By Dr. Victoria Sarvadi
I was adopted as an infant so I don’t know much about my biological background. And I wasn’t raised as a Jew but I’ve always had an intrigue with Judaism. I never had a clue as to why until 1997.
Then I had an Epiphany!
It was then that, Lo and behold, I realized that the Lord and Savior that I embraced as my Messiah, Jesus, was born a Jew, lived as a Jew and passionately practiced and displayed His faith as a devout Jew! He was born in Bethlehem, Israel during a time of great Roman oppression. He was circumcised in obedience to the Torah, worshipped in the Holy Temple, celebrated the Feasts of The Lord as proscribed in Lev. 23 and faithfully kept the Sabbath. It was then that it dawned on me that I really didn’t know Him in that context at all. And I wondered – why not?!
This revelation motivated me to go back to school and pursue an intense study of Hebrew biblical education; anthropology, Jewish understanding of the New Testament, the Hebrew language and it’s ancient idioms, the 1st century rabbinical, historical and archeological aspects of 2nd Temple Judaism (that is of Jesus’s time) and their Jewish customs and traditions. As I compared these early practices to what eventually became known as the Christianity of our modern day, I discovered this modern philosophy of Christianity was influenced and interpreted through Greek, Roman and Western eyes and it often failed to reveal the deep spiritual meanings of the 1st century Hebraic faith of our Jewish Lord.
I would like to address a few misunderstandings that I think we, as Gentiles, have struggled with for centuries. As European or Western thinkers we have difficulty approaching the Bible in the mindset it was written in. The reason is because we lack the rich Jewish heritage and basic foundational understandings of those 1st century Jews whose ears actually heard the voice of our Lord. The teachings of Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus) were initially directed to ancient Middle Eastern thinkers. We all need to step back and approach the Bible from a fresh but ancient Jewish perspective that goes back before denominations, the reformation and Catholicism to the original matrix. 1st century Judaism is our mother faith; it is this faith that the theology of Jesus, our Jewish Lord, is predicated on.
One typical misunderstanding we have is the idea of The Sabbath. In the 4th century, Constantine, the Great, emperor of the known world declared by an king’s edict that the Holy Day of Sabbath practiced by the early Christians on the 7th day was to cease and instead a day of corporate worship on the 1st day of the week, Sunday, would now be recognized as the Christian sabbath. Understand , it was already customary that the believers meet on the 1st day to worship and have fellowship but they did not do this as their custom of honoring the Sabbath. There’s nothing wrong with worshipping God on any day of the week but you can’t change the actual Word of God. It is recorded in Genesis that the Sabbath (the Hebrew word for 7th day) is the day God rested and HE declared that we were to remember it and keep it Holy. Can we change the day he rested? How can one say the 7th DAY of the week is now the 1st day of the week? That doesn’t even make sense! For over 3 centuries this movement that Yeshua started kept the Sabbath as a day unto The Lord. Then, by the stroke of a pen the new Emperor of the World, Constantine, who was immersed in polytheistic pagan religions, instituted a one world religion that he knew little about. He banned the beloved feasts of The Lord and the Sabbath that Yeshua kept and he blended the faith with other traditions from the feasts of the Sun God, Ra (Sunday worship), the fertility god, Eshtar (Easter) and the birthday celebration of Nimrod (we now call Christmas).
Realize there is a difference from worshipping God on Sunday (which of course, is absolutely acceptable) and keeping the Sabbath. You can do both if you want! But – they are actually two different emphasis! Yeshua says in Mark 2:27 …said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”. It is a gift from God commanding us to slow down! Rest and have faith that he will bless you because you keep this day as he personally convicts you. Corporate worship on Sunday is actually the response to the commandment “to not neglect the assembly of the brethren.” (Hebrews 9:25) And it’s a day dedicated unto the Lord as opposed to the Sabbath which is given to man.
But “Keeping the Sabbath”, however, is more of a personal thing. It actually is a weekly remembrance and commemoration of your personal decision to make Yeshua your Lord and Savior. People can keep the Sabbath in different ways as one can serve The Lord in many ways. The main thing is to keep it Holy and not profane the day. One must pray and search their heart to determine how to separate the day from the rest.
Starting the Sabbath at sundown on Friday can be a beautiful time of dedication and prayer for the new week. Because our western society does not recognize the Sabbath proscribed by Torah, many of us are required to work. Many schools and sports clubs make this the day of sporting events and extra curricular activities and we all feel the need to catch up on things we normally can’t do on the week days. Because of our social customs each person needs to seek The Lord and allow Him to guide them in all truth. Follow your convictions. He will show you what to do and what not do if you ask.
My husband and I often invite friends over to begin the Sabbath at sundown on Friday. We light the candles as a memorial to separate the day. We pray and bless one another, our children and our friends. We enjoy fellowship and a wonderful meal. The atmosphere actually feels charged and there’s an excitement and anointing that permeates our home as we invite The Lord in to “rest” upon us!
Resting on the Sabbath is all about trusting in our faith that God is in control. That’s why everyday is a Sabbath in that regard. We must place our trust in the Lord and not in our own wisdom, abilities and strengths.
One day in the New Kingdom, Yeshua will take His place on the throne in the New Jerusalem. This is the true on-going Sabbath that is to come when we all can rest in Him and war and evil are bound for a thousand years.
Demonstrating our faith on the 7th day is our response unto The Lord for the gift He as given us. Pray and ask Him how you should keep the Sabbath. Ask Him how you can be a blessing to Him!! It’s not that you HAVE too but rather He offers this wonderful privilege to commune with Him and you GET to!