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Watch 2022 online sermons » Jonathan Bernis » Jonathan Bernis - Shabbat, God's Invitation to Rest

Jonathan Bernis - Shabbat, God's Invitation to Rest


Jonathan Bernis - Shabbat, God's Invitation to Rest
TOPICS: Sabbath

Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to Jewish Voice. I'm Jonathan Bernis and I'm so glad that you've decided to join us today. My co-host again is Ezra Benjamin, and today, Ezra, we're going to talk about a weekly celebration that is so profound, yet missed by so many believers. This is actually a biblical celebration of God's creation.

Ezra Benjamin: Right. It's one of the Ten Commandments, Jonathan, and yet, we overlook it. We miss it in the busyness of life.

Jonathan Bernis: We do, and let me say this. Shabbat has never changed. It's always been the seventh day. It's never changed. Sunday is not shabbat. Sunday is the first day of the week. We don't believe that shabbat should replace the first day of the week. We don't believe that the first day of the week should replace shabbat. Shabbat is shabbat. It's the seventh day, it's Saturday. Sunday is the first day of the week and we don't advocate that this is some requirement for every Christian. This isn't about legalism. This isn't about bondage. This is about the blessings of God.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: This is about enjoying rest. This is about family. Those are the three things we want to talk about today. We want to talk about rest. We are supposed to rest, Ezra. We're gonna talk about rest. We also want to talk about family, because family is so important, and family, if you haven't noticed, is under attack today. It's under attack, especially in the United States. But in Europe and wherever else you're watching, family is under attack. And then the final thing - blessing. Ezra, we don't bless enough. The Bible talks so much about blessing. We're supposed to bless the Lord. We're supposed to bless our families. We're supposed to bless our spouse. We're supposed to bless each other. We need to do a better job of blessing. And so, shabbat is a wonderful celebration that hasn't been eradicated, but we're not saying that you should give up your Sunday worship. We want you to go to church if you go to church now, but we want you to understand the richness of shabbat. So, let's dig in, Ezra.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah. Well, Jonathan, first, the idea of rest, as you shared - you know, I'm thinking in the age of smartphones, nothing is off limits, it seems. People can get your attention anytime, anywhere, any way, and "Rest" is almost a bad word in society because we're so productivity driven, and yet God knew how he made us and he said, "I know that you need a rest every week, or you're not gonna make it, you're gonna burn out". And so, he's given us this invitation, as you said, every Saturday to enter into rest. It's really an incredible invitation.

Jonathan Bernis: It is. You know, even the land... God commands that the land rests. We need rest, and it's not about some ordinance, and it's not about some legalistic requirement. It's about a day that God has set aside for us. Shabbat is for man, not man for shabbat.

Ezra Benjamin: That's absolutely right.

Jonathan Bernis: And it can be any day you choose to rest, but it doesn't mean that the day of shabbat has changed. Take a day to rest, but we also believe in the value of the seventh day. Especially for Jewish believers in Jesus and those that are called to be a light to the Jewish people, shabbat is shabbat, and it's the seventh day. God declares in his word that after he created the world, he saw that everything was good. And Ezra, you mentioned this before. I've heard you say this, that this is the only day that's actually sanctified by the Lord himself.

Ezra Benjamin: Not just the only day, Jonathan, but it's actually... Check your Bible, confirm this. We challenge you. Check it for yourselves. It's the first thing in creation that God calls holy. He creates, you know, man, and he creates the oceans, and the dry land, and the sun and the moon and the stars, and he says it's very good, but he doesn't call it holy. When he creates the seventh day, God rested on the seventh day, he ceased from all his work, and he sanctified it. He made it holy - first thing in all creation to be called holy.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, it's in Genesis 2, where we're told in verse 3, "Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, for on it he ceased from all his work that God created for the purpose of preparing". So, God rests on the seventh day.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: Now, how he does that in light of the fact that he's everywhere all the time is a big debate among rabbis.

Ezra Benjamin: Right, exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: For thousands of years. But somehow, God rests and he rested on the seventh day.

Ezra Benjamin: And he gives us that example, not just the example, but the commandment to do it. Jonathan, a couple of years ago, I was really feeling, you know, with the pressures of life and ministry leadership, like I was on the edge of burnout, and I remember one day I was praying, "Lord, I need a season of rest," and I really felt like the Lord impressed on me, "I gave you an invitation every week to rest. Start with that". And when I started that, really took the shabbat and put it back into my life, everything changed.

Jonathan Bernis: When we don't... and again, we're not advocating that you keep shabbat on shabbat. We're advocating a day of rest, but we also feel that... I feel, and we at Jewish Voice feel, that shabbat is a great opportunity for more than just rest. We'll get into that in just a second, but I want to say this. If you don't take a day to rest, your body will suffer. Your mind will suffer. You will have spiritual consequences. It's spirit, soul, and body we've been commanded to rest.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. And interestingly, Jonathan, you know, the Bible says in Genesis 1, "There was evening and there was morning the first day," and then it goes on. And so, on the Jewish weekly calendar, shabbat begins Friday night and it goes till sunset Saturday. So, that's the seventh day. From Friday night we finish our weekly activities and it's that invitation from Friday night all the way to the next night to just rest, to abide in him.

Jonathan Bernis: So, three things. One is rest. You need a day of rest. You will suffer without a day of rest. I want to encourage you, and maybe you're watching the program for the first time or you very rarely watch Jewish Voice. You're watching because God wanted you to hear this. Take a day to rest. And then, family, that's another... Family is under attack today, Ezra.

Ezra Benjamin: Right, it is. Jonathan, the demands against smartphones, the demands of life, and urgencies, and sports practice, and whatever it is, piano lessons, and all of us are working so many hours a week, and it seems like family's the first thing to kind of suffer.

Jonathan Bernis: And I have a teenager now, and with volleyball practice and all of the other activities and friends, the family is suffering the loss of always being together. Everybody's scattered.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Shabbat is a day that's set aside for family.

Ezra Benjamin: Family is so important, to just our stability as individuals. It's important to the heart of God, and of course, because it's important to the heart of God, Jonathan, it's something the enemy is attacking, and using our rhythm of life and society to do that.

Jonathan Bernis: Like never before. Like never before. Families are being invaded. One of my favorite pictures of the church, or definitions of the church, is "The household of faith". "The household of faith," the Ecclesia - the called out ones, the household of faith, and when it talks in 1 Timothy about the requirements of an elder, "He must govern his household," because if he can't govern his household, he can't govern the household of faith. Shabbat is that one day of the week where we say, "Time out, everyone. Hold it. Everybody is coming together and we are going to fellowship around the shabbat table. We're not going to have the television on. We're not going to have smartphones or tablets at the table. We are going to fellowship with each other, and we are going to bless each other, and we are going to bless God together".

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly. So, it's that one day a week that we really guard, and it has to be guarded because there are so many things that are vying for that attention and that time where we say, "I'm not gonna allow my family - as a head of household, I'm not gonna allow my family, my spouse, my children, to pursue individual pursuits. We're gonna come together, we're gonna be together, we're gonna build our family".

Jonathan Bernis: And I think this is a truth that observant Jews have retained that the church should pay attention to.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: In an orthodox household, especially an ultra-orthodox household, they are preparing for a full day for shabbat. This is a big event.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: So, from Friday morning, or even Thursday night, the women are preparing the food. And I'm not saying that men can't, I'm talking about the ultra-orthodox household. You can join in and do this, too. But, preparing for this event, and we welcome in, we usher in the shabbat, because this is a celebration. Ezra, this is a holiday. This is a time that the Lord has set aside for you and for your family to be anchored as family.

Ezra Benjamin: That's absolutely right. In Orthodox Jewish communities, as you said, it's actually the most important day of the week. It's not shabbat is the little break between all of the other important stuff, everything builds up to that day of togetherness, rest, and worship.

Jonathan Bernis: And some celebrate in hotels and you can see how important it is, just by the preparation going on in the hotel. There's special foods. It's an event.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: And there's a couple of things that we have that are representative of shabbat. The first is the candles. The woman, the matriarch of the home, with the girls, light the candles, and they're setting aside this day from other days. Talk about that.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, Jonathan, there's actually two candles, and as you said, the woman lights the candles. Why? Because we recognize that a woman brought men, brought people into the world, and secondly, that a woman would bring the redeemer into the world. It's another promise in Genesis that out of the seed of woman would come the promised Messiah. And so, when the woman, the head of... The matriarch, as you said, of that home lights those candles, she's bringing light, she's bringing life into the home and we recognize that she does that. She brings life into the world.

Jonathan Bernis: And I love the prayer that we have. It's a Messianic prayer. It's a little bit different than the traditional prayer, but it says this. "Blessed are you, Lord our God, king of the universe, who sanctifies us with his commandments, and commanded us to be a light to the nations, and who gave us Yeshua, Jesus our Messiah, the light of the world". So, we not only celebrate Yeshua as the light of life, but also a reminder that we're called to be a light in a dark world. There's so much more to talk about, but we have to take a short break as our announcer comes to tell you about some very special resources that we want to sow into your life this week, shabbat resources. This is an anchor for you and for your family. So, don't go away, we'll be right back after this.

Jonathan Bernis: Welcome back. We're talking about shabbat, and Ezra, three themes that run through shabbat. Rest - we need to rest. You need to rest. Some of you are exhausted. You need to rest. One day a week, rest. And then, family. Oh, my goodness, family is under attack. And the Lord wants to restore families.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen. And central to that restoration, Jonathan, is this idea of keeping a shabbat together. Once a week, stop what you're doing, stop your individual pursuits, and come together as a family to worship the Lord, but also very practically, just to be together, to rest together.

Jonathan Bernis: Absolutely. So, family, and many of you may be widows, you may be empty nesters. Get your grown kids, get the grandkids over, and celebrate a shabbat together, and the third thing that's connected with shabbat is blessing.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: We bless God. We bless each other. We bless our visitors. We bless the baby in the mother's womb. There's prayers for everything! What's important is speaking blessing. One of the things that sets us apart from all of God's creation is articulate speech, and how is that speech to be used? For blessing!

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. Shabbat is an opportunity, one by one, family member by family member, friend by friend, and of course, blessing the Lord, to just speak those words of life and blessing.

Jonathan Bernis: Ezra, 'cause it's intentional. It's an intentional day set aside where we gather around the table, cell phones off, television off, outside interferences off. It's about God, it's about each other, it's about a meal together, and there's something that's so uniting. We're spreading out during the week. We're scattered. But, we're back around the shabbat table, and it does make a difference. People ask me, "Why do Jewish people have...Why have they been able to retain a strong family life"? And the answer is shabbat in large part. That's one big reason. And so, we make the prayers easy. We have them available for you. So, it's very, very simple. There's not a lot of liturgy. It's not complex. First thing we do is we light the candles. Why?

Ezra Benjamin: Right. We light the candles, Jonathan, because we remember, one, that God gives us the light, the light of life, and especially the light of the world, Yeshua, Jesus. But specifically, the mother or the matriarch in the household lights the candles, because we remember that a woman brought life into the world, and secondly, that a woman brings the Messiah into the world, right? Out of her seed would come the one who is to be the ruler of nations and ultimately the redeemer of all mankind. And so, we light the candles, and something else interesting is happening with the lighting of the candles. It's that the children of Israel were commanded not to kindle a fire on the shabbat, which means don't do your work on the sabbath. So, we light these candles to make that distinction. The candles are lit. We're ceasing our work. We're ceasing our striving. We're abiding and resting in the Lord.

Jonathan Bernis: So, it's setting aside the day. And then, another thing we're blessing is what we call, "The fruit of the vine". So, it's either wine or it's grape juice. I'm not going down that road. But, it's the fruit of the vine and we have a simple prayer, and we offer that prayer to you as part of what we want to provide for you this week, and we're simply praying, "Blessed are you, o Lord our God, king of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine".

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: And then, we're partaking of the fruit of the vine, and it reminds me of the words of Jesus. "I am the vine, you are the branches: if you abide in me, you will bear fruit". And then, we have a special bread here. Talk about the bread.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah. Jonathan, these are called, and you've got to get a little phlegmy to say it. It's "Challah," or "Challot" when there's two of them, in the plural. The challah - frankly, it's a delicious bread, eggy, a little bit sweet depending on how you make it. It's my favorite bread of the week, and there's two here. Why do you have two? Even if you have a small family, you generally want to have two loaves. And again, it's to remember that when God instituted the shabbat, that rest for his people, he said, "I want you to make a double portion for yourselves on the sixth day," on Friday, "So that you have through the shabbat," so you don't have to work. So, Jonathan, we enjoy a double portion, two loaves of challah, on Friday night every week, remembering that we don't have to work, we don't have to strive, on the sabbath.

Jonathan Bernis: And again, it's braided bread. It's special, it's unique, it makes the day different from other days.

Ezra Benjamin: You're right, Jonathan, and there's actually a special prayer that we say. It's a blessing, not blessing the bread, but blessing the Lord who provided the bread, and it goes like this in Hebrew. "Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, melech haolam, hamotzi lechem min haaretz". And what does that mean in English? It's, "Blessed are you, Lord our God, king of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth". And for those of us who are believers in Jesus, in Yeshua, our Messiah, we can even add, "Even Yeshua, the bread of life," because we know Yeshua said, "Man doesn't live by bread alone, but in every word that comes from the mouth of God," and he told his disciples, "I am the bread of life: if you partake of me, you will never hunger".

Jonathan Bernis: And blessing the Lord and thanking him for the provision of bread is part of, "The Lord's prayer".

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: So, this is essential. This ties in to, "The Lord's prayer". I love that prayer because I think of Yeshua, Jesus, as the bread of life who's coming forth from there. He's buried in the ground and resurrected. I think of the resurrection when I break that challah and spread it around. It's so delicious. You need to try it. And then, the next thing we do before we eat is we bless each other. And we pray over the kids. My wife and i, we'll pray over our children. We'll declare God's goodness over their lives. "May they be like Ruth and like Esther. May they be like Sarah, and Rachel, and Rebecca, and leah, and may they come to be in Israel a shining name, and may they walk with God in a deep way". And then with the kids, we pray over my wife, over their mother, and we speak forth Proverbs 31. And then, they pray over me, usually that I'll be home more often, 'cause I travel a lot. And then, we thank the Lord together and we eat a great meal. God cares about your rest. He cares about your family, and he cares about you being blessed and being a blessing, and that's what shabbat is about.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right, Jonathan. We want to be blessed and we want to be a blessing, and maybe you're watching at home and something inside you is saying, "I need to do this," but you go, "Where do I start? We've never done this before. My family doesn't get together often. It's awkward for me to speak blessing over my family. We don't normally do that". Just start. We can promise you from experience, that clunky start will become a beautiful tradition. Your family will crave it. You guys will wait till shabbat.

Jonathan Bernis: This is so easy. This is so doable. This is not legalism, number one. This is not about, "Oh, are you asking me to keep the law"? No, we're asking you to celebrate a day that God has set aside as a day of rest to anchor your family together, and it works. That's what's so important. So, it's not legalism. It's not under the law, and it's not a Jewish thing. This isn't about a, "Well, that's a Jewish thing, not a Christian thing". We're talking about a universal truth that's in the Ten Commandments, that on the seventh day, we rest. And if you don't rest on the seventh day, it's still shabbat, but find a day where you can rest and you do rest, because rest matters. Ezra, the other thing that is so wonderful about shabbat is that it's a way to build relationships with people outside the family. So, we invite our neighbors, we invite co-workers, and we bless them. We are taking that time knowing that whoever we're inviting over, we're inviting them over not just to feed them a good meal, which is nice, but we're gonna lay hands on them and we're gonna declare the goodness of God over them, and it matters.

Ezra Benjamin: It does matter. It can be life-changing. Jonathan, I think ultimately for me in choosing to observe a shabbat and what a blessing it's been, it was ultimately a step of faith, and it was saying I believe that God can do more in his strength through me in six days than I can do in my own strength in seven. And it was a choice, but it changed my life. It was one of the most important choices ever.

Jonathan Bernis: I want to also address again people that are single that are watching, and maybe that's speaking directly to someone that's lost a spouse, that's an empty nester, maybe recently an empty nester, and you have a great concern for your grandchildren. They might not be walking with the Lord. Invite them over to your home and have a shabbat meal, and speak blessings over them. They don't have to be the blessings that we provide. They can be an impromptu blessing, but speak life to them, speak spiritual life to them, speak what God has already promised over them. Speak spiritual health. Speak restoration. Declare over them that they will walk with God. God has declared this for you and your household, and shabbat is a delivery system for the blessings of God, Ezra. Speaking of blessing, Ezra and I want to bless you. We want to pray over you and we want to pray over your family. But first, we have to take a short break so our announcer can share some information about the resources that we're making available this week. Please consider supporting Jewish Voice and help us meet the needs of Jewish people. They desperately need our help. Here's how you can get involved.

Jonathan Bernis: Ezra, we try to take time in every program to pray for people in need. We get lots of prayer requests and we want to bless you. We were created to be a blessing and our mouths are to speak life. The power of the tongue brings life - life, life, life. So, we speak life to you, and we just agree with you, whatever your need is. We take authority over sickness, over poverty, over the spirit of division, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, and we speak life to you. We say be healed. We say the provision is met. We speak blessing and we say, the Lord bless you, the Lord keep you, the Lord shine his countenance upon you, and give you his peace. In the name of Yeshua, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, blessing, blessing, blessing. Amen and amen. Hey, if you'd like more information about our ministry or if you have a need that you'd like us to pray for, we will pray for you by name. We are committed to you. You can log on to our website, it's jewishvoice.tv, and then submit your prayer request, or whatever, a question you have. I love hearing from you, and I want you to know that we care about you and we do pray for your needs. So, write to us this week. As we close, I also want to remind you to do what God tells us to do. Psalm 122:6, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: may they prosper who love thee". So, pray this week for Israel and for the Jewish people. They need our prayers, and that Jewish person is not in your life by accident. This is Jonathan Bernis with Ezra Benjamin, saying God bless you and shalom.
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