Posts Tagged ‘law’

Instruction or Teaching (Law) – Hebrew: Torah

תורה

Torah in Hebrew means ‘teaching and instruction’

Torah is also known as the ‘law of the LORD,’ the ‘law given to Moses,’  it is to be guarded and observed for life.

“Then he took the book of the covenant (instruction) and read it aloud so the people could hear; and they responded, “Everything that ADONAI has spoken, we will do and obey.’ Moshe took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which ADONAI has made with you in accordance with all these words” (Exodus 24:8, CJB).

“Then he (Moses) took the Book of the Covenant (instruction) and read it to the people.  They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said we will obey” (Exodus, 24:8, NIV).

When Torah is translated as ‘law,’ it gives sense of legalism which has perverted the true meaning and purpose of the word Torah.

Vines, page 355, “The statement maintains the freedom of the believer from the ‘law’ of Moses in its totality as a means of justification. …nomos a term comprehensive of all Scriptures, not a ‘law’ of compulsion enforced from without, but meeting with ready obedience through the desire and delight of the renewed being who is subject to it; into it he looks and in its teaching he delights.”

“ADONAI said to Moshe, ‘Come up to me on the mountain, and stay there.  I will give you the stone tablets with the Torah (direction and instruction) and the mitzvot (commands) I have written on them, so that you can teach them” (Exodus 24:8, CJB).

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law (torah) and commands I have written for their instruction” (Exodus 24:8, NIV).

Hebrew Word Pictures

Tav – ‘Crossed Sticks’ means ‘covenant or sign’

Vav – ‘A Nail’ means ‘binding or binding together’

Resh – ‘A Head’ means ‘authority or leader’

Hey – ‘A Window’ means ‘behold or reveal

torah – covenant sign binding together the authority revealed

Greek – nomos means that which is assigned, prescribed by custom or statute.  This word implies administration of justice.

©2011 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.

The ‘Law’ of Sin and Death

“The Lord God took the man  and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die”(Genesis 2:15-17).

One of the biggest misconceptions within the tenets of Christianity is that the old testament ‘law’ has been done away with and followers of Christ are no longer ‘under the law.’  Though I cannot be certain from where this doctrine originated, I’m going to guess it evolved from choosing only half of this verse in Romans as a doctrinal view.

“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14-15). 

The word translated ‘law’ in this verse is the Greek nomos.   This Greek word can mean anything from general principles of law to the first five books of the Bible known as the Torah.  It’s such a general word that Strong’s Concordance actually says that the meaning of the word nomos must be derived from the context in which it is used.

Within the context of the Romans verse using nomos is the word ‘because.’  Because is used to introduce a word or phrase that gives an explanation or reason.  To claim “I’m not under the law, I’m under grace” is not giving the reason why.  The reason why in this verse has to do with sin no longer being the master of one’s life. 

Law and Justice

According to an online dictionary, law is defined as “the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may enforce by the imposition of penalties.”  From a Biblical perspective, it would be necessary that the Kingdom of God have a system of rules that regulates the actions of its citizens.   When one of the citizens breaks the law, they receive justice for doing so. 

This is what happened in the Garden of Eden, the eternal paradise, the first glimpse at the Kingdom of God.   Adam was given one rule.  He couldn’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  If he broke the rule, the penalty was death. 

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;  but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:15).

Adam was given the command before the woman was made.  It was his responsibility to pass this one command on to his wife.  However, because she was deceived by the serpent, she ate the fruit and gave some to Adam who committed the sin of disobedience.  They realized their sin in their nakedness and tried to cover it up.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” (Genesis 3:6-7).

God was not fooled by their fig leaves.  He knew their hearts.  He saw their sin.  He cursed the serpent who deceived Eve.  He gave Eve pain in child bearing and gave her a desire to rule over her husband.  He cursed the ground from which Adam was made so that Adam would toil all the days of his life for food.  He proclaimed His justice on Adam’s sin: death. 

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19). 

Because of Adam, everyone sins.  Because of Adam, sin and death entered the world.  Because of Adam, everyone was kicked out of the Kingdom of God.

Going Beyond God’s Boundaries

Some time ago, my son invited a friend to spend the weekend.  This friend was not a Christian, did not even believe in God.  However, he had questions he wanted answered.  Starting with the basics, I asked him to define sin.  He thought deeply for a few minutes and said, ‘doing bad things.’ Of course my response could only be, ‘Who determines what things are bad, or good for that matter?  He replied, “Good question.”  I explained that if someone puts their faith in God, it should be God and no one else, who makes that determination.  He agreed. A foundation was laid for the law of sin and death and the gift of eternal life. 

As Creator of the Universe, God gave one law to Adam.  After the flood, God gave more laws to Noah for mankind.  To Abraham, God gave laws for him and his descendants.  Through Moses, God gave 613 laws to Israel outlining how to love and worship Him along with how to live in a community and love your neighbor.  All of these laws from Adam to Israel have one thing in common – they are God’s laws.   In Hebrew, the word ‘law’ is torah and means“teachings or instructions.’ Sin is nothing more and nothing less than breaking God’s teachings and instructions.

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).

As the Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven, God defines sin as breaking His lawor torah. Sin is ultimately disobeying His instructions andgoing beyond the boundaries of His established desire for our behavior.  The consequences for sin, as Adam learned, is death (Romans 6:23).

In Hebrew, the word for ‘sin’ is chata and means ‘to miss or go wrong.’  In Greek, the word for ‘sin’ is hamartia and means ‘to miss the mark.’  This is exactly what Adam did.  He went beyond the boundaries that God established for him in Paradise, disobeyed God’s one instruction and missed the mark.  As a result, everyone sins (Romans 3:23).  Everyone.  There is no one who escapes the ‘law of sin and death.’

God’s Grace and Sin

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?” (Romans 6:15).

According to Paul, stating “we’re under God’s grace” is no excuse to continue breaking torah.  What if Adam and Eve’s conversation went something like this?

“God loves us unconditionally.  He created this incredible Garden for us.  He gave us authority over the animals that we named.  We walk and talk with him every evening in the breeze.   He has given us all the trees in the garden from which to eat except this one.    Why would he kill us? He won’t care if we just taste the fruit.  We will be like Him.  Besides what does ‘death’ mean anyway?”  Just look at the abundance of fruit on the Tree of Life!”

Oh yeah, those were the serpent’s words.  Adam and Eve had no understanding of God’s grace, the power of His grace to overcome sin and even the desire to sin.   However, because of their sin, God’s grace abounded to Adam and Eve.  He removed the leaves and covered them with garments of skin.  In order to make the garments, blood had to be shed.  Animal blood.  This set up the torah of blood for the forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22).  His incredible grace did not stop them or their children from sinning.  Cain killed Abel. 

The incredible grace of God was probably something they told and retold their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They probably spoke often about  how they sinned against God, how He promised a Redeemer,  and how He shed the blood of an innocent animal to cover their sin.   God’s grace did not remove them from the law of sin and death nor did it change the fact that they had to live out God’s judgments for their lives in a fallen world.   God’s grace kept them alive for many more years and kept them walking in the hope of a Redeemer.   God’s grace empowered them to put the past in the past and press on toward the goal, the higher calling of God’s promised Seed that would restore all things to the way they were in the Garden, but it included an even better promise, the power to overcome sin and death  (Philippians 3:14).   

Victory Over Sin and Death

“Because the Torah of the Spirit, which produces this life in union with Messiah Yeshua, has set me free from the law of sin and death … (Romans 8:2).

The law of sin and death brought on by Adam’s disobedience to God’s one instructionwas destroyed by the Seed of woman, the second Adam, the Messiah Yeshua.  His blood atoned for sin and brought universal forgiveness.   Through his resurrection, he destroyed the power of death.  When Yeshua ascended into the heavenly realm, his Father poured out His Spirit in order to begin the restoration process.    Those who are born again of the Spirit of God re-enter the Kingdom with the power to overcome sin and disobedience to torah – the same power that resurrected Yeshua from the dead.   Kingdom citizens no longer live as slaves to sin and disobey God’s laws.   They no longer live under condemnation because they are set free from the law of sin and death through faith in the work of Messiah Yeshua.  They are now free to live out the Torah of the Spirit written on their hearts.

“In fact, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed (the Spirit)  remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 John 5:18).

Does Sinless Mean Perfect?

“Be perfect therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

Not long ago I read a letter in the newspaper written by a local pastor.  In the letter the woman commented several times that she was ‘not perfect’ as a rationalization for things that were less than virtuous and honorable in her life.  I wanted  to laugh, if it wasn’t so sad.

“Perfect” in the Greek is teleios and means ‘mature and adult.’  When this pastor wrote, “I’m not perfect,” what she really was saying,  “Please excuse the sins in my life.  I’m not behaving maturely and acting like an adult.”  What a sad commentary on the power of God in the life of a pastor!

Most of the world and even people in the church think of ‘perfect’ in the same way this pastor does – incapable of sinning.  Consequently, they just muddle along rationalizing their disobedience and never experience the victory of God in their lives.  As a pastor who should be teaching and guiding a flock of God’s people, her words mock the Father who is perfect and Yeshua who told us to “be perfect as our heavenly Father.’

Of course, sinning and ‘falling short’ are inevitable in life.  We must learn from our ‘shortcomings’ and mistakes.  We must be transformed into maturity, making wise decisions for our actions,  not making foolish excuses regarding our ‘imperfection.’

Biblical Maturity

“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing” (1 Corinthians 2:6).

Maturity involves wisdom that is not of this world and does not act in the ways of this world.

“Brothers, stop thinking like children.  In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults” (1 Corinthians 14:20).

Maturity involves a transformation of mind to a way a person thinks in regards to evil.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, argued like a child; now that I have become a man, I have finished with childish ways” (1 Corinthians 13:10-11).

Maturity puts away childish behavior and acts like an adult.   

“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14). 

Maturity involves growing up spiritually, eating solid food,  being trained in righteousness, and using discernment when it comes to evil.   With another reference to evil, it must be an important concept  to understand when growing from a babe drinking milk and basic elementary teachings into maturity (Hebrews 6:1-3).

“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Messiah Yeshua, sends greetings.  He is always wrestling in prayer for you that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Colossians 4:12).

Maturity means being fully assured that you are in God’s will and you stand firm.

Noah

“This is the account of Noah.  Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time and he walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).

The Hebrew word in this verse for blameless is tamim and means ‘perfect, blameless, sincere, whole, complete.’   This word carries with it the idea of being free from objectionable practices.

Tamim is also used in reference to the people of God being called to avoid the idolatrous practices of the Canaanites (Deuteronomy  18:13).  Though there are no Canaanites today, there are many idolatrous practices that the people of God should be avoiding, but instead they lack the discernment that maturity provides so they embrace this sin.

Tamim also implies that a person externally meets all the requirements of God’s law or Torah.   In other words, there is nothing in a person’s outward activities that are odious to God.  Because of the inward condition of their heart, they meet God’s standards of living rightly before Him.    

According to Genesis, Noah walked with God and tamim describes his relationship to God.   Noah was a mature man.  He used wisdom in a corrupt world and his maturity to discern good from evil.   He took no part in the idolatrous activities going on around him; he remained separate and his life exemplified this separateness.    He stood firm in God’s will to build an ark while the world around him went from bad to worse and mocked his  faith in an unseen God.  Noah had a right heart and therefore walked blameless or perfect before God.

Did Noah sin?  Of course he did.  He planted a vineyard, got drunk, and lay naked in his tent.   He was shamed by Ham.  However, his sin did not affect his maturity in the sight of the Lord because he had obeyed God and witnessed His mercy. 

Abraham

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God El Shaddai; walk before me faithfully and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1).

Abraham left Bablyon and its idolatrous ways.  He lived in tents with his family apart from the rest of the world. He obeyed God’s commands, even to the point of being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah.  He is called the ‘Father of Faith’ and was given the sign of circumcision as evidence of his faith.  He is also  called tamim, mature and blameless.

Did Abraham sin?  Of course he did.  Twice, he lied about Sarah not being his wife nearly killing the kings of Egypt.  However, his sin did not affect his maturity in the sight of the Lord because he believed God and witnessed His Provision. 

King David

“For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite” (1 Kings 15:5).

David had faith in God like no other Israelite soldier.  He trusted in God when he stood before Goliath with only a few stones and a slingshot.  When Goliath was killed, he credited God for delivering him from the hands of the Philistines and certain death.  As a warrior David cleansed the land of Israel from idolatrous people through war.   With skillful hands, David led the armies of Israel.  As a King, he shepherded the people of Israel with integrity of heart (Psalm 78:72). 

Did David sin?  Of course he did.  He sinned when he cut off the tzizit of King Saul, God’s anointed king.  He sinned when he had Uriah the Hittite killed.  He sinned when he committed adultery with Bathsheba.  However, his sin did not affect his maturity in the sight of the Lord.   He was called tamim, blameless and a ‘man after God’s own heart’ because when he sinned, he repented and retained the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 13:14).

Zechariah and Elizabeth

“Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly” (Luke 1:6).

Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were called tamim.  As  a descendant of Aaron, Zechariah did his Temple duties as prescribed for his lineage through Abijah.  Elizabeth was barren.  They desired a child.  An angel comes to Zechariah and tells him he is going to have a son.  He doesn’t believe the angel and is rendered mute until the boy is born.

Did Zechariah and Elizabeth sin?  There is nothing in Scripture that says they did; however they were human beings.  Perhaps Zechariah not believing the angel could be considered sin, and if it was, it didn’t change Zechariah’s or Elizabeth’s maturity in the sight of God and they raised the last prophet who proclaimed the coming Messiah. 

The Body of Messiah

“You must be blameless (perfect) before the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 18:13).

Yeshua quoted this command from the Torah because he understood the Kingdom of his Father and how its citizens must behave.  If he didn’t believe it was possible to be ‘perfect’, he would never had commanded his followers to be so.  The Amplified Version of the Bible adds more understanding to Yeshua’s words in Matthew 5:48,

“You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity] as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Accordingly, we must be perfect, growing in complete maturity of godliness in mind and character before God just like Noah, Abraham, King David, and Zechariah and Elizabeth.  As citizens of God’s Kingdom, we have been give His Spirit that empowers us have victory over ‘the law of  sin and death’  and live blameless in a world as corrupt as ‘the days of Noah.’  We must keep ourselves spotless from the world’s corruption and idolatrous practices so that we  are mature and can discern good from evil and reach the proper height of virtue and integrity.   In order to do what Yeshua commanded,  we must live according to the Spirit of life that is found in the teachings and instructions of God, erroneously translated as ‘the law.’  To claim ‘imperfection’ is no excuse for sinful behavior any more than being ‘under grace’ should give us the freedom to disobey God’s commandments and break the law.  When we misinterpret the ‘law’ that was destroyed on the cross,  we put ourselves back under the law that brings death and forfeit the amazing grace of God that was given to Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, and David; the empowering grace of God that we are called to proclaim.

“We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Messiah” (Colossians 1:28).

©2012 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive. 

The Biblical Sabbath – Shabbat

Sabbath

“On six days work will get done; but the seventh day is Shabbat, for complete rest, set apart for the LORD…. The people of Israel are to keep the Shabbat, to observe Shabbat through all their generations as a perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:15-16).

There is a lot of confusion today about the Sabbath.  Some people believe that it was done away with when Yeshua died on the cross.  Other people believe that the day was changed from the seventh day to the first.   Still others say that all but the fourth commandment are in force because it was not reiterated in the New Testament.  Some even go further and say there are no longer any real commandments we have to obey because we’ve been ‘set free from the law.’

In the Beginning

The first mention of Sabbath is Genesis 2:1-2:

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.  By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

In the beginning, God created a day to honor ‘ceasing from His creative work.’   He made it holy or set it apart from the rest of the week.  This is the foundation for the seventh-day rest known as the  Sabbath.   

In Hebrew the word for Sabbath is Shabbat and its root is the word sheva meaning ‘seven.’  This gives witness to the Sabbath day being the seventh day of the week versus any other day.

Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet have a picture associated with them.  When the individual letter pictures are joined together, a word picture develops that gives insight into the word.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Sabbath or Shabbat – שבת

Shin ש – A Tooth means ‘consumed or Shekinah, ‘the Divine Presence of God’

Bet ב – A House means ‘home, family’

Tau ת – A Cross means ‘sign’ or ‘covenant’

The Hebrew word picture for shabbat: The covenant sign of God’s consuming divine presence in the home or family.

Sabbath Instructions

The next time Sabbath is mentioned is in the wilderness after Israel had spent  400 years in slavery in Egypt never having a day of rest.  God explained the Sabbath command to this mixed multitude with specific guidelines about gathering manna:

“I will rain down bread from heaven for you.  The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.  In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.  On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days. …Keep in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days.  Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out.  So the people rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 16:4-5,29).

Sabbath for the Israelites was a test of faith.  God wanted to see if His newly formed nation would simply follow His instructions.  It was no different from Adam and Eve in the Garden.  If they would just simply obey His Word and prepare for the Sabbath by gathering enough manna on the sixth day, they could stay in their tents and rest on the Sabbath.  Some, however, did not listen to God’s instruction and their disobedience brought maggots and stench to the community!

“Some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it [the man] until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell” (Exodus 16:20).

The Ten Commandments

God includes the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments, part of His instructions that would set Israel apart from all other nations.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a  Sabbath to the LORD your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.  For in six days the LORD made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

The commandment about Sabbath begins with the word remember.     ‘Remember’ that only a couple of chapters earlier the Israelites were tested regarding to the Sabbath day and some of them paid no attention. To begin this commandment with remember suggests it will be the one most likely forgotten.  The Sabbath was not only to be a weekly reminder that God was the Provider for Israel’s sustenance and life, but that He was their Creator. 

To ignore the  Sabbath is to lose the picture of God’s cycle of working for six days and resting on the seventh.  The modern-day result of forgetting the Sabbath,  along with workaholism,  is the acceptance of evolution within the Body of Messiah.  Some pastors teach there is evolutionary creation with each day being 1000 or even 1 million years.   Such thinking negates the sign of Jonah that Yeshua gave for his time in the grave:  three days and three nights. The Hebrew word, yom, is used for each day of creation as well as the three days Yeshua was in the grave.  Each yom of creation was identified numerically from one to seven, ‘evening to morning’ defining a 24-hour day within a 7-day weekly cycle culminating with the Sabbath.

Appointed Time

Sabbath is given to God’s people as the first of  the ‘’appointed times.’

“There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a  Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly.  You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:3).

From previous instructions given by God for the Sabbath along with this one,  families were to assemble in their tents in a sacred manner to remember their Creator and rest from their labors. It was to be remembered whether they lived in the wilderness, the Promised Land, or the dispersion among the nations. 

Sabbath Regulations

God gives more regulations to His people regarding the Sabbath in the Torah and through the Prophets. These guidelines defined what He considered work so that Israel would rest and remember Him and not fall back into a lifestyle of bondage. 

“Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest” (Exodus 34:21).

“Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day” (Exodus 35:3, Leviticus 26:2, and Deuteronomy 5:12).

“While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day.   …Then YHVH said to Moses, the man must die” (Numbers 15:32).

“When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day” (Nehemiah 10:31).

“When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over.  I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day” (Nehemiah 13:19).

From these Scriptures came the following Sabbath instructions: Do not kindle a fire, do not gather wood, do not buy or sell, do not carry a load, rest in season and out, and a Sabbath day’s walk.  None of the regulations resulted in harsh punishment except once because God never killed anyone for random disobedience.  After watching His people live in slavery for 400 years, He had to show them that He was serious about ceasing from work.  He knew that one rebellious person would cause everyone else to be disobedient.

The Sabbath and Yeshua

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that had been made” (John 1:1-3).

In these two verses, Yeshua refers to the beginning when Sabbath was created.  He was there in the beginning with his Father when  He spoke the seventh-day into existence.  As the spoken word of God, Yeshua was an integral part of creating the Sabbath.

Yeshua did give one ordinance for the Sabbath when he was accused of disobeying man’s traditions.   He made it lawful to do good.  He demonstrated what was good by healing the sick and feeding his disciples.

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

“Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath” (John 7:23).

“One Sabbath Yeshua was going going through the grain fields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.  Some of the Pharisees asked, ‘Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?’  Yeshua answered them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat.  And he also gave some to his companions.’  Then Yeshua said to them, ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath’” (Luke 6:1-5).

On the Sabbath, Yeshua went into the synagogue and taught his brothers and sisters, the lost sheep of the House of Israel.   He read  the Hebrew Scriptures according to the Sabbath custom, he he healed people and he cast out evil spirits.   Not only were the Jewish people amazed, they believed in him (Mark 6:2, John 8:30).

Throughout the centuries rabbis and other leaders compiled their own interpretations to the instructions given through the prophets which added great burdens on the people.  This was not God’s purpose for the Sabbath so Yeshua untwisted men’s interpretations showing that the Sabbath was made for mankind and not men’s rules.  He wanted to show his brothers and sisters  how they were to live out the Sabbathand not become enslaved to it. 

“Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).

As the Son of God, Yeshua has authority over Sabbath.  Though man can enjoy the day, determine how he will spend the day in rest, he  has no authority to change it, remove it, add to it or take anything away from it.  No man, except Yeshua, would have had this authority and he never took it. 

The Jews’ Sabbath

Many people still believe, in spite of the Biblical evidence, that the seventh-day Sabbath is only for the Jewish people.  When Yeshua stated that Sabbath was created for man, he spoke in a broader sense than just Jewish or even Israelite men and women.  After all, Sabbath was created ‘in the beginning’ before there was ever a Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or Tribe of Judah.  There was only Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and Sabbath was created for them to fellowship with their Creator. 

Though Yeshua never spoke Greek, it is important to note that the Greek word anthropos translated “man”  in Mark 2:27 literally means “man-faced.”  According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, the primary definition of anthropos is, “a human being, whether male or female, without reference to sex or nationality, to include all human beings.”  This means that Yeshua knew and understood that Sabbath was created for all human beings, not just his Jewish brothers and sisters.

Yeshua never taught that the Sabbath was abolished or would ever be.   In fact, he taught just the opposite when he says that nothing will disappear from the Torah until heaven and earth pass away.     Just because he angered the leaders of his day doesn’t mean he was in any way breaking the Sabbath as God intended; he was challenging their manmade rules that had become so steeped in tradition that they had become blinded to the commands of God (Mark 7:8).

These Scriptures in the Gospels, spoken and lived out by Yeshua, confirm that Sabbath was re-iterated in the New Testament. Yeshua, who was with the Father at the creation of the Sabbath, kept the day holy as it was meant to be and called himself the Lord of the Sabbath for all men everywhere who would come to him and put their faith in God.

After the Resurrection

“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a  Sabbath day’s walk (or 3/4 miles) from the city” (Acts 1:12).

The Apostles and the first century church remained faithful to the Sabbath. This short walk shows that the disciples didn’t break the Sabbath.  Even with the resurrected Messiah, they still respected the allowable travel distance given to Israel.  Paul reasoned in the synagogues and shared the gospel on the Sabbath.

“On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the LORD …” (Acts 13:44).

“Saul [Paul] spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Yeshua is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). 

“On the Sabbath they [Paul and his companions] entered the synagogue and sat down.  After the reading from the Law [Torah] and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak” (Acts 13:15-19).

“As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath” (Acts 13:32).

“Instead we should write to them [the gentiles], telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.   For the Torah of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath” (Acts 15:20-21).

Nothing changed regarding the seventh-day Sabbath after Yeshua’s resurrection.  Jews and gentiles who wanted to know God and hear the Word of the Lord gathered in the synagogues on the Sabbath. They heard the words of Torah, they heard the Apostles preach, and they learned about the Lord of the Sabbath.   

Prophetic Signs and Promises

“I am the LORD your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my Torah.  Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us.  Then you will know that I AM the LORD your God” (Ezekiel 20:19-20).

The prophet Ezekiel reminds the Israelites of the continued importance of Sabbath as a sign between God and His people.  No matter where they lived,  Sabbath was the sign they were in covenant relationship with Yahweh, the King of the Universe.  By keeping the Sabbath, they remained in the center of God’s promises and divine will.

“Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD who makes you holy” (Exodus 31:13).

Sabbath for the Nations

Isaiah prophesied blessings for those from the nations who keep the Sabbath.  Foreigners or gentiles who are joined to God (through faith in Yeshua), who serve Him, love His Name and worship Him, may enjoy all the Sabbath blessings included in the covenant and promises He made with Israel.  They are no longer excluded and strangers. They can worship God together with Israel on His holy hill and receive joy in His house of prayer.

“Let no foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, the LORD will surely exclude me from His people.’   And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, to love the name of the LORD and to worship Him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant – these will I bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7).

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

Just like the Jewish people, the nations are to enter into the Sabbath  rest and focus on the Creator of the Universe.  They are to take delight in the Sabbath and honor it by staying home and resting, not doing their own thing.   Their blessing is finding joy in the LORD and feasting on the inheritance given to Jacob, Israel.

Eternal Sabbath

“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,’ declares the LORD, ‘so will your name and descendants endure.  From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,’ says the LORD.  And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind’” (Isaiah 66:22-24).

These words of Isaiah prophesy of the time after Yeshua’s Millennial Kingdom, the time of the new heavens and earth.  They also speak of mankind.   The word mankind means everyone regardless of nationality, gender, religious affiliation or doctrinal views of the Sabbath.  There will be mankind who will obey and worship Yahweh and there will also be mankind who do not.  Just like in the wilderness, the consequence for disobedience will be that their worm will not die (maggots) and they will be loathsome to everyone.

When God created the Sabbath,  He never said, “There was evening and morning, the seventh day.” Sabbath was supposed to be eternal fellowship between God and his glorious creation: mankind.  Adam and Eve and all of their descendants were to live in the Garden of Eden forever, but sin ended that eternal fellowship.  In order that mankind would not forget God’s promise of redemption, He commanded remembering the weekly Sabbath as a memorial to the Garden of Eden and a foretaste of the future.   As it was ‘in the beginning‘ so it will be ‘in the end’ when there is a new heavens and a new earth.   The New Jerusalem will down out of heaven and Yahweh will once again make His dwelling with mankind (Revelation 21, 22).  It is with this vision and hope of the eternal Sabbath and everlasting fellowship with our Father that we should remember the weekly Sabbath with joy and delight.

©1997 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

For a hard copy of this blog post,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.  Thank you.