The World has suddenly come to a screeching halt. The population is taking a ‘forced sabbath’, or rest, due to Coronavirus containment efforts. As of March 24th, 2020, a third of the World’s population, or three Billion people, are under virus related ‘shelter-in-place’ limits. Citizens around the world have been forced to take a step back from the ‘go-go-go’ mentality. The new directive is to hunker-down at home. Welcome to the forced sabbath.
Amazingly, this unprecedented global crisis is the closest the world has ever come to keeping a sabbath. Don’t take that the wrong way, the world is not adhering to The Sabbath called for by God, but one can better understand what a sabbath actually is from this experience.
Saturday or Sunday Sabbath
The Sabbath is often taught as being a designated day of the week. Different religions have settled on different days, most choosing Saturday or Sunday. The calendar has a different first day of the week depending on where you live. Many countries start their calendar week on Monday. Meanwhile, the US and others start the week on Sunday. Setting the start of the week, more importantly, sets the end of the week or the sabbath. The different interpretations of which day of the week is the sabbath are the cause of these disparities. Nonetheless, whether your calendar ends on Saturday or Sunday, both are irrelevant in regards to the Sabbath called for by God.
A Day of Rest
In Exodus 16:23 you will find the first mention of the word ‘Sabbath’, however back in Genesis 2:2 you will find the first mention of a day of rest.
“And on the seventh day God ended His Work which He had made; He rested on the seventh day from all his work which He had made. God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because it it he had rested…”Genesis 2:2-3
‘He rested on the seventh day’ is the reason people pick their seventh day of the week as a sabbath. When looking to understand the Sabbath, you should also consider this:
“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.2 Peter 3:8
That seventh day is not talking about a 24-hour period of time on earth. God’s time frame is much longer than that.
Keeping the Sabbath
People have misunderstood when the Sabbath is, just as they have misunderstood how to keep it. The 5th commandment in Exodus 20:8 is to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath…”
The orthodox Jews have extensively outlined what constitutes as “work” and therefore what is prohibited on the Sabbath. In their case that is from Friday evening through Saturday evening. The work is physical actions like cooking, pushing an elevator button and of course going to “work.” Christian’s have simplified their interpretation down to not going to work on Sunday, but instead going to church.
Y’hoshua and the Sabbath
Is this the ‘labor’ and ‘work’ God is talking about? Consider the following from Y’hoshua (Jesus).
“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night is coming, when no man can work.”John 9:4
Y’hoshua was pointing to a future time. It would be referred to as “the night” when no man can work. Sounds like a Sabbath. Just a few verses later Y’hoshua heals a blind man by making clay out of dirt and spit and putting the clay on the blind man’s eyes. He washes the clay off and the blind man can see. When the Pharisees learn of this, they call Y’hoshua a sinner because he healed a man on ‘the Sabbath.’ Either Y’hoshua didn’t understand the Sabbath or the Pharisees didn’t. Over and over, the Pharisees specifically looked to accuse Y’hoshua for doing works of healing on ‘the Sabbath.’ Just like today’s religious teachers, the Pharisees did not understand the Sabbath.
Consider also that Y’hoshua did no sin. He did not violate the Sabbath as the Pharisees accused him of doing.
“… Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.”1 Peter 2:21-22
Pause and Pivot
As covered above, a third of the world is currently unable to buy and sell whenever and wherever they want, eat or drink at a restaurant, have a big wedding, attend a sporting event, socialize at church, travel to and fro or even visit their family. Typical lives have been put on pause.
This is the perfect time to pause your constant attention away from yourself and your wants and pivot towards God and His Word. What does God want and what does He say in His Word? What example did Y’hoshua leave that you are to follow? Take a rest from the world and seek to understand God.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.”Matthew 7:7-8
Remember though, this is not about asking for your personal wants, but what God wants.
“You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts/wants.”James 4:3
God’s Sabbath is to turn from the ways of the world and turn towards Him. God has put a time-limit on letting the world ‘go-astray’ for the benefit of those who will turn to Him. Y’hoshua spoke of what would happen at the end of that time-limit.
“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, until all these things be fulfilled… as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Adam be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, (distracted with the ways and wants of the world) until the day that Noah entered into the ark. They knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Adam be.”Matthew 24:34-39
Ask Before the Sabbath Day
Take advantage of the extra time you may have with this ‘forced sabbath.’ Open up God’s Word and look to understand it. Get ready for the actual Sabbath.
“But pray/ask you that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:”Matthew 24:20
“Thus says the Lord God; The gate …shall be shut six working days. But on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the New Moon it shall be opened.”Ezekiel 46:1
The Mark and the Sabbath
Lastly, consider ‘the mark of the beast.’
“He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. That no man might buy or sell, save he that has the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”Rev 13:16-17
If one chooses not to take ‘the mark’, they are stepping back from the ways of this world. Not taking ‘the mark’ is a requirement for keeping the Sabbath.