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The Significance of the Feasts: Shabbat

In the Bible, there are seven commanded feasts, separated by two seasons — spring and fall. The Spring Feasts represent our personal relationship with God, while the Fall Feasts are all about the nation of Israel and the promises given through Yeshua/Jesus. However, there is one feast that takes place every week that was made especially for us — Shabbat!

Since creation, God displayed the need for a day of rest. For six days, God created the world; however, unlike the other days, God blessed the seventh day, setting it apart from the others. Genesis 2:2-3 reads, “By the seventh day, God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” 

Later on, when God spoke the Law and Commandments to Moses, He once again instructed the Israelites to keep the Sabbath.

Please note: Some people might argue that the Sabbath was not observed until after Mount Sinai; however, BEFORE the commandments were given to Moses, God tested the Israelites when He commanded them to take a double portion of manna on the sixth day since the seventh day was one of rest — so, obviously, they already knew about the Sabbath and understood that they were not to do any work or labor on it. (Exodus 16:4-5

Exodus 20:8-11,Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

 

Over 2,000 years after Mount Sinai (4,000 years from creation), when Yeshua was walking the earth, we read how He kept the Sabbath (Luke 4:16), often using this set-apart day to teach the people to come out from under the man-made rules and guidelines of the Pharisees and religious leaders.

Mark 7:6-9, “He replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.’ And he continued, ‘You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!’”

Though Yeshua healed on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:9-13; Luke 13:10-17); picked grain to eat on the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-27); told a man to take up his mat and walk (John 5:1-14); Yeshua NEVER broke Shabbat! In fact, He was perfect and sinless, meaning He never broke the Law OR the commands of the LORD!

Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

While many Christians believe that Yeshua did away with the Law, therefore making Shabbat and the other feasts obsolete, I want to point out that Yeshua Himself obeyed the Sabbath, feasts, and Mosaic Law (though it is not Moses who breathed these instructions but God Himself — and, aren’t Yeshua and the Father one?! – see John 10:30). Moreover, Yeshua plainly stated in Matthew 5:17-20 that He did not come to abolish the Law! So, if it is to be believed that by ‘fulfilling’ the Law, Yeshua made it void, then how do you explain why the disciples AND Paul continued to obey the Torah and observe Shabbat AFTER Yeshua’s sacrifice on the cross!

Luke 23:54-56, “It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Acts 17:2-4, As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,’ he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.”

So, what is the significance of Shabbat for us today? Well, for starters, this is a feast for our bodies that is scientifically proven to benefit us!

Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” 

In his latest release, Redeeming Your TimeJordan Raynor dedicates an entire chapter to the importance of having a Sabbath rest. Jordan writes, “Sabbath is productive for our souls because it reminds us that ‘all time belongs to God and stands under the renewing lordship of Jesus Christ.’ And ultimately all these rhythms of rest are productive for our souls because they are a means of preaching the gospel to ourselves and those around us. Rest is a way of reminding ourselves that no matter how productive we are, no matter how many good works we accomplish, we are God’s beloved children, in whom he is well pleased.1

Hebrews 4 is another excellent example of why Shabbat is still significant for us today. The chapter literally opens to say, “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it” (Hebrews 4:1) before continuing to explain, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11)

Shabbat can look different for everyone.  My family and I have been observing the Sabbath for over ten years, and we love having this day to sleep in, enjoy a large brunch, and take time off to be still and rejuvenate after a long week. Nevertheless, the fact of the matter remains, the seventh day of each week is a holy assembly with God (Hebrews 4:6-7). While Jordan Raynor and other Christians who have come to understand the importance of having a weekly Sabbath teach that any day can be the Sabbath (in order not to sound legalistic), the Bible does not allude to this. In fact, it explicitly says that there is only one day that God made holy and set apart for His people!

So, which day is the seventh day? According to the Hebrew calendar, the first day of the week is Sunday, so the seventh would be Saturday.

You might be wondering then, why do Christians always worship God on a Sunday if the Sabbath is supposed to be a Saturday? Well, one of the reasons taught by the church is that the Sabbath day was changed to Sunday because Jesus rose on a Sunday, signifying it as the “Lord’s Day”; however, we will see in the next part of this series (Passover) that this is not the case.

In his book, Sunday is Not the Sabbath, Arthur Bailey writes, “Observance of Sunday as the primary day of worship appears to have solidified during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117-135); who harshly persecuted Hebrews throughout the Roman Empire. Hadrian specifically prohibited practices of Judaism, including observance of the seventh-day Sabbath. These oppressive measures apparently influenced many early Christians in Rome to abandon the seventh day Sabbath and turn to Sunday. This day is historically observed by the Romans as a day of veneration of the sun.”2

Like so many traditions and practices adopted by the early church during the reign of Constantine, Sunday has pagan origins and is actually named after the worship of the sun! While many people believe that they can change the meaning of specific days by “celebrating them differently or shining a light in the darkness,” (i.e. celebrating Easter, Halloween, and Christmas while keeping the pagan traditions but changing the names and meanings to be ‘centered’ on Jesus), I would argue that we do nothing but make Satan and the pagans laugh at our ignorance. Learning the root of each practice, holiday, and tradition is vital! The Bible is explicit about solely worshiping the God of Israel (Exodus 34:14), yet through the centuries, believers have adopted many practices that are all about the worship of false gods! Coincidence? I don’t think so…

The Sun-day worship has nothing to do with Christianity, and everything to do with ancient religions. The ancient Greeks felt that the sun was the source of life on the planet, and gave it prime importance in their thinking. When the Romans later adopted the seven-day week, they emphasized their respect for the sun by naming the first day of the week as ‘dies solis,’ or ‘day of the sun.’ According to the Encyclopedia Mythica, ‘sun’s day’ is the name of a pagan Roman holiday. It is also called ‘Dominica’ (Latin), or ‘the Day of God.’”3 (Arthur Bailey, Sunday is Not the Sabbath)

There is no question about it; the seventh day of the week IS a set-apart day (in fact, it is also a perpetual covenant with no end – see Exodus 31:16-18). Though I have often heard people share their fear of losing profit or business if they closed on Saturdays to observe Shabbat, I have also heard many testimonies from those who have stepped out in obedience to God’s Word. Not only did they see an INCREASE in profit, but they were also spiritually renewed too!

So, I want to challenge you this week! Take Shabbat/Saturday off and rest from your work, truly soaking in the stillness of the Father as you replenish your energy from a week of exertion!

If you are reading this and already keep Shabbat, I’d love to hear how you and your family observe this feast day in the comments below!

Shabbat Shalom!

 

Footnotes:
1 Jordan Raynor, Redeeming Your Time (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook, 2021), 142.
2 Arthur Bailey, Sunday is Not the Sabbath (Charlotte, NC: Arthur Bailey Ministries, 2014), 13.

3 Arthur Bailey, Sunday is Not the Sabbath (Charlotte, NC: Arthur Bailey Ministries, 2014), 19.

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