Sabbath Regulations OR Love Your Neighbor

“Then he (Yeshua)  said to them, “Shabbat was made for mankind, not mankind for the Shabbat” (Mark 2:27).

Sabbath was part of the creation week.  It was a day created for mankind.  Mankind includes all people who came from Adam and Eve, men and women, Jews and non-Jews.  There is nothing in the verse that would suggest  otherwise – i.e. Sabbath is for the Jews.

The word  Sabbath means ‘cease’ and it was only God who ceased from his works of creation.  Adam and Eve didn’t need to cease from anything as they had no need to work in the Garden for all provision had been given to them.   They may have tended to the Garden, but they did not have to work the Garden in order for it to produce fruit.

The seventh day, according to Genesis,  had no ‘evening and morning’  which means it was created as a ‘day’ to have no beginning or ending.   With the creation of the Sabbath, a day made holy and set apart from all the other days, Adam and Eve were given eternal fellowship with their Creator.

The verse also states that mankind was not created for the Sabbath.  What exactly does this mean?  Generally, in the past,  I was taught that it meant the remembering of  the weekly, seventh-day Sabbath was over and done away with the coming of Christ.  However, it is Yeshua who is speaking and he doesn’t even suggest such an idea about his coming and the relevance of Sabbath. So what is he saying?

In the beginning, there were no commands about Sabbath.   There were no already-established, endless rules and regulations regarding the Sabbath for Adam and Eve to keep.  They were to just live out their eternal lives in Paradise eating from trees and drinking living water (Rev. 22:1-2).

However, they sinned by breaking the only command given to them by God.  The ground from which they were created would now produce thorns and thistles. Rather than eating freely from trees in the Garden, they would eat their food by the ‘sweat of their brow’.   The beginning of their life of work began.

In YHVH’s mercy, Sabbath came with them out of the Garden.  On His holy day, Adam and Eve (and their progeny) would have a time to rest from their labors so they wouldn’t physically die from endless hard work.   They would ‘cease’ from their labors and enter into a rest time for their bodies and fellowship with their Creator.  It wasn’t as perfect as being in the Garden, but it was a reminder of what would someday be restored through the ‘seed of the woman’.

When YHVH gave the command for the Sabbath to those he called up out of Egypt, he began it with the word  ‘Remember’.  It would seem that 430 years in bondage as slaves had been enough time for mankind to forget God’s holy day created for them. It was YHVH’s desire to re-establish His day for His nation of people so once again they would have hope, rest and fellowship with Him. His provision was established with manna for 40 years in the wilderness.

Over time and generations, several guidelines were added to ‘guard’ the Sabbath.

  1. Do no regular work (Exodus 35:1-2)
  2. Do not kindle a fire  (Exodus 35:3)
  3. Do not gather firewood (Numbers 15:32-33)
  4. Do not buy or sell (Nehemiah 10:31)
  5. Do not go more than 3/4 miles from home (Exodus 16:29)

By the time of Yeshua, men had developed so many rules around these commands that Sabbath was no longer a day of ‘ceasing’.  It had become a  day of compiled regulations that someone at some time deemed as acceptable or not acceptable for Sabbath remembrance.  Sabbath had lost its purpose and blessing.  Mankind had become the servant to a day created for him.

By divine authority, Yeshua re-clarified all of the Sabbath commands and their regulations with “it is lawful to do good.” 

“How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!  Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12).

“Then he (Yeshua) asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” (Luke 14:5).

What does “lawful to do good” mean?  What does it mean “that a man is more valuable than a sheep?” 

Leviticus 18:5 states “Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them.”   I remember hearing a teacher once say, “We are to live by the Torah; not die by the Torah.”  This is significant because we can still have those five commands  (and all subsequent regulations) about Sabbath written on the stoney tablets of our hearts and forget about the value of man being greater than that of a sheep.

Years ago as our family sat in our living room studying the Word on a Sabbath morning, we noticed several fire trucks pass by our house.  As we live out in the middle of nowhere, we were curious as to where they were going.  We got up from our study and went to the front door and noticed that several very large round hay bales in our neighbor’s pasture were on fire – apparently struck by lightning from a storm the night before.  We wanted to do something or at least thought we should do something, but our opened Bibles waited for us in the living room and it was ‘the Sabbath’.  As we walked in the door, the Spirit spoke to my heart, “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  

When we sat down again, I said those words to my family with the question of “What do those words of Yeshua mean?”  “How do we live them out on the Sabbath?”  We all began to brainstorm about ‘what would be a good thing to do?’  We decided that since it was extremely HOT outside that we would take lemonade and water to the firefighters.  We gathered together everything we needed and walked across the field to the fire as a family.  To this day, 14 years later, the firefighters know us as the generous family who quenched their thirst on a hot day while they fought a very hot and very smoky fire.

Of course, quenching firefighters’ thirst wasn’t our regular work, we didn’t go more than 3/4 of a mile from our home, we weren’t the ones that kindled the fire, and it didn’t involve buying or selling.  But what if we did not have the lemonade? or the plastic cups?   Would traveling on the Sabbath have been taboo?  Would buying plastic cups have been a sin?  What if some of those firefighters had been Sabbath ‘keepers’ themselves and it had been our house that was on fire?  It is easy to take the regulations around Sabbath and make them into a yoke of slavery to our lives as well as others.  It is easy to use Sabbath regulations to keep ourselves isolated from the world around us when perhaps they need to see us “lawfully doing good on the Sabbath.”  

“Then Yeshua asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to kill?” But they remained silent.” (Mark 3:4, Luke 6:9).

Yeshua asks which is lawful on the Sabbath: to save a life or to kill?  How often do we kill brother or sister in the Lord by our judgments about our personal view of Sabbath regulations (or any other regulations for that matter)?  How often do we refrain from doing good or entering into fellowship because we need to ‘keep the Sabbath holy? by staying home?    How often do we lose an opportunity to be a testimony to ‘sinners’ (those who break the Sabbath because they may not even know about the Sabbath) because we have a self-imposed reputation to keep?    If we choose to ‘guard’ the Sabbath day over loving others, then our testimony for the Sabbath day becomes pointless and we forget that Sabbath was made for us – mankind!

“If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, he cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”  

Sabbath is a sign between God and His people as well as a command.   Yet it is how we ‘remember’ the Sabbath day as holy that becomes the sign of God in our lives to others – brothers, sisters, parents, friends, neighbors.     When the opportunity comes on a Sabbath day to be a light to the world, don’t hide that light under a bushel barrel of do’s and don’ts or I can’ts or I won’ts.  According to Yeshua, man is more important than Sabbath regulations and whenever we can do good or bless one another, it is lawful or what Torah is all about.    If we have entered into a new covenant relationship with the Father, our hearts are no longer made of stone, but of flesh.  The commands are now written on our new hearts by the Spirit of God and our walk is to be spiritual, bearing the fruit of loving God as well as loving our neighbor.

©2011 jsixrock

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