Three Things About Shabbat
In a previous newsletter, I explained the origin and symbolism of lighting two candles on Shabbat. Israel was commanded to "guard" and "keep." These are not very specific verbs! A Jewish community tradition grew out of the seed of that Word, and the expression of guarding and keeping the Shabbat was lighting two candles. The beauty of the very vagueness of the commandment is that each family can create its own traditions that are expressions of guarding and keeping Shabbat. For instance, in some families, a candle is lit for each child within the family, not just two.
What have I learned about the tradition of lighting candles on Erev Shabbat?
1. It HONORS the day and sets it apart. From ancient times when there was no electricity, candles or lamps on a table were a sign of celebration. Setting candles on the table where we consume the Erev Shabbat meal denotes a simkha, a cause for celebration and HONORING the One Who first refreshed himself on Shabbat.
2. SEEING the food is part of the enjoyment of eating it. Again, from ancient times the lights allow the family to SEE the food that they are enjoying. This act of eating and drinking with joy is an act of worship echoed in the Seventh Feast, Sukkoth, a feast in which Israel was commanded to purchase whatever their souls desired to eat and drink so that they could give thanks to the One Who provided it.
3. Because of the lights, there is PEACE IN THE HOME, known in Hebrew by the phrase "Shalom HaBayit." If there were no lights on Erev Shabbat, the family would stumble over one another and run into things. Adonai sometimes judges not with fire and brimstone, but with confusion. The lights of Shabbat drive away the confusion in the home and bring PEACE. The Israelites had light in all their dwellings. Incidentally, in a Jewish home on Shabbat, any visitor is considered a member of the family. What's a good way to introduce friends and family to Shabbat? Invite them over. Plant the seed of shalom: "The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." Spiritual fruit can grow from a peaceful home.
"May He Who makes peace in His high places make peace upon us, and upon all Israel." And we all say...
Shabbat is the time of the week that chaos should cease. The running, doing, competing, and acquiring fade into the darkness, and the light of the Torah illuminates that which brings peace.What is illuminated? The faces of those participating in the Shabbat meal. Isn't this exactly the blessing of the High Priest upon Israel? "May He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May He lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace." The Torah is a light, and the commandment is a lamp. The act of resting on Shabbat allows the light of obedience to shine through the face of each person, illuminating the family table.
How can Adonai prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies? By meeting with us when we prepare a table for Him on Shabbat. It's our sign. It's what sets us apart. We give Him HONOR when we look for Him, and we bring PEACE to the table with the lights of obedience. He in turn HONORS us with a PEACEFUL Shabbat table that even our enemies cannot apprehend, for they stumble in confusion and darkness. Like Pharaoh's chariot wheels, they become confused and mired in the clay of earthly pursuits. Shabbat is a taste of eternity's PEACE.
On Shabbat, the food tastes better, the beverages are richer, the fellowship is sweeter, and the music more healing. The grass is softer and greener, and the water is like glass. Sleep is more restful. Some may scoff and say, "How can that be? It's the exact same food, beverage, grass, and people!"
Oh, but that is not the point. The point is that I am transformed by the Ruach HaKodesh on Shabbat, and therefore my perception of everything changes. I can better HONOR and SEE the work of Creation. I can once again stand PEACEABLY among the living creatures on the Seventh Day of Creation and refresh myself with my Creator.
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A Creation Gospel workbook (Workbook Six) is our next project, and it is the in-depth workbook companion to Standing With Israel. It will focus on the history, validity, and Scriptural basis for the Hebrew prayers. Our goal is to have the companion workbook completed before
Standing With Israel offers a new look at Cornelius' and Peter's prayers that opened the door to fellowship between Jewish and non-Jewish believers in Jesus.
Standing With Israel explains the events of Acts 10 in the context of the Amidah, the Standing Prayer prayed three times daily by observant Jews. An in-depth study of the prophetic nature of the prayer demonstrates how the Judges of Israel and the infirm woman that Yeshua healed explain the resurrection of Messianic Judaism, growing Christian interest in their Hebraic roots, as well as the "spirit-filled" movements of the last century. Jewish and non-Jewish believers alike are urged to take hold of the unifying prayer to build a house of prayer for all nations.
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