Is the Sabbath Rest a requirement for Today?

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3

Objective: To finally bring you to ‘rest’ on the whole question concerning ‘keeping the Sabbath’ i.e. to do no work on Saturdays (or some other appointed day)

  • Why did God rest, was He tired?
    • No, God doesn’t get tired. “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.” Isaiah 40:28 
  • Why then did He rest?

The importance of the Sabbath

God rested because He wanted to make a point, a point so important He had to state it at the very beginning, from the creation of all things, to make sure we didn’t miss it.

God didn’t tithe or circumcise Adam on the seventh day, He rested.

God went as far as to bless and sanctify the day, something He didn’t do with any other day. The Sabbath rest of God for His people was very important for Israel and still is very important for today’s believer. As if that was not enough He included it as one of the ten commandments that He personally wrote and that spans all time, both Old and New Testament. The penalty for not honouring the Sabbath was death. Exodus 31:12-17. 

If the Sabbath rest of God is so important…

  1. What exactly is the Sabbath? Is it simply a physical rest on a physical day?
  2. When is the Sabbath? Are all those who are passionate and sincere about ceasing work on Friday evening till Saturday evening really keeping the Sabbath, have they entered God’s rest?
  3. Should we (Gentile believers) be keeping it?
  4. If yes, How do we keep it?

If we are God’s people we must keep the Sabbath and that’s why it is imperative that we find out what it is, when it is and how it is to be observed today.  

Don’t stop reading here. I could almost guarantee you that you’ve never heard this perspective on the whole issue of the Sabbath.


Here’s the shocker

God was very clear when He instituted the Sabbath as a covenant between Himself and Israel. Exodus 31:16 If you got a bit too casual about this covenant and decided you would do some work on the Sabbath you would be killed. That’s how serious the seventh day Sabbath was.

But then Paul in a NC context seems to be very dismissive about it. He says, “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

IS PAUL CONTRADICTING GOD?

No, we must understand that all those ritualistic requirements of the OC were nothing more than a sign post, a shadow that was pointing to the real thing, Christ. Now that Christ has come and fulfilled the law, the OC with it’s rituals are done away with. They have been made obsolete. 

“In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” Hebrews 8:13 

Under the OC they were told what they must or must not physically do. Under the NC however, God said He would give us a heart that won’t even desire to do wrong and a mind that won’t even think of disobeying. The Spirit of God will do a work on the inside of us.

So, let us stop trying to fulfill what Christ has already fulfilled and begin to live according to the NC of which Christ is the substance, a covenant ratified by the very blood of Jesus. 


The true Sabbath under a Christ enacted Covenant (NC)

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29 

The NC rest/Sabbath is given by Jesus to those who come to Him. It is not just skin deep but brings our very souls into rest. If your body is at rest while your soul is in turmoil you have not come into the Sabbath rest of God. 

The NC Sabbath…

  • Frees us from anxiety and fears.
  • Gives us peace that the human mind cannot comprehend. 
  • It gives us joy unspeakable and full of glory. 

“Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:28 

The NC Sabbath is the real thing and not just a ritual. 

Today the Sabbath is called SALVATION


Here’s the Confirmation

“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” Hebrews 4:2

The Israelites in the wilderness had the same gospel preached to them as it is preached to us. Back then those who did not believe it did not enter into rest. Today those who do not believe it will not be saved.

The Sabbath rest today is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

“For we who have believed do enter that rest…” Hebrews 4:3

What Rest?

God’s rest – Not just rest, not a days rest or a holiday rest but God’s rest

Hebrews 4:6-11

  • V1 – The door to enter God’s rest is still open.
  • V2 – Those who do not believe the gospel, OC or NC, will not enter it.
  • V6 – Two reasons some of God’s people didn’t enter His rest. Lack of faith and disobedience
  • V7 – God changed the name of the day from ‘Seventh Day’ to ‘Today’. Isn’t it ironic that the time for salvation is also ‘Today’. “In the Scriptures God says, ‘When the time came, I listened to you, and when you needed help, I came to save you.’ That time has come. This is the day for you to be saved.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 (CEV)
    • Today is the day we should enter God’s rest
    • Today is the day we must be saved
  • V8-10 – They used to have to make sacrifices for sins over and over again but Jesus’ sacrifice put an end to that. He was sacrificed once for all, forever. Similarly they used to take a Sabbath rest once a week only to return to work Monday morning. But then Jesus brought salvation, a rest for the souls of all, forever. God’s rest is an eternal rest.

Conclusion

Should we keep the Sabbath? Yes, we must! “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:11

See to it that the depth of your salvation didn’t end when you repeated the ‘sinner’s prayer’. For your own sake see to it that your faith in Christ didn’t fall short of bringing you into His rest and peace.

If you haven’t come into His rest yet I urge you to seek Him diligently through prayer, the reading of His word and obedience. For starters, stop being afraid and anxious about what you’re going to eat or wear or where you’re going to live. Trust God and rest in His assurances.

by H. Slack

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