The Blessing of Sabbath

Shabbat. Sabbath. The Lord’s Day. A day of rest. The seventh day. A holy day. The weekly holiday. These are just a few of the many names Shabbat or Sabbath goes by. But what is Sabbath really? The Torah, or the Word of God, tells us that this day is many things for the people of God. It is an everlasting sign of our covenant with YHVH (God) to be observed throughout our generations, it is a joy, it is a holy day, and it is life-giving to all those who guard it.

My grandmother raised my mom to observe Sabbath, who then taught me and my sister about Shabbat. While I can’t say that we always observed sabbath growing up, we did our best to try and now, because of the faithfulness of my grandmother, her children’s children love and guard the Sabbath of YHVH just as much as she does.

We always knew that the true day of Sabbath was Friday night to Saturday night and this confused me growing up in a church that said it had been changed to Sunday. It wasn’t until I was in college that I would find out the truth behind why this holy day was changed from the Friday/Saturday model to Sunday.

In Daniel 7:25, we are told, “and it [the fourth beast/the anti-Christ] speaks words against the Most High, and it wears out the set-apart ones of the Most High and it intends to change appointed times and law, and they [the set-apart ones] are given into its hand for a time and times and half a time.” From Daniel’s vision, we are told that the spirit of the anti-Christ is to change the appointed times and the law; change can include adding or taking away. What are the appointed times? In Hebrew, the word moedim means “feasts, appointed times, celebrations.” The word for “law” in Hebrew is Torah. However, Torah tends to get a bad reputation from this translation. Hebrew is a language of depth and rich with meaning. So to simply say Torah is “law”, we miss so much of the fullness of what it really is. Torah is truly God’s instruction book for His people. It is the righteous right-rulings that we are to live by. Just as our earthly father would establish rules for living in his house, our heavenly Father has rules for His house. So when any person tells us something that changes Torah, whether by adding or taking away from, we know this to be the spirit of the anti-Christ trying to destroy the ways of God and His people.

In 325 AD, Constantine, Emperor of Rome, held the First Council of Nicaea. It was through the Council of Nicaea that Constantine established many of the fundamental elements of Christianity as we know it today. Constantine was a relatively new ruler and many riots were breaking out at this time due to religious clashes between the Jews of conquered Jerusalem and the Romans who were now flocking to Jerusalem. In order to quench the riots, Constantine made a compromise between the two religions. He took the Nazarene faith (believers of Yeshua/Jesus) and mixed it with Mithraism (sun worship). He took the Nazarene’s belief in Yeshua and the sun worship of the pagan Romans and created the new “universal” religion of Catholicism. By taking elements of both religions, Constantine hoped to unite these warring factions and bring the people together in unity. We see many examples of this still happening today. We hear messages of “Coexist”, “we all worship the same god”, and “no one’s belief system is wrong.”  One of the elements Constantine kept from sun worship was their most holy day of the week…..SUN-day. This is how Sunday came to replace Friday/Saturday as the Sabbath.        

We can obviously see that the enemy has great motivation to change the system of God and to keep God’s people in the dark on these matters. Genesis 1:14 tells us that the sun, moon, and stars are to be “for signs and appointed times,” meaning that from the beginning there was a system in place that God designed to point us to the times and seasons He had ordained to meet with us. By changing this system, the enemy keeps us from knowing the times to meet with YHVH and keeps us from knowing the times and seasons we are in. Hebrews 4 tells us that Sabbath here on earth is a foreshadow of the ultimate sabbath rest we as believers will enter into one day…meaning dwelling in His Kingdom in the New Jerusalem. But if we don’t understand Shabbat, and more importantly His Torah and all the feasts of YHVH, we will never understand the fullness of the plan He has for us.

I know several people who had said that since they have begun to guard Shabbat, they have seen huge changes in their lives. For instance, they have drawn closer to God, they have seen spiritual blessings multiply in their lives, and they feel the peace of God covering their lives. Isaiah 58:13-14 says,

“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 YHVH ‘esteemed,’ and shall esteem it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in YHVH. And I shall cause you to ride on the heights of the earth, and feed you with the inheritance of Jacob your father. For the mouth of YHVH has spoken!”

So you see, keeping Shabbat is a blessing to those who guard it. We can also see YHVH feels very strongly about Sabbath and that it is to remain a holy, set-apart day. We also see from these verses that we are not to do “our own ways nor find our own pleasure” on Shabbat. This doesn’t mean that you should be unhappy or bored when celebrating Shabbat; it simply means that we are to find our delight in God on this day and not in the common things of life.

For example, keeping the Shabbat holy doesn’t mean you veg out, watch tv and never leave the couch. It means you spend your time with family and friends celebrating all that God has done for you this week. It means setting aside special time with YHVH to tell Him you love Him and in turn, letting Him refresh you and revive you. Setting this day apart as a holy day means not finding your pleasure in the common things of this life but in the holy things of above.

Many people ask, “But I’m not Jewish. Does the Sabbath still apply to me?” The answer is a resounding YES! Isaiah 56:1-7 tells us that any son of a foreigner who joins himself to YHVH, who guards the Sabbath, and holds fast to His covenant will be brought to the mountain of God and will rejoice in His house of prayer. God says He accepts the offerings of the son of a foreigner who joins Himself to YHVH. So we don’t have to be Jewish in order to keep Sabbath; we just have to be willing to join ourselves to the house of God.

There are some people who say that say that the Sabbath doesn’t have to be on a specific day of the week because any day is a good day to worship God. Yes, it is true that you can worship God any day of the week and not only on Sabbath but that doesn’t change the command YHVH gave us to keep this specific day holy. Keeping the Sabbath doesn’t negate worship on any other day and neither should it keep us from worshipping Him every, single day of the week or any time He calls us into prayer and worship. It simply means that there is something special about this day; something that can only happen on this day of the week. When we submit ourselves to our Husband, something incredible happens. We are free. As YHVH draws us close to Him on this day, we are made free to live the life that He desires for us. It is through obedience that we gain life and freedom. So when we choose to be obedient and live our lives as an offering to our Father, it is then that we gain a freedom we have never felt before; it is then that He breathes His spirit into us and refreshes our life.

I have heard it said that by keeping the Sabbath and guarding the Torah, that a person is put back “under the Law” and that these things somehow cancel what Jesus did on the cross. However, Yeshua kept the Sabbath. The Word is clear that He went to synagogue, read the Scriptures, spent time in prayer, taught and fellowshipped with His disciples, and even performed miracles on this day. If we are to strive to live our lives as Yeshua did, why don’t we strive to keep Shabbat as He did? I have never heard anyone say that the command “do not murder” is not to be kept because of Jesus’ death on the cross. We have no problem obeying “do not murder”, “do not commit adultery”, “honor your mother and father” and so on. So why do we have such a problem with Sabbath?     

YHVH and His Word are the same yesterday, today and forever. This means He does not change. His Word does not change. His Word does not contradict itself. YHVH is not the author of confusion; the enemy of the believers is, though. The enemy has a reason to keep us from knowing the truth about YHVH’s Torah, the truth about YHVH’s Ways, and the truth about Shabbat. If he can keep us in the dark and keep us from knowing the truth, it’s only that much easier for him to deceive us. We MUST seek the truth with all our heart! And when we find it, we cannot harden our heart to it. It may go against our traditions or what we were brought up to believe, but ultimately, if our hearts are seeking after YHVH’s truth, we have to let those things go. When we come before YHVH, we conform to His ways; we never make Him conform to our ways. We must be like Ruth who said, “Your God will be my God and your people shall be my people. Ba’asher telchi elech. Wherever you go, there I shall go.” It might be hard. Others may not understand or agree with what we are doing, but really, our goal in this life is to be a pleasing sacrifice to YHVH, not man.

Shabbat Shalom!

 

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6 thoughts on “The Blessing of Sabbath

  1. Wow Ash! What a wonderful and joyous feeling for me to read your post. Very proud of you. I can see you run for political office one day. Our country needs more young God fearing people like you to guide our GREAT country. May God bless you as I know he will.

  2. Awesome Ashley-what I love is they are called the feasts of The Lord not the feasts of the Jews. People have asked me if I was trying/becoming Jewish and I tell them no-The Lord called them
    His feasts and it was an ordinance to be observed forever (continually, perpetually and without interruption) by those that belong to Him.

  3. Amen! That was so informative and well written. I’m so proud of you. Can’t wait to read your first published book. I’m going to try to honor God by keeping the sabbath holy, just like I was brought up to do. Hope lots of people read this! Blessings always!

  4. Hey Ashley! I enjoyed reading your post. In it you mention that we should celebrate the feasts of the Lord mentioned in Leviticus. This is actually something that has been on my mind a bit lately. I don’t know about you but I don’t grow my own food to give as an offering or have any goats or rams hanging around to sacrifice. I agree with you that we are called to celebrate these feasts but how are we to do that in modern-day America?

    • Hey Nikki!
      Thanks for reading the blog and leaving a comment! I’m glad to hear it struck a chord with you and confirmed the things God has already been putting on your heart. In regard to your question about how to celebrate the feasts of YHVH in modern-day America, I would say that is a great question! I get asked this all the time and it is something that I have had to do a lot of praying about myself. I think your question is really two-fold about sacrifices and how to keep the feasts so I will do my best to answer both parts.

      The first thing I would encourage you to do is to take your concerns to the Father. Ultimately, since they are His feasts, He knows how He wants each of us to celebrate them. Secondly, no, I certainly do NOT grow my own food or keep a herd of goats! I think this could be a disaster for me and the goats! In last week’s Torah portion (the weekly reading from the Torah), it spoke about sacrifices. The question that came up in my group was “how are we supposed to obey these commands today?”

      The answer, in my opinion, is that we don’t have a temple and therefore can’t offer these sacrifices…and neither should we try. These sacrifices were only meant to be offered within the structure and system of the Temple. This system includes the Levitical priests. They are the only ones who can perform these rituals and sacrifices. They have been trained and taught the proper ways to carry out these ceremonies. However, even they can get it wrong. Remember the story of Aaron’s sons who “offered strange fire to YHVH?” They were immediately consumed for this. So, to answer your question about animal/harvest sacrifice, I would say this: since we do not have a temple, this is something we can’t do right now. However, we should still try to apply this to our lives by living our lives as a daily offering and living sacrifice to YHVH in our words, actions and deeds.

      Now to answer your question about the feasts. The feasts each have their own theme and purpose (and I will be posting an article for each as we approach the feasts) but if you can do something to capture the meaning and purpose of each feast, then you are keeping them. For instance, Passover is the next one coming up in April. The theme is to remember when our forefathers left Egypt or bondage. For us, remembering how YHVH has delivered us from bondage in our lives is a good place to start. It is also capturing the spirit of Passover to pray and ask God in what areas of your life are you still living in bondage? In what ways have you not left Egypt? Also taking part in a Seder is another good idea! Preferably at a congregation that recognizes Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah so that you can see the fullness of having Him at the center.

      The bottom line is that we will never keep the feasts perfectly here on earth, although, that doesn’t mean we give up on them altogether. Some aspects, like animal sacrifice, we cannot keep at all as these were jobs ONLY the Levites as priests could perform. To have someone who is not a Levite and not trained how to perform these rituals properly is just as bad as not celebrating them at all.

      I hope this answered your questions and was helpful. I hope you stick with the blog as I will be posting things on the feasts as we approach each one with specific applications for our lives today. Let me know if you have any other questions. You can also email me at avoiceinthedesert@yahoo.com or see more posts on FB at my “Voice in the Desert” page.

      Remember, the Word of God is living and active…it never changes and never ceases to exist. It is still applicable to our lives today.

  5. Very insightful and informative! Very refreshing and revealing, thanks for sharing.

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