The Eternal Vow – SHABBAT
One of the most vital aspects and first to be recognized set-apart times in Scripture is Shabbat. In our journey into the Original belief in Scripture is the restoration of the seventh day as the set-apart Kadosh day. To understand its importance we need to go on a journey and open our minds and hearts to what is pleasing to our Heavenly Father using Scripture and not succumb to tradition without questioning what is right according to the Word of YaHuWaH.
To understand Shabbat we need to first remember that it was YaHuWaH who first rested and made the seventh day set-apart as we read in:
“And Elohim blessed the seventh day and set it apart, because on it He rested from all His work which Elohim in creating had made.” Bereshith/Genesis 2:3
It was YaHuWaH who first rested and He wants us to remember that His work of creation was finished on the seventh day. When we think on the finished work of Yahusha haMashiach when He went to the Tree and said “it is finished” how much more should we honour his Shabbat. Therefore a heartfelt consideration is most appropriate when we begin to look at Shabbat that He instituted right from the beginning.
The Gift of Shabbat
For too long Shabbat has been thought of as a burden or as bondage but we need to understand that the Hebrew word for bless is “Baruk” and it means to bend the knee to give a gift. Just as YaHuWaH rested from His creative work He desired man, His creation to rest from theirs and join Him in a foretaste of the eternal Shabbat since the weekly Shabbat is a picture of the life to come, the eternal Shabbat or the rest for our Souls. It is also believed that man would dwell on the earth for 6000 years and the final Millennium, the seventh day, is when Yahusha reigns in peace. Shabbat therefore is a treasured gift that YaHuWaH gave man that he would both look back to a completed work and forward to the time of the promised rest from all work dwelling in the presence of YaHuWaH in the Eternal Shabbat.
As a sign of the significance of Shabbat we read these words from the Prophet regarding the reign of Yahusha in the Millennium Kingdom:
“For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make stand before Me,” declares YaHuWaH, “so your seed and your name shall stand. “And it shall be that from month to month, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” declares YaHuWaH.” Yeshayahu/Isaiah 66:22-23
It was indeed only after the Hebrews came out of Mitzrayim that they were given the gift of the appointed times the “Moedim” in Hebrew to remember the joy of the freedom found through YaHuWaH who would not enslave them again but bring them into His true freedom. These appointed times were always meant to be a delight and are opportunities to enter into the presence of Elohim and rest from our daily lives:
“And YaHuWaH spoke unto Mosheh, saying, Speak unto the Bnei Yisra’El, and say unto them, Concerning the Moedim of YaHuWaH, which ye shall proclaim to be mikra’ei kodesh, even these are My Moedim.” Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:1-2
From this statement the most important truth that we discover is that Shabbat is not a Yahudi appointed day of rest but as Scripture records “it is one of the Heavenly Father’s Appointed times” that He has given mankind to rest from their labour and to gather together to fellowship with him and each other.
The timing of the day which begins from dawn to dawn rather than from sunset to sunset according to the Yahudim as we have been taught. However the truth of Shabbat and its command must be seen as much more than a command but rather a gift of YaHuWaH whereby each person has the great honour of connecting with the Divine in remembrance of the creative work of YaHuWaH and our honouring of His set-apart day keeps our hearts from self-reliance through our loving obedience of what He in His wisdom has ordained from the beginning. Its importance is clearly laid out in the most fundamental loving instructions of YaHuWaH generally referred to as the 10 Commandments being the eternal summary of what is good before YaHuWaH:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to set it apart. Six days you labour, and shall do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of YaHuWaH your Elohim. You do not do any work – you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.” Shemoth/Exodus 20:8-10
Sadly the word remember is such a passive word whereas the Hebrew Word is “Zekar” which is best rendered as memorialize as in making it a monument a means by which you demonstrate how special it is to you and therefore how special YaHuWaH is to you. The Pagans would build great monuments to their mighty ones like the Tower of Babel but YaHuWaH desires us to memorialize His appointed time, Shabbat.
How then does someone become set-apart unto YaHuWaH? It is by choosing that which YaHuWaH chooses. The word we read in scripture as Commands has a connotation of hard labour but in the Hebrew it is “Mitzvah” and has as its root a word that means connection so to make a connection with YaHuWaH you must observe His “Mitzvot” or loving instructions therefore doing His commandments are not grievous! Since it is the first thing YaHuWaH made set-apart (Kodesh) you cannot be set-apart without it.
“Wherefore the Bnei Yisra’El shall be shomer Shabbos, to observe Shabbos throughout their dorot, for a brit olam. It is an ot between Me and the Bnei Yisra’El l’olam; for in sheshet yamim YaHuWaH made Shemayim and HaAretz, and on Yom HaShevi’i He rested (shavat, ceased working), and was refreshed.” Shemoth/Exodus 31:16-17
“‘And the children of Yisra’El shall guard the Sabbath, to perform the Sabbath throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant. ‘Between Me and the children of Yisra’El it is a sign forever. For in six days YaHuWaH made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ ” Shemoth/Exodus 31:16-17
The seventh day! This was the shin bet ayin, the vow or the oath that YaHuWaH made with Yisra’El! In Hebrew that word is Shaba which means to swear a vow or an oath and it is also the word for seven too! Seven in scripture is always wrapped around completeness and wholeness and completion!
A primitive root; properly to be complete, but used only as a denominative from H7651; to seven oneself, that is, swear (as if by repeating a declaration seven times): – adjure, charge (by an oath, with an oath), feed to the full [by mistake for H7646], take an oath, X straightly, (cause to, make to) swear.
YaHuWaH gave Shabbat as a sign between Him and His people Yisra’El forever! Shabbat is His MARK upon His people! His treasured possession, His Segullah! YaHuWaH says that if we observe His moedim that we can expect blessing, protection and shalom!
There is a perpetual theme throughout Scripture of the importance of Shabbat and we could quote many scriptures but let me just give this one which so beautifully reveals how YaHuWaH honours those who honour His Shabbat:
“If you do turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My set-apart day, and shall call the Sabbath ‘a delight,’ the set-apart day of YaHuWaH ‘esteemed,’ and shall esteem it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own/idle words, then you shall delight yourself in YaHuWaH. And I shall cause you to ride on the heights of the earth, and feed you with the inheritance of Ya‛aqoḇ your father. For the mouth of YaHuWaH has spoken!” Yeshayahu/Isaiah 58:13-14
QUESTIONING TRADITIONAL UNDERSTANDING
Since the heritage of Yisra’El throughout Scripture is filled with Words of YaHuWaH with regard to His Shabbat we need to clearly observe how a different understanding of the Day that many honour as the “Lord’s Day” has evolved. What is especially interesting is that the Word Shabbat appears in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) about as many times as in the Tanakh (the Old Testament). Never do we see Yahusha or His disciples breaking the Shabbat though they are often accused of breaking it but we know that He was in fact revealing the full truth of Shabbat and was often opposing the long held traditions or fence laws that the Pharisees implemented that smothered the joy of Shabbat. It is appropriate therefore that we address some verses that may have caused some misunderstandings.
Master of the Sabbath (Shabbat)
Seeing the vast array of Scripture on Shabbat found in the Tanakh or what is commonly called the Old Testament it is important that we try to see whether the writings commonly called the New Testament shows any evidence for a change in the Sabbath day. The first critical verse comes to us from the book of Matthew (Mattithyahu) when the Disciples were picking grain from the fields to eat because they were hungry. To the Pharisees this was considered as being against their “Takanot” or their added fence laws designed to preserve Torah obedience therefore Yahusha was seen as breaking the Shabbat but Yahusha answers it this way:
“For the Son of Aḏam is Master of the Sabbath.” Mattithyahu/Matthew 12:8
This statement has led to an idea that Yahusha being Master is able to do what He likes but this is far from His meaning. He is in truth saying that He is fully aware of the true meaning and allowances of Shabbat and through speaking of David when he and his companions were extremely hungry he explains that David was able to eat the showbread of the Presence that only the Priests were permitted to eat and not be guilty of breaking the Torah. So too His disciples being very hungry were not violating Torah since preservation of life approves these exceptions since it is known that Yahusha and His disciples were being hounded by Herod and the Romans and were not just strolling along but were hungry as was David and his men. Also He explains that Shabbat was indeed a gift for man and not appointed to oppress man and exceedingly burden him but rather meant to ignite joy as all could come into the presence of YaHuWaH, the Elohim of Yisra’El, and rest from their daily labour.
The Resurrection of Yahusha:
By far the strongest held argument for the Church changing Shabbat has been the long held tradition of Yahusha being impaled on the Friday and rising on the Sunday morning. As a result of that the later Church Fathers under the Bishop of Rome and ultimately the Supreme leader of the Church Emperor Constantine completed the transition to Sunday which was a day greatly revered by the Pagans as the Day of the Sun in which they worshipped the Sun Gods & Goddesses such as Easter (Ishtar) though no scriptural evidence exists to suggest that the Disciples changed anything apart from some misunderstood translations. But before we decide what is truth let us search Scripture and see what we can discern.
“Therefore, since it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the stake on the Sabbath – for that Sabbath was a high one – the Yehuḏim asked Pilate to have their legs broken, and that they be taken away.” Yoḥanan/John 19:31
This day was in preparation for not the weekly Shabbat but the High day also called Shabbat but relating to the yearly appointed time of the Feast of Pesach (Passover) that began with the 1st day of unleavened bread but commenced with the Lamb being slain at the end of the 14th Day of the Month Abib or in the Modern Calendar Nissan.
However we need not take this as truth but simply believe the words of Yahusha when he said this:
“For as Yonah was three days and three nights in the stomach of the great fish, so shall the Son of Aḏam be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Mattithyahu/Matthew 12:40
If we are to take Wednesday as the day of the crucifixion then His statement fits perfectly, meaning Yahusha was in the Tomb Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night with a resurrection happening at dawn on Sunday. A belief in a Friday Crucifixion and a Sunday Resurrection falls far short of the words of Yahusha but has become such an entrenched tradition that few seek to challenge it seeking rather to believe that accuracy is of no great importance. However this whole fallacy desires to propose a new day of importance based on Pagan practice having the deeper purpose of nullifying the importance of Shabbat on the seventh day.
“And the women who had come with Him from Galil followed after, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. And having returned, they prepared spices and perfumes. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the command.” Luqas/Luke 23:55-56
In Modern Christianity the teaching is that when Yahusha died the Torah was fulfilled and Shabbat was no longer to be observed but this is not what we see here with the women.
“But late in the sabbath, as it was dawning into day one of the week, Miryam from Maḡdala and the other Miryam came to see the tomb.” Mattithyahu/Matthew 28:1
What we so easily fail to see is that when the stone over the Tomb was supernaturally rolled away by the Malakim (Messengers) the women found the Tomb empty. From this we see that Yahusha did not just walk out alive but these verses suggest that the rolling away of the stone was to reveal the empty tomb to the woman and that Yahusha had been raised earlier therefore it is most reasonable to believe that it was prior to this event and that it was reasonable to think that it was towards the end of the weekly Shabbat.
Both the Greek and Aramaic do not in fact use the words 1st day of the week but rather one of the Sabbatons meaning it was the first fruits Shabbat as opposed to the weekly Shabbat since each of the feasts are referred to as High Shabbats. This day also refers to the beginning of the counting of Omer which speaks of counting 7 completed weekly Shabbats leading up to Shavuot (Pentecost). An added fact is that during this time the High Priest would go into seclusion from the end of the weekly Shabbat for the next 12 hours purifying himself and on the dawn of the 1st day the 1st Fruits Shabbat would offer the 1st fruits of the Barely harvest to YaHuWaH as a wave offering. Yahusha as our High Priest simply was acting out this same feast perfectly which was only a shadow of the true one when He presented Himself as the 1st Fruits offering in the Heavenly Beyth HaMikdash (Temple). He therefore fulfilled the weekly Shabbat as well as the High Shabbat of 1st Fruits. This also explains Yahusha not appearing earlier according to the prescribed Temple service.
All these Considerations that I am suggesting are just to reveal the great value that the weekly Shabbat had in revealing the completion of Yahusha’s work since Shabbat means rest and points to completed work.
“It is the esteem of Elohim to hide a matter, And the esteem of sovereigns to search out a matter.” Mishle/Proverbs 25:2
We need to be Bereans who question and search remembering that it is to the Glory and the Esteem of Elohim that we are striving for truth that we may be approved workman clearly dividing the Word of Truth.
Another Questionable Translation:
In considering the significance of Shabbat we need to look at the following to see how the translators use this interpretation of this verse to create their own mindset remembering that they were not Yahudim and did not understand Scripture from a Hebraic mindset or worse that they were manipulating the text to promote their bias.
“And on day one of the week, the taught ones having gathered together to break bread, Sha’ul, intending to depart the next day, was reasoning with them and was extending the word till midnight.” Ma`asei/Acts 20:7
The Christian Lexicon “the Blue letter Bible “shows the Greek translation for “The First day of the Week” as follows:
Mia – meaning one or first.
Sabbaton – meaning the Shabbat or seventh day.
We must remember that the Yahudim count 7 completed Shabbats up to Shavuot (Pentecost). Therefore we could read this as “Now on the first of the Shabbats.”
We must also consider that the believers at this time were attending Synagogue on the Shabbat which was the usual practice for the Yahudim and as the custom would be they would gather for a meal towards evening usually to continue in fellowship and discussion. One thing we may fail to see is that the Roman day starts at midnight but the Hebrew day begins at sunset which explains why we read that Sha’ul continued until midnight. From this passage we see that Sha’ul was preparing to leave on the morning of the first day not as the Roman translators have tried to indicate making us think they came together on the first day.
When we look to the life of Sha’ul we discover that he obviously kept Shabbat and Torah and by his own admission he was a Pharisee from the tribe of Benyamin. He even says concerning the Torah he was blameless therefore an observer of the Torah and a teacher thereof though his words have been often misunderstood.
The Truth of Shabbat Revealed:
Often Acts 15 is cited as evidence of the truth that the Gentile believers had no need any more to keep Shabbat or Torah as given to the Yahudim but is this true?
“Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the nations who are turning to Elohim, but that we write to them to abstain from the defilements of idols, and from whoring, and from what is strangled, and from blood. For from ancient generations Mosheh has, in every city, those proclaiming him – being read in the congregations every Sabbath.” Ma`asei/Acts 15:19-21
If you have ever studied the Torah you will see a long list of defilements from idols, and Wayyiqra/Leviticus gives us details of what whoring is plus the commands regarding blood which covered many of the Pagan Temple practices totaling as much as 130 Torah commands in these three. The reason therefore that this list of requirements for the gentiles is short is because these dealt with the Pagan Temple abominations and that these new gentile converts would hear the Torah read every Shabbat in the Synagogues. From this we know that the Gentiles were being instructed from the books of the Torah every Shabbat and were going to the Synagogue on Shabbat to worship YaHuWaH the Elohim of Yisra’El.
The following verses have also often been used to promote the abolition of the set-apart Commands of YaHuWaH but we need to look at what it is saying from a better understanding:
“Let no one therefore judge you in eating or in drinking, or in respect of a festival or a month or Sabbaths – which are a shadow of what is to come – but the Body of the Messiah. Let no one deprive you of the prize, one who takes delight in false humility and worship of messengers, taking his stand on what he has not seen, puffed up by his fleshly mind,” Qolasim/Colossians 2:16-18
We must understand that the city of Colossi was a Pagan city and that those judging were Pagans who worshipped messengers and had their own set-apart days and feasts but what is striking is that the reading should be in brief “let no one judge you………………. but the body of Messiah (Torah community).” Those that are of the assembly of the called. Therefore Sha’ul rather than telling them to abstain from the Torah was in fact promoting it and encouraging them to keep all the prescribed feasts and Shabbats and to encourage them that only the body or the Assembly of Messiah is fit to judge in these matters. Remember that all these things are shadows not to be ignored but to be embraced as they portray good things to come. All the Feasts are still a shadow but point towards Messiah, his work and our final Shabbat as we read in:
“So there remains a Sabbath-keeping for the people of Elohim. For the one, having entered into His rest, has himself also rested from his works, as Elohim rested from His own.” Iḇrim/Hebrews 4:9-10
Where it says rest in the Greek it actually says “what remains is a Sabbath observance. “In the Aramaic it is even more interesting because it says “there remains therefore a giving of Sabbaths to come.” Therefore there is a Shabbat keeping for the people of Elohim looking for the day of the final Shabbat rest and so it is a shadow of what is to come.
The Ministry of Sha’ul:
In the Ministry of Sha’ul we can see how even the Goyim or the foreign Nations of the Gentiles were beginning to honour Shabbat as the verses clearly reveal that Sha’ul was only teaching on consecutive Shabbats:
“Men, brothers, sons of the race of Aḇraham, and those among you fearing Elohim, to you the word of this deliverance has been sent, for those dwelling in Yerushalayim, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have filled them in having judged Him.” Ma`asei/Acts 13:26-27
“And when the Yehuḏim went out of the congregation, the nations begged to have these words spoken to them the next Sabbath.” Ma`asei/Acts 13:42
“And on the next Sabbath almost all the city came together to hear the Word of Elohim.” Ma`asei/Acts 13:44
When the people of Antioch began to fear Elohim they did not say to Sha’ul for him to teach the next day being the 1st day of the week which would have been fine since that day was a recognized special day of the Sun in Pagan practice where many would have been free from activities but they rather observed Shabbat in accordance with the set-apart day that YaHuWaH the Elohim of Yisra’El had ordained and in accordance with the practices of the Yahudim as well as all the believers.
The Revealed Challenge
All of us need to begin to challenge long held traditions and see if they hold water against Scripture. If all Scripture is breathed by Elohim we must take note of it since all Scripture that was used by the Assemblies at that time was the Tanakh or what was known as the Old Testament. In the third Century if Shabbat observance was not practiced widely then why was it necessary for Emperor Constantine in 321 AD to introduce a Law like this:
On the venerable day of the sun let the Magistrates and the peoples residing in cities rest
(Sunday comes from a Roman pagan king)
And let all the workshops be closed but in the country persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain, sowing or planting. Let them not neglect the bounty of heaven that would be lost.
We should look at the understanding about Shabbat with patience and the love of YaHuWaH who loves us without question and as we come to the final stages before the Master’s return we have the choice to choose what truth is revealed while diligently seeking the leading of the Ruach haKodesh according to the truth of scripture while testing all things.
Acceptance of that must come from the fear of YaHuWaH which is the beginning of Wisdom. When we come to know that Yahusha came to restore our relationship with YaHuWaH and reveal truth we will begin to desire to do life his way and not be held under the weight of thousands of years of tradition. The awakening currently happening all around the word, those who are obeying the call to return to the sign/mark which is His Shabbat, I believe is not from man but is a move of the Spirit of YaHuWaH to prepare His Bride according to:
“in order to present it to Himself a splendid assembly, not having spot or wrinkle or any of this sort, but that it might be set-apart and blameless.” Eph`siyim/Ephesians 5:27
To learn about when a day begins ——> WHEN DOES A HEBREW DAY BEGIN!