The Unique Sabbath- Final Day- Christ our Sabbath Rest

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

On each day of this series  we have looked carefully into the wonder of God’s Sabbath.  We have step by step drawn closer to the only one who can truly give us rest. The very concept that rest is a good and a desirable thing is being called into question, not only in the modern-day race for materials things as well as in the lives Christians.

But listen carefully to how God sets up the idea of Sabbath keeping in the Old Testament law.

“Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest  Exodus 34:21

God gave time to the work of creation, but then He separated a unique and Holy day as a blessing called rest. God participated in rest. A Sabbath rest was not something God did because He KIMG0996was worn out, but because there was a wonderful grace and beauty in that day. When Jesus called us to come He didn’t say, “Come to me and I will give you work.” but  He called,

Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest! Matthew 11:28 ESV

In the setting aside of a day we are not to follow some legal formula. Paul made it very clear in Romans that while one believer honors one day above another, another may honor a day as special, because  

Romans 14:5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

The purpose of remembering the Sabbath day is not so much a requirement to please God in our calendar choice, but about recognizing that until we rest fully in Christ we will in the end accomplish nothing. At the end of the road, it is Jesus Christ who is our true Holy Sabbath. Knowing Him and resting in His work is to enter into the promise that God made to men and women from the creation of the world. It is saying, It is all about Him!” in every aspect of our life.

The setting aside of a day is in no way making us more holy but it is a gentle and constant reminder, just as is the taking of Holy Communion reminds us of His death until He comes. I pray that through this brief “mini-series” on Sabbath rest that some one will pause long enough to reconsider the pace and purpose of the every increasing work load of our lives. Just as giving our offering or our tithe to the Lord is a step of faith that God will multiply what remains, so also our committing to a day of rest will give God the limitless opportunity to bless our days with abundance.

As we rest we depend more fully on Jesus. As we come to a stop for even a few quiet hours our racing thoughts calm to a hush in which we may begin to hear the whisper of God’s still small voice. To dine with the master we must first leave behind our own nets and humbly sit by his fire and eat that we He has prepared for us with His own nail pierced hands,

As believers in Jesus Christ we know that one day we will lay aside the last trappings of this life. In that moment as we enter into an even greater experience of our Sabbath rest in Him we may hear the voices of angels praying – (I think they pray in Hebrew!)

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe

The Unique Sabbath – Day Five – Keeping Sabbath

Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever.  Exodus 31:16

Keep / Shamar – To hedge about (as with thorns) to guard; gen. to protect… Strong’s Hebrew/Aramaic Dictionary

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I remember clearly my grandmother’s small front yard. There, around the edges of that bit of grass and pressing out ever so slightly into the sidewalk was a short hedge or barberry bushes. How I hated those tiny shrubs! Whenever I would brush my leg a bit too closely or if I ran my hands ever so gently over the tops, the small, almost invisible thorns would reach out and quickly grab hold of a bit of skin. Rarely could the barb be found and usually a few days needed to go by before my skin would somehow push out the invader and become whole again.

Grandmother planted those tiny guardians of the front yard to protect her grass area from becoming a shortcut for any of us as we headed around her corner on the way to the elementary school down the street. She was wise. She knew that neither signs, nor verbal warnings would do any more than stimulate childish retaliation. Her secret defense was the guard of thorns.

God has chosen to create one day out of seven in order to be a garden of rest for us, His children. The day was uniquely created as a gift. As Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man…” Mark 2:27. Before there was law and even before there was sin – there was Sabbath.

Sabbath is a gift but it is a fragile one. God has woven into the DNA of our bodies, minds and spirits, the need to delight in a Sabbath rest. This gift can be so easily trampled by the world around us, by the hustle of events and even by our own busy thoughts. Keeping Sabbath is not about pointing to rules or yelling at the neighbors to turn down their hip-hop music. Keeping Sabbath is about planting an internal hedge of thorns to slow down the buffalo stampede of our own minds, hearts and desires. On that day we are given a free choice. Just as God Himself rested on the Sabbath, so we can choose to join Him in that rest, Sabbath is a trusting pause between knowing that while there is  always important work to be done, God’s will includes a rest to guard and keep as we find a rest for our soul.

Why the Sabbath is Unique – Day Two – Healing

KIMG0841 And a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus,they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Matthew 12:10

Understanding how we can honor the Sabbath should begin by seeing how Jesus acted on the day of rest. One thing we seem to find over and over in the gospels is that He seemed to take special delight in choosing the Sabbath day for healing.

When the Pharisees were upset about seeing Jesus heal on the Sabbath He explained, ” it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath”  Matthew 12:12.  In other words, our day of rest is not simply a ceasing of all activity. Jesus was no less active on the Sabbath than on any other day. The Sabbath rest can be a day of miraculous restoration. At the finish of creation, God’s assessment of His work was, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…” Genesis 1:31 

But today when we look out around the world, even the rosiest of the rosiest views is that not all is good any longer. In fact there is incredible pain, suffering, sin and loss. Jesus came into our dark world to give us the breath of life again. He came to the weary and heavy laden to give a new Sabbath rest for our souls. The Sabbath is there at all times and in all places as God’s special day of healing, hope and restoration. It is a day set aside not simply to get rest while we watch TV, but to switch our focus to a service that gives life and rest to others.

Jesus accomplished more as He rested by the well and slept in the boat than the disciples did while buying food or pulling hard at the oars. God has given us the Sabbath day of rest as a gift. He has given us this unique day and waits by the well to see how we will choose to use His gift in the lives of those around us. Day one the question was, “Have you received God’s gift of the Sabbath? Day two let’s ask,  “To whom have we given it away?”