Sabbath observance is eroding. In general, our culture does not support the biblical view of Sunday as a delightfully special day of rest and worship, made for man. Instead, we are urged to work seven days a week or follow our own pursuits on Sunday. As a substitute, we are offered two days with no special significance, which are called "the weekend." I am not immune to the temptation and think this development is worth some thought.
The TV show, Downton Abbey, pushes many social agendas, including its view of biblical principles. In one scene, the progressive, good-looking Matthew declares that he can help with running the estate because "there are plenty of hours in the day; and, of course, I'll have the weekend." In response, Violet, the tradition-bound, out-of-touch matriarch of the family, asks with puzzled expression, "What is a weekend?" The show seems to be saying that the Sabbath is not, to the really hip people, a delight, but it is a good day to catch up on work. The Lord worked for six days and then rested (Exodus 20:11). Do I learn from man's example or God's?
The meaning of weekend has changed since Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defined it as "often a time during which business is suspended and most shops are closed," and since the Puritans adopted blue laws to prohibit commercial activity on Sundays.
Last year, when the one remaining blue law was repealed in my state, newspapers printed some comments that disdained the practice of Sabbath-keeping. They said that blue laws "managed to hold off progress for years" and are "a musty custom that makes about as much sense today as declaring a sneezing fit the sign of a witch." Shop owners who don't want to work seven days a week "stiff consumers" instead of allowing them to "enjoy the freedom and convenience" they deserve. These commentators are saying that there is no sensible reason to keep the Sabbath holy.
Contrast this anti-blue law sentiment with what the Israelites said in Nehemiah 10:31 when they were humbly repenting of rebelliousness against the Lord. They promised God, among other things, "if the peoples of the land bring in goods or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath." When I disregard God's Word about the Sabbath, am I making progress or making Him angry ?
Besides working and participating in buying and selling on the Sabbath, many people caught up in the weekend mentality are looking for an elusive rest. The list of Sunday leisure activities in my area is seemingly endless while the list of worship services, especially on Sunday evening, is pretty short. In his commentary on Matthew 12:5, Matthew Henry said, "Sabbath rest is to promote, not hinder Sabbath worship." Am I trying to keep the part of the Sabbath that I long for (rest) while ignoring the part of the Sabbath that can be hard work (worship)?