Recently, a new friend approached me and said, “I saw sister so and so today and when I told her about you, she said, ‘Oh, I know her. I see her on Facebook. But isn’t she Seventh Day Adventist? She is always talking about the Sabbath being on Saturday.'”
I couldn’t help but chuckle. No one had ever told this to me before. In the past, others thought I may be Jewish. While I love my Seventh Day Adventist and Jewish friends, I am neither.
It is my hope that this post will set the record straight. I am a born-again, Holy Spirit-filled daughter of the King of kings. I attend the Church of the Harvest, a non-denominational church, on Sundays and I honor the Sabbath on Saturdays. On both days I worship the great I AM. His name is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Also known as Jesus or Yeshua.
Why do I celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday? Because it is the 7th day, the day God set apart for Sabbath. (Exodus 20:8-11) But Sabbath, I believe, is more than a one day a week event. It is a way of life for every day, 24/7, 365. (I will address this another time.) Still, God set a day to lay all of our work aside and focus on Him. It’s a day to spend with Him and celebrate with our families. It is a day for renewal, to let go of the week’s burdens and projects, a time to rest in trust that life can go on without our labor for one day.
It wasn’t until I spent time in Israel as a volunteer in 2000, 2001 and 2002, that I learned its value. Sabbath or Shabbat is not only for renewal but a time to strengthen connections with our family and others. In our fast-paced, got to have more, got to do more life, our family and friends often get lost in the shuffle. We don’t take time to BE with them. Nor do we take time to rest and BE with God.
I wish I could transport all of you to Jerusalem to experience just one Sabbath event. Let me see if I can transport you there with words.
During the week in Jerusalem, there is noise from dawn to dark and beyond. Most of the streets are very narrow. Cars pass, their side mirrors sparring with each other. Horns blare regardless of the day. Drivers yell at each other. It is what it is.
Big double buses weave through the crowds. They are full of grocery shoppers with carts (yes, carts in the bus), moms with baby carriages, soldiers in full gear carrying duffle bags and shouldering rifles, Hasidics, Muslims, and tourists. Since few people own their own cars, buses, trains, and taxis provide transportation.
On Friday about three o’clock, there is a noticeable change of atmosphere. The wonderful fragrance of Shabbat supper wafts through the streets. The aroma of Garlic, olive oil, fresh challah and roasted meat draw your senses. You see men carrying beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers. It is a tradition for the men to provide flowers for the Shabbat table next to their wife’s lovely meal. It is also not uncommon to see people carrying casseroles, dessert or other food on the buses or down the street on Friday afternoons. Many families get together for Shabbat and each brings part of the meal.
One hour before sundown, the buses stop running and traffic thins as the noise level diminishes. You can almost hear the city sigh.
Soon the streets are silent, except for a handful of Arab taxis. Families meet over Shabbat tables and enjoy the best meal they will eat all week. There is laughter, prayers, and songs.
The hush of Sabbath is something tangible. For 24 hours, traffic stops, shops are closed, families gather, and strangers are welcomed into homes. No one should be alone on Sabbath. Life takes on a new rhythm.
The usual five-lane highways and city streets full of rushing traffic, become places for families to walk together. A place for children to play and people to gather on park benches and share conversation. You can hear birdsong and the sound of the breeze tickling leafy trees. These sounds were overshadowed by the din during the week. Songs of praise rise from synagogues, yeshivas, and homes.
It is said that Shabbat is a tiny taste of what life will be when Messiah returns. Can you imagine even for a minute how true Sabbath would impact cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas?
At the end of Shabbat, on Saturday at sundown, shops open, traffic resumes and in the city squares and open areas there is often dancing and song. People celebrate their time of renewal and pray that the peace of Sabbath will carry them through the week.
So, yes, my husband and I celebrate Sabbath. We light candles on Friday night and thank God for Yeshua, the Light of the world. We remind ourselves that He placed His Light in us and commanded us to be a light to the world as well. We break bread and thank Him for His body broken for us. We drink a cup of wine and remember the price He paid to free us from our sin. And we enjoy the best meal we eat all week. It is a time to reflect on our week, spend quiet time with each other, read, rest, visit friends. Shabbat is a constant signpost marking the end of every week. It makes us more aware of the rhythm of our lives. For us, Sabbath is not a have-to. It does not affect our salvation or eternal reward. No, Sabbath or Shabbat for us is a want-to. Celebrating this 24 hours in rest each week blesses us in ways we never imagined.
So, no, we are not Seventh Day Adventists, nor Jewish. We do celebrate Sabbath on the seventh day. And we get up on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1), Sunday morning, and go to church. We worship the One who rose from the dead on the first day of the week, gave us life and lives in us. If you look back at the 1st-century church, they did the same thing. Jesus is the reason we celebrate. He is Lord of the Sabbath. (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5)
Regardless of our church affiliation, may each of us have Shabbat Shalom — Sabbath peace. May it permeate every day of our lives and spill over on everyone we meet. Our world could stand a heavy dose.