Sunday - worldwide Christian Sabbath?

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steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Is Sunday the divinely appointed day of worship for all Christians in the world? I know of situations in Islamic countries where Sunday is just another work day of the week, and their "sabbath" day of rest falls on a Friday. Christians likewise follow this as their day of public worship because it's sensible to do so - shops and offices are closed, and people rest. Is this compromise which dishonours God?

I think we sometimes take for granted our western culture and benefits that we've inherited over hundreds of years of Church-State harmony. How do the standards relate with fellow Christian brothers in other contexts?

looking forward to your thoughts.
 

Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
Is Sunday the divinely appointed day of worship for all Christians in the world? I know of situations in Islamic countries where Sunday is just another work day of the week, and their "sabbath" day of rest falls on a Friday. Christians likewise follow this as their day of public worship because it's sensible to do so - shops and offices are closed, and people rest. Is this compromise which dishonours God?

I think we sometimes take for granted our western culture and benefits that we've inherited over hundreds of years of Church-State harmony. How do the standards relate with fellow Christian brothers in other contexts?

looking forward to your thoughts.

Good question. The day on which the Sabbath falls is not merely a cultural choice, it is given to be the first day of the week by God's appointment, in commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ, the new creation. Living in a country in where it would be difficult or next to impossible to earn a living while keeping the Sabbath, would be a difficult situation indeed.

Incidentally, I when I was in Tunisia, a primarily muslim country in North Africa, I noticed that they overall did a better job keeping the Sunday Sabbath than America does! Most of the shops and businesses were closed on Sunday. They do this because most of their business is with Europe, where everything still closes on Sundays. I remarked to some of them that they were commemorating the resurrection of Christ, which seemed to bother them when I said it.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Sunday is a special day of the week for Christians in those countries, though.

It may not be for others in the culture idolatrizing other gods, or false religion, but is the day representing the Lord's resurrection, that is the fourth commandment, the Christian sabbath.

Remember that God looks not only at the outward (resting), but also the inward, e.g. the motivation to obey and please the only true God.
 

PointingToChrist

Puritan Board Freshman
In which Muslim countries do Christians go to church etc.. on Friday?

When I studied in Egypt, I worshiped with Maadi Community Church which held services on Friday morning and afternoon. This is an evangelical and very international church.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
They do this because most of their business is with Europe, where everything still closes on Sundays.

And in Great Britain where Christian people once held more consistently to the Sabbath than those on the Continent such Sunday laws have been largely swept away.

If you're a Christian who understands the Christian Sabbath you'll want to keep it on the first day of the week because it is the First Day of the New Redemptive-Creation, which was a far greater work of God's than creating the Universe or saving the Israelites from Egypt, both of which were celebrated by having the Sabbath on the last day of the week.

But persecution for righteousness sake can sometimes lead people to less than ideal compromises.

So the particular day isn't unimportant, and the Apostles would never have changed it without a word from Christ. You sometimes get the impression from the non-Sabbatarian lobby that the Apostles just woke up one morning and decided to change the particular day of rest and worship - and also decided to change its character - "off their own bat"!!!

The Apostles were the kind of guys that just messed around with the 10C according to their whimsy!!!
 
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jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Am I not mistaken in my understanding that in the earliest years of the church, worship was held outside of normal work hours because there was no real way for believers in a Jewish-dominate part of the Roman empire to observe a sabbath on Sunday? In other words, they honored the sabbath insofar as it was possible for them to do so given the restraints of their surroundings?
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Worship is one aspect of the Sabbath, work is another. Early Christians probably worked on Sundays, presumably (?)
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Worship is one aspect of the Sabbath, work is another. Early Christians probably worked on Sundays, presumably (?)

Exodus 20

8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11For 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 day, and hallowed it.

Yes, you are quite correct- the forth commandment is about work and rest. It commands an ordinary pattern of labor six days and a ceasing in order to keep holy fellowship with God one day.

That's why arguments like "every day is a sabbath" evaporate when looked at biblically.

We are not really free to sabbath (cease) and make holy (set apart) every day because we are ordinarily preoccupied with our labor, and by derivation seeking entertainment for ourselves. Nothing wrong with that at all, it is the ordinary pattern God established for the lives of His creatures.

But God has given us that rest, He tells us in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 in order to focus on God, and particularly His attributes of creation and redemption.

Westminster Larger Catechism

Question 120: What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it?

Answer: The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are taken from the equity of it, God allowing us six days of seven for our own affairs, and reserving but one for himself, in these words, Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: from God's challenging a special propriety in that day, The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: from the example of God, who in six days made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: and from that blessing which God put upon that day, not only in sanctifying it to be a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing to us in our sanctifying it;Wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Question 121: Why is the word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?

Answer: The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment, partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it, and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments, and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion; and partly, because we are very ready to forget it, for that there is less light of nature for it, and yet it restrains our natural liberty in things at other times lawful; that it comes but once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it;and that Satan with his instruments much labor to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety.


That's why advance preparation (getting ordinary tasks out of the way so they do not distract and so that we do not ordinarily demand that others earn their living to serve us on the Lord's Day) is part of keeping the sabbath.

The sabbath in the Old Testament, while the same in substance, did look different in some ways from that of the New Testament. See for example, Numbers 20 where certain ceremonies and offerings were required on certain sabbaths or on every sabbath. These aspects are not binding on God's People today.

The Old Testament ceremonial laws and civil given Israel were binding to the Old Testament believer, but are not binding on believer's today. The former were fulfilled in the perfect life and sacrifice of Christ, the latter ended when the Old Testament theocracy nation ended. The Gospel then went out to all nations, Jew and Gentile, in accordance with God's promises to Abraham. In accord with God's plan from the very beginning- to redeem a people from every tribe, nation, kindred and tongue.

The early church changed the day of week in honor of the Lord (to whom the sabbath points), who was resurrected, nominally on that one day as apportioned among seven. Hence, John refers to it as the "Lord's Day" which is the sabbath, also known as the Christian Sabbath, which all is the fourth commandment.

And the fourth commandment is a large part of the regulative principle of worship, as it regulates a life pattern for worship. And yes, work as a normal order of life is also part of that.

Both the work and sabbath portions of the command are routinely violated by idolatrous, proud, and disobedient sinners.

God have mercy on us.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I've sometimes wondered about having an eschatalogical view of the sabbath. Yes, we are to do all we can to obey the commandment, but I'm wondering if it can be fully realized in this life? With children and a deacon husband, I don't always get the rest in Christ that is so needed.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I've sometimes wondered about having an eschatalogical view of the sabbath. Yes, we are to do all we can to obey the commandment, but I'm wondering if it can be fully realized in this life? With children and a deacon husband, I don't always get the rest in Christ that is so needed.

It's helpful to understand that we cannot keep any of the ten commandments perfectly. Yet, God gives us grace toward doing what we cannot, in our own strength do. In doing that, something happens, and God gets glory. That's really what it is about.

Something else happens. Obedience brings blessing. It is of a kind or kinds of God's own choosing- maybe spiritual blessing, maybe rewards in Heaven. Maybe better health and somehow, amazingly, more time to do things the other six days.

However God blesses obedience, He does do it. The more one tries to obey Him in every aspect of life, including the very visible aspect of a life regulated by work and sabbath, the more one realizes God's promises are true. They are very real.
 

JoyFullMom

Puritan Board Junior
I've sometimes wondered about having an eschatalogical view of the sabbath. Yes, we are to do all we can to obey the commandment, but I'm wondering if it can be fully realized in this life? With children and a deacon husband, I don't always get the rest in Christ that is so needed.

I sooooo agree with this! Sunday is the *least* restful day of the week for me! And I homeschool 6 children!
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
One other aspect is that the sabbath is ceasing from ordinary work and recreation so that worship of God may be prioritized. So it is not a passive day at all. But it is restful in being able to take leave of the weariness of ordinary labors, worrying about making money- and trusting that in doing so God will provide.

Advance preparation, and structure that facilitates worship goes a long way in this. Worship being private (e.g. individual and family), and public (corporate). These are all aspects of the day. Quiet meditation in the Word, private prayer, quiet time is all part of this.
 

Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
I've sometimes wondered about having an eschatalogical view of the sabbath. Yes, we are to do all we can to obey the commandment, but I'm wondering if it can be fully realized in this life? With children and a deacon husband, I don't always get the rest in Christ that is so needed.

The eternal Sabbath is not fully realized in this life, you are correct. What we get to enjoy every week by setting aside all our ordinary labors and just communing with God, is but a blessed foretaste of what is to come.
 

Barnpreacher

Puritan Board Junior
I see the males answering this in respect to males on the Lord's Day (putting aside ordinary labors and not worrying about money etc.). I think this is a lot easier for a man to do on Sunday than a woman. A woman (especially a mother) is still by nature going to gravitate to doing more for the children, cooking, etc. even on the Lord's Day. And from what I am reading above, I think the ladies may be seeing a pattern that it is much easier for a man to regulate his Lord's Day than it is for a wife and mother. God have mercy on us as men if we bind our godly wives down with Lord's Day restrictions that are not found in the Scriptures and restrictions that they simply cannot live up to. I am not saying anybody is doing that, but God forgive us if we are. It is our job as the head of the home to help our wives delight in the Lord's Day by relieving her of some things that we can do in her place. Of course, I am of the mindset that this principle is good for a marriage, not just on Sunday, but every day.
 

Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
I see the males answering this in respect to males on the Lord's Day (putting aside ordinary labors and not worrying about money etc.). I think this is a lot easier for a man to do on Sunday than a woman. A woman (especially a mother) is still by nature going to gravitate to doing more for the children, cooking, etc. even on the Lord's Day. And from what I am reading above, I think the ladies may be seeing a pattern that it is much easier for a man to regulate his Lord's Day than it is for a wife and mother. God have mercy on us as men if we bind our godly wives down with Lord's Day restrictions that are not found in the Scriptures and restrictions that they simply cannot live up to. I am not saying anybody is doing that, but God forgive us if we are. It is our job as the head of the home to help our wives delight in the Lord's Day by relieving her of some things that we can do in her place. Of course, I am of the mindset that this principle is good for a marriage, not just on Sunday, but every day.

There is something to be said for cold sandwiches and letting most housework go on the Lord's Day, so I think you have a point in that regard.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I see the males answering this in respect to males on the Lord's Day (putting aside ordinary labors and not worrying about money etc.). I think this is a lot easier for a man to do on Sunday than a woman. A woman (especially a mother) is still by nature going to gravitate to doing more for the children, cooking, etc. even on the Lord's Day. And from what I am reading above, I think the ladies may be seeing a pattern that it is much easier for a man to regulate his Lord's Day than it is for a wife and mother. God have mercy on us as men if we bind our godly wives down with Lord's Day restrictions that are not found in the Scriptures and restrictions that they simply cannot live up to. I am not saying anybody is doing that, but God forgive us if we are. It is our job as the head of the home to help our wives delight in the Lord's Day by relieving her of some things that we can do in her place. Of course, I am of the mindset that this principle is good for a marriage, not just on Sunday, but every day.

I think we know God applies His commandments to all in Adam, male and female.

Actually, a responsibility is placed on the man who has a family, and you are right to recognize that. It is not quite the same as on other days, but one specific to the Lord's Day.

Westminster Larger Catechism

Question 118: Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors?

Answer: The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.

Working this out practically is an ultimate accountability for a man who has a family.

And that includes working through all the objections that come from rebellion, in him, his wife, and his children to try, by God's grace to see the fourth commandment is obeyed in his household, for the honor and glory of God.

One practical way to deal with this is through advance preparation. Advance preparation is part of keeping the sabbath.

Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter XXI
Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day

....

VIII. This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their wordly employments and recreations,[38] but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.[39]

"Ordering our affairs beforehand," may involve preparing meals in advance, and arranging things so there are not the ordinary distractions and stresses that occur during the week.

The wife needs to support her husband in leading in this. Children need to respect their parents in this. The man needs to be a sacrificing, suffering servant to make sure the tone of the sabbath is set.

The fact that sinners all don't want to do this, and want to invent reasons not to do this... only calls us sweetly back to repentance before our God.
 

Barnpreacher

Puritan Board Junior
By the way, I was not implying in any way that the ladies that posted above were doing so out of frustration toward their husbands. And I was also not implying that their husbands were laying restrictions on them. My post had nothing to do with the particular situations of these women. Rather, I was trying to show the general principle that the commandment to rest in the Lord on the Lord's Day can tend to look very different in its outward application for a woman than it can for a man. I understand that all commandments are for those in Adam, but we cannot deny how the outworking of this commandment is going to look different for a woman than it will for a man.

It's examination in my own life that prompted me to post what I did. I think it's important that we as men address this, and we don't act like the application of this commandment isn't sometimes quite a bit easier for us than it is for our wives.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
(One of the things a man leading his family can do to help his family keep the sabbath is take on preparing meals Saturday night for the sabbath, meals that can be simply prepared and eaten on the sabbath, the man can do this as loving service)
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Most Egyptian Christians meet in their churches on Sunday.

As an MK, I remember meeting with Egyptian kids for "Friday School" (kind of like a "weekend" meeting for youth) on Fri. afternoons at an Evangelical (Presbyterian) Church. When's the best time for outreach? When you schedule your meetings for those days unbelievers have free time.

The church, even in Egypt (and elsewhere in the Muslim-dominated world) meets on Sunday because that's the Lord's Day, and they know that, and they love it.

If there's a place there that's given over to meeting on Friday for worship, chances are its because they have all the lousy influences of modern American pop-evangelicalism. They don't care if they are connected to historic Christian practice. Pragmatism has trumped theology. They probably don't even believe in the command to worship--i.e., that its all just convenience.
 

Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
Most Egyptian Christians meet in their churches on Sunday.

As an MK, I remember meeting with Egyptian kids for "Friday School" (kind of like a "weekend" meeting for youth) on Fri. afternoons at an Evangelical (Presbyterian) Church. When's the best time for outreach? When you schedule your meetings for those days unbelievers have free time.

The church, even in Egypt (and elsewhere in the Muslim-dominated world) meets on Sunday because that's the Lord's Day, and they know that, and they love it.

If there's a place there that's given over to meeting on Friday for worship, chances are its because they have all the lousy influences of modern American pop-evangelicalism. They don't care if they are connected to historic Christian practice. Pragmatism has trumped theology. They probably don't even believe in the command to worship--i.e., that its all just convenience.

Do Muslims actually get Friday off in some countries? I had the impression it was only during prayer hours. At least, that is the practice in Muslim countries which I have visited.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
My whole week is organized around the sabbath and I have appreciated the very real blessings afforded by full attendance to the means of grace; my question has more to do with the idea that the sabbath represents both our hope in a final rest as well as a hope in a time when our work will not be frustrated and our worship will not be hindered by the providential hindrances we now face on Sundays -- sick kids, tiredness from a poor night's sleep, trying to hear every other word of the sermon while dealing with the impulses of an autistic son ... or as others have mentioned, living in places in the world where our sabbath would be very difficult to deal with, just like the folks in the early church.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Remember that the Medieval and earlier monks were able to set aside the whole of their lives in order to worship and contemplate God as they saw it - erroneously of course.

(a) Because we're not asked to do this

(b) Because they had other theological problems.

Modern evangelicals are so hyperspiritual that they think it is legalistic to set aside one day in seven for God and believe that they can live immersed in the world and the things of the world 24/7/52, and fit in "quiet times" with God when they can. In the New Covenant the Church has made and is making progress towards the Heavenly Eschatalogical Kingdom, but we are not there yet. Therefore there remains the keeping of a Sabbath unto the New Covenant people of God, just as there remain e.g. sacraments unto the New Covenant people of God.

Christians often swing from one error to the opposite error.

It is Christ's invitation and command that we have a 24-hour "quiet time" with Him, in addition to our shorter "quiet times" and family worships during the week.

We little understand what damage is being done to our souls by ignoring this command and invitation because of dispensational and other excuses. The proper use of the Sabbath trains our soul to rest in Christ by faith all through the week, i.e. strengthens our rest in Christ by faith.

---------- Post added at 01:11 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:50 AM ----------

My whole week is organized around the sabbath and I have appreciated the very real blessings afforded by full attendance to the means of grace; my question has more to do with the idea that the sabbath represents both our hope in a final rest as well as a hope in a time when our work will not be frustrated and our worship will not be hindered by the providential hindrances we now face on Sundays -- sick kids, tiredness from a poor night's sleep, trying to hear every other word of the sermon while dealing with the impulses of an autistic son ... or as others have mentioned, living in places in the world where our sabbath would be very difficult to deal with, just like the folks in the early church.

The Christian Sabbath is still a type of the Heavenly Eschatalogical Kingdom - maybe in co-ordination with the perfectly numbered week.

To be honest with you, I've never read any Vos diorectly but gleaned my understanding on this from Richard Gaffin's "Calvin and the Sabbath" which interacts with Vos.

The reason that the Sabbath wasn't a type that was swallowed up in the New Covenant era, is because it was a type that wasn't established at the Old Covenant - although certain typical meanings were added to the Sabbath at the time of Moses which subsequently were fulfilled in Christ - but it was a type of eternal Rest that was given to Man before the Fall as a Creation Ordinance, to be a continual witness between unfallen Man and God that the raison d'etre of Man's person, life and work was to find Rest in his Creator God and that one day when he had fulfilled the Probation and the Cultural-Creation Mandate, the work that God had given him to do, he would enjoy permanent and higher Rest with his God, Who was already resting from His work.

This transcends the whole move from Old Covenant (Moses) to New Covenant (Christ). The Sabbath isn't just a day of convenience set aside because we need a particular day on which to concentrate on worship and recharging the batteries. It's more than that.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
My whole week is organized around the sabbath and I have appreciated the very real blessings afforded by full attendance to the means of grace; my question has more to do with the idea that the sabbath represents both our hope in a final rest as well as a hope in a time when our work will not be frustrated and our worship will not be hindered by the providential hindrances we now face on Sundays -- sick kids, tiredness from a poor night's sleep, trying to hear every other word of the sermon while dealing with the impulses of an autistic son ... or as others have mentioned, living in places in the world where our sabbath would be very difficult to deal with, just like the folks in the early church.

And to that, trying not to worry about money, work, or things that need to get done!

Entering into a sabbath rest on the Lord's Day is but a foretaste of what heaven will be like. As we grow in our ability to obey and trust God, even in keeping the sabbath, that sense, that foretaste does increase.

No wonder the Scriptures call it a delight. Even amidst the problems, busyness, distractions of others, one can experience something of a faith-born rest in Christ that is uncommon- and different from what ordinarily is much more difficult the other days of the week.

Isaiah 58

13If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

14Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
There's the interesting example of the Reconquest, when Christian and Muslim armies would at times agree to to battle on Saturday rather than either Friday or Sunday, which is kind of chivalrous, I suppose :)
 

Barnpreacher

Puritan Board Junior
My whole week is organized around the sabbath and I have appreciated the very real blessings afforded by full attendance to the means of grace; my question has more to do with the idea that the sabbath represents both our hope in a final rest as well as a hope in a time when our work will not be frustrated and our worship will not be hindered by the providential hindrances we now face on Sundays -- sick kids, tiredness from a poor night's sleep, trying to hear every other word of the sermon while dealing with the impulses of an autistic son ... or as others have mentioned, living in places in the world where our sabbath would be very difficult to deal with, just like the folks in the early church.

In reading Ed Clowney's book on Jesus transforming the 10 Commandments, I was reminded that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. It is only in Jesus that we find our rest that the rest in the land of Canaan pointed to. It is in Jesus that we find our eternal rest. He knows your heart, and He knows the difficulties of dealing with those providential hindrances. He knows that you can't stop laboring with your autistic son, even on Sunday, but He calls you to find your rest and peace in Him. Sometimes that rest takes on a different outward look than some think it should, but our rest is in Him nonetheless.
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
We do rest in Christ by faith every day and He is resting from His Work, and from our sin and guilt which He dealt with, and from the world and the Devil.

In this life we will always have an ongoing struggle with sin, the world and the Devil and other problems too, and we will always have a work to do of some kind. Although we are resting in Christ by faith every day, while we are in this world we still need the weekly Sabbath.

Of course the Lord understands our infirmities and peculiar difficulties in seeking to glorify and enjoy Him on the Sabbath and on other days and desires that His people be peculiarly understanding with various situations and not like the Pharisees' approach, who demanded sacrifice on the altar of their twisted view of God's Day, without mercy.

Children and adults with certain conditions will have to be given a degree of leeway according to the wisdom of parents and carers, that others may not be.
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
I've sometimes wondered about having an eschatalogical view of the sabbath. Yes, we are to do all we can to obey the commandment, but I'm wondering if it can be fully realized in this life? With children and a deacon husband, I don't always get the rest in Christ that is so needed.

This, by the way is one of the reasons why I try to invite families from church over to my apartment to fix lunch for them as I'm able, so that the mom --especially those with young kids -- can get some relief. Or in the alternative, to bring the food from my apartment or a cooler to their home, take over their kitchen and do the cleanup at their place. I try to give the moms a break that I can as a single man, and will bar my future wife from cooking on Sunday unless I am ill or the like, as I'll be happy to provide food for both my family and any guests we have.
 
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