The Jewish Sabbath, in Hebrew called Shabbat, or rest, has been kept and understood for 4000 years of Jewish history. We know by the books of Moishe Rebbeinu (Moses our Teacher), the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), that Moses copied down all of man’s history. The full weight of history, from Adam and Eve onward, was all Orally passed down to Moses. And, every Jewish family was required to put to memory all of the history of Judaism, not just Moses! Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all required to learn and then teach the younger ones the full history of man and then its continuance as each Jewish son grew up with this knowledge. It was an awesome responsibility.
Today, our Jewish scribes have the enormous task of making sure the Torah, Prophets and Writings are not forgotten, so continue to scribe them on parchment, and therefore the knowledge of the Bible is preserved. But even so, memorizing the tractates of the Torah and Tanakh are greatly encouraged in Orthodox Judaism, and to some degree Orthodox Notzrim Judaism.
In Genesis chapter one it says, “Darkness proceeded the light and became the first day”. So based on this understanding, darkness must proceed first, before there is light, before a day is acknowledged. Therefore Friday night starts the seventh day, G-d’s day of rest! Most outsiders, because they go by a solar calendar, think that Jewish people keep Saturday as the Sabbath. But the Bible goes by a Lunar calendar. That is why the observance of Shabbat is celebrated by each Jewish family around the world starting on the Friday evening (Erev Shabbat) of Sabbath, and continues all through to Saturday evening, the end of Sabbath. Though everyday is a good day to worship G-d, the L-rd made the Day of Rest, His day, and never changed it. The Catholic Church leaders, 300 years after the resurrection of Rabbi Yeshua, changed the Jewish Holy day of Shabbat (that early Gentile believers maintained) to the following day, commonly called Sunday! Now understand this, I am not going to debate this, this is simply Church History. The Catholic Church, in its attempt to steer clear of anything perceived as Jewish, distanced itself away from its Jewish parent. One of the greatest tragedies of man’s history. Gentile Christians, who originally worshiped on Sabbath with Jewish Believers, were ostracized or even burned at the stake if they worshiped with the Jews. Rome considered itself the replacement of Judaism as G-d’s light on earth. The early Protestant reformation, starting in the 1500’s through Luther and Calvin, did nothing to dispel the doctrine that Sunday had replaced the Jewish Sabbath and it is as today, two groups observing two completely different days, when at one time 2000 years ago, saw Gentiles and Jews worshiping together on Friday night.
Today, there are hundreds of thousands of non-Jews worshiping on Friday night through Saturday night. Some are doing this for right and good reasons, others because of wrong reasons. Its important that we recognize that if the L-rd set up His day of rest after 6 days of creation, before there were any Jewish people on the planet, then it shouldn’t be looked upon as a Jewish thing, or a legalistic thing, but a Biblical thing! That we “get” to enjoy the Shabbat because of the greatness of the Abrahamic Covenant, and recognize that even the Great Rabbi, Yeshua of Nazareth, the Messiah, worshiped not on Sunday as the Sabbath, but the Holy Shabbat. In fact, he kept all the law perfectly, and the Holy Jewish feast days, etc., etc., etc. He was in every way, a Jew. And in the book of John it says, “Salvation is of the Jews!”
In closing, my encouragement to you is to look into the perfect law of liberty, through which Messiah has set us free, not from G-d’s own laws, which were given to be a benefit to us, but from the law of sin and death. To worship on the Shabbat causes us to look into the face of G-d, to experience his love, his forgiveness, it is a time of reflection, a time of rest!
Chief Rabbi Yosef Hilbrant