Understanding the Sabbath in a New Covenant Context

NOTE: Square brackets contain my comments highlighted in yellow.

Hebrews 3

7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, [This rebellion was the 2nd of 3.]
In the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,
And saw My works forty years.
10 Therefore I was angry with that generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they have not known My ways.’
11 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”
12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief [Persistent unbelief is evil and is not just a moment of doubt. It’s an insult to the integrity and trustworthiness of God.] in departing from the living God; 
13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” [Capitalised in this version] lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 
14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 
15 while it is said:
Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Failure of the Wilderness Wanderers

16 For who, having heard, [Having heard what?] rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 

17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 

18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? [they heard but did not obey]

19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. [they did not obey because they doubted God. They were faithless.]

[Faith has 3 inseparable components – Hear, believe & obey/respond. Rom 10:14]

Hebrews 4 

1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, [Physical Canaan might be gone but a Spiritual Canaan still awaits us, His people today.] let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 

2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; [This was what they heard] but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. [Those who heard the gospel didn’t believe it. The requirement for entering Canaan was believing the gospel. The requirement for entry into salvation today is exactly the same thing, believe the gospel. Rom 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to [into] salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first…”

So what is the Sabbath in a New Covenant context? Answer: Salvation through Jesus Christ. Matt 11:28-30

  • This rest is not just skin deep
  • Only those who come to Jesus can receive it
  • Only Jesus can give it. ]

3 For we who have believed do enter that rest..,

[Isaiah 30:15 “In returning and rest you shall be saved…” ‘Returning’ is translated ‘repentance’ in some bibles.

“In repentance and rest you will be saved…” (NASB). The ‘rest’ there is the result of placing our trust in Christ. Faith brings us into rest. This scripture could therefore be read, In repenting and trusting Christ you shall be saved.] 

…as He has said:

“So I swore in My wrath,

‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ” [God did something very unusual here. He swore i.e. this matter is closed, it cannot and will not change.]

…although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 

4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; [The writer here is doing a Nicodemus. How can I enter into God’s rest, should I go back to the 7th day of creation and have a lie down with God? No, what God did was symbolic of something much greater.]

5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.

6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, [What Israel did every Saturday for 40 years was not God’s rest, it was not the Sabbath. “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or SABBATHS, which are A SHADOW of things to come, but THE SUBSTANCE IS OF CHRIST.” Col 2:16-17]

7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:

Today, if you will hear His voice,

Do not harden your hearts.”

EHV God again set a certain day, namely, “today,” 

ESV again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” 

EXB So God ·planned [set; established; ordained] another day, called “today” [3:13].

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. [God has appointed another day of rest. It is no longer called the 7th day but “Today”. We do not need to wait for 6 days to pass before we can enter. We can enter this very moment.

NKJV ‘For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.’

NLT ‘For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.’ 

If it was yesterday it would be the OC Sabbath. If it was tomorrow we would have to wait until the afterlife to experience it. It is Today, we must experience it in this life now!]

9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. [Back then they had to wait for the day but now the day awaits us.

NLV “And so God’s people have a complete rest waiting for them.”

TPT “So we conclude that there is still a full and complete Sabbath-rest waiting for believers to experience.”]

10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. [It’s an eternal rest. No going back to work on Sunday/Monday.]


There is a difference between a ritual and reality. The Sabbath rest of God is not physical inactivity but a spiritual reality to be entered into. 

As possibly the final generation before the end of time we must come to grips with the fact that the things of God goes much deeper than just outward form, appearance or lawful practice. God is not impressed because the Sabbath keeper doesn’t light a fire or make their bed on a Saturday etc.

Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is the Sabbath today.

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