“Holy-days”

We live in a culture that has come to look upon this time of year as one of the “holiest” of the year. It is considered so holy that some people find time to attend corporate worship that seldom grace the door of a house of worship during other seasons of the year. Now, I am not necessarily one of those who desire to melt down all the chocolate bunnies, burn the Easter bonnets, and pour all the egg dye down the drain (although, to be honest, there is a side of me that would take some pleasure in that), but, at the risk of being considered a curmudgeon, I would like to propose that this week is not the “holiest” of the year. Yes, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the turning point of all history, but that is something that Christians are conscious of throughout the year.

 

God has commanded for us to “remember” or “observe” 52 of these “holy-days” every year:

 

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 to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
(Exodus 20:8-11)

 

The 21st chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith also enlightens us about the importance of this day:

 

As it is of the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord’s Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath. (VII)

 

Our Puritan forbears stayed as far away from the “pomp and circumstance” of religious festivals as possible, preferring instead to focus on the simple weekly corporate worship of the Triune God “in reverence and awe.” May we receive a double portion of their spirit.

 

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2 Comments

  1. April 9, 2009 at 1:15 PM

    It amazes me how many times I have a “clock-in and clock-out” mentality with my faith. It’s Easter Sunday, so I have to be especially good today–when in truth I should make that kind of effort every Sunday. Thanks for the reminder.

    On a related note, I remember you teaching us this back in Shreveport, but I’ve slept once or twice since then. At what point did the Sabbath day become Sunday as opposed to Saturday? My accountability partner and I have been reading through the first part of Acts, and I’m just curious as to what point the early church started observing the Lord’s Day as opposed to the Jewish Sabbath?

  2. cliftonr said,

    April 9, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    When you look at the appearances of the Lord after His Resurrection, one finds a consistency with them being on Sunday: “19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” (John 20:19) and 26 “Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’” (John 20:26) Granted, Jesus may have met with His disciples on other days…but these were mentioned specifically.

    We also see hints of this after His Ascension: “7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.” (Acts 20:7) and “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) Why the “first day of the week,” could it be because they met on that day for worship?

    We also see the testimony of the early church: “And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.” (Justin Martyr, about 150 A.D. or so, which would be the length of years of which I have been alive) So very early, possibly during the time of the writing of the New Testament, the early church was worshipping on the Lord’s Day.


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