“Honoring the Lord’s Day”

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It is Sunday morning again in November 2020. We awake with a totally different feeling than we have in the last six days. We are going to church. We will dress in our Sunday best. We will limit the work we do to only what is absolutely necessary. We will practice a Day of Rest.
Why do we, as Christians, believe in honoring the Lord’s day? Go with me as we explore the Bible on this subject.
We will look first at the Old Testament Sabbath.
God says, Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. (Ex 20:8).
Six days shalt thou work, but on the seventh-day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest. (Ex 34:21).
The Old Testament saints were commanded not to buy or sell on the Sabbath day. (Neh 34:31).
God commanded that a man was to be stoned because he picked up sticks on the Sabbath Day. (Num 15:32-36).
We have this beautiful promise, If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isa 58:13-14).
These quotes from the Old Testament lay a very clear foundation that God wanted His people to observe a day of rest, one in seven, on the seventh day. However, does any of this apply to the New Testament Christian?
It is clear in Matthew 12:1-13 that Jesus’ practice of the Sabbath day was in direct opposition to what the Pharisees believed. In this passage, Jesus makes it clear that he is Lord of the Sabbath. He justifies pulling a distressed sheep out of a pit on the Sabbath day and also healing the man with the withered hand. Jesus, however, gives no clear command, such as was in the Old Testament on how the New Testament saint is to observe the Sabbath or the Lord’s day.
However, we have a number of miraculous things, very basic to Christianity, that occurred on the first day of the week.
Jesus arose from the dead early on the first day of the week.
Jesus appeared to weeping Mary Magdalene outside the sepulcher and spoke to her.
Jesus walked and talked with the two men on the road to Emmaus. The teaching that Jesus gives them on the way ends with the two welcoming Him to tarry with them for the night. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight (Luke 24:30-32).
Jesus miraculously comes through locked doors to comfort his disciples. (John 20:19).
Think back over these four happenings on the first day, Jesus was risen on the first day of the week. Christianity would not exist today if it were not for what happened here on the first day of the week!
In Acts 20:7, we have these words And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
History would tell us the early Christians named this first day of the week the “Lord’s Day.” One reason they did this was because of their opposition to Emperor worship. One day of each month was actually called the “Emperor’s Day” in honor of the great Emperor. Christians who opposed this, named the first day of the week the “Lord’s Day” in honor of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If this is true it certainly agrees with John saying in Revelations 1:10, I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. (The first day of the week).
New Testament saints for two thousand years since this time have kept the first day of the week, Sunday, as a day rest and worship in honor of our Lord Jesus Christ's resurrection. Practices have varied on exactly what is acceptable to do or not do on the Lord’s day, but one thing is consistent, as the years of history slip away, the honor of the Lord’s day has diminished!
Our Mennonite forefathers wisely wrote down what they believed would constitute an Honorable Lord’s day. “The Lord’s day shall be made a day of devotion and worship. Church services and Sunday Schools shall be regularly attended. Feasting and pleasure-seeking shall be strictly avoided. Members shall avoid labor, business, and buying or selling on the Lord’s Day as much as possible. Both young and old shall be taught how to keep the Lord’s day holy and exercise themselves constantly in showing reverence for God’s house and all that pertains to it.”
An excellent tradition to follow: the Lord’s day should be made a day of devotion and worship in which we shall avoid labor, business, and buying and selling as much as possible.
How is it in your life? Have you honored your Lord Jesus by respecting His day, or have you desecrated His day? What does it take for me to skip church on Sunday morning? What about excessive travel on Sunday, especially when it makes me purchase things? Is it right to fly on Sunday? How many people did I force into working on the Lord’s Day because of my agenda? Do my recreational hobbies on Sunday afternoon honor God and His holy day?
Remember the promise of God from Isaiah. If you will honor Him, and not do your own things, nor seek your own pleasure, I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob.
May we all seek to Honor the Lord’s Day.