Remember the Sabbath

Sabbath can be a very interesting topic to study within the Bible. YHWH had a lot to say to his people about Sabbath. In fact, a seventh day rest is recorded from the beginning with the example of YHWH as he completed creation. We can also perhaps see where Sabbath rest foreshadows the rest we find in Yeshua as Messiah for it is through him and his death and resurrection that we are saved. We need not try to be made righteous through our works, though our works should still be righteous. We can also see the foreshadowing of the rest we find when we die and go to be with the LORD and also when the LORD returns for the second time and begins his millennial reign on Earth. Further, Sabbath is a part of the holy days of YHWH set out in Leviticus 23 and was intended to be part of our relationship with him and intended to help us.

Sabbath is rich in meaning, but unfortunately today most Christians act as if Sabbath is obsolete and has no meaning. I have seen it disappear in my lifetime. Where businesses were shut down for Sabbath in the past, albeit on Sunday, now most are open. People no longer rest but rather remain very busy on basically every day of the week. People go about their agenda in their way. They have lost the Sabbath.

My family and I rediscovered the Sabbath in recent years and have started setting it aside as a day of rest. It is a significant change and may even seem inconvenient at times as you adjust, but it is genuinely worthwhile to pursue. It is important to YHWH and he created it for our benefit rather than his own.

We can, and perhaps should, have robust discussion about how to celebrate Sabbath today, but let us take time today to simply review some of what YHWH has said and demonstrated about Sabbath. Once we help to establish the importance of it, I encourage each of you to continue studying Sabbath and seeking to begin living it in your own lives. Keep growing and learning on this subject. There is much that has been lost for which we should endeavor to recover.

A good and simple place to start as you read through scripture is to recognize that the main theme is that his people should not work and should not cause others to work on Sabbath. It is to be kept as a sign of our covenant with him and he created it for us. It is interesting that I can not find instruction specifically to go to synagogue or temple (or church) on Sabbath day, however it was clearly an accepted custom that even Yeshua demonstrated.

YHWH set an example for us from the very beginning as part of creation to observe a day of rest on the seventh day, after our work has been done.

Gen 2:1-2       1Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. 2By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

Did YHWH say anything about when his people should stop celebrating Sabbath?

Exod 31:16-27 16‘So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17“It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”

YHWH gave guidance to his people to work in the first six days and rest on the seventh, which is consistent with his example during creation. (The seventh day would be Saturday by our current calendar.) He also instructed us not to cause others to work.

Exod 20:8-22    8“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it 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. 11“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; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

Leviticus 23:3    3‘For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings.

YHWH intended us to recognize Sabbath even during pressure to get work done or accomplish an important task (like handling Yeshua’s body after he was crucified).

Exod 34:21    21“You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest.

Luke 23:54-56     54It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

YHWH intended the rest to be more than just not doing the work for which we get paid. One can have quite an engaging dialog in defining “work”, recognizing that some of the literal activity which YHWH specifically called out in scripture could arguably not really feel like work in today’s environment / technology. (e.g. lighting a fire, etc.) He also specified not buying things offered for sale on Sabbath

Nehemiah 10:31 31As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or a holy day; and we will forego the crops the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.

When does Sabbath begin?

Leviticus 23:32 32“It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.”

This would be consistent with the Hebrew calendar observed by God’s people in Biblical times, where a day started with sundown and ended with sundown. In today’s calendar, this would be Friday night at sundown through Sat night at sundown. (Learn more at Hebrew4Christians.com or 119Ministries.com.)

Is Sabbath casual or important to YHWH? You can probably already tell it is important based on how much YHWH had to say about it to his people and the fact that he set the example during creation.

Exod 20:8    8“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy

Ezekiel 20:20 20‘Sanctify My sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.’

Deuteronomy 5:12    12‘Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.

Exodus 31:13      12The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 13“But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 14‘Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Tell the Israelites, “Surely you must observe my Sabbaths, for this will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.

Why is Sabbath important to YHWH?

Exod 31:17 17“It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”

What example did Yeshua set for proper observance of the Sabbath?

Luke 4:16  16And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.

Matthew 12:9-15

      9Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. 10And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him. 11And He said to them, “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? 12“How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. 14But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

      15But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all,

John 9:13-14   13They brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind. 14Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.

Mark 2:23-28       23And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. 24The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; 26how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” 27Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28“So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

In order to make the Sabbath day a day of physical rest, we must prepare ahead of time. The sixth day was referred to as the day of preparation.

Exodus 16:5 5“On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”

Exodus 16:22-26       22Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23then he said to them, “This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” 24So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 25Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. 26“Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.”

Mark 15:42-43   42When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.

Luke 23:54-56     54It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

For whose benefit is the Sabbath? Man or God?

Mark 2:27   27Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

We should prayerfully reflect on what the Lord has to say about Sabbath and how we should observe it still today. Invest time to continue studying and begin trying to adjust your lifestyle to incorporate Sabbath. Don’t be overwhelmed trying to “get it all right” and do so overnight. Instead, allow yourself to learn and apply and then continue to learn more and apply that and so on.

I am convinced the Lord is pleased when his people pursue living according to his instruction by pursuing something in our lives as important as Sabbath.

Some additional resources to consider:

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