SHABBAT LIFESTYLE

alternate textI recently tried to to find out how many people worldwide were involved in what is generally called the Hebrew Roots Movement. Strangely enough, there is very little information available with regards to numbers, membership and statistics of this movement. Maybe it is because there is no formal Movement called the “Hebrew Roots Movement”. It really is much more of an “awakening” than a movement. The word “movement” has an almost political and structural undertone. One dictionary describes a movement as “an organized effort by supporters of a common goal”. Now, I would like to believe that there is absolutely nothing political in wanting to return to the original roots of one’s belief. But I do know that many people are choosing this path exactly because they are deliberately turning their backs upon the organized structure of the mainline churches. Not because there is something wrong with being organized, but because a structure has the tendency of becoming static and stuck in patterns of belief that do not always agree with Scriptures.

So, in a sense then, you and I are part of what may be called “A Worldwide Hebrew Roots Awakening”. The details of this awakening may not be exactly the same in all cases and all places where it takes place, but no one today should have any doubt that something very significant is happening in this regard. As for myself, I can clearly see the hand of Yahweh in all of this and I know for a fact that this awakening has made a huge, positive and healthy impact on the lives of many people. This is not about a new church or a new fashion or a new craze or a new musical trend or a new TV preacher. No, it really is about a new lifestyle. But then again, the lifestyle is not really NEW. There was a time when it was known and followed by many, but it was neglected and forgotten for a very long period of time. It was the lifestyle suggested thousands of years ago by the Almighty Himself.

I have spent a lot of time trying to find out what the essential features of the Hebrew Roots Awakening were. Surprisingly, there were many variations. Some follow the Jewish calendar, others do not. Some read the Parashot, others do not. Some wear Tsit-tsit, others do not. Some expect of their men to wear kippot, others do not. Some follow all the rules of Kosher, others do not. Some observe the Jewish Oral Traditions, others do not. Some expect of their women to wear head coverings, others do not. Some gather together on the new moon, others do not. Some have their own Rabbi’s, others do not. Some call themselves churches, others do not. Some honour and use the Father’s Name, others do not. Some reject Shaúl’s writings, others do not. Some say Y’shua is Yahweh, others do not. And so on …

The one common feature that one will find with almost every group that claim to be part of the Hebrew Roots Awakening, is a regard for the Shabbat. Some groups are somewhat “symbolic” and “romantic” in their approach to Shabbat and have wonderful Shabbat rituals and nice things to say about Shabbat, but do not believe it is necessary to actually KEEP the Shabbat. In essence they are saying: “The Shabbat is wonderful, but don’t tell me I must keep the Shabbat.” Others tend to move into the opposite extreme, by adding endless DO’S and DONT’S to the observance of the Shabbat and making it into a day that becomes almost unrecognisable, when compared to Scriptures.

In the more than 100 places in Scriptures where one reads about the Shabbat (of which more than 50 will be found in the New Covenant or Messianic Scriptures), the Shabbat is not pictured in any of the two ways described above. It is not pictured as a romantic day, leaving the option to readers whether they would like to keep it or not. Neither is it pictured as a burdensome day of DO’S and DONT’S resembling the practice of the Pharisees in Y’shua’s day. No doubt, the day is pictured as a mitzvah, a commandment, not a suggestion or a nice idea. But at the same time, Shabbat represents a lifestyle. From the very beginning it was the Creator’s idea that Shabbat would RESTORE and REVIVE people’s lives, not RESTRICT and RESTRAIN their lives. Shabbat was supposed to be something that would not only characterise their lives but also shape their lives so that they would become closer to reflect the very image of their Creator. That is why it is clearly explained in the Ten Words or Ten Commandments: “Remember the Sabbath day, to set it apart. Six days you labour, and shall do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of Yahweh your Elohim … For in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart.” Notice the words “for” and “therefore”: Yahweh wants us to keep the Shabbat BECAUSE, and LIKE, He kept the Shabbat! In this way our lives will become a reflection of a pattern established from the very beginning. The world that we are living in, needs an authentic pattern of living, but fails to recognize this very important, and yet very simple pattern presented by no-one less than the Creator Himself!

Another feature of the Shabbat lifestyle, is the aspect of set-apartness. “Therefore Yahweh blessed the Shabbat and SET IT APART …” What is it that makes a believer set apart or different from the rest? Many answers may be given but in essence it is all about obedience. Being set-apart means being different because of respect and reverence for Yahweh’s words and Yahweh’s being. Being set-apart, per definition, means not allowing the people of this world to dictate your lifestyle, but allowing Yahweh to shape your lifestyle, because you subject yourself completely to his authority and his words. Honouring and keeping the Shabbat is the first and foremost way in which we can demonstrate that we have made a choice to put Yahweh above all, even if this means becoming weird or heretic or extreme in the eyes of the world.

The Shabbat lifestyle is also a lifestyle of trust. Many people object to keeping the Shabbat, saying that they cannot afford not to work on the Shabbat. What Scriptures are teaching, however, is: Can you afford not to keep the Shabbat? Yahweh wants us to trust him, by keeping this day that He has set apart for Himself and for those who call upon his Name. The one thing that we need in this life, more than the benefits from working on Shabbat, is the favour and the shalom of our heavenly Father and many other benefits that will come our way when we honour Him by keeping the Day that He had clearly separated from the other six days of the week. Will you trust Him and allow Him to provide in your needs in a way that goes beyond the reasoning of this world? If you look at you own lifestyle now, and recognize in it a lack of trust when it comes to Shabbat, why not change that right now – at least by starting to pray that Yahweh would open the door for you towards complete rest on this day?

The trust that Yahweh is asking of us, is not only about stop working on Shabbat and trusting that He will provide anyway, even if we don’t work on that day. The “rest” of Shabbat is something that is supposed to become an essential part of our whole being, especially in the way we handle difficulties and stressful circumstances in our lives. Let us bear in mind that the Shabbat repeats itself, every seven days. This repetition is no coincidence. It is aimed at teaching us something. We need to adopt the mindset of rest and shalom, that goes along with Shabbat, into the way we approach life during the other six days as well. Every Shabbat we are drawn into a process aimed at teaching us (by repetition) and inscribing onto our hearts the importance of letting go, pausing, resting, relaxing and trusting Yahweh to take care of matters, no matter how troubled and how difficult our lives may be. By not making use of this opportunity and not keeping the Shabbat, effectively, we are saying to Yahweh that we do not truly believe that He can take care of us and that we would rather take matters into our own hands. Ps 40:4 Blessed is that man who has made Yahweh his trust, and has not turned to … those turning aside to falsehood.

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