Friday, April 2, 2010

SANCTITY OF THE SABBATH


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Yahweh’s Sabbath has been observed for thousands of years. His Sabbath is observed on the seventh day of the week, not on the first day. (For an explanation of why it is the seventh day of the week and not Sunday as Christianity teaches, please see our article titled “Yahweh’s Sabbath.”)

But truly understanding the Sabbath is a continual learning process. No one has all the answers about it. Questions continue to arise regarding what an individual may or may not do on that day. But the answers should come only from Yahweh’s Word, not from personal opinions or others’ traditions. Consider these questions while reading through the Scriptures that will follow.

QUESTIONS FOR CONSIDERATION


  1. What does Scripture say about the Sabbath? And what does it not say?
  2. Are there other times or days to observe in addition to the weekly Sabbath?
  3. How do instructions for the weekly Sabbath compare to those for the annual Sabbaths?
  4. Is it okay to spend money, shop, or eat out on the Sabbath?
  5. What limitations are placed on our activities for the Sabbaths? What can we do?
  6. Is it okay to have someone work for you on the Sabbath? What if they volunteer and are not paid?
  7. Are there things presently in our individual Sabbath routines that might need reconsideration?
  8. What about a housewife’s duties, such as preparing meals?

WHAT IS THE SABBATH?

When Yahweh created His Sabbath, He did something to set that day apart from the rest of the week. He made that day special, for a specific purpose.

Genesis 2:1-3 1-And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their host. 2-And on the seventh day Elohim completed His work which He had made. And He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. 3-And Elohim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because He rested from all His work on it, which Elohim had created to make.

Yahweh set the example. And He commanded His people to follow it.

Exodus 20:8-11 8-Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy; 9-Six days you shall labor and do all your work; 10-and the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your Elohim; you shall not do any work, you, and your son, and your daughter, your male slave and your slave-girl, and your livestock, and your stranger who is in your gates. 11-For in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all which is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; on account of this Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15 12-Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy; as Yahweh your Elohim has commanded you. 13-Six days you shall labor, and shall do all your work, 14- And the seventh day shall be a Sabbath to Yahweh your Elohim. You shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male slave, nor your female slave, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your livestock, nor your stranger that is within your gates; so that your male slave and your female slave may rest like yourself. 15-And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh your Elohim brought you out from there by a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm. On account of this Yahweh your Elohim has commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

The Sabbath day is to be a sign that we belong to and follow Yahweh.

Exodus 31:12-17 12-And Yahweh spoke to Moses saying: 13-And you speak to the sons of Israel, saying, You shall surely keep my Sabbaths; for it is a sign between me and you for your generations: to know that I am Yahweh your sanctifier. 14-And you shall keep the Sabbath, for it is holy to you; the profaners of it surely shall be put to death; for everyone doing work in it, that soul shall be cut off from the midst of his people. 15-Work may be done six days, and on the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to Yahweh; everyone doing work on the Sabbath day surely shall be put to death. 16-And the sons of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to do the Sabbath for their generations; it is a never-ending covenant. 17-It is a sign forever between me and the sons of Israel; for in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.

Exodus 35:2-3 2-Work may be done six days, and on the seventh day it shall be holy to you, a sabbath of rest to Yahweh; everyone doing work in it shall be put to death. 3-You shall not kindle a fire in all your dwellings on the day of the sabbath.

Scripture says no one is to work; it doesn’t matter whether they are paid or are volunteer workers.

There was, however, one exception – the priests. But the instructions they had were directly from Yahweh.

Numbers 28:9-10 9-And on the Sabbath day, two yearling lambs, perfect ones, and two tenth parts of flour, a food offering mixed with oil, and its drink offering; 10-the burnt offering of the Sabbath on its Sabbath, besides the continual burnt offering and its drink offering.

Slaughtering and offering animals was hard work. But Yahweh said it was to be done. Yahshua made reference to that work that was done.

Matthew 12:5 Or have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbaths the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless?

Exodus 34:21 You may work six days and on the seventh day, you shall rest, in plowing and in harvest, you shall rest.

Notice the last phrase – “in plowing and in harvest, you shall rest” -- the situations or conditions around us do not matter. Even if it looks like it could rain before plowing or harvesting is completed, the Sabbath is not to be broken.

So if we do not go to our job and we rest on the Sabbath, then what is the problem? Isn’t that enough? What more could He expect? What does it have to do with our routine? Could it involve work that we haven’t even thought about?

Does our Sabbath involve large, home-cooked meals? Is it because the family is together and has plenty of time? Just what did Yahweh mean when He said “no work”?

Shortly after coming out of Egypt, the people began running out of food. So Yahweh provided food for them in the form of manna. He told them to gather it on six days, but not on the Sabbath, because it would not be found. On the sixth day they were to gather twice as much and it would keep; it would not spoil overnight.

Exodus 16:22-23, 29-30 22-And it came about on the sixth day, they gathered double bread, two omers for one. And all the leaders of the congregation came and reported to Moses. 23-And he said to them, That is what Yahweh said. Tomorrow is a rest, a holy Sabbath to Yahweh. What you will bake, bake. And boil what you will boil. And lay up for yourselves all that is left over, to keep it until the morning. 29-See, because Yahweh has given the Sabbath to you, therefore He is giving to you two days of bread on the sixth day. Each one of you remain in his place. Do not let anyone go out from his place on the seventh day. 30-And the people rested on the seventh day.

Yahweh told the people to cook their food the day before the Sabbath. He was very specific. And He told them to stay put on the Sabbath. Well, what else was there to do? They were in the wilderness. There were no jobs to go to, no houses to clean, no shopping malls, no movies, no yard to maintain, no football games, and food had already prepared ahead of time. They were simply to rest. That’s it.

Of course, human beings cannot see Yahweh, so He isn’t always taken seriously. As a result, people feel it is okay to “push the envelope”, thinking Yahweh will understand. Won’t He be okay with what we are doing? After all, aren’t we His people and doesn’t He know our hearts? Maybe He knows them too well!

Numbers 15:32-36 32-And while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33-And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. 34-And they put him under guard, because it had not been declared what should be done to him. 35-And Yahweh said to Moses, The man shall surely be put to death, all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp. 36-And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died, as Yahweh commanded Moses.

Wow! Yahweh was serious, wasn’t He? If you saw such an event, how careful would you be with your conduct and actions on the Sabbath? Would it make a difference in what you did or didn’t do? Or would you continue to flaunt His laws and do whatever you wanted?

SABBATH ACTIVITIES


Then does that mean we are to stay home every Sabbath and just rest? No, those instructions were for that time, in that situation. What did Yahshua do on the Sabbath? Did He stay home and rest every week?

Luke 4:16, 31 16-And He (Yahshua) came to Nazareth, where He was brought up. And He went in, as was His custom, on the day of the Sabbaths, into the synagogue, and stood up to read. 31-And He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And He was teaching them on the Sabbaths. (emphasis added)

Yahshua went to synagogues on a regular basis. He taught. He healed.

Can we go outside our homes on the Sabbath? If so, where would we go? We can go to Sabbath services if there is a group or family available for meeting. There we can read and discuss Yahweh’s Word; some may teach and everyone learns; we sing praises to Yahweh; we share food; we fellowship with brethren of like-minds. Paul encouraged the attendance of services on the Sabbath.

Hebrews 10:24-25 24-And let us consider one another, to incitement of love and of good works, 25-not forsaking the assembling together of ourselves, as is the custom of some, but exhorting; and by so much more as you see the day drawing near. (emphasis added)

Can the idea of meeting together be backed by Scripture? Yes.

Leviticus 23:2 Speak to the sons of Israel, and you shall say to them, The appointed seasons of Yahweh which you shall proclaim, holy gatherings, shall be these: These are my appointed seasons.

The word here translated “gatherings” is the Hebrew #4744, miqra. It means a calling out, a rehearsal, a convocation, a gathering or a reading.

One of the most oft-recurring questions is regarding buying and selling on the Sabbath. Many claim that Scripture claims that we are not to spend money on the Sabbath. Really? Where is that command? Is it found in the law, meaning the first five books of the Bible? No. The only Scriptures used to state this are found in Nehemiah and Jeremiah and they were speaking of specific situations, long after the law was given.

NEHEMIAH


Nehemiah 13:15-19 15-In those days I saw in Judah ones treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys; and also wine, grapes, and figs, and all burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I testified against them on the day that they sold food. 16-Men of Tyre also lived in it, who brought fish and all wares, and were selling on the Sabbath to the sons of Judah even in Jerusalem. 17-And I contended with the nobles of Judah and said to them, What is this evil thing that you do, defiling the Sabbath day? 18-Did not your fathers do this, and did not our Elohim bring all this evil upon us and on this city? Yet you bring more wrath on Israel by defiling the Sabbath. 19-And it happened, when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and commanded that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I made stand some of my servants at the gates, so that there should be no burden brought in on the Sabbath day.

Is there a command here from Yahweh? No, it is from Nehemiah. What was Nehemiah’s objective? Was it to stop the spending of money? No. His objective was to stop people from working and, as stated in the last verse, to stop the carrying of burdens into the city.

So if this idea of buying and selling was not a direct command of Yahweh, where did it originate?

In Nehemiah 9, we read about the activities of the people who had returned from Babylon after 70 years of captivity. They were fasting, confessing sins, reading from the law, and worshipping. They worked out, agreed to and sealed a covenant. One of the points they agreed to reflects what today’s people are trying to make Yahweh’s law by stating that we should not be spending money on the Sabbath.

Nehemiah 10:31 And if the people of the land should bring goods or any food to sell on the Sabbath, we would not take from them on the Sabbath, or on the holy day. ….

These are the words of the people, not of Yahweh. The people wrote that covenant, not Yahweh. These are not part of the words that were given to Moses to pass on to Yahweh’s people.

And as a side note, what else did Nehemiah do? He put his servants there to guard the gates. Think about it – didn’t he make them work? And what was the command again? No work. Go back and look at it.

JEREMIAH


Jeremiah 17:21-22 21-So says Yahweh, Take heed for the sake of your lives, and do not carry a burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. 22-And do not carry a burden from your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers.

This reference does state, “Yahweh said.” But there is no mention of money or of purchasing. Is there anything in Yahweh’s law that could be reflected here? Is there anything they were doing that was breaking His commands?

Deuteronomy 5:14 And the seventh day shall be a Sabbath to Yahweh your Elohim. You shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male slave, nor your female slave, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your livestock, nor your stranger that is within your gates; so that your male slave and your female slave may rest like yourself.

Nehemiah had seen the men working and bearing burdens, going about their business. And they were making the animals work as well – contrary to Yahweh’s law. But there is no mention in Deuteronomy of buying or selling.

DOING YOUR OWN THING?


Then does this mean shopping, eating out or doing things we consider restful (window shopping, fishing, gardening, painting, golfing, concerts, sports events, television viewing, movies, etc) are okay to be done on the Sabbath?

Isaiah 58:13-14 13-If you turn your foot away because of the Sabbath, from doing what you please on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, glorified to the holiness of Yahweh, and shall glorify it, away from doing your own ways, from finding your own pleasure or speaking your word; 14-then you shall delight yourself in Yahweh. And I will cause you to ride on the heights of the earth, and make you eat with the inheritance of your father Jacob. For the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.

The Sabbath is Yahweh’s day; Yahweh’s time. Not ours. He gives us six days for us to do “our thing” and He only asks for one day. We are to delight in Him on His Sabbath day. If we are busy pursuing our own pleasures, we aren’t delighting in Him or in His day. Our thoughts and focus would not be on Yahweh.

Consider the idea of eating out. Often the excuse used is that the employees of the restaurant are already working anyway. Yes, that’s true. They are employed by the owner of the restaurant and are there to take his directions. But the minute the waiter or waitress comes to take your order and wait on you, they become your servant. They will be working directly for you – to please you. Also, by carrying food-laden trays to your table, they are bearing a burden – because of your request. The law says you are not to have a servant work on the Sabbath.

ANNUAL SABBATHS


Yahweh’s annual festival days are sometimes called Sabbaths. How do they compare to the weekly Sabbath? What is expected of Yahweh’s people on those days?

Leviticus 23:7-8 (Regarding the Days of Unleavens – ed.) 7-On the first day you shall have a holy gathering; you shall do no work of service; 8-and you shall bring near a fire offering to Yahweh seven days; and the seventh day shall be a holy gathering; you shall not do any work of service. (emphasis added)
Leviticus 23:21 (Regarding Shavuot, also known as Pentecost – ed.) And you shall make a proclamation on the same day; it is a holy gathering to you. You shall do no work of service. It is a never-ending statute in all your dwellings throughout your generations. (emphasis added)

Leviticus 23:24-25 (Regarding Yom Teruah, also known as Trumpets – ed.) 24-Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath, a memorable acclamation, a holy gathering. 25-You shall do no work of service, and you shall bring a fire offering to Yahweh. (emphasis added)

Leviticus 23:34-36 (Regarding Succoth, also known as Feast of Tabernacles or Booths – ed.) 34-Speak to the sons of Israel, saying in the fifteenth day of the seventh month shall be a Feast of Booths seven days to Yahweh. 35-On the first day shall be a holy gathering; you shall do no work of service. 36-Seven days you shall bring a fire offering to Yahweh; on the eighth day you shall have a holy gathering; and you shall burn the fire offering to Yahweh; it is a solemn assembly; you shall do no work of service. (emphasis added)

SERVILE WORK AND COOKING


On all these days, Yahweh says there is to be no “servile” work. The Hebrew word is #5656, avodah. This can refer to work done as a career, profession, servitude, occupation, or simply hard, laborious work. How does cooking fit into this?

Exodus 12:16 And on the first day (of the Days of Unleavens) shall be a holy convocation, and in the seventh day a holy convocation shall be to you. Not any work may be done on them. Only what must be eaten by your soul, that alone may be done by you. (emphasis added)

This is a specific statement Yahweh made regarding annual Sabbaths – the festival days. He says it is permissible to prepare and cook meals on those days. So does that mean it is okay for the weekly Sabbath?

Wait a minute! Go back! We missed one annual Sabbath – Yom Kippurim, also known as Atonement.

Leviticus 16:29 And it shall be for a never-ending statute, in the seventh month, in the tenth of the month, you shall humble yourself and do no work, the native, and the alien who is staying in your midst. (emphasis added)

Leviticus 23:27-32 27-Also, on the tenth of this seventh month shall be a day of atonement; you shall have a holy gathering, and you shall humble yourselves, and shall bring a fire offering to Yahweh. 28-And you shall do no work in this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before Yahweh your Elohim. 29-For any person who is not humbled in this same day shall be cut off from his people. 30-And any person who does any work in this same day, I shall even destroy that person from the midst of his people. 31-You shall do no work; it is a never-ending statute throughout your generations, in all your dwellings. 32-It is a Sabbath of rest to you, and you shall humble yourselves in the ninth of the month at evening; from evening until evening you shall keep your Sabbath. (emphasis added)

On this day there is nothing about servile work. There is to be NO work. Since we fast on this day, there’s no need to cook, so there is no need to do any work.

Now think back to those commands about the weekly Sabbath. What did they say? No servile work? Or no work?

Leviticus 23:3 Work is to be done six days, and in the seventh day shall be a Sabbath of rest, a holy gathering; you shall do no work; it is a Sabbath to Yahweh in all your dwellings. (emphasis added)

The command regarding work for the weekly Sabbath is the same as that for Atonement – NO work. All work is to be done is six days. Think carefully. Could that mean that we are to plan ahead for every Sabbath? Maybe cook our Sabbath meals ahead of time, just as the Israelites did in the wilderness?

When these laws were given, what was entailed in the preparation of a meal? To make simple, unleavened bread, the woman had to grind the grain into flour, fetch any necessary water, gather the firewood, kindle the fire, mix and form the dough before cooking even begins. If a larger meal were called for, it could involve much more: picking, cleaning and cutting up vegetables, herbs or fruits; milking a cow or goat; catching, slaughtering and cleaning an animal or fish; and then cook. Is that work?

Remember, those women in ancient Israel did not have a refrigerator or freezer to keep foods close at hand. Nor did they have a nearby grocery store to dash into and purchase any needed item. Those women could spend much of the day gathering, preparing and cooking one meal. The Sabbath day gave them a break from this every week. What a blessing that must have been to them! Can’t we look at it in the same way?

Today we have many timesaving devices, but meals still involve thought, time, preparation and work. But even then all sorts of questions start arising about the Sabbath. Is it okay to heat food with a microwave? Use a toaster? Or a coffee pot? Etc, etc. Think about it carefully. If it were wrong to use any of those, then it would be just as wrong to use other appliances, wouldn’t it? Such as a razor, hair dryer, lights, computer, telephone, heat lamp, heater, hot water heater, central air conditioning and heating and on and on.

Each individual will need to make their own decisions as to what they will or will not do. There are no hard, fast rules to be legislated on modern-day equipment. Those things did not exist when Yahweh laid out His instructions. We each answer only to Yahweh, not to one another.

The major key to Sabbath meals is planning ahead. If you were planning a big picnic, a banquet, a wedding reception, any type of important meal, wouldn’t you plan ahead? You would work out a menu and make sure you had everything on hand well before time to cook and serve. Isn’t Yahweh’s Sabbath that important? It is to be a special occasion weekly. Don’t wait until sunset Friday to think about it. Do the planning early in the week; purchase what you need, and do the cooking ahead of time.

For those who choose to use electrical appliances, previously cooked dishes (soup, stew, chili, pot roast with vegetables, casseroles, etc) can be heated in a crock-pot or on a warming tray. This can be for Friday evening or for dinner just before the Sabbath ends.

For breakfast ideas, how about thick-cut oats, groats, barley or wheat flakes or grits in a crock-pot. These can be put in the pot and turned on before bedtime and breakfast will be ready Sabbath morning. Or you can fill the pot and put it on a timer to come on whenever you want. Frozen waffles or pancakes and cooked sausages[containing clean meats-Lev 11:1-47] can be heated in the microwave.

Or how about a wrap? Before the Sabbath starts, scramble a mixture of eggs, hash browns, onions and sausage. Put it in the fridge overnight. At breakfast time, warm the mixture and then roll it up in tortillas with cheese.

If you do not wish to use any of these appliances on the Sabbath, there are still plenty of choices. Breakfast can consist of cold cereals, various fruits, eggs boiled beforehand, previously-made or bought breads or muffins (banana, cranberry, date, pumpkin, zucchini, etc), bagels, cream cheese, jelly, and so on.

The choices for lunch or dinner can be even more varied. Sandwiches are easy. No, don’t turn up your nose at the idea. It doesn’t have to be bologna and cheese or peanut butter and jelly Think of various cold cuts, leftover roast or chicken, chicken salad, tuna, egg salad, etc. And consider different types of bread, such as wheat, rye, oat, buns, rolls, croissants, flat bread, tortillas, pita, and so on.

That can be added to or varied with crackers, cheese, a fresh vegetable platter, a fruit platter, deviled eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, pickles, olives or an endless variety of salads.
Get your thought-processes working and use your imagination. You don’t have to feel deprived. Check out cookbooks. And there are thousands of recipes available on-line.
If you have children, start early involving them in the planning and preparation. You may be surprised at the ideas that will come from them! Make the Sabbath a special day.

Don’t forget about clean up. How about paper plates and bowls to simplify things? Otherwise, just put away any leftover foods and then put any dishes in the sink or in a dishpan to be done after the Sabbath.

If we really work with this and follow Yahweh’s commands, maybe the women of today can begin to get a glimpse of what a blessing the Sabbath was to those women of Israel. Not only would we get more rest, but we will have more time for prayer, meditation, reading Yahweh’s word, and teaching our children, for those who have some at home. The Sabbath will take on the feeling of a refreshing day without the rushing hustle and bustle of the average weekday.

As a side note: what if a festival day falls on the weekly Sabbath? What instructions apply? Since the festivals only come once a year, it would make no sense that the weekly Sabbath would nullify it. At that point, the instructions for the festival day would apply and supercede those of the Sabbath. But be careful – preparing and serving food is okay, but other work is not.

A REMINDER


Yahweh’s Sabbath is very important to Him. It should be in our thoughts all week. The Sabbath should be looked forward to with anticipation. We should plan and prepare for it and for the annual Sabbaths even more than we would a get-away weekend, a reunion, or a vacation. Yahweh and His Word should come first in all we do.

Genesis 2:1-3 1-And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their host. 2-And on the seventh day Elohim completed His work which He had made. And He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. 3-And Elohim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because He rested from all His work on it, which Elohim had created to make.

Creation included all mankind. It included us. Who benefits most from this rest? Not the rest of creation – only the ones observing Yahweh’s Sabbaths.

Exodus 31:15-17 15-Work may be done six days, and on the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to Yahweh; everyone doing work on the Sabbath day surely shall be put to death. 16-And the sons of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to do the Sabbath for their generations; it is a never-ending covenant. 17-It is a sign forever between me and the sons of Israel; for in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.

The Sabbath is a sign. Is it important to have that sign as well as having your name in the book of life?

Yahweh wrote His commands on two stones. What did His hand inscribe in stone? “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Do we? Do you?
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3 comments:

Rastamon said...

Thanks alot...imma Rastafai and I enjoyed this reading...blessed love and respect

TRUTHSEEKER said...

I hope those ..sausages Aren't..pork.

Speak Truth said...

The following was added today to clarify [containing clean meats-Lev 11:1-47]