Shabbat Thought

Is it too early to start preparing for Shabbat on Saturday night or Sunday? Of course not! It is the first day of Shabbat, so think a Shabbat thought.

It is a tradition as one prepares something special in anticipation of Shabbat during the week to say, "L'kvod Shabbat Kodesh!" This means that the action we are taking is to honor the holiness of Shabbat. No matter how mundane it may be to buy a roast, bake a cake, iron a dress, or polish the silver in the physical realm, each action is in anticipation of honoring something holy, a taste of eternity with the Father of Shabbat Lights. It may seem silly to say something over a secular task, but as the rabbi said, "By saying something, we change something." Saying something about our conscious act of obedience enriches Shabbat because it changes us.  We become a person more conscious of Shabbat.

Do Not Kindle a Fire

We are commanded not to kindle a fire on Shabbat. Everyone knows what a literal fire is, but what about emotional fire? The ancient sages applied a spiritual application to the physical commandment: Do not kindle a fire of controversy on Shabbat.

There are six days of the week to argue and contest, to run and compete, to cook and dine out. What occurs on Shabbat should be distinct from every other day. Even the structure of the Amidah on Shabbat is different, concentrating on praising and giving thanks rather than petitioning. After all, He already knows what we need before we ask!

The concept of tirkah (Heb) is related to refraining from kindling a fire on Shabbat. On Shabbat, there are many things that are not forbidden to us, but they unnecessarily burden our Shabbat rest. The Torah does not specifically list such activities, but we know from experience the things that drag down the pleasure and joy of the day, which IS commanded:

If you turn away your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight ( oneg), the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words: then shall you delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it. (Isaiah 58:13-14)

Can you make a list of the things that bring upset, confusion, controversy, commerce, hurry, and disruption into your Shabbat?
Whose responsibility is it to identify those fire-starters and to remove them?

Is it possible to honor the holiness of Shabbat without a weekly review of the unnecessary burdens, a pair of 20-pound shoes weighing down the absolute freedom, joy, and pleasure of Shabbat?

Trade in those controversial 20-pound shoes and see if the Father won't give you wings to ride in the Heavens on Shabbat. There remains a Shabbat rest for His People who seek HIS rest, not their own ideas of it. See if He won't feed you with the heritage of Jacob, a physical and spiritual rest beyond compare.

The Sabbath Whisperer

In a class on Shabbat, the teacher said this: "The person who prepares for Shabbat is the one who enjoys the Shabbat."

Is there anything more profound? Twice the amount of manna fell on the sixth day, but those who had little faith went out to look on the Seventh like beasts who didn't know 6 from 7. They initiated a search for that which was already been provided; they'd have experienced the tranquility of the day had they taken that provision and followed the instructions: "Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil..."
The problem with our preparation is our hearing. In the Torah world, hearing means obeying. Two voices speak to each of us throughout the week, those two voices that Paul mentioned to the Romans.
One voice will be loud, insistent, whiney, threatening... Like Esau, it cries with a loud voice because it is the voice our OUR pleasure, the nefesh (soul), the game hunter. The other voice is a still, small voice, the voice of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), the voice that is holiness and knows how to prepare for a holy day.

One voice is concerned with soccer practice, work, chatting on the phone, Facebooking (yes!), shopping, haircuts, watching the football game to relax, etc. It is the voice of physical necessity driving us during the week; it is the voice of the here and now, but it shouts so loudly that it drowns out another voice, the still, small voice.  That still, small voice asks us "What about the future?  Is this activity in support of your eternal home or merely your present reality?"  The Spirit looks forward, for it is characterized by movement as well as vision.
The Ruach HaKodesh whispers that we should not push Shabbat to Friday before we include it in the daily plan. The little voice tells us to shop early in the week, cook an item or two ahead, study a bit of the Torah portion (okay, how about during halftime or while you're waiting on the kids to finish soccer practice?), invite that lonely single to Erev Shabbat, or drop off a re-heatable Shabbat meal to someone who is homebound or tending the sick.
The soft whisper reminds us to talk about our Shabbat preparations during the week with our children, teaching them that even mundane tasks can be "L'kvod Shabbat Kodesh." Ask your children to think about their daily activities as they grow older and develop Spiritual vision.  Can they contribute their thoughts about the eternal value of their choices in extra-curricular activities? Help them to tune into the Ruach and balance that voice with the necessities of life. 

That old adage, "Eat to live, don't live to eat," is similar to the continual prompting of the Ruach.  "Are you doing this activity in support of your eternal destiny, or will this activity melt with the elements of earth?"  "Will you look back one day and wish you had devoted this time, energy, or money to studying and doing my Word?"  This is not to create a life of asceticism, but to stir ourselves up by means of constant reminders to what is more than important: that which is eternal.

The Shabbat whisperer may be softer, but when we obey it, the loud voice of our appetites, emotions, desires, and intellect will serve the Ruach as we were created to do. We conform to the image of Elohim, not to the image of the beast who hunts his manna any day of the week. Hear Him? Obey Him. That's the sum of the 6s and 7s in the Book of Revelation. It's so simple and obvious that the world misses it, which is easy to do if you're out of whispering range and only hear the shouts.

The Sabbath whisperer prepares the person for Shabbat; therefore the prepared person enjoys Shabbat. Are we prepared for the 7s of Revelation? Shhhhhh......

Shabbat is not a Nap

Shabbat is not a passive activity. If the Shabbat were merely a cessation of activity, then why would Adam need to rest from work he didn't do? It is a picture of salvation.  We cannot save ourselves, but we must accept and rest in the work of Messiah that is already complete.
Shabbat is the cessation of creative work, not service, for the priests in the Temple served, yet they were not transgressing the Shabbat, but fulfilling it. The work of Shabbat is to draw others close to the Presence.
And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.  And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD. For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. (Isaiah 66:20-23)

Isn't it time "all flesh" is drawn to the Light of the Shabbat? And who will light the way? The royal priest who serves to draw others close to the King of Glory, yet he does not work, on Shabbat. While naps are permissible on Shabbat, it is the one who does not sleep as one dead to the voice of the Ruach who rests on Shabbat in true peace.
Shabbat rest requires planning, focus, and intention. It is not the death of the workweek, but the resurrection of those mundane creative activities to the level of spiritual service. It is the life of the workweek. The physical activities of the week will lie to us, purporting to be "really living." The truth is that those activities in the physical world are merely preparation to live in the Spirit of Shabbat, for Paul wrote that the physical is revealed first, then the Spiritual.

Few wait for the Spirit, much less discern between the Spirit and the nefesh-driven flesh. Few look at the physical world around them, yet ask, "Where is the Spirit in what I see and what I do today?"  Learning how to rest on Shabbat must be grabbed in small, incremental steps, training one's self to never mistake being passive with true Shabbat rest. Drawing close to the Holy One and enabling others to do so is really royal living in Shabbat.

But What About...?

These principles seem like easy talk when the reality is that believers outside the Land truly swim upstream when they try to incorporate the rest of Shabbat into their lives.  For many who messaged this week, the pressures of family or friends who do not walk in the same understanding is less distressing than those who do!  While we try to walk with like kind and like mind, it becomes painfully apparent that we do not walk with IDENTICAL kind and mind. 

Among Messianics, Torah-keepers, or whatever label with which we identify (no coincidence that First Century believers likewise were known by different names), there is a huge diversity in Scriptural interpretation and practice.  Want to find a time period when there was similar chaos and questions?  First Century!  That's why all those apostolic letters were written!

That's the good news as well as the bad news.  If the questions, interpretations, and practice were a problem when the actual disciples were alive, then it's no mystery why there is so much confusion today, yet the Father is NOT the author of that confusion. He left a framework for order that His people failed to follow.  I think He is often disappointed, but not surprised, for each generation is under His control and fits into His timetable whether they realize it or not.  

In this generation, those on whose hearts is being inscribed the Torah are distressed!  While confidence that His Word is eternal and relevant is a relief and peace that passes understanding, the troubles initiated by disagreement on how to walk out those commandments creates multitudes of hot fires out here in the wilderness. 

I've been hired to train Bureau of Prisons chaplains in how to meet the needs of Messianic Sabbatarian inmates.  Now while that may seem like a real opportunity, can you imagine the questions the chaplains ask?  Why do they have these variant calendars?  How am I supposed to accommodate these inmates when THEY aren't even sure when Passover is?  What are these different Names they are using?  Why do some of them want kippot and others abhor them?  Why do they want to wear tzitzit on their belt loops, but they don't want tefillin or tallit katans?

Trying to explain all the variations in belief among the "Messianic movement" to prison chaplains is not a challenge; it's impossible! So far, the Orthodox Jewish chaplains have been very tolerant...the Protestant chaplains never give up on getting me saved...the Catholic chaplains want me to join them for supper at the local Italian restaurant...and the Muslim chaplains send copious follow-up emails asking questions they won't ask a woman in person.  I go back to Denver twice over the next couple of weeks to train a couple hundred more chaplains and their assistants.  Pray.

So what do I say?  The lecture starts with "There is no all-inclusive theology of the Messianic movement!"  I go on, however, to give them the more common core beliefs that probably most share, whether Messianic Jew or non-Jew.  

This is the challenge of writing a newsletter or making a Facebook post to Torah-walking believers in Yeshua.  We still interpret and apply many Scriptures differently, and it can be frustrating when others' interpretations, applications, and growth do not match our own.  The beauty of Facebook or an email is that if the beliefs are so far apart, it is easy to Unlike or Unsubscribe (or Ban). With our local fellowships, however, it may not be so easy to Unlike and Unsubscribe.  We very soon are faced with situations where our interpretations and different growth rates impede unity, and sadly, the fires frequently bring reproach to the Name that is so important to drawing the last Gentile to the Light of Yeshua, the Word of our Father.

For Orthodox Jews, most of the questions and disputes over application and practice were addressed hundreds, and even thousands, of years ago.  While many within the Messianic movement sneer at the "traditions of the fathers," whether Church or synagogue, they are ignoring several important passages of apostolic writings concerning the Jewish tradition.  The apostles were definitely passing on SOME Jewish oral law to both the Thessalonian and Corinthian congregations, congregations presumably mostly made up of non-Jews. 

There was a reason that Paul made such a great advocate for Gentile salvation once he encountered Yeshua, for his specific affiliation to the House of Hillel as a Pharisee influenced his view of the non-Jew's place in the World to Come.  There is a reason Paul said, "I AM a Pharisee," not "I WAS a Pharisee."  It was Hillel who was willing to teach Torah to a Gentile, and to the Pharisees of that House, it was those from the opposing House of Shammai that the epithet "seed of Satan" was applied in the First Century.  John's use of the term "Synagogue of Satan" in Revelation was not random; it was directed at those Pharisees who excluded righteous Gentiles from Israel.  The technicalities of the Pharisees' history I am condensing into a BEKY Book along with the Truth vs Tradition teaching.  

The point is to bring actual facts into the discussion, for many Messianics feel so burned by Church tradition that they reject ALL tradition and ALL authority, which is not Scriptural either!  This accounts for much of the diversity in belief, growth, and practice. We are just now aging a group of elder believers who have walked in Torah long enough to make the mistakes and learn from experience how to bring balance into their walk.  Each step in application is a challenge, a challenge that Orthodox Jews do not have, although they have others.

The 39 melakhot (works) are categories of work that Orthodox Judaism suspends on Shabbat.  They are based on the 39 types of work that would have ceased on Shabbat during the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in the wilderness.  Because of the placement of the passage on the building of the Mishkan alongside the observance of Shabbat, the sages use that as a guideline. Therefore, Orthodox Jews do not weave, draw, write, cut, etc., on Shabbat.  In an Orthodox community, everyone lives within walking distance of a synagogue, so there is no driving.  They don't schedule sports activities or commercial sales on Shabbat.

While to a non-Jew the practices seem restrictive, you'll never have such peace from the pressures of the world on Shabbat as you will in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, especially Jerusalem.  You are free to share meals with your friends and family, attend prayer services, nap, nibble, take walks, read the Word, visit with real people instead of texting or emailing, or dance in the streets.  This does not mean, however, that if you have a heart attack that an ambulance won't come or the hospital is closed.  The restrictions are to bring liberation from the secular world, not to kill.  

For non-Jews, especially those who have never experienced such a Shabbat, it seems foreign to abide by such rules, but without some standardization of application, our chaos continues. There will be those who think it is fine to schedule a wedding on Shabbat, while others think it shifts glory from the Holy One to the couple.  There are those who will shut off their electronics on Shabbat so that they do not "kindle a fire" of controversy by writing or reading something inflammatory, but others will rely on electronics to communicate with others.  There are some who will travel to a Shabbat service and stop for gasoline, while others will not drive, or others will drive, but always have the tank full before Shabbat.  There are some who allow their children to engage in hobbies such as sports on Shabbat, and others will not. 

The list goes on and on because we are part of a phenomenon, the Ruach HaKodesh calling another flock for Himself from among the nations.  Even what we call ourselves is diverse.  Some call themselves Joseph, Ephraim, a non-Jew, a Gentile, a Nazarene, etc.  Call some people by the wrong name, and you'll get more than a friendly nip!

What matters is the new name that the Father gives us, and very likely that name will be a reflection of how we treated one another as we negotiated through the chaos of interpretation and application.  No need to kill one another over a holy offering. One attribute that any person can never have enough of, according to one rabbi, is the attribute of humility. 

The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 demonstrated a two-fold plan to address the questions of the non-Jews.  First, they imposed four instructions that typically are given to a righteous Gentile who wishes to convert.  As the rabbi told our class, the Torah must be "grabbed in incremental steps."  There was no reason for circumcision to be demanded as proof of sincerity, for the righteous non-Jew would demonstrate sincerity by his continued growth.  And how would he or she grow?  "For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath."  

In other words, there was no shortage of preachers in local synagogues.  Paul headed the delegation that took these instructions to Antioch, a man perfect for the job since he'd studied in the House of Hillel, a House that did not try to make it difficult for a convert to serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The reaction to the news was this:  "...having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter.  When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement."   The messengers had a lengthy stay afterward, teaching to the point of bringing peace among the believers.

Ironically, many do not recognize the Jewish customs Paul teaches the non-Jews in his epistles because they never learned those customs in a synagogue, yet those instructions were intended to bring order within the congregations so that the really important work of spreading the Light of the Word could be effective in each community.  Let them keep arguing about Names, calendars, tzitzit, head covers, etc., and not much good work will be possible.  

So how can we negotiate peace with one another, especially Shabbat peace?  As we await Messiah Yeshua's return, it's important not to turn on one another because we are in different stages of understanding, growth, and practice.  There will be times when you will come under fire for your method of observance, not from Christian friends or family, but from those of like kind, but not identical mind.  Expect it.  Expect to experience the consequences of your decisions based on sincerely-held beliefs. 

Your attitude of love may be the only light shining until the attacker's eyes are opened to your position in regard to the commandment.  Prayerful soul-searching is important as each individual applies the commandments and negotiates the questions that arise.  While you might ultimately reject another person's rationale, listen first.  You might have missed something.

Moses isn't being preached to the non-Jew from synagogues yet, but if we are chiastically moving back to the move of the Ruach in the First Century, then eventually there will be a unity possible that brings order among the Torah-walkers in the nations:

So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of him who is a Jew, saying, 'Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."' (Zech. 8:22-23)

With this humility, the Light of the Torah will increase, for personal agendas and private interpretations will decrease.  The synagogue of satan will pass away, and the beautiful synagogue order of THE Jew, Messiah Yeshua, will enhance the understanding, growth, and application of those returning from the nations. Ten is the number of a Jewish prayer minyan, and it looks as though the men from the nations will accept that application from their Jewish brother who is willing to guide them.

So here is a list of the 39 categories of work on the Tabernacle that had to cease on Shabbat.  While not many non-Jews accept the oral law, there are some categories that say volumes about the unnecessary work we try to do on one another, and a few of these should cause a smile.  It certainly explains why we are sometimes exhausted after Shabbat!

1.  Carrying
2.  Burning
3.  Extinguishing
4.  Finishing
5.  Writing
6.  Erasing
7.  Cooking
8.  Washing
9.  Sewing
10. Tearing
11.  Untying
12.  Shaping
13.  Knotting
14.  Plowing
15.  Reaping
16.  Harvesting
17.  Threshing
18.  Planting
19.  Winnowing
20.  Selecting
21.  Sifting
22.  Grinding
23.  Kneading
24.  Combing
25.  Spinning
26.  Dying
27.  Chainstitching
28.  Warping
29.  Weaving
30.  Unraveling
31.  Building
32.  Demolishing
33.  Trapping
34.  Shearing
35.  Slaughtering
36.  Skinning
37.  Tanning
38.  Smoothing
39.  Marking

"L'kvod Shabbat Kodesh!"

Lemalah Children's Centre

The first occupants of the Kenyan Children's Centre have begun the school year.  Two staff members need to be hired in order to free Pastor Ndungu to continue traveling to proclaim the Torah in Kenya and surrounding countries.  We would like to be able to set a minimum amount of monthly support from The Creation Gospel so that the orphanage can set a budget.  There is also a young man who needs to start university, and it will cost around $800 per semester.  

If you'd like to commit to a monthly amount of support for the Centre's payroll, school uniforms, shoes, food, and health care, we welcome your assistance.  If you'd like to sponsor all or part of the young man's college tuition, please notify us and we can put you in touch with Pastor Ndungu.  Education is important to the Torah community there so that they can strengthen their economic position by giving back to that community when they graduate and obtain decent jobs.  I can't tell you how strong the mutual commitment is within that group of believers.

To donate via PayPal, CLICK HERE and specify "Kenya" or send a personal check to:

The Creation Gospel
PO Box 846
East Bernstadt, KY   40729

From our home to yours,

Shabbat shalom!

The Creation Gospel
PO BOX 846
East Bernstadt, Kentucky 40729