appear.

Did God later reestablish a weekly day for communal worship? No. The entire pattern for true worship is laid out in detail in the Bible. No other inspired writings have been added to the Holy Scriptures. The apostle Paul was inspired to write: “Even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond what we declared to you as good news, let him be accursed.”​—Galatians 1:8.

Refreshing Worship That Pleases God

Although the religious leaders of Jesus’ day scrupulously observed a weekly holy day, their worship was not acceptable to God because their hearts were wicked. They loved money and looked down on common, humble people. They desired prominence, they were corrupt, and they were deeply involved in the political struggles of their day. (Matthew 23:6, 7, 29-33; Luke 16:14; John 11:46-48) They claimed to represent God. Yet they turned the Sabbath, which God had intended to be a source of refreshment, into an oppressive system of man-made rules.​—Matthew 12:9-14.

Clearly, observing a weekly holy day is not in itself the key to worship that pleases God. What is needed? Jesus gave this appealing invitation: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you.” (Matthew 11:28) Worship that is truly based on Jesus’ teachings is indeed refreshing. It is free of hypocrisy and burdensome rituals.

Around the world, Jehovah’s Witnesses closely follow the pattern of worship practiced by Jesus’ early followers. Witnesses enjoy a weekly program of Bible instruction. The days on which their meetings are held are determined by local circumstances, not by unscriptural traditions. Why not visit such a meeting in your community and experience this refreshing worship for yourself?

[Footnote]

^ par. 7 The Bible expression “time indefinite” does not necessarily mean forever. It can also mean a lengthy, undefined period of time.

HAVE YOU WONDERED?

● Must you worship God on a specific day of the week?​—Romans 10:4; 14:5.

● Why should we meet together for worship?​—Hebrews 10:24, 25.

● What is the key to worship that is truly satisfying?​—Matthew 11:28.

[Chart/​Pictures on pages 10, 11]

(For fully formatted text, see publication)

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

1 THURSDAY

2 FRIDAY

3 SATURDAY

4 SUNDAY