What is family time supposed to look like, and how are we to bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord? When life moves forward at break neck speed, and the tyranny of the urgent seems to consume all good intentions, where do we ourselves find the shalom (peace and wholeness) that we wish to lovingly point our children toward? The Mosaic Law provided a perfect model society: a Theocracy. In God’s ideal society, He blocks out generous portions of the calendar for Family Time. It seems with God less is more with regard to weekly activity.
The Sabbath was God’s weekly provision for family time. The problem with an agrarian society (farming community) is that the work is never done. The more things change, the more they stay the same, except now it is sports, activities, parties, etc. The notion of a Sabbath day was as unique in the ancient world as it would be today, though our modern society allows our time to be consumed by different things. It seems the modern term for “recreation” means to recreate activities that leave us just as drained and empty as work does!
Under the Mosaic Law, there was one 24-hour period every week when families ceased all their activities. They just celebrated with thanksgiving and enjoyed the life and relationships that God had blessed them with. No work, no busy activities, nothing… just existing together. No car, phone, radio, TV or Internet, just one another and the provisions of God. To take the time to be still and know that He is God and to be His covenant people was a central act of faith in a culture that lived on a subsistence level -- an act of faith equivalent to laying down all the things our society says you must do and be to have a full life.
But the Sabbath represented more than one day every week; it also represented one year out of every seven. That means that a child born in a Sabbath year would have another full year with parents not working at age 7, 14, and 21! What a law! A law that provided that nothing would violate the sacred time that a family spent in wholeness, in completeness, in faith, in family, in shalom. The Law of Christ, which is the law of love under the New Covenant, would demand the same vigilant protection of that time of familial shalom. While we are no longer a theocratic nation under the Mosaic Law, we would be foolish if we did not take instruction from the law of God and see the great wisdom of life pattern it points us to. Lay aside a Sabbath rest for you and your family to enjoy the goodness of God and His provisions in thanksgiving and in worship. Indeed, sometimes less is more.
Jason Martin is the Family Care and Education Pastor at Melonie Park Church.