It’s a big thing in Messianic Judaism. However, as I pointed out before, Messianic Judaism is fond of teaching about the law – but not keeping it, while claiming they do!
For those not familiar with the words, its a mixing of Yiddish and Hebrew – kind of typical of “Frumspeak”, the language that observant Jews use (a blend of Yiddish and Hebrew words and phrases added to English). Shomer is to “keep or guard”, and Shabbos is the Yiddish word for “Shabbat”. Ashkenazi Hebrew tends to pronounce a Tav at the end of the word as an S, and the Qamatz vowel point almost with an O sound (like the last syllable in Robot).
So, Shomer Shabbos = keep the Sabbath.
Messianics routinely use Sephardi Hebrew, whether they are of European descent or not. And trust me, the well meaning’ed among them will try to correct your use of Ashkenazi Hebrew until you get testy with them.
The contention of the Torah Observant Messianic is that we must still keep the Sabbath, because (as they teach wrongly) we are still under the law. So, the first step they advise is adding the Sabbath first.
Sabbath observance in Messianic Judaism is usually limited to …
making sure you take the day, or most of it, off from work. And then you drive to the Messianic Synagogue, and have a Shabbat service. The Messianics carry their Bibles in, plus whatever they need to perform the Davidic dance stuff – flags, props, rubber chickens and whatnot. Then usually a bunch of them will go out to dinner at a favorite restaurant afterwords, enjoying greatly the sitting around and talking about Messianic stuff, and “Why the Christians get so offended when you talk about the law! I love the Torah!”
You love it… but you broke it about a dozen times this Shabbos!
- 23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. Exodus 16:23 (KJV)
- 25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. Exodus 16:25 (KJV) 26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. Exodus 16:26 (KJV)
- 29 See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. Exodus 16:29 (KJV)
- 8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Exodus 20:8 (KJV)
- 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: Exodus 20:10 (KJV)
- 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. Exodus 20:11 (KJV)
- 14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Exodus 31:14 (KJV)
- 15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Exodus 31:15 (KJV)
- 16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. Exodus 31:16 (KJV)
- 3 Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day. Exodus 35:3 (KJV)
Okay then… what did we read from a cursory look at the Sabbath in our King James Bibles?
You can’t make food on the Sabbath. You make it Friday afternoon, in preparation for the Shabbos day. Usually this is done by buying a blech (a metal sheet you cooked on), and then you prep up a Shabbos stew called Cholent. Yeah, man… of all the things I miss about Judaism, Cholent is pretty much tops. What’s in it? Nonya bizness! Everyone’s cholent recipe is a little different. Beans, meat, and the rest is a secret. My Rabbi always said he’d tell me what was in his, but then he’d have to kill me. That was one of the things about a Seudah (sabbath day get together) was the surprise of tasting someone else’s cholent, and seeing what their special take on it was.
So you’d cut up the salad, get everything pre-made, cook up the cholent… my wife actually used to make the Challah herself (the sabbath bread). Everything was done before the Sabbath. Then you’d put the blech on the stove, turn the heat down as low as it would go without turning it off, and set the prepped up cholent in a pot on the blech. It now starts cooking and simmering, from prior to the sun setting Friday night. And it’s going to cook until shortly after noon…. wow, I’m getting hungry.
So… why can’t you cook on Shabbos? It’s WORK. The Bible specifically forbids work on the Sabbath. You cut things. You activate a heat source by turning on electricity (which produces a spark – you cannot start a fire on the Sabbath). You mix things.
Okay, we’ll go out to eat! No, you have to abide in your home. bad news, buddy! Besides… the Torah will not allow you to work on the Sabbath… or allow Gentiles to do the work for you. So, you’re going out to eat? what about the cooks, bus boys, waitresses, all working for you? And you’re spending money. Can’t do that either.
How’d you get there, walk? “No we drove.” You can’t start a car on the Sabbath. That starts a fire. Cars run from internal combustion… spark plugs light, igniting gas vapors, which burn the gasoline, turning the engine, which turns the tires. Really clever. And really prohibited on the Sabbath.
29 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. 30 But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 31 Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him. 32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. 33 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. 34 And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. 35 And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. 36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses. Numbers 15:29-36 (KJV)
In addition, one may not carry a burden in or out of a dwelling place on the Sabbath. It’s work. So those carrying in and out all the davidic dance props was a violation of the Shabbos.
So, tell me again, why do Messianics claim to keep the Sabbath? Keeping the Sabbath for them seems to be A). take most of the day off from work on the Sabbath and B). Go to the Messianic synagogue on Sabbath. The rest they conveniently ignore.
“Because since Moshiach came, those requirements are lifted…”
Ok, here’s where I’m going to agree with you. Why? Because you’re not under the law! You are DEAD to the law if you are saved!
But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that we must all keep the Sabbath – and then not keep it yourself! That’s the kind of hypocrisy that the Lord discussed in Matthew 23.
Either don’t keep the sabbath, or teach it and keep it. My recommendation is the easiest one – quit being a false teacher who advocates legalism and a return to bondage Christians are not meant to be under… and enjoy that Saturday afternoon trip out to Cracker Barrrel. When someone asks you why your church meets on Saturdays, just practice saying this…
“we’re a Messianic synagogue. We like meeting on Saturdays.” “Oh, so you guys keep the sabbath?” “Naw, we just like meeting on Saturdays.”
Final question for the Messianic – if you were trying to keep the sabbath the way you do now in ancient Israel, do you think you’d have lived to see the end of that Sabbath?
Think about that for a bit.
Here’s an experiment for the Torah Observant Messianic – I want you to try keeping an Orthodox Shabbos for the rest of the month. Not just one day. The entire month. Oh, let’s pick… all of July. Be Shomer Shabbos all four weeks, from prior to sundown Friday Night to just after three stars become visible on Saturday night.
No tearing toilet paper. Get boxes of kleenexes for the bathroom. No driving. No watching TV. no internet. No electronic devices. If your synagogue is close to you, you can walk, as long as it’s a Shabbos day’s journey or an Eruv (joined together area). If it’s got overhead power lines, you can walk quite a distance. But you’ve either got to use their Bibles, or bring yours there long before the Shabbos. No writing, either. No playing musical instruments.
Let’s see if you REALLY like keeping the Torah. Really. Do it right.
Matter of fact, now that you’ve started, start keeping the Torah. Complete Kashrus, but you gotta pick a hecksher – either OU, or ChK (Chabad). Well, i guess you can mix the two, but do it Chabad style – ChK where ChK differs from the OU hecksher.
Don’t forget you have to go to Jerusalem three times a year. And you better hope they finish the Temple soon, because much of the Torah requires sacrifices.
Here’s my prediction… the first Shabbos will be fun. Enjoyable. Relaxing.
The rest are going to be an exercise in tedium.
And as you feel yourself trapped in the Torah, turn… and look at the Cross. LOOK AT THE CROSS.
Suddenly you’ll understand why Jesus Christ came. You’ll understand why we no longer need the Torah.
The Torah is a crushing burden, that you cannot bear. You’re aware of your sin, and it’s crushing weight. The Torah is beautiful. Powerful. Holy.
We are not. We are fallen. We cannot keep the Torah.
The Talmud tells a story of the angels, protesting as God prepares to give the Torah at Sinai. “Master, they cannot keep the Torah! Give it to us, we can! They can’t possibly keep it!”
“That’s why I’m giving it to them. They can’t keep it.” is the answer.
And then the second person of the Trinity came to earth, and allowed Himself to be put to death for us.
And when He raised Himself from the dead, He rose us up with Him.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17 (KJV)