Saturday, September 1, 2007

I Keep Sabbath Because...

I keep Sabbath for a few reasons. One, I am commanded to do so via the 4th commandment (more on that in a bit) and, two, YHWH Himself rested on the 7th day, blessed this day and sanctified it:

Genesis 2:2-3 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Even aside from the commandment, if the Most High can rest on this day (as did His Son Messiah Yahushua), I have to believe it's a good thing for me to do too.

Exodus 20:11 also tells us that He hallowed this day, meaning He made it holy, sacred and intended for it to be consecrated. The 7th day is actually, literally a holy day (with or without our observance)!

Many Christians don't believe that Sabbath keeping is required by scripture. Yet, in Exodus 31:16 we are taught that the Sabbath is a "perpetual covenant", "perpetual" as in to continue forever. Nowhere in the over 100 times Sabbath is mentioned in scripture does it say it's meant to be a temporary observance. It is also a covenant, a Divine alliance or pledge (see Strong's #01285), not some sort of burdensome task meant to weigh us down.

Sabbath, for me at least, truly is a gift that I treasure observing. I actually look forward to it and Isaiah 58:12-14 tells us that when we delight in turning away from our own pleasures and gladly keep the Sabbath, we are blessed! Who doesn't want a day of total rest, rejuvenation and focus on the Eternal One? When framed this way, in looking back to when I used to resist Sabbath observance, I'm hard pressed to figure out why. The only conclusion I've been able to recognize is that I resisted because it was different. I went to church on Sunday and didn't want to give up my Saturday's doing something that wasn't popular with my peers. I also didn't want to admit that my mother, a Sabbath observing Jew, was correct about there being a difference between a 7th day Sabbath and Sunday church fellowship. When challenged, I can be VERY stubborn at times, even to my own detriment. I'm working on this, but feel free to pray for me still, lol.

Many who justify not keeping Sabbath also contend that the Sabbath covenant was only for the children of Israel, but if we believe that we have been grafted (so to speak) into the children of YHWH via the sacrifice of Messiah, then it stands to reason that we inherit this "perpetual covenant" also. In Leviticus 16:31, we're told that this statute is forever and in Ezekiel 20:20, we're commanded to keep His Sabbath as it is a sign that He is YHWH our Elohim. Since He is absolutely and without a doubt my Elohim, I hold this covenant very dear. I may not have been born by human blood as a child of Israel, but the blood of Messiah has definitely brought me into His family! This scripture pretty much says it all, though:

Isaiah 56:1-7:

Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

Even so-called strangers who keep the Sabbath are involved in His covenant!

As mentioned earlier, I also have a direct order to keep the Sabbath via the 4th commandment (Exodus 20 vs. 8). YHWH repeats this directive many, many times throughout the bible and it is expressly commanded that we remember and keep HOLY the Sabbath. That many go to church on Sunday is fine. That the early Christians worshiped on Sundays is fine (but they STILL kept Sabbath!). We are free to worship and go to church every single day of the week...and this is always a good thing. However, this doesn't mean that we are to forget to keep the Sabbath holy, nor does it mean that the Sabbath was ever changed or abolished!

Currently, there is a push to take the 10 Commandments out of government buildings wherever they may be displayed. Many Christians are in an uproar over the mere suggestion. However, many of these same Christians will endlessly debate that the 4th Commandment no longer applies or never applied to Christians at all. I've always been curious as to how many who take this stance would be in favor of a compromise by displaying only 9 commandments and eliminating the 4th one from public display entirely. Hmmm...

And if we don't have to keep the 4th commandment, why keep all of the others?

Another common objection, is that a lot of the scriptures where we are told to keep the Sabbath, and certainly the original ones, are from the Old Testament. Most Christians, especially, believe that we are under a new covenant since we follow Messiah. Well, consider that Paul said that all scripture is good for doctrine, reproof and instruction in righteousness (I'm paraphrasing from 1 Timothy 3:16 here). When Paul said "all" scripture, he wasn't referring to the New Testament as it had yet to exist. Therefore, he is indeed referring to Torah. Looking at it this way, we can clearly see Paul was saying that Torah is inspired by YHWH, Torah is good for doctrine, Torah is good for reproof and Torah is good for instruction in righteousness. I know that's not a popular idea among today's Christians, but in the early days of Christianity, this was a given. This is the scripture that Messiah, Paul, Peter, James and all of the other disciples and early Christians both taught and learned from. Torah is the scripture they reverenced, not the New Testament. This is not to say that the New Testament portion is not good. Obviously, it is our record of Messiah, His teachings and all of His works. As well, it is our record of the early roots of our faith post (non-Messianic) Judaism. Of course, it is good! But we cannot afford to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater here. Torah is still inspired and good for instruction, doctrine and reproof AND the 4th commandment is repeatedly required of us all throughout Torah and even into the New Testament!

(NOTE: Many have misunderstood Paul's position on the Law, including myself at one time. This article helps to explain why this is.)

It bears repeating, too, that in the many scriptures which command us to keep Sabbath, NEVER does it say we are to keep it until Messiah abolishes it and NEVER did Messiah say that it was abolished. In fact, every time a time limit is attached to Sabbath keeping, it says it's a forever deal! We also see that Messiah kept it as did His disciples and the early Christians. Again, that some of them assembled on Sunday doesn't mean that they forsake the Sabbath covenant...they also worshiped on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, etc. as they met in one another's homes for daily fellowship. Despite all of the other days, they still kept Sabbath holy, however. Again, it was never a question of whether or not it had been abolished, as the first Christians understood this was law and they kept it, without challenge, period.

Before I go on, I also want to make it clear that Sabbath is not about what day you go to church. Sabbath is about resting from your daily activities and placing your entire day's focus on the Most High. I want to make this clear, because many believe that because certain early Christians eventually began to assemble on Sundays, that Sabbath was abolished or changed to Sunday. Assembling can be a Sabbath activity, but it is not what defines Sabbath.

Repeatedly, I've heard non-Sabbath keeping Christians accuse those who do keep Sabbath of being legalists and comparing them to the Pharisees that Messiah often condemned. Let's think about this though. When Messiah chastised the Pharisees, was He chastising them for keeping the Law or was He chastising them for having the appearance of lawfulness, while their hearts and actions towards others were filled with evilness? Let's not misunderstand the difference. Those who keep the law with honorable intentions are not legalists, rather they simply seek to obey what YHWH has commanded them to do. The pharisees were straight out hypocrites with far less than honorable intentions and didn't seek to please YHWH as much as they sought prestige among and the honor of men as they oppressed others to attain both. Can you see the difference? The Law is perfect, right and clean (See Psalm 19:7-10), but the pharisees misused it and that is what Messiah condemned them for. Think about it, would our Messiah, the very Son of the Most High encourage people to transgress the Law of His Father? Would the Most High actually punish anyone or call them a "legalist" because they sought to relish and keep His Law? While the Law doesn't save us (make NO mistake about that...ONLY Messiah saves!), the Law does help us live moral, upright lives. It helps us to coexist more peaceably and to focus more on His will than the will of an evil world. Seeking to abide by it is pleasing to the Father and I hardly think He labels us as a legalist for doing so!

Birthdays are non-biblical, as are anniversaries, national and state holidays, yet we keep each of those and even look forward to doing so. Yet, with a delightful day of rest and focus on our Father...a day He made holy and a day where He rested, we say it is no longer relevant or necessary to do so. Let's remember that Yahushua said:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

(Matthew 5:18)

Did I miss heaven and earth passing? No? I didn't think so. LOL Yahushua clearly states that He didn't come to destroy the Law (which includes the Sabbath), but He came to fulfil it (as in perform it. See Strongs 4137).

Here are a few more New Testament scriptures which help us understand the importance of the Sabbath:

Matthew 12 and Mark 2 and 3 Yahushua teaches against a legalist judgment with an impure heart, NOT against Sabbath keeping. (In Mark 2:22, specifically, He also says that Sabbath was made FOR man...note He didn't say for Israelites, but for MAN. YHWH made if FOR me and I'm happy to accept it, lol).

Matthew 24:20 Sabbath will be being kept at the end of this age. Why would Yahushua say this if it were going to be abolished after His death???

Matthew 28:1 shows us that Yahushua's followers were still keeping Sabbath after His death. They wouldn't even visit the sepulchre until AFTER Sabbath. Wouldn't they have known if it was abolished? Wouldn't they have arrived at the sepulchre sooner, rather than wait until this holy day had ended? Luke 23:56 even says they kept it according to the commandment! Were they legalists too? Was Yahushua a legalists since He kept it as evidenced in Matthew 12, Mark 1, 2, 3, 6, Luke 4, 6, 13 and 14 and John 5? He even said He was Lord of the Sabbath, yet He kept it...why? Because it's good! It's holy! It's made FOR us as in for our benefit! There's nothing bad about it, but everything good in keeping it. It is rest and it is dedication to Him and I can find no reason NOT to do it.

Colossians 2:16-17 tells us that Sabbath days (and feasts) "are" a shadow of things to come. Paul didn't say they "were" a shadow, but that they "are" a shadow. Sounds like they were currently still in effect at the time of his writing.

So, for me, Sabbath is a good thing. It's not a burden and it's no longer something I seek to avoid. I've found it a joy and, yes, there are times when I don't keep it perfectly. I'm still a work in progress, but it gives me something to look forward to, something to strive for and I so cherish the peace that a good Sabbath day does bring me. On days when I fall short, I know I'm forgiven because of Yahushua, so even then, I'm tuned into appreciating Him more and more.

Sometimes I don't feel like I particularly need the rest. I mean, I don't work and I have no real pressures or stress to deal with. But, then, I can't imagine Elohim or Yahushua needed it either, lol. I think it's less about a physical rest, but more about a rest in in turning our focus away from everything (even things we might like to do, but have little to do with His glory). Yahushua is our rest and Sabbath helps me tune out everything, but Him. On that day, I don't chit chat on the phone (unless it's a Spiritual conversation), I don't watch much television (only Spiritual programming, no news or non-religious documentaries, etc.). I don't cook or clean, but my whole day is focused on learning or teaching others about Him.

I also am blessed in that I'm able to attend a Christian, pentecostal church who offers services on Sabbath and on Sundays! Now, Mr. Free doesn't have the same Sabbath convictions as me (yet, lol), so we used to go to this same church on Sundays. Now, however, we've taken to attending on Sabbath, so we haven't had to change churches and we're both at ease where we are.

There's so much more I could post on the topic, but it's getting late and really I just wanted to share a little of my pov. I know many will disagree with my opinions, but this is a personal choice. I don't seek to judge anyone who doesn't observe Sabbath, but to share why it is a joy and an honor for me to do so.

I may write more later. In fact, I'm sure I will as I'm constantly learning and experiencing more from my Sabbath observance. But, hopefully, you've gained some insight into my thoughts and, hopefully, you can respect them.

Yahweh's blessings and revelation to all!


P.S. It's late...I'll proofread and edit later. ;)


Kate said...

That was beautifully put. My neice (5 years old at the time) was asked in Sunday school to pick from a series of pictures which would be a good way to keep the Sabbath holy. She chose a picture of a family fishing. The dissapointed teacher said, "Can you think about Jesus while your fishing?" My neice looked up with all the matter-of-facteness she could emote and said, "I can think about Jesus while I'm fishing." Out of the mouths of babes!

FreeIndeed said...

Thanks, Kate. :)

Your niece sounds like a very wise little girl. ;)