Title:  Shabbat/Sabbath
The Historical Background
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“The Lord said to Moses,  Speak to the Israelites  and say to them: These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies. There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord.” 
Leviticus 23:1-3
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Star of David It might surprise some to see a discussion of the Biblical holidays start with  Shabbat/Sabbath
Star of David After all, this is such a common day. It occurs once a week.
Star of David However, the Jewish perspective is different.
Star of David It is not that Shabbat is so common, but that it is so special, that we observe it every 7 days.
Star of David With that in mind, it is perfectly logical to mention the Sabbath/Shabbat at the head of this study on the Feast.

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"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."

Genesis 2:3

Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.

Exodus 20:8 
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Many Christians still remain uncomfortable over the issue of the Sabbath day.  Observing Sunday as a memorial of the resurrection of our Lord is our traditional day of worship, and yet many are disturbed over this issue.
Anyone who thinks this is a simple issue to resolve hasn’t studied it very carefully!
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A number of key questions still remain unresolved for some:

1.  Did God institute the Sabbath just for Israel?

2.  Is a Christian supposed to keep the Ten Commandments?

3.  Does a Christian have to keep the Sabbath?

4.  When did Sunday replace Saturday as "the holy day?"


Noah’s Animals

Various animals walking in pairs

How many of each animal did Noah take into the ark? Often overlooked is the fact that Noah was to take seven of the
"clean" and only two of the "unclean."  But how did Noah know which were "clean" and which were "unclean?"
Genesis 7:2

The plan of redemption was being taught in Genesis 3:21 ("Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them."): not by their own efforts, but by the shedding of innocent blood they would be covered.
It seems that many concepts which were placed in the Law under Moses had previously been ordained in Eden.  So, as with many Biblical concepts, we must look at the scriptures prior to the scriptures describing the institution of the Sabbath.

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The Origin of the Sabbath
Jesus emphasized that:
"The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."

Mark 2:27 

A whirling cloud causing text to be written on a stone tablet depicting God writing the ten commandments

His words point back before the Ten Commandments, to the original purpose and will of God.  The Sabbath came into being when man came into being.  It was set apart and blessed-as a divine example for the use and benefit of man, at the Creation.
Genesis 2:1-3

First Mention

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The first mention of the

(from the Hebrew verb shabbat , meaning "to rest from labor"; the day of rest)
is in
Exodus regarding the gathering of manna:

"And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning."

Exodus 16:23
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Star of David Notice that this is four chapters before the Law was given at Mt. Sinai. 
Star of David They were to gather twice as much on the sixth day in anticipation of a day they were apparently already observing.
Star of David It is clear that the Sabbath had been instituted long before the giving of the Law at Sinai:  it was ordained in Eden.

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The Decalogue

Moses holding up the ten commandments tablet

And, of course, the Sabbath was included in the Ten Commandments:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."
Exodus 20:8
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That the Sabbath had been ordained prior to Sinai is even accounted for in the very wording of
Exodus 20:8: "Remember…"
The word,

The Sabbath was part of the covenant, which God made with
Israel at Sinai.

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Appropriate For All People


Star of David This ordination of the Seventh Day acknowledges the moral duty of man to worship his Creator.
Star of David It also recognizes the basic need of man for a weekly day of rest.
Star of David Man is so made that his body needs at least one day in seven for rest from ordinary labor.
Star of David God even established Himself as the ultimate example as He rested on the seventh day (Gen 2:2).  How can we ignore this day?  If you love God, you need to spend time with Him.  (In contrast to our hectic pace as double-income families, etc.)
Star of David The failure to set aside the seventh day may account for the toll of stress in our modern society. 

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 The New Testament Period    As time passed, the true meaning of the Sabbath had been masked by the multitude of restrictions laid upon its observance; it had become largely external and formal and, of course, as the rules surrounding the observance of the Sabbath multiplied, so did the fanciful and far-fetched rituals to get around them. Star of David
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 It was Jesus’ custom to attend the synagogue on the Sabbath.    It was to be expected that Jesus would come into conflict with the Jewish leadership over the Sabbath.

Rabbi's perusing a Torah

 For the Pharisees, Sabbath law had become more important than the reason for the Sabbath.

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 The true intent of God’s law is to promote love for God and for others. Don’t blindly keep a law without looking carefully at the reason for the Law. The spirit of the law is usually more important than the letter.

A scroll unrolling and being written upon

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

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 Jesus Asserted His lordship over the Sabbath

Star of David This ordination of the Seventh Day acknowledges the moral duty of man to worship his Creator.
Star of David There were seven healings on the Sabbath. (However, there were also healings on other non-Sabbath days. In all of these instances, Jesus showed that He placed human need above mere external ceremonial observance of the Sabbath. He never did or said anything to suggest that He intended to take away from man the privileges afforded by such a day of rest.
Star of David The Seventh day Shabbat is a wonderful reminder of a coming day of rest set aside to rest in the Messiah. The 1000 year Kingdom of Jesus will be a beautiful time of rest and corporate worship to the King.
Star of David Our God is Jewish. "Salvation is of the Jews." All of our benefits came from the Abrahamic covenant. We are grafted in the true olive tree, from the root of Abrahamic covenant (Romans 11).
Star of David We should not forget that we serve the King of the Jews. We are members of a church founded by Jewish leaders; our highest authority is a Jewish Bible. While we have been freed from the law, we still can enjoy the benefits of Creation.

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 So the question is, Can we enjoy the benefits of the Sabbath without "coming under the law?" [We adopt other Jewish practices to our benefit without incurring the burdens of the law: circumcision (for hygienic reasons), some of the dietary practices, etc.] As we wait for the Kingdom to come…let us experience the truth of Shabbat/Sabbath in our daily walk. Jesus said:

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  “Come unto me,
all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28
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As we celebrate the Sabbath/Shabbat, may spiritual rest in Jesus/Yeshua constantly be our experience!
Bible on a table with candles in background

So let’s move on to our next feast.
This link will take you to:

In His Love
Shalom, bj

Written by Billye Jeane Mercer


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