Friday, October 26, 2012

The Fourth Commandment: Part One

שמע ישראל ה 'הוא האלוהים שלנו הוא אחד Shema Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad
"Hear Israel,Adonai is our God, Adonai is One"

The Fourth Commandment

Honoring the Day of HaShem
Part One: Observe and Remember the Sabbath Day

By John of AllFaith © 8.30.09 (last update: 4.26.12)

Go to: Overview
Go to: Part Two: Rebbe Y'shua Observed and Continued Sabbath Observance
Go to: Part Three: How the Sabbath Day was Stolen
Origin of the Sabbath
Sabbath observance is commanded in both biblical versions the Ten Commandments, but that's not where it first appears. If it were, one might assume it is applicable only to Jews. The command however is given to all people for all time.
Moedim or appointments matter to God! To find the origins of the Sabbath we must make our way back in time to Genesis 1:1 where we read:
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
On the first day of the first week God (Elohiym) created the light that illumines our planet. This was the first Sun-day (Hebrew only names Shabbat, the rest of the days are numbered). And when did this day begin? The text says: "And the evening and the morning were the first day." The Bible uses a lunar calendar and so we see clearly that the first day, which we call Sunday, began with the sun at rest. Modern calendars are solar based so when considering Shabbat (the Sabbath) we must think a bit differently. The day begins as the sun sets.
Genesis one continues describing the creation week until, on the sixth day, Elohiym created Adam and Chava (Eve), and then:
Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
The clear statement of these texts (and confirmed later on) is that in six literal days the One God, here called Elohiym, performed the work of creation and then we read:
Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
We know what day the Sabbath was and is because the Jews have carefully maintained the Hebrew calendar. Some cultures did not use a seven day calendar but the Jews do and they document the sacred day.
At this point in the week of creation Adam and Eve had been created. They were living in Paradise and had not yet given into temptation and rebellion. The Earth at this point was a blessed and sacred place in complete perfect harmony with Elohiym's Will. There was no taint of sin, nothing in need of redemption, everything was as it should be.
Why is this significant?
This matters because it shows that the Sabbath is part of God's original plan for the earth and its inhabitants, not something added due to the introduction of rebellion. At this point in the Bible we know nothing of sin and rebellion. There are no Noahide nor Mosaic laws, no people Israel, no need of atonement and salvation. Everything is exactly as Elohiym intends. AND Elohiym clearly intends for the creation to observe the weekly appointment, Shabbat.
Shabbat, the Sabbath or seventh day, stands unique among the days of the week. Shabbat was specifically set apart as holy (kodesh in the Hebrew) by God Himself. Of this word kodesh we read:
    A primitive root; to be (causatively make, pronounce or observe as) clean (ceremonially or morally): - appoint, bid, consecrate, dedicate, hallow, (be, keep) holy (-er, place), keep, prepare, proclaim, purify, sanctify (-ied one, self), X wholly (Strong's: H6942).
This could not be any more clear. Shabbat is the most important external observance in biblical religion. Observing Shabbat is the foundational sign that one is in a covenant relationship with HaShem. As our Messianic Siddur (prayer book) translates Exodus 31:13: "Above all, my Sabbaths you shall keep; for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you (page 12). "Above all." This allows for no exceptions. There is not a single verse anywhere in the 66 books of the Bible that nullifies this direct command, nor a single verse sanctifying any other week day, including Sunday, as being kodesh (holy). As authentic Messianic Jews Shabbat observance is not optional. Shabbat is the sign that we are part of the Brit Hadashah (New Covenant) -- that we have been "grafted into" or "adopted into" Judaism as Meshiykhiyyim.
In that utterly perfect state Shabbat was set aside and sanctified to God our Creator as the weekly day to honor Him!
Therefore, from the very beginning Shabbat was declared sacred by God and set apart! Biblically one can not successfully argue this point.
And yet it was abandoned by most of the world!
It is true that there are no more references in the Torah to the Sabbath being observed for a while (until the period of the Exodus). Does this mean it wasn't? Of course not. A case cannot be from silence. Because HaShem set the day apart the people observed it without comment in the Bible. Before Noach few commands were spelled out and even then it was not until Elohiym revealed Himself to Moshe as Adonai that much direction is given. Shabbat was the first divine commandment ever given and it was given to all creation.
As time passed Elohiym allowed humanity to go according to their own ingenuity and plans. This was in part to disprove the challenge raised before the celestial court by Heylel (Lucifer). Heylel challenged not the might of the One God but His importance, His necessity. The adversary challenged that reasoning beings, having been created, would fare better on their own. This is the challenge of the Book of Job and elsewhere. So HaShem granted almost complete freedom.
This led to the coming of the Nephilim, to the worship of the gods of Babel and eventually to the global flood.
HaShem had proven that without His intervention things would not go well for humanity. Still after the global flood He again granted nearly unlimited freedom, only requiring that humanity observe seven essential laws.
Shabbat observance is a universal commandment however its purpose is to empower humanity to give thanks to HaShem and to establish harmony with Him. For this reason it was not included under the Sheva Mitzvot B'nei Noach or Seven Noahide Laws. Again this in no way suggests it was unknown to the people nor that the righteous Noahides did not honor the Sabbath Moed. Indeed the very number of these mitzvot (laws) suggests the importance of the Seventh Day.
As time passed Avraham avinu came and entered into the Eternal Covenant with HaShem. Avraham was tested and found worthy and so through his grandson Ya'akov (Jacob) the Twelve Houses of Israel came to be.
The Twelve Houses of Israel were tested during the Exodus and then HaShem chose to renew His Covenant with Avraham's descendents. He chose Moshe avinu (our father Moses) to establish Torah with the People. According to Jewish Tradition, every Jew who has or will ever live, including all true converts, were present at Mount Sinai and personally accepted the "burden of Torah."
As the people of the Covenant the Israelites both received greater blessings and were held to greater accountability than other humans. Their keeping of Torah (including Shabbat) effects not only themselves but all the people of the Covenant and indeed impacts the world entire. For this reason, the Israelites were directly commanded to observe and remember Shabbat. As we read, after being freed from Egyptian slavery:
Exodus 16:21. They gathered it [the mana] morning by morning, each one according to his eating capacity, and [when] the sun grew hot, it melted.
22. It came to pass on the sixth day that they gathered a double portion of bread, two omers for [each] one, and all the princes of the community came and reported [it] to Moses.
23. So he said to them, That is what Adonai spoke, Tomorrow is a rest day, a holy Sabbath to Adonai. Bake whatever you wish to bake, and cook whatever you wish to cook, and all the rest leave over to keep until morning
24. So they left it over until morning, as Moses had commanded, and it did not become putrid, and not a worm was in it.
25. And Moses said, Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to Adonai; today you will not find it in the field.
26. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day [which is the] Sabbath on it there will be non
27. It came about that on the seventh day, [some] of the people went out to gather [manna], but they did not find [any].
Note that Moshe did not explain what the Shabbat was, only what HaShem would do on it. That they already knew they were supposed to be honoring Shabbat is clear in the next three verses:
28. Adonai said to Moses, How long will you refuse to observe My commandments and My teachings?
29. See that Adonai has given you [past tense] the Sabbath. Therefore, on the sixth day, He gives you bread for two days. Let each man remain in his place; let no man leave his place on the seventh day
30. So the people rested on the seventh day.
And Shabbat observance was restored. Why is this important?
Two reasons: First this is a direct reference to Sabbath observance BEFORE the Fifth (Mosaic) Covenant was issued (this took place before they reached Mountain Sinai). The Sabbath therefore clearly did not originate with the Mosaic Law! It existed and was honored prior to the giving of the Torah to Moshe.
Secondly, because this account confirms that people already knew what the Sabbath was and what was expected of them. They just needed encouragement to resume its observance after their slavery in Egypt. This supports the view that although the Sabbath is not mentioned after Genesis 2:3 until here, there is no reason to assume it was not being honored the whole time. People often don't mention what to them seems obvious.
The Ten Commandments
Now we come to Sinai and the issuing of the Ten Commandments:
The Seven Noahide Commandments were already in effect for everyone, but as the people of the Covenant more was required of Am Israel.
Exodus 20:1 Then Elohiym said all these words:
2 "I am ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery.
3 "You are to have no other gods before me.
4 You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline.
5 You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,
6 but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my mitzvot.
7 "You are not to use lightly the name of ADONAI your God, because ADONAI will not leave unpunished someone who uses his name lightly.
8 "Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God.
9 You have six days to labor and do all your work,
10 but the seventh day is a Shabbat for ADONAI your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work -not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property.
11 For in six days, ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why ADONAI blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.
12 "Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land which ADONAI your God is giving you.
13 "Do not murder.
14 "Do not commit adultery.
15 "Do not steal.
16 "Do not give false evidence against your neighbor.
17 "Do not covet your neighbor's house; do not covet your neighbor's wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
18 All the people experienced the thunder, the lightning, the sound of the shofar, and the mountain smoking. When the people saw it, they trembled. Standing at a distance,
19 they said to Moshe, "You, speak with us; and we will listen. But don't let God speak with us, or we will die."
20 Moshe answered the people, "Don't be afraid, because God has come only to test you and make you fear him, so that you won't commit sins."
21 So the people stood at a distance, but Moshe approached the thick darkness where God was.
There are a few points worth noting here!
Those Gentiles or "Ger" -- strangers -- who were aligned with people Israel are directly commanded in this text to observe Shabbat along with the Hebrews: are not to do any kind of work -not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property.
This therefore is not only a command for the Jews but also for those who are associated with them (at the least). Whose Sabbath is it? Shabbat is not a human ceremonial day devised by priests, it is the Day of HaShem Himself! It is not the Jewish holy day, it is the human holy day, the day to observe and remember the God of us all, whether we are Jews or Goyim.
"For in six days HaShem made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore HaShem blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
HaShem sanctified the Sabbath as the eternal memorial of His creative work. We have nothing to do with this! However we are honored to join in the remembrance of our creation once a week.
Despite the clear biblical teachings on this subject, some people seek to deny Shabbat by invoking "proof text" such as the following:
Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Does this negate Shabbat? Of course not.
The Sabbath is NOT an 'ordinance that is against us.' Rebbe Y'shua said:
Mark 2:27 Then he [Rebbe Y'shua] said to them, "Shabbat was made for mankind, not mankind for Shabbat
Shabbat is the greatest honor ever bestowed on creation by its Creator! The Sabbath is the day we are allowed to stop what we are doing and quietly behold the Glory of God in rest and peace! Shabbat is the day when heads of industry, humble farmers, the wealthy, the poor... when everyone stands before HaShem as equals in awe of His glory! An ordinance that is against us?

Here Ends Part One

In part two we will consider the Rebbe's teachings on Shabbat Continue to Part Two

For more detail on Shabbat read the complete study using these links:

Go to: Part One: How the Sabbath Day was Given.
Go to: Part Two: Rebbe Y'shua Observed and Continued Sabbath Observance
Go to: Part Three: How the Sabbath was Stolen.
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