Why we do not keep to a Sabbath or a Sunday or Lord’s Day #2 Testimony

To be set down as remembrance or testimony

Throughout the ages, after the flood and the experience in the wilderness the mishnah, or word of mouth made possible by frequent recitation, made that all lovers of God remembered the things the Elohim had done and said.

It may have been good in the eyes of Jehovah to see the act of reciting memorized materials in the homes and in a public performance, but God wanted to give His chosen people something to go by. He provided a hold by the Words written on stone tablets, given to Moses because God had seen it was difficult for His people to keep His commandments, forgetting them.

Exodus 16:26-34 The Scriptures 1998+  (26)  “Gather it six days, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there is none.”  (27)  And it came to be that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none.  (28)  And יהוה {Jehovah} said to Mosheh, “How long shall you refuse to guard My commands and My Torot1? Footnote: 1Torot – plural of Torah, teaching.  (29)  “See, because יהוה {Jehovah} has given you the Sabbath, therefore He is giving you bread for two days on the sixth day. Let each one stay in his place, do not let anyone go out of his place on the seventh day.”  (30)  So the people rested on the seventh day1. Footnote: The seventh day of the week, the weekly Sabbath, was observed before the Ten Words were given on Mt. Sinai.  (31)  And the house of Yisra’ĕl called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like thin cakes made with honey.  (32)  And Mosheh said, “This is the word which יהוה {Jehovah} has commanded: ‘Fill an omer with it, to keep for your generations, so that they see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim.’ ”  (33)  And Mosheh said to Aharon, “Take a pot and put an omer of manna in it, and set it down before יהוה {Jehovah} , to keep for your generations.”  (34)  As יהוה {Jehovah} commanded Mosheh, so did Aharon set it down before the Witness, to keep.

God asked Moses to write everything down for a testimony for later generations. (Exodus 17:14) He had to write it for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua, but it was also to be used to the next generations to be a guide. It are those writings we still have to day to guide us along.

Moses takes his leave of Jethro by Jan Victors, c. 1635, from the incident in Exodus 4:18. Jethro is seated on the left, in red.

Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, asked Moses to listen to his voice and advised him to be for the people before God, and Moses to bring the issues to God.  (Exodus 18:19).

In the third month after the Israelites went out from the land of Egypt, setting out from Rephidim, they came to the desert of Sinai, and they camped in the desert, and Israel camped there in front of Mount Sinai. And Moses went up to God, and Jehovah called to him from the mountain.

Exodus 19:3 The Scriptures 1998+  (3)  And Mosheh went up to Elohim, and יהוה {Jehovah} called to him from the mountain, saying, “This is what you are to say to the house of Yaʽaqoḇ, and declare to the children of Yisra’ĕl

Exodus 19:5-6 The Scriptures 1998+  (5)  ‘And now, if you diligently obey My voice, and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be My treasured possession above all the peoples – for all the earth is Mine –  (6)  ‘and you shall be to Me a reign of priests and a set-apart nation.’ Those are the words which you are to speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl.”

It was on that mount that for the first time God provided His people with a set of rules in written form.

God’s people had seen their deliverance from Egypt, received His guidance on the way to go; they saw His glorious victory at the Red Sea, they saw God provide food and water miraculously, and they saw a prayerful victory won over the Amalekites.

All that went before was meant to bring them to this place. This was the beginning of the fulfilment of what God said in Exodus 3:12:

“Because I am with you. And this is to you the sign that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Mitsrayim, you are to serve Elohim on this mountain.”

“Thus you shall say to the children of Yisra’ĕl, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”
“Thus you are to say to the children of Yisra’ĕl, ‘Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Aḇraham, the Elohim of Yitsḥaq, and the Elohim of Yaʽaqoḇ, has sent me to you. This is My Name forever, and this is My remembrance to all generations.’

Mount Sinai ("Gabal Musa")
Mount Sinai (“Gabal Musa”) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From that time onwards people had to know the Name of God as a remembrance to all generations. Moses was to say the “I am” had sent him to them. (Exodus 3:14) and now God spoke all these words, saying that he is Jehovah Moses His God, the Elohim who brought the people out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. They shall have no other gods before this God of gods to Whom they had to give honour and who had to be the Only One to be worshipped, without having made graven images of Him. (Exodus 20:1-7)

And then came the moment where the ordering of day and way to behave on days came to be spoken of.

Exodus 20:11 The Scriptures 1998+  (11)  “For in six days יהוה {Jehovah} made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore יהוה {Jehovah} blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart.

The Promulgation of the Law in Mount Sinai (il...
The Promulgation of the Law in Mount Sinai (illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a fourth commandment it was given to God’s people to have the seventh day (from Friday when the sun would go under to Saturday sunset) was commanded to be respected as a day of rest. This rest was for all of Israel – servants and slaves as well as visitors.

This is an important principle that might be too easily passed over. Here God declared the essential humanity and dignity of women, slaves, and strangers, and said they had the same right to a day of rest as the free Israeli man. This was certainly a radical concept in the ancient world. {Guzik Commentary on the Book of Exodus}

Too often is forgotten it was for all mankind, and not for the Jews themselves. People also had to continue to tell others about these rules received from the Most High. Their mouth to mouth had to bring everybody this news of given rest. In their traditions, the Jewish people came to carefully quantify what they thought could and could not be done on the Sabbath day, in order to keep it holy.

Which rule for Sabbath keeping to follow by whom

Problem with man is that often they wander about with many ideas and create some escapes to certain given ideas. Soon different ideas and teachings did go round.

At the time of Jesus there where many contradictory ideas and there could be found many Jews who had different rules about keeping the Sabbath or how to arrange life.

All Jews agreed to have six days of labour an one day of rest. This day of rest was given by God so that they could think about what He had done for them. But it was also to bring them closer to God, having that day more time to spend with God. It was known that those who set out deliberately to flout God’s law, would be severely punished. The enforcement of this law by a strong penalty suggests that there were significant benefits to be obtained from keeping it.

There was thus a clear social benefit for everybody in the nation, but also an important underlying reason for the law. By keeping the Sabbath there would be a weekly reminder of the nation’s redemption from Egypt. They were to be merciful to their servants, because God had showed great mercy to them when He freed them from slavery to Pharaoh. To reinforce this point, even animals were to benefit from the Sabbath law! As well as allowing servants to rest, the ox and ass could rest too (see verse 14).

When the Apostle Paul commented upon another aspect of the law where animals were mentioned, he said:

 Is it about oxen Elohim is concerned? Or does He say it because of us all? (1 Corinthians 9:9/10).

Whilst not denying that God is interested in all His creatures, the main benefit of the Sabbath was for men and women, not animals. They were involved purely to emphasise the importance of the command.

Servants would obviously be pleased with the law, but what about their masters? Unscrupulous masters, like unscrupulous employers today, would surely try to find a way round it. But there were great benefits for them too. God told them that the Sabbath was a sign between God and them,

Exodus 31:17 The Scriptures 1998+  (17)   ‘Between Me and the children of Yisra’ĕl it is a sign forever. For in six days יהוה {Jehovah} made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ ”

Those laws inclusive the Sabbath Law was there that they might know that the Only One God the Adonai Elohim Hashem Jehovah is the Lord above all lords Who sanctifies them or makes them holy (Ezekiel 20:12).

Ezekiel 20:12 The Scriptures 1998+  (12)  “And I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign1 between them and Me, to know that I am יהוה {Jehovah} who sets them apart. Footnote: 1See Ex. 31:13-17.

If they wished to continue to receive blessings from God when they were in the land, as they had received them in the wilderness, they needed to keep His Sabbaths. People had to know that if they obey those laws, they will live.

Ezekiel 20:13 The Scriptures 1998+  (13)  “But the house of Yisra’ĕl rebelled against Me in the wilderness. They did not walk in My laws, and they rejected My right-rulings, which, if a man does, he shall live by them. And they greatly profaned My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My wrath on them in the wilderness, to consume them.

Sabbaths to be followed

Moses with the Ten Commandments
Moses with the Ten Commandments (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Moses obeyed God and wrote down what He requested to write down. As such he created a memorial of the works and holy days of God and the holidays of man, intended to celebrate or honour the memory of God or an event. The book of Moses should be seen as a memorial or serving as a remembrance of the Most HighI Am” Who created the beings and without Him there would no being.

Many different Sabbaths where brought forward to man. They spoke about the Sabbath of the Exalted One, but also of the herdsman’s Sabbath, the naked ascetics Sabbath (Nigaṇṭhas or Digambaras or Jains, and that of others like the Aryans.

This Sabbath of the herdsman was not of great fruit or profit, not very brilliant and was not of great radiance. The naked ascetics found they had to do away of anything connected with the world. On the Sabbath they exhorted their disciples thus:

“Now, good fellow!  Off with all your clothes and say: ‘I have no part in anything anywhere, and herein for me there is no attachment to anything.'” {Kiñcanaṃ = palibodho (obstruction). Comy. Cf.A. ii, 177;Ud. vii, 10; UdA. 386.}

This was to show they had no conceit of

“better am I,”
“equal am I,”
“inferior am I.”

They could think if they were “Am I?” and how they related to others. Their own “I am” was placed in the universe of the Bigger “I Am”.  They had time to compare themselves to the other “I am’s ” in the world and to the “I Am” Who provided that those “I am”‘s could live. Without the SupremeI Am” the ordinary man could never say “I am”. But now every one of us can answer to any body else when questioned if he or she is this or that one “I am”. This naturally does not make them to be the God of gods, like some think Jesus is because he answered “I am” when questioned if he was that man spoken of.

Two great Sabbaths were remembered: the Eternal Sabbath (which is the next Day of Creation) and the  weekly Sabbath. Accordant to the tradition Noah experienced the Eternal Sabbath in his Ark.

After all, there was no death and no sorrow in the Ark, under the ‘rule’ of the Attribute of Mercy God (as it says there: “And יהוה {Jehovah} closed (the door) for him.”

Though all people, as any child of Adam and Eve, could experience the weekly Sabbath, Noah was only exceptional for experiencing also the Eternal Sabbath. The Jews believe Noah observed the Sabbath as a testimonial for creation.

Rabbi Goren zt”l   distinguished between 3 ‘components’ of the Sabbath: (1) The Sabbath of Genesis, connected to the story of Creation (2) The Sabbath of the Exodus, connected to the idea of freedom (3) The Tabernacle Sabbath, connected to the holiness of Israel as a priest to the nations) with 39 prohibitions of labor.

For the Chosen People of God the Sabbath was given as a taste of the Kingdom of Mercy on Earth.  It is a day that any person can feel the warmth and the joy in getting closer to our Father in Heaven. This has nothing to do with doing work or not. On that level many people, Jews and Christians alike, still go wrong.

There are many examples of other Shabbats, like the Great Shabbat (Shabbat HaGadol) also called Special Shabbat/Special Shabbatot or great holidays in which they do not refrain from work, and yet they do experience spiritual elation, like Hanukah, Shabbat Shuvah or Shabbat T’shuvah [between (i.e. not including): the two consecutive Days of Rosh Hashanah; and the Day of Yom Kippur], Shabbat Shirah (including  Parsha Beshalach) which remembers the birds who helped Moses in the dessert, Shabbat Shekalim (“Sabbath [of] shekels“), Shabbat Zachor (“Sabbath [of] remembrance”), Shabbat Parah (“Sabbath [of the] red heifer“), Shabbat HaChodesh (“Sabbath [of the] month”), Shabbat Rosh Chodesh or Rosh Hodesh, Shabbat Chazon (“Sabbath [of] vision”), Shabbat Nachamu (“Sabbath of comfort/ing”) and the Shabbat Mevorchim or any Shabbat that precedes and begins the week during which there will be a day or days of a new Hebrew month (Rosh Chodesh)  for the congregation to bless the forthcoming new month.

Certain Jewish groups allow to do some work on the Sabbath, yet their members can hold it back if it is not needed.

Each Shabbat during Chol HaMoed, the “intermediate days” of Passover (Pasach or Pesach ) and Sukkot, is known as Shabbat Chol HaMoed (“[the] Shabbat [of the] intermediate days” שבת חול המועד) which occurs up to twice a year during the week-long festivals. It can occur once during Passover and once during Sukkot (“Tabernacles“) or in both.

The regular weekly Torah portion is not read on these Sabbaths and instead there are special Torah readings based on the uniqueness of each holiday and the Three Pilgrim Festivals (Shalosh regalim). There are also special maftirs (“additional Torah readings”) and Haftarahs (readings from the prophets.) [Wikipedia. – See Haftarot for special Sabbaths, Festivals, and Fast Days.]

Each Sabbath is be welcomed by chanting psalms, supplemented by meaningful and rich liturgy based on the Bereshith or Genesis and other appropriate sources.

Like man’s creation is remembered [Rosh Hashanah (the Anniversary of Adam’s creation)] the Jews found several days to remember something of the many works of God. All those special days or festivals (mo’edim) are set apart days or holy days and are up to today in many groups and regions still holidays.

Forgetting the Why

By the years it seemed that many forgot why God had ordered the day of remembrance, the Memorial of the Testimony.

Many seem have forgotten that God made the Sabbath for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Like the manna (the bread from heaven) was a gift to us, man had received a day where they could be free of any duty. They were granted real respite from the rigors of daily life and got an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal.

Many forgot, man can do lots of things, without feeling it as a labour or duty putting a burden on him. Though for many the Sabbath duties became a burden. Lots of people did find their community was taking their life in control. Several congregations started putting restrictions on their members and created as such new chains, enslaving again the people of God to laws which did not come from God but from man. Several groups also started to let the people feel bad, by giving lectures about how they should behave or otherwise they would be damned. Thoughts of condemnation where imprinted in their heads by their priests.

It was this what Jesus came to see, to note and reacted against in his short public life.

He probably could imagine what could happen in the future days of his followers as well. For in Christendom we also find lots of churches who play with that condemnation and which keep telling about ‘burning in hell‘ instead of concentrating on the liberation which was brought to us by the Gift of Grace from God His son Christ Jesus.

Dating of God an man

Jehovah God had given contact days to His people. He had a date with them on more than one day of the year. The Elohim provided a standing date with the children of Israel on the seventh day of every week but even a greater time at the end of every six years.

The seventh year was ordained as a Sabbath year of rest. God did find it necessary for His children to cease from the toils of life and to bring Him sacrifices and offerings so they could rejoice together and reflect over all they had been through together and the blessings that God brought over them.

That Sabbath year was not only for the Jews, but also for those working at their houses. Their slaves and servants also had to receive their Sabbath year. God commanded that indentured servants be released from servitude and given a bounty, so they could also rest and rejoice.

Those who were respecting the Laws of God and laws of nature, leaving the fields also having their rest, could see that God would entrust them with enough food from the other fields. Giving the land its rest made it also increase the fruitfulness of the gardens and vineyards sown in the sixth year so that there would be an abundance to last the children of Israel through the Sabbath year even unto the sowing and harvesting  of the eighth year.

By the fall man had lost the unpainful and unworrying feeling. From then onwards he got to feel what it is to work. Labour was not always to feel pleasant. Even child-labour now had become something which was not always pretty. He wanted to make sure He could have some quality time with His beloved Israel. You can find all of this in holy scripture, particularly the book of Deuteronomy.

 

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Preceding article: Why we do not keep to a Sabbath or a Sunday or Lord’s Day #1 Before rain of food from heaven

To be continued

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Additional reading:

  1. Not trying to make the heathen live like Jews #1
  2. Not trying to make the heathen live like Jews #2
  3. Genesis – Story of creation 6 Genesis 3:13-24 Enmity and curse
  4. Creation of the earth and man #3 Of the Sabbath day #1 the Seventh day
  5. Creation of the earth and man #4 Of the Sabbath day #2 Days 1,7,8 and 50
  6. Creation of the earth and man #5 Of the Sabbath day #3 Ceasing from the works of the flesh
  7. Creation of the earth and man #6 Of the Sabbath day #4 Mosaic codes, Sabbaths and Sunday
  8. Creation of the earth and man #7 Of the Sabbath day #5 Respecting the day on which Christ Jesus rose from the dead
  9. Creation of the earth and man #8 Of the Sabbath day #6 If it be necessary to keep Sunday
  10. Were Gentiles excluded from entering the synagogue?
  11. Self-development, self-control, meditation, beliefs and spirituality
  12. Come ye yourselves apart … and rest awhile (Mark 6:31)
  13. God of gods
  14. Almighty God above all other gods greater than all gods
  15. God receives us on the basis of our faith
  16. Why Sabbaths or Sabbath plural “shabbatot”
  17. Holy Sabbath
  18. Do we need to keep the Sabbath
  19. Are Christians required to keep the seventh day Sabbath?
  20. The Sabbath: Is it a special day for Christians?
  21. Sunday and the Sabbath (Pdf doc)
  22. We’re allowed to willfully break the Law of Moses
  23. Seven full weeks or seven completed Sabbaths and ascension of Jesus
  24. Communion and day of worship
  25. More looking for similarities
  26. Bible, helmet of health, salvation and sword of the spirit
  27. Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 4
  28. Solution for Willing hearts filled with gifts
  29. Promise given in Garden of Eden
  30. The one who set the standard
  31. One mediator
  32. Mediator
  33. Jesus of Nazareth
  34. Jesus Messiah
  35. Jesus and his God
  36. Reasons that Jesus was not God
  37. God is One
  38. Only One God
  39. Jehovah Yahweh Gods Name
  40. Is God comprised of three persons, or is He just one person?
  41. Our relationship with God, Jesus and each other
  42. Actions to be a reflection of openness of heart
  43. Atonement and the race been bought
  44. Running the battle
  45. Glory of God appearing in our character
  46. Get Your Wonderful Disease-proof Human Body
  47. Kingdom of God, what will it be like
  48. Raising digression
  49. Holiday tolerance

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Further readings:

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