The National Sunday Law Dilemma

Introduction: A Parable of Two Women

There were two women:

One called to her servant commanding, "Make for me A DAY which all will respect and call holy."

The other woman summoned her servant instructing, "Make for me A NAME that no one will defame, and all will regard blessed."

The first servant returned saying, "I have made a HOLY DAY for you; it will be respected and enforced by civil pledge."

The second servant returned saying, "I have made a BLESSED NAME for you, and the governor has pledged to protect it from defamation and unauthorized use forever."

Who were the two women?

How do we know the two women agree?

"We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed." Review & Herald, July 26, 1892. "Let all prove their positions from the Scriptures and substantiate every point they claim as truth from the revealed word of God." Evangelism, page 256. "There is no excuse for any one in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed and that all our expositions of Scripture are without error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not a proof that our ideas are infallible." Review & Herald, Dec. 20, 1892. "The truth of God is progressive; it is always onward, going from strength to greater strength, from light to greater light." Signs, May 26, 1890.

As pointed out by Luis Munilla in his Jan. 28, 1995 newsletter, ". . . Mexico, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, and other countries around the world [including England], have already designated Sunday as their day of rest." (Brackets mine.) In the past we have understood that the United States would be the first to enforce a National Sunday Law. "Foreign nations will follow the example of the United States, though she leads out, yet the same crisis will come upon our people in all parts of the world." 6T, page 395. In context, Ellen White was referring to the restriction of religious liberty when writing of "the same crisis." On the same page she continues,". . . when they [the authorities] command us not to proclaim the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, then it will be necessary for us to say as did the apostles: 'whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.' Acts 4:19, 20." (Ibid.). Clearly the principle to be understood regarding a crisis arising in our land is the restriction of religious liberty to the degree that Seventh-day Adventists cannot "proclaim the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." While this state of things could have been brought about by the National Sunday Law, any oppressive law abridging the free exercise of the Seventh-day Adventist faith would fulfill the prophecy.

In 1888 the Blair Sunday Rest Bill was before Congress, and the final test of the image of the beast was soon to be enforced upon the people of God. ". . . the image of the beast . . . is to be the great test for the people of God, by which their eternal destiny will be decided . . ." SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, page 976. Much of Ellen White's writing on the subject of the National Sunday Law was pertaining to this event and the efforts by the National Reform movement of that era. In 1889 Ellen wrote, "Events which for more than forty years we have upon the authority of the prophetic word declared to be impending are now taking place before our eyes. Already the question of an amendment to the Constitution restricting liberty of conscience has been urged upon the legislators of the nation. The question of enforcing Sunday observance has become one of national interest and importance. We well know what the result of this movement will be." 5T, page 711. By Providence, the National Reform movement failed in their attempts to bring about a national law enforcing Sunday observance. The proposed amendment to the Constitution restricting liberty of conscience was also foiled. But "Foreign nations [have] follow[ed] the example of the United States," and religious liberty has been restricted for Seventh-day Adventists in various "parts of the world." However, the image of the beast has never been given life "that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of beast [might] be killed." Rev. 13:15. This "oppressive law" has not yet been fully enforced upon God's Remnant in the United States. Very little effort is required to research the Sunday question around the world. Library databases are replete with this information. As we research the subject, we discover that many countries have passed national Sunday legislation, and in the recent past many of those laws have been repealed. Even in Rome, Italy, where one might think Sunday would be a popular day of rest, controversy over Sunday closing laws has been keen. The difficulty in obtaining support for Sunday closing laws might be demonstrated by a recent statement by Lord's Day Alliance President Paul J. Craven, Jr., in 1988:

We have found we live in a day very different from yesteryear. Most legislation supporting Sunday closing has been struck down. Fewer and fewer enterprises are interested in closing on Sundays, and still fewer are sensitive to the desires of individuals who would choose to keep Sunday as a day of worship and rest.

So where do we go from here? We who comprise the Board of Managers must pool our creative energies constantly to look for and produce new approaches to our mission. What no longer has the support of legislation may now need the support of persuasion. Liberty Sentinel, vol. 13, 1989-90, Number 5. (emphasis supplied.)

In Liberty Alert, vol. 2 no.1, Jan/Feb 1993, Roland R. Hegstad writes:

Through the years I've seen Sunday laws disappear from the books of 21 states most recently from Virginia, which in its colonial phase had a law containing the death penalty. An additional 18 states have so liberalized their laws that it would take a psychopath to search out an illegal act. In the remaining states, county by county, municipality by municipality, Sunday laws are being removed from the books.

Over the 30 years the growing secularization of society has been a greater threat to our church than have Sunday laws.

Even though other countries followed the example of our country by enforcing Sunday laws of their own, the prophecy of the two-horned beast of Revelation 13 was never fulfilled. "This power, the last that is to wage war against the church and the law of God, was symbolized by a beast with lamblike horns . . . the 'two horns like a lamb' well represent the character of the United States government . . ." Signs, Nov. 1, 1899. This Signs article is entitled "The Seal of God" and describes the oppressive powers that sought to force God's people to disobey God's law and the final struggle of commandment-keepers against the beast and his image. The mark of the beast has never been enforced in this country as required by the prophecy. And note that the mark does not necessarily need to be enforced through the means of a National Sunday Law. The mark of the beast is enforced when ". . . this country [U.S.A.] will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience." Great Controversy, page 588. Remember, "To receive the mark of the beast means to come to the same decision as the beast has done, and to advocate the same ideas, in direct opposition to the word of God." SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, page 979. And "while one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other, choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God." Great Controversy, page 605. In this, the discerning mind clearly understands the principles involved in the enforcement of the mark of the beast. The particular "form" through which it is enforced does not matter, but we must recognize the power and institution through which it comes. The restriction of religious liberty is the sure result of the U.S. government enforcing the mark of the beast upon God's remnant people. "The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men." Maranatha, page 200. And the Creation 7th Day (the Sabbath) is the great object of controversy.

"In every age there is a new development of truth, a message of God to the people of that generation. The old truths are essential; new truth is not independent of the old, but an unfolding of it . . . it is the light which shines in the fresh unfolding of the New that glorifies the Old. He who rejects the New, does not really possess, the Old. For him it loses its vital power, and becomes but a lifeless form." Signs, June 20, 1902. Adventists have focused on the concept of the National Sunday Law until they have lost sight of the Sabbath Rest Principle which secures the believer in a child-like faith relationship with the Creator and Savior of the world. Professed Sabbath-keepers have held up Saturday as if it was a god to be worshiped. Through this extremism, the final test for Christ's professed disciples has been purported to be a choice between resting on Saturday vs. resting on Sunday (or some variation thereof). This can not be the test, for "if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing." 1 Cor. 13:3 (NASB). There is no way that a national law requiring Sunday rest would fulfill the prophecy of Revelation 13 unless it prohibited the keeping of Jehovah's rest. The mark of the beast will make void the law of God and restrict the liberty of Seventh-day Adventists who profess to be keeping "the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ."

More Resources

Adventist and Secular News Regarding Sunday Law Degeneration

Questions & Answers - The Ten Virgins

Email re: The Sunday Law

Email: Creation Ministries