“This is the day; this is the day; this is the day that the Lord has made.” I love that song and enjoy humming it to myself on the way to church. Did you ever wonder why the Christian Church worships on the first day of the week, Sunday, rather than the seventh day when the Lord rested? I puzzled over this for quite some time before the answer became apparent.
There has been much debate over the proper day of the week to worship. Some have argued that the Sabbath command, in the ten commandments, requires the seventh day (Saturday) because that is when the Lord rested. So the Jewish people have prioritized worshiping on the Sabbath based on Old Testament times. Different groups, like Seventh-Day Adventists and Seventh-Day Baptists, believe that worship services should be held on Saturdays to fulfill the Old Testament Command. The Sabbath was established by God for the nation of Israel to memorialize His deliverance of them from Egypt.
“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” (Deut. 5:15 NIV)
Other Christians argue that Christ fulfilled the Fourth Commandment. As long as the focus is on the church gathering together for worship, it doe not restrict believers from entertainment, necessary work, and other activities.
Another problem with worshiping on the Sabbath, Saturday, is that it doesn’t align with the early church practices and teaching. Paul tells us that the believers came together “on the first day of the week” for the breaking of bread and preaching. This is an apparent reference to corporate worship.
“On the first day of the week we came together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7 NIV)
This debate goes back to the time of the Apostles. Jewish authorities made the Sabbath difficult for God’s people. Rabbis discussed what could and could not be done on the Sabbath. Mark tells us that Jesus rebuked this kind of thinking when He told the Pharisees, The Sabbath was made for the man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27 NIV)
Gathering together and celebrating the Lord’s Day is a tradition that started with the early church dating back to the apostles. Sunday is not a random day chosen just because everyone is off work. It is the first day of the week, giving the Lord the first part of our time that week. It also gives the week structure and starts it with the proper focus. Christians gather on the first day of the week to commemorate the resurrection of our Lord. It should include both public and private worship.
“I rejoice with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” (Psalm 122:1 NIV)
Gathering together to worship is a biblical command that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. (Hebrews 10:25)