Numbers 28:9-10 – Sundays In the South: They Ain’t What They Used To Be!

Posted: October 28, 2016 in 04-Numbers

Numbers 28:9-10

The Sabbath Offerings

One of the quirks of Southern life used to the “blue laws”. Blue laws, also known as Sunday laws, are laws designed to restrict or ban some or all Sunday activities for religious reasons, particularly to promote the observance of a day of worship or rest. Blue laws may also restrict shopping or ban sale of certain items on specific days, most often on Sundays in the western world. Blue laws are technically classed as “mala prohibita” or “wrong [as or because] prohibited” (as opposed to “mala in se” or “wrong or evil in itself”). Most blue laws have been repealed in the United States, although many states still ban the sale of alcoholic beverages or cars on Sundays. Most Southern states continued the blue laws up until the early 1980s. One of the last areas of stronghold was the sale of alcoholic beverages in restaurants on Sundays. Those battles were finally won by restaurant businesses within the last decade. There are not many states or municipalities in the South that still have those laws. The only remnant that you may see in the South of the blue laws in today’s world is the ban of the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays in grocery stores.


All of the discussion and marketing of the repeal of such laws was that the blue laws were bad for business. We did not want to get left behind, the proponents would say, other areas of the country or even other areas of the South (usually ones with large metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Birmingham, etc.) that were repealing the blue laws. The blue laws forced rest upon us if nothing else. In South Carolina, I remember that prior to the early 80s, the malls would be closed. Any major shopping was taboo on that day. Usually only grocery stores and restaurants were open, but neither could sell alcohol on those days. I remember Sunday mornings were for church. Sunday afternoons were for naps and/or family get-togethers, and Sunday evenings were generally for more church or at least church meetings such youth meetings, etc. It was indeed a time to take things at slower pace. Since businesses were generally closed, it was time for socializing. It was time for visiting your parents or grandparents. It was a time to slow down and pay attention to church. It was a time to just rest. I remember the naps on Sunday afternoon. There was nothing better than the Sunday routine. Get up. Go to church. Have a big Sunday dinner somewhere (either a restaurant, grandma’s house, or home). Then come home (if you had eaten somewhere other than home). Turn on the pro football games and slowly but surely descend into a nap.


Now, except for those who attend church on Sundays, the repeal of the blue laws has made Sunday like any other day. All business are open. Once one business started opening on Sunday in protest of the blue laws then it was a landslide of business activity and finally the laws were repealed. Now, Chick-Fil-A is unique not normal. It is one of the few large businesses in America that is closed on Sundays. Except for Chick-Fil-A, Sundays in the South now look like any other day. There is no longer a societal focus on church and rest. Sunday is just another day. Certainly, I am not suggesting a return to those days of being confused as to what you could buy and could not buy on Sundays or do or not do on Sundays. As they say, you cannot legislate morality and thus the blue laws became an ever increasing list of exceptions of what could and could not be done on Sundays. However, I do miss the spirit of the blue laws. The spirit was to promote our focus on God, church, family and rest. Even God rested on the seventh day of creating the universe. Do we have a better nation without the blue laws? That would be a question open to debate at this point in our history.


The blue laws and the Southern culture where church was important as late as the early 80’s was the thing that I thought of immediately when I read through the short passage, Numbers 28:9-10, this morning about the Sabbath offerings:


9 “‘On the Sabbath day, make an offering of two lambs a year old without defect, together with its drink offering and a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah[a] of the finest flour mixed with olive oil. 10 This is the burnt offering for every Sabbath, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.


Here in this passage, we see that the lamb offering was a double offering. There was the daily offering and the Sabbath offering. Sundays were basically doubled up. It means that on the Sabbath extra-special care was taken with the offering and more than usual was offered. There is a certain symmetry with God’s providential care in creation. God rested on the seventh day. He told us in the Ten Commandments, or the Decalogue as the fancy academics call it, that we are to keep the day holy. Thus, God commanding the Israelites to double their focus on the sacrifices is consistent with the focus God wants us have on the Sabbath. He wants us to take time to focus on Him solely. Rest and focus on Him. This extra offering is thus part of the cycle of Sunday where rest and prayer and focus on God were the orders of the day.


Are we better off without the legislated closings with the ever-increasing chink holes of exceptions to the rule? Probably. Are we better off without the spirit of the blue laws that just wanted our society to have a day of rest and focus on God? Probably not. Our world seems to be deteriorating at a more rapid pace than ever before. We have become a nation that has lost its focus on God. We have become a nation of “do what ya wanna do if it feels good” and “if it feels good to me than it must be right”. We have become a nation where our focus is no longer pleasing God but pleasing ourselves. Can you say that we are a nation under God today? We have not only lost our focus on God but we have turned away from Him and we Christians are the frogs in the pot of water of ever-increasing temperature. We say nothing. We do nothing. Just like the frog will sit in the water until it boils and kills him. So, too, are we, as Christians, sitting in the pot of boiling water of public change and we do nothing as this nation of ours turns up the heat. Where is our focus? Are we more concerned about fitting in and pleasing man or pleasing God.


Let us be a people that doubles up on our focus on God. Let us be different than the world around us rather than trying to be accepted by it. Let us stand up and stand out. Let us be the ones who call our nation back to a focus on God.


Amen and Amen.

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