“Every one of you is to revere his father and mother, and you are to keep my Shabbats; I am YAHWEH your God.”-Leviticus 19:3
Following the introduction in Leviticus 19 and the general instruction to “be HOLY for I am HOLY“, the Lord reminds us of 2 of the original 10 Words given to Moses on Mount Sinai.
Israel is told that they are to honor their father and mother and they are to keep the Lord’s Sabbaths.
Why does God see honoring one’s father and mother as so important?
There are two reasons.
First, it is your parents who gave you life (physically that is).
Second, they are the ones who were commissioned by God to train you up in the ways of TORAH.
Notice that our relationship to our parents is to mirror our relationship to YHVH.
God is ultimately the one who gave us life and and because of this we are to accept His authority over us.
Here we see another demonstration of the AS-IN-HEAVEN-SO-ON-EARTH principle in action.
Moving on, we see Sabbath observance being placed front and center as an essential part of God’s plan for His people.
It should again be stressed that keeping the Sabbath was never a part of salvation but as OBEDIENCE to the One who saved us.
What’s interesting is that although the whole purpose of the Sabbath was to give us a chance to rest and recuperate from our daily labors, in many cases, it has been made into a burden and a works-based legal exercise.
In fact, the Sabbath is one of those topics most furiously debated among Jews.
However, it must be made clear that what’s being debated is NOT whether or not one should keep the Sabbath or even when the Sabbath should be observed.
There is zero disagreement on those points.
Rather, there is vigorous disagreement over the details of exactly HOW the Sabbath should be observed.
Way back when we were studying chapter 6 of Genesis, I made the point that God gave us a will for the purpose of making moral choices.
Our wills are not about preferences such as what type of dressing to pour on our salads or whether one should buy a yellow or green sweater.
The Lord allows us many preferences that have nothing to do with good and evil.
Sabbath observance is NOT about preference, on the other hand, there is room for argument in terms of how Sabbath observance should be carried out.
What should I eat on the Sabbath?
Is it even okay to eat?
What should I wear?
Where should I observe Sabbath?
Can I buy something from the store on the Sabbath?
Which prayers should I recite on the Sabbath?
Can I cook on the Sabbath?
Should I light candles or not on the Sabbath?
These types of things are all about preferences.
Paul also made this clear in Colossians 2:16.
“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.”
This statement of Paul’s was NOT about whether or not one should observe Sabbath, or whether or not it is now okay to eat pork as the Christians would mistakenly lead you to believe.
He’s talking about not paying attention to the judgement of others with regards to God-allowed preferences.
God’s Sabbaths were no more done away with than food and drink.
Concerning the Sabbath, actually concerning all of God’s commands for that matter, you really need to think long and hard on the following points:
Our wills are for making moral choices.
Any moral choice we make will always be “for God” or “against God”.
The TORAH defines what is “for God” and what is “against God”.
Disobedience is nothing less than a moral choice of your will to go AGAINST God as defined in Torah.
Things like Sabbath observance, whether or not to eat pork or shellfish and any of the other of the Lord’s commands are NOT preferential choices.
They are MORAL choices.
Before closing, I want to point out an interesting connection between honoring one’s parents and keeping Shabbat.
Notice how they are the first two things mentioned immediately after the Lord’s admonition to “be HOLY as I am HOLY“.
Notice also how these two commands appear in the same sentence, thus linking them to each other.
The connection between these two commands did not escape the eyes of the great Rabbis.
So what is the connection?
It is this.
Just as honoring our parents is our FIRST PRIORITY among our duties to other human beings, so is keeping the Sabbath our FIRST PRIORITY to God.
We are to set apart the the 7th Sabbath in our lives just as the Lord sanctified the Sabbath at the very beginning of the world.
For those who fail to do this, I doubt that much will go well in their lives.