Depending on your age, you may have heard the phrase, “The Lord’s Day.” You may even know that today it is observed on Sunday because this is when all the church going people put on their Sunday best and go to a place of worship. What you may not know is the fact that the Lord’s day looks very different in our country than it did 30 to 40 years ago. You may recall (again, based on your age and what part of the country you are from) that on Sunday, most stores and restaurants were closed. Most people didn’t work on Sunday. It was considered a day of complete rest. Rest, that is something I know most people today could use a little more.
This principle of rest comes from the Ten Commandments. The Fourth Commandment states in Exodus 20:8-10: “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.”
The Jewish nation followed this commandment almost to a fault. In fact, the religious leaders of that day created about 613 specific laws that enforced or clarified this commandment. When Jesus arrived on the scene, He did not follow the expected norm. Jesus did not follow man’s rules, He clarified God’s law. Of course, this did not set well with the religious leaders of His day, those following the many “rules.” Jesus never abolished the Sabbath. He simply helped to clarify it. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” This means that God asked people to rest and focus on Him for their benefit, not to make that day a burden, for His commands are never burdensome.
When the New Testament church began, the new believers met together often, but especially on the Lord’s Day (resurrection day), which was the first day of the week. Ever since then, Sunday has been a special day set aside to rest and focuses on God and Godly matters. Some have referred to this day as the Christian Sabbath.
I believe the principle of the Fourth Commandment still applies today. I believe the Ten Commandments are all still valid and not just nine of them. So how does that work for us today in a culture that has moved Sunday from a special day set aside for rest, worship, and devotion to a day like all the rest?
When I asked myself this question, one particular scripture helped put a few things into perspective. Isaiah 58:13-14 says, “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Our family began to make some changes in our Sunday activities, based on God’s word; and, we have begun to see significant differences in our lives. Rest and a dedicated focus on God and family has been a joy and delight to our household. I encourage you, if you are a believer, to seek out how God would have you live out the Fourth Commandment. You may be pleasantly surprised to find how following God’s commands truly benefits your life.
Jon Church is pastor of Katy Baptist Church