Is it lawful to “do good on the Sabbath” by working on the Sabbath?

I just received an email question from a brother who works at a hospital in the maintenance department, but wants to follow the Torah by observing the Sabbath (Shabbat). His work schedule was just changed, so that he now has to work on Friday evenings at the beginning of the Sabbath. He asked me whether his working on the Sabbath fell under the category of what the Bible calls “doing good on the Sabbath.”

Here was my response to him.

When Yeshua asked the question, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days…” (Mark 3:4; 6:9) it was not in reference to one’s employment, but to miraculously healing a sick person on the Sabbath. Big difference.
Whether one works on the Sabbath because one’s job requires it or not is simply a matter of one’s level of obedience and faith. I believe that if you resolve to obey YHVH and his clear commandments about not violating the Sabbath, and then take the necessary steps of faith NOT to work on the Sabbath, YHVH will bless you with the answer to your problem, so that you’ll not have violate his commands (called sin, 1 John 3:4) by working on the Sabbath. I’ve seen miraculous doors open up for people many times who have resolved not to work on the Sabbath. Be it according to your faith. So that I wouldn’t have to face the difficult situation of breaking the Sabbath and biblical feasts by working on them is why I chose to be self employed more than 35 years ago instead of the pursuing a career in the corporate world upon graduating college. Face it, this world isn’t a friendly to those of us who want to obey YHVH.
One more thing. Please keep this in mind. To the degree we obey YHVH we will be blessed in all areas of our lives. To the degree we don’t, regardless of our excuses, we won’t be blessed. This is a simple spiritual law of cause and effect.
I in no way judge or condemn you. These are difficult issues that many, if not most, people struggle with regularly. YHVH is merciful and gracious and gives us time and space to come into alignment with his perfect will. It doesn’t always happen overnight, but we must be taking steps in that direction.
Let’s keep in mind the clear biblical commands regarding observing the Sabbath in Exodus 20:8–11):
  • We are to remember (i.e. not to forget) the Sabbath day.
  • We are to keep the Sabbath holy or set-apart (i.e. not to profane it by doing our regular secular activities).
  • We are to rest (i.e. not to work) on the Sabbath.
  • We are not to labor (i.e. engage in any work) on the Sabbath (i.e. doing our employment or laborious work).

It’s really that simple.

 

Is “The Lord’s Day” a Proof of Sunday Observance?

Revelation 1:10, The Lord’s Day. This verse is one of the cliche biblical passages that mainstream church scholars use to “prove” Sunday’s replacement of the Sabbath. The problem with this position is that there’s no clear scriptural proof that the apostles ever changed the Sabbath to Sunday. What’s more, to view this passage as referring to Sunday is to take a phrase the early church fathers used as a euphemism for Sunday when pushing for Sunday in place of Sabbath observance and to retroactively apply this meaning to John’s use of the phrase. Frankly, it is biased and dishonest scholarship to take the phrase “the Lord’s day” with its second century colloquial meaning and then to back-apply this meaning to John’s use of the phrase when there’s no reason to believe this was John’s intended meaning.

Alternatively, the phrase, “the Lord’s day, can be a reference to the biblical term “the day of the Lord’s wrath” when YHVH, in the end times, will judge the nations for their wickedness. This is a point that several biblical scholars have made (see From Sabbath to Sunday, by Samuele Bacchiochi, p. 111; E. W. Bullinger’s Companion Bible footnote on Rev 1:10; The Jewish New Testament Commentary on this verse, p. 791, by David Sterns).

There is actually more scriptural proof that the phrase “the day of the Lord” is a reference to the seventh day Sabbath than to the first the week. In Isaiah 58:13, the prophet YHVH refers to the Sabbath as “my holy day…the holy day of the Lord.” So conceivably, it could have been on the Sabbath day itself that John received his vision on the island of Patmos about that great and terrible day of YHVH’s wrath that is to come on the earth just prior to the Messiah’s second coming. 

 

The Sabbath: Physical and Spiritual Rest

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 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 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. (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! And if he kept the Sabbath, and he did, we are to imitate him as his obedient disciples and imitators by doing what he did. See 1 Cor 11:1.)

When we rest both physically and spiritually, we’re walking out a higher level of truth by walking out both the letter and the spirit of the law as Yeshua taught us to do in his Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:17–48), 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!

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

 

The Fall Biblical Feasts Are Coming…Are You Ready to Celebrate Them?

Deuteronomy 16:1ff, Keeping the biblical feasts. How important are YHVH’s feast days (annual set-apart times or moedim) to you? The Israelites and first-century Messianic believers planned their entire year’s schedule around them. That’s how important YHVH’s annual festivals were to them. Do we travel halfway across the country to take a vacation or to go to a conference, and yet do not set apart the time to obey YHVH’s voice by keeping his appointed times? Do we let our jobs, school or other secular activities dictate how and whether we keep the feasts or not? If so, what does this say about the status of our spiritual priorities? What does Elohim think about our excuses about why we can’t keep his feasts has he has commanded us to do? 

The feast days are the skeletal framework of YHVH’s entire plan of redemption (salvation) of Israel. One cannot in good conscience and be true to biblical truth and keep the weekly Sabbath without keeping YHVH’s annual Sabbaths. They stand or fall together. What plans are you making to keep the upcoming fall appointed times of YHVH: Yom Teruah (Day of Shouting/Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Covering/Atonement), Hag HaSukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) and Shemini Atzeret (The Eighth Day)?

In the final analysis, jobs, schooling, friends and the praises and acceptance of men will all pass away, but our relationship with Elohim will determine our eternal destiny. Isn’t it time that we got serious about putting him first in our lives?

On this blog site, I have posted numerous teaching articles on both the seventh day Sabbath and on the biblical feasts. These are readily accessible by going to the main page of this blog and typing in search terms in the site’s search engine at the top right hand side of the page.

Also, on this ministry’s YouTube channel, you can find dozens of videos on the Sabbath and biblical feasts at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5EzE5DQnrHfWWbczzkRo6IOnglxhbRfM.

On this ministry’s website, you can find numerous teaching articles on the Sabbath and biblical feasts at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/teaching.html#feast.

When are we to celebrate the biblical feasts? You can find out this info from our free downloadable online biblical calendar at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/calendars.html.

If you want to understand the biblical calendar from the Bible itself, go to https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/teaching.html#feast.

 

The Sabbath—A Bridge Back to the Future!

The biblical Sabbath is like a spiritual bridge that spans the ages—the past to the present and then on into the future. The seventh day Sabbath not only connects man to all three, but carries man back to the Creator and forward with him into eternity, that is, into the eternal Sabbath of the New Heavens and New Earth in the New Jerusalem. The Sabbath is a major bridge linking man to his past, present and future.

When men cease to “remember the Sabbath to keep it holy/kadoash/set-apart [from secular activities]” (Exod 20:8) and substitute it for other days of worship (e.g. Sunday) or replace it with secular work and activities, humans, to one degree or another, cut themselves off from that spiritual bridge linking them to the eternity beyond both past and future in which Elohim inhabits.

Interestingly, the Sabbath was the first biblical truth that the post-apostolic apostate-bound Christian church fathers abandoned in the second century. At the same time, the Sabbath is the first thing to which modern mainstream Christian who are rediscovering their Hebraic roots will return.

As such, these modern day spiritual truth-seekers and pilgrims are unwittingly retracing their steps back to the future and back to the point where their second century antecedents jumped off the spiritual bridge that links them to eternity and beyond.

Yeshua the Messiah is the Creator of and LORD of the Sabbath and, when on earth as a human, he never sinned by violating a single Bible commandment including the command to keep the Sabbath holy.

Moreover, the Sabbath was a sign that the Word of Elohim (who later revealed himself in flesh form as Yeshua the Messiah) audibly gave to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai as a sign linking them to himself in a deep, mystical spiritual way.

The Sabbath as a commandment and a sign linking Elohim to his people has never gone away. Yeshua is the same yesterday, today and forever and does not change.

Those who love Yeshua the Messiah will be imitating him (1 Cor 11:1) and showing him their love by keeping his commandments (John 14:15). The Sabbath will link them to him in a deeper spiritual and mystical way that only those who “remember the Sabbath to keep it holy” can fully understand.

 

Shabbat—A Day to Seek Elohim

Numbers 28:9, On the Sabbath day. Every Sabbath YHVH required double sacrifices to be offered. This being a foundational principle, shouldn’t we spend more time seeking him on Shabbat? What types of activities should fill our Sabbath time that are of a devotional, worshipful nature?

Shouldn’t all of our Sabbath-day activities somehow point to YHVH, and in some way strengthen our walk with and ties to our Creator, and our ties to 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); it’s a vehicle to promote bonding (building loving relationship between man and his Creator, between man and his fellow man).

 

The Sabbath/s of Elohim—An Identifying Sign Forever

Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am YHVH that doth sanctify you. (Exod 31:13)

There remaineth therefore a rest/Sabbath [Greek: sabbatismos or keeping of the Sabbath]  to the people of Elohim. (Heb 4:9)

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. 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. Such edicts of men will not stand, but will blow away like 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!