This morning, the radio talk shows were all about the current issues with the corona virus. Most of us have felt the impact of this national crisis this week, perhaps in many ways. Elementary school classes are being cancelled for several weeks. Universities are moving their classes to an online platform. Most events are being cancelled, even professional sports games and championships. Grocery stores are maxed out on certain apparently necessary items. I was out doing my weekly (plus a little extra) grocery shopping this morning. The stores were mobbed, but every single person was kind and polite. No one was rushing around frantically taking cuts in lines or grabbing things off the shelves before others could get it. It was very orderly and almost peaceful. It was actually a nice kind of experience in simple human camaraderie. We are all in this together.
On the way home, the local talk radio host remarked that when we were young, everything shut down on Sundays. That brought me back to those days when banks, stores, gas stations, and just about every other kind of establishment except perhaps restaurants were closed on Sundays. Only churches remained open and they were filled. Sundays were mostly spent with family. Our family dinner was always around 3:00 pm on Sundays and took several hours to prepare, after which we all enjoyed sitting down together and eating it at our leisure. There was always conversation and many times laughter, but never a need to rush through it.
The talk show guy’s comments reminded me of a few Scriptures about the relationship between God and Israel. God Himself was the first one to rest. Genesis 2:2 tells us that after God finished his work of creating the earth and everything in it, He rested on the seventh day. Then in Exodus 20:8 – 11, God included a day of rest in the Ten Commandments. In Leviticus 25:1 – 4, the Lord laid out his requirements concerning sabbath days:
And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD. Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.
In Leviticus 26:33 – 35, God explained what would happen if His people did not keep the sabbaths, and finally in 2 Chronicles 36:21, the Scriptures record that, in fact, God forced a sabbath of seventy years on the land of Israel by letting the people go into captivity and therefore leaving the land desolate for those seventy years.
Our modern life is so busy. We are always doing something. Whatever day we take for a sabbath no longer keeps us from working, shopping, doing business or doing anything we please. Even the old “blue laws” have been voted out and you can buy alcohol any day of the week. With smart phones and globalization, people can do business 24 hours a day, seven days a week … but is it good for us? Most people are running ragged on just a few hours of sleep. They have no time for meditative activities and no time for leisurely Sunday dinners with family. Human beings require rest. The land requires rest. Even our machines require rest.
Have we once again forced God’s hand? Is He forcing us to sit things out for a while and take a Sabbath? Let’s make this a true sabbath. Sit down, connect with God, our loving Father, and enjoy a pleasant Sabbath. Happy Sabbath to you! I hope that you are well and that you stay that way. We can do this. We can stop for a few weeks and let this thing pass over. I wish you all the best as we rest and ride this out.