Tuesday Theology (on WEDNESDAY!) September 16, 2009
The fourth commandment: 8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. Exodus 20:8-10
Now, what does this one mean?
Seriously? It means we have to go to church on Sunday and not work on Sunday? Is that really what it means?
Now, if you're satisfied that it means that, live it. Go to church on Sunday, do no work on that day. And make sure no one does any work to serve you on Sunday, be it at restaurants or Wal-mart or the Donut Shop. Probably shouldn't take the fruits of their labors either.
And that's not necessarily a bad place to consider starting. Perhaps, though, there's more here.
First of all, the Sabbath isn't Sunday. Never has been, but it is the last day of the week, which we would call Saturday. Although our days are arbitrary, and we could argue that in circles, given that the Hebrews in 1446 BC weren't keeping a Sunday-Saturday type of calendar. I'd think one could argue that a standardized national week was birthed out of this idea, of keeping one day out of seven holy and different. It would be much more practical than people picking their own Sabbath day. The reference back to the 7 days of creation gives an indication here of the need to rest from labors. While Scripture indicates that God did not need rest, He chose to rest. It's kind of like Jesus reading Scripture. I don't think He needed to, but did as an example. Could be wrong on that part, but I don't think I am.
So, why do we gather on Sunday? That's the second point: the church began to gather on Sundays because the first day of the week was the day Christ Jesus rose from the dead. Some folks want to argue on whether that was acceptable or not. I think it's Biblically established: Acts 20:7 seems to assume that it was normal to gather on the first day. We gather on the first day to celebrate, be taught, encourage, and strengthen one another. Why? To have strength to move through the week. Is it enough? Ah, no. Daily is our life, daily must be our walk, daily our fellowship with one another and our Lord. Yet there remains an importance to that first day, just as there is an importance to the first parts of every day, the first of everything being dedicated back to the Lord.
Now, it's interesting that the Jews are commanded to not work more than 6 days, and some see even a command to work 6. I'm not sure it's an explicit command as much as an assumptive statement. After all, there was plenty of work to do, and the 6 days of work may be mentioned as a limit as much as goal. However, it's feasible that was the case.
I'd argue, though, that for Christians, 6 days of work might not be quite accurate. I'd say we should consider whether or not Sunday is a day of rest or a day of work. Really. What, you say? Simply this: Is Sunday the Christian “ Sabbath” or is it a day that we take and work towards the worship, discipleship, and fellowship for the Lord? Just as we dedicate a tithe of the income, do we dedicate 1 day of 6 work days as working for the Lord and not ourselves?
There then remains 5 days of financially reimbursed work, and a day of rest, to reflect on on that which God has done and blessed for you. Perhaps that is what your Sunday is. If so, then which day is your workday for the Lord? Which hours of each day, then, if it shouldn't be limited to one day?
I'm not going to argue that this is explicitly Scripturally commanded. I do think it's worth considering. Everywhere in the New Testament that the Old Testament law is repeated, it's intensified. Not just murder, but anger; not just adultery, but lust; not divorce for any reason, but only for infidelity. Why would the Lord require less of the week than He did then?