The Lord’s Day

The Lords’ Day (Exodus 20:8–11)

A Time for Rest and Worship

The Sabbath—which means “rest”—is the seventh day of the Hebrew week (Ge 2:2–3). The Israelites were commanded to keep this day as a holy day of rest, reflection and recreation in honor of the Lord (Ex 20:8–11).

The Sabbath served to remind the Israelites of their identity as God’s covenant people and of their deliverance from Egypt (Ex 31:12–17; Dt 5:15; Isa 58:13–14). It was a day that offered refreshment from work, both spiritually and physically (Ex 23:10–12). Traditionally, Jews spend three days each week in eager anticipation of the Sabbath, then after it has passed, three days reflecting on its joy. The Old Testament has very sharp reminders to keep the Sabbath day (Isa 56:2; Jer 17:19–27; Eze 44:24), as well as harsh punishment for a person who broke the Sabbath (Nu 15:32–36).

The Lord’s Day, by comparison, was considered to be the “first day” of the week. A sign of the new beginning marked by the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb, the Lord’s Day quickly became the day on which the early church met for weekly worship (Ac 20:7; 1Co 16:2). Yet rest remains an important part of the Lord’s Day.

The Lord’s Day is not to be filled with legalism, for that is what Christ frequently rebuked in his day. It should be the joyful focal point of the week, a day eagerly anticipated by the believer. We should approach it physically rested and attitudinally ready for the Lord to reveal himself to us (Ps 118:24).

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