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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Jonathan Bernis » Jonathan Bernis - The Beauty of Shabbat

Jonathan Bernis - The Beauty of Shabbat

Jonathan Bernis - The Beauty of Shabbat
TOPICS: Sabbath, Rest in God

Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to Jewish Voice. I'm Jonathan Bernis and I'm joined by my co-host Ezra Benjamin. Well, as many of us approach life we struggle to find a balance between work and rest. We live in a fast-paced society and many of us don't take time to rest. That can lead to exhaustion, illness, and will actually make you less productive in life. Ezra, God really cares that we rest. In fact, we don't work for rest. We work out of rest.

Ezra Benjamin: We work from rest.

Jonathan Bernis: We work from rest, and you were making a point earlier to me that the Jewish day starts with rest. Talk about that.

Ezra Benjamin: The Jewish, yeah, the Jewish week, in fact, starts with rest. It's really the seventh day of the week on God's calendar when it says in Genesis 2 that God rested. And actually, Jonathan, the seventh day of the week called in the Hebrew, the shabbat, or we translate it the sabbath, is the first thing in all creation that God calls holy. But God makes this distinction, "I'm gonna work for six days. I'm gonna create the heavens and the earth for six days. But then the seventh day I'm gonna cease from my creative work and I'm gonna enjoy the goodness of what I've made". And then we see actually, through Moses and the Ten Commandments. The fourth commandment says, "Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy". So, there's this invitation, really a commandment for the Jewish people, but an invitation for all of us to along with God cease from our creative work one day a week, and to enjoy the goodness and the abundance of what he's made. And I think as much as it's an invitation, God knows the way he made you and me. He knows that we need to rest. Jonathan, our society, I mean, I'm thinking with smartphones now and the barrage of emails, and ads, and promotions, coming your way from every direction, when is the last time society invited you to take a break? It doesn't happen.

Jonathan Bernis: It doesn't happen. And as a result, we're actually less productive.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Our families are being torn apart.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: And shabbat becomes an anchor day to rest and to bring family together.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: And I was sharing, this is our second program on this. I really encourage you to go back and watch part one if you've haven't seen it. And we're gonna talk about the traditions, some of the traditions that are part of the shabbat in a Jewish family, and how they apply to you as a follower of Jesus, as a Christian. I'm amazed when I think of the idea of God resting, the Creator of the universe. The en - it's so intentional and God rested. And I wanna put the scripture in Genesis 2 again that it says that God actually set this day apart. He declared shabbat, the day of rest, to be a holy day. It's set apart.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: From all other days.

Ezra Benjamin: And that's actually the idea in Hebrew. Maybe you've heard this before maybe you haven't, but the word in Hebrew for holy is kadosh and literally it means, "Set apart unto the Lord". And makes this distinction one day of the week. On the Hebrew calendar, on the Jewish calendar it's because the Jewish day begins at sundown not in the morning when the sun rises. It's Friday at sunset until Saturday at sunset on the Jewish calendar. He says, "I'm setting this apart. I'm setting this as kadosh. This belongs to me. This is holy".

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah.

Ezra Benjamin: It's time for us to remember who he is and that he rests.

Jonathan Bernis: This is not about legalism. This is not about keeping the law. It's unfortunate that we even have to talk about that because of this grace versus law distinction that somehow, they're in opposition. Certainly, salvation through the works of the law is clearly wrong. It's by grace that we're saved through faith, but shabbat is a grace.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: It's part of the grace of...

Ezra Benjamin: An invitation to blessing.

Jonathan Bernis: It is.

Ezra Benjamin: What do we mean by grace? A means by which God invites us into blessing, right? That's the whole idea.

Jonathan Bernis: And this is a blessing that I honestly missed for many years until I was a husband and parent and realized, this is an important childhood observance that I need to return to.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, you know, Jonathan, I'm thinking I was, kind of share a testimony here. Years ago, probably five years ago now, and I was at Jewish Voice, and I was doing the work of the Lord, right. We're all, you know, doing ministry and there's always more to do, and I was running myself ragged. And one day, it was actually, it was a shabbat. It was a Saturday afternoon, I remembered it was during Sukkot, the feast of tabernacles. And I was praying, reading my Bible and I said, "God, I just need a rest. I just need a season of rest" and I felt like the Lord spanked me on the behind a little bit. He said, "I gave you rest every week, but you don't take it. Why don't you start there"? And I was rebuked, but it was a loving rebuke. And so, that weekend actually, I started, again, to set aside that one day a week for rest, as holy. It belongs to the Lord and he's given it to us as a gift. My life has never been the same.

Jonathan Bernis: Let me throw out an idea for you. What about a day that you spend with your family, you spend with the Lord, and you actually turn off your phone, turn off your laptop, actually, consider not even answering the phone. Just think about this. And actually, recharging and spending time with family. Think about that. Maybe it's novel to you. "Well, that's a Jewish thing". It's interesting that this is the fourth commandment.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Of the Ten Commandments. And I'm sure most of us watching would say, "Of course the Ten Commandments is still in effect. Of course, murder is wrong. Of course, we should honor our parents".

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: "Of course, we shouldn't lie". Right.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: But then you have the fourth, "Keep the sabbath".

Ezra Benjamin: Right. And people say, "Well, that was law time, now it's grace time". But maybe the Lord actually knows how he made us, and he actually knows we need rest.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, maybe we're actually supposed to keep the shabbat. Not as legalism, but to actually accept the invitation to enter into God's rest. I think it'll change your life. Not only that can change your family.

Ezra Benjamin: Can change our families indeed, you know. And somebody said to me years ago, Jonathan, and it's really become a way of remembering what the spirit of the shabbat, the sabbath is. And they said, "God can do more through us in his strength in six days than we can do in our own strength and striving in seven days". And, you know, you have children. I don't have children yet, but my wife and I are thinking about what life will be like when we do. And we're asking, "What's the life that we're gonna model for our kids"? And if we don't take a sabbath day, what we're modeling is that we're actually slaves to our to-do list. We're slaves to the demands of life. But think about the generation shaping blessing that you and I can model if we actually cease one day. Because what we're saying is, "We belong to the Lord. We don't belong to our to-do list". There is a higher authority in our life than the demands coming to us.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, and we're not suggesting some legalistic adherence.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: We're talking about resting, just resting.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.

Jonathan Bernis: We're not laboring to make a living. We're not engaging in our vocation, in my case, your case, in ministry.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: Which is what we do every day. The things that we do every day is part of our professional life, our ministry call. We're setting aside to just focus on the Lord, focus on our families. And, you know, we do a lot of things that are fun. We do fun things.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: You know, our family Bible studies are fun. We love doing it. And it's really been something that's kept our family together. And I wanna tell you, it's one thing to have kids. It's another thing to have teenage kids. Right moms and dads? Right grandparents? They're running in different directions.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: And shabbat to keep them home to gather together for that shabbat dinner really makes a difference. We have to be intentional, I think, about countering the culture that pulls us apart. I think the enemy wants to destroy the family and I don't think it, I know it. And shabbat is one way to preserve the family unit.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen, amen.

Jonathan Bernis: To actually ground the family unit, it roots the family unit.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.

Jonathan Bernis: That's why shabbat is so important.

Ezra Benjamin: You know, it said, "A family that prays together, stays together". And I wondered, Jonathan, we coin the expression here, right on this program today. Maybe a family that rest together and that blesses one another also stays together.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, one of the most important commands for the Jewish people, and I think because you've been grafted in to the people of Abraham, this is, you're a son or daughter of Abraham. This is so important for you also when that's imparting to the children. We teach our children, we train our children, we prepare our children, and we recite the goodness of God and it becomes part of their life.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: I hate to break into this conversation, but I have to. We've been talking about rest and the shabbat. And we wanna share with you next how Jewish families practice this rest on shabbat and how it can apply to you and to your family. For all of us, the greatest rest, however, comes from a relationship with Yeshua, with Jesus. We wanna share some resources with you that will help you enter into God's rest. Here's how.

Jonathan Bernis: Welcome back, I wanna thank all of you for your support of Jewish Voice. It is greatly appreciated by myself, Ezra, and our entire staff. We're so grateful for you. We couldn't do what we do without you. Well, Ezra, many of our viewers heard us discussed Jewish culture in the celebration of shabbat and rest, but for those who are not Jewish, what practices are applicable to implement God's rest in our lives. Let's talk about that.

Ezra Benjamin: We'll spend a few minutes, Jonathan, we don't have much time. But we're gonna look real quickly at some elements that in almost any Jewish home in the world, no matter what country, Israel or where Jewish people are scattered among the nations. Anywhere the shabbat, the sabbath, is being observed, there's gonna be some kind of foundational things going on at that Friday night at sunset when Jewish people welcome in that sabbath day. And the first that I'm thinking of, Jonathan, is that the woman of the house will light candles and she'll say a blessing over the home. And the idea of lighting the candles, it's not actually a biblical commandment to light candles but why we do that in the Jewish tradition is to make a distinction, it's to say something is beginning here. And that comes from that scripture that we looked at earlier in the program from Genesis 2, that God set apart the seventh day of the week, the shabbat. He ceased from his labor, and he called it kadosh. He called it holy. Set apart for his purposes. And so, the woman of the house will take candlesticks, usually traditionally two, and she'll light those candles and say, "I'm declaring that my household is distinguishing this day, setting apart this day, as holy unto the Lord". That's the first element.

Jonathan Bernis: It's a beautiful thing. Anytime we light the candles there's also the idea that we're bringing light into the house.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: You know, that's what I love about hannukah, is we have the serving candle. And each night we're lighting an additional candle and it's getting brighter and brighter, and it reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: And we've been called to be light. So, it's a beautiful tradition. Now, let me talk about the bread, this is the challah. It's a braided, what would you call it? An egg bread.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah. But different people make it in different ways but big yeasty kind of bread, symbol of abundance.

Jonathan Bernis: Just another example, here's the traditional prayer over the bread, and we're commanded, by the way, to give thanks for the bread and God's provision. "Give us our daily bread," and we're thankful. We're blessing God for that. We're not blessing the food. We're blessing God for it. And we have the biblical accounts of Jesus breaking bread. I don't think it look like this. It looked more like a pita. But here is the prayer that he prayed, and the prayer that we pray on shabbat and include for you. "Barukh ata Adonai eloheinu melekh ha'olam hamotzi lehem min ha'aretz". Listen to the translation. "Blessed are you, o Lord, our God, king of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth".

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.

Jonathan Bernis: Now think of the imagery of that. Think of how deep this is. We're thanking God for the bread but also bringing forth bread from the earth. Is that an illusion to the bread of life who will be brought forth from the earth in resurrection.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: I don't know but it's, what great meaning or what does...

Ezra Benjamin: Yeshua said, "I'm the bread of life". And so, we're thanking God for actually creating a world that brings forth what we need for subsistence.

Jonathan Bernis: I love that.

Ezra Benjamin: That's what we're doing when we're blessing the bread.

Jonathan Bernis: And we're doing that on shabbat in particular as a family. And we're also praying over the fruit of the vine.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Now, your choice whether that's fermented or not. We're not gonna go into that.

Ezra Benjamin: For another program.

Jonathan Bernis: We're praying another prayer that has such great meaning, "Barukh ata Adonai eloheinu melekh ha'olam borei p'ri hagafen. Blessed are you, o Lord, our God, king of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine".

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Now, that should bring immediate recognition of the words of Yeshua who I think was alluding to this prayer. He was breaking bread and blessing the fruit of the vine and declared, "I am the vine".

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: "You are the branches". I want you to see how all of this connects to our relationship with the Lord. Our relationship with Jesus as our Savior, as our Messiah, as our redeemer. This is a great tradition. This is not the law. This is not bondage.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly, it's symbols that point to the goodness of the Lord. And two things, you know, we think about in our household, Jonathan, are that the bread and the wine. Bread is the idea of what we need, right, it's the stuff of life. And God is the God who provides the stuff of life. Wine or grape juice, fruit of the vine, we don't need that. It's a symbol of overflowing abundance. Right, a fruitfulness. And God's the God of overflowing abundance too. So, we're blessing the Lord who gives us what we need to live and the God of more than enough. Such a cool image.

Jonathan Bernis: And when we're doing it, we're following the scripture to teach our children, impart to our children. Don't leave the responsibility of spiritual growth for your children to your youth pastor, okay? This is a home project, and you need to take this seriously. This is part of Jewish tradition, and custom, and life, that should be applied by every follower of Jesus that you are imparting to your children, you're teaching them in everything you do.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: And so, when we're breaking the bread, giving God thanks, when we're blessing God for the fruit of the wine our kids are seeing this. And I shared the story that when my youngest daughter was about three years old, and she knew it was shabbat she would race to the drawer where everything was kept, and she would start bringing out all these elements.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, yeah. And think about that, right. The generations who come after us need to be blessed. They need your blessing. They need our blessing. Why not do that once a week on a shabbat? It's an invitation to bless to be blessed.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, and it will change the dynamic of your family. The enemy wants to pull your family apart. God is saying, "Come back together. Root your family". And shabbat is a family anchor. A family root.

Ezra Benjamin: In terms of blessing the family, Jonathan, you know, I'm thinking of a typical week. And I'm sorry to say, maybe you watching can relate. There are some things that come out of my mouth that maybe aren't such a blessing. Sometimes, even unfortunately to the people closest to us, the people we love. And yet, every sabbath, every shabbat, we have this opportunity to speak a better word. And I'm thinking of traditionally on the shabbat, you know, husbands bless their wives and say from Proverbs 31, "A virtuous woman who can find one like my wife? She's worth far more than rubies". And then the wives say to their husbands from Psalm 1, "Blessed is the man like my man who fears the Lord. He will surely be blessed". And we speak a blessing over our sons and say, "May God make you strong and courageous". And we bless our daughters and say, "May God make you virtuous like the mothers of Israel and the women of the Bible". It's such a different message than some of the other things we could say.

Jonathan Bernis: You know what? It's a little like communion. You have to clean the slate.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.

Jonathan Bernis: Come home, "I'm upset with my wife. I'm upset with my life. I'm upset with this and that". Mr. Grumpy.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: And then, you have to bless your spouse. You have to bless your children. And you just need to clear the air. And I feel like I'm in a confessional again. That happens sometimes and this is needed. It's like, "Oh, I better forgive. I better clean it up because I'm about to bless my spouse and my children".

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: And it changes your heart too.

Ezra Benjamin: It does.

Jonathan Bernis: Just you're angry at your kid because she didn't clean her room or something, and then you, "May you be like Ruth. May you be like Esther".

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.

Jonathan Bernis: "May you be like the great woman of..".

Ezra Benjamin: Sarah and Rachel.

Jonathan Bernis: Sarah and Rachel.

Ezra Benjamin: And may you also clean your room. But the idea, right? Is we're speaking words of life over our family, and that's part, Jonathan, in Jewish tradition and for all of us, part of the invitation to shabbat. It's not just an invitation to cease and to rest. It's an invitation to blessing.

Jonathan Bernis: Can I be honest? We do not bless our family members enough. Intentional blessing, "I bless you". We're called to speak blessing over our family, over our friends, over our loved ones. We're called to do that. And I think we live in a time where it's desperately, desperately needed. So, mothers, grandmothers, come on. Be the one that gets this going in your family and just drop the anchor and get your family blessing each other. It will make all the difference. Now, I know for many of you watching that are hearing about practicing shabbat, you need to enter into God's rest, and you need an anchor for your family. This may be it for you. Some of you are longing to find more rest in your own life today. We want to provide some resources to help you find that rest. And we're eager to pray with you for God's blessing, for God's blessing of peace and rest over you. That's coming up next, don't go away.

Jonathan Bernis: We leave time in every program to pray together for the needs we've received. We've received so many prayer requests this week. Maybe you have a real need, you send a prayer request or didn't we wanna agree with you right now, because God is listening, and he responds to prayer especially when we agree together in faith. So, Ezra, we just have a minute. Will you lift up the needs and they're so vast.

Ezra Benjamin: I will.

Jonathan Bernis: Many of you need a touch from God, so we want you to receive right now. So, reach out in faith.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, let's just invite the presence of the Lord. Lord, we thank you, Yeshua, that you say, "Your yoke is easy, and your burden is light". And so, for those who are feeling weary and heavy laden today, Lord, we pray that your perfect rest and your perfect shalom, your perfect peace which surpasses understanding would guard their hearts and their minds in you the Messiah, Jesus, Yeshua, the Savior, the light of the world, the Prince of Peace. Lord, we thank you that a rest for your people remains and it's in you. So, we pray, Lord, that we could do a divine exchange right now. All our anxieties, all the not yet's, the things we're worried about. Lord, we exchange those for your rest and your peace, right now in Yeshua's name. And that you that you're more than able to meet our needs, amen.

Jonathan Bernis: Amen and amen. Just receive that. That's for you. God, cares about you. Well, our website offers more information about shabbat. Far more than we can cover right now, so, you can go to our newly redesigned site, it's Jewish Voice. One word, to find more resources. Jewish Voice.Tv. Our team here at Jewish Voice is committed to read your prayer request and pray for you by name because we believe in the power of prayer, and we care about you. And more importantly, God cares about you. Well, as we close our program today, I wanna remind you to do your part which is to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The Bible says, "May they prosper who love thee," in Psalm 122:6. So, be a watchman on the walls of Jerusalem and pray for Israel and the Jewish people. Until next time, this is Jonathan Bernis and Ezra Benjamin saying, shalom and God bless you.
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