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Shabbat, or Sabbath, is something near and dear to me.
What better place to start learning about the Shabbat than Scripture?
Remember the day, Shabbat (Sabbath), 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 8 CJB
I’m going to lay the foundation for why we celebrate the Shabbat and then I’ll personally share how our family commemorates this time and include some activities, symbolism and even my challah recipe (at the bottom of this post)!
The Purpose of the Sabbath
The very outline for Sabbath is within the foundation of the world, creation itself. A model given to us by Yahweh’s own actions of resting on the seventh day. It also clearly outlines that this day is not only for rest, but for God. A holy day, set apart for his Glory.
God declared that the Sabbath is to stand as a sign between Him and us, forever. (Exodus 31:13)
“Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘You are to observe my Shabbats; for this is a sign between me and you through all your generations; so that you will know that I am Adonai, who sets you apart for me.
Arguments Against Keeping the Sabbath
Whether or not you follow Old Testament Law or not keeping the Sabbath is among the ten commandments still taught within the majority of churches today.
So why is this commandment so often ignored today?
It was never forgotten, even after the death and resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus) and we can see in Acts 18:4 that Paul still observed the Sabbath,
The Bible says that Yeshua the Messiah is the same yesterday, today and forever. From scriptures we know that Jesus is God, and our God, our Elohim, is consistent through all time. He is unchanging, and so why would he remove one of his commandments, plucking it from even among the ten?
Colossians 2:16-17 is an often quoted passage against keeping Shabbat.
So don’t let anyone pass judgment on you in connection with eating and drinking, or in regard to a Jewish festival or Rosh-Hodesh (New Moon) or Shabbat (Sabbath). These are a shadow of things that are coming, but the body is of the Messiah.
But is this really saying not to do the Sabbath? It says do not let people pass judgement on you for doing them, not for not doing them, and that these things are a shadow to what Is coming, not what has come. So it is not in reference to the first coming of Christ, but the second! Should we not then continue to do these things which point to the next coming of our Messiah?
In fact, in the entire book of Hebrews points to us following the seventh day Shabbat until the second coming of Christ, when it speaks of our permanent rest in him.
Do we not still need physical rest? A break for our own health? Why then should we reject what God has given us for these things?
The Sabbath Serves Us, We Do Not Serve The Sabbath
We live on a farm, so things come up! Sometimes rest simply isn’t available, and so we make a point that if the proper day isn’t usable we will dedicate another day that week to worshiping God, but always have his set aside day as the priority and not the secondary factor, as he told us to.
Shabbat was made for mankind, not mankind for Shabbat. Mark 2:27
But if you are led by the Spirit, then you are not in subjection to the system that results from perverting the Torah into legalism. That while we honor and keep the Sabbath, it is not to delve into legalism, adding to God’s Word, or twisting his word. It was made for us, for our benefit, and for honoring God. Galatians 5:18
A Look Into Our Family’s Shabbat
Shabbat might not always go as well as I’d like. But I’d like to walk you through an ideal weekend, which actually is far more common than I’d have expected when I started this walk! It’s not near as intimidating as it sounds.
Friday is the big clean, I want my house ready for the weekend so I don’t have to think to much or stress over a messy house on my break day. Who doesn’t love a break, especially as a homemaker? This day for me starts a little early, I’m the kind who would rather rush and rush and then BREAK than do it in spurts. So my morning is my mega clean with almost no breaks, and a lot of music!
Then after lunch I can start on my challah. That way when it’s rising I can rest if I’m done, or finish up and be resting by the second rising! It gives me a break between cleaning to refresh before cooking dinner when the challah is in the oven. Baking the challah is also a time with my kids that they look forward to all week! And I always make more than enough supper so that I have the leftovers, who wants to cook on their day of rest? I’ve even heard of friends using disposable dishes on Sabbath to avoid that, but I make sure my dishwasher is empty on Friday before supper so it can take the dishes for Sunday.
Then by dinner time we can sit down and relax when my husband gets home!
The table is set, but something a little more unusual is in the middle, a plate with the challah, a covering over it, two candle sticks and a cup of red wine. As we gather around, before we pray, I light the two candles. My kids love this because it’s their special reminder and interaction, as I light them they get asked what they mean and have to answer.
I’ve heard many explanations for their symbolism, but the one that we use is Creation and Redemption. As Christ gave us a light when he created light, he also have us a light when he sent his Son to save us. Then my husband leads us in prayer and we have dinner. Early into filling our plates we have a moment of communion.
Historically Sabbath was always a time of breaking bread and sharing wine and so this has become a weekly reminder for us – breaking the challah, and sharing it with our dinner with butter and honey, and sharing the cup of wine as my husband leads us in communion. Only once that is done do we really settle in to eat. And once everyone is done and the plates are cleared away the kids get to happily blow out the candles.
Then its family time, we are making a point for this to be our games night. When we all get to gather around a set time every week to enjoy each other. After bedtime devotionals for the kids and their off to slumberland then my husband and I both settle in first to our Scripture reading for the week. Afterwards it’s cuddle and relax time.
Come Saturday morning we get to sleep in! The kids are even learning at their young ages to stay and play quiet in their room and what they can take for breakfast if we’re feeling extra lazy.
One thing I absolutely love the next morning is a breakfast of french toast made with the challah loaf!
It’s a relaxed day, with family Bible time, worship songs, and general chilling out on the farm. Rejuvenating for the next week!
Often we’ll end up going somewhere for something family based, like our involvement with a medieval re-enactment group that has events on Saturdays.
Again, like the earlier passages stated, it isn’t about legalism. It is about respecting that it is a day God gave us for our benefit and to be used to his Glory!
I promised you my challah recipe didn’t I? Well here it is! Be forewarned, if you’re not careful it may not make it as far as the dinner table.
I hope this post has helped you learn about the Shabbat and how to incorporate it into your own lives! And if nothing else, enjoy the deliciousness of freshly baked challah!
One packet Rapid Rise Yeast
1 1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup honey plus 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon salt
About 4 cups whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
Start in a large bowl by putting in the hot water and sprinkling the rapid rise yeast over it. While that does it’s thing you can separate the eggs, in a small bowl you need one whole egg and three yokes. This can be tricky for me with farm eggs, but the biggest ones work best! Keep your whites in another cup, and add the tablespoon of honey to the whites, putting this away for later. In your egg bowl add the olive oil and salt and fork beat it all together Then check the yeast bowl to see if all the yeast has set in and changed from it normal powder. When it has, add the egg and oil mix and fork beat it all together again.
With wet blend start to beat in the flour, one cup or half cup at a time, until it becomes dough-like. Knead and add flour until the dough is elastic and not sticky. Form it into a ball then, keeping it in the bowl, cover it with a warm and damp cloth and put it in a warm place. Here in the winter, that means the wood stove, but summertime you want a bright window, anywhere to get that yeast working overtime! In about an hour it’ll have risen to double it’s size, turn it out on a floured board and punch it down.
Now divide it in half, it’s braiding time! With the first half, I braid it into three parts. The three parts to the Trinity and this is the loaf that we use in our communion. It’s a straightforward braid. The other half becomes my Seven loaf, representing the seven Holy Days that God has given us. This loaf is wider so it’s great for sandwiches or my personal favorite, french toast! With seven equal parts of dough, all rolled out to cords attach them at the top point. Then starting on either side take the outside cord and go over two, under one. Repeat for the other side, over two and under one towards the inside. Go back and forth on this and you’ll get a neat wide seven braided loaf.
Put both loaves onto a buttered baking sheet and then cover again with a warm damp cloth and back to a warm space, it goes! Let it rise again for about 45 minutes to an hour, Then preheat your oven to 375F. While it preheats take your loaves and get that cup of egg white and honey yous set aside earlier. You’ll want to fork blend it again and then brush it generously over both loaves. Once the oven is ready put in your loaves on a middle rack and let them back for twenty minutes. At that point add tin foil over them loosely tented and let it bake for another twelve minutes.
Pull out, and enjoy! Honey and butter make it irresistible.