What is Shabbat?

At Beth Immanuel Messianic Synagogue, we honor Shabbat (the sabbath) on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. Every week, individuals and families set aside the day to rest from regular weekday routines. We spend the day singing songs, studying Scripture, sharing meals, and enjoying fellowship.

Exodus 20 is among the earliest examples of the biblical command to rest on Shabbat. This occurs in the ten commandments:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (ESV)

This passage mentions the story of creation as one of the reasons for keeping Shabbat. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day. Likewise, we rest from our creative activities every seventh day in imitation of him.

Early Believers and Shabbat

The history and tradition identifying Saturday as the Sabbath is strong. It dates back as far as we can track the history of the Jewish people.

In the Gospels, we can see Yeshua (Jesus) participating in Shabbat along with other Jewish people. Luke 4 says that Jesus’ custom was to attend synagogue on Shabbat. The early followers of Yeshua kept Shabbat as well (Luke 23:56). Paul kept his custom of attending the synagogue on Shabbat long after the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 17:1-2).

When does the Sabbath start?

Today people usually think of days beginning and ending at midnight. But Shabbat actually begins at sunset on Friday, and it lasts until after dark on Saturday. This is because the ancient Israelites kept track of days by sunlight. Without a clock, it is difficult to know when midnight occurs, but it is easy to see when the sun goes down.

The story of creation describes each day by saying, "there was evening and there was morning" (Genesis 1:1-2:3). So in Jewish thought, evening is the start of the day.

Connecting

One of the most beautiful attributes of Shabbat is the time spent with friends and family. The meals and services throughout the day bring us together and unite us in a unique way. We get to know each other and become part of each other’s lives through the rhythm that Shabbat sets for us.

We do not only spend this time to connect with one another, but we also take this time to connect with God. Through the prayers said and the scriptures read every week, we listen to the words uttered by God, his people, his prophets, and his son, Yeshua.

Someone outside of the Beth Immanuel community may wonder what it is we do on Saturdays. As a Messianic synagogue, Beth Immanuel operates within a traditional Jewish framework. Like the rest of the Jewish community, we take part in the traditional prayers and scripture reading cycles. We do this as both Jews and Gentiles unified in discipleship to our master, Yeshua of Nazareth. We encourage you to come by sometime to check it out, stay for lunch, and enjoy the peace of Shabbat.

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Our Messianic Synagogue is located in historic Hudson, Wisconsin, just minutes away from St. Paul, Minnesota.

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