Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell the people of Israel: ‘The designated times of Adonai which you are to proclaim as holy convocations are my designated times. “‘Work is to be done on six days; but the seventh day is a Shabbat of complete rest, a holy convocation; you are not to do any kind of work; it is a Shabbat for Adonai, even in your homes.”-Leviticus 23:-1-3
We have just begun a study of the Lord’s “fixed” times.
In Hebrew, these are called MO’ED or MO-EDIM (plural) or in plain English, simply the Biblical Feasts.
From verse 3, the first fixed time or MOED God deals with is the Sabbath.
But wait a minute.
The Sabbath isn’t one of the seven Biblical Feasts.
There’s actually a differentiation made between the Sabbath and God’s fixed times, and rightly so.
Remember, the Sabbath was NOT first given at Sinai when Moses received the 10 Words from God.
The Sabbath was established at the time of Creation WAY BEFORE THERE EVER WAS A NATION OF ISRAEL.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, along with everything in them. On the seventh day God was finished with his work which he had made, so he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. God blessed the seventh day and separated it as holy; because on that day God rested from all his work which he had created, so that it itself could produce.”-Genesis 2:1-3
So you see, God did not invent the Sabbath at Mount Sinai.
He was simply reminding Israel to make sure and observe it, because apparently it had long ago been forgotten by mankind.
“Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. You have six days to labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat for Adonai your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work — not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. For in six days, Adonai made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why Adonai blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.”-Exodus 20:8-11
The operative word here is “remember”.
In Hebrew “remember” is KAZAR and it carries with it the sense of recalling or bringing back to memory something that used to be.
The Sabbath was not something that originated between God and Israel, it was established between God and ALL His Creation.
The Hebrew word for Sabbath is SHABBAT and obviously this is different than MO’ED which means “appointed time”.
Therefore, the SHABBAT is different than what occurs during a MO’ED.
This will become apparent as we progress through our study.
What we’re going to find is that there is a distinction between THE Sabbath and various other kinds of sabbaths connected to the Biblical Feasts.
Just understand that verse 3 is speaking about the Sabbath we are all most familiar with, the 7th day of the week!
There are 3 elements that separate the Sabbath from all the other days of the week.
First, the Sabbath forbids work on that day.
Second, it is to be considered a HOLY day and treated as such.
Finally, the Israelites are to observe the Sabbath no matter where they may be.
The Hebrew word for “work” is MELA’KHAH and verse 3 gives us a sharper point in terms of what exactly this word means.
We are told “you are not to do any kind of work”.
The 7th day Shabbat is to be a day of “complete rest”.
The Hebrew says SHABBAT SHABBATON.
What’s being communicated here is that of all the holy observances, the 7th day shabbat is that day when refraining from work is to be at its most extreme.
Absolutely NO WORK is to be done!
If you ever wished you could have a day where you could just veg out all day in bed, well here you go.
You now have divine permission to do so and once every week at that!
There are some pretty good examples in Torah reinforcing the importance of complete cessation from any kind of work on the Shabbat.
Recall when the Israelites were gathering MANNA.
On the 6th day, they were told to gather a double-portion so they didn’t have to gather any on the Sabbath.
Later on, we’ll encounter a chilling scene in the book of Numbers where a man was ordered to be executed for gathering wood to start a fire on the Sabbath.
To me, this makes it pretty clear that Sabbath observance is NOT voluntary.
It’s not a day one observes only if one feels like it.