March 4, 2013

What is a Weekend?

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Last year, when the one remaining blue law was repealed in my state, newspapers printed some comments that disdained the practice of Sabbath-keeping.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)?



  1. Yes. I think I'm guilty of seeking "rest" without "work." And failing to recognize that there is going to be a spiritual battle to fight!

  2. LOVE this! So very true. You give up keeping the day a holy day of delightful rest, meditating on His wonderfulness, worshiping Him in His great holiness all day, morning and evening and in between with your friends and family, you miss out. You'll be left wanting, restless until you come back and rediscover that deep soul rest that keeping the Sabbath gives. Who cares about the green lawn, the dirty car, the stack of paperwork, it is all going to be burned up in the Last Day and what will we say to God then? "I'm sorry, it seemed so much more important that doing as You commanded." that's not going to fly.

  3. Love this post. In the older book, Making Sunday Special by Karen Mains, this topic is addressed in great detail with some good ideas--she was more meticulous than I'll ever be, but I was definitely challenged to consider Sunday in a different light. The greater thing that I took from your post today was the mentality in the "good" TV programs that is eroding our Christian heritage. This week, I requested Lark Rise to Candleford (a BBC program) thinking it would be decent to watch. It fulfilled all the basic requirements--at least in the first two shows: no violence, no language, no sex, but the one man that is regarded as an outspoken Christian was portrayed in such a negative light that I couldn't continue. It made my heart sad, not just for the fact that Christian values are attacked, but that many Christians, I'm sure, have watched this with their children, believing it was acceptable. We really do need to filter everything through Scripture, whether we're looking at keeping Sunday set apart or watching programs that are undermining (what should be) our values as Christians.


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