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From the Synod Moderator: Recovering Sabbath
By Rev Keith Lai
Jun 2020

What is God's Desire For His People in the Midst of this Pandemic?

Why was Jerusalem captured, burned and the people of God sent into exile? Why were God's people locked-down, locked-out and locked away?

The common and usual answer we get is that this was God’s judgement on the unfaithfulness of his chosen people who sold themselves to idolatrous worship and allegiances. It was a violation of their covenant relationship with God and the subsequent exile was their just punishment.

The account chronicled in 2Chron 36, gives us a totally different perspective of their exile.

20 He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. ESV

We seldom hear this reason given in verse 21. It was their violation of the sabbath commandment that exiled them into captivity. Let’s look at verse 21 from 2 other translations and paraphrase;

This is exactly the message of God that Jeremiah had preached: the desolate land put to an extended sabbath rest, a seventy-year Sabbath rest making up for all the unkept Sabbaths. MSG

So the message of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled. The land finally enjoyed its Sabbath rest, lying desolate until the seventy years were fulfilled, just as the prophet had said. NLT

God was so concerned about giving rest to his creation, which was severely abused by non-stop exploitation, that He had to step in and enforce this sabbath rest. It was the failure of God's people to keep the sabbath that resulted in this "imposed" sabbatical. The exile was God’s way of making up for all those "lost" sabbaticals.

Could it be that this extended stay home, circuit breaker is God's way of enforcing sabbatical rest for both the land and His people?

Many of us find this extremely hard during the "normal" seasons of work, studies and family living to enjoy our sabbath rest. Even with the confinement at home, we are busy "zooming" in and out of meetings. We can get busier by filling in every empty slot with more Zoom sessions. A Pastor's wife got upset with him for working longer at home than in office in the last two weeks.

But now, by divine providence, the Lord is giving us an opportunity to rest, be still and silent. Now we can set aside unhurried times for silent retreat and contemplation.

If you want to, we offer you a resource, "DAY ALONE WITH THE LORD". You can find this in our SYNOD website. If you like a spiritual director to guide you in this "DAY ALONE", please contact me ( or Rev Dr Jimmy Tan ( There are also excellent materials that Trinity Theological College has produced to help you in your spiritual formation. Please look for it under their website under, "Spiritual Resources for Troubled Times".



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