Messianic Apologetics

Addressing the Theological and Spiritual Issues of the Broad Messianic Movement

Sabbath / Shabbat

What makes the Sabbath unique, is that unlike the annual appointed times, Shabbat is something that takes place every week. Like many who grew up in evangelical Protestant homes, we had not thought too much about the Sabbath in our previous Christian experiences, and simply assumed that we were keeping the Sabbath—at least in spirit—by going to Church on Sunday. While Christian fellowship and worship on Sunday were edifying experiences—at least for us during the 1980s and early 1990s—once a person experiences his or her first Messianic Jewish Shabbat service, you begin to be stimulated in ways you never realized.

How the Messianic community is to properly keep Shabbat, or any Biblical commandment for that matter, is a mystery for many. There are many issues and questions that have to be weighed and taken into consideration when establishing a proper halachic orthopraxy for oneself, one’s congregation, and the movement as a whole. In the Jewish community, whether you are Orthodox or Conservative, keeping the seventh-day Sabbath is an important sign of who you are as a Jew. It is the sign that God gave the people of Israel from Mount Sinai to distinguish them from the world.

When many of us think about some of the most significant theological debates of the past three or five decades, we are probably immediately drawn into thinking about conservatives and liberals sparring over the reliability of the Holy Scriptures, creationists and evolutionists fighting about the origins of humankind, Scripturalists and cultists warring over the Divinity of Yeshua, and most recently the controversy that has been rising up over homosexuality and gay marriage. How many of us are consciously aware that there has been a debate ensuing among evangelical Christians, and various others, for over three decades surrounding the Sabbath?

If there is any area where today’s Messianic movement tends to absolutely excel, it is with integrating a wide selection of the mainline Jewish traditions and customs for observing the Sabbath. Regardless of their background before coming to Messiah faith, religious or secular, today’s Messianic Jews tend to remember Shabbat with the common elements of lighting candles, breaking challah, drinking wine, and attending synagogue services with traditional liturgy and Torah readings. Non-Jewish Believers who have been led by the Lord into the Messianic movement, seeking to embrace more of the Hebraic and Jewish Roots of their faith, have also taken a hold of Shabbat, the opportunity for rest it offers to the people of God, and many of the significant traditions that can make the Sabbath a very holy and sanctified time.

According to Revelation 12:17 and 14:12, the end-time saints or holy ones will keep God’s commandments and hold to faith in Yeshua. Many in the Torah movement think that because they keep the seventh-day Sabbath/Shabbat, remember the appointed times of Leviticus 23, and eat a kosher-style of diet—that the Lord will give them special protection in the Last Days.

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