Years ago there was a soft drink that had the catch phrase, “Try it, you’ll like it.” The Bible says something like this: “Taste and see that YHVH/the LORD is good.” The same is true of the seventh day Sabbath (or Shabbat in Hebrew). This is the only day of the week that YHVH blessed and sanctified (set it aside for a special purpose) and made into a divine appointment where he promised to meet with his people. He never did this with Sunday or any other day of the week. That’s why there’s a special blessing on the Sabbath—and with it comes a joy and peace unlike any other day. Until you start honoring or “tasting” the seventh day Sabbath, you’ll never understand or experience this special blessing. This video explains this and encourages you to try it, you’ll like it!
John 5:18, [Yeshua]…broke the Sabbath. 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 Continue reading
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.
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!
My wife, Sandi, and I took a walk down by the river this Shabbat afternoon. It was a beautiful day—mild for this time of the year, and after spending most of the day indoors reading the Bible, writing, studying and praying, I needed to get out for some fresh air and to connect with the Creator through his creation. This is part Elohim’s the river of life I need to get into regularly. It’s part of my personal “God bubble” in which I live. Please enjoy. Natan
I like photography and I love my iPhone because I can snap quality pictures wherever I go. Every day in our haste, we simply walk by beautiful pictures. One has to have an eye and a love for beauty as one is walking down the path of life. All around us are beautiful scenes waiting to be seen and appreciated. They are opportunities to stop and pray, to reflect and to worship Elohim. Let’s work hard not to miss these opportunities. We must learn to extract the precious from the mundane, and sometimes even from the vile. May YHVH, give us the eyes and heart to find the beauty and blessing in everything and everyone around us, and use it as a trigger to move into praise and worship of him for it.
Even a rotton log has its own beauty with the peeling bark, moss and vines growing on it and the dead leaves. This log has value. In its death, it provides life-giving nutrition for the next generation of plants and animals. It will eventually become precious topsoil out of which everything grows. Life comes out of death. Death of loved ones, death of dreams, death of innocence, death of hopes, death of finances, death of health or death of relationships. When one door closes, another door opens taking us into new vistas, experiences, opportunities and possibilities. May Yah, help us to wrap our brain around this reality and to embrace life-giving death with these things in mind.
It’s good to feel small. It keeps life in perspective—that we’re not as great or as big as we think we are. Maybe then YHVH can actually use us for big things—for his divine plans and purposes.
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
Hello Everyone. Here is a new study I have just authored that I’m releasing for the first time. If you find any typos, please let me know. No matter how many times I edit my stuff, I always miss some things. Thanks in advance. Enjoy! Natan
How the Early Church Forsook the Sabbath for Sunday Worship
by Natan Lawrence
Hoshana Rabbah Biblical Discipleship Resources
Purpose of This Study
The study of how the early (post-apostolic) church turned away from a Torah-centric orientation and embraced the theology that is now the skeletal framework of modern mainstream Christianity is a complex and difficult one, since we have to look back 2000 years to review scanty historical data. Different researchers will view the same tiny amount of documentation that remains from that era and arrive at different conclusions. The final analysis is often determined by the theological glasses the scholar is wearing and thus viewing the data from. Those who start with a pro-Torah penchant or even bias versus an anti-Torah bias will likely come to different conclusions.
Suffice it to say, the brief study that follows will in no way do justice to the subject of how the early church turned Sabbath to Sunday. Our goal is merely to introduce the reader to a different point of view than they have commonly heard in the mainstream church. In this study, we will have achieved our goal if we can gently persuade the reader at least to have an open mind, and to prove all things to see if they are true, and, perhaps, they will, at least, consider the idea that some long-held and institutionalized mainstream Christian beliefs may be more fiction than fact.
Christian Tradition With Regard to Sunday
Why the mainstream church embraces Sunday over Sabbath observance can be summarized succinctly as follows:
The celebration of the Lord’s Day [Sunday] in memory of the resurrection of Christ dates undoubtedly from the apostolic age. Nothing short of apostolic precedent can account for [its] universal religious observance in the churches of the second century. There is no dissenting voice. This custom is confirmed by testimonies of the earliest post-apostolic writers, as Barnabas, Ingnatius and Justin Martyr… (History of the Christian Church, vol 2, pp. 201–202, by Philip Schaff).
In his book, Our Father Abraham, Christian scholar Marvin Wilson takes a more moderated approach when discussing the issue of the early church’s switch from Sabbath to Sunday. He admits the existence of tension between the Jews and Gentile believers over adherence to the Torah making a move from Sabbath to Sunday “exceedingly difficult, if not virtually impossible.” Potential Jewish converts to Christianity, he notes, would have been suspect of any faith that would abandon the Torah (law of Moses) or the Jewishness of one’s past (Ibid., pp. 79–80). Unlike some of his more dogmatic scholarly colleagues, Wilson admits that it is not known when the early church began Sunday worship. He seems to concede to some possible allusions to Sunday worship in the New Testament (NT) by citing several of the scriptures that Christians perennially use to “prove” Sunday observance in the primitive (apostolic) church (e.g., Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2), but he’s reluctant to see these as a clear apostolic mandate for a switch from Sabbath to Sunday. He admits that the Acts 20 passage may be a reference to the Saturday evening (Heb. havdallah or Motza’ei-Shabbat) service, which was, in reality, simply an extension of the regular daily Sabbath service into the evening (Ibid., p. 80).
Our approach to analyzing the subject of when Sunday worship began in the Christian church will be somewhat different than the conventional method of sabbatarians to simply refute the arguments Sunday-keepers make in favor of Sunday worship by quoting NT verses that may suggest a Sunday replacement of the Sabbath. This approach, though seemingly a valid one, ignores the proverbial elephant in the room. That “elephant” is the undeniable pro-Torah views and practices of Yeshua and his apostles, which, when considered, makes their changing Sabbath to Sunday observance a highly incongruent if not an impossible proposition without making the Word of Elohim to lie and the apostles to be lying hypocrites.
The Elephant in the Room: The Apostles Were Pro-Torah
Before commencing our trip back in history to discover the origins of Sunday worship, it’s proper for me to disclose my bias. I start from the premise that all the apostles were not only pro-Torah, but were Torah obedient. This is based on many scripture references, a few of which are referenced below (hundreds more could be given!).
- Speaking of Paul, “You yourself also walk orderly and keep the law….” (Acts 21:24)
- Paul states, “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.” (Acts 22:3)
- Paul testifies, “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.” (Acts 24:14)
- Paul says, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.” (Acts 25:8)
- Paul writes, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” (Rom 3:31)
- Paul writes, “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” (Rom 7:12)
- Paul writes, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God.” (Rom 7:25)
- Paul writes, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom 13:8–10)
- Paul writes, “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.” (1 Cor 7:19)
- James writes, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you do well’; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.” (Jas 2:8–12)
- John writes, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.” (1 John 2:3–7)
- John writes, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4)
- John writes, “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev 12:17)
- John writes, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev 14:12)
- John writes, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” (Rev 22:14)
With these verses as a foundation for understanding the pro-Torah position of the apostolic writers, we now want to consider a couple of other facts. Continue reading