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The Fourth Commandment:
Honoring the Day of HaShem

An Overview
By Shlomo Phillips © 9.02.09 (last update: May 21, 2015)

Go to: Study Home Page.
Go to: Part One: How the Sabbath Day was Given.
Go to: Part Two: Shabbat For All
Go to: Part Three: Jesus and His Disciples Were Shomer Shabbat.
Go to: Part Four: How and Why the Sabbath Day Was Rejected.

According to Torah GOD Himself declared the Sabbath Day sacred well before the events that occurred in the Garden of Eden. Shabbat was sacred long before Noah received the Seven Laws, long before Avraham entered into the Eternal Covenant with HaShem, Over a thousand years before Moses received the 613 Laws and a long long time before the Jewish people affirmed our perpetual responsibilities under Torah at Mount Sinai. Shabbat already existed! It was sacred from the dawn of time itself. Its holiness will never fade nor be replaced, even in the Olam Haba (the Messianic World to Come). One day the world will live in a perpetual Shabbat! Truly the Sabbath is a weekly taste of that future we all hope for whether we are Jews or from the other nations. Therefore Shabbat resonates with us all.

Bereishit - Genesis 2:1 Now the heavens and the earth were completed and all their host.
2 And God completed on the seventh day His work that He did, and He abstained on the seventh day from all His work that He did.
3 And God blessed the seventh day and He sanctified it, for thereon He abstained from all His work that God created to do.

"Sanctified" (Hebrew: קָדַשׁ qadash: kaw-dash) means to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, to make hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, to be separate from all others.

The Sabbath is declared קָדַשׁ for all of creation, not just for Jews. Why? because everything that exists was created by HaShem and Shabbat is the day set aside for giving thanks for our existence. Everyone should therefore observe Shabbat in thanksgiving.

And there are specific rules about its observance that apply only to Jews. This is because an added second reason for the Shabbat applies to the giving of the Jewish Covenant. According to our rabbis, since they are not under the Mosaic Covenant non-Jews should not take up the additional Jewish observances. I share more on this in the main study.

Shabbat is the day the creatures are called upon to give recognition and thanks to our Creator. While certain elements of Shabbat observance are only applicable to Jews, the Sabbath itself is for everyone.

The Holy One reiterated the ongoing importance and sacredness of Shabbat by declaring its observance as the Fourth of the Ten Commandments. He repeated its sanctification numerous times in the Hebrew Tanach (or "Old Testament" as Christians rudely refer to our Holy Book). In this study we will discover that the Christian B'rit Hadashah or New Testament books also instruct those who accept those teachings to continue Shabbat observance. Nowhere in the 66 books Bible, neither in the Tanach nor in the Christian version, is Shabbat replaced by any other day, nor is it ever made non-obligatory. The only question is whether one will choose to obey or disregard the commandment of GOD. The only question is whether we will choose to obey or disregard the Ten Commandments.

Topic of part two: Jesus and His Students Were Shomer Shabbat:

Being Shomer Shabbat is to be a 'guardian of the Sabbath.' Y'shua's recommended reforms sought to restore a more meaningful, more intentional, method of Sabbath observance for his Jewish followers (all of his disciples were Jewish as far as we know; he did not teach non-Jews -- Matthew 15:24). According to the Gospel accounts he taught that because of the rigidness imposed by the 1st century orthodoxy of Jewish authorities (in large part because of our losses during Babylonian bondage) many Jews had lost sight of the real purpose of Shabbat observance: emuna, the development and exercise of active faith in the living, loving relationship with Holy One, Blessed be He. Y'shua's reforms sought to address and correct this. Many modern as well as first century Jews recognized the same issues. The rabbis even tell us that the reason the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE was Jewish infighting, factionalism, and lack of compassion. Sadly we are seeing more and more of this today.

As any religious Jew Y'shua honored Shabbat as an eternal command of the Covenant (Exodus 31:13). He did not seek to repeal Shabbat nor to replace it with another day. Y'shua honored and observed the Shabbat, as did his followers. He did seek to clarify its proper observance, to make it more meaningful to the people in ways they could and would observe. One of the biggest areas of his recommended reforms had to do with what he considered to be proper Shabbat observance (Matthew 12:11). While we'll be looking at several issues in this study, proper Shabbat observance, what it means to be Shomer Shabbat, will be our main focus throughout.

Y'shua and his students continued to observe the Sabbath throughout their lives and ministries. After his execution by the Romans his talmidim (i.e. students) continued to be Shabbat observant according to the New Testament. And yet within a very few generations his sect abandoned both Shabbat and Judaism.

With only a couple of recorded exceptions, Y'shua did not speak to or associate with non-Jews. He taught his followers to remain Shomer Shabbat ("Guardians of the Sabbath") while emphasizing the importance of intention (i.e. Kavanah) behind the observances. He rejected the thoughtless observance of rote rules, not the proper observance of the Holy Day and Jewish Traditions. The Christian abandonment of Shabbat can not correctly be attributed to his teachings.

After his death his talmidim and theirs began sharing his teachings with the Noahidim (i.e. the non-Jews who were coming to embrace their proper role in Torah). Nowhere does the New Testament revoke Sabbath observance nor replace it with Sunday worship for Jews or for Noahidim. Rather the textual Y'shua taught:

Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah -- not until everything that must happen has happened. (Matthew 5:18)

Topic of part three: How and Why Christians Rejected Shabbat:

Following the destruction of the Second Temple and the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 CE the Jews were forced to flee for their lives from the bloody Roman occupiers. This included the Jewish followers of Y'shua's reform movement. Y'shua had been dead for about 37 years by this point. His remains have now been discovered. His talmidim, now adults (they were teenagers during their time with Y'shua), remained Jewish and Shabbat observant.

The devastation of 70 CE severely disrupted everyone's access to qualified Jewish teachers as well as religious accountability. Again, where there is a lack of solid teaching heresies will arise. And for the Way sect they did.

Hellenization was a major threat to the Jewish identity during the first two centuries. From the early days of the reform Jewish Way sect some ill-educated members were merging the Jewish teachings of the Torah with the Paganism of Roman culture and religion. They did this for many reasons. Some were seeking social or political acceptance, some sought to quell the persecutions against the scattered communities, some hoped to establish political stability, some hoped to make a name for themselves as religious innovators, some were antisemitic and blamed the rabbis for the death of their teacher... but most simply believed what they were being taught without critical analysis and knowledge of biblical religion. Some things never change. Sadly then as now few people do their own research. People are easily deceived by charismatic leaders and social pressures.

Y'shua's reform sect of Judaism, the Way movement, died within three centuries of its inception. In the third and fourth centuries another religion arose in its place. This new religion dominated the world and waged a relentless war against the Jews. They had some successes but Am Y'israel chai -- The Jewish people endure.

The post 70 CE Jews were in grave danger of losing our traditions forever. The attacks by the Church were intense. The converts to the Way sect had never received Torah instruction from the rabbis. The social, religious and cultural upheavals that followed the destruction of the Temple can not be over stated. As non-Jews swiftly became of the majority of the sect their hatred of the Jews burned ever more hot.

Those Jews who maintained contact with the Pharisees/Rabbis and remained loyal to the Torah entered into the renewed expression that became the Rabbinic Judaism we know today. Those who did not remain connected to the Rabbis, those who were connected with the increasingly Gentile leadership of the Way movement, were soon lead away from Torah and in the New Religion. The new Roman religion was formally established by Emperor Constantine a couple of hundred years later but it's heresies began to form shortly after 70 CE with the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:15).

Likewise as members of the Way sect married people from other cultures and belief systems (in violation of Jewish law) their beliefs were increasingly compromised and they abandoned whatever levels of Torah observance they still had. Soon the new leaders of the sect, also largely ignorant of Torah, began ridiculing as superstitious those who remained Torah observant. The mocked the "Old Covenant" and praised the "New Covenant" they were created with their own hands, through their own imaginations. Torah observance was eventually outlawed as "Judaizing" and the few remaining Way Jews were lost to the Covenant, absorbed into the New Religion. The members of what had been the Way Jewish sect typically did not teach their children what they considered to be passe' and politically dangerous to boot. The second and third generation children grew up among the Pagans without any connection to Torah. Without knowledge of Torah and Jewish Tradition all was lost for them as members of a once Jewish sect. This is what happened to Shabbat observance. If you don't know why you are to honor Shabbat, Sunday seems just as good and it made your sun worshipping neighbors happy. They accepted the decree of Tertullian (200 AD) and others:

We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradistinction to those who call this day their Sabbath.
And Shabbat was lost

For more information on Shabbat read the complete study using these links:

Go to: Study Home Page.
Go to: Part One: How the Sabbath Day was Given.
Go to: Part Two: Shabbat For All
Go to: Part Three: Jesus and His Disciples Were Shomer Shabbat.
Go to: Part Four: How and Why the Sabbath Day Was Rejected.

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