“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Early on in the Covid crisis quarantine my daughter said “this is like a forced Sabbath!” I thought to myself “that is a brilliant observation!” Sabbath for many Christians is a foreign concept. It usually conjures up legalistic restraints that severely restrict a person’s capacity to do whatever they want, whenever they want. But a robust understanding of Sabbath keeping begins with the idea that Sabbath is a gift from God. “God created Sabbath for man and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:25-28) was Jesus’ affirmation of the goodness that God intended when He commanded His people to rest from their work and busy lives and simply trust God to take care of them.
Regularly keeping a Sabbath rest day was to be a key practice for God’s people as God’s people (Ex. 20:8-11). Sabbath keeping told the world that they could rest from their work and trust that God will provide what they need. Sabbath keeping re-orientates us to God’s presence and provision and reminds us that we are not in control but God is, and so relax – watch and trust Him. Eugene Peterson simplified sabbath as “prayer and play.” It is about giving time and space for God and the things that bring you life as you journey under God’s care.
Covid has forced us to pull back from our busy lives. What can we do with this time away from our normal busy routines. We could learn about Sabbath rest. The question I am wondering is “will we busy our lives with all the projects that we have left undone or can we also see the possibilities
of Sabbath?” To ask another way “can we simply enjoy leisure time with God, our families and the simple gifts of life because we are firmly confident that God will provide for our every need?”
I would encourage us to resist the urge to binge watch Netflix or News Channels or spend hours scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. Instead, pull out our Bibles, grab a cup of coffee and at a slow pace read and meditate upon God through His Word. Once you have done this, be with your family and enjoy the simple things that bring you life. Receive the gift of a forced Sabbath and give room for God to again reveal to you how much He cares for you and provides for you.