Fellow blogger Carole Sparks wrote “Sabbathing: Is that a word?” on her blog Not About Me. She brought up a lot of good points in that post as well as her follow up post. You can read it here.
As I read her post, it made me think of my time in Israel and celebrating a Shabbat meal with a host family. They were so kind and allowed 17 of us to share a meal with them while they taught us about their custom that night.
I am working on a Bible study on the Book of Hebrews. Hebrews is probably a book of the Bible some would avoid like Numbers or Leviticus. It has a lot to do with the Moses, the Law, and the Levitical priesthood. However, the author of Hebrews wrote his letter to people who were leaving their faith in Yeshua to return to Judaism.
He wants to show them how superior Yeshua is to everything from angels to Moses, to the Law and even the Sabbath. In Hebrews 4:1-11, the author reflects back on Old Testament verses found in Psalm 95:7-11. God is speaking of the generation from the time of Moses, their rebelliousness, and eventual death in the wilderness. They were unable to enter God’s rest which was Canaan because of their disobedience.
The Hebrew passage takes a course change from the Canaan rest to the Sabbath rest. At this point, without going into everything I cover in my study, I will give an excerpt from my Hebrews study:
In Exodus 31:13, God wants us to keep (or to remember) the Sabbath so we may know that he sanctifies us. He also says in verse 14,
“You shall keep the Sabbath because it is holy for you.”
Sanctify means to set us apart or to make holy. Why is this important?
God wants us to be His light. He wants us to be different. How can we be His lights if we are as tired and overworked as the rest of our culture? If each day is like all the rest, how do we show the world that we are set apart? How do we display that our Sabbath is holy to us as God said it is?
When I was in Israel, the group I went with was fortunate enough to be part of a Shabbat (Hebrew Sabbath) meal. Shabbat is 25 hours long and includes turning off all electronics (yes, all of them), spending time at the synagogue (at the time of Yeshua, they recited Psalm 95:7-11 every week on Shabbat), and spending time in the Torah with God and family. Friends and family members eat a meal which consists of many courses. Dinner begins with a blessing over the breaking of bread which represents peace from any conflict that may have occurred during the week. Next, there is blessing recited over a glass of wine or grape juice which represents sanctification of the day of rest. It is like Communion.
Psalm 95:7-11 (ESV)
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
At one point during the meal, the head of the household sings Proverbs 31 to his wife to bless and honor her. He and his wife then take the face of each of their children in their hands and speak blessings over them individually. The look on the kid’s faces was priceless! They loved it and looked forward to it.
I felt almost intrusive as I watched their interactions and the intimate way they spoke to each other. There weren’t many dry eyes in the room.
So, let’s look at the Sabbath another way. Every week, an Orthodox Jewish family gives reverence and praise to God, makes peace with God and family, blesses and honors the women and children, all while resting from work and spending time together reading the Word. How different would our families be if we kept the Sabbath like this, instead of just hurrying to church?
This is an example of being set apart, not like the rest of the world, but living out devotion, faith, honor, obedience, and rest.
Psalm 31:10-31 The Woman Who Fears the Lord
10 4 uAn excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than vjewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She wseeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She xrises while it is yet night
and yprovides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She zdresses herself5 with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She aopens her hand to bthe poor
and reaches out her hands to bthe needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in cscarlet.6
22 She makes dbed coverings for herself;
her clothing is efine linen and fpurple.
23 Her husband is known in gthe gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes hlinen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 iStrength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many jwomen have done kexcellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 lCharm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
Excellent words and I think your idea of being a bit more Shabbat-oriented is a good one. Often we think that the Sabbath is for the Old Testament. This isn’t true. It also isn’t meant to be surrounded by legalism, but instead by freedom in Christ. He has done the work on the cross and there is no work we can do to get any closer. Rest revives and restores us so we can be His people surrounded by the Light of the World – His precious presence.
Thank you, Jeanne! I agree with you too. I think the Shabbat is meant to bring us closer to God and family, but also to rest. Our bodies are made to heal and restore during rest. Every cell in our body has a time of rest built into it. God included rest into our very being.
Stephanie, I’m so glad I took the time to read this post! I was just speaking to a friend today about my need for rest. I know that our glorious Heavenly Father is convicting me to take a day off—even from social media.
Our fast-paced modern culture needs to s-l-o-w down.
I learned a valuable and applicable lesson from what you have shared. So, I’m going to return the favor and share this with others.
Blessings to you, dear sister!
I’m so glad you wrote this! I love the image of taking our children’s faces in our hands and speaking blessing into their lives. And I’m not-at-all opposed to turning off the electronics, either. I’m going to ask my family if they are willing to try this for a day because you really can’t rest if those around you are still running. The Jewish practice models Sabbath as a household event more than an individual experience. Lots to think about…
I’ll add a link to this post on my second Sabbath post, if you don’t mind.
Sure, no problem. Thanks! By the way, there are two schools of thought: the Greek, which says it’s about me…I am, I do, I think. Then the Hebrew, which says it’s about us: we seek, Our Father, forgive us…Hebrew thinks in plurality.
And the church is one body with a plurality of members. And God is “we/us” in One. Hmm…
I read a book which argued there was no concept of “I” (hence, individualism) before the monotheistic God of the Hebrew people. Can’t remember the name of it.
I’m looking forward to reading your book, Stephanie. Thanks for sharing about Shabbat. I especially liked the part where you shared about the husband reading Proverbs 31 over his wife and the children reacting. This is a beautiful picture of what family should be like, and the value of a husband imparting a blessing on his wife. This is just beautiful! I also liked your emphasis on holiness. I’m glad you got to visit the Holy Land. Thanks for sharing, sister.
Beautiful article! I agree with you 100 percent. I have blogged about Sabbath recently; so I am sharing your post as a backup.
Thank you Gail! I will read your article as well.