Moving on, we now have a basic context in which to understand these feasts. They are appointments to encounter God, appointments that he determined from the beginning of time. Where should we begin with these feasts?
Lev 23:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
3 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 the LORD in all your dwellings.
4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.
5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover.
I read verse 5 to make a point. In verse 2, YHVH tells us that the subject are his feasts; what is the first thing he mentions? Sabbath or Shabbat. Then he goes on to say “These are the feasts which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.” At which point he talks about Passover which is the ‘first’ appointed yearly day.
See the pattern? God says “I want to talk to you about the feasts…keep the Sabbath…pause…these are the feasts…” In other words the first feast we learn about is the Sabbath and yet at the same time God separates it from all the other feast days. It is as if God himself is saying “before we talk about the feasts, pay attention to my Sabbath.”
Consider this, in a Gregorian year there are 52 weeks, (in the biblical year there’s somewhere between 51 and 55 depending on if it’s a ‘short year’). In that 51-55 week there is only one Passover, one Unleavened Bread, One Ha’Bikkurim, even one day of Atonement…but there are 51-55 Sabbaths. In fact more often than not, there will be a Sabbath between those so-called ‘high holydays’ like Passover. For example, Passover is followed immediately by the first day of Unleavened Breads, but there must be a Sabbath between then and HaBikkurim (the wave of the sheaf of first fruits). A Sabbath must fall between the first and last day of Unleavened Bread. Also during the eight days of Tabernacles.
For these reasons, the Rabbis actually hold (not that they are always right), but they hold that Sabbath actually is more important than these other holy days including Yom Kippur/day of Atonement. If for example, one of these days falls on a Sabbath (which they often do), the synagogue leader would do whatever ceremonies are associated in their congregation with Sabbath before they would do those associated with another holy day).
If this seems like it would be an interruption, perhaps that’s because the word Shabbat means “intermission.” What is this intermission about? Why does it exist? In verse 3, we are told do work six days, the seventh is rest and a holy encounter; don’t work it belongs to YHVH in “all your dwellings.” Dwellings here is very broad and basically means anywhere you sit down. I say that to point to that God seems to be saying he will encounter you where you are. He summons to meet with you where ever you are. Just a repeat that the encounter is with God, not with other saints.
Exo 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Earlier than Leviticus, God enumerates his ten commandments or “Ten Words.” There’s several different ways to look at the ten commandments: Do they flow from most important to ‘less’ critical? Do they flow from between us and God to us and each other? Are they parallels: ie killing the image of God is the same as setting up a graven image of God; or adultery on a human level is the same as taking the name of YHVH in vain?
All of which may be true, consider how that might be applied? Well, if in order of importance; then God is saying remembering the Sabbath is more important than honoring your father and mother. If it has to do with God, how so? The answer to both could be found later. Fast forward:
Exo 31:16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
The last thing God tells Moses to tell his people before sending Moses down with the original Tablets is “keep the Sabbath.” And why? Because it is a sign (oth again) between YHVH and Israel for ever. In fact he said it earlier in verse 13, “it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.”
Eze 20:12 Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.
Eze 20:20 And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God.
Of all the days in scripture, this is the only one that is called a sign; not Passover, or Yom Kippur, but the Sabbath is. In this case Sign (oth) seems to be best understood as evidence. In all cases it would be the same, a signal is evidence that something has happened or will happen. I say evidence here because it a sign that we can know A) YHVH sanctifies and B) YHVH is our God.
So is that more important than honoring Father’s and Mothers? Yes, because if YHVH is not sanctifying then what hope do we have of honoring Father and Mother? And if YHVH is not our God, then what does it matter if we honor? Not only that, it also fulfills the parallel interpretation: Remembering the Sabbath is equivalent to not being a false witness. How?
This Sign tells us that YHVH sanctifies us, it is a sign that he sanctifies. But why is it a sign? Because…
Exo 31:17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
God in six days made Heaven and Earth and rested, and was refreshed. What does that mean? Before Israel was even around, God followed the pattern of this sign in that he worked for six days on an enormous work and then rested; so by our working six days and resting on the Seventh day we are testifying agreement that he did create in six days and rest on the Seventh. That is the simple, or short answer. We do to be like him and we testify truly that he did in fact make the Heavens and Earth in six days.
We evidence by remembering the Shabbat that YHVH is our God and he sanctifies us. It’s like his thumb print or signature. Alisa and I discussed this the other day. The phrase “YHVH doth sanctify you…” What is the alternative to YHVH sanctifying us? Someone else sanctifying us.
The Sabbath is therefore the gospel. Notice it is not a sign that we are sanctifying ourselves, nor that any other god is sanctifying us. The Sabbath then is an acknowledgment that we need to be cleaned; we need to be helped; and by remembering it we are witnessing that it is YHVH doing the work in us.
Hold on to this idea of a sign, the idea that this is the thumbprint that our sanctification is God’s work in us. That is what the Sabbath is a sign of, but why does He associate this with creation?
Gen 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
This is a very special passage. Two things, the first, if you search through your bible you will find there is only one non-living thing that YHVH blesses. He blessed herbs, animals, man, groups of men, but He never blesses dirt, rocks, air, water…He blesses men in their work of the Earth, he blesses them in things but never blesses things.
There is one exception, the Sabbath. “God blessed the seventh day…” Just a question, but is the this the one exception or is the Sabbath in God’s mind alive?
Second thing; God pronounced many things good in the first six days of creation. But there is only one thing that God ‘sanctified.’ Again, the Sabbath; in fact there are many people sanctified by God, and YHVH sanctified by holy men, as well as men sanctifying holy things…but the Sabbath appears to be the only day that YHVH sanctified himself.