Uncovering the real meaning of the Sabbath Day and how it applies today
In worldly terms, Sunday is the last day of the weekend. For some people it is the last day to get a few more things done. For others it may be a day for lounging on the couch in front of a good movie, or it may be the last chance to sleep in before the work week begins again. But what is does Sunday really mean? Is there a real underlying meaning behind Sunday?
Sunday represents the Sabbath Day. You know what day I am talking about. I am sure most of you remember the term “Sabbath” from Bible stories, and some know exactly what I mean because the Sabbath is important in your life. Before I tell you what it means in my life, I will talk a little about the full meaning of Sabbath and, ashamedly add that I am guilty of misapplying the great opportunity that the Sabbath offers in my own life.
Full meaning of Sabbath
The Sabbath Day or Sunday is the day God rested after the creation of the world (Genesis 2:3). That is why Sunday is called the day of rest. There has long been a historic observance of the Sabbath Day (Exodus 16: 23-30) and even a mandated order of its observance in both biblical and historical times (Exodus 20:8). Exodus 23:12 describes the Sabbath as also being an animal’s day of rest. Nehemiah talks about business on the Sabbath (13:16-21) and Isaiah tells of joyful worship (58:13).
Work on Sunday Debate
Some may argue against any form of work on the Sabbath. I do agree, in all honesty. Everything I have been taught in my Christian life has included the rule that it is wrong to work on Sunday. But I also know my God, and He knows me better than I know myself. And God knows you better than anyone else ever will.
God knows where we are in our lives. He knows what we have to do to support our families. And, most of all, God knows what is in our hearts. Those with a heart for Christ have a craving for the spiritual connection that is gained through fellowship. If we have that craving—that real craving—there is nothing that will keep us from applying our Sunday in the way God wants for our lives. That does not mean that your boss is going to walk up to you tomorrow and say “you have Sunday off from now on,” but it does mean that you and I have all the tools and opportunities to make Sunday a day for God regardless of what obligations we may have in this world.
If you have to work on Sunday, what do you do? Do you merely clock in and out or do you use that time to interact with others? Sometimes it is the smile you present to coworkers that makes the difference in how their day progresses. Maybe a customer needs a kind word when they come to your checkout counter. Or, maybe, you are the customer and the checker needs your smile and your kindness. We have amazing and unlimited opportunities to share Christ, and we can do it in how we interact and react to others. Don’t let your work schedule hinder you. Instead, use it to glorify God.
Looking back at the full meaning of the Sabbath
So, now, we all agree that the Sabbath Day or Sunday is the day God rested after the creation of the world (Genesis 2:3) and that is why Sunday is called the day of rest. While there have been historical and biblical mandates on observing Sunday (Sabbath), very little regions of the world today mandate Sunday as a day of worship and rest. In most regions, Sunday is just like any other day, apart from the secular view of Sunday as being one of the two days people are generally off work.
The reference to the Sabbath as being an animal’s day of rest is the illustration of the importance of observing and applying the Sabbath in a spiritual manner. In biblical times, animals were used for all types of manual labor. By referring to an animal’s day of rest (Exodus 23:12), the bible is emphasizing the value and importance of the Sabbath. We have discussed business on the Sabbath and, surely, we all agree that the Sabbath is a day for joyful worship.
To illustrate how the Sabbath can still be a day of joyful worship, it is important to understand a little about the calendar week.
Sunday—the first day of the week
Many people think of Monday as the first day of the week. That is not incorrect, but it is misapplied and misunderstood. Sunday is the first day of the calendar week while Monday is the first day of a work week.
Since Sunday is the first day of the week AND it is the Sabbath, should it not be a day that we use to revive our hearts and minds for the rest of the week? Whether we are required to work a job on Sunday or whether we are sitting on a pew in our home church, Sunday should be a time of renewal and preparation.
What Sunday means to me
Clearly, working on Sunday is something I am required to do a lot. The fact that I am writing this article now proves that. Instead of complaining that I have to work today, I can use today to glorify God. How, you ask?
First, I am sharing this message with you. As I write, I am praying that it will be a blessing to you. As I write, I am being blessed. As I write, God is speaking to me about some areas in my life that I need to work on. I am being renewed and energized as God speaks to me.
I was able to attend church this morning and I needed it. We all need it, but the secular work makes it difficult. So, why not “bloom where you are planted?” I am making a spiritual commitment to do just that!
Regardless of life’s circumstances, rejoice. In the good and bad times, rejoice. When your boss says you are going to have to work on Sunday … yes … rejoice. Use every opportunity to share the love of God with others. Whatever you are required to do on Sunday, use it for the glory of God. Everything we do on Earth is supposed to work to prepare for the “new place of rest” (Hebrews 4:8-10). What better way to prepare and truly rest in Christ than to share his love with others?
To me, Sunday is a new day. A fresh start. A revival to prepare me for the week. I need Sunday and I rely on Sunday to help me be the person God wants me to be the other six days of the week.
What does Sunday mean to you?