Are You “Rising Up to Play” on the Weekly Shabbat?

Exodus 32:4–5, Your gods…a feast to YHVH. This is the first example in the Scriptures of YHVH’s peoplemixing pagan practices (i.e. evil) with the truth of Elohim (i.e. good). We see that Satan the deceiving serpent was the first entity to defile good with evil when he questioned Elohim and tempted the first humans (Gen 2:9 cp. 3:1–6). The Hebrew word babel or Babylon means “confusion or mixture.” It is the mixing of evil with good, error with truth, darkness with light, death with life. In the end times, the saints must first recognize such mixture by knowing the difference between the holy and the profane and then be able to separate the two, and then come away from that which is evil or part of Babylon (Exek 22:26; 44:23; Rev 18:4; 2 Cor 6:14–17.) Though mainstream Christianity and Judaism are biblically-based religious systems, both have allowed pagan traditions, celebrations belief systems to insinuate themselves into their religious practices. In these end times, YHVH is calling his people away from everything that is unholy and unbiblical (Rev 18:4).

Exodus 32:5, A feast. Hebrew chag meaning “festival, feast, festival-gathering, pilgrim-feast or a festival sacrifice.” In the Torah (e.g. Lev 23; Deut 16:16), only three of the seven biblical holidays are referred to as a chag. They are the pilgrimage festivals (e.g. Ps 42:4) called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks or Harvest of First Fruits, and the Feast of Tabernacles or Ingathering. Chag can also refer to a pagan festival as is the case in Exod 32:5 at the golden calf, or to the feast instituted by Jeroboam I to replace the Feast of Tabernacles (1 Kgs 12:32–33; The TWOT).

The verb chaggag, the root of chag, means “to hold a feast, hold a festival, make pilgrimage, keep a pilgrim-feast, celebrate, dance, stagger, to keep a pilgrim-feast, to reel.” Chagag primarily refers to celebrating the three biblical pilgrimage feasts, but can also refer to a pagan festival (1 Sam 30:16), or to sailers reeling to and fro on a ship as if drunk (Ps 107:27; ibid.).

Now let’s discuss the feast or chag that the Israelites made in honor of the gold calf. There is a strong likelihood that the day the Israelites dedicated to the worship of the golden calf was on the weekly Sabbath. The reasons to believe it was the Shabbat are as follows. Let us first assume that the Israelites received the ten commandments on Shavuot, which many of us believe was on a Sunday (i.e. 50 days after the morrow or day of the weekly Shabbat; see Lev 23:15–16). The next day—a Monday—(Exod 24:4), Moses built an altar and ratified the covenant with the Israelites (vv. 4–8). After that, Moses celebrated with the elders at the base of Mount Sinai (vv. 9–11). Next, Moses went up onto Mount Sinai to receive the tablets of stone (vv. 12–15). It had been six days since the glory of YHVH had been resting on the mountain (from Sunday to Saturday). On the seventh day or the weekly Shabbat, YHVH called Moses to enter the glory cloud where he remained with YHVH until his descent from Sinai. Moses was on the mountain from sometime Monday until Shabbat, when he entered the glory cloud. All total, Moses was on the mountain for forty days (vv. 16–18). At the end of 40 days, YHVH informed Moses of the people’s sin (Exod 32:7). If Moses ascended the mountain sometime on Monday, then the same time on Tuesday would have been day one. Forty days later was the weekly Shabbat. Moses descended the mountain after YHVH informed him of the people’s sin, and after forty days. This means that Moses descended on a Sunday. This also means that the people made a pagan feast to the golden calf on the Shabbat. Although the Bible never calls the Shabbat a chag, nevertheless, as we have seen above, the Bible refers to pagan celebrations as a chag. This is because pagan festivals were not solemn, but were often raucous, lewd, bacchanalian events—hence the term chag to indicate the festive nature of the event, though in a pejorative way.

Exodus 32:6, Play. Heb. tsachaq means “to laugh, mock, play, to laugh, to jest, to sport, make sport, toy with, make a toy of.” In this verse, the verb tsachaq is in its piel (intensive active form) and means “to jest, to sport, play, make sport, toy with, make a toy of” (The TWOT). If the Israelite’s festival dedicated to worship of the golden calf was on the weekly Shabbat (see notes above on v. 5), then YHVH’s displeasure against the Israelites was not only for their idolatry, but for their profaning his holy Sabbath by using it as a time for partying and for carnal sporting activities. They were mocking, making light of, toying with YHVH’s Shabbat, and were seeking their own sensual and carnal, if not, illicit pleasures on his day! This something that Scripture forbids (see Isa 58:13; 56:6).

Some reading this will justify themselves for their profaning the Sabbath by doing “their own pleasure” on that day as having nothing to do with golden calf worship. In reality, the golden calf was a form of or metaphor for Baal or self-worship—i.e., doing our own will or pleasure over that of Elohim’s. Make no mistake about it folks, this is the biblical definition of idolatry!

The Word of Elohim must be the final determiner of what we do or don’t do when it comes to our walk of righteousness—not our own carnal feelings and desires, which are heavily influenced by our fallen, carnal natures as well as the influence of the world and the devil and are thus antithetical to and rebellious against the will and Word of Elohim. It is the Word of Elohim that will judge us. Personal excuses and self-justifications will not pass muster before the throne of the Almighty and Righteous Judge of the universe on judgment day!


“You will keep the Sabbath!” Thus saith YHVH to Israel…

Exodus 16:4–30, The Sabbath. This chapter chronicles YHVH’s efforts to literally force an irreverent, unruly and disobedient nation to keep the seventh day Sabbath. He did so in a most poignant way—through food and hunger. It’s as if he were instructing the stiff-necked and rebellious Israelites that if they refused to follow his Sabbath instructions, they would literally go hungry. “If you don’t obey me, you don’t eat.” This shows the gravity the Creator places on the Sabbath command. Yet despite these clear instructions, most in the Babylonian church today, like the rebellious children of Israel of old, refuse to obey YHVH’s clear instructions regarding the Sabbath. Instead, they prefer to believe the doctrines of men proffered to them by their spiritual leaders that purport to invalidate the Sabbath command. Paul’s sage observation in Romans 8:7 describes the situation perfectly: “Because the carnal mind is enmity against Elohim: for it is not subject to the [Torah] law of Elohim, neither indeed can be.” In our day, the same question can still be asked of followers of Yeshua that YHVH asked of the Israelites at that time, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?” (Exod 16:28).

Not only this, but by forcing the Israelites to gather manna each day, he is teaching them to work for their daily bread for six days. Though the bread came from heaven—YHVH’s was its source—he still required the people to work each day by going out and gathering it. There is no free lunch even where YHVH is concerned. The nation of Israel wasn’t a welfare state empowering lazy freeloaders! If a man doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat. The Sabbath command in Exodus 20 not only prescribes resting on the Sabbath, but this presupposes that one has followed the preceding command to work the previous six days. Humans are naturally inclined to laziness. If one doesn’t have to work, they won’t. YHVH works maintaining and sustaining the universe. YHVH who created humans in his image expects us to follow his example of working and then resting.

Moreover, this chapter is almost entirely dedicated to instructions pertaining to preparing for the Sabbath. This shows the priority that YHVH places on Sabbath observance for his people. Also note that these instructions are given many weeks before the official giving of the Torah (or law of Moses) at Mount Sinai. This is but one of the many examples of YHVH revealing key aspects of his Torah-law before he gave it the Israelites in one legal codified corpus at Mount Sinai.

Exodus 16:4, On the sixth day…prepare. (Also note verse 23.) The sixth day of the week was to be a day of preparation for the Sabbath, so that the Sabbath rest could be complete allowing for man to fully focus on being spiritually edified in the presence of his Creator without the distractions of food preparation and the other mundane duties of life.


What? The Sabbath isn’t commanded in the NT?


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. It is  derived from the Hebrew word shabbat meaning “sabbath,” which originates from the root word 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 set this as an example for man to follow.

Some people see this verse in Hebrews only as a mandate to rest from their spiritual works by putting their faith in Yeshua. This is only partial rest. We must follow the example of YHVH who literally rested on the seventh day as well. Yeshua was YHVH the Creator (Heb 1:10; John 1:3, 10). He kept the Sabbath as YHVH the Creator, and as Yeshua the Messiah.

When we rest both physically and spiritually, we’re walking out a higher level of truth, and as such, we’ve positioned ourselves before YHVH to receive more divine revelation from him. 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’s how it works in his spiritual economy.

You see, the Jews keep the physical Sabbath, but have missed the revelation of spiritual rest in Yeshua, while the mainstream Christians have rejected the physical Sabbath rest but 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! This is another way of connecting the gospel message to its Hebraic, pro-Torah roots.


Resting on the Sabbath is an act of faith

Resting on the Sabbath day is not only about obedience to the laws of the Creator, but is also about worshipping the Elohim, about imitating him by doing what he did and thus becoming like him, and it demonstrates our faith in the Creator while we are obeying, worshipping and imitating him as we will discuss below.

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 4, the Sabbath is a picture of entering YHVH’s spiritual rest and is a spiritual picture 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 go in. 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.


What to with your kids on the Sabbath…

Shabbat shalom!

Shabbat shalom!

Shabbat shalom guys!

I got this excellent question this morning from one of our blog readers, which I will answer below. It’s about how to keep the Shabbat in your family when you don’t have a congregation to attend (or even when you have one to attend, for the that matter!):

Hi Natan. Shabbat Shalom!
I am a newbie. And your teachings and encouragements are so fantastic. And as a newbie, I still need practical advise. I am a young father of three young children (under 5). Can you please encourage me on/write a post about/make a video about how to include my kids as much as possible and how I can be as spirit filled as much as I can with kids that really feel like a distraction on the sabbath day. Even more so since this is the day that I want even more to be close to Him. You know what it was like, I am certain. It’s hard enough that there is no assembly here to congregate with, and I am the only person in my circle of life that keeps Shabbat. But I want so much to honor YHVH on the sabbath day, and be filled with his spirit, and give light and life to my children on the sabbath day. But it is really hard.

I have been where you are. My wife and I have four children, and at one time, three were in diapers at the same time!

YHVH has called you to be the priest, prophet and king of your home. You must understand and own these identities, for they are spiritual callings. A priest brought people to YHVH, interceded for the people, and taught YHVH’s people his ways. A prophet declares the word of Elohim over his people, brings the word of Elohim to the people, and points, warns, disciplines and encourages the people. A king Continue reading


Does YHVH want us to freeze in the dark on the Sabbath?

Exodus 35:2, The seventh day … shall be … a set-apart day. In our journey through the Torah, the subject of the seventh day Sabbath keeps popping up. When YHVH said in Exodus 20:8 to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it set-apart (Heb. kadosh),” he keeps reminding them of it so that they won’t forget it! What does this tell us about the importance YHVH places on the weekly Sabbath? With each reminder, he gives additional instructions about how to keep the Sabbath (see Gen 2:2–3; Exod 16:23–30; 20:8–11).


Exodus 35:3, Kindle no fire…on the Sabbath day. There are several prevailing viewpoints as to the exact meaning of this passage. Let’s explore them.

The Orthodox Jews take literally the Torah’s prohibition to kindle no fire on the Sabbath. As such, many do not even turn on a light switch or start their cars (i.e., fire in the spark plugs) on the Sabbath for fear of violating this command. To counter balance this viewpoint, the Torah does indicate that the priest lit the menorah in the tabernacle each morning, the Sabbath not excluded (Exod 27:21–21; 30:7). So, for ministry purposes, lighting a fire seems not to be prohibited.

There is also the viewpoint that since the next verse (Exod 34:4) begins YHVH’s instructions to build the tabernacle, the immediate context of the Sabbath-fire passage has to do with not starting fires that pertain only to one’s trade or job—in Israel’s case, their job was the building of the mishkan. Fires would have been needed for tanning hides, working with metal, and possibly bending wood and dying cloth along with other activities.

This we know for certain. On the Sabbath, YHVH’s people are not to bake, cook or prepare food from scratch (Exod 16:23), but reheating food seems not to be Continue reading


The “Lunar Sabbath” or Saturday Sabbath? Will the Real Sabbath Please Stand Up?

Has the Weekly Cycle Been Altered Since the Time of Yeshua?

Many have come to realize that if there is one thing in life that is certain it is that nothing is certain. The few things in life that seem to be unchangeable and rock-solid we tend to cling to tenaciously, for they give us a sense of permanency and stability—and we need that as we find ourselves being heaved and pitched to and fro on the oceans of change with ever increasing rapidity and frequency.


For many people, the weekly Shabbat (Sabbath) has been one of those Rock of Gibraltor foundational aspects of their lives to which they could anchor their spiritual ships—a harbor in which many have found safe refuge each week, week in and week out, month after month and year after year—with total faith and confidence that indeed the Shabbat was one thing that had never changed and would never change. Indeed, the enduring legacy of the Jewish people, nationless and often homeless for nearly two millennia, yet remaining a distinct people-group, can be attributed to the prominent place the weekly Sabbath holds within their community.

But the validity and immutability of the Shabbat is only as viable as the unchangeableness of the weekly cycle upon which the Shabbat is dependant. If the weekly cycle has ever changed then the correct day for observing the seventh-day Shabbat must immediately be called into question.

And while most Sabbatarians never even think to question the seeming inviolate nature of the weekly cycle, but unquestioningly assume that it has never changed, there is, nonetheless, a very small, fringe group of Sabbatarians who believe that the weekly cycle has indeed changed. These individuals are vocal beyond their size and some can be extremely aggressive, divisive and downright mean-spirited in their zeal to convert the Continue reading