To Keep the Sabbath
What does it mean to “keep” the Sabbath? Many assume that if they go to Church or spend the day off from work, they are “keeping” the Sabbath holy: because they are setting it aside. However, the Sabbath was not a time that man sets aside, but a time that was created as a gift for man: a time the Father set aside. Let’s examine a few things in scripture and see if we can better understand what it means “to keep the Sabbath.”
The word “Keep” is the Hebrew word “Shawmar” and means, to guard, observe, to hedge about, protect, or attend, and even “to save.”
We read in Mark 2:27 that, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”
So weekly we receive from Father a gift. Notice how the word keep makes reference as to how we are to handle this gift. It could be read that “you are to guard the Sabbath,” or that “you are to protect the Sabbath.” What makes this day holy?
We read the following in Exodus chapter 20 verses 8 through 11
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
What is significant about this verse is that many overlook the word blessed. This is the Hebrew word “Barak,” and specially means “to kneel down and give thanks.”
In this particular reference the word LORD, is actually speaking about the Father. The word used here is Yahweh. This might seem weird at first but it actually makes perfect sense when we read the following verse from Colossians 1 verse 16.
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
So all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, dominions or principalities or powers: were created for his pleasure.
Yahweh is giving thanks for His work and praising his creation. He says in Genesis 1:31 that he saw all His work “and behold it was good.” This word good means pleasant, enjoyable, lovely, well, or desirable.
So Yahweh, our Father, was on this day (the Sabbath) giving thanks and praise for all his creation because they brought him joy and satisfaction. His creation added to His pleasure. He made man and said He saw that “it (man) was good.” So our Father first praised his creation and pronounces it as good.
Because of the oneness the Father and son share, everything the Father does, the son also does. We read in John 30 v 10 “I and my Father are one.” Yahshua also tells us that he does the deeds which his father gives him, and everything the father does, he also does.
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
So just as the Father was giving thanks, Yahshua also knelt and gave thanks. But we read something more of what took place on this day. Genesis 2:2 says;
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.
It says that he rested from his labor. Many assume that this means that they are just to stop doing their daily labor and spend the day sleeping or relaxing. While this can certainly play a role, that is not the only thing that pertains to this word, rest. We, in fallen nature, cannot rest as Messiah rested “until all things be restored.” Notice how in the following verse it says the Sabbath is sanctified.
And God blessed the seventh day(Gave thanks for it), and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
The word Sanctified is Qadash and means; to be hallowed, or be holy, to be separate, or clean. So the Sabbath was made holy because in it God rested from all His work. And God is holy, he is hallowed and he is separate and clean.
So notice how the Father was thankful that he had a day to rest. He was giving thanks for this day. Many people try and rest also, but fail to understand what exactly it means to rest. What is keeping man from being able to rest?
Jame 4:8 says, “draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you.” “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
The Sabbath is a special time in which God is trying to draw near to his creation to give thanks and praise to us. This is why scripture describes it as a gift. But HOW do we draw near to God. Revelations 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Every Sabbath he is desiring to come in and sup with his people: what is keeping this from happening. 1 Peter 1 verse 16 tells us to, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.”
Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, are a prime example of what happens when we think we can enter into the presence of God in any way we please. Let’s observe.
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.
And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.
Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. (Leviticus 10:1-3)
They came before the Lord with their own fire, not fire which God had chosen. They offered their own fruits which are not the fruits that Father desires. This is the same mistake Cain made. He offered his own work, but the works that the Father gives us to do “show that the Father is in us” just as the Father was in Messiah. Notice that it says God will be sanctified (in) the people who draw near to him. So the individuals who draw near to the Father will be sanctified through him. God will be reverenced in his people; he will be hallowed and be reverenced as one who is holy.
Notice how in Isaiah chapter 1 verses 13-15 Father calls the Sabbath an abomination.
Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
Wash you, make you clean; put away the >evil< of your doings from before mine eyes; >>cease to do evil;<<
Again, Israel thought that they could keep God’s law according to their own dictates. But notice it says that they were unclean, the ‘truth had not sanctified them’ (John 17:17). This shows clearly that knowledge without the spirit is of no avail. We cannot keep the Sabbath according to our own dictates. First, we must be sanctified by the word of God and allow the Father to work in us to purify us of all sin. It says even their prayers, He would not hear. Psalms 66 verse 18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord WILL NOT hear me.”
So before we can even begin to keep (guard) the Sabbath, and keep it holy and undefiled, we, ourselves must be holy and undefiled. Imagine your mother just swept and mopped the floor and she says do not walk on it because she does not want it to get dirty by your feet. “Keep the floor clean.” It’s preserving something. Moses had this same experience.
And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.(Exodus 3:5)
When we come to sup with the Father we MUST be clean. This is what it means to be sanctified. The Sabbath comes to us weekly in order that we might “grow up unto perfection” (Hebrews 6:1) This is why the Sabbath is a sign between us and God, because it is He who sanctifies us.
Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them. (Ezekiel 20:12)
When we come to the Father in any way we please, “we are not able to enter into the Sabbath or into his rest.” (Hebrews 4:10) There are many who keep the benefits of the Sabbath, the rest from physical labor, but they don’t hold the sign of the Sabbath, which is sanctification. Yahshua tells us that it is through him that we receive rest.
“Come to me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28
In order to come to him, we must cleanse ourselves.
Now if you remember in the beginning of the study, Yahweh and Yahshua set an example of what we are to do on the Sabbath. They gave thanks and praise first, for us. So then what are we to do? Isaiah 58:13-14 tells us the following:
If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
When we can do this, then we can rejoice in the words of David and Bless the Lord also.
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: (Psalms 103:1-2)
Only in receiving true sanctification can we rejoice in the rest of Sabbath. Then we might be able to give thanks and praise BACK to the Father for all things. In Acts chapter 2 verse 21 we read “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began”.
In Ezekiel chapter 33 it says that they were to set watchmen at the gate, and if they saw a sword was to come upon the land they were to blow the trumpet and WARN the people. If the people did not heed this warning then their blood was upon their own head. And likewise if they see the sword and blow not the horn and the people be taken away then the blood is required upon the watchmen.
This is what it means to guard the Sabbath. We are keeping it holy by not allowing anything to attack it, or defile it. We cannot keep guard or keep something holy if we are seeking to enter into it with our own filth. We then defile the Sabbath through ourselves.
So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel;
In the following study we will take a look at how we become Sanctified, and exactly what sanctification is. I hope this study helped you to understand exactly what it means to keep the Sabbath.