How To Keep The Sabbath According To The Bible

Shabbat shalom from under the dome!

One of the most frequently asked questions of new Torah Keepers is “how do I keep the Sabbath according to the Bible?” So what better place to start than Exodus 20:8-11 which reads as follows:

Remember the day of the Shabbath, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: But the seventh day is the Shabbath of Yahuah Elohayka: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: For in six days Yahuah made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore Yahuah blessed the day of Shabbath, and hallowed it.

So, at a very base level, you work for 6 days, but the 7th day you’re not allowed to work, and you’re not allowed to cause anyone else to work either. Not your family, your servants… not even your animals! Not the strangers. No one. I know I’ve basically just repeated the command, but sometimes, you just need to break it down in a way that makes sense. Let’s take a look at how to keep the Sabbath according the bible in Leviticus 23:3:

Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Shabbath of rest, a holy assembly; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Shabbath of Yahuah in all your dwellings.

Ahhhh now we’re getting somewhere. In Exodus, we learned what to do… errr not to do. But in Leviticus we learn the reason why. It’s because this is a set-apart day. In a similar fashion to the holy days we are to keep, outlined in Leviticus 23, the Sabbath day itself is also included. It is a set-apart day. You’ll notice “a holy assembly” was added. In Hebrew, a “qôdesh miqrâ'”. A set-apart gathering for the set-apart people. Pretty great, right? We are to convene with those who are set-apart on this set-apart day. How lovely. As you are learning, just remember, we are the Diaspora of Yashar’el (dispersed Israel) living in Egypt. We’ve been in the dark so long and we’re all coming to this truth slowly but surely. So with that said, let’s look at some Sabbath day regulations. I’ll give you my take, but you’re certainly allowed to disagree.

Can We Cook On The Sabbath?

From where I’m sitting, there are 2 sets of instructions for the Sabbath day. One of those is for when you’re in the camp. I’ll back this up with scripture in a minute, but I just think it’s important to acknowledge the mindset of someone in the camp, because that is essentially the promise. In Revelation 20:9 it states the following:

And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the qodeshiym about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from Elohiym out of heaven, and devoured them.

So there you have it. Another camp scenario that I’m hoping to be a part of. So in the first and second Exodus events I think it’s important to adhere to the camp rules (there are several of these unrelated to the Sabbath day). So with that in mind, let’s look at Exodus 16:23:

And he said unto them, This is that which Yahuah has said, Tomorrow is the rest of the Holy Shabbath unto Yahuah: את bake that which ye will bake today, and את seethe that ye will seethe; and את that which remains over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.

It is followed shortly in Exodus 16:29 with this:

See, for that Yahuah has given you the Shabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.

And then of course we have Exodus 35:2-3:

Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a Shabbath of rest to Yahuah: whosoever does work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall bring no kindle for a fire throughout your habitations upon the Shabbath.

So what does this all mean? I have to ask myself some basic questions such as “Is Yahuah providing manna for 2 days on Friday?” Of course the answer is no. And likewise, I’m not in the camp. And I know it doesn’t say that directly, but hear me out. This is Matthew 12:

AT that time Yahusha went on the Shabbath through the fields; and his Talmidiym were hungry, and began to pluck the heads of grain, and to eat. But when the Parashiym saw it, they said unto him, Behold, your Talmidiym do that את which is not Lawful to do upon the Shabbath. But he said unto them, Have ye not read את what David did, when he was hungry, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of Elohiym, and did eat the showbread, which was not Lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the Torah, how that on the Shabbaths the priests in the Temple profane the Shabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the Temple. But if ye had known what this means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned את the guiltless. For Yahuah is the essence, and the Shabbath; the Son of A’dam.

And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it Lawful to heal on the Shabbaths? That they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Shabbath, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is Lawful to do well on the Shabbaths. Then says he to the man, Stretch forth your hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Parashiym went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.

This passage is so packed full of info, I barely know where to start. But the point I really wanted to make was that the Pharisees, as well as the Messiah and his disciples are walking around town, going to the synagogues, picking grain heads, healing people. Is it really a Law that in all contexts we need to stay in our homes? The answer is clearly no. So this is the first reason I am making the assumption that the Laws are for the camp scenario only. Secondly, there is no second witness to this. There are plenty of witnesses to the actual Sabbath day, 6 days of work, 1 day of rest. But this is added specifically in the Exodus account, I believe to explain to us not only the His-story of what happened, but also to show us “camp rules” so to speak.

Let’s go back to Leviticus 23:

“And Yahuah spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of Yahuah, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of Yahuah in all your dwellings”

So the Sabbath is numbered among the feast days? Shouldn’t we feast on a feast day? Jubilees has this to say:

“And thus He created therein a sign in accordance with which they should keep Sabbath with us on the seventh day, to eat and to drink, and to bless Him who has created all things as He has blessed and sanctified unto Himself a peculiar people above all peoples, and that they should keep Sabbath together with us”

Now don’t get me wrong, I think there is a mindful way to approach this. After all, there was what was considered a “Sabbath day’s journey”. That probably seems irrelevant right now, but hear me out. You can walk. You can walk far. But there seems to be this idea of a limit. Like, don’t run a marathon, don’t wake up at 5am to start baking for 8 hours. You can pluck grain, you can’t harvest the field. There was plenty of fire happening whether in the temple, candles for light, fires for warmth, etc., so in my opinion, and the way I interpret all these variables in scripture, I think it’s ok to cook light on Sabbath. Maybe a crockpot meal, or a fry some eggs up for breakfast.

Can I Heat My House On Sabbath?

I heat my house with a wood stove. This morning when I woke up, it was -9ºF. Seriously. There is a scripture that I mentioned above, but let’s look at it again:

Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a Shabbath of rest to Yahuah: whosoever does work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall bring no kindle for a fire throughout your habitations upon the Shabbath.

Even though I see this as a camp rule, there is another important piece of scripture which helps one understand what is truly wrong here:

And while the children of Yashar’el were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the Shabbath. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto El־Mosheh and El־Aharon, and unto all the assembly. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And Yahuah said unto Mosheh, The man shall be surely put to death: all the assembly shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the assembly brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as Yahuah commanded Mosheh.

It’s kind of crazy story. This man, despite being told not to was gathering wood for a fire. I find the gathering wood interesting, and I can tell you it definitely constitutes work. One thing I do every Friday evening is bring in a cart full of wood. That way, I just open the wood stove door, toss in a log, and we’re good to go. No work whatsoever.

What Constitutes Work?

From what I can tell in scripture, there are 2 things that actually constitute work. One is physical labor. We are permitted a reasonable amount, i.e. walking around, light cooking, giving the chickens water, etc., as we talked about above. Basically, all the things you need to do to survive. You are also permitted to do good, so if that means stepping it up a bit for the sake of someone else’s benefit, you’re in the clear. Helping an animal is always an automatic “yes” as well.

The second thing that constitutes work is buying or selling. This is kind of implied because most of us work at a company that sells things. In order to buy something, you have to cause someone else to work to sell it, so in my household, buying and selling isn’t something we do. This is also implied in Amos 8:4-5:

Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, Saying, When will the New Moon be gone, that we may sell grain? And the Shabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the sheqel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?

Here, it seems to be implied that in ancient Israel, they weren’t buying and selling. The New Moon is a topic for another day. Anyway, I know this was only a short look into how to keep the Sabbath according to the Bible, but if you have any comments or questions, feel free to reach out!

<h2><a href="https://torahfellowships.com/members/tf_editor/" target="_self">Dave Currier</a></h2>

Dave Currier

Dave has been following the Messiah since 2012 and came the knowledge of the Torah in 2017. He has been earnestly seeking after the ways of the Most High ever since, both with his family and his local Torah fellowship. Dave is also the webmaster for the Parable of the Vineyard and the producer over at The Unexpected Cosmology.

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