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(Last updated 7/3/00)

The concept of Shabbat is unique among the cultures of the world. Nowhere else can you find instruction from a supreme being to "take a day off" from one’s regular activities. The "fourth commandment" is found in Exodus 20:8-11, Leviticus 23:3,32 and Deuteronomy 5:12-14. It is also mentioned in numerous other texts including Isaiah 58:13-14 where we are told that we honor God by keeping the Shabbat.

Shabbat’s origins go back to creation. Genesis 2:1-3 where God worked for six days then rested on the seventh day. As with much of what the Bible presents to us, Shabbat is a foreshadowing, reflection or picture of what exists in heaven and what those who follow God will enjoy (in its heavenly capacity) one day.

Scripture tells us that there is a greater Shabbat yet to come where things will be restored, to a state much like the original Garden of Eden. This period of time is known as the Messianic kingdom.

There are parallels drawn to the seventh day Shabbat in Genesis in that are found in Scripture:

Acts 3:21: And he shall send Messiah Yeshua, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

Romans 8:18-23: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

2Peter 3:3-9: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Revelation 20:2-7: And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

Revelation 21:1-8: And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Isaiah 65:17-19: For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people; and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.

Isaiah 66:22-24: For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that every new moon, and every sabbath, shall all flesh come to worship before me, says the Lord. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men who have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, nor shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be a loathing to all flesh.

Extra-biblical writings also include a teaching that draws a parallel between the seven days of creation and the timeline of human history since creation. 

2000 years from Adam to Abraham
2000 years from Abraham to Messiah
2000 years in the Messianic age
1000 years of Shabbat rest (Millennium-Messianic Kingdom)
= 7000 years corresponds to the 7 days of creation where God rested on the seventh

There is much about this theme in Jewish literature:

Midrash Rabbah Genesis 12:6: Why do we recite a blessing over a lamp [fire] at the termination of the Sabbath? Because it was then created for the first time. R. Huna in Rab's name, and R. Abbahu in R. Johanan's name said: At the termination of the Day of Atonement, too, we recite a blessing over it, because the fire rested the whole day. R. Berekiah said in the name of R. Samuel b. Nahman: Though these things were created in their fulness, yet when Adam sinned they were spoiled, and they will not again return to their perfection until the son of Perez [viz. Messiah] comes;

Soncino Zohar 1:119a: A star in the east will swallow seven stars in the north, and a flame of black fire will hang in the heaven for sixty days, and there shall be wars towards the north in which two kings shall perish. Then all the nations shall combine together against the daughter of Jacob in order to drive her from the world. It is of that time that it is written: "And it is a time of trouble unto Jacob, but out of it he shall be saved" (Jer. XXX, 7) ...

... From that time the Messiah will begin to declare himself, and round him there will be gathered many nations and many hosts from the uttermost ends of the earth. And all the children of Israel will assemble in their various places until the completion of the century. The Vau will then join the He, and then "they shall bring all your brethren out of all the nations for an offering unto the Lord" (Is. LXVI, 20). The children of Ishmael will at the same time rouse all the peoples of the world to come up to war against Jerusalem, as it is written, "For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle, etc." (Zech. XIV, 2), also, "The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed" (Ps. II, 2); and further, "He that sitteth in heaven laugheth, the Lord hath them in derision" (Ibid. II, 4). ...

... Happy are those who will be left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter on the Sabbath. For that is the day set apart by the Holy One on which to effect the union of souls and to cull new souls to join those that are still on earth, as it is written, "And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written unto life in Jerusalem" (Is. IV, 3).’

Sanhedrin 97a: R. Kattina said: Six thousand years shall the world exist, and one [thousand, the seventh], it shall be desolate, as it is written, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. Abaye said: it will be desolate two [thousand], as it is said, After two days will he revive us: in the third day, he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. It has been taught in accordance with R. Kattina: Just as the seventh year is one year of release in seven, so is the world: one thousand years out of seven shall be fallow, as it is written, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day,’ and it is further said, A Psalm and song for the Sabbath day, meaning the day that is altogether Sabbath — and it is also said, For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past. The Tanna debe Eliyyahu teaches: The world is to exist six thousand years. In the first two thousand there was desolation, two thousand years the Torah flourished; and the next two thousand years is the Messianic era,

Tamid 33b: On sabbath they used to say, a psalm, a song for the sabbath day: a psalm, a song for the time to come, for the day that will be all sabbath and rest for everlasting life.

The Haftarah reading for Pesakh Shabbat is Ezekiel 37:1-14, the vision of the "dry bones" depicting the final restoration of Israel leading into the Shabbat rest and Millnnium shown in the subsequent chapters.

The book of Ruth is read at Shavuot, the festival most associate with the initiation of the Messianic Kingdom. Ruth presents the theme of Gentile salvation, another feature of the Messianic Kingdom.

The salvation of gentiles in the Messianic Kingdom can also be found in other Scriptures, such as: Genesis 12:3, 18:14, 22:18, 26:4, Isaiah 11:10, 19:6, 54:1-3, 60:1-3; Hosea 1:1-10; Amos 9:11; Malachi 1:11; Psalm 72; Psalm 87; Philippians 2:10 (quoting Isaiah 45:23), Zechariah 14:9-19.

This theme is also be found in the Talmud in Sukkah 55b:

Mishnah. On the first festival day of tabernacles there were offered thirteen bullocks, two rams and one he-goat.1 fourteen he-lambs therefore remained for the other eight courses of priests. On the first day, six offered two each and the remaining [two] one each. on the second day five [courses] offered two each and the remaining [four] one each. on the third day four [courses] offered two each and the remaining [six] one each. on the fourth day three offered two each and the remaining [eight] one each. on the fifth day offered two each and the remaining [ten] one each. on the sixth day one offered two and the remaining [twelve] one each. on the seventh day all were equal. on the eighth day they again cast lots as on the other pilgrim festivals. It was enjoined that [the course] that offered bullocks on one day should not offer them on the morrow, but that they should take their turns in rotation.

GEMARA. Must we say that our Mishnah represents the view of Rabbi, and not that of the Rabbis, since it has been taught, For the bullock which is offered on the Eighth Day lots are cast as at first, these are the words of Rabbi, but the Sages ruled, One of the two courses which did not have a third turn in the bullocks offered it? — You may even say that it represents the view of the Rabbis, for do not two courses also require the casting of lots? Whose view is followed in that which has been taught, All the courses repeated a second and a third time, with the exception of two courses who repeated a second time but not a third one? Must we say that it follows that of Rabbi, and not that of the Rabbis? — You may even say that it follows that of the Rabbis, but the statement that they did not repeat a third time refers to the bullocks of the Festival. What then does this teach us? — It is this that we were taught, that he who offered bullocks on the one day shall not offer them on the morrow, but they must all take their turns in rotation. R. Eleazar stated, To what do those seventy bullocks [that were offered during the seven days of the Festival] correspond? To the seventy nations.