What does it look like to honor the set apart day of the week? We see Yahusha eating in the homes of friends, teaching in synagogues, speaking healing, and strolling through a wheat field--but what does Shabbat look like for us? Here are the Scriptures that tell us.
What Scripture Says About Shabbat:
1. It is for all Israel, even today. Shemot 31:16 - "The people of Israel are to keep the Shabbat, to observe Shabbat through all their generations as a perpetual covenant." Yeshua did not take away this command. Hebrews 4:9 tells us that the duty to keep Shabbat remains. Reminder: YHWH calls all of his children Israel. But even if you don't have Israelite blood...
2. He expects you to keep it, even if you aren't a natural born Israelite. Isaiah 56:6-7 - "And the sons of foreigners, that join themselves to YHWH, to serve him, and to love the name YHWH, every person that guards the Shabbat from polluting it, and takes hold of My covenant; I will bring them to My kadosh mountain and make them full of joy in My Beit Tefillah." This passage makes it doubly clear that YHWH expects every person that serves Him to honor Shabbat, regardless of your family traditions or bloodline.
3. It is the seventh day of the week. Shemot 35:2 - "On six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is to be a set apart day for you, a Shabbat of complete rest to honor YHWH." The example for this was set by YHWH in Beresheet 2:2 when he rested from creation on the seventh day. Like it or not, Sunday is the first day of the week and does not replace the command to observe Shabbat on the seventh.
4. We aren't supposed to work on it. Shemot 20:10a - "The seventh day is a Shabbat for YHWH. On it, you are not to do any kind of work." Honoring Shabbat means making sure I have the day off from my job. Professional work is prohibited but YHWH gave this command to a group of just-freed slaves wandering the desert. The Israelites had no professional work to do, and were still commanded not to work on Shabbat. Clearly 'work' means more to YHWH than what we are paid to do.
5. It is a day of rest. Shemot 35:2 - "On six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is to be a set apart day for you, a Shabbat of complete rest to honor YHWH." Resting is a more helpful way to describe the itinerary for the set apart day. No one is going to pay me to rake the leaves, change the oil in the car, check my email, or clean the house, but are those things restful? Then don't do them!
6. We should worship YHWH on it. Ezekiel 46:3 - "The people of the land shall worship before YHWH on Shabbat." Physical rest is one aspect of Shabbat; emotional and spiritual rest are another. Worshiping YHWH brings us shalom and refreshment. This verse also tells us once again, Shabbat is for all of us.
7. We should not cause anyone to violate Shabbat. Shemot 20:10 - "On it, you are not to do any kind of work--not you, your son or daughter, not your servants, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you." While most of us don't have servants in the dust-my-mansion sense we still pay people to work for us. Having the electrician over to fix something or having a barista whip up a latte is out of the question on Shabbat. Visiting a place of business, even if you don't pay anything (like a library or gym), causes someone else to work. YHWH says don't do this.
8. We should not buy or sell anything on it. Nehemiah 10:31 - “If the people of the land bring merchandise or food to sell on Shabbat, we will not buy from them on Shabbat or on a kadosh day." This expressly prohibits buying and selling on Shabbat. This is implied throughout Scripture since everyone is supposed to be resting, and in order for things to be for sale someone has to work. Later on in 13:17 Nehemiah discovers food being sold and angrily calls it profaning Shabbat. This means going out for lunch or swinging by the Saturday morning farmers market does not fit in with following the commandments of Scripture.
9. It's not a day for pursuing our own interests. Isaiah 58:13 - "If you hold back your foot on Shabbat from pursuing your own interests on the kadosh day of YHWH ; if you call Shabbat a delight, worth honoring; then honor YHWH by not doing your usual things or pursuing your interests or speaking about them." Shabbat is for us to grow closer to YHWH, not to spend browsing the internet, watching movies, or working on hobbies. It is a day for worship, studying the Word, and prayer.
10. We shouldn't cook on it. Shemot 16:23 - "Tomorrow is the rest of the kadosh Shabbat to YHWH; bake what you'd like today, and cook what you'd like to cook; and what is leftover, store up for the morning." YHWH expects us to prepare for Shabbat by having food made so we don't need to worry about cooking. To me this is one of the more challenging of the Shabbat commands but it is definitely worth it to be able to fully honor His instruction. If you're eating a random assortment of leftovers or a peanut butter sandwich, so be it.
11. We shouldn't start a fire on Shabbat. Shemot 35:3 - "You are not to kindle a fire in any of your homes on Shabbat." This verse is referring to an actual fire and not electricity. Starting a fire is a lot of work and something we shouldn't do until Shabbat is over.
12. It is not a day for hauling stuff around. Jeremiah 17:22 - "Don’t carry a burden out of your houses on Shabbat." Historically this has to do with moving things out of your home for sale, but it is also a reminder that we shouldn't burden ourselves on Shabbat. If you find yourself overloading the car before heading to congregation, stop and evaluate if you can downsize, what you can do ahead of time, or what simply can wait.
13. YHWH is angry when his people don't keep it. Ezekiel 20:13 - "But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They did not live by my laws; and they rejected my rulings, which, if a person does, he will have life through them; moreover, they greatly profaned my Shabbats. Then I said I would pour out my fury on them in the wilderness, in order to destroy them." There are something like fifty verses in Scripture where YHWH rails against His people for not honoring Shabbat. Let this serve as a warning for us.
14. It is a sign between us and YHWH. Shemot 31:13 - "Tell the people of Israel, 'You are to observe my Shabbats; for this is a sign between me and you through all your generations; so that you will know I am YHWH, who sets you apart for me.'" A sign serves as a reminder for all who see it, that means that by keeping Shabbat you are sharing truth with your family, friends, and coworkers. Additionally, this verse tells us that there is something about Shabbat that communicates who YHWH is to us. Incredible!
15. Keeping it is a delight. Isaiah 56:2 - "Happy is the person who does this, anyone who grasps it firmly, who keeps Shabbat and does not profane it, and keeps himself from doing any evil." In a world with skyrocketing rates of depression and anxiety, don't we want to get all the joy in our lives that we can? Scripture tells us that if we keep Shabbat we will be happy.
Shabbat shalom everyone!