The Shutdown, the Sabbath, and a Weekly Divine Reset by Michael L. Brown for Ask Dr Brown
As inconvenient as this period of enforced shutdown has been, it has also been a time of reflection, a time of growth, a time of deepening. Some are even referring to the shutdown as a time of “divine reset,” and it is changing their lives for the better. What if God intended us for to have a divine reset every week? What if that was one of the very purposes of the Sabbath?
To be clear, my goal here is not to debate whether it is “mandatory” for Christians to observe the Sabbath. Even less do I want to debate whether it is appropriate for a Christian to set aside Sunday, rather than Saturday (or any other day), for the Sabbath.
Instead, I want to present an invitation to you. A sacred challenge. An open door.
The Jewish thinker Abraham Joshua Heschel classically described the Sabbath as “sanctuary in time,” noting that, “The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals, the Jewish equivalent of sacred architecture.”
What, exactly, did he mean?
He noted that, “One of the most distinguished words in the Bible is the word kadosh, holy; a word which more than any other is representative of the mystery and majesty of the divine. Now what was the first holy object in the history of the world? Was it a mountain? Was it an altar?”
This is a great question What is the first thing in the Bible described as “holy”?
Heschel answers, “It is, indeed, a unique occasion at which the distinguished word kadosh is used for the first time: in the Book of Genesis at the end of the story of creation. How extremely significant is the fact that it is applied to time: ‘And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.’ There is no reference in the record of creation to any object in space that would be endowed with the quality of holiness.”
So, it is a day, a period of time, which is called holy. Those who enter into Sabbath rest enter into its holiness. It is, in that sense, a “sanctuary in time.” What does this mean for us today?
During this enforced shut down period, all my traveling engagements have been cancelled for a period of several months. This means that, more than any time in my life in decades, I am home on the weekends (along with some weekdays) rather than being on the road.
Last year, I was on the road about 200 days (including 7 international trips). This was in addition to doing my daily, live radio program. And writing more than 250 articles. And producing more than 450 videos (including our daily show). And publishing 5 books. And answering endless emails. And doing endless interviews.