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Last updated on November 3, 2023

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day;
the night is coming when no one can work.”


John 9:4

Christians will remember 2020 as the year we celebrated Easter Sunday at home. My House of Worship had its Easter Service on YouTube, and around a hundred other members attended virtually with me. A few hours later, my younger daughter and I ate a home-cooked meal. Then we rested—which is what the Sabbath should be, a day of rest.

The closest semblance to that Easter was when I celebrated Shabbat in Israel in January 1991. That was a few days before the U.S. launched Operation Desert Storm. In stark contrast to the United States, Israel shuts everything down for the Sabbath. Restaurants, shops, and grocery stores are closed, and very few cars are on the road.

Since I finished my cancer treatment, I have come to appreciate how vital a rest day is. I no longer work seven days a week, and even today, I caught myself picking up sticks in the yard and moving a few rocks. God calls that work—and in the Old Testament, God struck down a man for gathering sticks on the Shabbat (Numbers 15:32-36). I stopped when God brought to mind I wasn’t resting from labor like He wanted me to.

We all struggle with different things, and I tend not to know when to relax. So I appreciated that Easter lockdown when I didn’t hear cars zooming by, lawnmowers blaring, or sirens screaming. The neighborhood was quiet, and cars sat in driveways because people were home. Some walked their dogs, and I’m sure many, as I did, spent quality time with family instead of the frenzied pace that marks the way of life for most Americans.

I put on my favorite Christian movie, The Gospel of John from 2003, a word-for-word rendering of the fourth Gospel in the New Testament. Every time I watch the reenactment, I come away with a new insight or something God shows me that I hadn’t seen before. This time, it was from John 9:4. Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me, while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”

Many people couldn’t work during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Schools were closed. Restaurants were shut. All nonessential services, like dry cleaners, barbers, and hair salons, were under lock and key. Sports venues were empty. National parks and beaches were deserted, and theme parks, like DisneyWorld, were vacant. Even places of worship were not allowed to meet in many cities.

To make a point, although it’s not my main point, it’s worth mentioning because it has never happened in our democracy. When the first case of COVID-19 appeared in China on December 12, 2019, till the World Health Organization declared an end to the public emergency, the world was enveloped in the first global pandemic in over a hundred years. I knew about a coronavirus-like disease in Wuhan from captioning RT News (American media poorly covered it). Still, in my wildest dreams, I never imagined it would grip the entire world or last as long as it did.

The way the United States responded mirrored what happened in most countries worldwide. So much so that I felt like I was living in a socialist country and not the U.S. Our government, at the national, state, and municipal levels, determined what was essential and what wasn’t. If you disobeyed the local authorities, you risked huge fines or worse.

Do I even mention the shortages of certain items, like paper towels, toilet paper, and hand disinfectant? Could we have imagined anything like that happening in America? How many times have scoffers laughed at preppers? But here we were: Airports shut down, millions unemployed, and our capitalist system in peril because of an invisible enemy we can’t see.

I captioned hundreds of breaking news reports and updates at all levels of government, including Trump’s first major announcement concerning COVID-19 on Fox News. While the whole world was affected in a way never before seen, it hits closer to home when your loved one or a dear friend is involved.

One of my friends had metastatic lung cancer. Her condition deteriorated during the COVID-19 pandemic, and strict healthcare rules were in effect in Gainesville, Florida.

My good friend had a brain MRI set up to diagnose the progressing paralysis on her left side. She went for her appointment on a hot day in a hot car. When they took her temperature, it was 1/10 of a degree higher than the acceptable range for incoming patients. They sent her home under the pretense she might have COVID-19.

When she told me, sorrow filled my heart. With only a hundred cases of COVID-19 in Alachua County at that time and a vast medical complex that services the Southeast, the hospital sent my friend home for fear of a virus that had barely touched the area. The authorities deemed the threat of COVID-19 more concerning to the public than my friend’s health concerns, which needed immediate care.

I asked her, “Do those people have a brain?” Of course, they have a brain, but they did not consider her increasing paralysis from cancer urgent and sent her home. That’s socialized medicine.

COVID-19 brought darkness to our country. People were afraid.

And I don’t need to ask, whoever thought a day would come when people wouldn’t be allowed to work?

As Jesus said over two thousand years ago, “The night is coming when no one can work.”

The Bible often uses typology. The Oxford Dictionary defines typology as “the study and interpretation of types and symbols, especially in the Bible.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic is officially over, the stage is set for additional fulfillment of this event. We see the “beginning of sorrows” that Jesus spoke of in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:8).

Jesus referred to pestilences in Luke 21:10-11: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.”

When Jesus refers to “kingdom against kingdom,” He means the Kingdom of God against the Kingdom of Darkness. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Notice Jesus said, “fearful sights and great signs from heaven.” I don’t believe anyone has suggested this might be referring to the rapture. When Jesus ascended into heaven, His disciples watched Him disappear into the clouds. Imagine what a great sign from heaven that was. And because of biblical typology, we know that Jesus will return in like manner. Could the rapture be sooner than we anticipate?

COVID-19 was a pestilence and a “fearful sight.”  As of this writing, in August 2023, according to CDC’s website, 1,137,057 people have died from it. What could be more frightening? And many more have suffered debilitating side effects from the disease and the forced vaccines (more on that later).

But getting back to Jesus’ words, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work,” the Holy Spirit impressed upon me what darkness means.

Before COVID-19 struck in the summer of 2019, my daughters and I went on a week-long cruise in the Western Caribbean. One of the places we took a shore excursion to was the Rio Secreto in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. At sixty-four, the trek through the caverns of the underground river was challenging. My daughters handled it quickly, but I had to watch my steps using the makeshift cane they gave us. I was glad I wore a helmet to protect my head.

I thought it would be like a stroll in the park. It wasn’t. However, I’m glad I went. After a brief walk through the spectacular rainforest, we came to the underground river’s entrance. We entered the cold water with great caution.

After about forty minutes of climbing over rocks and through fissures in the cave system, we came to a beautiful underground lake. The Rio Secreto existed in total darkness for thousands of years before cave explorers discovered it in the early 2000s. The only light was from our helmets and hand-held flashlights.

Then, the guide told us to do something that seemed odd. He asked us to turn off the headlamps and flashlights and lie on our backs in the water. After everyone complied, we created a circular formation, joining hands with the person next to us on both sides. The idea was for us to be at one with nature. The guide took a photo of us in the dark with his flashlight for dramatic effect.

Being one with nature was not what I experienced. I had left my glasses behind in a locker in case I fell. I didn’t want to lose the only ones I brought on the cruise. That was probably a mistake. I could have seen better with my glasses.

As I lay on my back with the water lapping gently underneath me, staring up at the darkness, I grew nauseated. I tried closing my eyes, but that didn’t help.

After what seemed like an eon of time, unbeknownst to me, the lights came back on. I had shut my eyes to shut out the darkness, and when I opened them, I saw several hikers were already standing, and the cave was more lit than dark. I thought my nausea would quickly dissipate when I had light again, but it didn’t.

Even when we exited the cave in natural sunlight, my nausea continued. It lasted for an hour or more before finally going away.

I wondered for months why I got so dizzy and nauseous. Then someone told me, “It was because you had no sense of spatial awareness.”

In everyday language, I didn’t have a plumbline. I had no frame of reference in the complete darkness, which made me disoriented and nauseous.

When I think about that experience, more than just the darkness bothered me. I had no sense of anything—up, down, left, right, what was near me, what was far away. Nothing.

God did not create us to live in total darkness. He is a God of light. Indeed, He is the light. He is our plumbline. When we are in darkness, we are blinded by darkness because we can’t see anything, and that makes us sick.

Matthew 24:22 states: “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”

Could Jesus be referring here to another darkness that’s coming when people won’t be able to work? Or was He referring to the night we experienced COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic plunged us into darkness—darkness about the origins of COVID-19 and the forced protocols that followed left many people emotionally damaged. I still see some folks walking around wearing face masks in September 2023. We also will never know how much COVID-19 affected the spreading of the Gospel. Missionaries were sent home from their assignments for a year or more.

How many people quit going to church? How many lived in solitary confinement for months, unable to visit loved ones in hospitals or attend weddings and funerals? How many of us watched videos of people screaming through apartment windows in China because they were shut up without food and starving?

The COVID-19 pandemic may be prescient of a longer-lasting darkness where things will be much more severe than what we just endured. It’s easy to miss the flip side of Jesus’ words. If the days are shortened, the nights are longer.

To quote John 9:4 again, Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”

Based on Scripture, I have no doubt the day is coming when we won’t be able to witness or share Jesus Christ with the lost or do the works of the Lord. God brings to mind the word “occupy.” We don’t know how much time we have before the Lord’s return, but we are to occupy and be busy doing His work, as Jesus said.

Many Christians do not believe in a rapture or think it comes at the midway point or the end of the Tribulation when Jesus descends from heaven as the King of kings. In my opinion, the rapture could occur several years before the seven-year tribulation starts. The Bible says it will happen when not expected. “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44).

If you think through what Jesus is saying, He is not referring to when He returns to set up the Kingdom of Heaven. We know that day. Once the Antichrist confirms the treaty with Israel (See Daniel 9:27), the seven-year countdown begins, the final 70th week allotted for Israel. Jesus returns at the end of that 70th week to begin His millennial reign.

The Bible says we don’t know when the Blessed Hope will be, which is when His bride, the church, is raptured. If it happened at the midway point, we could calibrate that day. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32).

Until that day, we must be about our Father’s business, sharing the Gospel and doing all we can to fulfill the Great Commission.

If you haven’t accepted Yeshua (Jesus Christ) as your Savior, today is the day of salvation. When night comes, it may be too late. You may not be able to get on the Internet. You may not be able to work. You might not even have food to eat.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

God’s light shines out of the darkness; that is our plumbline in these last days. May God be glorified as we seek to be His servants. Let us work while we still can. Let us shine for Jesus unto salvation as long as we’re here.

PRAYER:  Dear Jesus, please let Your light shine brightly in us so that people will want to know You before the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.

To read more vignettes like this one, purchase God’s Good Works: Stories to Treasure and Tales to Ponder by clicking here.

To learn more about God’s Good Works: Stories to Treasure and Tales to Ponder, click here.

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Lorilyn Roberts