I am writing this blog on Sunday, but preparing for a trip to Israel. I leave on Tuesday and will spend 10 days with a couple who are celebrating 50 years of marriage and 50 years of ministry. Their son spent time with us in Israel 5 or 6 years ago and it has been his dream to send his parents ever since. It is finally happening.
This blog is released on Fridays, which means as you are reading, I will be celebrating Shabbat with dear friends on their kibbutz close to the Sea of Galilee. Shabbat is one of my favorite times in Israel. The country truly has an understanding of what it means to rest and refocus on life and family. I will share about this a little later, but first, here are a couple of verses about Shabbat.
Genesis 2:3 God blessed the seventh day and separated it as holy; because on that day God rested from all his work which he had created, so that it itself could produce. (CJB)
Isaiah 58:13-14 “If you hold back your foot on Shabbat from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call Shabbat a delight, Adonai’s holy day, worth honoring; then honor it by not doing your usual things
or pursuing your interests or speaking about them.
If you do, you will find delight in Adonai —
I will make you ride on the heights of the land and feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Ya‘akov, for the mouth of Adonai has spoken.” (CJB)
Mark 2:27-28 Then he said to them, “Shabbat was made for mankind, not mankind for Shabbat; So the Son of Man is Lord even of Shabbat.” (CJB)
Hebrews 4:9-10 So there remains a Shabbat-keeping for God’s people. 10 For the one who has entered God’s rest has also rested from his own works, as God did from his. (CJB)
I said I would share a little about Shabbat in Israel. I must admit that Shabbat in Israel is changing. It breaks my heart that ideas and thoughts from the West are creeping in. When we first began traveling to Israel in 2005 there was not much traffic on the roads and most shops were closed. I always had to plan to have enough diapers because Shabbat meant I couldn’t go get any! During our time there I began to see changes. More shops open. More people out and about. Not all of it is bad because some of it is family’s spending time together. However, more and more want to shop. It changes the dynamics of the land. It begins to take the focus off of Adonai, and being together with Him, and places it on man’s desires instead of God’s.
For those who live in the United States, think back to the time when stores were closed on Sunday. Remember the times when you could not get gas on a Sunday. It almost feels backwards now, but it truly MADE a person stop for a day. I remember Sunday being the day that families and friends spent time together after spending time with their community of faith. This is what GOD intended to have happen on the 7th day of the week.
The book of Genesis tells us that God BLESSED the seventh day. HE made it HOLY. The book of Isaiah says we should, “call Shabbat a delight.” Jesus teaches in Mark that Shabbat was made for man and that HE is the Lord of the Sabbath (meaning HE truly is our Shabbat rest – “Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest…”). Hebrews reminds us that there is a Shabbat-keeping and we should enter the REST of God (just as God did from His).
What has happened in our society today? Around the world, we do not stop. Even on Sunday (which some people now consider their Shabbat), most people do not STOP. Most people have so many errands to run, or places to go (including church activities), that they do not take time to STOP, REST and REFOCUS on WHO is taking care of them. They get so caught up in everything around them that there is no true REST.
Shabbat for me is a time to STOP on Friday night and as often as possible our family will eat together. The father blesses the children and wife, than we participate in communion as a family before eating our meal together. It is a time when we FOCUS on HIM and bless HIM, than we focus on each other and talk about what we are THANKFUL for. It truly is a time to set things from the week aside and be WITH HIM and each other in a unique and special way.
Saturday (Shabbat) becomes a day of being together as much as possible. We play games, visit a park, or spend time with friends. It is supposed to be a day to be “off” our normal routine. It should be a day of recalibrating ourselves so we can begin fresh and new Sunday morning. I will be honest and admit that it doesn’t ALWAYS happen this way and I can feel it the next week. I truly MISS the time to REFOCUS on what HE wants me to do.
I understand that there are many arguments that can be gotten into about what day “Shabbat” is, but that isn’t the point of this article. What I want us to focus on is the question, “When do YOU stop?” When do YOU take time to bless your family (aloud) and take communion together? Are you taking time to LOOK vertical, and then LOOK horizontal to make sure everything is aligned properly? That is what Shabbat is about.
Our bodies NEED rest. Our bodies NEED a time to recalibrate. And it isn’t just at night… God asked us to take a DAY to do this. I believe this is one of the “secrets of the Word.”
When you realize that HIS command to take a day to REST should be an important part of your life, than you really will find REST in HIM. You will RESTORE yourself to Him. You are then REFRESHED to walk forward day to day.
Shabbat Shalom from Israel,