Facts and 7th-day Sabbath Worship in Samoa
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Since December 29th 2011, Samoa’s change from American to Asian Time has created confusion for Samoan Seventh-day Adventists (SDA’s) because they were told by the Seventh-day Adventist South Pacific Division (SPD) that after December 29, 2011, the 7th-day Sabbath is Sunday, the 1st day of the week. I believe that is not correct and that the 7th-Day Sabbath is still Saturday.

Nowhere in God’s Word does it state that He changed the 7th-day Sabbath to the 1st day of the week. Quite the contrary. Jesus tells us:

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mathew 5:17-20)

We all know that the calendar used globally to determine the day and date is the same for all countries, including Samoa, whether the countries lie east or west of the International Date Line (IDL). That means that the 7th-day Sabbath is the same day and date on both Asian or American time – the day named Saturday, or something similar, everywhere on the planet.

BACKGROUND

The premise of the SPD Sunday worship recommendation to Samoan SDA’s is adherence to an unbroken 1-7-day cycle as defined in Genesis 1 and  Gen. 2:1-3. This was accepted and implemented by the Samoan Tokelau Mission (STM) leaders in Samoa, after December 29, 2011.

However, the New Testament clearly defines which day is the Sabbath that Jesus kept. In Mark 15:42 and Luke 24:1-7 it states that the Sabbath is after “preparation day” (commonly known as Friday) and therefore Saturday, before the “first day of the week” (commonly known as Sunday).

1. Samoa was keeping Asian Time prior to July 4th 1892

Prior to July 4th, 1892, Samoa kept Asian Time and was aligned with the same day and date as Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, the calendar below was followed until the first time zone shift on July 4th, 1892. This is how the calendar looked in the context of the 7th-Day Sabbath worship:

2. King Laupepa Malietoa shifted Samoa from Asian time to American time in 1892

In 1892, King Laupepa Malietoa brought Samoa time into line with American time for trade and economic reasons. That resulted with Monday July 4th being repeated on the 3rd day of the week. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Date_Line#Samoan_Islands_and_Tokelau)

In the context of an “unbroken 7-day cycle,” transitioning from Asian to American time would have resulted with the 7th-day Sabbath falling on Friday July 8th, 1892, Preparation Day, as demonstrated in the following calendar:

3. One-time 8-Day Week Adjustment

In fact we know that this did not happen, because a 1-time 8-day week adjustment was made to enable Samoa to transition from Asian to American time, as shown in the following calendar. This ensured continuity of the 7th-day Sabbath on Saturday from July 4th 1892 until 29 December 2011.

It is important to note that while the week-day count was +1 day, with Monday, 4th July, repeated, the day and date sequence remained constant, and therefore, the 7th day Sabbath was July 9th, 1892.

4. God’s Word Defines the 7th-day Sabbath as the Day Before Sunday:

It is important to know what God’s Word says about the sequence of the 1-7-day cycle and where the 7th-day Sabbath is relative to Preparation Day and the 1st day of the week. We have no real way of tracing the 7-day cycle back to creation week, except by the New Testament account. There we find confirmation that Jesus kept the Sabbath on the same day currently known as Saturday, the day before Sunday:

Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath (Mark 15:42)

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them,

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” (Luke 24:1-7)

In today’s society, we recognize the names of these days as follows:

  • Preparation Day = FRIDAY in the current world calendar
  • 7th-Day Sabbath = SATURDAY in the current world calendar
  • 1st day of the week = SUNDAY in the current world calendar

We know that Sunday is same first day of the week as it was in the time of Jesus because it is recognized and celebrated as the day of the resurrection of Christ by most Christian churches.

5. Samoa Seventh-day Adventist 7th-day Sabbath prior to December 29th, 2011

Samoa Seventh-day Adventists followed the calendar that resulted from a one-off 8-day week until Thursday, December 29th, 2011, based on American Time:

After December 29th, 2011, the Samoa government shifted the country back across the IDL from American to Asian time for trade and economic reasons because Australia and New Zealand had become its predominant trade partners, just as it had shifted to American time for economic reasons in 1892. Thus Samoa reverted to its previous Asian time zone prior to July 4th, 1892.

However, the South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists, supported by the STM, issued a directive that the SDA Samoan community are to keep Sunday as the 7th-day Sabbath. The stated reason for their directive was to maintain an “unbroken 1-7-day week cycle” according to creation week.

Unfortunately the SPD and STM leadership have not provided any compelling reason to believe their apparent claim that American time is more in harmony with the 7-day creation week than is Asian time. This claim becomes doubly perplexing when we remember that American time was adopted under the influence of American traders. Thus they have not provided a compelling reason why Samoan Seventh-day Adventists ought to worship according American time.

The SPD  directive to keep Sunday as the 7th day has caused confused understanding in time-keeping for a number of reasons:

  • The majority of Samoan SDA’s follow the SPD directive and live by the Asian time-cycle during weekdays, but on weekends they shift to American time. This results in their treating Saturday as Preparation Day and Sunday, the first day of the local calendar, as the 7th day. They must repeat this practice each week.
    At the same time, a small remnant of SDA’s continue to worship on Saturday, the local 7th day of the week, as they did previously.
  • To compound the confusion, the global Seventh-day Adventist Church community keeps the global calendar, on both the Asian and the American side of the International Date Line. Seventh-day Adventists around the world and a small remnant of SDA’s in Samoa worshiped on Saturday, December 31st, the 7th day of the local and global week, designated as Sabbath by SDA’s world-wide. However,  the majority of Samoan SDA’s worshiped on Sunday, January 1st, as their Sabbath. (See diagram below.)
  • This places the 7th-day “Sabbath” mandated the SPD directive in an odd “No man’s Time,” since the 7th-day Sabbath is December 31st in both the Asian and American (global) calendar, as observed by Seventh-day Adventists around the globe. But Samoan SDA’s who went along with the SPD directive viewed January 1st as their Sabbath, even though it was the local 1st day of the week.
  • It also poses a situation of disarray in keeping the global calendar on Asian time during the week. By adopting the SPD Sunday worship directive, the week for Samoan SDA’s starts on Monday, the 2nd day of the week, and the 1st day of the week does not exist for them, as it has been replaced by the 7th day. Instead their “Preparation Day” follows the 6th day of the week, but, according to the Bible, the day that follows the 6th day of the week is the 7th-day Sabbath.

6. Plus 1-day adjustment to American Time and minus 1-day reversion to  Asian Time

On July 4th, 1892, Samoa shifted time zones from Asian to American time and added +1 day. On December 29th 2011, Samoa reverted to its previous Asian time kept prior to July 4th 1892 by subtracting -1 day.

In the first time change, Samoa shifted from west of the date line to east of the date line, apparently adding 24 hours to the week. And in the second time zone shift, Samoa shifted back to the west of the datelined and apparently deducted 24 hours from the week, as demonstrated in the diagram below.

Re-aligning a country to the other side of the IDL is effectively the same as moving the country over the IDL. It is similar to individuals traveling over the IDL, which happens routinely. In each case, 24 hours are either added or subtracted from the personal week in order to be in harmony with local time. For Samoa, this adjustment allowed the sequence of the day and date to remain constant according to the global calendar, just as it does for individuals who cross over the IDL.

Therefore, the 7th-day Sabbath of the Bible is still on Saturday and correctly situated between Preparation Day, on Friday and the 1st day of the week on Sunday.

Notice that Samoa dropped one 24-hour period (Friday) at the end of 2011 and thus removed the 24-hour period that was added in the first time zone shift of 1892. This enables Samoa to be synchronized with the Asian time cycle followed in New Zealand and Australia.

7. The SPD/STM Calendar for Samoa SDA’s out of sync with Global Calendar since December 29th, 2011

Since the transition back to Asian time, most Samoan SDA’s have adopted Sunday worship, as far as all the world can see. However, the majority SDA community explanation is that it is keeping the 7th day according to is former time cycle. At the same time a remnant of SDA’s is keeping the 7th-day Sabbath on local time.

But in reality the majority SDA community follows a combination of keeping the 7th day according to American time on weekends, and then switching back to Asian time during the week days. By contrast, a remnant of Seventh-day Adventists are being consistent in abiding by local time throughout the whole week and keeping the 7th-day Sabbath on Saturday as they have done in the past.

It is a confused situation whereby the majority Samoan SDA calendar has changed the 7th-day Sabbath to Preparation Day and renumbered the 1st day of the week as the 7th day, thus promoting the observance of an exclusive SDA calendar distinct from the global calendar that the rest of the world observes.

It is clear that this is a private and inconsistent calendar, and to the world it is only evident that Samoan SDA’s have joined other churches in keeping Sunday as their day of worship.

8. The Global Calendar – 2012

(Refer to http://www.timeanddate.com & http://www.timehall.com/calendar)

Since December 29, 2011, confusion continues in the Samoan SDA community because the Samoan SDA calendar is different from that used by the global Seventh-day Adventist community. There is no justification for a different SDA calendar in Samoa, as the following country calendar examples show that the Samoa calendar is identical with that used in New Zealand, Singapore, United States and the United Kingdom, countries representative of Asian and American
time cycles.

The global calendar also follows the same day and date sequence regardless of the week starting on Sunday or Monday. And it is the same on either side of the date line. (Samoa has actually had two calendars for a number of years. The usual local calendar begins the week with Sunday, but the ISO calendar, used in some businesses, begins the week with Monday.)

As demonstrated by the different calendars below, the 7th-day Sabbath is on May 5th, both on Asian and American Time. It is always on Saturday, whether the calendar is from Asia, America or Europe and whether the calendar week ends on Saturday or Sunday:

9. Conclusion

The following are indisputable facts about the Samoan SDA’s Sabbath dilemma. These facts support keeping the 7th-day Sabbath on Saturday, both on the Asian and the American time-cycle:

  • “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Genesis 2:1-3 NKJV)
  • The 7th-day Sabbath is the day after Preparation Day and before the 1st day of the week, commonly known as Sunday. (See Luke 15:42 and Mark 24:1-7)
  • God’s law is unchangeable (See Mathew 5:17-20)
  • Samoa Time zone shifts are recorded in history:

~ The first shift on July 4th 1892 from Asian to American time added a day to the week.
~ And the second shift from American back to Asian time, on December 29th 2011, subtracted a day from the week.

  • The global calendar is the same for Samoa, with identical sequence of day and date, whether on Asian or American time.
  • Whether crossing from Asian to American Time, or vice versa, the 1-7-day cycle is unbroken by a one-time adjustment of 1-6-day or 1-8-day week, whichever is applicable, just as happens when travelers cross the date line.
  • The Polynesia people migration was from Asia, keeping Asian time. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polynesia) The following illustrates the Polynesian migration and populating of the Pacific on route from Asia to Oceania. Thus the people would have brought Asian time with them.

10. Clarifying Questions

Contemplating these facts, I ask you, who are created in God’s image with His bestowed intelligence and powers of reasoning, the following questions:

  • Why, if Polynesians migrated from Asia, would their original time-keeping be misconstrued as anything other than Asian time?
  • With the first time-change on July 4th, 1892, when King Malietoa shifted the nation from Asian to American time, why would there be any dispute about the original time being Asian?
  • Before the first change, the 7th day was Saturday on Asian time. From July 4th 1892 until December 29th 2011, the 7th day was Saturday on American time, the continuity enabled by 1-time 8-day week. Why would the principle of a 1-time 8-day week  adjustment be acceptable in 1892 and not acceptable after the second change in 2011 by a 1-time 6-day week in order to transition from American back to the previous Asian time-cycle?
  • God’s Word is absolute, and in Mark 15:42 and Luke 24:1-7 it indicated clearly that the 7th day is after preparation day and before the first day of the week, commonly known as Sunday. Why does the SPD contradict this identification of the Sabbath by the directive for Samoan Adventists to consider Sunday the 7th day of the week when it is really the 1st day of the week according to the local and the global calendar?
  • If, according to Mathew 5:17-20, God’s law is unchangeable, on what basis does the SPD and STM have the authority to change the 7th day to the 1st day of the week?
  • Is it possible that the sequence and the names of these days could be any other days of the week and not as read in these Bible references? Are there other Bible references to the contrary?
  • Why would the global calendar be the same in all the world and show the 7th day as Saturday May 5th while in Samoa, the SDA calendar shows the 7th day to be Sunday May 6th?
  • If God represents order as opposed to chaos, does the SPD Sunday worship directive enhance Seventh-day Adventist community harmony or create disharmony?
  • Does Seventh-day Adventist Sunday worship in Samoa prepare believers for the final crisis that will be experienced throughout the world as foreseen by Ellen White and written out in the last chapters of the Great Controversy? (See references at end of post.)
  • According to God’s Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide your reactions to the above questions, do you believe that the 7th day is Saturday or Sunday?

Finally, to be a true Seventh-day Adventist is to keep the 7th-day holy as a sign that the Lord is our righteousness and sanctification. The Sabbath is a sign that distinguishes God’s remnant people from the rest of professed Christendom. (See Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12,20)

Is it possible that the same Sunday that is the mark of Rome’s authority can also be a sign of God’s remnant people?

Which day will you keep?

  • the Sunday which is the mark of Rome’s authority?
  • or will you keep the Sabbath Jesus kept?

Some Sunday Sabbath Resources:

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Comments

Facts and 7th-day Sabbath Worship in Samoa — 3 Comments

  1. There are three main ways to “correctly” determine between Asian and American dates:
    (1) Follow the historical migration pattern.
    (2) Follow the Christians who brought (restored) the 7-day week to a certain place/people.
    (3) Follow the Adventists who brought (restored) the prophetically significant Sabbath to a certain place/people.

    We can debate between (2) and (3). (I personally lean toward (3).) But (1) is simply impracticable in a round world and irreconcileable to the prophetic role of the Adventist movement. Let me question:

    * Native Americans migrated from Asia and Europeans migrated from Europe. Should they keep different days because of how their ancestors migrated? Should churches across NAD (minus GMM), IAD and SAD meet on Friday?

    * The Adventist movement began in North America. Are you saying the whole thing started on a wrong footing?

    So please leave the migratory history (i.e. (1)) alone and keep the debate between (2) and (3).

    • Cecil, thank you for your contribution.

      I agree that migratory history is irrelevant, except that some have referred to an “unbroken cycle” at a particular spot since Eden, and for that purpose it would seem to be necessary to know where a population originated, because we can count “an unbroken cycle in either direction from the landing place of the ark.

      Could you please explain what you see as the issues between view 1 and 2?

      Thanks much.

    • Dear Cecil,

      Thank you for your insight.

      In response to your first point, the context of the Polynesians’ migration as a point of reference is simply to underline the fact that they came from Asia keeping Asian time reckoning. Therefore Samoa, being west of the IDL prior to the 4th July, 1892 time change, were 24 hours in advance of countries east of the IDL.

      In regard to your comment relating to the Adventist movement starting in North America, and having “started off on the wrong footing”, it did not. But in terms of the missionaries coming to the South Pacific and applying American time reckoning when it should have been Asian, yes, they did “get off on the wrong footing,” so to speak.

      God’s rich blessings.

      Ulalei

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