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The Bible, the Sabbath, and Ireland—Is the Seventh Day Still Important Today?

The Bible, the Sabbath, and Ireland—Is the Seventh Day Still Important Today?
  • Northern Ireland political leader attacked for attending soccer game on a Sunday
  • Yet ancient Irish Christians worshiped on the seventh-day Sabbath
  • Revelation identifies worship as an important issue in the final struggle between good and evil

Ever since its occupation by England, Northern Ireland has had a long and often violent history of infighting. In an attempt to mend political bridges, Arlene Foster, a conservative politician, recently attended an Ulster GAA senior soccer tournament final with several colleagues. However, her gesture of goodwill has been criticized by some as anti-religious because the event was held on a Sunday, the supposed “Christian Sabbath.”

Because Northern Ireland is divided in so many ways, it's difficult for the various factions to find common ground on any level. This has been especially highlighted in the religious censure aimed at Foster.

But religious division goes back a long way on the Emerald Island. Research indicates that the Celts were first evangelized in the region of Galatia in Asia Minor by the apostle Paul and later the apostle John. These first-century Christians shared their new faith with Celts in Gaul (modern France) and then carried the light of the gospel to their fellow clansmen in the isles of Briton and Ireland.

While Patrick, the famous saint of Ireland, was not the first to bring God’s Word to the ancient Celts, he was one of the early leaders in building a system of schools in Ireland. Taken as a slave from Briton, he learned the Celtic language and later returned to bring the light of the gospel to his former persecutors. He found other believers on the island and worked with them to evangelize the country. His beliefs were strictly based on the Scriptures; for instance, the schools he founded followed the example of Christ in observing the seventh-day Sabbath.

Subsequent war and political intrigue with the Papacy resulted in the transition of the Christian day of worship from the seventh day to the first day. Nearly five hundred years later, Mary, the Catholic Queen of Scotland, was still attempting to bring Scotland into line with Sunday worship. However, the island maintained “the traditional usage of the ancient Irish Church, which observed Saturday instead of Sunday as the day of rest” (Barnett, Margaret of Scotland: Queen and Saint, p. 97).

As time went on, the Catholic Church eventually claimed Patrick as one of its own, despite the fact that he stood against many of its key doctrines. His influence had such a lasting impression on the people that the ruling church was forced to adopt a revised version of history that included him as an early church leader. Today, Patrick is honored as the patron saint of Ireland, but few realize that he worshiped faithfully on the seventh-day Sabbath.

The Sabbath has been a key identifier of God’s faithful people for thousands of years, and the recent attention of Christian writers and news outlets on this issue is evidence that Bible prophecy is fast fulfilling. Scripture foretold the attempt to change the day of the Sabbath. The prophet Daniel wrote, “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time” (Daniel 7:25). This apostate power would appear to be successful in trampling upon God’s law—for a time. But that is not the end of the story.

Daniel continued, “But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever. Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (Daniel 7:26, 27). The prophet presented a clear picture of the outcome, one in which God’s faithful people are victorious and in which His kingdom will last forever.

The book of Revelation expands on these exciting events as the prophet identifies the distinguishing characteristics of God’s people at the end of time. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). Clearly, God’s eternal law is at the heart of this great conflict between good and evil.

More than that, Revelation explains that each of us has a part to play: “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). Christ invites you to participate in sharing His truth with earnest seekers as earth’s history comes to a dramatic close.

Would you like to understand more about the important role the Sabbath has played throughout history and the implications it has in current events? Take a few minutes to browse through this comprehensive resource on the triumph of the seventh-day Sabbath.

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