Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Lord's Day (Sabbath)

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy"(Exodus 20:8).

Historically, the church has tended to oscillate between legalism and libertinism as regards the Lord’s Day. On the one hand, certain groups have turned the Sabbath into a day of morbid sterility; but on the other hand, others have treated it as a day like any other. We confront the second tendency most often today.

The Sabbath day was considered both the first and the last day of the week. Mankind was made on the sixth day so that the seventh was his first day. He was to begin his week with the worship of God and with resting in God. He was to look forward to the next Sabbath, considered the end of his week, as a time when he would once again rest in God and worship Him. In the new covenant, the day has been shifted forward but is still both the first and last days.

The Sabbath is thus a promise that God will fulfill His work. We enter it on the “first day,” here and now in our lives every Lord’s Day and we look forward to its fulfillment on the “last day,” the great future Day of the Lord. God gives us rest now and commands us to give rest to ourselves and to our subordinates, including even our animals (Exodus 20:10). The Sabbath is, therefore, one of the most fundamental of all labor laws. What application may we draw from this commandment?

First, the Day of the Lord is to be kept holy, which means it is to be a day of worship. God requires us to present Him as King of kings and Captain of the host on His day. We are to render obeisance and praise to Him. Failure to attend worship is a slap in God’s face.

Second, a study of the Old Testament reveals that the Sabbath was also a day of festivity, because God is Life and joy. It is sad that the festive character of the Lord’s Day has been so neglected by the secular pleasures which have crowded into our lives on that day.

Finally, the Lord’s Day is to be a day of rest, a time of cessation from the cares of the world. Men of good will differ over what constitutes rest on the Lord’s Day. Is it legitimate to watch a football game or a movie, to read the newspaper or to go swimming at the beach? Perhaps it depends on what is restful to you and what glorifies God. In my own practice, I prefer to avoid common recreational activities, like going to the gym or watching secular movies, on the Lord's Day.

Right now may be a good time to reassess how you keep the Sabbath. Have you carefully thought through the matter? What is the teaching of your pastor and denomination on the subject? Are you genuinely seeking to keep the day as God would have you do?