“Then he (Yeshua) said to them, “Shabbat was made for mankind, not mankind for the Shabbat” (Mark 2:27).
Sabbath was a day of the creation week, 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 it’s only for the Jews or Israel.
The seventh day had no ‘evening and morning’ which means it was created with no beginning or ending, it was a never-ending ‘day.’ On the Sabbath, a holy and set apart day, Adam and Eve were given eternal fellowship with their Creator.
According to Yeshua, mankind was not created for the Sabbath. What exactly does this mean? I was taught remembering the weekly, seventh-day Sabbath had been abolished with the coming of Christ. However, it is Yeshua who is speaking and he doesn’t suggest anything 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 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 numerous trees and drinking living water (Revelation 22:1-2).
However, they sinned and broke the only command God gave them. The consequence was the ground from which they were created would now produce thorns and thistles. Rather than eating freely from trees in the Garden, they would gain their food by the ‘sweat of their brow’. The beginning of their life of work began.
In Elohim’s mercy, He gave them a Sabbath ‘day’ memorial. Adam and Eve and their children would have a time to rest so they wouldn’t physically die from endless labor. They would ‘cease’ from their work, give their bodies a rest and fellowship with their Creator. It wasn’t as perfect as living in the Garden, but it was a reminder of a coming restoration through the ‘seed of the woman’.
When Elohim gave the command for the Sabbath in Exodus 20, he began it with the word ‘remember’. Four hundred years enslaved had not allowed the Israelites to ‘cease’ work and so they forgot the Sabbath, the day of rest. Elohim desired to re-establish His day for His people so they would have rest and fellowship with Him along with a vision for the restoration of Paradise. On His holy day, He provided them with manna so they could ‘rest.’
Over time and generations, several guidelines were added to ‘guard’ the Sabbath.
- Do no regular work (Exodus 35:1-2)
- Do not kindle a fire (Exodus 35:3)
- Do not gather firewood (Numbers 15:32-33)
- Do not buy or sell (Nehemiah 10:31)
- 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 regulations that became a burden rather than a blessing. Sabbath had lost its purpose. Mankind became a servant to a ‘day’ created for him.
Yeshua transformed all of the manmade Sabbath 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 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 says, “Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them.” A wise teacher once said, “We are to live by the Torah; not die by the Torah.” We can still have those five commands and the subsequent regulations about Sabbath written on our hearts, but 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 of God 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 opened the front door. 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, 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 regrouped in the living, I repeated those words to my family with a question, “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 firefighers 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 hot and smoky fire.
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 of Sabbath and make them into a yoke of bondage to our lives as well as others. It is easy to use Sabbath regulations to keep ourselves isolated from the world around us when 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 a personal conviction of Sabbath regulations or any other regulations? 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 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 becomes null and void as we forget 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 daythat becomes the sign of God in our lives to others – brothers, sisters, parents, friends, neighbors. When the opportunity comes on a Sabbath 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 bless our neighbor, it is lawful and what Torah is all about.
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