“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

I have to admit I was deeply challenged by some words in a commentary, pointing to the literal rendering here: ‘Remember…so as to make holy.’ The commentator observed that this involves a thoughtful preparation so as to exclude all activities which detract from the central purpose of the day.

‘Thoughtful preparation’. Hmmm.

Do you sometimes think we’re getting a bit lax – a bit too casual and careless – in our approach to Sundays? This doesn’t apply to everyone, I’m sure, but I think many probably do need to take a long hard look in the mirror. As someone commented, ‘The Lord’s Day is fast becoming ‘the Lord’s half day.’ (Or maybe ‘the Lord’s once a fortnight/once a month day?). Are our own priorities, our own domestic plans, now more to the fore as we approach this special day? Is it becoming more about us, and our families than about Him?

I’m just wondering aloud…raising questions which weigh on my mind – and have done so for quite some time.

I was brought up in an era where many Christians were highly legalistic in their approach to Sunday’s. The churches added many more ‘thou shalt not’s’ into the mix. There were numerous things one could not do on this day, and it often made it quite miserable for children. (And not only for children!) We can’t live the Christian life by man-made rules, and should resist them. It’s not surprising there has been a reaction to such a stifling way of spending what should be a day of delight.

But ‘thoughtful preparation’ surely is required, if we’re going to mark one day in seven as a joyous, God-centred day of rest.

Again, I think Motyer helps us:

‘…the freedom to be enjoyed on the Sabbath imposed a duty of careful forethought.

The cessation of work is not…an end in itself but, so to speak, ‘clears a space’; as Childs put it, there was to be ‘the cessation of normal activity…in order to set aside the Sabbath for something special. What that ‘something special’ was is left vague by the commandment, but three principles are clear. The Sabbath was to be a day of holiness, that is a different day, a day set apart from all other days (8), a day belonging in some special way to the Lord and therefore to be lived uniquely for him (11). The vagueness is doubtless deliberate, leaving room for individual choice and personal preference, but the one thing that is common to all three principles is that it was to be a different day. And that surely remains true today. Sunday should not be a second Saturday every week (as the term ‘continental Sunday’ is found to mean)…but a day positively different because it is being lived specially for God.’ ‘The message of Exodus’, p.226.