Lesson five


The concept of leisure is prompted in the Old Testament as seen below;

  • God rested on the seven day after finishing His creational He blessed this day and set it apart as a special day for resting from work (Genesis 2:2-3).
  • God commanded the Israelites to observe the Sabbath as a day for The Israelites had to work for six days and dedicate the seventh day for the Lord (Exodus 31:15).
  • The book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 recognizes the rhythm of life and points out that there is time for everything including leisure and
  • Deuteronomy 5:12-15 looks at Sabbath as being a day for remembering Yahweh and thanking him for having delivered people from Egyptian Therefore, the Sabbath was a day of freedom.
  • The Sabbath was a day for thanks giving. The Israelites had to bring sacrificial offerings to the place of worship as they appreciate God for His saving powers (Numbers 28:9-20).
  • God required the Israelites to rest on the day of Atonement (being sorry for the wrong done). This was to be Sabbath day which was therefore a day for repentance (Leviticus 23:26ff).
  • The Sabbath was a day for fellowship among the Israelites. This was done in thanking God for the blessing of the promised land (Canaan) (Ezekiel 46:4-6).
  • The Israelites were commanded to teach their children about the history as being the chosen people on the Sabbath day (Deuteronomy 5:1ff).
  • The Israelites celebrated special feasts during important times in their agricultural calendar. For example, the feast of the unleavened bread was held at the beginning of each barley This was done in commemorating the Exodus event (Exodus 34:18).
  • The Israelites made pilgrimage to Jerusalem during leisure, as it was the central worshiping place. This was because all people had to travel to be present at the annual festivals (psalms 120-140).
  • Leisure gave the opportunity for the scribes to acquire more wisdom, which was all about life and the working nature of man. For example, king Solomon wrote his wisdom literature (proverbs) during
  • The Sabbath was a day for having silent prayers, reflection and joyful
  • God commanded the Israelites to repent their sins during their free time. This was to be done by offering sacrifices (Leviticus 16:1ff).
  • God also commanded the Israelites to celebrate the Passover event. This was a way of honoring Him as they commemorate their deliverance from the Egyptian slavery (Deuteronomy 16:1ff).
  • The Israelites took time to reflect on the wonders of the world around them. They later came to realise that God was pleased with His creation by their beauty and power (psalm 14:8).

5.2  Revision Question

Qn.1. What does the Old Testament teach about leisure?

Qn.2. Explain the importance of the Sabbath day to the people of Israel.


Leisure in the New Testament is based on the life, preaching or examples of Jesus Christ. Christ recognized the rhythm of life and pointed out that life is more important than work. The main ideas about leisure in the new Testament include the following;

  • Jesus recognized the importance of having some rest from work.
  • He called on His disciples to leave the crowd for a lonely place. This came before His miraculous act of feeding five thousand people from five loaves and two fish (Mark 6:31ff).
  • Jesus observed the Sabbath. He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath in order to fulfill the requirement of the Jewish custom (Luke 4:1-6).
  • Jesus corrected the Sabbath rest that had already been misunderstood to fit human needs. The Jews had introduced many petty regulations restricting the observation of the Sabbath, which had imposed a lot of burden onto Christ criticizes this and points out that Sabbath was made for man but not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).
  • Jesus had private retreats during His free time. He isolated himself and prayed to God (Mark 1:35 and Luke 6:12).
  • Jesus had time for fellowship. He enjoyed having meals with his disciples after finishing preaching (Mark 6:35-44).
  • Jesus visited His friends like Mary, Martha and Lazarus during his free time. He feasted with them during this visitation (Luke 10:38).
  • Jesus attended social He had a feast in the house of Levi together with other tax collectors (Luke 5:29). In John 2:1, He attended a wedding at Cana from where he performed His first of the miracle of changing water into wine.
  • Jesus enjoyed the company of children during His free time. He played with them freely in his arms and pointed out that the Kingdom of heaven belongs to people innocent like them (Luke 18:16).
  • Jesus explained parables during his free time. This was because his followers had failed to understand the parables he used during preaching. He took time to clarify the meaning of his parables including that of the sower and the tenants (Mark 4:13- 20 and Matthew 25:14-30).
  • Jesus also enjoyed stories during his free For example, he conversed with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4:1ff), Niccodemus (John 3:1ff) and with his friends like Mary and Martha.
  • Jesus performed many miracles during his free time. In Mark 3:1-5, the man with a paralyzed hand got healed. He also raised Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:38-42).
  • Jesus also took time to explain how leisure was to be enjoyed. He emphasized the need for humility, hospitality and respect for one another while enjoying leisure (Luke 14:7ff).
  • Jesus called on his disciples to rest in him urging them to believe in him and take his example as they try to find the final and everlasting rest from the burden of their heavy load (Matthew 11:28-29).


By the time Jesus begun his ministry, the Sabbath had become inhuman. It was no longer serving ones of its original purposes of helping people to enjoy rest and freedom and grow together in peace and trust.

The Jewish religious authority insisted on many petty regulations or laws that had to be observed on the Sabbath day. There were thirty – nine (39) types of work that had to be avoided including lighting fire, clapping hands and walking long distances among others.

It was at this point that Jesus criticized the way the Sabbath was being observed. He declared that “the Sabbath was made for man, but not man for the Sabbath”. By this statement, Jesus meant that;

  • Man had to enjoy rest and worship God on the Sabbath
  • Man had to enjoy his freedom on the Sabbath day instead of being
  • Man had to fellowship with God and grow together in peace and
  • Man had to reflect on God’s creation and appreciate
  • Man had to praise and thank God for His
  • Man had to share the fruits of their labour with each
  • Man had to preach the good news and bring each other closer to God and fellow man.
  • Man had to read and meditate on the biblical texts on the day of

5.5  How can a Christian use his or her free time constructively?

  • Christians should visit his or her friends, especially during anytime. Jesus also visited his friends like Mary, Martha and
  • A Christian should attend social parties like weddings and graduations. Jesus also attended a wedding party at Cana (John 2:1).
  • A Christian should spend his or her free time praying just as Jesus isolated himself and prayed in a lonely place (Mark 1:35).
  • Christians can spend leisure by making Jesus visited Jerusalem as a holy place (Mark 11:1ff).
  • A Christian should spend his or her time telling and enjoying Jesus enjoyed stories with the Samaritan woman, Niccodemus. He also enjoyed the use of parables. (John 4:1ff and 3:1ff).
  • A Christian should relax during his or her free time. Jesus also relaxed in quite places.
  • A Christian can spend leisure by helping the needy such as the sick, orphans, widows and the
  • A Christian can also spend the leisure by celebrating important religious festivals such as Christmas and Palm Sundays. Jesus observed the Sabbath day (Luke 4:16).
  • A Christian can spend leisure by preaching the good news just as Jesus preached during his ministry (Mark 6:2).
  • A Christian can have fellowship during his or her leisure. Jesus shared meals with his disciples during free time. (Mark 6:35-44).
  • Reading and interpreting the scriptures can also be a way through which a Christian can spend
  • Christians can praise and worship God during leisure. This can be through songs and
  • A Christian can use his or her free time by reconciling conflict among people by encouraging the spirit of
  • A Christian can utilize his or her free time doing some Jesus also helped his parents with domestic work.
  • A Christian can spend leisure chatting and playing with Jesus freely played with children in his arms and pointed that the kingdom of heaven belongs to them (Luke 16:18).
  • A Christian can share his or her experiences with others during leisure. This can be through group discussions or
  • A Christian can watch constructive films or drama during
  • A Christian can involve himself in church activities such as choir, cleaning the inside and the