Over the past 21 years, David Nekrutman, an Othodox Jew who lives in Israel, has been nurturing both personal and professional relationships with Christians. His newest project aims to encourage Christians to reconsider the role that Shabbat (the biblical Sabbath) plays in their Christian lives.
Nekrutman is currently on an 18-stop US book tour sharing this idea and introducing his new book on the topic.
Your Sabbath Invitation is based on a prophecy from Isaiah that proclaims that, in the future, all of humanity will celebrate Shabbat as an occasion to connect to God.
“‘And it will be that from New Moon to New Moon, from Shabbat to Shabbat, all of humanity will worship before Me,’ says The Eternal” (Isaiah 66:23).
“I think most people have a very negative view of Sabbath. [Thus] the primary mission of the book is an invitation. This was an invitation from the dawn of creation and it exists today for all,” Nekrutman explained.
He shared that, for most Christians, “the concept of Sabbath has been totally lost,” and he spoke about how, in the United States, there used to be blue laws that shut down most commerce on Sundays, in order to encourage citizens to observe Sunday as a day of rest. In the days when blue laws were enforced, Sunday was seen as the Sabbath. But those days are long past, to the point that, “anyone who is 30 or less definitely doesn't even understand that their church service is viewed as a Sabbath,” he said.
One of the book’s teachings that surprises most Christians is that Psalm 92, which explicitly mentions the Sabbath, was written by Adam.
“That really takes Christians a few minutes to process,” he said. Most people don’t realize how ancient that chapter of Psalms is.
Additionally, he said that for most Christians, “Sabbath is usually viewed from the point of view of legalism - do's and don'ts.”
That is a perception his book and his presentations about the Sabbath consciously work to change.
“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.
Did Jesus Honor Shabbat?
“I always say to a Christian, ‘I know you believe 100% in the divinity, but you also believe 100% in the humanity of Jesus and this human was born into a Jewish household, in what would be called a Pharisaic household of some influence, within the many Pharisaic movements of the day. He honored the Sabbath,’” Nekrutman said.
He backs up this assertion with quotes from Christian scripture.
So why don’t Christians honor the Sabbath today?
According to Nekrutman, Church Fathers basically separated Shabbat from Christianity when they proclaimed, “for your identity, who you are as a Christian, you can't do Shabbat.”
Shabbat As Fulfillment of Messianic Prophecy
Your Sabbath Invitation focuses on the prophecy in Isaiah 66.
“The prophecy is very open,” Nekrutman said. “All humanity is doing something for Shabbat, whatever that form looks like. We don't know exactly, because Isaiah doesn't really expound on it.”
He emphasized that honoring Shabbat is not a conversion to Judaism, but rather the fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision is that, “one day this is going to be a messianic Sabbath, Jew and Gentile together. My argument is, why can’t we promote a positive way of looking at the Sabbath [now]?”
Nekrutman emphasized that many End of Days prophecies are “doom and gloom.” But he believes, in contrast, “there is a very positive way to move redemptive history through the paradigm of Shabbat, which is never talked about. That's the reason why I'm bringing up the conversation. There is a partnership that we have to do so that when Messiah comes, we will make sure he doesn't have too much to do.
“My argument is, ‘Why can't we begin to go ahead and promote a very positive way of looking at Sabbath, that there's a partnership with people who wish and desire to do this, without putting [Jewish] laws on Christians.’ That's the argument of the book,” he continued.
Only in the final chapter of Your Sabbath Invitation does he even present an array of customs that a Christian can adopt into their lifestyle.
Nekrutman emphasized that Shabbat is not a vacation. It’s not a time to unplug. Rather it’s a kind of “active rest” where people are plugged in, where they are busy opening up to God.
“I want them to be ambassadors on the concept that Shabbat is beautiful and not legalistic,” he said.