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Coronavirus has caused an involuntary worldwide sabbath. Let's embrace it

This pandemic is forcing many of us to slow down, rest and honour God's fourth commandment, says D.B. Ryen

Who’d have predicted a variant of the common cold would cripple the world in 2020?

We haven't seen a global pandemic like this since the Spanish Flu infected a quarter of the world in 1918, killing tens of millions.

Half the population is off work and school, and most of us are living in social isolation. The stock market has crashed (again). The self-employed are worrying how they’re going to make ends meet. Working parents are at home with their children.

While many people are working overtime including NHS staff and those working in supermarkets, others are left twiddling their thumbs with nothing to do. They can’t visit friends or relatives. Gyms and cinemas are closed. Flights are cancelled. Musicians aren’t touring. We can’t even watch our favorite sports!

What’s the world coming to?!

A grinding halt, that’s what. The Covid situation has caused an involuntary worldwide Sabbath. Whether we like it or not, we’re being forced to honor God’s fourth commandment.

Consider these Sabbath principles:

Sabbath Rule

Current Covid-Related Restriction

Don’t work (Exodus 16:29)

All non-essential service workers are out of work, or working from home

Don’t go outside (Acts 1:12)

Social distancing now enforceable with fines

Don’t travel (Exodus 16:22-24)

Worldwide travel bans

Don’t prepare food (Deuteronomy 22:4)

Restaurants forced to close

Exception: emergencies, saving life (Exodus 20:8-10)

Hospitals and pharmacies remain open

The rule of the Sabbath is don’t be productive, and that’s exactly what our society has been reduced to – nonproductivity.

The Bible tells us repeatedly to honor the Sabbath, reserving it as a special day (Deuteronomy 5:12-15; Isaiah 58:13). It was made for our benefit, not as a burden (Isaiah 58:14; Mark 2:27). It’s supposed to be a big deal, since punishment of not observing it was death (Exodus 31:14-15). After years of not honoring the Sabbath, God expelled Israel so the land could finally rest. One of Nehemiah’s great cultural reforms was simply to re-institute the Sabbath. Let’s not forget that one of the curses of disobeying God’s laws was pestilence and disease! (Deuteronomy 28:21-22)

Yes, Covid has brought the world to its knees. God says that one day every knee will bow to Jesus. Maybe it’s time to willingly yield to his principles (i.e. the Sabbath) before the world falls apart.

I’m not saying Covid is God’s punishment on us for not honoring the Sabbath. I’m also not saying this is evidence of the end times. Rest assured, the end times will be far worse than what we’re seeing today. What I am saying is this: make the most of it! We’re living through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that has forced many of us to indefinitely shut down life as we know it. So rest! Spend time with your family. This is a year of jubilee, of sorts. 

I think we can all agree that the busyness of our world is detrimental to us, whether or not Covid-19 is directly related to that. This pandemic won’t last forever, so take advantage while you can. The Sabbath is a blessing, not a curse. Chances are we won’t see another forced staycation like this in our lifetime.

D.B. Ryen is a medical doctor and writer. His books include The Story of Jesus: All Four Gospels In One and Never The Same. He lives with his wife and children in Alberta, Canada. For more information visit dbryen.com

Premier Christianity is committed to publishing a variety of opinion pieces from across the UK Church. The views expressed on our blog do not necessarily represent those of the publisher.

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