Summary: As believers who celebrate the Lord’s Day, we can learn from what God told Israel about the Sabbath and how you and I can enjoy the Lord’s Day the right way.
ENJOYING SUNDAY THE RIGHT WAY
INTRODUCTION: In Isaiah 58 we see God speaking concerning the religious activity of the children of Israel during the Babylonian captivity. He addresses and gives stern condemnation of their religious forms and ceremonies calling for genuine demonstration of faith in God. God then goes on to center in on one area that if observed properly would prominently testify to the world of their faith and relationship to God – the proper observance of the Sabbath. As believers who celebrate the Lord’s Day, we can learn from what God told Israel about the Sabbath and how you and I can enjoy the Lord’s Day the right way.
While the subject of Sunday observance may not be popular today nevertheless it is important. First let us consider how Israel abused the Sabbath and how Christians have been guilty of similar abuses of the Lord’s Day and then consider how I believe God would have us observe it.
I. Sunday Observance – Legalistically
A. Deuteronomy 5:14 "But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God. In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou."
B. During the Maccabean period of Jewish history a number of zealous Jews pushed to excess the idea of resting on the Sabbath. They went to the point that they forbade even self-defense on the Sabbath in time of war.
C. John 5:16 "And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day."
D. John 9:16 "Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keeps not the Sabbath day..."
E. Luke 13:14-16 "And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?"
F. Matthew 15:8-9 "This people draws nigh unto me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
G. In 1610, in Virginia, the first Sunday law in America required church attendance of all, and decreed death upon the third offense.
H. Captain Kemble, of Boston, was, in 1656, set for two hours in the public stocks, for his ’lewd and unseemly behavior,’ which consisted of kissing his wife in public on a Sunday morning on the doorstep of their home upon his return from a three-year ocean voyage.
I. A man who, having fallen into the creek while on his way to church, had returned home to dry his only suit of clothes, was found guilty and "publicly whipped."
J. Sunday travel for any purpose not specifically permitted was subject to fine and imprisonment. George Washington, the newly elected President of the United States, narrowly missed such a fine or imprisonment for this offense as he was traveling to the nation’s capitol to take office in 1789.
K. Just like the Pharisee’s of ancient times, some would take make the Lord’s day anything but enjoyable by forcing rules and regulations to be rigidly followed and as Christ said in Matthew 23:4 "… they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders…
II. Sunday Observance – Indulgently
A. At the time of our text, Israel, in captivity, was dwelling in the midst of the pagan Babylonian culture. To the Babylonians, the Sabbath meant absolutely nothing. It was just another day of work or activity.
B. Many of the Jews had been influenced by the culture and were inclined to a mere slovenly indifferent observance of the Sabbath.
C. They held that once they performed all the Levitical requirements, offering the legal sacrifices and attending the “holy convocation” the rest of the day was to be used as they pleased. They carried out every form of commerce and activity to the point that there was no distinction to the Sabbath.
D. This practice spilled over to the Jews in Israel that Nehemiah observed having returned from captivity. Nehemiah 13:15-16 "In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.  There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem."