Exodus 20:1 - 26
ESV - 1 And God spoke all these words, saying. 2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Using the TaNaKH (OT), I could not find a verse that simply commands us to “Honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy,” (with the original Hebrew words כָּבַד kavad for “honor” and the word קָדוֹשׁ kadosh for “holy”), although Is 58:13-14 probably comes the closest since it employs both of these words across two verses: “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy (Hebrew=קָדוֹשׁ kadosh) day of the Lord honorable; if you honor (Hebrew=כָּבַד kavad) it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” However, there are quite a few verses commanding us to single out the Sabbath in special ways. I will list a few more familiar ones, along with the original Hebrew root verb used to describe the action listed in the Torah: • “Remember” (Hebrew=זָכַר zakhar) the Sabbath (Ex 20:8) • “Keep” (Hebrew=שָׁמַר shamar) the Sabbath (Ex 31:14, 16) • “Observe” (Hebrew=שָׁמַר shamar) the Sabbath (Deut 5:12) You can see from above that “keep” and “observe” share the same root Hebrew word “shamar,” yet are translated with two differing English words. The original Hebrew word “shamar” actually implies “guarding.” Within close proximity of “remembering,” and “keeping/observing” the Sabbath, we also find verses such as Ex 20:8 commanding us to likewise keep it “holy” (Hebrew=קָדַשׁ kadash), and Ex 31:16 commanding us to “celebrate” (NIV, NASB) it (Hebrew=עָשָׂה asah). What is more, we find that God himself “blessed” (Hebrew=בָּרַךְ barakh) the seventh day and made it holy” (Gen 2:2), a day which we know to be the Sabbath day. God also declared the seventh day Sabbath to be a “sign” (Hebrew=אוֹת oat) between Isra'el and himself, to expressly declare to the world that it is God who sanctifies Isra'el (Ex 31:13 and Ez 20:12, 20). The reasons for Isra'el marking out the Sabbath are numerous, but perhaps the two most well known are: 1) To remember that God is the creator (Ex 20:11) 2) To remember that Isra'el was rescued from Egypt (Deut 5:15) Conclusions: When God commanded Isra'el to mark out the Sabbath, it often envisioned one or many of the following terms: “remember,” “keep,” “observe,” “bless,” “sanctify,” “celebrate,” “sign,” as well as others I may have missed in this brief word study. What does it mean to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy? At the very least, we can conclude that it means to take God at his word and make his seventh day Sabbath a special day in our lives and in our communities. Moreover, as a witness to our unsaved brothers in National Isra'el, since we of Remnant Isra'el affirm that Yeshua (Jesus) is the embodiment of Sabbath peace and Sabbath rest (Matt 12:8; Mark 2:28; Lk 6:5; as well as Matt 11:28; Heb 4:3, 9, 11), the Sabbath rest concept was obviously given to Isra'el to also teach her about this vital spiritual reality. Since National Isra'el has yet to receive her Messiah, we know that she is yet to experience genuine and lasting Sabbath peace. Why not take some time today and pray for the peace of Jerusalem: Ps 122:6 “Sha’alu shalom Yirushalayim! Yishlau o’havayich!” (Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love you!)