Shabbat: God Sanctifies His People

Shabbat (Sabbath Day) is a Moadim. An appointed time when God meets with his people. It is a funnel from heaven to earth for God’s People.

According to Exodus 35, The Tabernacle was to be a holy place, a sanctuary in space where Israel could meet God. In the same way the Sabbath is a sanctuary in time in which we can meet with God.

So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. (Exodus 31:16)

Why are the laws of Sabbath repeated here in the Torah? The Sabbath laws have already been stated in Exodus 16 and Exodus 20. By repeating them here (and again in Exodus 35) in conjunction with the instructions about building the Tabernacle, the LORD shows us that there is a connection between the Sabbath and Tabernacle.

The Israelites might have assumed that, though regular melachah (work) was forbidden on the Sabbath, it was all right to work on the Sabbath to build the Tabernacle. Since the work was holy work, it should be permissible on the Sabbath. The repetition of the Sabbath laws next to the instructions for the Tabernacle makes it clear that the Sabbath was not to broken even for that holy work.

The Sabbath was given as a sign of God’s covenant with Israel. It is a perpetual sign of the covenant relationship between the children of Israel and the LORD. The Tabernacle functioned in a similar manner. It too was a sign of Israel’s relationship with God.

The Jewish people are commanded to observe the Sabbath. “You shall surely observe My Sabbaths. … The sons of Israel shall observe the Sabbath” (Exodus 31:13, 16). The Hebrew word translated as “observe” is shamar (שמר). The word shamar means “to guard, protect and keep.” God wants His people to guard and protect the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

This can be compared to a man who wanted to marry a girl. He gave her an expensive diamond engagement ring as a sign of his commitment to her. He told her, “This ring is a sign between you and me. It represents the covenant of our betrothal. Guard it well and keep it safe.”

The LORD told Israel, “This is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you” (Exodus 31:13). Just as the diamond engagement ring represented that the girl was set apart for her fiancé, the Sabbath represents that God’s people are sanctified by God.

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