Keeping the Sabbath

AW, Newcastle

I was wondering if you could possibly help me with some queries regarding the Sabbath. My wife
and I realsie that Saturday is the Biblical Sabbath and not Sunday as practised by what seems
everybody else, and have been praying for our families to come to the same realisation. I’m
pleased to say that my parents seemed to have come to that realisation, but have a few questions,
I wasn’t able to answer. I was wondering whether you could assist in this regard.
My mom’s biggest concern is that all her forefathers have now gone to hell because they were
staunch Sunday observers?

Then my dad’s biggest concern is whether his grandkids, my nephews and nieces, who happen to
be at school and very involved in sport and other extra-mural activities on a Saturday are sinning
and will face God’s wrath because of the fact that Sunday is their Sabbath and not Saturday.
Please could you advise us regarding these questions as well as to what exactly is allowed on a
Sabbath. My wife and I have the Shabbat meals on Friday, with the Challah and Grapejuice,
lighting of candles etc., but aren’t too sure what we’re allowed to do on Saturday itself until sunset.
Also we’re very passionate about the Jewish roots but have had to endure massive amounts of
opposition from family and friends, as they feel we’re a bit weird now.

Anyway thanks for a wonderful resource (your website) and its encouraging to know that there are
people out there who believe along similar lines to us.

COMMENTS:

It seems to me that Scriptures are clear that people who follow a wrong path out of ignorance, will
not be penalised for not knowing (or not practising) the truth. However, once they learn the truth,
they are required to obey accordingly (Matt 7:24; John / Yahuchanan 13:17; Luk 12:47; James /
Ya’acov 1:25; James / Ya’acov 4:17).

The issue of sports and other activities on the Shabbat is one that requires our wisdom and
obedience. Although it is true that the specific issue of sports on a Shabbat is not addressed in
Scriptures, there are certain clear-cut principles that we need to consider. The Shabbat was given
as a day of rest and therefore we should refrain ourselves from any activity that threatens or
diminishes our time of rest on the Shabbat, even if this activity is something we enjoy or feel that
we “need” in order to stay fit. I feel that there is a desperate need for believers in this world (with
its “upside-down” values) who are prepared to make a clear stand concerning the ongoing validity
of the Shabbat as a day that the Almighty has set apart and blessed – also a day that He, in his
eternal wisdom, has given to us as human beings as a time of rest and refreshment. If we are
going to tamper with this day, giving in to the non-Scriptural pressures of a secular society, no
doubt we will miss out on the full blessing that Yahweh has intended for us. On the other hand, if
we will turn away our feet from the Sabbath, not doing our own pleasures or following our own
ways on this day, but instead calling it a delight and honouring it as a very special day, we will find
that it becomes increasingly easier to delight ourselves in Yahweh. We will also see and
experience the fulfillment of the promise of our Father: “I will make you to ride on the high places
of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Ya’acov your father: for the mouth of Yahweh
has spoken it” (YeshaYahu / Isaiah 58:13-14).

We are very careful not to adopt a purely Jewish or Judaistic approach to the Shabbat. Like
Christianity, Judaism has also fallen in the trap of traditionalism and has added to, and deviated
from many truths of Scriptures, contrary to Scriptures like Deut (Devarim) 4:2; 12:32. All forms of
work on a Shabbat are prohibited, but clearly the intention was to establish a principle for the
Shabbat that would assist and help man (see Mark 2:27), not nitty gritty that would make his life
miserable, like not driving a car, not switching on any electrical appliance, etcetera. We do not
cook and try to limit our preparing of meals (and washing of dishes) on the Shabbat to the
absolute minimum (see Exodus / Shemot 16:23). One way of doing this is preparing the meal for
Friday evening before sundown (i.e. on day six) and for Shabbat evening after sundown (i.e. on
day one). Trading and business transactions are also prohibited (see Nehemiah / NechemYah
13:15-17) and therefore we need to do our shopping and payments on days other than the
Shabbat. Kindling of fires on the Shabbat is also prohibited (see Exodus / Shemot 35:3) and
therefore we refrain from “braai’s” on this day. Challah, Grapejuice and candles on a Friday night
are nice, and may help to establish family unity on the Shabbat, but are not a requirement of
Scriptures.

This may not be a complete answer to your questions but at least it will give you an indication of
how we understand the Scriptures in this regard. Please feel free come back to me on any of
these matters. If you could find some more people close to you – even if it is only one other family –
who believe the same way, I would strongly suggest that you try arrange for a regular Shabbat
meeting. This is also one of the Scriptural requirements for a Shabbat (“holy or set-apart
convocation” in Leviticus / Wayyiqra 23:3 refers to a regular meeting of believers on a Sabbath).
We have had Shabbat meetings here in Fish Hoek for almost four years and I cannot even try to
explain how much this has meant for the group of Messianic believers in our area.