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Your Sabbath Invitation

Your Sabbath Invitation

There’s a prohibition in the Talmud, a code of ancient Jewish laws that goes back to the early centuries AD, that essentially forbids Gentiles (non-Jews) from keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. It compares this matter to a king and a queen who are sitting together privately, and a stranger (the Gentile) comes in between them, creating a disturbance. The Sabbath is, the Talmud claims, a gift between God and the Jews alone. 

Therefore, the Gentiles who keep the Sabbath, the Talmud continues, are chayav misa—worthy of death. In fact, if they keep any day as the Sabbath, the same punishment should apply.

With all due respect, the Talmud could not be more wrong.

Your Sabbath Invitation

There’s a joke among Jews: If you have three Jews, you have four opinions. In other words, not all Jews, even practicing Jews, even practicing Orthodox Jews, see all matters in the same light. This includes the question of non-Jews keeping the seventh-day Sabbath.

Enter David Nekrutman, an Orthodox Jew who lives in Israel. An international speaker and writer, David Nekrutman spent March of 2022 on an 18-day U.S. book tour promoting his new book, Your Sabbath Invitation. In it, Nekrutman does what the Talmud says shouldn’t be done: He promotes the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath by non-Jews, even by practicing Christians. In fact, if anyone should be keeping Sabbath beside the Jews, he says, it should be Christians.

Nekrutman explained, “I think most people have a very negative view of Sabbath. [Thus] the primary mission of the book is an invitation. This was an invitation from the dawn of creation, and it exists today for all.”

He does have a good point when he states that for many Christians, “the concept of Sabbath has been totally lost.” With few exceptions, most Christians don’t keep the seventh-day Sabbath at all. And though the majority of practicing Christians go to church on Sunday, very few, if any, make any serious attempt to keep the day holy.

It’s just the way it is—and has been for a long time now. “Anyone who is 30 or less,” he said, “definitely doesn’t even understand that their church service is viewed as a Sabbath.

The Seventh Day in Eden

Nekrutman wants to change that at several levels. He wants everyone—Jew and Gentile—to understand the great blessing that comes from keeping the seventh-day Sabbath, which was initiated not at Sinai by Moses, but in Eden by God.

Doesn’t the Bible say, after the six-day creation, that “on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made”? (Genesis 2:2, 3).

And did the Lord not sanctify the seventh day, the Sabbath, long before there were any Jews, who did not appear in biblical history until thousands of years later? Why, then, asks Nekrutman, this notion of the seventh day being only for the Jews?

It’s not, and never was, only for the Jews. Because all humanity, Jew and Gentile, can trace their origins back to Eden, the seventh-day Sabbath is for them all.

Isaiah’s Prophecy

Nekrutman, however, doesn’t just look to the past, to ancient sacred history, for reasons why non-Jews should keep the Sabbath. He looks to the future as well, pointing to a Messianic prophecy about a time when everyone will be keeping Sabbath. 

“‘And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,’ says the LORD” (Isaiah 66:23). Nekrutman has a point. This prophecy will be fulfilled at a future date, when “all flesh,” meaning Jews and non-Jews, will be, among other things, keeping the Sabbath. And in the Bible, including the New Testament, the Sabbath is always, and only, the seventh day.

A promo of his book reads as follows: “Many of you are probably acquainted with popular end-of-time scenarios that emphasize false prophets, global disasters, plagues, and dreadful battles. Such accounts are generally grim, but did you know that the prophecy in Isaiah 66:23 addresses the end of time with a hopeful expectation? Isaiah envisioned that one day all of humanity [who believe] will celebrate the Sabbath. Thus, the goal of Your Sabbath Invitation is for you to consider participating in fulfilling a vital end-of-time prophecy—right now—one that highlights the Sabbath.” 

Not Legalism, Either

But isn’t there so much legalism involved with keeping the seventh-day Sabbath? Sure, by some people, but that no more invalidates the Sabbath than evil done in the name of Jesus invalidates the truth that He is the Messiah.

In the Gospels, almost every controversy between Jesus and the Pharisees over keeping the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1–12; Mark 3:1–4; Luke 6:1–9; Luke 13: 10–16; John 5:1–16; John 9:1–14) was never over another day, like Sunday. Instead, it was always over how to properly keep the seventh day. The irony is that Jesus Himself was seeking to free the Sabbath from the manmade legalism imposed upon it.

Nekrutman understands the legalism issue as well. “I went out of my way,” he said, “to specifically talk about a Sabbath that is beyond do’s and don’ts. I’m not advocating for an Orthodox Jewish practice of Sabbath [for Christians] in any shape, way, or form. I don’t want to be viewed as Judaizing Christianity in any way.”

An Orthodox Jew promoting the seventh-day Sabbath for non-Jews—even despite the stern prohibition in the Talmud? Though this is not common, one thing is for sure: Nekrutman has the Bible, Old and New Testament, to back up his claims. To learn for yourself just how much the Bible backs up those claims, check out “The Lost Day of History.

This article contributed by Clifford Goldstein
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