Natan’s Commentary on Hebrews 1–4

Hebrew 1

A page from Natan’s 1790 KJV Bible.

Hebrews 1:2, He made the worlds. Yeshua was the agency through which YHVH the Father created all things. (Also see v. 10.)

Hebrews 1:3, Upholding all things. Yeshua is not only the Creator of all things (v. 10), but he bears or carries all things, that is, he is the Sustainer of all things by his word and miraculous or dumanis power. Without him, everything would fall apart. This is why his death on the cross was such a cosmologically climactic event.

Hebrews 1:9, Loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. To the degree that we love righteousness, we will hate Torahlessness and vice versa. To love righteousness and the laws of Elohim is to love his him, to love his Word and to love Yeshua. To the degree we disdain his Torah is the degree that we disdain him and Yeshua the Messiah, the Word made flesh regardless of our protestations to the contrary, regardless of our religious activities and regardless of how much we throw our emotions at him and call it praise and worship. Obedience to his Torah-Word from Genesis to Revelation is barometer indicating the depth of our love for him.

Hebrews 1:8, 10, To the Son…You, YHVH. These two verses prove beyond a doubt that Yeshua is YHVH and that he is the Creator of the all things physical. (See also John 1:3, 10; Heb 1:2; Col 1:16).

Hebrew 2

Hebrews 2:1-2, Lest we drift away. One can lose one’s salvation (see also 1 Cor 9:27; Heb 6:4–6; 10:26 cp. 1 Tim 1:19; Matt 13:20–22) if one neglects (v. 2) and doesn’t carefully guard and maintain their spiritual relationship with YHVH and his Word.

Hebrews 2:7, A little lower. See notes at Ps 8:5.

Hebrews 2:18, He is able to aid. To receive the aid of Yeshua, our Great High Priest, all we have to do is to humble ourselves and recognize that we are sinners and need help, and then to ask him for help as well as to avail ourselves of the help that he has already give us, namely, the light of his Word, which, if we study and feed on, will guide us and keep us in the straight and narrow path. 

Hebrew 3

Hebrews 3:3, He who built the house. Yeshua is the builder of his spiritual house—the church. Interestingly, his earthly father trained him to be a carpenter. Often the physical or natural and spiritual dimensions parallel each other. The idea of Yeshua being the Creator of all things including humanity (Heb 1:10; John 1:3, 10) and being the builder of his spiritual house provides us with an important truth. How is it that the death of Yeshua—one human—could pay for the sins of the whole earth—many humans? Simply this. Yeshua in his pre-incarnate state as the Word of Elohim created all humans. His life is more valuable than the lives of all those he created, since he is the Creator, even as life of the builder of a house has more value than all the houses he builds. This is why Yeshua could pay for the sins of the whole world, and why his life was more valuable than those of all the humans that have ever lived in the history of the world.

Hebrews 3:6, Hold fast…firm to the end. Ultimate salvation—the redemption of our bodies, our glorification and inclusion in the family of Elohim (or theosis) occurs after we have overcome the world, the flesh and the devil and remained firm to the end. The end is either our physical death, or our spiritual transformation or the first resurrection at Yeshua’s second coming.

Hebrew 4

Hebrews 4:2,The gospel was preached. The children of Israel heard the gospel message, even as it was preached in the time of Yeshua, the apostles as well as in our day. They were without excuse for not accepting the gospel message. As the writer goes on to show, they rejected it because of the hardness of their hearts. People still reject the gospel today for the same reason.

Hebrews 4:3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, Rest. The term rest is also a biblical Hebraic idiom or Hebraism (see Deut 12:9, 10; 25:19; 1 Kgs 8:56; 1 Chron 23:25; Ps 95:121; 1 Thess 1:7) for the rest from one’s enemies and that one obtains once one has come into the promised land of their inheritance that YHVH has prepared for his saints. For the Israelites, this was the physical Promised Land in which they settled after having defeated the Canaanites. For the saint, ultimately, this is the Promised Land of the kingdom of Elohim and the New Jerusalem, which they will obtain in the final sense at the second coming of the Messiah when they receive their glorified bodies at the resurrection during the millennium, of which the seventh day Sabbath is a prophetic picture.

Hebrews 4:9–10, Rest. The Greek word sabbatismos means “a keeping of the Sabbath” and is derived from the Hebrew word sabbaton meaning “the seventh day or Sabbath.” In Hebrew the word for Sabbath is shabbat, which originates from the root verb shabat meaning “to cease, desist, rest.” Those who have entered into the Sabbath rest do so by following the example of YHVH the Creator who not only rested spiritually, but literally rested on the seventh day after the creation. He did not rest because he was tired, rather he did so to set this humans an example to follow, that is, to rest after six days of work. 

Some people see this verse in Hebrews only as a mandate to rest from their spiritual works by putting their faith in Yeshua. Such a rest is only a partial rest. We must follow the example of YHVH who literally rested on the seventh day as well. 

Yeshua in his preincarnate state was and is YHVH the Creator (Heb 1:2, 8,10; John 1:3, 10; Col 1:16). He kept the Sabbath as YHVH the Creator, and as Yeshua the Messiah as well. (If Yeshua didn’t keep the Sabbath, then he was a sinner in that he violated the law, and is not our perfect, sin-free Savior! If he kept the Sabbath, and the Gospels record that he did do so, we are to imitate him as his obedient disciples and imitators by doing what he did (1 Cor 11:1; 1 John 2:6). 

Some deceptive Christian “teachers” will state that Yeshua broke the Sabbath by quoting John 5:18. First, again if Yeshua had broken the fourth commandments, he would have become a sinner (1 John 3:4), but we know that he was sinless (Heb 4:15), so this was not the case. Second, John records that it was the misguided Jews who were accusing Yeshua of sin, even though he had done nothing to break any of the Torah’s laws regarding the Sabbath. Third, the word “break” as used in John 5:18 is the Greek word luo, which in its primary definition means “to loosen literally or figuratively.” Yeshua was “breaking” or “loosening” the man-made, extra-biblical laws or constraints that the Pharisees had put on people with regard to how to keep the Sabbath. Yeshua was brushing aside or “breaking” or “loosening” some of these non-biblical and man-made restrictions to bring people back to a Sabbath observance that was less burdensome and restrictive. He in no way was violating the Torah, which would have made him a sinner.

When we rest both physically and spiritually, we are walking out a higher level of truth by walking out both the letter and the spirit of YHVH’s Torah-law as Yeshua taught us to do in his Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:17–48), and as such, we have positioned ourselves before YHVH to receive more divine revelation from him (as well as blessings for obedience to his commandments). 

In other words, the more we obey him faithfully in love, the more truth he can entrust us with for safekeeping, for he knows we won’t take for granted or trample his precious truth nuggets. To those who are faithful in much, YHVH gives more. That is how it works in his spiritual economy. 

To this day, many of religious people keep the Sabbath by physically resting on this day (e.g. the Jews and some Christians), but they have missed the revelation of our spiritual rest in Yeshua. Conversely the mainstream Christians have rejected the physical Sabbath rest but they accepted the spiritual rest in the Messiah. Both sides have half the truth. Let’s put the two halves together and walk out the full truth—both the physical and the spiritual side of the Sabbath as Yeshua and his disciples did! 

Keeping the seventh day Sabbath with this fuller understanding is another way of connecting the gospel message to its Hebraic, pro-Torah roots.

Hebrews 4:12, Soul and spirit. (See notes at 1 Thess 5:23.) Here the writer attests to the separateness of the soul and the spirit of man. They are not indistinguishable from each other.

Hebrews 4:14,Great high priest. How could Yeshua, a non-priest (non-cohen) be our Great Heavenly High Priest, since he was from the tribe of Judah and not from the tribe of Levi, much less a descendant of Aaron? (See notes at 7:14; Exod 19:2, 4). 

Hebrews 4:16, Come boldly. The veil (Heb. porechet) in the Tabernacle of Moses separated the compartments of the holy place and the holy of holies which housed the ark of the covenant and the was where the glory or presence of Elohim resided. The holy of holies pictured the heavenly throne room of Elohim, and only the high priest could enter it once a year on the Day of Atonement (or Yom Kippur). It was forbidden for anyone else to come into the holy of holies (except Moses, who as a prophetic picture of Yeshua the Messiah, who often went there to receive instructions from Elohim). That veil separating Elohim from the people thus preventing the common person from entering into the holy of holies was miraculously ripped in two when Yeshua died on the cross (Luke 23:45), thus symbolizing that now the way was open way for every saint to come boldly through the “veil” of Yeshua’s flesh (i.e. through the atoning blood of and a personal spiritual relationship with Yeshua; Heb 10:20) into the very presence of YHVH Elohim.

 

Only ignorant or irreverent humans invalidate YHVH’s Sabbaths!

Exodus 31:13–17, My Sabbaths you shall keep. Note that Sabbaths is plural. This is a reference not only to the weekly Sabbath, but to the feast day Sabbaths as well. However, the seventh day Sabbath remains central to YHVH’s spiritual economy for his people. In fact, it was so central to the spiritual life and YHVH’s people that he designated it to be a visible and outward sign of the special relationship between him and his people. Let’s explore this idea.

Why did YHVH designate it as a sign (“signal, distinguishing mark, banner,” Exod 31:12) between him and Israel? As YHVH’s set-apart people, Israel was distinguishing itself from the surrounding nations who did not keep the Sabbath. What distinguishes the saints today as YHVH’s set-apart people from the non-believing heathen around them? Certainly our love for one another is a distinguishing mark, according to Yeshua (John 13:35). Yeshua also said that if we love him we will keep his Torah commandments (of which the Sabbath is the fourth of the ten commandments, John 14:15; Exod 20:8). John was inspired to write that those who say they know Elohim and don’t keep his Torah-commandments (of which the Sabbath is a foundation stone) are liars and the truth is not in them (1 John 2:3–6). And finally, Yeshua told those who were Torahless (i.e. workers of iniquity or lawlessness) to depart from him, that he didn’t know them even though they claimed to be his followers and had done many religious works in his name (Matt 7:21–23). Although the Sabbath and the biblical feasts may not be the exact sign of the Renewed Covenant, Elohim’s Sabbaths are foundation stones of the Torah, and the keeping of them remains to this day for the saints of Elohim (Heb 4:9).

The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach translates verse 15 as follows:

For six days work may be done and the seventh day is a day of complete rest, it is sacred to [YHVH]…(emphasis added)

What is complete rest? What is the connection between “complete rest” and the idea of sacredness or being set-apartness or kadosh? The people of YHVH are called to separate the kodesh from the common or profane:

Her priests have violated my Torah, and have profaned my set-apart/kodesh things: they have put no difference between the kodesh and profane [common, polluted] neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. (Ezek 22:26)

And [the priests] shall teach my people the difference between the kodesh and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. (Ezek 44:23)

What is common or profane is that which is commonly done on the other six days of the week.

Exodus 31:14, Sabbath…profanes it. Profaning or polluting the Sabbath with secular activities is a sin. Sabbath desecration is as much a capital offence in YHVH’s eyes now as it was then. The wages of sin is still death (Ezek 18:4; Rom 6:23). 

Exodus 31:18, Written with the finger. The Sabbath was ordained by Elohim and written by his finger. How dare men subsequently declare that the Sabbath was changed and that what YHVH wrote with his finger in tablets of stone is now irrelevant or passé! What hubris and arrogance on men’s part to counter the will and laws of Elohim with silly, specious and vacuous justifications for man-made and unbiblical teachings that deign to nullify the validity of YHVH’s Sabbath. Such edicts of men will not stand, but will blow away like lowly dust in the wind, will be burned to ashes in the fiery judgment of Elohim, and will fall by the wayside like all the other traditions of men, which have dared to make the word of Elohim of no effect!

 

John 5—Natan’s Commentary Notes

The Gospel of John contains many deep spiritual insights that are found in none of the other three Gospels. John wrote this Gospel probably in the AD 90s when he was very old and likely after all the other apostles were already dead, and some 60 years after the death and resurrection of Yeshua. By that time, he had seen a lot of water go under the bridge—both good and bad, so to speak, and had developed many keen and unique insights that come only with time, experience, understanding and wisdom. Please enjoy a few of the golden nuggets in John’s writings that this disciple of Yeshua has discovered over the years and is now sharing with you below.


John 5:2, In Hebrew. (Gr. Hebraisti) This phrase indicates that either John was originally written in Greek, or it was written in Hebrew, then translated into Greek with the insertion of this editorial comment. 

John 5:4, Troubled/stirred the waters. The Greek word for stir or trouble can mean “to agitate, disquiet, make restless, cause inward commotion, to strike one’s spirit with fear, perplex the mind, render anxious or distressed or to cause dread.” The troubling of the waters at the Bethesda Pool was more than just a breeze causing some riffles over the waters. Those at the pool’s edge must have sensed something supernatural when the angel troubled waters—that something supernatural was about to occur. Perhaps they sensed the presence of Elohim in their spirit. The outward stirring of the waters (with the inward stirring of the spirit?) coupled with their acting in faith to get to the waters to be healed brought about healing. What is the lesson here for us? When we sense the presence of the Almighty to heal us, we must step forth in faith seeking Elohim’s healing touch in our lives. Our seeking might result in our finding heaven’s miracle for our lives at that exact moment.

John 5:12, Sin no more. Sometimes our physical infirmity is a result of sin was case in this verse, and sometimes sin is not the cause of the infirmity as was the case with the man who was born blind (John 9:2–3). Only by divine revelation (or by the Holy Spirit gift of the word of knowledge) was Yeshua able know the cause of an ailment when praying for someone’s healing. Yeshua’s healing of the man at the Bethesda Pool was an act of divine grace by Yeshua. Yeshua didn’t require the man to repent of his sin before healing him, although he advised him sin no more, so that a worse judgment wouldn’t come on him later.

John 5:18, [Yeshua]…broke the Sabbath. (Also see notes on Matt 12:1–14.) Allow me to share an interesting and sad, but true story from my life about a false Christian teacher that I went head-to-head with. Many years ago, I was in a meeting where a Christian Bible teacher was giving a message on the end times. In the middle of his teaching and totally out of context, he quoted this passage from John and claimed that Yeshua broke the Sabbath. There was a rustle in the audience of about 300 people. A little later, he made the same statement again and began to deride the Sabbath. This time there was an audible moan from some in the audience—many of whom were Sabbath keepers. A feeling of being hit in the gut went through me. A little later, he made the same statement again, and continued to bash Sabbath observance. This time, I could hold my peace no longer, and I stood up and challenged him in the middle of the meeting. I told him that to say that Yeshua had broken the Sabbath was to call Yeshua a sinner, and that Yeshua had not broken the Sabbath, but some Jewish legal traditions (or halakhah) pertaining to the Sabbath. The speaker was flustered and had no response, and the host of the meeting decided to take an intermission.

A year later, it was announced that this Bible teacher had suddenly and unexpectedly dropped dead in the pulpit while preaching. One can’t help but wonder if he had come under divine judgment for blasphemously teaching that Yeshua was a sinner by supposedly breaking the fourth commandment.

Had this false teacher simply pulled down a concordance from his bookshelf and looked up the word broke in the Greek, and had read John’s statement in verse 12 in the context of verses 8–10, he wouldn’t have been teaching this blasphemous heresy about our Master and Savior!

Here is the explanation of this passage: The word broke is the Greek word luo meaning “to loose, untie someone or something bound, to dissolve, destroy.” According to The Theological Dictionary of the NT, luo means “to free from prison, open something closed; destroy fetters, foundations, walls; to release.” What Yeshua was breaking was the Jews’ extra-Torah legal traditions that made the Sabbath a burden by prohibiting the alleviation of human suffering and need on this day (John 5:8–10). He was in no way violating the actual Torah, since there is no Torah-law prohibiting healing on the Sabbath or carrying one’s bed role. In attempting to follow the Torah through men’s traditions, many of the Jews of Yeshua’s day had actually omitted the weightier matters of the Torah (justice, mercy and faith, see Matt 23:23), and had forgotten that YHVH is more concerned with heart issues rather than religious legalism, since he desires mercy over sacrifice, and the knowledge of Elohim over burnt offerings (Hos 6:6).

Any tradition of man that violates the letter and the spirit of the Torah is an illegal tradition. Yeshua was only violating an illegal tradition of men. Therefore, in the eyes of the Jews he was breaking the Torah. In reality, he was loosing (not breaking) the Torah from the traditions of men that had corrupted the true intent of the Sabbath law. A better translation of this verse would be, “he…loosened/untied the Sabbath [from men’s legalistic traditions].” Yeshua didn’t come to set men free from the Sabbath. He came to set the Sabbath free from men’s unbiblical traditions.


Did Yeshua Break the Law?

According to most of our English Bibles, Yeshua broke the Torah-law of Moses. For example, we read in John’s Gospel,

Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. (John 5:18, NKJV)

Continue reading
 

Ezekiel 20 on YHVH’s Sabbaths, the Regathering of Redeemed Israel and the End Times Wilderness of the Peoples

Ezekiel 20:12, 13, 16, 20, My Sabbaths. YHVH cites Israel’s failure to keep his sabbaths as a prime reason for YHVH not permitting the older generation to enter the Promised Land. Judah’s not keeping the land sabbaths determined the length of her captivity in Babylon; namely, 70 years. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews brings up the Sabbath issue in chapter four of that book. What is the connection between keeping YHVH’s sabbaths and entering the spiritual rest of his Promised Land? (Read Heb 4:1–11.)

The Sabbath was the eternal sign between YHVH and his people, and it was one of the first Torah laws YHVH called upon Israel to practice. As noted, the failure of YHVH’s people to keep his sabbaths prevented the Israelites from going forward into their spiritual destiny.

Likewise, the fourth or Sabbath commandment of the Ten Commandments is the only one of the ten where YHVH instructs his people to “remember” it implying that they would eventually forget to keep his Sabbaths. History records that the Sabbath was the first so-called Jewish law that the early church left replacing it with Sunday (in the second century a.d.). In the modern Hebrew Roots Movement, YHVH’s people are beginning to leave the non-biblical religious traditions of men by returning to a more true-to-Scripture spiritual walk (a fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy about the heart of the children being turned back to their fathers in the end days in preparation for Messiah’s arrival [Mal 4:4–6]).

How prominently does the Sabbath figure in the lives of those believers who are returning to the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith? How significant is this prophetically? Is history repeating itself in reverse? Instead of YHVH’s people leaving the Sabbath, they are returning to it. The keeping of the Sabbath is an acknowledgment of YHVH’s sovereignty as the Creator of all, and of his sovereignty over our time, work and lives. Keeping the Sabbath is a direct assault on idolatry, materialism, selfishness, rebellion, and assimilation into the surrounding pagan culture that occurred when Israel forsook the Sabbaths of YHVH. Notice how Ezekiel ties the idolatry, rebellion and general apostasy of Israel with her desecration of YHVH’s Sabbaths. What was Israel’s heart condition that caused her to rebel against this commandment of YHVH? What are the excuses used by many today in order to justify themselves in desecrating YHVH’s Sabbaths? 

In Ezekiel 20, we see that YHVH’s feasts (or sabbaths) are a covenantal sign between YHVH and his people (Ezek 20:12) that they were to live by (Ezek 20:11), yet which Israel, in rebellion, refused to do while in the wilderness. Instead they defiled his sabbaths by, presumably, not doing them and doing other things on YHVH’s holy days (Ezek 20:13). Israel’s rebellion against YHVH with regard to their refusal to keep his sabbaths brought upon them YHVH’s judgments (Ezek 20:13). In other words, it was YHVH’s will for the Israelites to keep his sabbaths in the wilderness, but because of their idolatrous rebellion, they refused to do so. In fact, YHVH calls refusing to observe his sabbaths idolatry and for this sin (along with other sins), the Israelites had to wander in the wilderness for forty years (Ezek 20:15–16). In profaning his sabbaths, YHVH accuses the Israelites of despising his Torah (Ezek 20:16). YHVH then goes on to urge his people to not follow the example of their rebellious forefathers, but rather to walk in all of his Torah commands (including his sabbaths, Ezek 20:18–20). Because of their profaning his sabbaths, he punished them by scattering them in exile among the heathens. Those modern saints who refuse to keep YHVH’s Sabbath and feasts are walking in the same sin as the ancient Israelites. Often people who refuse to keep YHVH’s feast days holy do so because the feasts conflict with their secular activities (such as their jobs and recreational activities). YHVH calls this idolatry and being like the heathen (Ezek 20:30, 32). In the end times, YHVH is going to separate his people out from the heathen and bring them back into covenantal agreement with him including obedience to his sabbaths (Ezek 20:33–38). He will purge from his people those rebels who refuse to obey him including keeping his sabbaths (Ezek 20:38), which are a sign of his covenantal relationship with them.

Ezekiel 20:33–38, I will bring you out.This prophecy has never been fulfilled. In the end times, YHVH will begin to regather his scattered people (the 12 tribes of Israel) with his mighty, sovereign hand in the midst of his last days fury or judgments that he will pour out upon the earth just prior to Yeshua’s second coming. As an intermediate step before returning his people to their inheritance in the Promised Land, he will bring them into the “wilderness of the peoples.” This is the only place this term is found in the Bible. It appears to be a spiritual wilderness (not a literal one) in the midst of the Gentile nations where YHVH’s people find themselves. Presently, there are many saints who have answered YHVH’s call to come out of the spiritual Babylon of the church system. They presently find themselves alone in a spiritual wilderness where YHVH is teaching them about the Torah and Hebraic roots of their faith. This wilderness is a time to testing for YHVH’s people for him to determine who will love him by keeping is commandments or not (v. 37). This period will be similar to the that of Israel in Goshen, Egypt (v. 36). At that time, YHVH tested the children of Israel by allowing them to go through the first three plagues, but he protected them from the last seven plagues. This is how he refined them spiritually and, at the same time, got their attention focused on him and off of Egypt. YHVH will make all to pass under the rod of his judgment and separation (v. 37). He will purge out from is flock those who refuse to follow his Torah (the rebels and transgressors) and they won’t be allowed into the Promised Land (v. 38). 

Ezekiel 20:35–36, Wilderness [Heb. midbar] of the peoples [Heb. am, not goy].This wilderness is like the “wilderness” of Goshen in Egypt. This prophecy doesn’t seem to be referring to a wilderness outside of Egypt, but one that is in Egypt prior to the Exodus. In end times Babylon the Great, this could be a prophetic reference to a spiritual wilderness experience YHVH will force believers to endure to test whether they will be obedient to his Torah or not (vv. 37–38) to determine whether they’re worthy candidates to come into the Promised Land as Yeshua’s warrior bride at his second coming. This wilderness of the peoples seems to be a wilderness in the midst of the heathen people in which believers find themselves as opposed the wilderness of Rev 12:14 that YHVH will carry his end times persecuted remnant into for three-and-a-half years.

 

What do I do on the Sabbath?

I get asked the question frequently, “What am I supposed to do on the Sabbath day?” The following Torah Scripture and gives us much a unique insight into the answer to this question.

Numbers 28:9, On the Sabbath day. Every Sabbath YHVH required double sacrifices to be offered. What can we learn from this seemingly minor, easily overlooked detail pertaining to the Levitical sacrificial system to enrich our Sabbath (Heb. Shabbat) experience? Much!

The Levites offering a double sacrifice on Shabbat was a foundational principle of the sacrificial system. This teaches us that we need to spend more time seeking YHVH on his set-apart or holy Shabbat. This means being a living sacrifice to YHVH. What are the ramifications of being a living sacrifice?

In this age of self-indulgence and self-centeredness, the subject of self-denial and being a living sacrifice is not a popular one, yet laying one’s life down or becoming a living sacrifice, is a fundamental principle of the Christian life—something about which Scripture speaks volumes! (Read the following: Rom 12:1; Pss 4:5; 27:6; 50:8–15; 51:17; 107:22; 119:108; Prov 15:8; 21:3; Jer 17:26; 33:11; Hos 6:6; 14:2; Jon 2:9; Mal 1:11; Matt 9:13; 12:7; Eph 5:2; Phil 2:17; 4:18; Heb 9:26; 13:15; 1 Pet 2:4.) 

Self-denial is rooted in our covenantal relationship with our Yeshua, who is not only our Savior, but also our Master. When we become a disciple of Yeshua the Messiah and laid down our lives in the watery grave of baptism and accepted his payment for our sins, we covenanted to follow and obey him—to lay down our lives as well for him just as he did for us (Phil 2:5–8), that is, to become a living sacrifice to love, serve and to obey him regardless of what our carnal nature wants to do. As the apostle declared, we are not our own, but we were purchased with a price—the precious blood of Yeshua (1 Pet 1:18–19; Eph 1:4). This all translates into how we observe the Sabbath. On this set-apart day (i.e. it is set-apart from our normal, worldly activities), do we do what pleases our fleshly appetites or what pleases our Heavenly Master (Isa 58:13)?

So what types of activities should fill our Sabbath time that exemplify the Levites’ making a double offering on the Sabbath? Once again, please review the scripture verses listed above about being a living sacrifice. From these we learn that being a living sacrifice involves any activity that is a of worshipful and devotional nature toward our Heavenly Creator. Therefore, shouldn’t all of our Sabbath-day activities in some way point to YHVH, and in some way strengthen our walk with and relational ties to our Creator, and our relationship with others who are of the household of faith? 

Let’s not forget an important truth: Keeping Torah is not about bondage (to a legalistic set of dos and don’ts); rather, it’s a vehicle to promote bonding and relationship (i.e. building loving relationship between man and his Creator, between man and his fellow man). Therefore, our Sabbath activities are about building spiritual relationships Elohim and our fellow man.

 

Don’t work on the Sabbath—No excuses!

Numbers 15:32–36, On the Sabbath day. Let’s take a closer look at the Sabbath desecration in the wilderness.The Torah juxtaposes the sins of idolatry and Sabbath desecration because they represent the same concept. Just as the idolater denies the sovereignty of Elohim, so too, one who flouts the Sabbath, which testifies to Elohim’s creation of the universe, declares his lack of faith in the Creator. Because of the vital place of Sabbath in the constellation of Jewish belief, the Torah places this incident here, although it did not necessarily happen immediately after the rebellion of the spies (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 815).

Working on the Sabbath is evidence of lack of faith in the Creator to provide for our needs on the other six days so that we will not have to work on the seventh day. Working on the Sabbath is also a result of unbelief (faithlessness), which is fear (the antithesis of faith; see 2 Tim 1:7). It is doubt, unbelief and fear (faithlessness) that prevented Israel from entering into the Promised Land for 40 years (Heb 4:1–11). 

As we see from Hebrews chapter four, the Sabbath is a prophetic picture of entering YHVH’s spiritual rest and is symbolic of the Promised Land and the Millennium. When we rest from our physical labors on the seventh day we demonstrate that we have the requisite faith to enter the spiritual or millennial rest that YHVH has prepared for us, unlike the ten evil Israelite spies who lacked the faith in YHVH’s word necessary to go in to possess the Promised Land. Joshua and Caleb had this faith and they were able to enter the Promised Land. 

Remember that the Sabbath is the sign of the Sinaitic Covenant (Exod 31:7, 13). If one walks in the righteousness of that covenant, one will be a recipient of the promised blessings of the New Covenant, which also includes the blessings of Torah-obedience as found in the Sinaitic or Mosaic Covenant. Perhaps this is why the Sabbath incident is juxtaposed with the spy incident in this section of the Torah. It shows the connection between keeping the Sabbath and entering the Promised Land.

Numbers 15:32. A man gathering sticks. A man gathering sticks. The man gathering sticks on the Sabbath is an example of intentional sin, for which there is no sacrifice (atonement or forgiveness; Num 15:30–31).

Furthermore, the act of gathering sticks on the Sabbath teaches us something else. Sticks are used to start fires, something that the Torah commands us not to do on the Sabbath—especially if it relates to our work, business or secular activities such as building the tabernacle (Exod 35:3 cp. vv. 4–35 or cooking food, see Exod 16:23).

A fire is a biblical metaphor for strife and division, which is usually caused by the misuse of the tongue (Prov 16:27; 26:20–21; Jas 3:5–6). Those who stir up the fires of strife and division must be put out of the camp, even as the man who was gathering sticks on the Sabbath to build a fire had to be put out of the camp of Israel.

Similarly, Paul gives instructions about putting individuals outside of the camp or congregation of redeemed Israel in several places (Rom 16:17–18; Tit 3:10 cp. 1 Cor 5:9–11 in reference to a reviler).

Why should such individuals be treated as a pariah to the congregation of the righteous? Simply this, with smooth words and flattering speech they will deceive the hearts of the simple (Rom 16:17–18) and destroy the congregation. Paul calls such individuals who use their tongues to draw a following grievous or savage wolves and perverse men (Acts 20:29–30).