For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Exodus 31:15

Shabbat or the Sabbath

The seventh day    -    The day of rest

"The Lord's Day" - is it ?

In Genesis 2  we read, 

"Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array"  and in verse 3,  "And GOD blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."
So Shabbat was instituted in the very beginning.

In Exodus 20 v8-11 we find the fourth of the Ten Commandments,  "

Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy,  six days you shall labour and do all your work but the seventh is a Sabbath to the LORD your God."   
The rest also applied to servants and animals.

A Major road in Jerusalem at midday on Shabbat"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, a day of sacred assembly.  You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord.""   

( Leviticus 23 v1-3 )

Isaiah 56 v6,7 refers to foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord.  

"All who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant - these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer."

In Ezekiel 20, God is recounting his faithfulness to his people and says ( v12 )  

"Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I, the LORD made them holy."

Isaiah 58 v13 says

" ...........if you will call the Sabbath a delight, then you will find your joy in the LORD and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land."
Jews celebrate Shabbat as a joyful family centred occasion. 

In Matthew 12 v1 -8 we read that Jesus came into conflict with strict and joyless religious people after his disciples plucked ears of corn and rubbed them in their hands to eat on Shabbat.    He then taught on the real purpose of Shabbat.    In verses 9 to 13 Jesus healed on Shabbat, causing them to plot his death.

(Shabbat is just the name of the seventh day of the week.  It is pronounced Shabbos by Ashkenazi Jews).

Erev Shabbat

Erev means evening.    This is on our Friday evening.  It is the start of the celebration of the Sabbath.    Shabbat starts at sunset on Friday and runs to sunset on Saturday, as do all Jewish days.  Shabbat is welcomed in as a bride would be.

Celebrating Erev Shabbat      -    From "The Jewish Kitchen"

The table is set and a pot of food is ready on the stove (to save Mother cooking on Shabbat)

On the table, with the meal, are two Loaves ( Challah or hallah) under an embroidered cloth remembering the double portion of manna GOD sent on the day before Shabbat during the exodus.

There is a goblet for blessing the wine.    (Bread and wine were important in Jewish temple worship)

There are two candles in candlesticks.   Mother has the honoured tradition of lighting the candles.   She does this with her head covered.   She warms her hands over the flames, making a beckoning motion over the flames (to welcome in Shabbat, which is regarded as a person)  She covers her eyes and recites the Kidoosh (blessing) and prays for her family.          "Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheynu, Melech ha Olam, asher kidshanu b'mitzvah tov vitsavanu l'hadlich ner shel shabbat" "we praise you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us by Your commandments, and enjoined us to kindle the Sabbath lights."

There is a response for everyone,  

"May the Lord bless us with Sabbath joy.

May the Lord bless us with Sabbath holiness.

May the Lord bless us with Sabbath peace."  (shalom)

The family members greet each other "Shabbat shalom !"

(The Sabbath scene in the film "Fiddler on the roof" gives the atmosphere of this celebration)

(It was through a woman that sin entered our world (in the garden of Eden) but through a woman light came into the world in Jesus.)

Father blesses the children and praises his wife "Who can find a virtuous woman ? Her price is far above rubies. ......"   ( Proverbs 31 v10,11. )  ( a practice worth reviving if Mum gets taken for granted in our households)

Then Father blesses the wine.      "Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheynu, Melech ha Olam borey pri hagafen"   (Blessed art thou O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine)



(The writing around the cup says borey pri hagafen".)



They all wash their hands.  ( this is a spiritual act as they will have come to the table with hands already washed)

Father (Abba) blesses the bread. . "Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheynu, Melech ha Olam hamotzi lechem min ha aretz"      (Blessed art thou o Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth)   Father then cuts up the Challah and distributes it.   Everyone dips their piece lightly in salt.

The family then enjoys a leisurely meal, talk and meditation and maybe some songs, and the children are encouraged to ask questions.   This is the central part of their upbringing in the faith.  (Affairs of the world are avoided)

Next morning there are services at the Synagogue.

Havdalah        (Separation)

As the beginning of Shabbat is marked by Erev Shabbat, its ending is marked by Havdalah.

Havdalah is bidding farewell to Shabbat until next week.  The day of rest is ending and it is permitted to light fire again.

The remainder of the evening at the end of Shabbat  is known as motza'ei Shabbat .  (Acts 20 v7-11 – see below)

As Shabbat is welcomed in with a Kiddush blessing and a cup of wine, Havdalah is marked with a cup of wine as well as a spice box and a plaited candle.

A goblet is filled to overflowing with wine, the spice box is opened and the candle is lit. The following passage from Isaiah (Isaiah 12 v2-3) is recited,

“Behold, God is my salvation. I will trust and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and song and he has become my salvation (Hebrew – Yeshua) .. I will lift the cup of salvation (Yeshuot) and call upon the name of the YHVH."

Then the usual Kiddush blessing is pronounced over the wine.

"Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the universe who creates the fruit of the vine."

There is also a blessing over the spices,

"Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the universe who creates a variety of spices."

Then the candle,

"Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the universe who creates the light of the fire."

Then the goblet is raised and the words,

“Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the universe who creates the distinction between the holy and the profane, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, between the seventh day and the six days of labour. Blessed are you O Lord our God, who separates the holy from the profane."

The person making the blessing then drinks the wine but leaves some in the cup. Then, holding the Havdalah candle over the plate, he extinguishes it with the remaining wine. He dips his fingertips in the wine on the plate and wishes everyone, “Shavu tov” (Have a good week.)

The three elements of Havdalah have spiritual significance…

Wine - God’s blessing must overflow from us and reach out to others

Candle – Our light must outshine the wisdom of the world, then it will be seen by our fellow men.

Spice Box – We must be a sweet-smelling fragrance in the world.

With acknowledgment to Ludwig Schneider in Israel Today.

Furthermore, for the Christian, there appears to be a lesson to learn about the separation of holy and profane but then of taking the benefits of the time spent in fellowship with God into our sanctified lives in the world during the remainder of the week.

"The Lord's Day" ?

Most people think "The Lord's Day" is Sunday, and in Britain, Sunday is championed by The Lord's Day Observance Society. That is good, but is it biblical?

Shabbat for us ?  

Should we Christians  ( Gentiles grafted into Israel) be celebrating Shabbat rather than Sunday?   

The New Testament does not order us to observe any day; therefore it does not cancel or forbid celebrating Shabbat on the seventh day .      In Jesus, we are free from the old legalism with which some Jews observed the Sabbath; or we should be.   But some Christians apply a legalistic Sabbath observance to Sunday, claiming it is the Sabbath.   They have lost the joy of the Jewish Shabbat but retained the legalism.  

Does it matter if we observe Shabbat or Sunday?

Perhaps we are not being called to suddenly abandon Sunday but to consider the implications of Shabbat / Sunday worship. The removal of the followers of Jesus from the Jewish community and the Hebraic framework of worship caused a schism that proved to be ever-widening through the centuries that followed. We should consider traditional "Christian" assumptions which roots in Anti-Semitism and replacement theology ( Church History      Christian Calendar) and see what we have lost along with Shabbat. Maybe we will be able to regain what was lost.

Many believe that the disciples started Sunday worship, but there is no evidence for this.   Early believers continued to celebrate Shabbat, as Yeshua / Jesus  always did.     Acts 13 v42-44 refers to Paul (Rabbi Sha'ul) regularly attending Synagogue on Shabbat.  Acts 20 v7-11 suggests Sunday worship

"On the first day of the week we came together to break bread  . . . . . . because he intended to leave next day."

However, this must be understood according to the calendar and pattern of days that they were using. The meeting must have been after the sunset that marked the end of Shabbat. This Saturday evening (the day we call Saturday), at the end of Shabbat, was the start of the first day of the week.  After a night's sleep, on the day we call Sunday, they set off on their journey.   Also in 1 Corinthians 16 v2 (CJB) there is reference to setting aside offerings at motza'ei Shabbat - Saturday evening - during believers' meetings.

So Sunday, Resurrection Day, as a replacement for Shabbat as the God ordained (10 Commandments) day of rest and worship, is not in the Bible.

So where and when did Sunday Christian sabbath originate?  

The Nazarene believers (Hebrew speakers) were still celebrating Shabbat on the seventh day into the fourth century, when the Empire took control of the church from Yeshua.

This is revealed in the history of the believers in Beroea who were, incidentally, still using the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. ("A Prayer to our Father" p40 - Gordon and Johnson)

The first law commanding Sunday rest was issued by the Emperor Constantine in March, 321A.D. His decree was worded:

“On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in the cities rest, and let all workshops be closed.”

In the year 386 A.D. under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church, Theodosius I forbade litigation on Sunday and established the practice: “No person shall demand payment of either a public or private debt [on Sunday].”

Theodosius II, in the year 425 A.D., forbade all amusements, both circuses and theatres on Sunday. Gradually all quarters of Christianity transferred observance of the day of rest from the seventh day to the first day.

The Saturday Sabbath was observed in England until some time around the 1200s. 

Clearly Sunday is not the Sabbath day of the fourth commandment, and it is illogical to use that to defend Sunday, even though Sunday is worth defending until God gives us something better.  

Celebrating Shabbat (or other bible feasts) is not a sin or negation of the grace of Jesus, in the sense of putting ourselves under  works and the Law.  As long as we do not go back to seeking to be justified by works or observances we can celebrate Shabbat in the light of Yeshua the Messiah.       

Collosians 2 v16 says,  

"Do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink or with regard to religious festivals or Sabbaths.   These are a shadow of what is to come"

We should not fear exploring Old Testament feasts with our Lord who loves us so well, or with Jewish brothers.   " Perfect love drives out fear"  (1 John 4 v18)  ( Verse 20 says, "if anyone says "I love GOD" yet hates his brother he is a liar......."   That must be true of hating our elder brothers, the Jews.


Hebrews 4 v9 says, 

"There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of GOD."
Is this for the individual in the next life, for the believer on conversion, or GOD'S World plan ?  Probably it is all three.

Peter said in 2 Peter 3 v8,  

"With the LORD ...... a thousand years are like a day...."

There were approximately 2000 years from Adam to Abraham, 2000 years from Abraham to Jesus and another 2000 brings us approximately to the present.           That makes it nearly time for the world's Sabbath Rest;  the thousand year reign of Yeshua ha Massiach !   (The  Millennium that really matters.)

Updated 03/09/11

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