YHVH uses His Shabbat to train His people! Scriptures tells us it is a sign between Him and His people. We have seen this in so many ways! Shabbat itself, (all by itself) does not do that - however, when His people come to it with a contrite heart with the expectation of meeting YHVH and glorifying Him in it...then He does a mighty work in us. Here are just a few lessons learned, specifically in regards to keeping His Shabbat:
He has taught us to put YHVH's ways before our own: I remember when we first started "trying" to keep Shabbat what a struggle it was. Our habits were very hard to break! I am ashamed to say, it became very evident that WE were running our lives very selfishly and that YHVH was an accessory to us! Our heart attitudes were all wrong! We had such a hard time resting in Him! Oh how our selfishness was magnified! It was the weirdest thing. We suddenly wanted to do other things on that day even even than before. We were just like a spoiled child who is told they can't have candy-- so that becomes their desire and their minds plot and plan and try to reason as to why or how they can! When we were convicted to lay things down for Him all of a sudden it opened up this whole day...all this "time" we never thought we had...so our flesh was very quick to want to fill it the desires of our hearts! It was a real struggle. Through this YHVH really showed us what the desires of our hearts were!! It was so revealing! And they changed too, from week to week in the beginning. One week it was "work", work that just HAD to get done (in our minds), work that we were not willing to lay down. The next week it was "entertainment"; we had such a strong desire to do something "fun". The next week it was "shopping", there were things that we just felt we HAD to get. The next week it was "service"; We wanted to work, not for ourselves but for the church. The next week it was "social", I don't remember what it was, but it was an event that was NOT conducive to YHVH and His ways and we would have been with folks who didn't understand/keep Shabbat...and we being babes - were convicted that it was a distraction...then the temptations would cycle again. As we overcame them and laid them down...each one...YHVH was exalted. He was put higher than any of these things. Obedience was being cultivated in us. A willingness to do the Father's will over our own was established. A willingness to do our Father's will over the World's agenda became a lifestyle! I am so thankful that He revealed our hearts to us and that He brought us through that time. He did it one step at a time, one Shabbat at a time, as He trained us to change our desires and to change our habits for Him. Keeping Shabbat is a very tangible exercise in submission. Sometimes that means not doing some "good" things, it also means lessening the trivial things we might do otherwise. Keeping Shabbat from the heart means that we totally reprioritize the things we do and our values.
Shabbat gives us time to really be still in Him and "unplug" from our daily lives: I used to so boldly say, "We are supposed to worship God every day of the week, not just Saturdays." As a dismissal of the holiness of the day. I was ignorant and foolish. I didn't understand the significance and level to which YHVH wanted us to "set the day apart". I would say "everyday is set apart". What a deception I was walking in! Shabbat is special, like no other day. We could not function in society if EVERYDAY was like Shabbat. There are responsibilities to tend too. We have found that this "unplugging" has made us even more productive than when we rammed 7 days a week. Now...we are like horses ready to charge out of the race gate on Sunday to do work, completely satisfied and content in every way...every week! As the sun sets on Friday evening, we are begging to meet with YHVH and take that license for respit in Him. We really see the beauty of His set apart day and see it above all other days.
Shabbat has given us a burning passion for Him: I used to struggle to get daily devotions in for a half hour every day and when I did...it was never enough time. It was disjointed and lacking in depth. A few verses here a few verses there. I would use devotional books that spoon feed me theology and it dumbed-me-down to understanding my own faith and Creator. I longed for my husband to be the spiritual head of our household and lead us in the Scriptures (as did He!), but days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months...and still things did not change...that was before Shabbat! Since we have started keeping Shabbat (after working through all those fleshly matters mentioned above!), my husband's flame was lit! We used this time to study Torah. It was like pouring gasoline on the little flame that flickered in us! A VERY STRONG passion was ignited and burns bright all through the week. We study, and discuss His word constantly in our home. YHVH's Word has become the center of our home! We all have a passion for it. Even down to our littlest ones! We GET what David declares in the Psalms. We relate to that burn and desire every day...this passion was birthed, nurtured and developed on His Shabbat. I don't know if you have ever been on a Christian retreat. You go away (like a vacation) even if only for a day and you focus on YHVH. If your heart was in it, you come back changed! Or some might think of it like a vacation...a quiet cabin in the woods, others may picture a quiet beach...you unwind and are refreshed. People who are "lucky" get to do this once or twice a year. But YHVH has given us this precious gift EVERY WEEK!!!! What an awesome, loving plan He has established for us!!
Shabbat has created in us a cyclical, perpetual pattern of worship: YHVH uses His Shabbat to train us in our habits. We need repetition to create the new habits in us. He uses the Shabbat to put us in rhythm with HIM and His body of believers. He uses it to train us for a lifestyle of worship. Shabbat opens our eyes to His character. He is consistent. He is dependable. He is established and undeniable. He was here before we came and will remain long after our bodies wither. It helps us to recognize and see the "ebb and flow" of His Biblical Calendar and Feasts, His Creation, His purpose and plan for us! He gives and takes away. Things come and go. There are times and seasons for all things. The sun rises and the sun sets...and does YHVH's Shabbat.
Shabbat teaches us to obey: Personally, having come from a rebellious heart, this has been a very obvious lesson for me. The Scriptures are very plain about Shabbat. It is straightforward and clear that YHVH established it and that it will never pass away. He gives us many examples of how important it is to Him therefore how important it should be to us. He even calls it a sign between Him and His people. Yet...we (as a Christian church) still want to define it our way, by saying "every day is the Lord's" or "Sunday is the Lord's Sabbath" because of this reason or that excuse. Scripturally speaking...that is just not accurate! Spiritually speaking, it is rebellion and defiance toward the very plain directions that YHVH has been deliberate to give us. We used to ignorantly do what everyone else was doing...unaware of what the Scripture really taught because we weren't devoted to understanding it for ourselves (there's that spoon-fed thing again!) Then, when we asked Church leadership, the answers that we were given were a few out-of-context and twisted single verses used to paint a pre-determined doctrine, while attempting to nullify many, many other Scriptures that establish the Sabbath on the seventh day. References to "church fathers" came up and so on. At that point we had a choice to make...we were no longer ignorant...on that day we had to choose whom we served. Did we serve our "friends" in the church? Would we be peer pressured into a lie or would we trust and obey the teachings of our Father? We chose to trust obey our Father.
What I find very interesting is that when we were in the Christian church, they seemed to create a battle between grace and obedience. They painted obedience to so much of the Scripture as "legalism and works" and called it "the way to death" if it didn't fit their doctrine. All the while teaching obedience in areas that did fit into their doctrines. It was very vague and confusing. It really warped our understanding of YHVH's heart in this! It took much study, prayer, and reflection to sort through this! Yes...it is true that works in and of themselves are not what YHVH wants. Anyone can do nice things...people can even do the things He tells them to do (like keeping Shabbat or doing good works!) and turn them into empty works devoid of their designed purpose in Him. But it is something quite different when we walk with Him intimately and obey Him with a right and pure heart. It is also quite a different thing to redefine an instruction and then do something all together different as we wave a flag of "self-appointed exception to the house-rules of our Father". I don't know if or how YHVH draws the line in these matters. I just don't want to be anywhere near that line! I want Him to say "Well done good and faithful servant, to whom I am well pleased!". So, my Father's desires are becoming my own. My life is not my own and I am delighted, privileged, and blessed to lay down my life for Him whom I love.
Shabbat has humbled us and established our identity: I don't know if I can accurately explain this next lesson if you have not experienced it. Let me try it this way - Once we got into the groove of Shabbat and HIS rhythm was established in us....Other revelations of Scriptures started popping up like popcorn! The transformation the Scriptures described (and we THOUGHT we had already experienced) was happening in technicolor! All the sudden...what we used to read in the Scriptures as "them" in the Old Testament became "us". He showed us that we ARE Israel. We feel like we are still scratching the surface in this respect as we learn and grow in the language and culture from which our Scriptures are written. However, we now understand the contexts and identify with Scripture like never before. It's as if we have crossed over into the Bible...not just reading it from a third person perspective. Our identity has changed. We are His set-apart-people. The picture that was painted by our church was of "us" (christians) and "them" (jews). But The Scriptures don't do that! It is one cohesive story a plan for a people. Those who were formerly of the Nations are grafted into the nation of Israel. He has ONE people. I used to be so proud and say things like "how could they do that"? and "They were so stiff necked"...but He showed me...that was me...we are just the same. If we fail to see it, we too fail to see the errors of our ways, as we repeat history with a new label. We are proud people and YHVH is using His Shabbat to restore His people EVERYWHERE back to Himself, and the result is that they become unified with each other because they are unified in HIM and His Word...Not broken into thousands denominations based on of the doctrines of man.
It was like this: I used to be a selfish wounded adopted child. I defined YHVH's first children as different than myself. All the while my father is trying to teach me...I am the same. He is giving me gifts and promises, but my wounded and selfish heart only excepted some of them. I ignored other gifts or couldn't accept them because I wasn't mature enough or ready; I even (ignorantly) bad mouthed and spoke against some of His promises! But my Father is faithful and forgiving and merciful and by meeting with Him...regularly...I slowly started to see what it was He was telling me all along! He has ONE family and I am in it! Is it so strange that I would start taking on the characteristics of my Father's house? That those things which I was previously raised in my other house fall off as my new identity as Yah's child emerges? As I accept my inheritance, bit by bit...I start to look more like the family that YHVH has established. Halleluyah!
Shabbat is used to set us a part: All through the Scriptures we see patterns of YHVH selecting and dividing people. It is not His delight that any man should perish, however it is very clear in Scripture that many will! I often ponder what it means to be "set apart". It is translated in most of our English Bibles as "holy". He has sanctified His Shabbat and made it holy. He has also sanctified us and made us holy. He has made the Sabbath for us as a holy boot camp - training us and shaping us in His ways. I am also reminded that being set apart for His purposes does not always mean it will be easy, or glory filled, or fun. He sets apart martyrs for His purposes too. He sets apart servants to suffer and He calls us to bear one another's burdens. This is something we must accept and embrace too. I sure hope for the attractive assignments...but he always sends us trials to strengthen and test us too!
Shabbat is used to teach us how HE orders our days at through the week: Now as we walk, in this ebb and flow of Shabbat, I find that my week revolves around Shabbat! It is a beautiful shadow picture of how we are to live, with Him at the center. We schedule our projects that take several days earlier in the week. We plan food and shopping on most of the 5 days of the week, leaving Friday as preparation day for Shabbat, and tying up loose ends. Much like people do when they go on vacation, but we do it every week. Making sure our work is complete and left done well. It makes us much more productive and able to fully enter into our rest on Shabbat with a sense of a "job well done" all week and things brought to completion as best as they can be. It has created in us a deliberateness. A walk of intention and responsibility. We try to be sure the car is gassed up in case YHVH presents us with an opportunity to fellowship with others and make extra food in anticipation of divine appointments. We try to clean up the house and make sure there is no laundry in the machine..things like that. Things that would nag at us as having been left undone. Thursday is often preparation for preparation day. I try to have my menu planned by then, because it may require a last minute run to the store. I try not to run errands on Friday (preparation day) because that takes time that we prefer spending doing the things that need to get done. If we put that off...it puts us into a pinch and we don't get things finished like we want. So Thursday is often the day lists from the week are reviewed and final lists for Friday are made. My husband does a similar thing with His work day. Because He has control of his schedule and does not have to punch a clock like many people. He makes it a point to make his Fridays light. He doesn't usually schedule new things on Fridays, so he is thoughtful of Shabbat all week long and he uses Friday morning to tie up His loose ends. He tries to be available to prepare in the evenings too, cleaning up loose ends from the week at home that did not get done and being circumspect in regards to those things. We work together to help one another however we can, by employing the kids accordingly so the other can better do what he/she is "racing the sun" to get done (as we like to say). Most of the time it gets done. Sometimes...it doesn't...either way we surrender it all as the sun sets and we settle into a very slow and restful meal that enters us into our much looked forward to Shabbat.
Shabbat is used to refresh our bodies: This precious day that YHVH has given us not only ministers to our minds, spirits and souls, but it ministers to our bodies. I helps us recalibrate after a week of serving. I am able to slow myself down enough to take a nap...and that simply will not and can not happen on the other 6 days of the week. Not only because my schedule doesn't allow it...but my body doesn't either. I know everyone's bodies are different in this...but I never knew a nap in the day (as an adult) when I was well..until Shabbat. It's a beautiful thing! :-) The act of music worship is also intimately woven into this day for our family. We are all learning to praise and worship Him with music, dancing and singing. All physical expressions of worship toward Him. Things that take practice and training and refresh our bodies, minds and spirits and brings us into unity with Him and one another. If we did not have this day to ground us, I do not think we would have the discipline to carry it out through the week and incorporate it in to our daily lives either. I find what He cultivates in us on Shabbat when we are still, spills into the rest of the week and hopefully into the lives of others...because our cup runs over with HIM!
Shabbat is used to give us security and to truly rest in Him: Trust is always at the core of anything we do with or for YHVH. When we decided to honor YHVH's Shabbat, we trusted Him in so many areas to do that! We trust him that our work would get done, and that we would endure the judgements of others. We trust His provision for us. We trust that He will show us how to do this well and that it be a delight. Above all, we trust that His Word is true and that we are living according to His ways.
Shabbat teaches us the difference between HIS rest and OUR rest: Maybe folks who do not see this intimate and ongoing dance between YHVH and His Bride every week, just think of Sabbath as a "day off". They think they aren't going to be "legalistic" about it and they will observe the "one day in 7" idea or they choose to observe Sunday as their Sabbath, because they think it was ordained as such by the Resurrection of Yahshua. (Which is not supported in Scripture!) We rest on other days sometimes too - but it is not ordained in the way Shabbat is. Yes, we can "meet with Him any day"...but HE specifically named the 7th day for something special. It's as if YHVH called you and made a date with you on Saturday and you said, "no..I'd rather sign junior up for little league...but i'll see you on Sunday. We'll see ya then...bye. (click)" Let us not forget...this is The Creator of the universe calling us for date!!!! I don't know about you, but I am not going to stand Him up! We are liars if we claim He is our "all in all" and put mowing the lawn or grocery shopping or little league before Him and pencil Him in on another day. This day is not "just any day in a cycle". Niether YHVH, nor Yahshua ever declare that Shabbat was overridden, changed or replaced. We need to see the error of our ways and come back to Him and let Him do a mighty work in us!
Shabbat is used to unite and divide His people: There is always a duality in the lessons of YHVH. He is not a black and white God - He is Technicolor God! Does He use Shabbat to divide the goats and the sheep? Does YHVH use it to divide the lesser in the Kingdom and the greater? I don't know...what I do know is that He said it, so we do it and we love it and He has blessed us for it. The same is true for every family we know who has done this in thier hearts. We also see that it is a stumbling block for those who haven't.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate my original point to sharing these things that YHVH has taught us so for. YHVH uses His Shabbat to teach and train HIS people in HIS ways. It is a continual and cyclical object lesson for His children. It is a date that He made with His bride long before we were ever born. It is for our sake, to strengthen us and to give us a place of rest and security. It is (one of many) demonstrations of YHVH's soveriegnty and love for us. We embrace it and are exceedingly greatful for it. When we embrace it with a contrite heart He is glorifed and we are transformed.