New book teaches Christians how (and why) to keep Sabbath according to the Torah
One of the great divides between Jews and Christians has been Shabbat. Still, a new book puts the Sabbath into a prophetic context, emphasizing the need for coming together in a “redemptive history” based around Shabbat.
For over two decades, David Nekrutman has been building bridges between Israel-loving Christians and Jews.
“I’ve never heard Christians speak of the end-of-times in a positive way,” Nekrutman explained. “It’s usually focused on armageddon. But Isaiah, one of the prophets who is widely cited by the Christians, describes Shabbat as playing a major role in the end-of-days.”
Nekrutman cited the verse:
They shall go out and gaze On the corpses of the men who rebelled against Me: Their worms shall not die, Nor their fire be quenched; They shall be a horror To all flesh. And new moon after the new moon, And Shabbat after Shabbat, All flesh shall come to worship Me —said Hashem. Isaiah 66:23
“Jews usually think of Shabbat in the past and not in the future,” Nekrutman said. “For Jews, this aspect of redemption is important as we read this verse on the Shabbat preceding the Rosh Chodesh (new moon),” Nekrutman said.
“For Christians, the concept of the Sabbath has been totally lost. They look at the Jews keeping Shabbat and view Shabbat from the point of view of legalism – do’s and don’ts.”
Not one to sit idly by and miss a possibility to bring the final redemption, Nekrutman wrote a book to bring this prophetic vision of Shabbat. The book is titled “Your Sabbath Invitation.”
“I’ve never heard Jews advocate for Christians to keep Shabbat. For Jews, Shabbat is a Jewish VIP club and our exclusive domain. This is partly true. Jews keep a Tabernacle-oriented Shabbat with the labor that we are forbidden to perform. This began at Sinai. Before Sinai, there was a universal Creation-oriented Shabbat. But if a person sees the Bible and the Ten Commandments as part of their relationship with God, then this Creation-oriented Shabbat should be a part of this relationship. Shabbat is a positive testimony of God as the Creator.”
“This is certainly true of Christians, but they see Shabbat as trying to put them under the law. This is not about the law. This is pre-Sinai. This is about bringing the Kingdom from Heaven and working towards redemption.”
“This was the pre-Sinai Shabbat, and as we see in Isaiah, this form of Sabbath will return, and there will be a different form of Shabbat, a messianic Sabbath recognizing God as the Creator, Jew and Gentile together.”
He noted that Christians do not usually see a connection between the sabbath and salvation.
“The elephant in the room that Christians don’t talk about is that Shabbat was nailed on the cross and abandoned. There are pastors who come to Israel, and their faith is enriched by the experiences they are having in Jewish homes. They can only take back a taste and only if it is totally disconnected from the Jewish law-based Shabbat.”
The book is intended as an introduction to Shabbat for Christians, presenting the ‘why’ and the theological basis for the Shabbat that is most relevant to Christians. But is not a technical instruction manual.
“I went out of my way to specifically talk about a Sabbath that is beyond doing’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,” he explained.
“Christians have not been taught this because they don’t learn the Bible like we do. We take the text and politely rip it apart. That is why Christians are totally unaware of the aspects of the Shabbat that are relevant to them. They have never learned the positive context of Shabbat. But when they see this, they can’t unsee it. It is clear that this isn’t intended to make them Jewish. I have never seen one Christian who hasn’t taken at least one thing away and adopted some aspect of Shabbat into their Christian faith.”
For Nekrutman, this has also been a personal journey in which non-Jews keeping Shabbat has been transformative.
“Watching Christians be transformed at my Shabbat table has reminded me of the gift of Shabbat table,” he said.
THE AUTHOR: David Nekrutman is a highly sought-after speaker; he is the co-founder of the Day to Praise global interfaith initiative and founder of the Blessing Bethlehem aid organization. In 2018, he received his Master of Arts in Biblical Literature with a concentration in Judaic-Christian Studies from the College of Theology and Ministry at Oral Roberts University (ORU). His ORU degree established him as one of the few Orthodox Jewish persons to graduate from a Christian university’s theology program. In June 2021, Mr. Nekrutman received special recognition from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department of World Religions for his two decades of service as a Goodwill Ambassador for Jewish-Christian Relations. His book, “Your Sabbath Invitation” is available on his website.
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