A day set apart by the Lord as a remembrance of the creation and His redemptive power (see Exodus 12:7; Deuteronomy 2:10). During the creation, God established a plan for six days of labor and one day of rest. That one day of rest was to be continually observed and would later be memorialized in the law of Moses. But on that first day of rest, Adam and Eve were sent out from the Garden of Eden, and instead of resting, they labored. The reckoning of the week was disturbed by the fact that a day was lost, and the calendar resulted in a day’s disparity because of the fall of Adam and Eve. Christ was resurrected on what was called the “first day of the week” because it was the first day of the week as reckoned from the fall of Adam. Christ’s atonement was intended to fix the fall of Adam — to put everything back right again — and to repair the damage that had been caused. Therefore, even though Christ’s resurrection appears to have come one day late, it was actually just on time. He repaired not only the damage done in the original fall, but He repaired the Sabbath as well. Hence the day of Resurrection was observed as the day of rest and was called the first day of the week (instead of the seventh) because that’s how time had been reckoned from the fall of Adam until the resurrection of Christ. Many observe the Sabbath on the day on which Christ was resurrected as a symbol of his repair of the premature fall and the loss of the original day of rest, going back to the time of Adam and Eve. The original Christians would let one worship on Saturday and would let another worship on Sunday, because as long as one kept the doctrine of Christ and accepted the law of Christ, men and women could figure it out together over time, and eventually one would persuade the other, perhaps not by argument and debate, but by the quiet example that persuades the heart that there’s something more to be preferred in one than in the other.1
On Sunday, August 7, 1831, the Lord gave instructions about the Sabbath: And that you may more fully keep yourself unspotted from the world, you shall go to the house of prayer and offer up your sacraments upon my holy day. For verily, this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay your devotions unto the Most High. Nevertheless, your vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times, but remember that on this, the Lord’s day, you shall offer your oblations and your sacraments unto the Most High (T&C 46:3). The following November His command was restated: And the inhabitants of Zion shall also observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy (T&C 55:6). It is noteworthy that immediately following the command to teach one’s children, there is a warning to observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy [consecrated, set apart, distinct from other days].2 The Lord gives mankind agency in keeping the Sabbath day holy; circumstances for one may be different from another, and it is not meet that [He] command in all things…. Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness (T&C 45:6).
1 500th Year Reformation Talk Two, 17–18, Dallas, TX, Oct. 19, 2017.
2 Preserving the Restoration, 398.