Christ As Our Sabbath




When mankind gazes into the eternal heart and mind of God by means of God's written Word, he finds the plan of God and the truth of God revealed in what is called progressive revelation. God's revelation is simply divided into two-fold: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The perfect and masterful plan of God and many of the great promises of God find a deeper, dearer, and more effective personal meaning and application through understanding the temporal and eternal spiritual implications of the Sabbath. To properly understand the Sabbath, there are 3 divisions in God's progressive revelation to be examined: creation, The Old Testament law as promises to Israel and as a spiritual symbolism, and the teachings of Jesus Christ, which are further expounded on in the other books of the New Testament. The primary passage that deals with this topic is Hebrews 3:7-4:16. Simply said, Christ is our Sabbath.


Creation And The Sabbath


The Bible says in Genesis 2:1-3, "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 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. 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."


Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.” God is eternal, and God is a Spirit. Therefore, the spiritual was before the physical. Everything in the physical realm from the order of life to the function and shape of living things is symbolic of spiritual truth. And so most certainly is the order of the physical creation. The great Father and Shepherd of our souls is constantly yearning and trying to teach us important truths so that we can walk in close, wonderful fellowship with Him day by day. We should know for certain that there is a spiritual symbolism in the divine order of creation and specifically in God's action of resting on the seventh day because of its use as an illustration in Hebrews 4:4, "For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, and God did rest the seventh day from all His works."


In the context of Hebrews chapter 4 the apostle Paul is talking about the spiritual rest the believer has in Christ. After God finished creating this universe in 6 literal days, He rested. And Jehovah blessed the seventh day because He rested on it. Mcgee says, "When God finished His six days of work, He looked upon it and it was very good, and there was nothing else to do."1 Calvin says, "This language is intended to merely express the perfection of the fabric of the world."2


Does this mean that the seventh day was somehow a more special, holy, or spiritual day than the other days of creation? Absolutely not. God was merely giving us an example to follow in action. And symbolically, He was giving a very important truth concerning salvation. One day is certainly not more special than another day because the Bible says in Romans 14:5-6, "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and He that regardeth not the day, to the Lord He doth not regard it." To suggest that one day is more holy than another, is to suggest that one day is less holy than another. But God is Holy, which means that He is perfect. And When God finished His creation; His work was perfect.


Common sense will tell us there is a practical application being made in the physical order of life. If people worked and never rested or enjoyed life, they would die really fast. People need physical rest from their work. God doesn't. But God gave man an example to follow so that man would understand that it is good to enjoy what one has accomplished through his work. And that it is good to rest and enjoy the rest. Physical rest can be a very spiritual experience. Titus 1:15 says, "Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled." And spiritually, there is certainly a symbolism for salvation taught here. Christ is our rest.


Genesis 2:3 tells us that God blessed the Sabbath and sanctified it. The Hebrew verb used for sanctify is found commonly enough in the Old Testament, and is used in reference to the common spiritual connotation which we think of. In the New Testament the Greek word that is commonly used for bless means "to say good things about." When Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove, the mighty voice of God shouted from the eternal heavens and said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." God was blessing Jesus in this instance just as God blessed the seventh day. The great spiritual work of God in the souls of men was completed as Christ, the Author of our salvation, wrote the great novel with His own blood. So spiritually speaking: Christ is that seventh day that is blessed and sanctified, and was used to symbolize the perfect, Holy work of God.


Hebrews 4:10 says, "For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His." Here when the foundations of the world were first

laid, even before the age of the law, God was giving man a perfect illustration of the difference between law and grace. Because it's not about law or works, but its about grace. It is most likely that this lesson learned from God on the seventh day was not meant to be understood by the peoples of the earth until its full revelation in the age of grace. But the truth was there at the very beginning of the world. It is one of the first symbols of spiritual truth God gave to man. He probably did this to emphasize the importance of understanding the difference between law and grace. Letting Christ be one's rest, because of His perfect work, is the secret to experiencing the fullness of God's salvation and God's fellowship in this life. It is all about understanding and believing the promises of God. 4


The Old Testament Law and The Sabbath

The Promise To Israel


The promises of God, which are always based on faith, apply to both this life and the next. In other words there is both a present reality and a future hope. A law is a promise. God's promises are laws. In the Old Testament there are 3 kinds of laws found: moral laws, symbolic laws, and practical laws. The laws concerning the Sabbath are primarily symbolic in nature. There is a practical aspect for the Jews of the Old Testament to the Sabbath laws. Because of the great burden of the Levitical religious system, it certainly was beneficial to have a Sabbath day, especially considering the many ceremonial activities that occurred on those days. In reading the Ten Commandments, the practical aspect being emphasized can certainly be easily seen in Exodus 20:8-11 that says, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it." This certainly established a sure protection for people from being taken advantage of and overworked by their employers. But the primary emphasis given to the children of Israel concerning the Sabbath is to remember it.


Bush says, the word Remember, rkz, "implies more than the mere mental act of memory…not simply by mental reminiscence, but by special observance...the Sabbath was to be remembered by practical acknowledgment."3 It cannot be said for certain what extent of the spiritual symbolism concerning salvation was understood by the Jews. But there is a very practical spiritual application to remembering. Dunnam says the word Sabbath in the Hebrew word means "to cease" or "to rest." Dunnam says that two facts justified the Sabbath: God's resting on the 7nth day and "a commemoration of the Exodus in Egypt."4


If the Jews remembered the Sabbath like God had encouraged them to, then they would have remembered the great protection and provision of God in delivering them from slavery in Egypt and providing for their needs. They would have also remembered that God was the creator of the world and its natural order of life, and that He rested and told them to rest. Therefore despite any struggles in life they could have been encouraged in their faith that God would provide for them the rest they might need day to day, especially if He commanded it to them. Of course to the Jews in the Old Testament, the Sabbath was more than a spiritual symbolism. They lived in the age of the law. God's grace, mercy, and faithfulness is always abundantly seen throughout human history. But the nature of law is that it can only condemn. James 2:10 says, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." There certainly was a harshness, a just cruelty, and the very negative end of the principle of sowing what you reap experienced by the people of this age. Some of the judgment passed upon the nation of Israel was a punishment for their failure to remember the Sabbath.


The Spiritual Symbolism


Even though these circumstances and requirements of the Sabbath are not a burden placed upon the shoulders of God's people today, there is a very important lessen learned by Israel's mistake. Jude 5 says, "I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not." We may not be required to keep such external laws as the Old Testament Jews did. But we must remember what Christ did for us on the cross. We must remember the dark path of fear and slavery in our past that God delivered us from, and we must remember the promises of God for they tell of His power, provision, protection and of all His blessings. Hebrews 2:1 says, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at anytime we should let them slip." And Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 as well contain similar warnings to the believer in Christ. There was a physical rest and blessing of the land of Canaan promised to the people of Israel. The majority of the Old Testament Jews missed out big time on these promises of God, partly because of their failure to keep the Sabbath.


Spiritually speaking, there is a Canaan rest for the New Testament Jew. Jesus said in John 10:10, "I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly." It is not about how much one may possess materially that determines one’s happiness or state of blessedness. But it is also about how much one is thankful and walks closely with Christ; that determines the extent of one’s satisfaction and enjoyment physically. And spiritually the riches are always great in terms of having the fruits of the Spirit and the eternal opportunities and gifts of God. Hebrews 4:6 says, "Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief." Ironside says, "We have present rest as we truly believe God, and thus enjoy the rest of faith."6 Pink says that the word preached is the Greek word… eujaggelisqevnte$ a different version of the word eujaggelivzw. Pink says, "this shows us, first, that God has employed only one instrument in the saving of sinners from the beginning."7 So in other words the same principle of the 4th Commandment which was given to the Old Testament Jews applies to the New Testament believer. The New Testament believer simply has the complete spiritual revelation and without the burden of the law upon him. Still both ways it was based upon faith, which is exactly what Hebrews 4:3 and 4:6 is teaching.


The New Testament Teaching Concerning the Sabbath

The Teachings of Christ


The Bible says in John 1:17, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." The law is external. The law is a list of rules and regulations. The law can only condemn. And the law is symbolic in nature. It is an external or physical symbolism of spiritual and internal things that apply in the heart of man and come from the heart of God. For example, the commandment, "thou shalt not kill," is symbolic for the internal thou shalt not hate. The Sabbath is symbolic by its very nature. The Bible says in Colossians 2:16-17, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Hebrews 10:1 says the law has a shadow of good things to come but not the very image of the things. Jesus said in Mark chapter 2:27-28, "And He said unto them, the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath." There are countless incidents recorded in the life of Jesus when Jesus did something on the Sabbath day, whether it be plucking food to eat or especially healing the sick and the lame. And in these incidents, the self-righteous Pharisees always sought to condemn and to criticize the Christ. When Christ spoke on the Sabbath concerning a practical aspect He said, "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." In other words, the Sabbath is not some religious day where there is a burden of keeping laws and restraining yourself from certain activities of life. But rather, it is just as it was for God on the seventh day. It is a day to rest. Count your blessing one by one; a day to enjoy the blessing of God found through forgiveness in His Son, Jesus Christ. Which, of course, is what every day of the week is meant to be for the child of God.


The Spiritual Fullness Of The Sabbath


The unspiritual and self-righteous people of the world will always focus on external things as religion. They will always be legalistic in their teachings. And they will never ever understand the symbolic truths God has given to man. And these unspiritual self-righteous people of the world will most often be found in the prominent positions of religious organizations just like they were in Jesus' day. But for those who seek the truth of Christ, like a jewel worth the price of a thousand worlds, there will be a great and wonderful freedom found in the teachings of Christ. Hebrews 4:9-10 says, "There remaineth a rest therefore to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased form his own works, as God did from His."


Maybe Christians today think of Sunday; the way the Old Testament Jews, under the law, thought of the Sabbath years ago. But it is a legalist and unspiritual perception. The Bible says in Psalms 91:1, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." Christ is our Sabbath. If Christ is in your heart, then you remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. Jesus died for the sins of the world. Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law. Jesus defeated death and the devil. All the riches of the kingdom of God are made available to the believer in Jesus. Galatians 2:20 says, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Because of the Spiritual work that was completed in Christ, there is rest. There is rest from the temptations of the flesh. There is rest from the sorrows, pains, and fears of this life. There is rest from the persecution of the world. And above all there is rest from the condemnation of the law, and rest from the need to make things right with God because Christ has made peace with God for us. I John 5:4 says "And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." Faith in the promises of God is our rest. Christ is our rest.




After God created this world, the very first thing that He did was to leave for us an eternal reminder of His great goodness through the symbolism of His actions in resting on the seventh day. And then God spent several thousand years preparing mankind to have the opportunity to really and truly appreciate and enjoy the blessings of His grace through Christ being our rest, by giving us the age of the law: because the age of the law shows us our own weakness and the righteous condemnation of the law. But then came the age of grace, when God himself came in the flesh to teach us the true meaning of the Sabbath. And He taught us indeed, by dying on the cross for the sins of the world. There is now an eternal rest that the penitent soul can find. There is a saying that goes, "no rest for the wicked." The contrast between Christ being one's rest and not is found in the difference between heaven and hell. For the souls that constantly writhe in agony, consumed in the flames of the lake of fire and tormented in their conscience by the guilt of their sins like a worm that dieth not, there is certainly no rest. But for the believer in Christ who can honestly say, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want," there is rest indeed in this life and in the next. What greater rest is there than to lie in the arms of your lover and forget all of your troubles? Christ will forgive. Christ will love and He will love unconditionally. And Christ will bless and will bless again, and again. Psalms 23:6 says, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Christ is our rest.



Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved