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Will Sunday Never Be the Same?

Posted on August 05, 2019
Will Sunday Never Be the Same?

In the 1970s, a business school student came up with an audacious idea: overnight delivery of packages gathered from around the country, sorted at a central location, then airlifted in the early hours of the morning for rapid delivery. Fred Smith thought he had something there, but his professor quickly shrugged off the notion. Wouldn’t work up against the post office, the academic said.

More than forty years later, FedEx, the company Smith founded, is perhaps the gold standard for overnight delivery. Along with an equally competitive UPS, FedEx reshaped the parcel delivery industry, so much so that the U.S. Postal Service is striving to catch up.

During most of this time, however, one day remained pretty much off-limits to all three groups: Sunday. Out of respect for what was once a country where the majority of its citizens could be found in a church service on Sunday morning, deliveries on the first day of the week were available only by paying “special delivery” postal rates. Otherwise, Sunday was a quiet day of rest for those who brought letters and parcels to your door.

The current Internet shopping boom, kicked off in 1997 with the launch of an online merchant called Amazon.com, changed all that. Today, many of Amazon’s packages arrive on Sundays via the U.S. Postal Service, or from the hands of an Amazon-contracted parcel delivery driver.

Joining the Sunday Delivery Fray

Now, FedEx and UPS are going to join the Sunday-delivering fray: The Wall Street Journal reported recently that both firms will soon expand by adding weekend deliveries and employing drivers who earn significantly less than those who work Monday to Friday. The reason? Both firms now have systems where contracted or lower-wage drivers can be used for such tasks, with the possibility—but no guarantee—that such workers might get a toehold when the higher-paying regular jobs open up.

This has displeased labor unions and even some of the lower-paid workers. But in an economy where flexibility and opportunity are often sought-after, the notion that someone can earn doing work that others might not want to do can be appealing.

And the market seems to be open for newcomers: According to the newspaper, “Just 17.4 [percent] of the U.S. population over the age of 15 spends time working on an average Sunday, according to the Labor Department’s most recent American Time Use Survey.”

Working on Sunday is nothing new, of course. In the nineteenth century, those who chose to work on Sunday often found themselves before a magistrate, thanks to “blue laws” that restricted such activity—with no allowance for Jewish people or others who worshiped on the seventh-day Sabbath. Much of the next century saw Sunday as a true “day off,” with many establishments closed for the day.

But beginning in the 1980s, more and more businesses opened on Sunday as shopping became a “destination activity” thanks to the growth of malls that offered a variety of activities—entertainment and dining among them—along with retail sales. The last 20 years have seen Internet-based shopping sweep over retail, however: You can patronize Amazon.com at 3:00am in your pajamas if you like, and no one will know.

To secure its position across a range of retail categories, Amazon instituted “Prime” delivery service that for an annual fee brings customers packages within two days, and sometimes on the day an item is ordered. Millions of customers pay the $120 annual charge happily for speedy deliveries and other benefits. Now, Sundays are, as the Journal noted, “just like any other day” with increased package deliveries.

A Sabbathkeeping Backlash?
What does all this have to do with the Bible Sabbath? More than you might imagine. The backlash from labor unions and other workers against a seven-day workweek is likely to gather steam, especially with politicians up for election in 2020. That Sunday-working delivery people will likely earn less than their workaday counterparts will chafe as well.

But in the uproar, will Sunday be once again anointed as a no-work zone? In April, we reported on the view of one Catholic priest in North Dakota that the state’s repeal of their “blue laws” was a huge mistake. That article also noted that the late Pope John Paul II, in an encyclical entitled “Dies Domini,” or “The Lord’s Day,” called for Catholics to campaign for legislation in their countries to keep Sunday free of commerce and other distractions.

As the world moves closer to the conclusion of history and the return of Jesus Christ, the conflict of the ages, the battle between Christ and Satan waged from the foundations of this world, will intensify. As the “power” behind the mysterious end-times “Beast,” Satan will try to compel worship that redirects people from the Bible Sabbath to the first day of the week. Daniel 7:25 speaks of an end-times figure who will try to “change the times and laws,” a specific reference to this shift.

What will this mean for believers who are alive at that time? It will mean difficult and troubling days. Our free online Bible study “The Mark of the Beast” will help you understand what’s happening, and why it is so important to be on the right side of history.

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