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:
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 we read this verse when Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) falls out on Shabbat,” 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 since they view it as a Jewish VIP club. Part of this perspective stems from the notion that Jews are directed to keep a Tabernacle-oriented Shabbat with specific categories of labor prohibited on this holy day, which began at Sinai.”
“Obviously, Christians believe God is the Creator of the universe, but many view Shabbat as putting them under the Mosaic law. This is not about Law or Salvation since Shabbat was already part of the Creation narrative in Genesis 2:1-3. The Shabbat of Isaiah 66:23 is about a partnership in ushering in the messianic era.”
He noted that Christians do not usually see a connection between the sabbath and salvation.
With the perspective that Christians are not under the Law, Nekrutman noted that “some Christians may conclude that Shabbat was nailed at the Cross. However, both a pre-Sinai and Messianic Shabbat are about plugging into the Amplified Transparent Presence of God and advancing His Kingdom. Christians who have visited Israel and had the opportunity to have a Shabbat in Jewish homes have walked away transformed in seeing Shabbat as an opportunity to connect to God, family and community in a more profound way.
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 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,” 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 and currently serves as The Israel Director for The Isaiah Projects. 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 and The Isaiah Projects (www.theisaiahprojects.com)