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.