Last time I wrote that one way of understanding the word Sabbath in Hebrew is as the combination of the basic elements of two shorter words: return and home, and that home is central to our purpose in life, and should be a place of refuge, liberty, refreshment, reconciliation, support, and love. In reality for many in this world home does not come close to this ideal. One great purpose of this life is to gain knowledge of good and evil in a way that is only possible with contrast--to taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good. (Moses 6:55) Through this existence afforded us by God, including this contrast and the bitterness of this life, we have the opportunity through God’s grace of entering into His rest spiritually in this life and one day returning into His home, an ideal abode of perfection and peace.
The creation account is filled with contrast and with the principles of separation and gathering. God divides light from dark and the waters above the firmament from the waters below the firmament; He gathers the waters below the firmament together creating dry land; and He divides the day from the night. The separation of the waters above the firmament from the waters below the firmament creates a meaningful duality, and expressive of this duality the noun water or waters in Hebrew is in dual form even as it is used in a singular sense. Water in Hebrew is representative of transition, and it can involve both disease, danger, and violence as well as, in contrast, refreshment and cleansing. The fact that God places waters above the firmament suggests another symbolic link in that the Hebrew word for heaven is identical with the word for water except for the addition of a first letter in the word for heaven. This letter is
(shin). The one syllable word that is closest to this letter is the word for teeth, and this letter is also symbolic of and looks like a crown. It also relates to change, the number two, and the year, generally referring to the fact that God does not change, and that we do, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. The combined symbolism of these words is wonderful. Water is dual in nature and in many states represents God’s imperfect creations, particularly man. Water can become stagnant and diseased; it can overcome and destroy; it can also become purified as it moves in contact with stones and other refining substances; it can refresh and cleanse; in its transitory state it can pursue a virtually limitless number of paths, in all cases downward unless changed and elevated and at points separated by God who is unchangeable, wearing the crown, above all creations, always since before the creation moving with mercy upon the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2).
In similar manner to the relationship in Hebrew between the words heaven and water the word Sabbath in Hebrew can also be viewed as the essential elements of the word home with the same letter
(shin) preceding it, and the same kinds of dualities and relationships apply. Home in this world includes a similarly diverse possibility of characteristics and paths from stagnation and disease, to danger and violence, to rest, refreshment, support, and love. In all cases the home is only elevated as those who abide in it receive God’s grace and influence. As a major part of this, keeping the Sabbath day holy can help lead to the transformation of the home in whatever state it exists in this world to a heavenly home, an abode of perfection and peace.
This is the whole purpose of the Sabbath, as a gift of heaven on earth to the extent that we are willing to receive it, all through the grace of Christ, to receive His richest blessings. Again, home, as water, in this world can exist in a virtually limitless number of conditions, all descending as part of the Fall, except as homes are changed and elevated by God. The Sabbath as a day of rest and worship is a great blessing both for individuals and for homes as through the Sabbath God works to separate us from this world, to elevate and sanctify us to the extent we are willing to receive His grace and blessings.