We first encounter the Sabbath in the creation story (Genesis 2:2) In this verse, it states that G-d rested on the seventh day. Next, we should determine which day is the seventh day? We can see from the Resurrection account that Yeshua rose from the dead on the first day of the week. Everyone agrees that the first day of the week is Sunday. And if you calculate it from the time of the crucifixion, Sunday is the first day of the week. If you look on your calendar, what day starts the week on the left hand side? Sunday. So I think we have established that the seventh day, the Sabbath day, is Saturday.
G-d does not say that we are free to choose which day we want as a Sabbath. He tells us which day it is.
Next, we need to determine what this means. In Exodus 20, we find the explanation. It is interesting to note that other than the verses in the 10 Commandments concerning the Supremacy of G-d and not to have other gods, the most verses are used for speaking about the Sabbath and keeping it holy. (4 verses, Exodus 20:8-11). Therefore, we can see that this is very important to HaShem. He states:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy, Six days shalt though labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the L-rd thy G-d, in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the L-rd made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the L-rd blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8-11) KJV
When describing how to remember and keep the Sabbath day, some different aspects are listed. First is not to do labor and all your work. It follows up with speaking about manservants and maidservants also keeping the Sabbath. Therefore, we can infer that this relates to our work for pay and for our household work with which the servants would help (if we had them) and that we should not cause someone else to defile the Sabbath.
In Exodus 35:3, we find that we are also not to kindle a fire. Then in Numbers 15:32-36, we are told about a man found gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. There is uncertainty about what to do with him, so he is held under guard until Moses could find out from the L-rd what to do. HaShem told Moses that the man should be put to death.
Nehemiah 13:15-22 we are told about the conditions of Jerusalem after the return from Babylon. Nehemiah found some people working at the wine presses, bringing in sheaves, and the gates of Jerusalem open for goods to be brought in and taken out for commerce. He immediately shut the gates and forbade the various commerce and work.
Some of you might say that “Shabbat is for Jewish people only.” “I don’t need to worry about that.”
I’d like to share two passages of Scripture with you. In Numbers 15, we find in verse 16, “One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.”
Another Scripture is Isaiah 56:1-6. It reads, “Thus saith the L-rd, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the L-rd, speak, saying The L-rd hath utterly separated me from His people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the L-rd unto the eunuchs that keep My sabbaths, and choose the things that please Me, and take hold of My covenant: Even unto them will I give in Mine house and within My walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the L-rd, to serve Him, and to love the name of the L-rd, to be His servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;”
Verse 7 is very exciting: “Even them (the sons of the stranger that joing themselves to the L-rd) will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar; for Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.”
So, G-d is giving a great opportunity to the House of Israel and to those who will join in with them, to be blessed with the Sabbath and the keeping of G-d’s commandments.
I will not go into all the means of keeping the Shabbat which Traditional Judaism demands. It is very long and intricate. What I do want to do is suggest to each one of us that we pray and search the Scriptures to learn how G-d wants us to honor Him and apply Sabbath truth to our lives.