Hebrew Roots/Weekly Sabbath/Preparation
- Preparation For Shabbat
The quality of an occasion and the success of it is often determined by the amount of preparation that goes into it.
In the scripture, the day before the onset of Shabbat is called "Preparation Day" (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31). To be able to keep the Sabbath properly, adequate preparation is necessary which means planning ahead. Preparation to avoid working on the day and have it free from work-related activities, needs to be done on the Friday.
All provisions, stores of goods to last over till the next time available to purchase them, needs to be undertaken beforehand. As business activities are prohibited, foresight may be needed to care for events or payments due on the day to avoid such transactions that involve handling money.
The concern of our loving Heavenly Father embraced both the male and female in their respective need of rest when He ordained the Sabbath, instructing that not only should there be no 'work' but also no lighting of fires which was the means of cooking and heating for the home in those days. He thus encompassed both male and female roles in the household.
The necessary preparation involves preparing special meals in advance, organizing the Sabbath artifacts, cleaning, and most of all, arranging our schedules for prayer and time together. Friends and relatives may need to be advised of your intention to keep the Sabbath to avoid them embarrassment or offence if they expect continuance of previously accepted activities on the day.
The Sabbath keeper should make every effort not to work on the seventh day by being kindly communicative with employers about their wishes and/or looking for an alternative vocation depending onthe situation. If a person cannot avoid regular work on Shabbat, they definitely should be praying and seeking for an alternative arrangement of some kind unless one's occupation is in the vital services of care for the sick and maintenance of law and order.
As a result of many generations of keeping the Sabbath, the Jews set apart the time starting from the evening sacrifice, from 3 pm. on Friday, to "wind down" from the week's affairs and concerns, and prepare their hearts and minds to embrace Shabbat. This may not be possible to have this time free in our society, but it is of benefit to employ this principle where possible do whatever is possible ahead of time and finish any last-minute preparations to ensure we are ready to enjoy this special day.
An attitude of heart wherein we "delight in Shabbat" is important so as to inherit the promised spiritual blessings of the day. Isaiah 58:13-14
As part of the spiritual preparation, a cleansing ritual in a bath (mikveh) followed by prayer and reading of the Word has become a tradition in order to draw close to Yahweh God for the commencement of the day.
- How to Observe Shabbat
The Sabbath officially begins at dusk with the appearance of the first stars, and traditionally is ushered in by lighting at least two candles. The lighting of the candles is a tradition to separate the Sabbath from the previous "day" and a symbol of the two injunctions to “remember” and “observe” the Sabbath and that which they represent in Yahweh's work in “creation” and “redemption”. They are also a reminder that we, the House of Judah and the House of Ephraim, are His two witnesses in the earth. Isaiah 43:1, 5-7; 10-12; 44:1-5; 8.
A special meal is prepared and it is customary to make it a festive occasion in whatever way is meaningful, and to dress specially for the occasion. The Sabbath is a feast of Yahweh. Leviticus 23: 1-3
The head of the house as the designated authority of Messiah, blesses His family in praying and ministering to them and encouraging them in their spiritual walk of faith. The evening is a special family time.
After the meal and as part of it, bread and wine are taken in memorial of our Saviour's substitutionary death for us so that we might partake of His life and enter His eternal Shabbat in the age to come.
The family activities of this night are centered in the reading and/or study of the scriptures and singing of psalms or hymns. It is a time of celebration, a holy convocation which can include praise and worship, singing and dancing and whatever honors the Most High Whom we are celebrating. If possible, avoid fasting on Shabbat.
It is a time to center on Yahweh, our family, and the time of rest and rejuvenation in Him. It is a time of drawing aside from the things of this world and its activities for livelihood, and focusing on the spiritual aspects of life, to grow and develop relationally with Yahweh and with one another.
Shabbat was meant to be a celebration of rest. It should be joyful and fun, while totally respectful and thoughtful of the Most High God Whom we are worshiping. It should not be centered in the satisfaction of the flesh. Children should know that God loves their playfulness, but it should be balanced.
- The Danger of Legalism
Y'shua set us an example of keeping Shabbat according to the spirit of the Law and not the letter. He rebuked the legalistic traditions of His day with all their prohibitions in keeping the Sabbath which made it a burden on the people. It is not right to make a lawful issue of keeping the day and making the Sabbath a heavy burden on those who do not wish to observe it, and/or who would begin to go through some ritual form of observation to avoid the disapproval of what they perceive to be an angry deity who is demanding something burdensome of them. This type of observance always becomes a form of religiosity which cannot please God.
It is not legalism to teach that observing the seventh day Sabbath is profitable for all Believers, but it becomes legalism when we try to force observance in some particular manner, or to observe it without it being a thing which comes from the heart. It is legalism when we impose and enforce rules about observing the Sabbath.
The real issue is balancing a sense of awe and deep respect for God's word with a proper understanding of our liberty in Messiah. The Epistles to the Galatians, Colossians, and Romans teach us that following man's dogma, or human interpretation of the practical details of the observance of rituals, are not conditions for our acceptance by God. Our specific ways of dealing with the practical matters of application must apply the spirit and intention behind the principle of His Word to our society and culture. The commandments concerning the Sabbath are few, and they are simple, and amazingly, they are purposefully vague. They leave much for us to work out for ourselves - Remember the Sabbath Day. Keep it Holy. Don't work on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is given for our benefit.
Through history, the practical application of these commandments has varied. We know that there was no such thing as a Synagogue before the return from the Babylonian Captivity. Hence, there was no Synagogue service. We see little indication in either the Torah or Jewish literature that any sort of public worship was a part of Sabbath observance before the return from captivity. People stayed at home and read the Torah. They rested. They centered their attention on Yahweh. No scripture specifically defines "remembering the Sabbath day" and keeping it holy as gathering together on that day for public worship.
Participating in a public gathering for worship is not the only way which we may remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy!
We should not argue, or destroy one another over the issue of how we are to observe the day. Yeshua summarized the commandments with: Matthew 22:37-40: " 'Love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
For all believers, Shabbat is a picture of how God has blessed us; it should be a joy and delight for us.
We need to be on guard that our fleshly desires toward worldly interests and other people influences us to put aside the Sabbath. We are called to a faith walk that includes trusting Yahweh that six days of labor each week is sufficient to accomplish what needs to be done and meet all our needs if we honour Him as the Lord of the Sabbath.
The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week and is to be a day of rest (Genesis 2:1-3). The Sabbath is a sanctified (set apart made holy day) unto Yahweh (Genesis 2:3). The Sabbath is the day of Yahweh (Isaiah 58:13-14). The Sabbath is a festival (appointed time) of Yahweh which is to be kept on a weekly basis (Leviticus 23:1-3).
Spiritually, we experience Sabbath rest when we obey Yahweh, keep His commandments, and believe the promises made by Yahweh to His people in His Word (Leviticus 26:1-12, Psalm 95:6-11, Hebrews 3:7-19, 4:1-12). The Sabbath is an eternal covenant between Yahweh and His people and is to be kept forever as an everlasting ordinance (Exodus 31:16-17)
The Sabbath is a spiritual picture given to us by God that is a shadow of Messiah Yeshua (Col. 2:16-17; Hebrews 4: 9-10).
Yeshua is the spiritual rest of the believers (Matthew 11:28-30).
The Sabbath is personified as a bride whose bridegroom is Messiah and is a spiritual blueprint of the Messianic Age.
The Sabbath will be kept in the new heavens and earth and for all eternity (Isaiah 66:22-23, Revelation 21:1-3).
How we keep Shabbat is a reflection of our commitment to Yahweh God and a sign of our faithfulness to the covenant.
"If you love Me, you will keep my commandments" John 14:15