Sabbath Food: Part 6 

John Plunkett
July 20, 2013


A few months ago, in Part 5, you might remember that we moved on from the book of Exodus into the book of Leviticus, where we finished in chapter 19.

Today, as we continue on in the book of Leviticus, we are going to read about Godís Feasts, Sabbaths, and His Holy Day commands; some of them which can possibly cause confusion.

Leviticus 20:22:
Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out.

There is a warning in there!

Do all of Godís statutes and judgments still apply to Godís people today, in the twenty-first century?   I ask you to take the time to study this question for yourselves.  Personally, I believe that a few of these statutes and judgments may be obsolete and/or unnecessary to keep today.  A few others, sadly, in this day and age, because of our legal systems and for various reasons are impossible for us to keep.   But many of these statutes and judgments can and should be kept.  Please keep this in mind as we go through this study today.

Sabbath Food Work by Priests and Levites

The first section that I want to get into is regarding the Sabbath food work that is done by the priests and the Levites.  Please keep in mind the command and warning that we just read in Leviticus 20:22 as we continue into Chapter 23.  As we all know, this is where Godís Feasts are listed:

Leviticus 23:
1:  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2:  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.

What is the very first of Godís feasts listed here?

3:  Six days shall work (Hebrew: melakah) be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest (Hebrew: shabbath-shabbathown), an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

Please note that the weekly Sabbath is a feast day; and yet, God tells us not to do any work (melakah) on this day.  Please remember from previous parts of our study where we went into this, that ďno workĒ means exactly what it says.  It is not just referring to our work at our day jobs.  The Sabbath Day is Godís weekly feast day and Holy day.

Next, as we go through into verse 4, we find the annual Feast days; or as God's Word refers to them "seasonal" feast days: 

Leviticus 23:
4:  These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons...
6:  And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread...
34: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD...
37: These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day:

The implication in verse 37 and in many other scriptures is that God permitted some necessary work.  He not only permitted it; but He actually required some necessary work to be done to prepare and to cook the commanded sacrificial offerings on His Feast days, including the weekly Sabbath.

In the book of Numbers, we read about some of the sacrificial work that had to be done every week on the Sabbath Day:

Numbers 28:
9:  And on the sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and the drink offering thereof:
10:  This is the burnt offering of every sabbath, beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.

On the weekly Sabbath Day there was a continual burnt offering and an associated drink offering.  There were special offerings for the Sabbath because it was one of Godís Feast days. 

The point that I am trying to get across here is that there was some major work being done!  This was major food preparation and cooking work!  

In any other case this would have been sin worthy of the death penalty!  With regards to Godís Law, He has priorities, which we can think of as almost like legal priorities, because that is basically what they are.  God has legal priorities in which one of His commands may overrule another.  In this case, He considered the requirement for His priests and Levites (only) to prepare, cook or burn and offer sacrifices on His seasonal and weekly Sabbath days as a higher priority than His prohibition against Sabbath work.  The human Jesus mentioned this:

Matthew 12:
5:  Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?

This is the Creator of the Holy Days and the sacrificial system who is saying this.  This is the ďI AMĒ who instituted all of this in the first place.

Again, this work allowance was only applicable in this case; and it was only applicable for the priests and the Levites.  We cannot apply it to non-Levites or other circumstances for our own ease or for our own doctrinal preferences.

Back now to Leviticus 23:

39: Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath {Hebrew: shabbathown}, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath {shabbathown}...
41: And you shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year.  It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: you shall celebrate it in the seventh month...
44: And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD.

In this chapter we see a lot of mentions of the Eternalís feasts, all with their designated Holy Day offerings, and all of those offerings involving lots of major work for the priests and Levites.

Let us break off for a pause here and let us ask the question, ďJust what is a feast?Ē 

My human-devised, carnally-based, full-belly-prone, English-language Thesaurus, tells me that a feast is a banquet, a spread, a dinner, a meal, a buffet, an extensive meal, or a slap up meal.  What comes to mind with these alternate renderings of the English word "feast" is lots and lots of food!  

But what does Godís Word consider His feasts to be?

Now let us look at the two Hebrew words that are translated into the English word ďfeastĒ in chapter 23 of Leviticus.  The first Hebrew word that is translated into the English word ďfeastĒ in Leviticus 23, is "mowed" (Strongís 4150).  This word is translated 150 fifty times in the King James Version into the word "congregation."  The English word "feast" is a comparatively secondary translation, with only 23 appearances.  "Mowed" is also translated in the King James Version as: season, appointed, assembly, solemnity, time, days, sign, and synagogue.  Other extended meanings are: meeting, tent of meeting, sacred season, appointed place, appointed time, appointed season, appointed meeting, and appointed sign. 

The second Hebrew word that is translated into the English word "feast" in Leviticus 23 is
"chag" (Strongís 2282).  It is also translated in the King James Version as sacrifice and solemnity; with other extended meanings: festival, festival gathering, festival sacrifice and pilgrim festival.

When we look at these two Hebrew words in the Bible and Bible lexicons, what is the accent?  Is the accent on the feasting on physical food?  No, it is not.  The accent is rather on the time, the place, the occasion, the assembly and the gathering.  Physical food doesnít even appear to have been very much of a consideration at all!  It is true, of course, that Godís Feasts today consist of the consumption and enjoyment of both physical and spiritual food.  I donít have a problem with that.  But of the two, which is our priority; and as Godís people, which one should be our priority Ė the physical food or the spiritual?  The correct answer should be obvious to us. 

As we asked last time in Part 5, "Do we somehow feel that a feast is really not a true feast unless it is abounding with hot, freshly-cooked food?"  I am sorry to have to say that I have often seen women labouring hard in the kitchens of our meeting halls on Godís holy Sabbaths and sacred Holy Days, during the worship services, preparing physical food for the lunch; but totally oblivious to the spiritual food that is being served up in the main meeting rooms.

What do you think?  Do you think that this practice is okay with God?  Do you think that God somehow winks at it?  Or that it is an acceptable modern-day equivalent of the Old Testament Holy Day offerings of the priests preparing the Sabbath or Holy Day animal sacrifices?  Nothing could be further from the truth!

Another example of God commanding His priests and Levites to prepare food items for offerings to Him is found in the very next chapter:

Leviticus 24:
1:  And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying...
5:  And you shall take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.
6:  And you shall set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the LORD.
7:  And you shall put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
8:  Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.
9:  And it shall be Aaronís and his sonsí; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute.

These are very special cakes that were to be baked.  But were the cakes actually baked on every Sabbath Day?Ē  The scriptures donít actually say so.  It just says that they should be set in order every Sabbath day.  But still, whether they were baked on the Sabbath or not, the Levites Ė including the Aaronite Priests Ė certainly did have very much work to do on Godís Sabbaths and Holy Days.  This work is mentioned in many other scriptures. We will just touch on a few of them for now:

I Chronicles 9:32: 
And other of their brethren, of the sons of the Kohathites, were over the shewbread, to prepare it every sabbath.

The Kohathites were a sub-tribe of Levites.  Kohath was one of Leviís sons; so they were definitely Levites, and they had the job of doing this shewbread work.

Of course, all of these duties were reminders Ė as they were preparing to build the first stone temple for God Ė of the duties of the various sub-tribes of the tribe of Levi.  

I Chronicles 23:24: 
These were the sons of Levi after the house of their fathers; even the chief of the fathers, as they were counted by number of names by their polls, that did the work
(melakah) for the service (abowdah) of the house of the LORD, from the age of twenty years and upward. 

As soon as these young Levites came to manhood, they would be drafted into service for God in the Temple and for His priesthood. 

The word "service" here comes from the Hebrew word "abowdah."   This is an interesting word that we havenít really come across yet; so letís take a look at it.  "Abowdah" (Strongís 5656) is quite a common Hebrew word in the Bible.  It appears 141 times and is translated in the King James as: service, servile, serve, servitude, work and labour.  The word has various usages, including the topic of the servitude of the captive Israelites in Egypt.  But once God freed them, the word "abowdah" frequently refers to the permitted labour of the Levites, for God and His Temple.

Continuing in I Chronicles 23:

25:  For David said, The LORD God of Israel has given rest (nuwach) unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem forever:

I find it interesting that the mention of a rest should be slotted in here, in the midst of all this talk of work

It is true that, once they arrived in the Promised Land and later set up Jerusalem as their capital, most of the Israelites may have been relatively at rest Ė at least from their extensive travels.  Even the Levite bearers of the portable Tabernacle were relieved of that duty on a daily basis:

26:  And also unto the Levites; they shall no more carry the tabernacle, nor any vessels of it for the service thereof.

So the tabernacle, the ark and all of the other tabernacle furnishings came to a rest at that time, along with the Israelites.  (The account of the transfer of the tent-tabernacle into the stone temple is a really interesting study just of itself). 

But the Levites did not come to a complete rest.  Even on the Sabbaths and the Holy Days, they were still duty bound for much "abowdah" service work:

27:  For by the last words of David the Levites were numbered from twenty years old and above:
28:  Because their office was to wait (yad) on the sons of Aaron for the service
(abowdah) of the house of the LORD, in the courts, and in the chambers, and in the purifying of all holy things, and the work (maaseh) of the service (abowdah) of the house of God;

In verse 28, the term "wait on" comes from the common Hebrew word "yad."  The non-Aaronite Levites had the responsibility to wait upon the priests Ė their Aaronite cousins.  The Aaronites were just one family of Levites, just as the Kohathites were another family of Levites.  So the non-Aaronite Levites had the responsibility to wait on the their Aaronite cousins, the priests, and specifically to do the service work for the temple and for the priesthood.  Please keep this in mind as we continue.

In these verses is the idea of waiting on someone.  Earlier in the series we discussed waiters and waitresses in restaurants, store assistants and anyone else who waits on us for that period of time being our temporary employees Ė or to use the Bible term Ė "servants."  We will come back to this later.

It appears that God inspired the word "maaseh" (Strongís 4639) to be used for "work" in verse 28.  Although a less-common Hebrew word for "work," it too can also mean labour, business, pursuit, undertaking, enterprise and product.  So this was real work that these Levites and priests were doing Ė and pretty heavy labour when you think that they were throwing around bullock carcasses and the like!

29:  Both for the shewbread, and for the fine flour for meat offering, and for the unleavened cakes, and for that which is baked in the pan, and for that which is fried, and for all manner of measure and size;

We have been through the commands in fine detail that seething and baking was forbidden by God on His Sabbaths and Holy Days; but here He was commanding it!  There was a lot of food being baked and fried here!

30:  And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even;
31:  And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the LORD in the sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded unto them, continually before the LORD:
32:  And that they should keep the charge of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the holy place, and the charge of the sons of Aaron their brethren, in the service
(abowdah) of the house of the LORD.

David did the main, initial planning for Godís first stone temple.  These verses were part of that planning.  Then God, through Davidís son Solomon, made it a physical reality.  So let us go over to II Chronicles now, where we actually get into the building of the stone Temple and, once again, into the duties of the Levites:

II Chronicles 2:
1:  And Solomon determined to build an house for the name of the LORD, and an house for his kingdom...
4:  Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God.

What I am trying to show here is that this work was specifically permitted by God for the Levites only Ė both the Aaronite Levites and the non-Aaronite Levites.

Some questions might arise from this.  As New Testament priests-in-training (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6), can we apply this to ourselves now?  

Did the non-Aaronite Levites feel that they could participate in the Aaronite priests' work?  

No.  The Aaronites had their own specific jobs to do and the non-Aaronites had theirs. 

Did the non-Levitical Israelites feel that they could participate in the Levites' temple work?  Or did they feel that, because the Levites were permitted some work on the Sabbaths and Holy Days, they too could do their own work on the Sabbaths and the Holy Days. 

We all know very well that neither of these actions was ever permitted by God. 

If we try to apply it to ourselves, therefore, we must ask, If God didnít allow the Old Testament Israelites to do these things, why do we feel that we can do that kind of work on the Sabbaths and Holy Days. 

Without taking the comparison too far between the priests and Levites of Old Testament physical Israel and the ministers and deacons of the New Testament spiritual Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), God does permit the effort expended by todayís ministers (and others) in the delivery and serving of spiritual food at church services on His Sabbaths and Holy Days.  But even then, whenever possible, it is good to do most of the preparatory work in advance.

Sabbath Food Lessons from God's Land Sabbaths

We are now going to learn some lessons from Godís commanded land Sabbaths. 

When you first think about this in relation to our main sermon subject, you might perhaps think that this sub-topic might be irrelevant to the core subject.  But please bear with me because, from this sub-topic we can learn more valuable Sabbath food lessons. 

In our day and age, many to todayís farmers grow tobacco, flowers, grain-for-fuel and other kinds of non-food crops.  As far as we know, back in Bible times, the arable land was used for food crops only.

At the beginning of today's study, we read Leviticus 20:22: "You shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spew you not out."  The word "land" in that verse comes from the Hebrew word "erets."  Now on to chapter 25:

Leviticus 25:
1:  And the LORD spoke unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,
2:  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When you come into the land
{erets} which I give you, then shall the land {erets} keep a sabbath unto the LORD...

God is telling them here to give the arable land a rest.  The application of the Hebrew word "erets" to the whole territory as well as the arable fields indicates that all of the land was to rest, not just some of it.  Obviously this is talking about the arable land.  They would not likely be growing grain products on the rocky top of a mountain.

4:  But in the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of rest {shabbath shabbathown} unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: you shall neither sow your field, nor prune your vineyard.
5:  That which grows of its own accord of your harvest you shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of your vine undressed: for it is a year of rest
{shabbathown} unto the land.
6:  And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for you, and for your servant, and for your maid, and for your hired servant, and for your stranger that sojourns with you...
8:  And you shall number seven sabbaths of years unto you, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto you forty and nine years.

Godís commanded land Sabbaths were to be kept as joyfully and as stringently as the weekly and annual Sabbaths should be kept (Isaiah 58:13).

Regarding the weekly and annual Sabbaths, we know that some Israelites might have said, "Surely it's okay to do just a little cooking work on the Sabbath; not as much as on the other six days of the week, of course; but just a little." 

In earlier parts of this study, we read just what God thought of any seething and baking work on His Sabbaths, and what He thought of any manna- or firewood-collection on His Sabbaths. 

If we apply the same Israelite thinking to Godís land Sabbaths, what would have been the result?  Would it have been okay for those farmers back then to sow just a little?  Would it have been okay for them to reap just a little?  Or to prune their vineyards just a little?  And if they did, what would have been the result?  Would the land get its proper rest?  No, of course it wouldnít.  

God commanded that all of the arable land (erets) was to rest in the seventh year.  If it was not allowed to, what would have happened?  This is a prime example of a little leaven leavening the whole lump (I Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9).  The Israelite farmers who sinned in this way would bring down an automatic curse upon the land and upon themselves.  We see this automatic curse in action in the condition of our nations' arable land today.

Staying with agriculture and homing on all things agricultural, let us now move into the next chapter:

Leviticus 26:2: 
Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD...

In this verse as well as in many others too, we see that when God gives promises of blessings and warnings of curses, He is not just talking about the keeping of the land Sabbaths.

4:  Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
5:  And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
6:  And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land...
10: And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.

Wonderful blessings promised by the LORD!  But what did He warn would happen as a result of His people continually disobeying Him in regards to the land Sabbaths and in other ways as well?  If they continually broke His weekly Sabbaths, his annual Sabbaths and His land Sabbaths, look what He warns:

14:  But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
15:  And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant...

Yes, including His laws with regards to His land Sabbaths; but not just them only.

20:  And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits...
22:  I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate...
26:  And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied...
32:  And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.
33:  And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.
34:  Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemiesí land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.
35:  As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.

Yes.  He was warning of the penalties for the breaking of His land Sabbaths; but also talking the breaking of His weekly Sabbaths as well.

That was the warning.  So what happened?  What was the result?  Seven hundred years flew by and the first fulfillment of this prophecy came to pass for the Northern Kingdom of Israel in about 722 BC when they were taken into captivity by the Assyrians.

Did their southern Jewish brothers learn from their bad example and punishment?  We know that they did not.  Another 136 years flew by and the second fulfillment of the same prophecy came to pass.

Sometimes I think that we Israelites think that God has a short memory and that, if these warnings are not preached on an ongoing basis, we start thinking that "Perhaps God doesnít mean that any more."  Maybe that is what the Israelites and the Jews thought.  They may have had short memories; but God certainly does not!

II Chronicles 36:
11:  Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.
12:  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.
13:  And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.
14:  Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.
15:  And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place...

He sent these continual warnings from His prophets and messengers -- perhaps through angels coming down and influencing His true ministers of that time -- to speak out against what was going on.

16: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy...

God is a patient God and He loves us dearly.  We donít like punishing our beloved children; but when they continually do the same thing over and over again, it comes to the point where we have to give them a more severe punishment.

17:  Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand...
20:  And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia:
21:  To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.

So there were the first two fulfillments of Godís punishment in those days.  A third fulfillment is likely to descend on the nations of modern, physical Israel in the latter days.  To some extent there is an automatic curse coming on our Israelitish nations right now, which we could find out if we were to research into the condition of the soil.  I am certainly not a farmer or an agricultural expert; but from what I have been led to understand, for at least forty or fifty years, the land has been over-worked and, to some extent, destroyed. 

What about the spiritual Israel of God?  What about the Church of God?  Are we any less subject to these very same warnings?  Of course we are not!  Let us examine ourselves on a continuing, ongoing basis, according to those pre-captivity warnings that were sent out there. 

If the Jews would have looked at what happened to the northern Israelite tribes that had been taken into captivity by Assyria and scattered, the southern House of Judah would not have had to suffer and they would not have had to go into their seventy years of captivity in Babylon.  Let us apply these same warnings to ourselves from II Chronicles 36:  

Are any of us doing what is evil in the sight of God?  

Are any of us refusing to humble ourselves before Him?  

Are any of us becoming stiff-necked or hard-hearted towards God and His correction?  

Are any of us mocking those who we know to be the true messengers of God?  

Are any of us despising the Word of God?  

Are any of our ministers Ė and not just ministers, but non-ministerial members as well  Ė emulating the transgressions and abominations of the heathen?  

Could any of these things really be happening in Godís Church today? 

We donít have any prophets (that we know of) in the church at this time.  But are any of us misusing Godís prophecies Ė perhaps for our own benefit and perhaps to further our own doctrinal views?

Still on the subject of the land Sabbath, let us turn this around now and feed these land Sabbath principles, blessings and warnings back into the context of Godís weekly and annual Sabbaths.

If we refuse to be strict on ourselves about our Sabbath-keeping and if compromise with it, we too will bring down similar automatic curses on ourselves.  I am not telling you exactly how strict you need to be with regards to your Sabbath-keeping.  That is between you and God.  Nor am I telling you what constitutes compromise to the point of sin.  You need to research that for yourself just as I need research it for myself.  You need to apply these things to yourself and your household as you are convinced that Godís Word tells you.  Please remember Colossians 2:16.  I keep coming back to this because we are not to judge each other in the details of these things and we are not to allow others to judge us in these things.  It is between you and God.  It is in "the Book."  What is the Book telling you?

Into the Book of Deuteronomy

We have finished in Leviticus for now, and we have pretty-well covered all of the relevant Sabbath-food verses in Numbers; so now let us move on into the book of Deuteronomy, where we find God repeating His commands to His people, through Moses:

Deuteronomy 5:1: 
And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.

Then Moses goes through Godís laws, statutes and judgments, leading off with His Ten Commandments.  Which was the first of the ten that he looked at?

12:  Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.

This is a repetition of a previously-given commandment: "as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee."

Please notice that God commanded them to sanctify His Sabbath Days.  We may have been through this in earlier parts of our study; but I think that it bears repeating here:

Let us look at the Hebrew word for "sanctify"Ė "qadash" (Strongís 6942).  Here are some alternate meanings.  Please apply them to God's Sabbath Days:  hallow, treat as sacred, sacred time, dedicate, separate, keep holy, consecrate, set apart, appoint, purify, keep pure and, very significantly, prepare.  

Preparation for the Sabbath is very important.  God gives us a full day of preparation before every one of His Sabbaths and Holy Days.

God is the one who sanctifies His Sabbath and makes them holy.  We are to keep them holy as He made them.  Yes, the other very significant word in verse 12 is the word "keep."  The original Hebrew word is "shamar" and it can also mean (and again, please apply these words to the Sabbath) mark, observe, regard, heed, preserve, protect.  Are we protective of the Sabbath day?  We should place an invisible, protective wall around it.  

More English words for the Hebrew shamar are keep watch, guard, have charge of.  In our own households we are "the bosses."  You have authority over your own household and your family.  (If you have not read the book "Boundaries" may I strongly recommend it?) 

Other English translations of the word shamar are keep within bounds, reserve, celebrate, and finally, treasure.  Hopefully not, but maybe when you were a little child you might have dreaded the Sabbath to some extent; but we adults especially should treasure it and should really appreciate the value of it. 

There are many other significant English terms from that one Hebrew word shamar that are very much worth looking into and meditating upon, and which prove that Godís Holy Sabbath time was to be highly valued and spent properly and respectfully.  

Continuing still in Deuteronomy 5:

13:  Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work {melakah}
14:  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work
{melakah}, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.

There is a lot of information in verse 14.  We know, for example, that in order for farmers to allow Sabbath rest for their livestock, Jesus said that the effort required to look after livestock (milking, etc.) on the Sabbath is okay (Luke 13:15). 

The Hebrew word translated "rest" in verse 14 is "nuwach" (Strongís 5117), not "shabath."  Do we perhaps think that nuwach means something totally different?  That it might be more lax than the word shabath?  It does not.  The word nuwach means rest, cease, set down, lay down, be quiet, and remain.  And its extended meanings include settle down, repose, have rest, make quiet and be granted rest.

15:  And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.

As we have seen in more detail in previous parts of our study, although the Hebrew word melakah certainly can and does include our day-job work, that is not its only meaning or application.  It can also refer to many other types of work, including fuel collection, cooking, shopping and other food preparation. 

There is a different Hebrew word in verse 15 for "keep" and that is "asah" (Strongís 6213) which can  mean observe, celebrate, maintain, put in order and again, prepare.  I believe that that rendition, prepare, is very important.  The various renditions of the word asah give more strong indications of how Godís holy Sabbath time should be kept.  These days should be weekly or annual causes for proper celebration.  Yes, we should celebrate when the day begins.  Their holiness must be maintained by Godís people and kept in an orderly manner.  We must properly prepare for the Sabbaths and Holy Days.  May I recommend, if you donít do it already, that you write on your calendar the initials "D.O.P." for every Friday or day prior to a Holy Day.  Also, I usually find out what time sunset is, and write that time on my calendar.

Finally, with regards to the references to servant, manservant and maidservant in verses 14 and 15, although most Christians today do not employ full-time servants, this can accurately and logically refer to anyone who is doing work for us, even temporarily to be acting as our temporary servant. 

Therefore, this can appropriately be applied to tradesmen coming to do work on our homes, store clerks or waiters, waitresses and other employees in restaurants and cafes.

Next time in Part 7, we will be going into one of the most interesting Sabbath-food discussions in the whole Bible, in the book of Nehemiah.


JHP/pp/jhp