The Weekend and the Lord’s Day

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The weekend. The very term evokes what, exactly? Fun? Entertainment? Sleeping in? Brunch? Sports? And what exactly does weekend include? Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday? Interesting, isn’t it, how Sunday gets wrapped into the concept of the week’s end, when Scripture would have us think in an entirely different way—with Sunday as the beginning rather than the end of the week.

Avoiding for a minute the issue of how Sunday should be observed, let’s think about the psychological effect of viewing Sunday as the beginning of the week. What difference does that make?

First, it clearly defines a gospel shape to the week—beginning with gracious rest and followed by grateful work. This is in contrast to the shape of the old covenant pattern—work followed by rest. There is no indication in this that during the period of the Old Testament there was no understanding of the gospel—far from it. Where, after all, did Paul go to explain justification by faith alone apart from the works of the law? To Abraham and David (Rom. 4:1–12, citing Gen. 15:16 and Ps. 32:1–2).

Second, the Lord’s Day—yes, that’s what the early Christians called it (Rev. 1:10), signaling thereby that this day had a status distinct from other days—is special. So special, in fact, that this particular day is denoted as belonging to the Lord. Do not all days belong to the Lord? Is not God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—not Lord of space and time? Yes, He is. Nevertheless, early Christians felt it important to recognize the first day of the week (Sunday by our reckoning, though in all likelihood, sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday in theirs) as having a special status and consequent obligation. 

Third, the Lord’s Day is a gift. Each week we are provided with an opportunity to gather together as a fellowship, a family, with Jesus as our Elder Brother. Our Father calls us together for worship—to sing, to pray, to read Scripture and hear it expounded, and to baptize and share a meal together—signs and seals of all the blessings and privileges of the gospel and of the covenant of grace that lies behind it. Sundays are fitness enhancing, ensuring the health of our souls. It is a time of spiritual nourishment, to be used wisely and with discipline—profiting from the Lord’s Day does require effort and resolve on our part, including preparation and expectation. Here, as elsewhere in the Christian life, the saying is true that “you do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2).

The Puritans referred to the Lord’s Day as “the market Day of the soul”—viewing a well-spent Lord’s Day as preparation for the working week that would follow. And here’s a thought: Is the reason why our work is viewed with dread and foreboding that we do not utilize the gift of the Lord’s Day to the full?

Enjoy your Lord’s Day. 

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.