The Sabbath: Just Any Other Day?

By Angela Wittman


Ex.20:8-11: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy; Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath and hallowed it.
"Christianity forbids all unnecessary labour, or the transaction of worldly business, on the Lord's Day; that day accordingly is a dies non, throughout the land. No contract is binding, made on that day. No debt can be collected on the Christian Sabbath. If a man hires himself for any service by the month or year, he cannot be required to labour on that day. All public offices are closed, and all official business is suspended. From Maine to Georgia, from ocean to ocean, one day in the week, by the law of God and by the law of the land, the people rest." --Charles Hodge; Systematic Theology, In Three Volumes. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Reprinted, May 1997), Vol. III, pp. 321-348.

Can you remember how it was when there was a particular day of the week set aside for the exclusive Worship of God, a day when you could not buy or sell and all the stores were closed? Perhaps you have a faint memory of when there were no shopping malls open on Sunday and we enjoyed life at a much slower pace?

Families spent Sunday together with going to church, having a delicious dinner and devotions. Their weekly shopping, work and other common practices were set aside for this one special day of the week, the LORD's day.

What a blessed time this is for friends and families to share! But, alas, how far we have drifted from this practice in today's culture with all the "hustle" and "bustle!"

I don't know about you, but I admit my soul longs for a day of restoration and refreshing.

Why did our forefathers observe this Christian practice and how can we return to it? Perhaps if we examine the history of the founding of our nation and the men and women who influenced our culture, we may receive some direction.

It is often said that history will repeat itself. Let us pray that the observance of the Sabbath is one historical practice that will be repeated in our lifetime and will continue with our posterity.

Charles Hodge goes on to say that our nation was founded by Protestant Christians and the laws are evidence of this fact:
"When Protestant Christians came to this country they possessed and subdued the land. They worshiped God, and his Son Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world, and acknowledged the Scriptures to be the rule of their faith and practice. They introduced their religion into their families, their schools, and their colleges. They abstained from all ordinary business on the Lord's Day, and devoted it to religion. They built churches, erected school-houses, and taught their children to read the Bible and to receive and obey it as the word of God. They formed themselves as Christians into municipal and state organizations. They acknowledged God in their legislative assemblies. They prescribed oaths to be taken in his name. They closed their courts, their places of business, their legislatures, and all places under the public control, on the Lord's Day. They declared Christianity to be part of the common law of the land."

Who were the founders of America?

History books tell us it was the Pilgrims and Puritans who first came to America in order to worship in freedom without fear of persecution.

This, dear friends, is where we originated as a nation. What a blessing it is to have the Puritan legacy as the foundation for our laws.

I recently read an article published in 1646 titled, "The Character of an Old English Puritan, or Non-Conformist" written by John Geree, M.A., and edited by Dr. Mike Renihan, which gives the character traits of the Puritans.

This is what the article had to say about the Puritans and their observance of the Sabbath:
"The Lord's Day he esteemed a divine ordinance, and rest on it necessary, so far as it conduced to holiness. He was very conscientious in observance of that day as the mart day of the soul. He was careful to remember it, to get house, and heart in order for it and when it came, he was studious to improve it. He redeems the morning from superfluous sleep, and watches the whole day over his thoughts and words, not only to restrain them from wickedness, but worldliness. All parts of the day were like holy to him, and his care was continued in it in variety of holy duties: what he heard in public, he repeated in private, to whet it upon himself and family. Lawful recreations he thought this day unseasonable, and unlawful ones much more abominable: yet he knew the liberty God gave him for needful refreshing, which he neither did refuse nor abuse."

Dear friends,

While reflecting upon these documented truths and our national Christian heritage, I pray the LORD will turn our hearts back toward Him and we will obey these words of wisdom :

"Look and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good walk, and you shall find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16.

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Originally published in 2003.

Revised 8.06.2014

Comments

  1. It was good to read about this, Angela! Considering their well-ordered lives is refreshing. Will such days ever come to the Protestant Church in America, and to our nation again? We can't know - but if it is indeed the End of the Age, we will see Him Who is our Sabbath, our Passover, our all!
    God bless you! I want to encourage you as you post things that are so edifying.
    Maria

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Maria! I appreciate the encouragement. I think one must begin somewhere, and my prayer is for it to begin with individuals - especially me. Observing the Sabbath should be something all Christians can do, but the world and our selfish desires often prevent us from doing so.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Angelia, yes, obedience must begin with individuals - that is, with us and all who understand. You're right, selfish desires dictate - and actually stop the flow of our thoughts in the direction of obedience, turning our course. And, it's difficult to swim upstream in the culture - but it was always difficult to do this in most cultures - except for the Puritan culture, for one.
    Another factor in our disobedience of this and of the second commandment (these two are somehow seen as "Old Testament") is that there is so little sound preaching on these things generally in the Evangelical church. Our doctrine is watered down - we are thought to not WANT doctrine and so we aren't given it. And many of our pastors are trained to think that doctrine - truth - isn't important today. But, as you said, we must begin with ourselves, praying that the Lord will reform and correct His church again.
    Have a blessed day!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Amen, sister! May the good Lord bless you this day, too. :)

    ReplyDelete

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