We have written a few articles about the Sabbath before, however, circumstances have prompted me to write this to you. Circumstances that were caused by my poor planning and wrong choices. Do you realize how easy it is to compromise? It just kind of happens, and you only notice it when it’s already too late. So, please read this; maybe it will help you not to make the same mistakes.
Let me tell you what happened. It is Sabbath today, and we had to get up at seven to be in time for an appointment with someone who may be in need of company. I am not even sure; we’ll see. However, the problem started earlier. We usually prepare quite extensively for the Sabbath, we, for example, clean the house and prepare food for “erev shabbat” dinner and for the next day. That makes for a busy day and the Sabbath starting at five o’clock doesn’t make it easy to get everything done on time.
During the week, I organized two appointments for Friday, with professionals to give us a quote on something we have to do in the house. That was my first mistake, I thought I would be able to fit it all in. These appointments caused a late start to dinner preparation, which resulted in a lot of chaos when the recipe we tried for dessert was not working out as it should. We ended up with Sabbath starting while still frantically busy in the kitchen and with half the house not as tidy as I would have liked it to be. However, there was no time to do anything about the state of the house, but we had to eat, so we had to all pitch in, in order to get the food ready.
A few other bad choices caused us to go to bed very late. This morning we had to get up early because of this appointment. It turned out fine, by the way, but the leisurely Sabbath morning was disrupted by having to get ready earlier that usual. On top of that, we started the day feeling very tired because of lack of sleep. Not exactly the kind of Sabbath we are used to…
Remember the Sabbath
Later, when I did my Bible study, I got some very gentle reminders on what the Sabbath is actually about and I had to repent of my poor planning and wrong choices. Worst part is, I pulled my family into this. So, having repented is one thing, but repentance means turning back and not doing the same sin again. Yes, what I did was sin, I did not “remember” the Sabbath and did not set it apart as a result of nor “remembering.” (You will understand later why I put “remember” in quotes.)
YHVH commanded us to remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy (set apart.)
8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of YHVH your Elohim; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 “For in six days YHVH made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore YHVH blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
What does it actually mean to remember the Sabbath? The Hebrew word “zakar” is translated as remember.
2349 I. זָכַר (zā·ḵǎr): v.; ≡ Str 2142; TWOT 551—1. LN 29.6–29.12 (qal) remember, i.e., to recall information or events (2Ki 9:25); (nif) remembered (Eze 33:13); 2. LN 29.16–29.18 (qal) remember, i.e., to recall information or events, with a focus on responding in an appropriate manner (Ex 6:5); (qal pass.) be remembered (Ps 103:14), see also 2345; (nif) remembered, invoked (Hos 2:19); (hif) mention, remind, cause to remember (Ge 40:14); 3. LN 33.218–33.223 (hif) proclaim, tell, i.e., assert truths about one, as one speaks publicly, implying that this information has been known before (Jer 4:16)2
When I read this verse now, after looking at the meaning of the word, it has new meaning to me. We are to remember the Sabbath in everything we do, even during the week, and plan accordingly. “Remember with a focus on responding in an appropriate manner. “ For, if we don’t plan, we end up like I did, compromising and breaking YHVH’s commandment by not setting this day apart.
Maybe YHVH specifically commanded us to remember the Sabbath because He knows how easily we “forget.” After having kept the Sabbath for so many years, I also “forgot” in a way as I was not diligent in remembering, assuming that it would be fine. YHVH is faithful though and showed me the error of my ways. I am so thankful for that.
Keep the Sabbath
We are not only commanded to remember the Sabbath, but also to keep it. In Leviticus 26:2 YHVH commanded us to keep His Sabbaths. Why did YHVH use a different word here?
2 ‘You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am YHVH.
The Hebrew word “samar” was used here. No word in Scripture is redundant, so lets look at the meaning of this word.
9068 שָׁמַר (šā·mǎr): v.; ≡ Str 8104; TWOT 2414—1. LN 13.1–13.47 (qal) keep, i.e., cause a state or condition to remain (Job 2:6; Ps 17:4); (qal pass.) be kept, set aside (1Sa 9:24+); (hitp) keep oneself (2Sa 22:24; Ps 18:24[EB 23]+); 2. LN 37.119–37.126 (qal) guard, watch, i.e., limit access and movement of persons or objects in and out of an area, implying protection to or from the object being guarded (Ge 3:24); (qal pass.) be secured (2Sa 23:5; Ecc 5:12[EB 13]+), note: for qal act. ptcp. as noun, see 9070.5; 3. LN 36.12–36.30 (qal) observe, keep, i.e., obey a command with diligence and in detail (Lev 19:30); (hitp) observe for oneself (Mic 6:16+); 4. LN 27.55–27.60 (qal) be careful, beware, pay attention, make sure, watch oneself, guard oneself, i.e., learn or remember information and take care to watch for dangers (Dt 5:32); (nif) be careful (Ex 23:21); 5. LN 35.36–35.46 (qal) care for, tend, keep, attend to, take care of an object, implying concern for the objects cared for (Hos 12:13[EB 12]), note: this can be animals or other objects; (nif) cared for (Hos 12:14[EB 13]); 6. LN 31.82–31.101 (qal) revere, cling to, i.e., have a worshipful trust and reliance on an object of deity, as an extension of carefully guarding or caring for an object (Ps 31:7[EB 6]); (piel) cling to, revere, care for (Jnh 2:9[EB 8]+)2
Wow, just consider the rich meaning of this word and see how beautifully it connects with the previous word we looked at. “Samar” means to set aside, guard, watch, observe, be careful, beware and to pay attention. It is almost as if YHVH, knowing our nature, warns us with these words “zakar” and “samar.” We need to heed this warning, for if we don’t, we will compromise and break His commandments.
You know; this also helped me understand Jewish halacha a bit better. We do not agree with all their extra laws and restrictions, but I can certainly see the intention behind it. They have put fences in place in order to remember and guard the Sabbath better. This is not a problem, as long as we know what is commanded by YHVH and what is man’s laws. It does make it difficult though, especially for new believers to differentiate between YHVH’s commandments and those of man. We, therefor, advice against following these extra instructions.
All we need to do according to Scripture is to remember and guard the Sabbaths(plural, referring to the feast days and Sabbatical years also), and every person will do this in a different way. Do it in your own special way, by considering what you do before you do it and by planning ahead of time. YHVH will show you His way, and He will show you when you stray from it like He showed me on this day.
You know what’s great about making mistakes? Learning from them, because it makes our foundation stronger, as long as we remember what we have learned. That is also why we get to read about all the mistakes of the Israelites, it is instruction for us.
Why am I carrying on about this?
We have been keeping the Sabbath for many years and have come to experience the Sabbath as our life-line, a true delight. Keeping the Sabbath day makes it possible for us to cope with all the stresses we experience during the week. Even more so, it strengthens us spiritually to face life with all its challenges. It also builds our faith and makes our foundation stronger through study and fellowship. When you have been keeping the Sabbath for quite a while, you tend to take this for granted, you may even think you have it all figured out. That is a huge mistake! The Apostle Paul taught: ” let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall“
1 Corinthians 10:12
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
A very valid warning for every one of us. Do you understand now why YHVH commanded us to remember and guard the Sabbath? Two small words, but so profound!
So why do we actually need to set this day apart? We shall give you a very concise answer to this question. If you’d like more detail, you could go and read the previous articles about Shabbat as we go into much more detail. You will find a link to all the previous articles underneath this post under the heading related articles.
Why do we need to set this day apart?
We as human beings, tend to drift off in our own direction. YHVH gave us this day to re-calibrate us in a way. It brings us back to our Creator and gives us enough time with Him to re-align us with Him and His way for another week in the world.
Not only do we re-charge spiritually, because we spend time with YHVH, we also rest physically from our labors. This is beneficial to our health. So, if we keep the Sabbath as YHVH Intended, we will enter His rest physically and spiritually, and we will experience His peace during the day and be refreshed afterwards. It is up to us to choose to remember and guard this day in order to keep it set apart. We can easily sabotage this day if we don’t.
On set apartness; we are busy with an extensive study on the meaning of set apartness, so please subscribe to make sure you don’t miss this.
In conclusion, we want to press you on the heart to remember and guard the Sabbath. Don’t assume anything. Plan diligently to set this day apart. It was important to YHVH from the very beginning, He blessed this day and set it apart. It is a sign that we are His. Don’t take it for granted and don’t start compromising. Heed this warning for it is life to you in more than one way. Choose life!
19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Y’shua for Jesus.
- Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
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