My Joy in the Sabbath! 10 Commandments Series – 4: “Remember the Sabbath Day”

Yes, I enjoy the Sabbath.  I look forward to it each week.  I rest from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown.  As the Sabbath is a huge topic, there will be a couple posts about it.

We are told that we are made in God’s image, but what does it mean, “in His image?”  To me, the Sabbath encapsulates two aspects of what it means.

One reason God gives for us to observe the Sabbath is that He created all in 6 days and rested on the seventh.  (See Exodus 20:11.)

I, in celebration of being ‘in His image,’ can also rest from my work on the seventh day.  What better way to honor and worship Him then to copy Him?  I take a break, for a whole day, from my usual daily routines of work, stress, and worries.

Another reason that God gives for us to observe the Sabbath is that He brought us out of the land of Egypt, out of the bonds of slavery.  (See Deuteronomy 5:15.)

I don’t have to be a slave to my daily routine or my continuous striving to earn a living.  I can choose to rest one day a week, proclaiming, “I am free!”  Once a week I can recall that Yeshua (Jesus) told us to be anxious for nothing as the Father supplies all.  Once a week I can do something no other creature on the earth can do: I can choose to obey my God and rest for a whole day!  I get to celebrate that I am not a slave, neither to my work nor to the business and activity of daily life.

“Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD (Yehovah), sanctify you.” Exodus 31:13 (ESV)

In observing the Sabbath every week, I am learning obedience, and learning how to choose what is right.

We are given two different commands regarding the Sabbath in the two places the 10 statements (10 commandments) are given.  We are to guard and we are to observe.  Guarding is a week long process; learning to order your week so that the Sabbath will be free.  Observing is then choosing to keep the day free; a day of rest.  I call this training in righteousness that has almost immediate rewards!

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27 (ESV)

God made it for us to enjoy.  I’m still learning, but I won’t give up observing the Sabbath for anything!  I feel sorry for those followers of Yeshua who don’t observe the Sabbath – they are missing out on a real blessing; missing a chance to worship God through simple obedience; missing a chance to learn to choose what is right; missing a chance to be a light to the world by simply following Yeshua; …

And missing out on some simple joy and peace in this hectic world!

Shalom,

  • Yosef

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10 Commandments Series – 1: “I am the LORD your God”

In the typical Christian tradition, the first ‘commandment’ is, “you shall have no other God’s before me.”  However, that is the wrong place to start.  The first statement that starts off the “10 Statements” is,

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

The list must start with an explanation of who is giving the list.  Otherwise, there is no foundation for authority.  It could be anyone giving a list of rules if there is no authorship attributed to the list.  Perhaps this is a good part of the reason why the ‘battle’ for displaying the “10 Commandments” was so easily lost here in the USA.  Also, perhaps leaving out the authorship also points to an endemic problem in Christianity where the word of God receives less and less attention.

But the list does start with claiming who the author is.  He starts by naming Himself.  In most English translations, one wouldn’t even notice this as the word “LORD” is used in place of his name (this is true in both Christian and some popular Jewish translations).  But that is not His name.  That is a deliberate obfuscation of His name.  His name is clearly spelled out in the original Hebrew and is the four Hebrew letters, “yud hey vav hey”.  (See this post about His name).

In this beginning statement, we see both His name, and what He has done.  Both are important and foundational to our faith in Him and our obedience to Him.  Knowing His name is great, but what dos that mean to us?  Thus He clarifies even more and says that He is the author of salvation.  Author of salvation?  What?

God states that He brought us out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  Most think only that this is talking of what He did for the Israelites.  But it is so much more.  Elsewhere in scripture God tells the Israelites to think of these words as if they were the ones personally brought out.  That injunction stands for us today.

Think of it this way: ‘house of slavery’ as in slavery to sin;  ‘land of Egypt’ as in the world’s ways.  In other words, God is the one that brings us into His kingdom, freeing us from the slavery to sin and freeing us from the bondage to the ways of the world. 

If this foundation is not present, the foundation of who God is – YHVH – and what He did for us – freed us from bondage to the ways of this world, and from slavery to sin.  We are now free to serve Him!  Without knowing this, Yeshua’s (Jesus’) sacrifice would not have the meaning it has.  Without the foundation of who God is and what He has done, the 10 statements become the 10 commandments, and they become just part of the “dead” law God gave, instead of being the living, active words they are.

  • Yosef

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Salvation and the Gospel in Exodus

Exodus 6:6 to 7 states, “I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgement.  I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”  (ESV Bible)

Salvation and redemption are God’s idea and have been around a long time.  The above verse shows the gospel (good news – God’s idea) in short form.

“I am the LORD.”  He is God, creator of all, and His name is Yehova (some say Yahweh).  If everything in your life and belief is not based on this then you have erred.

“bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” We are made in His image, no longer needing to simply serve this life to live, to feed, clothe, house and reproduce ourselves.  No longer need to serve others.  Now free to serve Him.

“deliver you from slavery”:  no longer need to be slaves to sin.  We can have control over our lives through what He has done.

“will redeem you”: He has chosen and selected His people.  He has done this, not we ourselves.

“I will be your God”: He will guide and keep His people.

To Christians, the above should appear as a short form what is taught in the gospels.   God declared what He will do long ago, and it has been done, first for the Jews, then also for the gentiles.  It is the same salvation, the same offer.

It didn’t stop there.  Immediately after this the “Law” was given.  In other words, after redemption comes obedience.  Did Yeshua (Jesus) say anything different?

Return to Him.

-Yosef


“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

 

Sabbath and Slavery

There are two places in the Torah (Pentateuch) where the 10 commandments are listed.  The listings are nearly identical, but there is an interesting difference between the listing for the Sabbath.  God gives two completely (seemingly) independent reasons for keeping and observing the Sabbath.

In the one listing in Deuteronomy chapter 5 states that the we should remember the Sabbath because we were slaves in Egypt, but God brought us out by a mighty hand.

Why this?  Why the change from remembering the six days of creation as listed in Exodus chapter 20?

We as people tend to judge ourselves rather harshly.  At least I do – it is one of the things I struggle with often.  When I’m in the throws of judging myself, I realize that I’m a slave to the oppressing thoughts.  I’m not alone in this.  We so often get trapped (enslaved) by our thoughts.  This is why God tells us to remember weekly – for a whole day – that He brought us out of slavery.  All types of slavery; even that from thoughts.  We would do well to remember that every Sabbath.

The other idea mentioned in Deuteronomy chapter 5 is that we need to remember that we were brought out of the land of Egypt.  What does Egypt represent?  In sort, all manner of paganism.  Throughout the Torah (law of God), He makes it clear that we are to remove ourselves from all manner of paganism.  For you Christians, the apostle Paul states that you are to avoid even the appearance of evil (I know most of you interpret that to mean some sort of vile sin, but in the context of Paul’s life, paganism is included in his comment).

We, both Jews and Christians, would do well to look at our lives and judge it by the word of God.  Judge it to see just where different forms of worship, forms God does not want, have crept in.   God asked us to do this weekly as it is a continuous battle.

-Yosef

 

Moses and Pharaoh

This week we read about the first time Moses goes before Pharaoh.  I have often wondered why God let it work out such that the first thing that happens is life becoming much more difficult for the Israelites.  Why didn’t God just start with the process of getting them out of Egypt?

Moses asks God this same question in Exodus chapter 5 verse 21 through chapter 6 verse 1.  God’s only answer is, “now you will see what I do.”  I’m still left wondering why God chose to do it this way.

Could it be because of our character as humans?  The Israelites had cried out to God about the burden of slavery, but the Bible doesn’t actually record what they wanted.  Did they want freedom and the promised inheritance, or did they only want the burdens to be less?

I put forward the possibility that the Israelites only wanted less work.  They didn’t want to leave Egypt as, other then the forced labor, things were good there.  They weren’t concerned about God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  The increased suffering was necessary to get them to even be open to the idea of actually leaving the “comfort” of known surroundings.

Is it not the same with us many times (or always?) ?  We ask God to lessen our burdens and increase our portion in life, but we aren’t concerned with actually furthering His kingdom or accepting His promises.   Often it takes extreme discomfort or pain to kick us out of our comfort zone and force us to move in a direction that is ultimately much better.  And, according to Jewish tradition, this would be a direction that brings the coming of the Messiah closer!

-Yosef