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Shabbat Shalom – What is Shabbat?

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March 9th, 2018
Personal Experiences, Teachings / By

Shabbat Shalom Y’all

I grew up in a household where “Saturday is a work day.” My Mom had us wake up early on Saturday mornings to clean the house, do laundry, and cut and trim our huge lawn. But when all of our work was done (and our complaining had stopped), we had the rest of Saturday free to play! Sunday morning was for church, Sunday afternoon was for naps, and Sunday night was for family dinners. This was our routine. It seemed like a Godly enough pattern of living and everyone else I knew kept to a semi-similar schedule. However, this system didn’t actually provide much of a feeling of rest! There was a sense of play and a break from routine, but it did not provide a true feeling of rest…

Believe it or not, in God’s economy, one day is enough! That’s right, rest is possible in a cycle of a 6-day work week!

I would not have thought that could be possible until I moved to Jerusalem and experienced it myself! On Friday evening at sundown in the Holy City a horn echoes for two minutes announcing the arrival of Shabbat. There is nothing like it in the world! You literally can feel a collective sigh go throughout the town as it grinds to a halt and people gather in each other’s homes to sit down to Shabbat dinner. Very few things are open the next day; many people refrain from driving; even public transportation stops in honor of God’s Shabbat. For the most part, the whole country rests. It is a day of peace and quiet.

As the sun set on the evening of my first Shabbat in Israel, I felt a rest in my soul like I had never before experienced. Perhaps it was the collective obedience of nearly an entire country aligning itself with God’s timing. And the following six days after that first true Shabbat were some of the most efficient, productive, and peaceful of my life!

What is Shabbat?

Let’s look into the origins of this God-ordained “vacation day.” Shabbat, or the Sabbath, is one of the first things we ever learn about God’s character. Immediately after creating Man in His image, He rested. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:1-3)

At the outset of history, the Lord rested from His work, setting the day apart and calling it holy. That first day of rest established a basic truth about God: He desires dedicated rest.

The actual institution of the Sabbath as a day where God’s people were commanded to set it apart and observe it as a holy day is nestled among the Ten Commandments. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep 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, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11).

Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, the Lord gave further instructions and regulations upon how to observe the Shabbat lawfully. Likewise, various Jewish traditions have evolved over millennia which have become beloved staples, such as the Friday night Shabbat dinner. However, the goal or essence of Shabbat remains the same. It is to be a day that is set apart for rest and for fellowship with Him.

Shabbat in the New Testament

Yeshua Himself observed the Sabbath. However, He was not shy to correct those who had turned Shabbat into a complicated minefield of rules and regulations (Luke 4:16, Mark 2:23-28).

God’s appointed times – even those observed on a weekly basis – all point to the true source of rest and celebration: YHVH HIMSELF! Yeshua invited all men to come to Him to find rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

Shabbat is a God-given weekly reminder that we need rest, and that our rest is found in Him. Even more profoundly, it is a compelling reminder that our entire lives revolve around Him!

Want to come experience Shabbat in Jerusalem for yourself?

Join us this Summer: www.jerusalemencounter.com

2017 Jerusalem Encounter Highlight from FIRM on Vimeo.

FIRM is a global fellowship of Biblically-grounded believers committed to cultivating Messiah-centered relationships that bless the inhabitants of Israel—Jews, Arabs, and others—and the Jewish community around the world.
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