Shabbat in the New Testament

Here's what the New Testament says about Sabbath rest | Land of Honey
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If you've ever wondered about the Sabbath day in the New Testament this post is for you. Many people have told me that if the Sabbath was truly important for us it would have been mentioned by the Messiah or in the New Testament. The thing is though that Shabbat actually gets brought up a lot in the New Testament. More times than in the Torah! And with the New Testament only making up about a third of the whole of Scripture, Shabbat appears in higher proportions than in the Tanakh.

Shabbat is such a foundational part of the lifestyle that Scripture teaches it often goes without saying. Sort of like how I've never seen the days of the week listed in order in a newspaper or magazine. This information is so obvious in our world that it's unspoken. The New York Times does not need to tell it's readers that Monday is after Sunday and that it's the most dreaded day of the week, but a time traveler from the Shang dynasty wouldn't have any idea about this.

If honoring the Sabbath is not part of your culture, then the implied presence of it is easy to miss. I think one of the reasons Peter, John, and Paul don't talk about observing Shabbat more expressly is that it never crossed their minds that those who follow the Messiah would scratch off one of the ten commandments. 

And speaking of those ten commandments, do you realize Yahusha spent comparatively little time on the other nine? Sabbath keeping comes up far more often in the New Testament than things like not killing or having no gods in your life besides YHWH. Do we think YHWH has "freed" us from the restriction to not murder or that we can go ahead and lie and steal? Of course not! Even without saying much on the subject we know that the Messiah still wants us to honor these commandments. Hopefully seeing how much Shabbat comes up throughout Scripture will help us to see how valuable it is to the Living Word.

Let's take a look at where Shabbat appears in the New Testament:

Hebrews 4:9 - There remains Shabbat for the people of YHWH.

Did you hear that? This book was written many years after Yahusha ascended into Heaven and the writer of Hebrews didn't believe that Shabbat was no longer applicable to us.

Luke 6:5 - The Son of Man is Master of Shabbat.

Why would the Messiah give himself this title if he wanted us to ignore this commandment? Does that make any kind of sense? He also described himself as the Good Shepherd - do we say he is out of the shepherding game? Do we think he used to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life for other people but not for us? Scripture tells us that not only did Yahusha keep Shabbat but also that he has taken ownership of the idea of Shabbat. The commandment that his people make the seventh day a set apart one belongs to him.

Matthew 12:12 - It is permitted in Torah to do mitzvoth on Shabbat.

You know how Yahusha was constantly accused of violating Shabbat? Those accusations were false. Here he explains that the Torah actually permits healing on the Sabbath day. This is not him bending the rules or blowing off part of Scripture. This is the Living Word explaining correct understanding of YHWH's commandments for Shabbat. If his intent was to do away with one of the commandments in a year or two after his death he would not have spent so much time working to correct our understanding of it.

Acts 13:14 - They came to Antioch in Pisidia and went into the synagogue on Shabbat.

I used to work for a Christian ministry that is very passionate about the book of Acts being a life manual for today's Believers. The ministry believes healings and miracles were not just limited to the early church, but what YHWH desires for his people today. I totally agree with this but I would also take things a step further: look at the other parts of the lives of the people in this book. These miracles happened through Shabbat keepers. Let's view this as a manual and live the way they did.

Luke 23:56 - They went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Here is an example of Yahusha's followers observing Shabbat after his death. Many say there is too much pressing work that needs to be done to take a day of rest, but Yahusha's followers didn't violate the Sabbath, even for his sake. I imagine if these women had ever heard Yahusha teach that keeping Shabbat was not important they would have made an exception at such a significant time. But they didn't. The spices were an important part of burial tradition and it was clear they wanted to do this as soon as possible since they went "very early" in the morning after the Sabbath to anoint his body. 

Colossians 2:16-17 - Let no one judge you in connection with Shabbat...except the Israelite body of the Messiah.

YHWH knew that many people would not understand our desire to honor his Sabbath, which is why he warned us not to let their opinion sway us. This also tells us that it's not optional. We are not free from judgment regarding Shabbat (and also foods and feast days) so we can just do whatever we want. This verse tells us that judgment is passed by the body of the Messiah. As the bride, the body's beliefs on Shabbat should be unified with the Messiah's.

1 Corinthians 16:2 - After one of the Shabbats let everyone one of you lay aside and store up what YHWH has blessed him with.

Shabbat is still treated like a normal part of life here because it was. Yahusha never wanted his followers to give up a commandment of YHWH and early on his followers were aware of that.

Matthew 24:20 - Pray that you will not have to escape in winter or on Shabbat.

Yahusha is talking here about a time that 2,000 years later has not yet happened. The escape in question is after the abomination of desolation appears in the Beit Hamikdash. Why does he use this anecdote about praying that you won't have to flee on Shabbat? It's obvious he expects his people to be aware of and desire to honor Shabbat.

Acts 17:2 - As was his custom, Paul went into a synagogue on Shabbat and reasoned with them from the Scriptures.

Why does Paul have a habit of teaching from Scripture on the Sabbath? Because that is an activity that is approved of for Shabbat. We do not see him working as a tent maker (some would say a tallit maker), traveling, or shopping on the set apart day. One of the greatest Scripture teachers of all time knew not to violate Shabbat and we have no record that he ever did, even though Acts frequently talks about what Paul was up to on the Sabbath.

Acts 15:21 - For Moshe from old times has in every city those that proclaim his teachings, with his Torah being read in the synagogues very Shabbat.

Here instructions are given on how to handle people coming into the faith that have no foundation of the commandments about set apart living. A few basic pointers are given to them (stay away from idols, sexual sin, and blood), and then Scripture tells us to get these people to start observing Shabbat. On the Sabbath day, get to somewhere that is teaching YHWH's instructions so that you can learn how to live.

Revelation 12:17 - The dragon went to make war with the remnant of the woman's children, the ones that keep the commandments of YHWH, and have the testimony of Yahusha the Messiah.

The commandments and Yahusha. YHWH wants us to have both.

There are something like 58 express mentions of Shabbat in the New Testament, so this is by no means a conclusive list. Did you ever realize what a popular word this was in Scripture? What stands out to you about Shabbat keeping?

Call Upon the Name of YHWH

1 Kings 18:24 | Land of Honey

Yahweh. God. Yehovah. Adonai. The LORD. Yahuah. G-d. Elohim. Jehovah. Does what you call YHWH matter? Maybe you have heard that the name of YHWH should not be uttered or that he knows your heart so it doesn't make any difference what you call him. But Elijah believed otherwise.

"And you call on the name of your elohim, 
and I will call on the Name of YHWH." - 1 Kings 18:24

This is from the story where Elijah faced down 450 prophets of Baal; his premise for this challenge was very simple: let's both offer a sacrifice. We'll see which name responds.

The phrasing Elijah chose is extremely interesting and clamors for our attention. He didn't say, "We'll see which God answers," or, "I will call to my God," he made it a point to mention the name of YHWH. Significant? I think so.

Something I never paid much attention to in this story was Baal. Just a strange name for a false god, right? The truth is a little more interesting: Baal is the Hebrew word for Lord. Now glance at the story again - it reads differently! Verse 18: You have forsaken the commandments of YHWH to follow the Lord.

I have a hunch you know the rest of the story; the group of prophets couldn't get the attention of Baal no matter what they tried. But when Elijah called upon YHWH fire immediately consumed the sacrifice. Those who called upon the Lord didn't see a response, but the one who called upon YHWH did.

This story made me see that YHWH distinguishes himself from "the Lord." I want to mention here that there was definitely a time in my life where I called YHWH 'God.' I know many with sincere faith who call upon 'the Lord.' I am not saying someone is a bad person or not saved or whatever else if they use generic words for YHWH. But I do think if you want to get to know someone better you start with learning their name.

In Exodus 34:6 he introduces himself. "I am YHWH." In fact, he says his name twice in a row. My brother's name is a little unusual so when he meets someone he almost always has to repeat it to get their pronunciation even remotely close. And it seems like that is what YHWH is dealing with here. He knew his name would be misunderstood.

Obviously, the Bible was not originally written in English so "YHWH" is actually the transliteration of the Hebrew letters yod-he-waw-he. These letters transliterate into the approximate English equivalents of YHWH. I use this to be as correct as possible to refer to the Living God. (The Hebrew letters are confusing to those unfamiliar and don't translate well onto all devices.) Sounding out the Hebrew letters gets us yah-a-wah or yah-hu-uh. Sounding out the English letters gets us yah-way. Yehovah would be a cousin of this. With the variety of worldwide accents some of us may need to adjust our enunciation as we learn more, and that's okay. Personally I think trying to pronounce someone's name correctly (even if you don't quite get there) is a lot more respectful than not using it, or worse yet, calling them by their enemy's name.

Okay sure, you may say, but my Bible uses LORD all the time. How important can the name be if it's not in there? Hear me out on this because the following is probably the most ridiculous thing Bible translators have ever done. In the original texts of Scripture the name YHWH was in there all over the place, Genesis through Revelation. This is crazy to hear but nonetheless translators have removed the name of YHWH from Scripture over 7,000 times! Many versions (like the ESV) even mention this in the preface, that LORD is used a stand in to 'represent' the name. LORD is not a transliteration of yod-he-waw-he. These letters are not only incorrect, but also the name of the false deity from 1 Kings 18. Exodus 23:13 tells us we aren't to speak the names of false deities at all, let alone substitute for YHWH.

"Do not add to the word which I command you, and do not take away from it." - Deuteronomy 4:2

Replacing the name of YHWH is taking away from Scripture. YHWH distinguishes his name from that of other deities for a reason.

One reason is that there are a lot of things in this world that get worshiped as "God" or "the Lord." When I am in my conservative Christian hometown people talk about "God" and I know they are talking about the one of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But if I am on a college campus, talking with someone from a different religious background, or in a more multicultural city, "God" is used to refer a wide variety of things. I have personally heard the term used to talk about Islam's Allah, the deity behind the Hindu celebration of Diwali, reiki spirit guides, and a new age higher power. Followers of these 'gods' need to know that YHWH is different from their so called god.

YHWH's name is so important to him that reverence for it is included as one of the ten most important commandments. Usually this gets translated as not to take it in vain. Read: don't use it like a swear word. Many rabbis have forbidden use of the name of YHWH so that the name could never be used incorrectly or inappropriately. Unfortunately, not using the name - thus causing people to forget it - is pretty much the opposite of what the command intends. A better translation of Exodus 20:7 would be not to empty his name. Don't bring it to nothing. Don't forget about it. We can see that Elijah clearly had no problem speaking aloud the name of YHWH. The Messiah had no problem using it either, and it got him a lot of push back from the Pharisees. He even says that he has restored the name of YHWH to the earth.

What else does Scripture say about the name of YHWH?

-The Messiah came in the name of YHWH. -John 5:43
-It will be upon his people. -Numbers 6:27
-Righteous people run to the name of YHWH and are safe. -Proverbs 18:10
-We are to esteem his name. -Psalm 29:2
-We are to love YHWH's name. -Isaiah 56:6
-Every generation should know and remember his name. -Psalm 45:17
-Salvation is found in the name of YHWH and Yahusha. -Joel 2:32, Acts 4:12
-We are to praise the name of YHWH. -Psalm 9:2
-We won't see the Messiah until we can say, "Blessed is he that comes in the   name of YHWH." -Matthew 23:39, Luke 13:35
-Disciples should be baptized in the name of YHWH, as well as the Messiah and   Holy Spirit. -Matthew 28:19
-Everyone who calls on the name of YHWH shall be delivered. -Romans 10:13
-The name of YHWH endures forever. -Psalm 135:13

It's amazing to see how important the name of YHWH is and by learning it we can better know our Creator. Like himself, his name is different from any other 'gods' of this world. May we never forget his name or bring it to ruin again.

"And Elijah came to all the people and said, 'How long will you keep hopping between to opinions? If YHWH is Elohim follow him, but if the Lord is God then follow him.'" -1 Kings 18:21

A Hebrew's Guide to Getting Through December

Walk in the ways of YHWH and don't get overwhelmed by Christmas this year. A Hebrew's guide to getting through December. | Land of Honey
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It's the most wonderful time of the year...or is it? While I am learning to appreciate the slower pace winter offers, the cultural holidays can make for some uncomfortable moments. How do you live differently when your family and friends are against the change in you? How do you deal with the frustration of Christmas overload? My hometown literally broadcasts Christmas music over outdoor speakers so that it is heard throughout the downtown. And not a single business comes to mind where you won't find holiday related decorations, events, or products; driving home from anywhere is bound to take you past lots of Christmas lights. This can be sad, overwhelming, or upsetting. How do we as Hebrews get through this time with grace?

Here are a few ideas to help guide the way:

Remember why you are doing this. At this time of year I like to brush up on some of the reasons Christmas is not condoned by YHWH. Not so I can unload this on every person I know, but because this gives me fresh conviction and motivation to not take part in this. The Truth or Tradition teaching is an excellent resource for this.

Pray and think about how you will respond. Having a few catchphrases to turn to when the subject comes up can simplify things greatly. When a cashier wishes you merry Christmas you could respond with something like, "I actually don't celebrate that but I appreciate your kind wishes." Consider also the reason you'll give if you are asked why not. Something like, "I'm trying to follow the Bible's instructions and while it speaks of seven holidays, Christmas is not one of them," is a way to plant a seed. Pray about sharing extra details with those curious to know more.

It's okay to remember the good times. Most of us have good memories surrounding Christmastime and it's okay to acknowledge that and feel nostalgic. Letting go of Christmas doesn't mean you have to let go of those memories. Reminisce of the happy times you've had with friends and family. Tell the stories or write them down. 

Look ahead to YHWH's feasts. My mind can't help but wander to thinking about what YHWH desired those good memories to look like. To have memories of hearing the story of Yahusha's birth read around a Sukkot campfire instead of next to a Christmas tree. To have kids hunt for the last bits of bread in the house before Matzah Week instead of Easter eggs. These sorts of memories are still possible so start planning for them! Start saving for a Sukkot trip or think of menu options for Passover. YHWH has made seven set apart times of joy for us, knowing that some part of us needs these special celebrations. 

Connect with others. Not celebrating mainstream holidays can feel very isolating, but cutting out Christmas doesn't have to mean avoiding family. Take advantage of extra time off or relatives being in town and invite people over for dinner or games or take your nieces and nephews sledding.

Dissent in small ways. This is a non-dramatic way to align yourself with YHWH's ways. Taking a plain snicker doodle cookie from the work break room instead of the frosted Rudolph. Not wearing red and green together. Saying, "Have a nice time with your family," in lieu of, "Merry Christmas." Things like this give others nothing to be defensive or upset about. Being different in subtle ways shows others that this isn't for show or attention.

Come up with alternative forms of entertainment. Turn on the radio or the television and Christmas will come at you fast. Create a playlist for the car or at work. Borrow a few wholesome movies from the library or watch something on ReviveTV. Put snow to use and sled, ski, or make snowmen. Take a break from social media if that helps.

Know that you are not required to participate in Christmas activities at work. It is religious discrimination and employers cannot legally fire or punish someone for not participating in holiday activities. Of course going against the grain is not always expedient to your career, and sometimes hard choices have to be made. Scripture does tell us that if we keep the commandments we will be blessed. Perhaps not right away or in the way we expect, but nonetheless blessed. If you find yourself assigned to a Christmas related task you can ask to be reassigned or offer to switch projects with a coworker. A simple, "no thanks," is the only explanation needed if you don't want to participate in a gift exchange. If your workplace is open Christmas day or Christmas Eve offering to work then so others can have time off can earn you big time brownie points.

Avoid commercial displays of the holidays, if possible. In the fall I try and get stocked up on dry groceries, hygiene products, and such so I can avoid going to businesses that have decked their halls. Seriously, if being around Christmas stuff is hard or sad for you the last thing you need to do is walk through Target's ornament isle. Utilizing online holiday offers like free shipping also help me to avoid stores. Choose coffee shops and restaurants that are less decorated if you'll be eating out. Go through the bank drive through instead of standing in line next to the Christmas tree in the lobby. 

Don't make changing anyone your job. It would be great if our families viewed this the same way we do, but honestly December 24 is probably not going to be the day most people have a serious change of heart on this. Pray for others to follow in YHWH's ways and leave it to him. Share your heart, articles, or videos as you feel lead but also consider doing that in June when holiday emotions aren't running high and friends may be more receptive. 

Make your Passover yes louder than your Christmas no. It's important for others to learn that Christmas is not of YHWH and doubtless we will all have opportunities to share truth and our own story of walking away from this during this season. But if we are going to reprimand people for celebrating the wrong holiday, we need to invite them to keep YHWH's. If others hear you speak negatively of Christmas, make sure they hear a lot more positive talk from you about Passover, Shabbat, etc.

Offer grace to your upbringing and relatives. Many of us grew up seeing Christmas as a special time of honoring the Messiah and chances are we will meet some opposition from those who still view it that way. Acknowledge that most people are simply doing their best with what they have been taught, as you once were. Be kind and patient as the seeds you are planting in their lives take root.

What's hard for you about this time of year? What have you found that makes things easier?

Small Business Hebrew Gift Ideas

Lots of gift ideas for the Hebrews in your life | Land of Honey

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Honestly, this post could be much longer. In the last couple of years more and more small businesses selling Hebrew products have opened up. I couldn't be more thrilled! It's exciting to see people make an income from items that point to YHWH. For me having objects that build up faith is essential. Maybe encouragement can come from a mug with a verse on it or a printable; or faith can be shown on a YHWH hat or menorah sticker on a laptop. Many of these items would make a nice gift for those who have expressed interest in the Hebrew faith. Whether for yourself or someone else get ready to add a few things to your wish list!

YHWH menorah sticker | Land of Honey

loved + forgiven sticker | Land of Honey

Less Sunday, More Shabbat print | Land of Honey

YHWH #1 echad pin | Land of Honey

Ten Commandments pin | Land of Honey

Shabbattoms Up Coasters | Land of Honey

Doodle Portions Animal Coloring Book | Land of Honey

Handmade shalom pottery dish | Land of Honey

My Cup Runneth Over mug | Land of Honey

This Kid Keeps Shabbat T Shirt | Land of Honey

YHWH Reigns Pennant from Milk and Punny | Land of Honey

Isralove Shalom Y'all wall hanging - Hebrew gift  ideas | Land of Honey

Menorah pillow case - Hebrew gift ideas | Land of Honey

YHWH snapback - Art of Homage | Land of Honey

Besorah of Yahusha Natsarim Version Scriptures | Land of Honey

A vintage menorah with modern shape - Hebrew gift ideas | Land of Honey

Is there a Hebrew item that you love? Send me a link.