In Genesis 1:31 the Bible states, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good…”
Genesis 2:1-3 declares, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2) And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3) And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
When God completed His creation He viewed everything as “very good.” There was no sin in all of His created work! To celebrate the completion of His work, God blessed and sanctified this period of time known as the seventh day. There was no more work to be done. All things were well. So God ceased from His work. Then came sin.
The seventh day mentioned in creation had marked the beginning of all things good. There was true harmony in all of creation. Thus the seventh day did not only speak of a 24 hour period of time following the literal six days of work, it also stood for the rest received by all things in all of God’s creation. What I am saying is that this seventh day was the beginning of what God intended to be eternal for His creation. There would be no need of counting an eight, ninth, tenth day, and so on. The seventh day brought completion and what could have been eternal harmony, but then man broke the law of God.
Romans 5:12 states, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin…”
When sin entered God’s creation through the act of disobedience, God once more engaged His creation through work and thus the rest and completed work of God came to an end. Time to dust off the gloves, so to speak. (John 5:17 NET, “My Father is working until now, and I too am working.”)
A look at the Sabbath.
God created the Sabbath in order to commemorate His completed work. This was God’s way of reminding man that he had lost something wonderful in the fall. The Sabbath, which was introduced to remind man to desist from sin, was never intended to be a burden. The Sabbath was God’s way of saying, “remember when everything was good?”
When we come to the New Testament we find Jesus reminding us that He was Lord of the Sabbath. What did Christ mean? Was He telling His followers that He was the boss, and don’t forget it? No. Jesus came to bring us back home; back to Eden if you will. Back to when all was well in all of God’s creation.
Let’s now look at Hebrews four.
When we read Hebrews chapter four what do we see? Verse 6 tells us that the Jews, never entered into God’s rest. Yet when we read the Bible it’s clear to see that many of the Jews kept the Sabbath. What was the rest that they did not enter into? That rest is Jesus! Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…” The “rest” of Jesus occurred when Christ completed the work of God at Calvary. “…The law was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made…” “It is Finished” was Christ’s words while on the cross. Thus signifying the beginning of the end. Now the way back to God’s intended eternal rest was made possible through Christ’s own sacrifice. (Galatians 3:19; John 19:30). What did the promise encompass? “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14). Okay, there are two things to note in that verse. First, the blessings of Abraham, and second, the promise of the Spirit through faith. The blessing of Abraham can be found in Genesis 12:1-3. This blessing speaks of being made a great nation, a general blessing is pronounced, and the making of his name great. 1 Peter 2:9, 10 speaking to those in Christ as being a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a special people. Verse 10 states, “now, the people of God.” The second point from Galatians 3:14 is the promise of the Spirit. What does the Spirit do? Ephesians 1:13b, 14a “…after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest [pledge] of our inheritance until [our] redemption…”
When Adam fell the rest ended. To put it another way, after the fall of man, God went back to work. The work of God was the retrieving of fallen man. Christ came to seal the deal, so to speak. Jesus came to finish the work of saving man; Christ completed the task at hand. Through Jesus Christ’s obedience to the Father we now can have hope of once again entering into the eternal rest of God.
Hebrews 4:9 says, “There remains therefore a rest to the people of God.” Did you catch that, it’s in the future, when Christ comes and we cease from our labors, we will enter into the eternal rest of God.
Hebrews 4:10 tells us, “For he that is entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” This is a clear reference to the rest enacted in Genesis 2:1-3.
Hebrews 4:11 tells us that we must strive to enter into this eternal rest. How? By “fighting the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).
Today, as we walk by faith we place our confidence exclusively in Christ as our Sabbath rest. We do not look to a day as a reminder of our separation from what is good. No. We look to Christ as one who has finished the race. We look to Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. We look to the Lamb of God who takes away our sin. We enter into the eternal rest of God through Christ alone! The day once pointed to the way things were; Christ now supplies all our needs. “And you are complete in him, [Christ] which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:10).
Some ask me why I keep the Sabbath. This may surprise some of you, but I don’t keep the Sabbath because of the Ten Commandments. That Sabbath was part of the Old Covenant, Deuteronomy 9:9 calls the tablets of stone the tablets of the covenant. Clearly we are under a New Covenant, therefore, Christ is our Sabbath rest. I observe the Sabbath, not under command, but through the impulse of my heart. Now that Christ has completed the work of the Father to bring us back to Him, and because Christ is Lord of the Sabbath, I owe allegiance to Him. My heart desires to recognize Christ in all I do. Jesus is my Sabbath rest! Not the Law of Moses. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Jesus is the door; “By me [Jesus said] if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9). Why would I look anywhere else?
Now, we celebrate the finished work of Christ each an every Sabbath. We look forward to the day that He appears in the clouds. Christ is truly our Sabbath rest!
When God told Israel to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), He was directing them to, (if I may borrow from Revelation 2:5) “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent…”
Today, believers have the Holy Spirit of God within their spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:17). Christ now abides within the believer (John 14:23). He who is Lord of the Sabbath has invited us who believe to be “members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Ephesians 5:30). We have the living Savior, who alone gives us eternal rest. “This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23; Matthew 21:42).
Soon, Christ will appear, literally, we will see Jesus! Until that day, may we be found faithful. “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief [displayed in the lives of the unbelieving Jews]” (Hebrews 4:11). Let us follow the example of faith. Paul stated, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
May we enter into that rest. And we shall, as long as we rest in Christ alone.