Shabbat: The First Appointed Time

Excerpt from: J.K. McKee’s Moedim published 2013 by TNN Press. This resource is available for purchase here.

The first appointed time that the Lord prescribes is the Sabbath or Shabbat, opening the list seen in Leviticus 23: “For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings” (Leviticus 23:3). It is the day of the week that God has made a holy convocation—a time for us to be in special fellowship with Him.

The precedent for Shabbat is established all the way back in Genesis 2:3: “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” The Sabbath is a weekly reminder of who God is and a proclamation that He is indeed Creator and in control of the Earth. Because Shabbat is designated as being on the seventh day, it is a reminder to us as Believers, many of whom have been taught in the past that the Sabbath was either done away with or changed (discussed further), that the Lord indeed is the only One in control of Creation.

Every week in Jewish homes prayers are offered to the Lord on Shabbat that recognize He created the world, and rested after His six creative acts were complete. They proclaim that He is the Creator God and that He controls the universe. Consider the implications if all of us repeated that God gave people the Sabbath, as a special gift to rest, every week. We would recognize that the Sabbath is to be kept because there is indeed a God and we are His people. We would recognize our Creator’s Lordship, and His control of the universe.

The Sabbath is the time when God rested from His work, and so it is to be for us as well. It is to be a time of physical abstention from labor and a separated convocation for us to spend time with Him. While the Jewish tradition contains much we can benefit from in observing Shabbat, the need to rest in Him should have even more significance for us as believers in Yeshua. We are told in Hebrews 4:9, “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” But this Sabbath rest cannot be some generic rest where in our minds we claim to rest, but our bodies are still working. We must take a complete rest and spend the day focused on our Heavenly Father, our Messiah Yeshua, and the Scriptures. The rest that we experience on Shabbat gives us a foretaste of what eternity is to be like.

Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.” While these are multiple parts of our being, they still have to function together. God has commanded that we have a complete rest of our entire beings each week, not one of just our minds or spirits—but also of our bodies. In our hectic world today, taking a physical Shabbat rest is something that every Believer can benefit from!

There are many testimonies from today’s Messianic Believers (non-Jewish or Jewish) who missed out on the blessings of Shabbat rest in the past, but are now keeping the Sabbath. Many of you know the joy that Shabbat is, taking a complete day off and dedicating it entirely to the Lord and to fellow Believers.

This is something that many have sadly not had. Yet as many are diligently seeking God and asking Him to convict them of areas of their lives which need to be changed, many are being convicted about the importance of Shabbat. Furthermore, it is also important that many are realizing how Shabbat is one of the moedim or appointed times.

It is notable that while many Christian Bible teachers have written on the Biblical holidays, and have helped to stir a great deal of interest in this subject matter, they commonly gloss over the Sabbath. Is this perhaps because they do not want Christians to consider Shabbat? If they were to write on the Sabbath as one of the appointed times, after all, is it possible some Christians will start asking questions and may even start to keep it? These people might wonder why Sunday Church really is not a “sabbath.” How important is it for today’s Believers to recapture a theology of “rest”?[1]

 

 Endnote:

[1] For resources on how to keep Shabbat with your family, consult the Messianic Sabbath Helper by TNN Press.

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