The Lord’s Day, Our Delight
The Lord’s Day, Sunday, is the Christian Sabbath, a holy day (Ex 20:11). It is a holy day of rest, a day of delight (Is 58:13), in which we gladly humble our souls before God (Lev 23:32).
The Jewish Sabbath day, Saturday, was aligned with the end of the week. Sabbath observance was commanded in the Decalogue (Ex 20:8–11; 31:15). It reflected the rhythm of time from the Genesis account of Creation (Ex 20:11). On the seventh day, God rested from His work of creation (Heb 4:4). Sabbath observance served as a witness to the world, “We worship the God who created everything.”
Jesus kept the Sabbath and noted the future of Sabbath to His disciples (Mt 24:20). The shift from Saturday to Sunday was one of many ways Christians emphasized new beginnings, oriented around the resurrection of Jesus Christ, on Sunday, the first day. The early church began to assemble on day one of each week (Acts 20:7), and even called it, “the Lord’s Day (Rev 1:10).”
Sabbath rest is one of the most misconstrued ideas in the Bible. Some turn the day into a rigid, legalistic exercise of dos and don’ts for the day. Others fashion it into a day of idleness. Many loathe the notion of Sabbath, imagining that whatever it is, it must be a burden. Still others deny its very existence, claiming it was a mere shadow of the coming Christ, who fulfilled the Law, and thus set us free from Sabbath keeping.
We see from Scripture that the early church did have a distinguished day of the week for gathering together. We see their activities in Acts: prayer; the apostles’ teachings; fellowship meals; the Lord’s Supper; public reading of Scripture; and singing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Offerings and works of mercy also found their place on this day.
Clearly, the Lord’s Day is an active day, not one of idleness. For unbelievers, the list of activities holds minuscule allure. For Spirit-filled Christians, Sunday is the apex of the week. It is a delight to participate in worship and ministry.
Sabbath is a sanctified day (Ex 20:8; Dt 5:12). It is different from other days, and the joy of spiritual focus is a welcome relief from other days. The pace is slower. The heart and mind-set is one of remembrance and hopeful anticipation of better days to come (Heb 6:9; 7:19), in the new heavens and earth (Rev 21–22). Even the special foods on Sunday point to the wedding feast to come in glory (Mt 22; 25:10).
Sabbath breaking is, therefore, self-injury. There is no policing the Lord’s Day, however, for that would suggest we have re-subjected ourselves to the Law (see Galatians). Truly, it is Christ, who is our Sabbath rest (Heb 4:9), so to get the most out of the Lord’s Day each week, we must be prepared for Sunday, so our undivided attention can be pure devotion to Him.
Preparing food, clothing, offering, etc. the night before, reduces the stress of Sunday morning. Going to bed early will also enhance one’s alert participation in the Lord’s Day activities. Meditating on the Scriptures, to be read and preached in the blessed gathering of the saints, is also important preparation.
A dedicated day for worship, fellowship, and ministries is a family event. The Christian faith is passed from generation to generation, as children observe parents and grandparents unashamedly worship the risen Savior (Dt 4:10; Ps 34:11; 78:5). Children learn to worship by watching and then participating in service to God. Nothing impresses the importance of spiritual life like that one day, where family and church family break the ordinary routine to enter the extraordinary, together.
Spiritual life is all the more enhanced during the six days, when the means of grace are exercised, daily. Then, nothing is more expected, in the mind of the growing child, than the special day of the week. It is what she has known from birth. Sunday is not the same, if and when, an occasional situation disrupts the Sunday pattern. She longs for Sabbath.
We must be careful not to form too rigid a regimen for the Lord’s Day. The routine of ritual religion can ruin the sense of rest. We trust in a Person, not a regimen, to give us rest (1 Pet 1:21). Here is the reason to limit travel and extracurricular activities. Not that we entertain limitations to the day, as rules, for that defeats the whole reason for the day. It is a day under grace. The world is a slave labor market, and the church is a sanctuary, from our endless labors to serve the flesh. The Lord’s Day is a radical re-orientation to our true identity. Liberty, equality, and fraternity can only be found in one place, one day of the week.
There is an everlasting rest, where Christ reigns in eternity. Unhindered devotion to King Jesus will be a full-time reality upon departure from our service here. For such a time and place as this, we patiently wait for all of God’s elect people to be added to His church (1 Pet 2:9; 2 Pet 3:9). We remain in this fallen, sinful world, even serving in God’s purpose to build His church (Mt 16:18; 1 Cor 12, 14). Thus, our lot is mixed. We endure the world, while we press toward glory.
The Lord’s Day, Christian Sabbath, is our teacher. On this day, we have the heightened sense of the hope of glory (Rom 5:2; Titus 2:13). The token of better things to come is the essence of this day, as a means of God’s grace to see us through time and space. May the Spirit of the Lord be upon you, on this and every Lord’s Day, to give you rest…Sabbath rest.
Spokane Valley, Washington
July 10, 2022