The title question above has been a struggle for True Believers. As we draw closer to Yahshua’s return, our quest for a better way of praise and worship should be in our thoughts and actions especially on Yahweh’s Sabbath.
Some, most often those in or just coming out of churchianity may have a pre-conceived notion on how observing a “holy day” may be accomplished. The world and mainstream churchianity have melded their observances of holy days into pleasure fests. Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving are just a few that come to mind. One does not need to be religious or even a Bible believer to participate in these worldly/churchianity holidays.
Unfortunately, many of the traditions of Sunday keeping also remain with some Sabbath-keeping individuals. If we look closely at the observances of Sunday keeping churchianity and their celebrations of holy days we see similarities. Sunday keepers: Church Services, then maybe going out to eat at a favorite restaurant, football games or other sports watched on TV. Mowing the lawn or other laborious tasks may be on the agenda for the nominal Sunday keeper. Kids involved with all of the above including the addition of playing sports or other activities unrelated to church or religious Sunday keeping.
Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving: Church Services (for more devout Sunday Keepers) then maybe a large family meal (sometimes at a restaurant) followed by sports on TV. Some families have traditions of playing certain sports on that particular day like a “family football game”. Some families have a tradition of going to the movie theatre to see a holy day themed film (for instance ‘Scrooged’ on Chri-tmas). Interestingly enough most will abstain from working or shopping on these days, mostly, I think, because the stores have either limited or no hours on these days.
A question might come to mind; how is the writer of this article placing well intentioned True Seventh-Day Sabbath keepers in the classification with Sunday keepers? It seems almost offensive at the very thought!
To answer this question we must make a comparison to the way some keep the Seventh-Day Sabbath in our faith to the way the world keeps Sunday. As a casual observer attending various assemblies and congregations, I report what I see, as well as what the leadership proclaims to be “OK”. This is not a blanket comparison. Some groups do not condone or allow children to play sports on Shabbat. The Assemblies that do allow their children to play sports seem to have similar structures for their Sabbath Day events:
First, attending Sabbath Services, then partaking of a meal, afterwards the adults sit around and discuss Scripture or other topics, while the younger children play or talk with their peers. The older children will most likely go outside and talk, and some will participate in sports such as throwing a football or even a team event. Some congregations will even have organized tournaments for basketball or other sports. Usually after sunset many will go home.
Now we must go to the authority of the Scriptures so we can justify in Yahweh’s Word the dos and donts of our Sabbath keeping events. First, what does Yahweh command us to do on the Sabbath he created? We must begin at the “Beginning”, taking us to Genesis (Bereshit) 2:
“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their array. And on the seventh day Elohim completed His work which He had done, and He rested (H7673) on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And Elohim blessed the seventh day and set it apart, because on it He rested (H7673) from all His work which Elohim in creating had made.” Gen 1:1-3 The Scriptures 1998
We must focus on the word “rested” to gain the proper understanding of what Elohim was doing on that day.
בת shâbath shaw-bath'
A primitive root; to repose, that is, desist from exertion; used in many implied relations (causatively, figuratively or specifically): - (cause to, let, make to) cease, celebrate, cause (make) to fail, keep (Sabbath), suffer to be lacking, leave, put away (down), (make to) rest, rid, still, take away.
We may learn from this Strong’s definition many things, but I will focus on the term “desist from exertion”, rest, put away (down). It could be gained by the above definition that Elohim ceased from His laborious work, rested and celebrated the first Sabbath recorded in Scripture. Going through these verses might be a review for most of us but it is important to get a contextual relationship with our definitions as we use them throughout this study. As we move on to Exodus. 16 we have the opportunity to apply Sabbath to man and how he is commanded to keep the Set-Apart Day.
“And it came to be, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Mosheh. And he said to them, “This is what יהוה has said, ‘Tomorrow is a rest (H7677), a Sabbath set-apart to יהוה. That which you bake, bake; and that which you cook, cook. And lay up for yourselves all that is left over, to keep it until morning.’ ” And they laid it up till morning, as Mosheh commanded. And it did not stink, and no worm was in it. And Mosheh said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to יהוה, today you do not find it in the field. “Gather it six days, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there is none.” And it came to be that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And יהוה said to Mosheh, “How long shall you refuse to guard My commands and My Torot? Footnote: Torot - plural of Torah, teaching. “See, because יהוה has given you the Sabbath, therefore He is giving you bread for two days on the sixth day. Let each one stay in his place, do not let anyone go out of his place on the seventh day.” So the people rested (H7673) on the seventh day.” Exodus 16:22-30
The above definition in verse 23 for rest is H7677:
שׁבּתון shabbâthôn shab-baw-thone'
From H7676; a sabbatism or special holiday: - rest, Sabbath.
This is a very interesting set of verses because Yahweh institutes a punishment on those who chose to go out and look for more manna on the set-apart day, even though He had already provided a double portion the day before...
In this short remedial study we can ascertain that it is important to rest from laborious work, celebrate the Sabbath, and not go against Yahweh’s command of doing on the set-apart day that we would on the other six days. Hence the term “Set-Apart Day”. Now, again, back to the question “How is the writer of this article placing well intentioned, True Seventh-Day Sabbath keepers in the classification with Sunday keepers?” If we choose to look at the Set-Apart day as we would any of the other six days we have already made a critical mistake. If we choose to do as the world does on the Sabbath, we would be watching or playing sports, going to restaurants, going to worldly events. All of these would be inappropriate. One might ask, WHY? In Isaiah 58 we find a solid answer:
“And those from among you shall build the old waste places. You shall raise up the foundations of many generations. And you would be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. “If you do turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My set-apart day, and shall call the Sabbath ‘a delight,’ the set-apart day of יהוה ‘esteemed,’ and shall esteem it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in יהוה. And I shall cause you to ride on the heights of the earth, and feed you with the inheritance of Yaʽaqoḇ your father. For the mouth of יהוה has spoken!” Isaiah 58:12-14
We find that the world and churchianity are striving to do their own pleasure on their Sunday and holy days. Should True Believers do this as well? Absolutely not! We need to strive to follow the example of Scripture and do as Yahweh would have us do, and it will be a delight. Our children playing on the Sabbath is the main topic of this study, so how do we involve the above passages and commentary for them on the set-apart day?It’s very simple. Once again, we look towards Scripture to define what is appropriate. Proverbs 22 is a great place to start:
Train up a child (H5288) in the way he should go, Even when he is old he turns not away from it. Proverbs 22:6
נער na‛ar nah'-ar
From H5287; (concretely) a boy (as active), from the age of infancy to adolescence; by implication a servant; also (by interchange of sex), a girl (of similar latitude in age): - babe, boy, child, damsel [from the margin], lad, servant, young (man).
Also, allowing our children to have worldly discussions, with friends or others, would result in them breaking the command to “nor speaking your own words” found in Isaiah 58? Isaiah, speaking Yahweh’s truth says this in chapter 56:
“Thus said יהוה, “Guard right-ruling, and do righteousness, for near is My deliverance to come, and My righteousness to be revealed. “Blessed is the man who does this, and the son (H1121) of man who lays hold on it, guarding the Sabbath lest he profane it, and guarding his hand from doing any evil. “And let not the son (H1121) of the foreigner who has joined himself toיהוה speak, saying, ‘יהוה has certainly separated me from His people,’ nor let the eunuch say, ‘Look, I am a dry tree.’" Isaiah 56:1-3
בּן bên bane
From H1129; a son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of literal and figurative relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition, etc., (like H1, H251, etc.): - + afflicted, age, [Ahoh-] [Ammon-] [Hachmon-] [Lev-]ite, [anoint-]ed one, appointed to, (+) arrow, [Assyr-] [Babylon-] [Egypt-] [Grec-]ian, one born, bough, branch, breed, + (young) bullock, + (young) calf, X came up in, child, colt, X common, X corn, daughter, X of first, + firstborn, foal, + very fruitful, + postage, X in, + kid, + lamb, (+) man, meet, + mighty, + nephew, old, (+) people, + rebel, + robber, X servant born, X soldier, son, + spark, + steward, + stranger, X surely, them of, + tumultuous one, + valiant[-est], whelp, worthy, young (one), youth.
According to these verses above it refers to a (blessed) man, and the son of man, who are keeping/guarding the Sabbath and not letting his hand do evil. There is nothing in the verse that allows the reader to assume that the son is keeping Sabbath differently than the father. Some would have you believe that it is a burden or grievous for a child to not play on Sabbath. They will give all sorts of excuses for the child. However, as we find in some New Testament passages nothing could be further than the truth.
“The one who says, “I know Him,” and does not guard His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoever guards His Word, truly the love of Elohim has been perfected in him.” 1 John 2:4-5
Even more fitting:
By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 1 John 5:2-3
Observing/guarding, thinking about, and doing Yahweh’s commands are not burdensome or grievous. Why then do some teach their children that they are? There is nothing in Yahweh’s word that would point to supporting playing on Sabbath for adults or children. Just making this claim reminds me of Exo. 32, focus on verse 6:
“And all the people took off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aharon. And he took this from their hand, and he formed it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. And they said, “This is your mighty one, O Yisra’ĕl, that brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim!” And Aharon saw and built an altar before it. And Aharon called out and said, “Tomorrow is a festival to יהוה.” And they rose early on the next day, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. And יהוה said to Mosheh, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Mitsrayim have corrupted themselves. Exodus 32:3-7
צחק tsâchaq tsaw-khak'
A primitive root; to laugh outright (in merriment or scorn); by implication to sport: - laugh, mock, play, make sport.
Brethren, I urge you to search out this matter in more detail, as these are your children that will be affected into their adulthood. I urge you to pray and fast over these so that your understanding will be clear and unobstructed. Please bring forth the question to your leadership to why they might allow the children or adults attending to play sports on Yahweh’s set-apart day. If their answer is one from psychology or from their own will it will not reflect Yahweh’s Word. If their answer isn’t based on Scripture then pray and fast and ask Yahweh for His direction on the subject. Yahweh will prayerfully help you and guide you to a better situation. May You Be Blessed in Yahweh’s Truth,