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Delighting In The Lord's Day
February 20, 2005
Last Sunday I quoted extensively from Don Whitney’s book Simplify Your Spiritual Life in which he writes about Three Views of Sunday. Today I will move on to Delighting in the Lord’s Day.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the biblical term Sabbath? Many people, including those familiar with the New Testament, may think first of legalism. That’s because nearly every mention of Sabbath in the Gospels has to do with the Pharisees accusing Jesus of violating their manmade rules. God’s original intention, however, was for the Jews to “call the Sabbath a delight” (Isaiah 58:13). He meant for each of them on that day to “delight [themselves] in the LORD” (verse 14). Far from being a day to dread because of its restrictions, God designed the Sabbath to be a delightful day, the best of the week.
If that is true in the Old Testament, how much more should those who know God through Christ and have his Holy Spirit find delight in “the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10)?
How do we do this? There are differing views on what the Bible teaches about the Lord’s Day, But those rooted deeply in Scripture would agree on at least these two principles (though some would argue for much more): First, our greatest privilege and most important responsibility on the Lord’s Day is to worship Him with His people. Not only was the Old Testament Sabbath a day of worship, but we also have the apostolic command about “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25). And the apostolic example associated with this command is worship “on the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2).
Second, all our activities on Sunday should reflect the fact that it is “the Lord’s Day” (over and above the fact that, according to Psalm 118:24, every day is “the day that the LORD has made”). As you would expect, the practical aspects of what this means are very personal and intensely debated. In general, I think it means devoting ourselves to the pursuit of those things that promote the enjoyment of God. This also includes those activities that edify our churches and families, extend the kingdom of God, and refresh our souls and bodies.
Whitney goes on to describe how a few years ago he began to spend his Sunday’s more deliberately, turning off Sunday afternoon football in favor of taking a prayer-walk, reading the Bible or other good book, or spending the time with friends and family. He concludes by saying “Imagine living to age seventy and spending every Lord’s Day in the ways I’ve suggested. You’d experience ten years of worshiping the Lord with His people, reading great literature, playing with your children or grandchildren, taking long walks, enjoying fellowship, and taking naps. Does this sound like burden to you? Most people dream of a life like this. It’s the kind of life you can enjoy when you delight in the Lord’s Day.”
That truly does sound delightful, and not only that, it sounds easy to attain. I found this challenging because in my experience it is really only Presbyterians and other “covenantal” Reformed churches that call the Sabbath a delight. My experience in Baptist and other Evangelical churches is that Sunday is a day to fight back against old-fashioned beliefs about honoring the Lord’s Day. For many, the only thing that makes the day different is a trip to church in the morning. I was glad to read of a committed Baptist who has intentionally made the Lord’s Day special.
I love the Lord’s Day and love to spend it with Him. Some weeks I do this much better than others. But I am trending towards being intentional about my activities on this day, so that I can delight in the Lord on this day, and hopefully He in me.