Friday, October 27, 2006

Again with the Sabbath...

I have learned a few things about blogging along the way, and the most obvious to me at this point is that it is impossible to blog "full time" when you have a full time job; try as I might; I can not devote the time that it takes to have a truly successful blog... for now.

Allow me to use this time to share with you an article from Messiah magazine (FFOZ).
I have mentioned before that my family is currently in a transition from “normal” Christianity to “Torah Observant” Christianity.
I was telling my pastor the other day (no, we don’t call him “Rabbi”) that entering into a Hebraic Roots mindset has lead us on a “long strange trip”. My kids get ridiculed at school for not eating pork, they get called “Jew-boy” in the hallways, and their extended families tell them that we are dead wrong. My wife’s family thinks that we are wannabe Jew ’s, and I have am called a “Zionist Pig” at work.
The people in our lives that have the hardest time with our beliefs (?) are other Christians. Sometimes I wonder how people can love Jesus so intently, and at the same time be so opposed to His Father’s teachings and rules. After all, that’s what the Torah is: The Father’s teachings and rules. Who would expect to be invited into a family, and not obey the rules of the one who owns the house? I know Christians that would never enter their own parent’s house with their hat on because it was always a rule growing up – a sign of respect that you take it off when entering; yet we have been adopted into God’s family – his house, and we think that we can ignore his statutes and the five books in His Word that lay the foundation for the faith that we profess. Imagine a child being adopted into a Jewish family. What would the adoptive father think if that child grew up disregarding all of the things the Jewish family did as part of their religion, completely ignoring the rules that have been layed down long before he/she arrived? Imagine the disappointment of the father when the child grows up in his household, having never made an attempt at knowing why his adopted family does what they do. How much more of an interest should we have in God's teachings and rules, as believers in His only Son?

Before I go further, I want to stress that I do not think that we should cling to every Jewish tradition. My wife and I disregard many Jewish traditions that are not scripturally based (my wife doesn’t wave the smoke above the two Sabbath candles, nor do we sing a Sabbath song, etc.). Please notice, however, that she does light the two Sabbath candles. I have yet to find a scripture that tells her to do this, and we regard it as tradition - not commandment. We do it for a couple of reasons; the first being that it is a visual example for my kids; a tangible picture of “The light of the world”. There are two candles - she lights the second from the first, representing the fact that our light comes from Him; the one true Light. The candles also set that day (and dinner) aside from all the other days of the week; it makes it special, which is what He told His people to do from the beginning, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exd 20:8). Holy means “sanctified” or set apart. Lighting the candles, for us, sort of alerts us to the importance of the day we are entering; it also makes Sabbath dinner stand out in our kid’s minds as well; special food, special glasses with grape juice in them, two loaves of homemade special bread and so on.

I almost forgot about the magazine article I started this post with! It is titled:

“Shabbat (Sabbath) Gateway to HaShem” by Tikvah Michael.

We have had a difficult time with the transition from regular old Saturday to Sabbath Observance – namely, “What can we do and not do?” How do we meet God, rest, refrain from work, chase a three year old around the house, tend to two pre-teens and a seven year old, all at the same time? Not to mention the fact that I have to work on four Saturdays in a row every other month. Tikvah explains in the article that when you start to observe Sabbath, you should treat it as a transformation process - allow God to meet you there slowly but surely. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

You wouldn't believe what a comfort this article was to me! To hear a believer in Jesus that has been observing Sabbath for almost two decades talk about the transition process with so much grace is unbelievably encouraging. I often wonder if we are just spinning our wheels - we never feel like we did it all correctly. It is an ongoing process, with things changing from week to week.

Hopefully, I will have the chance some day to thank her – I have struggled with some of this stuff ever since we started trying! She also pointed me toward a scripture that gives me a lot of comfort on this “strange trip”; one that I had read, but forgotten about:

Blessed is the man that does this, and the son of man that lays hold of it; that keeps the Sabbath from polluting it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.
Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.
For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;
Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.
Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keeps the Sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of my covenant;
Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of
prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices [shall be] accepted upon mine altar; for
mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. Isa 56:2-7

Notice how it starts; "Blessed is the man that does this..." not "Blessed is the Jew" or "Blessed
is the person that lives before Messiah is born", but "Blessed is the man that does this..." My favorite part of is “the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him,
and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keeps the Sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of my covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer...” That tells me that I am included in this blessing – praise the LORD! That says that I am included in this Sabbath business, and I don’t know why any Christian would be opposed to receiving those promises. I’ll take “joyful in His house of prayer” any time.

If you have never considered trying out the seventh day Sabbath, I would encourage you to start now. I can tell you from experience that it is a little intimidating at times (besause it is new), but it is a fun learning experience that is full of His grace.

I am amazed at how He loves me so much that He is willing to lead me by the hand – knowing what I am; knowing what I’ve done, and knowing all of my faults on a day to day basis. He promises to meet me in that rest, and for that, I am willing to be
called names – by the world, or other Christians – because what ever they throw at me can never compare to the joy that He has promised me when I just simply obey Him, and remember His Sabbath.