Friday, September 12, 2008

The Rest That Remains

There are clues in the Old Testament that point forward to the gospel through symbol, prophecy, feast, Sabbath, regulation and revelation. One that I love is this, “…keep the Sabbath day holy by not carrying any load as you come through the gates…” Jer 17:27 (NIV). This is the shadow and meaning of the true Sabbath

. We hear the answer'Gate to the Secret Garden' by Cherry Brandstater' to that law in John 10:9, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” So this is how we keep the Sabbath, by laying down our heavy burdens at the foot of the cross. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28 (NIV) Immediately after that is the story of Jesus and the disciples picking and eating wheat in a field on the Sabbath. Here Jesus broke or destroyed the Sabbath day and declared that The Sabbath had come. Imagine how blasphemous that must have sounded to the people when this man who lived among them asserted Lordship over the Sabbath day. But the writer of Hebrews must have pondered all of the acts of Jesus with regard to the Sabbath and come to the conclusion that there did remain a Sabbath rest in the New Covenant. I can imagine the dawning of understanding as this author saw, for the first time, the true meaning of the Sabbath. The pieces of scripture must have snapped together like a puzzle with the unveiling of the risen Savior. I would love to have been there to see the lights go on when he wrote Hebrews 4:1-10.

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” From Jeremiah, we saw that there was a law forbidding anyone to enter the gates of the city with a heavy burden. At that point in history they didn’t have a clue why that rule had been made or to Whom it pointed.

“Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, ’So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" The Israelites had the Sabbath during the exodus, My beautiful grandson, Ethanbut they did not enter into the rest to which the Sabbath pointed. That could only be entered by faith thru the gospel of Jesus. In Joshua’s time “there was rest on every side” but that was rest from their enemies. They also had the Sabbath but did not enter into the rest God spoke about as “today.” “It still remains that some will enter that rest. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it ‘Today.’” (The Greek word that is translated, today, carries the meaning, "as long as it is called Today." Not one day out of seven.)

“For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 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.” The word for "Sabbath-rest" in this text is Sabbatismos This is the only instance where this word is used in scripture. In fact, it is the first known use of the word anywhere. It was probably coined by the author to connote a new Sabbath rest for the New Covenant. He was highlighting a distinction between the weekly time-based Sabbath of the Old Covenant, with the new relationship-based Sabbath of the New Covenant. In the New, the Sabbath lasts for as long as it is today, every day. This is a higher rest, a better rest, the reality of rest. In adopting this rest we are not giving up anything, but gaining everything.

So, finally, in Jesus, the shadow meets substance; the ritual meets reality. This is what the Sabbath was intended to teach from its inception on Mount Sinai. Just as God rested from His work in creation, so the Christian rests from his or her work toward salvation. Remember the two reasons given for the Sabbath commandment in the Old Covenant? Creation (the rest from work) and deliverance from Egypt (salvation). Egypt in scripture symbolizes sin. So, Sabbath rest for the Christian is rest from works toward salvation because Jesus is the Sabbatismos! “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God” and it is called “Today.” That is the day God has blessed in the New Covenant, Today, every day. Just like the seventh day in creation, it has no end, no sunset table - just as God intended our Sabbath rest to be from creation. Sin brought the shortening of the Sabbath to one day out of seven with an exact beginning and an exact end. Even though the Israelites kept the Sabbath clear up to the time of Jesus, we are told that they did not enter into the rest God intends.

We don’t belong to the covenant that leads to slavery and requires a tax of one day out of seven, however blessed it was. We can choose the greater blessing of living in the Sabbath every day since Jesus is the Sabbath. The one day can be swallowed up into the seven, the number of completeness. This doesn’t do away with setting aside time to worship and gather. Christians have always done that. But there is a far greater blessing since Jesus’ resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Sabbatismos - the highest, the best - now dwells within, and there is no sundown marking the beginning or the end because His gifts are never pulled back, they are always expanded and deepened and enriched. What will we choose? Sabbatan or Sabbatismos? The Sabbath of enough, or the Sabbath of more than enough? The shadows are gone. The Substance has come: Sabbatismos! JESUS!

“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…”

Summary of The Rest That Remains:

1) The Old Testament contains rich symbolism that describes the ministry and redemption of which Jesus is the reality.

2) The Sabbath was endowed with the concept of completion and rest as people were prevented from carrying heavy burdens as they entered thru the gate of the city.

3) Jesus helped them make the connection by saying that He was the gate. He invited people to come in and find pasture or rest from their heavy burdens.

4) The writer of Hebrews made the connections, too, when he realized that even though Israel (under both Moses and Joshua) had the Sabbath they did not enter the rest that God had waiting for them.

5) He understood the connection of the creation allusion in the Sabbath commandment: Just as God rested from His work in creation so are we to rest from our works toward salvation.

6) How much blessing do we want? One out of seven, or seven out of seven? We can make the choice.

7) He coined a new word, Sabbatismos, the ultimate rest, Jesus, The Sabbath.

Ultimate Rest Table of Contents

A Prayer of Freedom For the Adventist Heart


Anonymous said...

simply beautiful, i have finally come to this rest and starting to walk in it and it is Him.

Gently Broken said...

To Anonymous, I rejoice with you!! And I pray that many more will enter into His rest and freedom. Thank you for sharing.

Randi said...

It's Funny this is what I have always thought, that Jesus is our sabbath rest and as God rested from his work so are we to rest from our work towards salvation. God wants our heart EVERY day, not just one out of seven. I can really see why you made the title of this site Gently broken because the things we were taught were so misguided and yet done in such a way to provoke fear that it takes a gentle approach to hear and change our thought process.Its all about Jesus!!!!!

Gently Broken said...

Yes, Randi, it takes Jesus to break down the layers of guilt and error that are piled around us from childhood - and He is always gentle. It IS all about Jesus. I taught these studies as classes in an Adventist church for a year. The comment that pleased me the most was, "This class really isn't about the Sabbath, it's about Jesus." YES, YES, YES. Shine, Jesus shine.