by Peggy Pardo
The fourth commandment says: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labour, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it, you shall not do any manner of work, neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your man-servant, nor your maid-servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it” .
This fourth commandment about the Shabbat together with the fifth, “honor your father and mother”, which I will discuss in a later video, are called the “hinge” between the first three and last five commandments. The first three commandments deal with our relationship with the one and only Creator and the last five show us how to treat our neighbor but these two in the middle are specifically meant for us.
When we were given these commandments, we had just been slaves, after having been held captive under harsh conditions in a foreign nation for over seventy years. With this commandment about Shabbat, our God would be giving us a taste of the life He had offered mankind in Gan Eden, the garden of Eden, a paradise where we had no worries, everything was provided for us; we could trust that we were being taken care of. We can have the same thing right now when we take one day a week and let all our worries go. We can change our focus from our daily lives and put it onto the Creator of all things. That’s the essence of Shabbat. We lost that when Adam and Eve disobeyed the one commandment they were given, “do not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil for on that day you will die,” and we lose that shalom today whenever we don’t give the Shabbat its special place in our lives.
The ancient Israelites had forgotten what it was like to make their own choices, to decide for themselves how to spend their time. Their slave masters did that for them. They had to work seven days a week with no Shabbat rest. They had known the Sabbath because it was handed down to them by their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but no longer did they have that option and maybe they had stopped caring about it. It’s easy to forget the Shabbat when we live in a foreign nation. It’s also easy to believe that any day of the week can be a day of rest so what makes this day different from any other day. We live in a country where most people think of Sunday as the day of rest. Well, humans can do whatever they want but when we change the Word of God, there are consequences whether we realize it or not. Shabbat is far more than a simple day of rest.
There’s a key word in Exodus 20:9 שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד, וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל-מְלַאכְתֶּךָ. Sheshet yamim t’avod v’asita kol melachtecha. “Six days shall you labor and do all your work”. The word melachtecha is repeated in verse 10 מְלָאכָה melacha “in it you shall not do any work. The word melach means salt, which is a preservative, and, in those days, it was a method to pay their wages and from which we derive the word ‘salary’. We are not to work for a salary on the seventh day; not us, not our children, not our servants, not “the foreigner among us”. In other words, there is no “shabbes goy.” That means we are to close our businesses on that day, and not allow our gentile employees to work while we take the day off. We are not to sell our chametz (our leaven) to the gentile neighbor on the Shabbat of Pesach. Shabbat, the seventh day of the week encompasses all the other seven Holidays that the Creator set down for us in Genesis 1:14, where they are called Moedim – מועדים- seasons. They are for us to celebrate together with the stranger among us as we read in Bamidbar Numbers 15. We are to be ohr l’goyim, a light to the nations.
So, Israel had just been set free from slavery…that means seven days of work, no rest, no freedom to even go to the bathroom without asking permission. Now we would be able to work six days to provide for ourselves and our family but the one day, the Shabbat was to be kept holy, separate from the other days of the week. ח זכור את-יום השבת לקדשו: Zachor et yom ha Shabbat l’kadsho. How do we do that? Today religious people have taken this to the extreme where there are so many rules and regulations about what we can and cannot do on Shabbat that it drives people away from the God of Israel. Rabbi Yeshua fought with the Pharisees and Sadducees of his day about this very thing.
In Deut. 28;15. It says “But it shall come to pass, if you will not listen to the voice of the LORD your God, to take care to do all His commandments (mitzvot) and His statutes (chukkim) which I command you this day; that all these curses shall come upon you, and overtake you;” The first three commandments are known as mitzvot and the middle two are chukkim which are ordinances given for a reason that we cannot fully comprehend. These passages are not meant to frighten us, rather to urge us to do our very best to obey a Creator who loves His creation and only wants the best for us like a loving father.
In Deuteronomy, Moses repeatedly begs us to obey God’s Commandments and he tells us, “Do not add or take anything away from His Word”. Sadly, religious do the exact opposite, each with their own agenda. But for those us who wonder why the world is in such a mess and would like to do our part in repairing it, it won’t be fixed with band aid remedies, rather we need to get back to basics…back to living the basic Ten Commandments so that we can be a light and help bring in tikkun olam, reparation of the world. Let’s begin by learning to have a reverence for the Shabbat and let’s ask our God to help us be obedient.