Sunday, September 23, 2018

What Does Shabbat Mean?

We As Christians Keep The Sabbath On Sunday, But Jesus Our Lord Kept It On Saturday? Whom Should We Follow?

Question: Can I say 'Shabbath Shalom!' to my friends on Sunday as a Christian? What does 'Shabbat' mean? We as Christians keep the Sabbath on Sunday, but Jesus our Lord kept it on Saturday? Whom should we follow?

Answer: Greetings to you in Jesus wonderful name!

Shabbat is the original Hebrew word for our English word sabbath. It comes from the root Shin-Beit-Tav and means “to cease, to end, to rest.” The word is invariably linked to the seventh day after the six days of creation, and that is how we see it used in the Old Testament. Shalom
(Hebrew: "שָׁלוֹם"‬ shalom; also spelled as sholom, sholem, sholoim, shulem) is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye.

In Hebrew, words are built on "roots", generally of three consonants. When the root consonants appear with various vowels and additional letters, a variety of words, often with some relation in meaning, can be formed from a single root. Thus from the root
sh-l-m come the words shalom ("peace, well-being"), hishtalem ("it was worth it"), shulam ("was paid for"), meshulam ("paid for in advance"), mushlam ("perfect"), and shalem ("whole").

Biblically, shalom is seen in reference to the well-being of others
(Genesis 43:27, Exodus 4:18), to treaties (I Kings 5:12), and in prayer for the well being of cities or nations (Psalm 122:6, Jeremiah 29:7).

Shabbat is the most important holy day on the Jewish calendar, though it is kept every week by observant Jews and some others as it begins at nightfall on Friday and lasts until nightfall on Saturday, the non-observant Jew does celebrate it in the new year once a year or occasionally with their family. God put great emphasis on the Sabbath, as it is referenced in Scripture numerous times, such as in
Exodus 20:8–9“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (see also Exodus 23:12 and Leviticus 26:2). Shabbat was so important that God imposed the death penalty on those who refused to observe it, and we have two examples of people stoned to death for the violation of the law of God, one for Blasphemy and the other for breaking of Sabbath during the days of Moses (Lev 24:10-16; Num 15:32-36; Exodus 31:15).

Two most important reason that the Lord refers to, to remember and keep the Sabbath is,

1) It is a commemoration or remembrance of God’s six-day creation of the universe, in order to celebrate and make a ceremonial thanksgiving and praise to God for it with gratitude in our heart for all His goodness and mercies that He has continued to show to us humans since the first Sabbath
(Exodus 20:8–11).

2) The Israelites for being led out of Egyptian captivity
(Deuteronomy 5:15).

So for a Sabbath observing Jew, 'Shabbat' is a time to stop working, where the week long work ceases so that the devotee can concentrate solely on the spiritual aspects of life.

Jewish law prohibits doing any form of
'melakhah' which means 'work or deliberate activity' on Shabbat, with some exceptions. Any activities that contribute to personal profit or gain are forbidden. Jewish rabbinical tradition lists 39 categories of acts forbidden on Shabbat: plowing earth, sowing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, selecting, grinding, sifting, kneading, baking, shearing wool, washing wool, beating wool, dyeing wool, spinning, weaving, making two loops, weaving two threads, separating two threads, tying, untying, sewing stitches, tearing, trapping, slaughtering, flaying, tanning, scraping hide, marking hide, cutting hide to shape, writing two or more letters, erasing two or more letters, building, demolishing, extinguishing a fire, kindling a fire, putting the finishing touch on an object, and transporting an object (between private and public domains, or over four cubits within public domain).

The first question you asked was, 'Can I say 'shabbath shalom!' to my friends on Sunday as a Christian?'

To answer it, first I have to make sure you understand which is the Sabbath Day for a Christian? I mean, Is Sunday the Sabbath day for Christians like Saturday is for the Jews?

First of all as you said, Jesus Christ our Lord kept the Sabbath on Saturday because He was a Jew who in His own words have come to fulfill the law and thus he did not even break the least of the commandments of the Old Testament Scripture
(Matt 5:17). But 'melakhah' which as we have seen means work or deliberate activity and the lists of 39 categories of acts forbidden on Shabbat, were not written in Scripture but rather is a tradition of men that Jesus did not respect and spoke against it by daring to do certain things of mercy and compassion on Sabbath day which were forbidden by the law keepers to be done on Sabbath day (Mark 7:9, 13). The law-keeping Jews kept it according to the letter of the law of Moses, but not according to the Spirit which was demanded by God, and thus God pronounced death upon all who kept it incompletely by their own strength reading Moses law and comparing their own life as a worthy righteous life accordingly (Luke 18:9-14), and for those who kept God's law through the Spirit He gave heaven's life freely as a gift, to all those who depended upon God's strength the Spirit of God to keep the law which He writes upon the hearts of men (2 Cor 3:4, 5-6, 2-3; Rom 2:12, 14-15, 13; Jam 1:21-27; 2:10, 12-13).

The seven perfect miracles of Jesus that broke the tradition of law keeping of the Jews are as follows, Jesus healed a lame man by the pool of Bethesda on Sabbath day
(John 5:1-18), Jesus drove a demon out of a man on Sabbath (Mark 1:21-28), Jesus healed Peter's Mother-in-law on Sabbath (Mark 1:29-31), Jesus healed a man with a deformed hand on Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6), Jesus healed a man born blind on Sabbath day (John 9:1-16), Jesus healed a crippled woman on Sabbath (Luke 13:10-17) and finally we see Jesus heal a man with dropsy on Sabbath (Luke 14:1-6). Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath and that makes the Sabbath the true "Lord’s Day.’ In performing these seven Sabbath miracles, Jesus is showing us and to the Jews how to keep the Sabbath. He emphasized the human element of faith, mercy, compassion and loving-kindness by healing and "doing good" on the Sabbath (Matt 23:23, 26-27). God wants not a external holiness of just a good behavior, but rather a cleansing of heart within by faith which brings internal cleanliness that keeps us holy unto the Lord and keeps our behavior acceptable to God and humans around us (Acts 15:9). He showed us that we are not to be "hard hearted" as the law keeping Pharisees were who kept it by the letter and not the Spirit when it comes to the keeping the Sabbath (Matt 5:17-20). We need to keep the Sabbath as Jesus did by worshiping God and "doing good and healing" the hurt, broken and needy! (Acts 10:38; Jam 1:27). God does not want us to have a religion that worships God with our lips, but makes us keep our hearts far away from God, but rather he wants us to develop a heart to heart relationship with God (Matt 15:8; Mark 7:6; Isa 29:13).

Thus Jesus was proving to all human that man is not made for Sabbath keeping, but rather Sabbath is made for man to have fellowship and rest with God and think about the eternal things that await before him, and get ready for it by and by, as we get closer and closer towards the day of death which has been appointed by God
(Mark 2:27; Heb 9:27; Rom 13:11; Isa 48:16; Matt 6:19-21). Jesus is the LORD GOD of the Old Testament and is the Lord and Master of the Sabbath, which means we have salvation only through believing Him (Acts 4:12), as all things are created by Him and for Him, and therefore He is before all things and in Him all things are composed of to be made according to His purpose and plan, all thing consist and hold together and exist without shattering in to chaos because of Him (Mark 2:28; Col 1:14-17).

What have we as Christians have learned from the above exposition?

1) Should we keep the Sabbath Law according to the Letter of the Law of Moses?

Here is what the Great apostle Paul who wrote nearly one third of the entire New Testament under the inspiration of the Spirit says,
"5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord." (Rom 14:5-8).

We see in the above verses Paul saying, let each believer decide when to keep the Sabbath or observance of any other law, as it is a personal relationship between the believer and the Lord who has purchased Him through His life blood. Therefore the main point apostle Paul wants us to understand is that we are Lord's property and not our own, so we live to please Him and die to please Him as believers in Him, and therefore it is not how we keep the law that pleases Jesus Christ but how we believe Him as our Lord and Savior that pleases Him and changes us to be transformed in to His image
(1 Cor 6:19-20; 2 Cor 3:18; Rom 12:2; 8:29).

Paul further specifically speaks regarding Sabbath in another place saying,
"16 So don't let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ Himself is that reality." (Col 2:16-17, NLT), which clearly reveals that all Christians are not to live by law of which the wages are not counted according to grace, but according to debt towards God (Rom 4:4). Rather we should live by faith in God that justifies us before God and makes us live in the liberty of the Spirit, whose guidance become the law to us as Christians (Rom 8:2), which does not go together with written law of Moses always because law is not of faith. He who works the law and expects to please God shall live by law which condemn a sinner with the resulting curse of the law clouding over his life over and over whenever he breaks the least of the law (Gal 3:12; Rom 3:23; 6:23; Gal 3:10).


2) Can I say 'shabbath shalom!' to my friends on Sunday as a Christian?

Yes you can, not because you keep the law like a Jew, but because you want to bless your friend with a blessing of rest that is provided by Christ internally in the soul and life which has got the potential to bless them in all areas of their lives
(Heb 4:1, 4; Matt 11:28-30; 6:33-34).

3) So which is the Sabbath Day for Christians?

We know that the apostles gathered the assembly of saints on Sundays during the Roman empire period because it was the day in which Christ rose from the dead which is the central theme of our faith, and also all had leave from their regular work routine to rest and have fellowship with one another and God
(1 Cor 15:12, 14, 17-18; Rev 1:10; 1 Cor 14:23; 16:2, 9; Acts 20:7; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19-23; Mark 16:1-11). The first day of the week is Sunday and the last day of the week is Sabbath day which is Saturday for the Jews (Matt 28:1-8, 9-10).

So a new day of faith has dawn upon the Christians, so that day of Sabbath rest and fellowship with God can be a Sunday or any other day according to the available day of rest given in the country where the Christian lives , for example a Christian who lives in Israel, Saturday can be a ideal Sabbath to gather together as one assembly, for those Christians who live in the Moslem countries, Friday can be the ideal day for Sabbath gathering of the assembly to gather together and worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness
(Psa 96:9). And all Christians who live in the western countries like Europe or North and South America or Australia, or in the eastern countries like India or China, or in northern country like Russia, or in southern countries like Africa can keep the Sabbath on Sunday as these countries keep the same old Roman System of leave on Sunday right from the day of Christ even until our 21'st century present generation. So the crux of the matter is, Sabbath is more of an internal 24/7/365 days perpetual rest and fellowship and intimacy with God to a Christian, rather than just a single day of rest and fellowship, be it Sunday or Friday or Saturday or any other day of the week (Heb 4:7, 9-10, 11). Those Christians who have entered in to this internal Sabbath will cease from their works to get saved or please God, because their work cannot save them forever, (i.e.) even in a million years that person cannot get qualified to enter the Kingdom of God except through having faith within them which gives them a righteous standing before God like it did to our Father Abraham who founded this faith of Christianity and brought it to the whole world through Jesus Christ his son (Heb 11:6, 1; Rom 10:16-17; 4:5-8, 2-4; Gal 3:1-9).

Which is the day of Sabbath for Christians? Sunday is one of the answer because from the day of apostles, it has continued to be the Sabbath day for us Christians. But that is not the full truth, because Sabbath was the one law which none of the apostles ever repeated it from the Old Testament in spite of repeating many verses from the OT Bible, or have never told the Christian followers to keep, and instead the World Apostolic Council which gathered together in the first century around A.D. 50 wrote a edict for all the Churches to keep, but Sabbath was never even mentioned in it as it was drafted to the Church under the direction of the Holy Spirit and sent through the foremost apostles like Paul who was himself a Jew who became a Christian 
(Acts 15:10, 8-9, 11, 22-29). This shows clearly that Sabbath has become a internal keeping of fellowship and intimacy with God perpetually rather than a single day of rest and fellowship with God externally by keeping of the law and rules.

Even the Church or family gathering together as a assembly was emphasized only once by the writer to the Hebrews where he says not to forsake the assembling together of saints as a corporate Church, as some in his times were walking as lone rangers in faith which is not the New Testament pattern of fellowship and growth in faith unlike in the Old Testament times where great men of faith were alone and secluded because of faith
(Matt 3:1-3; 10:11-13; Luke 10:1; Matt 16:18; 18:17, 20), further the apostolic writer says not to forsake it in order to encourage one another to grow and stay strong in faith, as each one sees the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ draw nearer and nearer than ever before (Heb 10:25). Remember, one can drive out a thousand, two ten thousand to flight (Deut 32:30). One cannot keep themselves warm, but two even if sleeping together spiritually can still keep themselves warn (Eccl 4:11; Matt 25:2, 5-6). A person standing alone to fight against sin can be attacked and defeated by the evil one, world and their own sinful self, but two as husband and wife in a family can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better because God is the one who keeps the glue of the Spirit to keep the husband and wife stay together as One in Him, in real life too a triple-braided cord is not easily broken apart (Eccl 4:12). So a family is the first Church God has in his mind to establish on earth and spread the Kingdom of God (Gen 12:1-3).

4) We as Christians keep the Sabbath on Sunday, but Jesus our Lord kept it on Saturday? Whom should we follow?

So from the exposition clearly revealed above, we can understand that Jesus kept the law as a Jew to fulfill it and bring freedom from the law to make us walk in the Spirit and help us overcome the lust of the flesh
(Matt 5:17; Gal 5:16-18). Until we are led by the Spirit, sin will overcome us because of lack of the empowerment of grace (Rom 6:14). We have come to understand that no human on earth from the first Adam born, could honestly keep the law without breaking it because they were all born in sin with a sin nature, which makes them live and breathe sin internally (Psa 51:5; 58:3; Eph 2:3; Eccl 7:20). But Jesus Christ being born through the virgin Mary without a earthly Father's seed, he was without sin nature of the first Adam, and was able to keep the law of God and the demands of it for the first time in the history of humanity before two thousand years (Matt 3:15-17; John 8:46). So the law of Moses was given as a restrainment from sin for the Jews until Jesus as their Messiah could come to fulfill God's righteousness for them (Gal 3:19, 21, 22, 23-24), and it was not given to keep them to fulfill righteousness, and if it has achieved righteousness before God without faith there would have been no need for Jesus Christ to come to earth to fulfill it and die for the sins of the whole humanity (Matt 3:15). Now that, faith has come, we are no more under the tutor which is the law that makes us realize we are sinners to guide us to Christ to receive the righteousness of God that justifies us and makes us cleansed by His blood to become as righteous as God is (2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:25; Heb 9:14; 1 John 1:7, 9; Eph 2:10).

As Jesus kept the law to fulfill, we do not keep the law of Moses but the law of the Spirit as Christians, so we need not keep Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday or in any specific day to fulfill the law, but we can have a sabbath fellowship as a collective assembly to encourage each other and grow in faith ourselves and others. Further we can separate ourselves to have special time of communion with God in a set apart way on any of a particular day kept as a Sabbath of rest.

And further as Christians, we can commemorate or remember God’s six-day creation of the universe to be thankful with a heart of gratitude and praise Him for creating us and bringing us at such a time as this to fulfill God's purpose for this end time generation
(Est 4:14; Acts 13:36). In the same way like the Israelites were led out of Egyptian captivity with Moses as their leader, we as Christians have been saved from sin and have been led out of the captivity of the slavery of sin through the grace and truth Jesus gave to us in our knowledge of Him as our leader the Messiah (Deuteronomy 5:15; John 1:14, 16-17, 18). So the observance of Shabbat can be honoring to God and beneficial to His children if it was done for growing in faith and fellowship with God and other fellow brethren, but it is not a requirement for those Christians who are in Christ.

Above all, we should remember to keep the Sabbath internally with experiencing the rest that Jesus gives by obeying him who speaks to us through His Spirit and walking in humility to be yoked with him, and to carry our cross to forsake our self and all, to be a disciple of Him for the rest of our lives having been saved and qualified freely for heaven
(Matt 11:28-30; Luke 9:23; 14:26-27, 33). Praise the Lord!

We should follow Jesus not in following the law like Him who kept it to fulfill the law for us, but we should follow Jesus in loving Him through living a overcoming life over sin in faith, so that through the fruit of good character we bear, we will show to the world the greatness of our Father in heaven, who will be glorified only through our love for God and love for one another
(Matt 22:36-40; John 17:23, 26; 13:34-35).

Much Blessings....


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