A view into the Kingdom of the Eternal One
What is the importance of keeping the Shabbat? What do you receive by it? And what not? Regarding the latter, keeping the Shabbat will not grant you eternal life. But those who, beside receiving the first price, are also interested in the delight of the Giver of eternal life, in sanctification and in serving, want to give and not only to receive. To celebrate the Shabbat is to give yourself to the Eternal One, to surrender to Him, to yield to His grace, to become one with Israel, His people. To celebrate the Shabbat is to open a door and to gaze into the Throne room of the Eternal One. Just like some followers of Yeshua saw the Throne room when the Messiah transfigured before their eyes. His face and His clothes became white and radiant with light. In the Kingdom, as Yeshua said, (Luke 9:27-29) Moshe and Elijah are also present. To celebrate the Shabbat is to let the kingship of the Almighty function as it will be in the Kingdom. The rest of the Shabbat is to rest in the caring hands of the Lord of the Shabbat. And who believes in the Lord, wants to keep the Shabbat, as He did (1 John 2:3-6).
Jewish or Scriptural
Is celebrating the Shabbat Jewish or Scriptural? The Almighty One says in Leviticus, “The designated times of Adonai … are my designated times.” These are nothing less than the designated times of the Eternal One. And more specific regarding the Shabbat, “It is a Shabbat for Adonai, even in your homes” (see Leviticus 23:2 and 3). These verses tell us that the Shabbat is not specifically Jewish but Scriptural and thus meant for everyone. No verse can be found in the entire Bible in which the Shabbat is abolished.
Why we should keep the Law
The biblical precepts have not been given to us in order to be saved by. What are they for? To show to our Creator that we are grateful for our salvation and deliverance. Sha’ul writes regarding the grace of God: “For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift. You were not delivered by your own actions; therefore no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is pure grace. He continues, “For we are of G-d’s making, created in union with the Messiah Yeshua (the original Hebrew name of Jesus) for a life of good actions already prepared by the Lord for us to do” (verse 10). So he teaches us that trust, grace and good works go together. The term “good works” has meant for the Jews of all times, Messianic or not, to fulfill the commandments and precepts of the Word of God. And keeping the Shabbat is one of the commandments, like for instance the food (kosher) laws.
What do you miss when you do not celebrate the Shabbat?
When you do not keep the Shabbat you miss the opportunity to be blessed in a very special way. In the love the Almighty has for us, there is no place for oppression and manipulation. Some who hear the word “Law” immediately think of manipulation and oppression. Their memories of certain churches, congregations and their services make them shiver. Indeed, in some of us a kind of allergy has been installed regarding everything that has to do with “the Law” because they have been submitted rigidly to “the system”. But the kingdom of the Most High is entirely different. Yeshua says: “Shabbat was made for mankind, not mankind for Shabbat” (Mark 2:27). By saying this He points to the fact how important the Shabbat is, but also how G-d is caring for our well-being. To celebrate the Shabbat, at the time which the Almighty has appointed, extends a blessing that you can only appreciate, when you have experienced it.
Practical points
How do you celebrate the Shabbat? In the first place as a feast! I don’t mean with confetti etc., but as children of the King in His Kingdom. The Shabbat starts on Friday at sunset and ends on Saturday at sunset, according tot the biblical account in Beresheet, Genesis 1:5, where evening and morning form together one day. It is a pleasure to prepare yourself for this Kingdom feast. You can already start to prepare yourself from the middle of the week. The more the week continues, the more you prepare your house and run the errands for the weekend. If you are well prepared on Friday at sunset, all attention can be given to the Eternal One in His Throne room. On Friday evening two candles are lit by the woman of the house. This reminds us of the light that dispels the darkness, already from the beginning of creation. And this exhorts us to be a light for the people around us. The woman of the house will be blessed with the text of Proverbs 31:10-31, Eshet Chajil, in which the man poses the question and answers it: “Who can find a capable wife?” The children, if present, are also blessed, like Ya’akov (Jacob) did with Efrayim and M’nasheh (Genesis 48:20). The Almighty is blessed, because He has given us the Shabbat, the rest in which we experience His leading, comfort and healing.
The Shabbat is made holy by making Kiddush, pronounced with a glass of wine, or grape juice. This is a prayer, in which we thank Adonai for the fruit of the vine, which is always used to dedicate special and sacred moments. We thank Him for the fact that he has led us out of Egypt. Between Kiddush and the breaking of the special bread, the Challah, we wash our hands, like we do at every meal (Netilat Yadayim). We do this also to bring in mind the exhortation of Psalm 24, “Who may go up to the mountain of Adonai? Who can stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure hearts, who don’t make vanities the purpose of their lives or swear oaths just to deceive.” Before we break the bread and eat it, we bless the Eternal One for the fact that He has brought forth the bread out of the earth. The bread reminds us of the Lord of the Shabbat, the Bread of Life, who rose out of the grave and thus rose out of the earth. After the meal we pray Birkat Hamazon, the prayer of gratitude after every meal.
Observe and keep Shabbat
Shabbat means two things: to keep a holy gathering and to keep rest. Do not be tempted to think by yourself: I am supposed to do nothing on the Shabbat. The Shabbat is meant for you. Neither think that you can no longer go to a church or congregation on the Sunday, if you prefer that. It is about restoring the Shabbat to its rightful and honoring place, not about abolishing the Sunday as the day of resurrection of our Messiah. How could we! But Shabbat as the day of holy convocation has never been abolished by the Lord, so how could we! Besides that, “permitted on Shabbat is to do good” (Matthew 12:12). What the Shabbat asks of us is written in a surprising manner in Isaiah 58. Avoid to do things you can do the rest of the week, like running errands and doing business. The Eternal One has created us and He knows how good al His precepts are for us. He calls the Shabbat: His Shabbat, “a Shabbat for Adonai”. When you know Him personally the following commandment becomes a reality for you, “Therefore, let us do our best to enter that rest” (Letter to the Hebrews 4:11). Shabbat shalom, that you may experience the peace of the Shabbat.