To observe the Sabbath is to experience a little bit of eternity. When we spend the Sabbath in the way YHVH intended for us to spend it, we experience blessing, joy, love and insurmountable peace. It becomes the center of the week, a day to look forward to, a delight indeed. My favorite day of the week. In this article we will look at the practical observance of the Sabbath. Many people are new to this, but even for those who have been keeping the Sabbath for years, let this be a refresher for you. We all need it sometimes just to refocus or to realize how good we have it to be able to celebrate the Sabbath in freedom.
I do believe that the Sabbath is one of YHVH’s most important commandments. You probably wonder why I say so? There are a few reasons which we will briefly touch on later in this article. Proof of this is that this commandment is the one out of the ten commandments that was changed. The result of this is that millions are deceived, thinking they are observing YHVH’s day of rest. We were also brought up going to church on Sunday, the first day of the week, and we never questioned this, until YHVH opened our eyes to His truth. This truth is being restored in our day. Many people are discovering that they have been lied to. Many more are still blind to the truth or rebelling against it. If you are not yet observing the Sabbath, ask YHVH to reveal His truth to you and wait on Him. He is faithful, He will show you. That is what happened to us, we asked YHVH to reveal His truth to us, and the Sabbath was the first truth He showed us. The next step is to walk in obedience and when we do that, YHVH will reveal even more to us.
To make changes is never easy, but take the first step in faith. YHVH will help you and you will grow in your obedience and you too will call the Sabbath a delight.
The Sabbath enables us to rest physically and Spiritually. It is like an oasis in the desert of life. Like being in a cocoon, safe from the challenges we have to face every day. A day to forget about our troubles and focus on YHVH, on His Word, on family and rest. It reminds me of Psalm 23.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
On this day, YHVH restores our souls and guides us in the paths of righteousness. That is in essence what the Sabbath is about. YHVH made the Sabbath for us to rest and to spend time with Him, to learn about Him.
27 Y’shua said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
If you would like to learn more about other facets of the Sabbath, you can read the other articles we have written about this special day.
Here are links to all the articles:
The focus of this article is the delight aspect of the Sabbath, but we will briefly touch on the two most important reasons why we say the Shabbat is, in our opinion, one of the most important commandments.
The Sabbath, an everlasting covenant, and a sign forever
The commandment to keep the Sabbath was intended to be an everlasting covenant. A covenant cannot be broken. We have previously written a series of articles on covenants and in Breaking the Covenant – Covenants Part 2 you can read more about the nature of covenants.
In Exodus 31, YHVH spells it out to us.
16 ‘So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17 “It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days YHVH made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”
From this verse, we learn that the Sabbath is a perpetual (everlasting) covenant and a sign between YHVH and His people, forever. In Isaiah 66, we read about YHVH’s judgment and the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem comes down from heaven after the return of Y’shua, and the Sabbath still being observed.
23 “And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says YHVH.
In Isaiah 56, has the same theme, the return of Y’shua and the perpetual nature of the Sabbath.
1 Thus says YHVH, “Preserve justice and do righteousness, For My salvation is about to come And My righteousness to be revealed. 2 “How blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who takes hold of it; Who keeps from profaning the sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
I want to focus on the phrase “for My salvation is about to come” The Hebrew word that was used here is “Y’shua”
3802 יְשׁוּעָה (yešû·ʿā(h)): n.fem. [see also 3802.5]; ≡ Str 3444; TWOT 929b—1. LN 21.9–21.13 deliverance, safety, rescue, i.e., to be in a state of freedom from danger (Ex 14:13); 2. LN 21.25–21.32 salvation, i.e., deliverance in a religious sense (Ps 62:2[EB 1]); 3. LN 39.52–39.61 victory, i.e., the act. of conquering another entity (2Sa 22:51); 4. LN 12.1–12.42 Savior, i.e., a title of God (Dt 32:15; Ps 42:6[EB 5],12[EB 11]; 43:5; 68:20[EB 19]; 89:27[EB 26])2
The Hebrew word “bo” was translated as “come”
995 בּוֹא (bô(ʾ)): v.; ≡ Str 935; TWOT 212—1. LN 15.1–15.17 (qal) come/go, i.e., make linear movement of a general kind (Ge 20:13), note: often another Hebrew word in context will make clear a direction, goal, or source of this movement; 2. LN 15.81–15.87 (qal) arrive, come, i.e., make linear movement to a particular reference point (Ne 2:7); 3. LN 34.1–34.21 (qal) be included, i.e., be in an association with others in a limited group (2Sa 23:19); 4. LN 15.88–15.92 (qal) return, i.e., come back to a prior point from which one previously departed (1Ki 22:27); 5. LN 15.158–15.159 (qal) pursue, i.e., follow after in haste and intensity (Ex 14:17); 6. LN 13.104–13.163 (qal) happens, formally, come, i.e., have an event or state happen (Ps 44:18[EB 17]; Pr 18:3); 2
In Isaiah 56, we are commanded to preserve justice and do righteousness, for Y’shua is about to come, and YHVH’s righteousness revealed. Y’shua is YHVH’s righteousness. Blessed are they who do not profane YHVH’s Sabbath when this happens.
The Sabbath is for all people
For those who still say it is just for the Jews, read the rest of Isaiah 56.
6 “Also the foreigners who join themselves to YHVH, To minister to Him, and to love the name of YHVH, To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath And holds fast My covenant; 7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
The Sabbath is for all people to be observed forever! Those who do will be blessed by YHVH. Read what is written in Isaiah 58.
How to observe the Sabbath
We know that we are commanded not to do any work on the Sabbath, but it doesn’t stop there.
13 “If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot From doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of YHVH honorable, And honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure And speaking your own word, 14 Then you will take delight in YHVH, And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, For the mouth of YHVH has spoken.”
In Isaiah 58, we learn how to observe the Sabbath. We are to turn our foot from doing our own pleasure. What does this mean to you? To us it means we won’t go to parties, musea or any other public or family entertainment venues. We either go to a Sabbath fellowship or stay home and rest and study. To do this is a delight to us. We set ourselves apart to do the things of YHVH.
J. Martin wrote the following commentary on these two verses:
The focus of the Sabbath is to be on YHVH, not on our pleasure and entertainment. If we do this right, it will be a joy and delight to us. We also don’t discuss financial matters or politics on the Sabbath. In this way, it becomes like an oasis in the desert. A much needed rest from the cares of the world. That may be what is meant by desisting from speaking your own word. It is a deliberate choice we make to make the Sabbath set apart. When we do this, we can really focus on YHVH and then He becomes our delight.
Preparing for the Sabbath
In order for us to focus on YHVH on the Sabbath, we need to be ready for the Sabbath. The day before the Sabbath is a day of preparation for us. We get all our shopping done even before Friday, making sure we have all we need for meal preparation.
No shopping on the Sabbath
We don’t shop on the Sabbath and base it on this passage in Nehemiah.
15 In those days I saw in Judah some who were treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sacks of grain and loading them on donkeys, as well as wine, grapes, figs and all kinds of loads, and they brought them into Jerusalem on the sabbath day. So I admonished them on the day they sold food. 16 Also men of Tyre were living there who imported fish and all kinds of merchandise, and sold them to the sons of Judah on the sabbath, even in Jerusalem. 17 Then I reprimanded the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing you are doing, by profaning the sabbath day?
This is what Nehemiah did:
19 It came about that just as it grew dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and that they should not open them until after the sabbath. Then I stationed some of my servants at the gates so that no load would enter on the sabbath day. 20 Once or twice the traders and merchants of every kind of merchandise spent the night outside Jerusalem.
Just before the Sabbath started, at sunset, the doors were shut to keep the traders and the merchants out in order for people not to buy and sell on the Sabbath. We are also not to buy and sell on the Sabbath, it is clear from this passage that doing it is seen as profaning the Sabbath.
No working on the Sabbath
No work is allowed on the Sabbath, so in preparation for the Sabbath we tidy the house. An untidy house is distracting. It is also in my mind like expecting a special guest. YHVH is always with us, but Shabbat is even more special as we learn from YHVH and His word.
We do clear the table after meals and pack the dishes in the dishwasher, but don’t do any other cleaning.
We also do all the food preparation before the Sabbath commences.
No cooking on the Sabbath
We don’t cook or bake on the Sabbath, but we do warm our food if necessary.
23 then he said to them, “This is what YHVH meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to YHVH. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” 24 So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to YHVH; today you will not find it in the field.
The Israelites prepared their food before the Sabbath, ate and kept what was left over till morning. We do the same, We cook enough for two substantial meals, one meal we have Friday evening around sunset and what is left over we eat at lunchtime on the Sabbath.I say we because I have two helpers. Our son helps with the vegetables and our daughter practices her cooking skills by helping me prepare the food and she also prepares a nice dessert for us. She has become quite a Paleo dessert expert :)
In this way, when we enter into the Sabbath at sunset on Friday evening, we enjoy the rest and peace. This enables us to focus on YHVH.
How we observe the Sabbath
We want to share with you how we observe our Sabbath, not to prescribe to you what to do, but to tell you how we do it. You can develop your own family traditions.
When we started observing the Sabbath many years ago, we incorporated many of the Jewish traditions into our Friday evening meal. Although, it was really lovely, we found that the kids being quite young couldn’t distinguish between what was commanded and what was tradition. This is how we discovered it. We went on holiday and didn’t take all the things we needed for a traditional observance with us. The children were very upset that we didn’t do certain things. That made us realize that while they were young we needed to focus on what was commanded to make sure they understand the difference between what was commanded and what was tradition. From then on they could each choose a tradition every week. They could choose from challah bread, candle lighting, hand washing and the drinking of a kidush. Needless to say the challah bread and grape juice usually made it to the table. (We have written an article on traditions, Traditions – good or bad? you can read it if you would like to learn more.)
After our meal on erev Shabbat, we each share our highlights of the week and then bless each other. Schalk as the head of our home anoints me and the kids with oil and prays for us and I then anoint and pray for him. We drink a “kidush”, listen to music and spend the evening as a family together. It is so amazing, as the sun sets on a Friday evening severe tiredness sets in. It is as if our bodies know it is time for rest now. We usually go to bed early.
On the morning of Shabbat, we either go to the fellowship or sleep in and stay home. When we stay home, we do Bible study, eat a leisurely breakfast, teach the kids and do some more Bible study. If the weather permits, we sometimes go for a walk or a ride on our bicycles. The kids listen to the audio Bible, play, or watch a shabbat appropriate dvd. It is a restful family day with YHVH and His Word as our focus. It is a blessing to us and our children and our favorite day of the week.
So, this is how we do this. We would love to hear how you observe your Sabbath and why you experience it as a blessing and delight.
A blessing taken away
We have seen before that Y’shua said that the Sabbath was made for man. It was given to us as a special blessing. We can lose this special blessing due to sin. We read the following in the book of Hosea:
11 “I will also put an end to all her gaiety, Her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths And all her festal assemblies.
YHVH is speaking to the nation here. This is what happened to us, an end was put to all our festival assemblies. However, the time of Israel’s exile is over. According to calculations, the exile was over in 2009. You can read more about how we get to this in the article Trip Report – Shavuot – Our proclamation. This may be a reason why so many people are awakening to YHVH’s truth to follow His commandments.
However, this can happen again if we continue in unfaithfulness, for that is what we do if we are disobedient to YHVH’s commandments. The result of this unfaithfulness is described in Leviticus 26:14-39. Leviticus 26:1-14 describes the blessings for keeping YHVH’s covenant. However, when you read through the blessings, you see that we are experiencing the opposite. That is because the nation, YHVH’s people are not obedient to His instructions. Many believers are not keeping the Sabbath, the appointed times and the Sabbatical years. These are YHVH’s Sabbaths.
Before YHVH listed the blessings, this is what he said
1 ‘You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am YHVH Lord your Elohim. 2 ‘You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am YHVH. 3 ‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out,
When we read from Leviticus 26:14 onwards, we learn what would happen if we choose disobedience to YHVH’s commandments. We have written a more detailed article about this passage and how YHVH will punish us in cycles of seven years, if we don’t return to Him and obey Him. These cycles of punishment have started and the scary part is that there has been no repentance yet. We are currently in the third cycle of punishment.
Here is an excerpt from the article If you will not return to Me…
- The first cycle of punishment is terror, consumption, and fever, you will sow and your enemies will eat it, those who hate you will rule over you, you will flee when no-one is pursuing you. We see this in the world today: terrorism attacks; chronic diseases like cancer, tuberculosis, lupus, AIDS too many to name; widespread crime and theft, leaders who doesn’t care about their people.
- If we don’t obey; the second cycle of punishment is described with the words: the pride of your power shall be broken; one source has it as “everything they prided themselves with, and had their dependence on, thinking themselves safe on account of them, but should be broken to shivers, and be of no service to them” Gill’s Exposition of the entire Bible. This means that destruction will come, destruction of everything we have built up, everything we are proud of: houses, businesses, all those material things we treasure so much on this earth – maybe through natural disasters? The words “sky like iron and earth like bronze” describes an absence of rain which will cause severe drought and famine on the earth.
- If we don’t obey; the third cycle of punishment is plagues -beasts of the field – these include beasts both great and small. Plagues caused by new strains of bacteria and viruses with the potential to kill millions. They will bereave you of your children. Children are most vulnerable to infections, thus, they would be the first to be impacted by this curse.
- If we don’t obey; the fourth cycle of punishment is war and everything that is associated with it: more famine, more pestilence, more destruction…
- If we still don’t obey, then there will be total destruction and devastation and we will be taken into captivity.
These cycles of punishment run concurrent with the Sabbatical cycles and one a cycle has started it continues. In this way you get one punishment added on top of the previous. In the third cycle, for example, we will experience terror, natural disasters and pestilence. When the next punishment is added, these three would continue.
This is serious, we cannot be complacent and leave it to be. We are to be active in sharing the truth with others. The best way to do this is to live in obedience so we can be a light. One of these ways is to keep the Sabbath holy. When we do this, YHVH will reveal more truth to us and we will learn how to walk in all His ways. Just take that first step, you will see the Sabbath is a delight. Once you have experienced it, you will understand why we as human beings can’t live without it; It fuels our existence, it was made for us.
Consider this and make the necessary changes if you have not been observing YHVH’s day of rest. And if you already do, enjoy! We hope this inspires you to pursue obedience in everything you do.
- 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) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- Martin, J. A. (1985). Isaiah. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, pp. 1113–1114). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
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