And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Before starting the construction of the Tabernacle, the Children of Israel were commanded to observe the ceasing from creative activity on the Sabbath day. “Oh but, how can we observe the Sabbath? There is no Synagogue, no Temple, no building to go to in order to have a service! We certainly can’t have Sabbath without a building to get together and have a service on Saturday morning (I am being sarcastic)!”
Faith based on worship at a certain place on a certain day is common to most religious systems. Whereas for community sake it is good and even needed to have regular meetings and fellowships, I wonder if that was God’s core original idea. After all, the synagogue service was only a post-exilic organizational attempt to expose people to the Word. of Torah, that they may know how to live godly lives and not be sent back to exile. With such a system though, in the end religion gets removed from home’s daily life and revolves around what we do on that day in that place. Our teenagers then see who we are at home and who we are at the place of worship and feel that we are hypocrites, and maybe we are. What was then God’s core idea?
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).The core idea was that regardless of our other fellowship activities, our religious lifestyle is a home-based worship system, where God is involved in every aspect of our lives from the time we wake till the time we sleep.
The Jewish Friday night custom of sanctifying (separating/distinguishing) the Sabbath day is a microcosm of the Tabernacle, of the Tabernacle who represents God’s presence with His people. The two candles on the table remind us of the Menorah; the Challah loaf on the table speaks of the Bread of Presence; the wine of the daily libation; the festive meal of the Sabbath double-offering portion; and the prayers of the altar of incense. It is home-base service officiated by the father and the mother in the presence of their children and extended families. The Saturday fellowship is good but it is an extra. I would paraphrase Yeshua and say that ‘it is Friday night which sanctifies Saturday service’, not the opposite. To go to Saturday service and not sanctify the Sabbath at home on Friday night with your family misses the whole purpose. It’s a family thing. On Friday night it is customary for the husband to give an ode to his wife using Proverbs 31; the wife does the same to her husband and they both bless the children.
God doesn’t just want to fellowship with us in a building somewhere when we are on our best behavior, He wants to be invited to live at the very core of our lives, to hear how we talk to each other at the table, witness how we interact and treat each other during the commonest of household functions. How else can we get His correction input if we always play ‘games’ in front of Him (which He is actually not fooled by anyways)?
As we live our lives, may we allow Him to be present with all our thoughts, may His Word be in our mouth when we sit in our house, and when we walk by the way, and when we lie down, and when we rise. May we bind them as a sign on our hand, and may they be as frontlets between our eyes. May they be written on the doorposts of our house and on our gates, … and on our hearts!