Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Jesus is our Sabbath

Jesus is our Sabbath
THE REST WE DARE NOT MISS (Hebrews 4:1-10)

4:1-10 It is true that the promise which offers entry into the rest of God still remains for us; but beware lest any of you be adjudged to have missed it. It is indeed true that we have had the good news preached to us, just as those of old had. But the word which they heard was no good to them, because it did not become woven into the very fibre of their being through faith. It is we who have made the decision of faith who are entering into the rest, for of them God said: "I swore in my anger, 'Very certainly they shall not enter into my rest.'" This he said although his works had been finished after the foundation of the world. For somewhere in scripture it speaks thus about the seventh day: "And God rested on the seventh day from all his labours." And it says in the same place: "Very certainly they shall not enter into my rest." Since then it remains that some people must enter into it and since those who in former times had the gospel preached to them did not enter because of their lack of trust, he again defines a day, when in David, after so long a lapse of time, he says, "Today," just as he had said before, "Today if you will hear my voice do not harden your hearts." If Joshua had actually brought them into rest, God would not then after that be speaking about another day. So a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God. He who has entered into this rest has rest from all his works, just as God rested from his works.

In a complicated passage like this it is better to try to grasp the broad lines of the thought before we look at any of the details. The writer is really using the word rest (katapausis, Greek #2663) in three different senses. (i) He is using it as we would use the peace of God. It is the greatest thing in the world to enter into the peace of God. (ii) He is using it, as he used it in Hebrews 3:12, to mean The Promised Land To the children of Israel who had wandered so long in the desert the Promised Land was indeed the rest of God. (iii) He is using it of the rest of God after the sixth day of creation, when all God's work was completed. This way of using a word in two or three different ways, of teasing at it until the last drop of meaning was extracted from it, was typical of cultured, academic thought in the days when the writer to the Hebrews wrote his letter.

Now let us see the steps of the argument. It will be simpler if we enumerate them one by one.
(i) The promise of the rest of God for his people still abides; the danger is that we fail to reach it.
(ii) The Israelites in the long ago failed to enter into the rest of God. Here the word rest is being used in the sense of the settlement of the Promised Land after the wilderness years. The reference is to Numbers 13:1-33 and Numbers 14:1-45 . These chapters tell how the children of Israel came to the borders of the Promised Land, how they sent out scouts to spy out the land, how ten of the twelve scouts came back with the verdict that it was a good land but that the difficulties of entering into it were insuperable, how Caleb and Joshua alone were for going forward in the strength of the Lord, how the people hearkened to the advice of the cowards, and how the result was that that generation of distrusting cowards were debarred for ever from entering into the rest and the peace of the Promised Land. They did not trust God to bring them through the difficulties that lay ahead; and therefore they never enjoyed the rest they could have had.

(iii) Now the writer switches the meaning of the word rest. It is true that these people long ago missed the rest they might have had; but, although they missed it, the rest remained. Behind this argument lies one of the favourite conceptions of the Rabbis. On the seventh day, the day after creation had been completed, God rested from his labours. In the creation story in Genesis 1:1-31Genesis 2:1-25 there is a strange fact. On the first six days of creation it is said that morning and evening came; that is to say, each day had an end and a beginning. But on the seventh day, the day of God's rest, there is no mention of evening at all. From this the Rabbis argued that, while the other days came to an end, the day of God's rest had no ending; the rest of God was for ever. Therefore although long ago the Israelites may have failed to enter that rest, it still remained.

(iv) Once again the writer goes back to the meaning of rest as the Promised Land. The day came after the forty years wandering in the wilderness when, under Joshua, the people did enter into the Promised Land. Now, the Promised Land was the rest and therefore it could be argued that then the promise was fulfilled.

(v) But no, the promise is not fulfilled, because in Psalms 95:7-11 David hears God's voice saying to the people that if they do not harden their hearts they can enter into his rest. That is to say, hundreds of years after Joshua had led the people into the rest of the Promised Land God is still appealing to them to enter into his rest. There is more to this rest than merely entry into the Promised Land.

(vi) So the final appeal comes. God still appeals to men not to harden their hearts but to enter into his rest. God's "today" still exists and the promise is still open; but "today" does not last for ever; life comes to an end; the promise can be missed; therefore, says the writer to the Hebrews: "Here and now through faith enter into the very rest of God."

There is a very interesting question of meaning in Hebrews 4:1. We have taken the translation: "Beware lest any of you be adjudged to have missed the rest of God." That is to say: "Beware lest your disobedience and your lack of faith may mean that you have shut yourselves out from the rest and the peace that God offers you."

That may very well be the correct translation. But there is another and most interesting possibility. The phrase may mean: "Beware lest you think that you have arrived too late in history ever to enjoy the rest of God."

In that second translation there is a warning. It is very easy to think that the great days of religion are past. It is told that a child, on being told some of the great Old Testament stories, said wistfully: "God was much more exciting then." There is a continual tendency in the Church to look back, to believe that God's power is grown less and that the golden days lie behind. The writer to the Hebrews sounds forth a trumpet call. "Never think," he says, "that you have arrived too late in history; never think that the days of great promise and great achievement lie behind. This is still God's 'today.' There is a blessedness for you as great as the blessedness of the saints; there is an adventure for you as great as the adventure of the martyrs. God is as great today as ever he was."

There are two great permanent truths in this passage.

(i) A word, however great, is of no avail unless it becomes integrated into the person who hears it. There are many different kinds of hearing in this world. There is indifferent hearing, disinterested hearing, critical hearing, sceptical hearing, cynical hearing. The hearing that matters is the hearing that listens eagerly, believes and acts. The promises of God are not merely beautiful pieces of literature; they are promises on which a man is meant to stake his life and dominate his action.

(ii) In Hebrews 4:1 the writer to the Hebrews bids his people beware lest they miss the promise. The word we have translated beware literally means to fear (phobeisthai, Greek #5399). This Christian fear is not the fear which makes a man run away from a task; nor the fear which reduces him to paralysed inaction; it is the fear which makes him put out every ounce of strength he possesses in a great effort not to miss the one thing that is worth while.

From William Barclay's Daily Study Bible
Hebrews 4


Rest is the secret of human fruitfulness. As you consent to this, a wonderful thing will begin to happen. You will find rest. Jesus said you would. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest." (Mathew 11:29 KJV). Rest, with all it implies in terms of fruitfulness and dominion; reigning, ruling, producing that which is worthwhile and satisfying in life. That is the secret of life. This is why Jesus said, "If any man will save his life, he shall lose it. But if he shall lose his life for my sake, he shall find it," (cf, Matt 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24). He will find rest, he will fulfill the Sabbath for that is what the Sabbath is. It is God's divine provision for us. In the only judgment that is ever worthwhile, the judgment before the assembled hosts of heaven, when every life is reviewed as to whether it was worth the living, whether it hit the target or not, the secret of a success that will merit the words of Jesus, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," is to learn the rest of God. Anyone who learns that (and to the degree that you learn it) is keeping the Sabbath as God intended the Sabbath to be kept. (From The Seventh Day, by Ray C. Stedman, 12/10/67)

Eric tackles the question regarding the Christian Sabbath

Above: Watch Bible teacher Eric William King respond to Sabbath Day Keeping

Nugget of Truth:  Rest in a Day? or rest in Jesus Christ? Here Eric gives us all a message regarding where we as Christians fi...

Exposing the False Teachings
There are many false Christian movements and groups teaching that you must keep special days (Jewish feasts) and rules and regulations in order to be a true Christian. These are the modern day Judaizers. The New Covenant warns about these types of people. They are deceivers and legalists. The other extreme is the liberal moralists. The articles listed here will help you understand these issues so that you can be careful to stay away from all false teachers and rest in Jesus Christ.

*Jesus is our Sabbath
*Christians free from legalist feast keepers
*Moral relativism or Truth?
*Asceticism and the New Covenant 
*Response to the New Morality
*Dealing with so called "spiritual teachers" of today

1 comment:

  1. From: Juli Camarin November 23, 2010

    I remember as a teenager the pastor of the church we attended spoke one Sunday about resting on Sunday. The point of his message was to set aside one day a week to rest and focus on God. He cited the example from the Old Testament about keeping the Sabbath. After the service several people came up to me asking me if I still planned to work on Sundays commenting that I shouldn’t because the Bible said to keep the Sabbath holy. I worked a part time job at a local restaurant and worked when I was scheduled, which included Sunday evenings. Although the pastor meant well, he missed the point of Sabbath rest, it is not one day a week set aside to rest from our labors; the Sabbath Rest is Jesus.

    In the Old Testament, the Law gave instruction about the Sabbath Rest. The Israelites set aside one day to cease from their labors when everyone around them strived seven days a week. Israel prospered above others because this rest was about trusting in God as their source and not trusting in human labor.

    Everything demonstrated in the Old Testament was a type and shadow of what we would have as New Testament believers. They were copies and illustrations of what would be provided in Christ. A shadow is a vague outline resembling what is to come. For instance, my shadow has the shape of me. If I were to come around the corner my shadow would arrive ahead of me. You could see it and understand that a person was coming. You could make out my shape and know certain things about my height, weight and even length of hair. But you wouldn’t be able to fully interrupt what I look like by my shadow; that is not until you see me face to face. The same is true with the Old Testament, the Law was a foreshadowing of what Christ would be and do. It gave guidelines and regulations but these served merely to point us to the savior, the reality has always been found in Him. At that time when they looked they could see certain things about who the savior would be but they did not have a clear picture, just the shadow of what was coming.

    As New Testament believers we can look back and fully understand these things and see Jesus woven throughout the entire scriptures. We have the real thing. We have the expressed image of God, everything the Law and prophets spoke about (Hebrews 1:1-3). Since we have the fulfillment of these things, there is no need to live under the shadow of what was coming. The same is true for the Sabbath day, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17). We must look at the Old Testament through the filter of Jesus otherwise we will get bogged down in confusion and never progress into full revelation of who God is and what he has provided in Christ. Instead we will continue living under the very things we have been freed from.

    The Sabbath was a symbol of Jesus and now it is a New Testament reality. We can trust in the finished work of Christ and rest continually in this. We don’t have to set aside one day a week to cease striving; our entire lives as believers dwell in this place. When Jesus hung on the cross he said, “it is finished” (John 19:30). He had fulfilled everything in the Law and provided the righteousness of the law to us as a free gift. We do not need to add one thing to it, Jesus provided the way, and by trusting in this provision we rest from trying to do it on our own. This is the true Sabbath rest that God desires for His people. This rest is so much more than most people’s interpretation of the Old Testament scriptures about the Sabbath day. The Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus and knowing this amazing truth will equip you for a lifestyle of trusting in God and finding constant rest in Christ.


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