Before a holiday, I am busily making preparations. I cook as much ahead as I possibly can. I start cleaning two or three days earlier, changing sheets if guests will stay overnight, and dusting things I only dust a few times a year. I pay special attention to places I seldom really see, like the corners on the porch ceiling and the splashguard behind the sink. If my guest is tall, I might even wipe the top of the refrigerator. My mind is focused on the coming event. Everything else has to fit in around that.
I think it’s interesting that the Jews called Friday “the Day of Preparation.” What were they preparing for? Mark says, “the Sabbath.” How did they prepare? For one thing, if the example of the manna means anything at all, the women cooked up enough food for two days rather than one. If something needed doing “soon,” they went ahead and did it rather than taking the chance that it would need to be done on the Sabbath. Those Pharisees may have completely missed the point about the Sabbath, but at least they understood that it was an important day.
The law called for “a holy convocation” on the Sabbath, Lev 23:2,3. It was the custom on the Sabbath to think about and listen to the reading of the Law or ask questions of its teachers, 2 Kings 4:23; Acts 13:27; 15:21. The New Testament Jews met in their synagogues, read from the scrolls, and encouraged one another on the Sabbath, Acts 13:14,15. Doesn’t all this sound familiar?
There were some among them who were “clock-watchers,” impatiently waiting for the whole thing to be over so they could go back to their lives (Amos 8:5,6), people we would call “Sunday morning Christians.” The hypocrites among them were condemned in Isa 1:13 and practically every other page of the prophets.
As Christians we now meet together on the first day of week, (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2, etc.) It isn’t the only part of our worship and service to God any more than the Sabbath was for his people of old, but that does not mean it isn’t important. As Christians we should be looking forward to that day all week long, and looking back at the most recent one to stay encouraged for the week ahead. As such, it gives us both motive and momentum.
I often wish God had instituted a Day of Preparation for us. I see too many children in Bible classes who are so exhausted from Saturday’s activities that they cannot learn. They haven’t had time to get their Bible lessons, so you cannot even reinforce what their parents should have taught them. Or they come rushing in late and miss half the lesson. I understand that life intervenes sometimes, but every week? And could we not have looked ahead far enough to know we needed to get those Bible lessons on Friday, or even Thursday? Could we not have made sure they were in bed early Friday night if we knew that Saturday would be difficult this week? Not if we aren’t focused on the importance of our meeting together; not if the Lord’s Day means nothing more to us than something else to cram onto our to-do list.
We often hear men telling us to “prepare our hearts and minds” for the Lord’s Supper. It needs to go further than that. We are coming before God in a solemn assembly, one different from the fellowship we have with him daily. As his priests we may not see the Shekinah over the mercy seat, but he is with us nonetheless. Our host, the Christ, is walking up and down the aisles greeting us as we come in. The Spirit is hovering nearby to comfort and help. How have you prepared yourself to meet with the three of them?
We will actually see them one day. If we cannot take the time to prepare for them in this life, like his apostate children of old, how will we ever be prepared to meet him in the next?
Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!" For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth-- the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name! Amos 4:12,13.