Isaiah 58:13–14 — “If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on my holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, 14 then you will take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
We are continuing our brief survey of things we may not do on the Lord's Day according to Scripture and we have seen that one of them is to do or seek our own pleasure, meaning to spend time doing things that are solely to please ourselves, when we should be taking pleasure in the Lord.
We also see from our text, though, that we are not to use the day to pursue our "own ways". The word, "ways" talks about paths worn by constant walking, about journeys, about actions and behaviors of men. So God is telling us through Isaiah that the Lord's Day isn't for us to tread the paths that we normally do. As we saw before, it is a day for us to set apart from the commonplace, and on which we are to do the extraordinary.
What are your "ways"? What are the things you do during the week, the behaviors you exhibit, the "journeys" you undertake, that are fine on the six days of the week which are for those things, but are not fine to do on the day that is for us to devote to the Lord's paths? Yes, we understand that the whole life of the believer is to be lived on the narrow path, but that isn't what we have in view here. For six days of the week we can be on the narrow path but engaging in our "own ways". "On the Sabbath", says God, we need to desist from ways that are largely wrapped up in our own needs and legitimate desires, getting our eyes off ourselves so we can get them back on Him.
It's hard, isn't it, in a world which is so good at invading our lives with things to do - recreation, DIY projects, sports and other hobbies. Surely it's OK provided we go to church at some point over the weekend to devote the rest of the time to our ways? "No," says our God. "Walking in your ways on my holy day is not OK - it's sin. I gave you six whole days for your ways, and although I purchased you for myself with the blood of my Son, I have only asked that you spend one day with me in a special way."
It is very strange that we think this to be unreasonable on God's part, or that we twist His words so they don't require this of us, or that we change God into someone (unrecognizable in Scripture) who just wants us to have a good time, all the time. It's strange that as the children of God, spending time with the One Who loves us so much doesn't fit into the category of having a good time. What possible explanation could there be for us to justify going in our own ways on the Lord's Day? Why would we rob ourselves of a closer experience of Him, and of the grace that is available on that day so we may live more godly lives?