The Sabbath is very important to God. He mentions it nearly a hundred times throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. Yeshua said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. I and the Father are one.” So, we must ask, if the Sabbath is important to the Father, is it not also important to the Son?
Recently, the leaders of our congregation decided that for the holiday season, we are forgoing Erev Shabbat (Friday night) services. Some people are freaking out, asking, “What will we do for Shabbat?” Well, I have the answer.
As the Chag Sameach director, I keep hitting a brick wall when it comes to doing anything at the temple that would ‘make the holiday…more’. I still haven’t figured out how to do that at services. What I do know is that God’s appointed times are centered around Him, family, and community. When we remove the family part of it, we remove some of the foundation. Building up that foundation is how to make the holiday more memorable, more personal. When it is centered around God and the family, it naturally flows through to the community.
TAK is encouraging people to celebrate the holiday at home with family and friends, and that is exactly what we should do. They are calling it ‘ShabbatOn’. They offer a few resources on their website to assist us in doing this. One of these, I absolutely love. It is a video by Birthright Israel featuring Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff. Now I know that this is a video by Jews, for Jews. Yet there is a lot we can learn from it.
For instance, the laid-back attitude they have. It encourages people that things do not have to be perfect; the important thing is to start. Also in the video, Rabbi Lawrence points out that the holiest day of the year is not Yom Kippur. Rather, it is Shabbat. (Bet that surprises some of us.)
Shabbat is a beautiful gift. As Yeshua points out, it was made for us. Shabbat is a time to rejuvenate. But it’s not a physical ‘catch-up-on-sleep’ rejuvenation, though it does contain some of those elements. Rather it is a purposeful time to shut out the rest of the world and reconnect with God, family, and community. (Anyone who knows me knows I am all about connections.)
In addition to being a beautiful gift that allows us to rejuvenate and reconnect, Shabbat is a tool. It helps us to learn how to number our days. As Rabbi Lawrence points out, Shabbat is not the end of the week (down in the valley) but the high point of the week. Every day builds toward Shabbat.
So how does that help us? Think about how we consider being with God in the world to come as the high point of our existence. Every moment, every day, every month, and every year of our life builds toward entering into God’s promised rest. Shabbat as a tool gives us the opportunity to practice making every moment of our lives count for that moment and God’s purpose.
When we arrive on Shabbat and realize we are not ready for it, we can look back through the week to see where we failed in preparing to meet the Sabbath. If we care to, we can look back through the week to discover where we wasted our time on meaningless frivolities. We then repent of our failings, learn from our mistakes, and move on. Fido – forget it and drive on. Or as the scripture tells us, “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for the reward of the upward calling of God in Messiah Yeshua.” Shabbat gives us the opportunity to do this.
My granddaughter and I started celebrating Shabbat a number of years ago. It started small, and developed into a magnificent time together – full of love and laughter, food and more food, singing and dancing, and sitting at God’s feet, learning from His word. Every week, we get to experience a little bit of heaven on earth.
Sunday I will post some suggestions to help you get started in your Sabbath celebration. Above all, my hope and desire for you is that you will realize what an awesome gift Abba bestowed upon us when He gave us the Sabbath, His most holy day.