Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 11/29/2011

THE SABBATH – what is it really?

As believers in Yeshua, we have lost much of what the Sabbath is supposed to be, according to God. Sadly, many Jewish people have also lost the observance and traditions of this holy day that God gave all of mankind, (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” Gen. 2:3) to be observed every week, beginning on Friday evening at sundown through Saturday at sundown. However, when I was in Israel, I was impressed on Friday afternoon by the way the streets clear out, shops close, people rush home to change into their best clothing, and prepare to ‘cease or desist’ from all work and other distractions. For those who observe this commandment totally, it is a blessing. Beginning with the lighting of the Sabbath candles by the maternal figure in the home, through the end of a totally relaxing Saturday, families enjoy one another, they consume good food and wine, use their best tablecloths, dinnerware, sing songs, pray together, focus on the Lord and scriptures, attend synagogue. It really is a major ‘holiday’ every week! Whether you believe the Creation as a literal 7 days or 7,000 years, God set apart the 7th ‘day’ for rest. This is for our benefit and blessing.

“Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. You have six days to labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat for ADONAI your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work. . . For in six days ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why ADONAI blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.” (Exodus 20:8-11)

The Sabbath is for all mankind – given before the Ten Commandments were issued, guarded by Israel for centuries, and guaranteed in eternity to all who trust the Lord. Yeshua (Jesus) encouraged us to get past the traditions that had obscured the true meaning of Shabbat. He wants us to experience the blessing of rest, the remembrance of the Creation, the recollection of the covenant God made with Israel, and the realization that Shabbat is a picture of eternity – one that mankind can enjoy in this present age. He observed Shabbat each week, as did his disciples and later the apostle Paul (rabbi Sha’ul). When Yeshua returns to earth He will continue to observe not only Shabbat, but all the other Jewish feasts – because HE IS STILL A JEW!! Christianity’s Jewish roots and observances have been largely lost to us, but they will return with Messiah! Believers in Messiah will also celebrate these feasts in the Millennium and beyond.

To celebrate Shabbat at home, there is a need to ‘plan ahead’ – on Friday the mother figure cleans the house, prepares the table and the food ahead of time – she bakes or buys Challah bread. Spiritually, folks read scripture and prepare their hearts to meet ADONAI in a special way. They ‘welcome the Sabbath as a queen’. Some families even wear Shabbat robes, also skull caps (yarmulkes/kippahs). There may be guests who arrive on time, saying ‘Shabbat Shalom’ (May you have a Sabbath of peace. . . even into eternity). The dinner has been freshly prepared, no leftovers or microwave food. The candle lighting is in remembrance of God saying “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). Prayers are recited, blessings are said over the wine and the bread.   There is a hand washing ritual, a blessing over the children. Then a relaxing and delicious meal –conversations should be of God, family, friends and Scripture. After the meal, Grace is said where they thank God for the meal. Some families will attend synagogue later in the evening. I was in a hotel restaurant on a Shabbat evening in Jerusalem and observed a family celebrating Shabbat right there amidst the other diners. It was lovely – they were all dressed up, lit their candles, wore their skullcaps, prayed and sang, and seemed to be having a wonderful time together. The children were especially excited.

On Saturday there is synagogue again. The service is followed by ‘oneg’ which is a luncheon. I recently partook of a lavish oneg at the messianic congregation Temple Yeshua in Newton, MA, where I and my friends were warmly welcomed and included. Later in the day families may nap, study their bibles, pray, visit friends/relatives, walk, read, listen to/play music – just not work! Often there is a hearty stew called Cholent which has been previously prepared for the Saturday evening meal. The ‘separation’ or Havdalah happens at sundown and the transition from sacred to secular begins the work week. There is a ceremony that goes along with that and the people wish one another Shavu’ah Tov (a good week!)

This is a very sketchy explanation of the Shabbat observance; it really is very rich when celebrated according to scripture. God would love us all to observe the Shabbat in these ways.

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Responses

  1. from Jim Martin:
    HI ELENA, I LIKED YOUR POST ABOUT THE SABBATH. I GOT QUITE AN AWAKENING BY PARTICIPATING IN SABBATH SEDER SUPPERS WHILE IN ISRAEL. EVERYONE IN ISRAEL CELEBRATES THE SABBATH. IT’S AGAINST THE LAW TO DRIVE A CAR THERE AFTER SUNSET. THERE’S NO ONE ON THE STREETS. ALL BUSINESSES ARE CLOSED. IT’S SO QUIET, LIKE THE TOWN OF JERUSALEM IS EMPTY. I WAS SO HUNGRY ONE SABBATH EVENING, I WALKED FROM THE OLD TOWN OVER THE HILL TOWARDS THE BIG OUTDOOR MARKET WHERE THE SUICIDE BOMBERS USED TO BLOW THEMSELVES UP DURING THE DAY. THE SUN WAS NOT DOWN YET, BUT EVERYONE WAS HEADING HOME AND VERY FEW CARS WERE TO BE SEEN. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THERE WAS A McDONALD’S OPEN 24/7. SO I STOPPED THERE FOR A BIG MAC. IT WAS THE WORST CHEESEBURGER I’D EVER HAD IN MY LIFE! I GUESS G-D WAS TELLING ME SOMETHING. I GOBBLED IT DOWN AND HEADED BACK TO MY ROOM BEFORE THE SUN WENT DOWN. THE SABBATH IS STILL VERY HOLY THERE. JIM


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