The True Sabbath

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Have you ever stopped to ponder the biblical purpose of a day of rest?

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Hebrews 4:9-10

There used to be a time in the United States when most businesses were closed on Sundays. Slowly, beginning predominately in the 1970’s, this began to change. What had once been seen as a day reserved for church, family and rest became merely another day of the week. And now, there are very few businesses that choose to remain closed on Sundays.

Have you ever stopped to ponder the biblical purpose of a day of rest? Originally, the Sabbath was a part of the law; and breaking it could result in harsh judgment and punishment by God. Why did God ever institute the Sabbath, and what does it have to do with the New Covenant in Christ? The Sabbath was intended to serve as a reminder to God’s people of His provision for them. In those days, meeting basic needs required hard work…just as it still does in many underdeveloped nations. Eating required gardening, hunting, and cooking from scratch. Drinking required fetching water, not turning on a faucet. And yet they were commanded not to do any of this work on the Sabbath. To honor the Sabbath required tremendous faith in God’s goodness and care for His people. This day served as a continual reminder that God can be trusted.

God often referred to the Promised Land as a place of rest. Entering the land, for the Israelites, would be entering God’s rest. Yet those He delivered out of Egypt never got there. Why? It was because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:19). Ultimately, the Sabbath was a picture…it was a foreshadowing of the ultimate rest found only in Jesus Christ. That is why Hebrews 4:19 says that there remains a Sabbath-rest for God’s people, even though we are no longer bound by the law. And just like the Sabbath of long ago, entering in means that we rest from all of our work, just like God did on the seventh day of creation.

How do we enter His rest? We enter in the same way that the Israelites could have—by grace through faith. This is the gospel. We are saved not by our works, but by faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2). Believing in Christ means trusting in His provision for salvation. It is depending on the work He did at Calvary instead of trying to be good enough on our own merit. It is letting go and resting in His grace through belief in His finished work—that is the Sabbath-rest that remains.  

Father, I know that my salvation depends solely on You. I did not earn it; therefore I cannot lose it. Thank You for dying for my sins and raising to give me new life. I choose today to rest, by faith, in Your work that has set me free. Help me to spread this great news with others who need to hear from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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