The Sabbath

God’s Biblical Calendar

God made the Sabbath and gave it to man.  God established the Sabbath in the beginning (Gen 1&2).  God designed this weekly cycle at Creation and wants mankind to follow this pattern by working 6 days and resting on the 7th day, the Sabbath.

During Creation, God set the pattern of “evening & morning” and gave this pattern to Adam & Eve (all mankind).  The Scripture says, “There was evening and there was morning, one day…there was evening and there was morning, a second day…there was evening and there was morning, a third day…” (Gen.1:5,8,13 ). The pattern of a day that God Himself established was “evening & morning”.  This means that a day begins at sunset, according to God’s Biblical timetable of “evening & morning”.  According to God, a day begins in the evening at sunset and continues through the morning until the next evening at sunset.  The Sabbath day also follows this “evening & morning” pattern.  The Sabbath begins Friday evening @ sunset and continues through Saturday morning and ends on Saturday evening at sunset.  God Himself designed this “evening & morning” pattern.

God established the Sabbath at Creation.  God wanted Adam & Eve to observe & honor the Sabbath, this holy day of the week.  So, too, He wants all men, women, boys & girls to know about His special day and rest on the Sabbath day (Friday evening & Saturday morning).

At the second coming of Jesus… at the time when He returns to earth ….we will still have the Sabbath and observe & honor it as His special day.  The Scripture says in Isaiah 66:22-23 (author’s comments in parenthesis) – “For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me”, declares the LORD, “So your offspring and your name will endure.  And it shall be from new moon to new moon (month to month) and from Sabbath to Sabbath (week to week), all mankind will come to bow down before Me” says the LORD.

Sabbath

“Call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your ways…then you will take delight in the LORD” ( Isaiah 58:13-14).  Observing the Sabbath is not a salvation issue…it’s a delight issue…it’s a blessings issue!

Salvation comes from faith in Messiah alone and His finished work. So there is no work or good deed or observance we can do to earn salvation.  Salvation comes from faith in Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah alone.  But there are opportunities for us to be obedient that cause delight and blessing.  The Sabbath is offered to all of us as a blessing of rest.

The spiritual truth the Lord seeks to teach us each week pertains to rest. God gives us the opportunity each week to enter into this physical rest.   This physical day of rest points to His spiritual day of rest. As believers in Messiah, we are called to cease from our own works and rest in Him and His finished work.  We are given the opportunity to enter into this physical day of rest each week.

Continual labor gives the impression that it all depends on man and his efforts.  Physically resting on the Sabbath reflects trust in God. God knows our frame full well.  He knows we are but dust and that we need to rest every week on the Sabbath day (every Friday evening and Saturday). Many people in the Body of Messiah are tired and weary.  Could it be that many people are not literally observing this day of rest offered by the Creator?  It’s not a laborious task to enter into this physical rest each week…it’s a privilege …with a “special permission” card from God.  Try it…you’ll be glad you did.  Don’t rob yourself of this blessing of rest each week on the Sabbath!

Some have erroneously believed or been told that the Sabbath day was ‘changed’ to Sunday…but this is not true.  Think about this…it was on “the first day of the week”, Sunday, that Messiah was out of the grave!  “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark” (John 20:1).  It was on Sunday morning…the first day of the week… when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb…early in the morning.  Remember the pattern “evening & morning”.  So it was early Sunday morning while it was still dark.  We can also look at our calendar and see that Sunday is the first day of the week and Saturday is the 7th day. J  This is God’s pattern.

Rest on the Sabbath

This is one of the 10 commandments.  Exodus 20:8-12 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God; (rest on Sabbath, even during plowing & harvest (Exd 34:21).  You shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.  For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; there the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Many people throughout the years have wondered about the ways of God.  I imagine even the Greeks and Romans must have been astounded that Jews insisted on observing ‘a day of rest’ and also allowed their animals and servants to enjoy God’s ‘day of rest’ as well.   It must have seemed like such a waste of time and lack of productivity.  But the Creator knows best.  In fact, today in our busy hustle & bustle world of high technology and communication, it’s still very important to take advantage of this blessing of rest God offers to all mankind.

When we’ve done all the work of the week and prepared to enter into the Sabbath… or at least stopped from tying to fill the long list of demands… then we are no longer in a rush!  Suddenly, we have time to pray and read and mediate on the Scripture and spend time with family.  Wise men consider the Sabbath day as the most important of all the Appointed Times because it’s first on the list (Lev. 23)

The Sabbath is all about getting ready and being prepared. Each week, this preparation to enter into the rest of the Sabbath takes a little work and planning during the week.  It’s this preparation for the Sabbath during the week that takes foresight and effort.  It’s this preparation for the Sabbath that allows one to really be able to enter into the physical rest of the Sabbath at home.  If one has not prepared for the Sabbath…then it’s harder to enter into the rest.  God says some of the ways we enter into the Sabbath weekly rest is if we don’t have to worry about cooking or spending or buying or selling on the Sabbath.

No cooking on the weekly Sabbath

Ah, the joy of not having to prepare meals or think about a menu and prepare lunch on the Shabbat…because the work of cooking and preparation has all been done on the 6th day.  Many families cook and prepare a large meal on Friday before the sun sets and then sit down and enjoy the big evening meal together without rushing.  Then all the leftovers are put in the refrigerator for the Sabbath day lunch.  This is the pattern in the Word.  This is the pattern, to prepare and bake on Friday, the 6th day and then to rest on Saturday, the 7th day.  In the Scripture in Exodus16:22-30, God instructs the people to collect manna for 6 days. On the 6th day, the people are to collect twice as much – “bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil” on the 6th day and rest on the 7th day.

You may ask, ‘What about going out to eat on the Sabbath because then I wouldn’t have to do the work and cook and prepare and clean?’  But God’s instruction says, “You shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you” Exd.20:8-12.  Think about it…when you go to a restaurant…someone is bringing the meal to the table or you’re paying for ‘the service’ of a cooked meal through the drive-thru window!  Either way, the point is…Someone is working and preparing on the Sabbath because there was no preparation on the 6th day.

In the New Testament, it says they “all ate the same spiritual food …now these things happened as examples for us” (1 Corth 10:6).  Remember…some grumbled and some tried to collect too much manna during the week and do the pattern their own way.  But God set the pattern and gave the provision.  The pattern is: On the 6th day, the double portion was prepared and it was kept over for the next day and the food didn’t rot or turn to worms!  God really is into leftovers for lunch on the Sabbath J.  It’s another way we cease from our labors on the Sabbath.

No buying & selling on the Sabbath

Neh10:31; Neh13:15-22  don’t buy on the Sabbath.  Don’t “profane the Sabbath” by buying, selling or trading on the Sabbath.  Gatekeepers are to guard to “sanctify the Sabbath day”.  Think about it…if you are buying something on the Sabbath, then someone else is working to process your order and take your money (ie: at a grocery store, gas station or restaurant, etc.) God is concerned for all mankind and He wants man to take advantage of the rest He provides.  God offers rest to all on the Sabbath. Remember the 4th Commandments says, “Remember the Sabbath…You shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you” (Exd 20:8-12).

Nehemiah told the LORD’s people, “We will not buy…on the Sabbath or a holy day” Neh 10:31.  Read about when the Sabbath was restored in Nehemiah 13:15-22.  We want to also look at what Yeshua (Jesus) told the people.  “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).  The Sabbath is an appointed time of fellowship and meeting with God.  The Sabbath is a time to do good.  The Sabbath is not a time to do business!

Guard the Sabbath

Guard the Sabbath to keep it holy (guard the Sabbath from corruption, don’t add or take away from God’s command).  ” You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may guard the commandments of the LORD your God” (Deut 4:2).  “Guard the Sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. ‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; you shall not do any work” (Deut 5:15).  All throughout this section of the Scripture in Duet 4-6, it recounts when the LORD gave the 10 commandments at Mt. Sinai.  The Hebrew word “shamar”, which means guard or watch, as in a watchman – is used 16 times in these three chapters of Deut 4&5&6!!! These chapters also include: “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deut 6:7).

Remember how Jesus rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees for invalidating the word of God for the sake of tradition “teaching as doctrine the precepts of men”?  We must teach our children the ways of God which include the Sabbath.

The Sabbath is one of the Appointed Times of the LORD.  The Appointed Times are specific times set by God.  He has chosen to reveal Himself and His ways throughout history during these Appointed Times.   The Appointed Times are “shadow pictures of what is to come” (Col 2:17). This means it points to the Sabbath rest referenced in the book of Revelation.  I heard a wise pastor say, ‘What we do in this life should be preparation for the life to come’!

It’s interesting to look into Ezekiel’s heavenly vision.  It’s on the Sabbath day that the gate to the inner courts in the temple was opened (Ezekiel 46).  It was on the Sabbath day that the people worshipped at the entrance of this gate in the heavenly Temple.  As we sit before God, who is in the heavenly Tabernacle, let us worship Him and enter into His gates with thanksgiving and praise on every day, and especially on the day that He sanctified, the holy Sabbath.

The LORD chooses for us to fast from our own ways on the Sabbath –  “Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free…..Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins, you will raise up the age-old foundations, and you will be called the repairer of the breach….if because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your pleasure on My holy day and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD honorable and honor it…then you will delight in the LORD and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth” Isaiah 58:6, 12-14

If you are having trouble understanding what the big deal is about the Sabbath, it might be because you’re not actually resting on the Sabbath.  Try resting on the Sabbath and you’ll learn to enjoy this ‘permission of rest’ given by God.  Read the Word, listen to the Scripture read aloud on an audio CD, watch a biblical movie, sing along with the hymns, listen to glorious gospel music …and take a nap. J  Enter in.  It’s especially rewarding when your body becomes used to this weekly ‘cycle’ of the LORD and really begins to unwind and relax and rest.  It’s a blessing from heaven.  And the LORD knows our bodies need the rest. J

Preparation

Learning comes from doing.  Each week, God gives us an opportunity to prepare to enter into the physical rest of the Sabbath blessing each week.   But entering into this physical Sabbath rest can take ‘preparation’.  It’s interesting because it really means there’s some thinking and planning and preparing for Sabbath during the week…thinking about what will be purchased at the grocery store for the Sabbath meal…then going to the grocery store and buying it before the Sabbath…preparing & cooking the meal before the sun sets Friday evening, filling up the car with gas before Friday evening…washing and ironing the clothes before Friday evening, completing any other household chores…preparation.  It really is a ‘renewing of the mind’ for those of us who didn’t grow up observing the Sabbath.

Even though all of this may sound overwhelming, each person and each family learns to work it out.  Each family learns to work together to share the load of preparation for the Sabbath.   One thing is for sure… everyone in the family understands the Sabbath is coming!  Everyone is hurrying around getting ready and making preparations.

Preparation seems to be a theme in the Scripture.  Just as we do this ‘preparation’ each week for the Sabbath, so too, we ‘prepare’ for some of the other Appointed Times of the LORD.  We ‘prepare’ for the Passover & Feast of Unleavened Bread by cleaning out all of the leaven.  This ‘preparation’ is also a spiritual reminder for us to clean out all the leaven of corruption that has come into our hearts…the leaven of malice and wickedness.  Just as we ‘prepare’ for the Day of Blowing by having our lamps filled with oil and our garments ready as we are looking expectantly for our bridegroom.  We ‘prepare’ because when the Day of Blowing comes – a day when no man knows the day or the hour- the work and preparation has already been done and we are ready.

So what is the biblical lesson God is trying to teach us?  What is the lesson God wants us to learn and understand about Him and heaven and preparation?   It’s a ‘preparation’ rehearsal.  Each week we have the opportunity to physically rest, yet also to cry out to God for Him to strengthen us in our inner man and to know that our reliance is truly on Him as we rest and trust in Him to prepare our hearts more and more to hear His voice and to be obedient as we sit before Him.

The Scripture says, “Work while you have light, because a time is coming when no man can work” (John 9:4).  Now is the time to do good!  We must work now…we must work while we have light!  We must ‘prepare’ and work now and spread the good news while we can…we must ‘prepare’ our own hearts and the hearts of others as we speak the truth in love to one another while we can…we must call on the name of the LORD and cry out to Him to ‘prepare’ our hearts while there is still light…we must encourage others to seek the LORD while He may be found.

We must also ‘prepare spiritually’ for the days ahead.  We must ‘prepare’ ourselves for trials and sufferings that are about to come.   This ‘spiritual preparation’ is so that our hearts will not be turned to follow corruption.  This ‘spiritual preparation’ also encourages our hearts to be strong in the LORD and not bow down to other gods.  This ‘spiritual preparation’ may determine the crowns we wear in the age to come and during the Eternal  7th Day of Rest.

The Sabbath is not just for the Jews.  The Sabbath is for the Gentiles, too.   – “Let not the foreigner (the Gentile) who had joined himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely separate me from His people”… to them (the foreigners) I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial…….Also the foreigners (the Gentiles) who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, everyone who guards from profaning the Sabbath and hold fast My covenant; even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer…for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples”  Isaiah 56:3-7