That Monday is widely considered to be the first day of the week—and Sunday the last—is confirmation of the triumph of the secular over the sacred. That most people dread Monday is confirmation of the seculars’ inability to do for the soul what the sacred does.
God designed that we begin our week in repose—in a state of worship, rest, silence, and quiet—with our minds focused on Him as the source of every good and perfect gift. To take God seriously when He says, “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy,” is to resign yourself utterly and completely to dependence on Him. Scripture makes clear that no productive labor is to take place on that day, and yet the One who commands us to cease from labor is the One who created us to produce. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the command for man to produce and to reproduce comes prior to man’s fall in the Garden, not after. Work—productive labor—is not a curse. Dreading it is.
Because God created man in His own image, man works just as God worked. Yet God is not dependent upon that which He creates (cf. Acts 17:25 “And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else”).
In contrast, we depend upon what we produce to sustain our lives (as any economist will tell you). And so to keep us from becoming too dependent upon that which we produce, God asks us to stop producing for a 24-hour period each week; partly, I think, to prove our dependence upon Him and not upon that which our hands can produce, and partly to keep us from killing ourselves. Our local cemeteries are filled (prematurely) with the corpses of CEOs, managers, sales professionals, housewives, and ministers who ignored the Sabbath command.
The fact that we have honored Monday by moving it to the first day of the week, at least in our minds and attitudes, indicates the priority we place on our own labor. The actual first day of the week, however, is the one on which our Savior was raised from his own Sabbath rest of sorts, having three days earlier finished the work His Father sent Him to accomplish. It is this same first day of the week we honor as the Christian Sabbath. What does it say about our faith that Monday is more important to us than Sunday? After all, the same sniffles that keep us out of the pew on Sunday would never keep us out of the office on Monday!
What difference would it make to our week if we began looking at Sunday as the first day of the week rather than the last, and Monday as the second day of the week rather than the first? Rather than viewing Sunday as the finish line—a goal to be worked toward all week—we would do well to view Sunday as God intended: as the starting line, with everything that follows in the secular rat race that begins on Monday following from, and being shaped by, the way in which we honor God by remembering to keep His Sabbath holy.
At the end of Creation week God not only rested, He also reflected. How much of the curse of dreading the beginning of another work week might be lifted if I used the Sabbath in the way God did: to pause and to look back on all of my productive labor the previous week (done with the strength that He has given me) and pronounce it, “Good”? How much more might I anticipate the opportunity to be productive in the coming week if in dependence upon God I simply paused on the Sabbath to value the productive quality of the previous week, and by virtue of my rest—my ceasing—express my total dependence on God to sustain me, not only on the Sabbath, but every day?
Paul Edwards is the host of The Paul Edwards Program and a pastor. His program is heard daily on WLQV in Detroit and on godandculture.com. Contact him at [email protected].