The Feasts of the Lord are found in Leviticus 23 and are often thought of as the Jewish Feasts. That is an improper way to think of them. God tells us these are His feasts because they are meant to be remembered and celebrated because each of them point forward to some aspect of our relationship with Christ. They have rich symbolism for Christ followers to experience as well. Shabbat or the Sabbath is one of those special feast days.

According to Leviticus 23:3, we learn that we are to work for six days and take the seventh day as a “holy convocation.” So what does that mean? Interestingly, the Hebrew word for convocation means a public assembly, or meeting – to gather with fellow believers. It also means a “rehearsal.” We may understand the idea of “going to church” as our gathering together, but a rehearsal? What does that mean?

A rehearsal is defined as a “trial performance” before the actual event or true performance takes place. Shabbat is meant for us to practice now in preparation for God’s peace that we will experience in eternity. God actually wants us to experience a glimpse of that rest each and every week! He wants us to experience rest and fellowship with one another as we worship Him. It is our preparation for eternal rest and worship in heaven.

So how can we celebrate Shabbat? Here are some ideas!

  • Shabbat is often welcomed each Friday evening with the lighting of two candle: one to remember the Shabbat and one to keep it holy. Pull out your candles – don’t just save them for rainy nights when the power goes out! Share this traditional Jewish blessing with your family: Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the Shabbat candles or pray as a family thanking God for rest and refreshment from your week.
  • Jewish tradition also celebrates Shabbat with bread and wine. Have you thought of having communion with your family once a week? Don’t just wait for communion to happen in your church. God wants you to experience that every week with your family.
  • Share a meal together with friends and family.
  • Play games.
  • Tell stories.
  • Read books together.
  • Contemplate scripture.
  • Reconnect with your spouse and with your kids.
  • Talk about your dreams and goals.
  • Ask your family what would bring refreshment to your souls… and then do it every Shabbat.
When we “rehearse” shabbat, we experience a prelude to the peace and God’s presence that we will experience for all eternity. Interestingly, the Jewish people celebrate with the understanding that the reward for keeping the Shabbat is the arrival of the Messiah. Can’t we also celebrate the Shabbat in preparation for the return of Jesus our Messiah?

As a final note, consider this story:  Two men had to clear a field of trees. The contract called for them to be paid per tree. Bill wanted the day to be profitable, so he grunted and sweated, swinging his ax relentlessly. Ed, on the other hand, seemed to be working about half as fast. He even took a rest and sat off to the side for a few minutes. Bill kept chopping away until every muscle and tendon in his body was screaming. At the end of the day, Bill was terribly sore, but Ed was smiling and telling jokes. What’s more, Ed had cut down more trees. Bill said, “I noticed you sitting while I worked without a break. How did you outwork me?” Ed said smiling: “Did you notice I was sharpening my ax while I was sitting?”

Take the Sabbath to sharpen your ax! Sharpen your understanding of who God is in your life and the word of God as our sword to conquer the rest of the week.

Blessings and Shalom!