The Sabbath (Part 2 of 3) – How to Keep it Holy

Preparation Day

I hope you have read “The Sabbath – What is it?”  That is the first in this series and lays the foundation of what day the Sabbath is and its significance. 

Let’s begin this lesson by reviewing the 4th commandment.

Exodus 20:8-10  Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work.  But the seventh day is the Sabbath of Jehovah your God. You shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger within your gates. (This is the 4th of the Ten Commandments)

Now, let’s take a look at Scripture showing the importance of obedience:

Deuteronomy 5:29  Oh that there were such a heart in them that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, so that it might be well with them and with their sons forever! 

Deuteronomy 4:40  Therefore, you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you this day, so that it may go well with you and with your sons after you, and so that you may make your days longer upon the earth which Jehovah your God gives you forever. 

John 14:15  If you love Me, keep My commandments.

Ezekiel wrote of severe consequences when people defiled His Sabbaths. 

Ezekiel 20:11-13  And I gave them My statutes and showed them My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. And also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am Jehovah who sets them apart. But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not walk in My statutes, and they despised My judgments, which if a man does, he shall even live in them. And they greatly profaned My sabbaths. And I said, I will pour out My fury on them in the wilderness to destroy them

This is not just a message for the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai.  It continues to apply to their descendants and those choosing to attach themselves to the Covenant of Abraham, which continues with the Sinai Covenant.  The Ten Commandments are part of this Covenant. The wilderness is a concept that if you are not in Israel, you are exiled “in the wilderness”. 

God’s commandments, including the Sabbath,  were  given to be a benefit to mankind, bringing blessings when obeyed.  We see the Sabbath indicated below.  

Mark 2:27  And He said to them, The sabbath came into being for man’s sake, and not man for the sabbath’s sake. 

“Preparation Day” arose as a day to ensure all your work was completed before the Sabbath started.  Originally, it referred to Passover, but it is now used for every Sabbath.

When is Preparation Day?

Mark 15:42  And it, becoming evening already, since it was the Preparation, that is, the day before sabbath, 

Luke 23:54  And that day was the Preparation, and the sabbath drew on. 

The day before Sabbath is called Preparation Day.

When does Preparation end and Sabbath begin?

We learned in Part-1 of this series, the reckoning of a day.  The Sabbath begins at Friday Sunset.  Therefore, Friday morning and afternoon is your time of preparation to ensure the house is cleaned, meals are cooked, and errands are completed before sunset.  

Is it wise to actually wait until Preparation Day to begin preparing for the Sabbath? 

It is wise to think of the Sabbath as a much anticipated day so you plan your week to ensure you have time on Friday to get last minute things completed before the Sabbath begins.  It is best to not schedule appointments on Friday, if possible.

What can you learn from Exodus 20:20 listed below?

Exodus 20:20  And Moses said to the people, Do not fear, for God has come to test you, and so that His fear may be before your faces, so that you may not sin

Keeping the Sabbath holy sounds simple, but it really does take practice. Everyone has their own busy life and a long list of things to do.  No matter how hard you try, things “just happen” to test your ability to keep this day holy. 

Just as the name implies, this is the day to finish all those last minute things to do before you meet with your Creator on His Appointed Day.  Try to have the house cleaned, laundry done, food bought, and bills paid before this day gets here. Then on this day, plan to have your family  meals for today and Sabbath prepared. Bathing, dishes, and other last minute things need to be completed as well. All before sundown! 

Proper observance allows us to develop a relationship with our human family and the family of God.  It is wise to begin planning for the Sabbath all week long.  Treat each Sabbath as a highly anticipated day that you want to be perfect and ready for. 

Ezekiel 20:12  And also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am Jehovah who sets them apart. 

Make the Sabbath a Delight

God tells us to take care of our ordinary work and concerns on the other six days, leaving our time and our minds free to properly worship and obey Him by observing the Sabbath. When we are free to focus our minds and thoughts on God’s way and purpose, the Sabbath truly becomes the blessing and delight God intends it to be.

Isaiah 58:13-14  If you turn your foot because of the Sabbath, from doing what you please on My holy days, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of Jehovah, honorable; and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in Jehovah; and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth, and feed yourself with the inheritance of Jacob your father. For the mouth of Jehovah has spoken. 

If we do our customary work on the first six days of the week, we will be prepared to put those things out of our mind for the seventh day rest, freeing up that time to Sabbath with our Creator. Spend time in prayer, study, and fellowship; include the whole family in making the Sabbath a delight! 

It is also important to “love your neighbor as yourself” on the Sabbath day, by not doing activities that require others to work.  If no one is working on the Sabbath, then everyone can  spend the day at rest.

If you plan to attend an assembly of believers, you want to bring honor to this “sanctuary”, no matter the location.  Dress your best.  Don’t stop to buy coffee and donuts on the way.  Prepare a snack the day before.  Come prepared to study His Word. 

Leviticus 19:30  You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary. I am Jehovah. 

What are things you can do as a family to make the Sabbath a welcomed event for all?

The Sabbath is a special time to spend time with your spouse and children as well. This doesn’t mean going fishing, shopping, etc.  It means reading Scripture together, playing games that teach and test their knowledge, having a special Friday evening  meal, and one on one time just “cuddling” with your spouse and children showing each of them how much they are appreciated.  It’s a time to step back from technology and the fast paced world.  It’s especially important to train children up in the Sabbath to see it not just as a “holy time” and forced upon them, but rather a day they will come to delight in and want to continue as they get older. Enjoying a walk in nature can be a time of personal rejuvenation of the soul. 

What does it mean to not do your own pleasure or to speak your own words?  Let’s read the words of Paul.

Romans 6:15-23 

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under Law, but under grace? Let it not be! 

Do you not know that to whom you yield yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves to him whom you obey; whether it is of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness. 

But thanks be to our God that you were the slaves of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 

Then being made free from sin, you became the slaves of righteousness. 

I speak in the manner of men because of the weakness of your flesh; for as you have yielded your members as slaves to uncleanness, and to lawless act unto lawless act, even so now yield your members as slaves to righteousness unto holiness. 

For when you were the slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness. 

What fruit did you have then in those things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 

But now, being made free from sin, and having become slaves to God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting life. 

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

It is normal to have a battle between our willful desires and our heart.  Paul spoke of this as well. This is all part of our test.  Will we seek and honor Him especially on this day or do we turn to our own things that just can’t seem to wait.  Poor planning is not an acceptable excuse. Try to keep your minds off worries and concerns on this day.  As we have learned, the Sabbath is a test to see if we carry His mark, His sign.

Welcoming the Sabbath

Let’s look at some practical examples of things you can do to make the Sabbath special.

The Sabbath of course is not limited to only these things. Just remember, rest and a focus on God is the purpose of the day. 

Blessing Our Family

The Jewish people, who represent the descendants of Judah and Benjamin, two of the sons of Jacob, have a tradition of blessings over Sabbath. Here is the basis for it.

Ruth 4:11-12  And all the people in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. May Jehovah make the woman who has come into your house like Rachel and like Leah, for these two built the house of Israel. And may you be blessed in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem. And let your house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, of the seed which Jehovah shall give you of this young woman. 

Genesis  48:20-22  And he blessed them that day, saying, In you shall Israel bless, saying, God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh. And he put Ephraim before Manasseh.  And Israel said to Joseph, Behold, I die. But God shall be with you, and bring you again into the land of your fathers. And I have given to you one portion above your brothers, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow. 

Our brother Judah has a wonderful tradition of praying blessings over their spouse and children. We see the origination of this in the verses above. They represent  Matriarchs in Scripture and the two sons of Joseph born in Egypt from an Egyptian Mother and an  Israelite Father. Those two sons  now represent the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa (Ephraim) and America (Manasseh).

A hand is placed on the child’s head as you then recite the blessing.  Both parents could place a hand as one parent reads the blessing.  After each child, whisper something special into their ear, praising them and encouraging them.  Repeat with each child individually.

Daughters:  “May God make you like the greatest women the Torah knows – Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah,  Deborah, and Abigail.  May you (1st daughter) give inspiration to others through your special and unique capabilities as you rise up the next generation of followers of God and His Torah.”

Sons: “May God make you (1st son) like Ephraim and Manasseh. The sons who were born in exile to Joseph, but were adopted into the family of Jacob.  The beloved of Jacob with eternal destinies. May your feet be sure and your eyes focused on God’s plan for you.”

Spouse: Husbands can read from Proverbs 31 and the wives can read from Psalm 34.  You can also speak of your respect, affection, and trust in your own words.

We will finish up Part-2 with this passage of Scripture spoken by Isaiah the Prophet for the future:

Isaiah 56:6-7  Also the sons of the stranger, who join themselves to Jehovah to serve Him, and to love the name of Jehovah, to be His servants, everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and takes hold of My covenant; even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer…

According to Isaiah the Prophet, those people who do not defile the Sabbath and take hold of His Covenant, will be part of His House of Prayer on His holy mountain.  Mt. Zion.  

Certainly, this will be the same Sabbath that was sanctified at creation. He does not change.

And here are two final words from Nehemiah and Isaiah about defiling the Sabbath.

Nehemiah 13:18  Did not your fathers do this, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us and upon this city? Yet you bring more wrath upon Israel by defiling the Sabbath.

Isaiah 56:2  Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who lays hold on it; keeping the sabbath, from defiling it; and keeping his hand from doing any evil.

This concludes Part 2 of this series. Be sure to read Part 3, the conclusion.

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