The word Sabbath simply means rest. As we have been seeing in Part I and Part II of this series, it is God’s intention for His people to take time out of their busy schedules to remember Him as creator and worship Him as God. But in order to fully understand the true meaning of Sabbath we must know that the Sabbath finds it’s true fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
The author of Hebrews gives us a warning from the Old Testament Israelites who hardened their hearts toward God. Because of their lack of faith in God’s promise, they failed to enter into the promised land and instead wandered around the desert for 40 years (Hebrews 3:7-11).
The author of Hebrews goes on in Chapter 4:1-4:
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,“As I swore in my wrath,‘They shall not enter my rest,’”although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.
We enter into the rest of God because the Gospel (good news) has opened our eyes to the truth of Jesus Christ. Notice how clearly the author makes the connection between the believer’s rest in God and God’s resting after creation (Genesis 2:2).
This is what Christ means when he says the He is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). The religious leaders had missed the point of the Sabbath as rest for God’s people. Where does one find true and ultimate rest? In Christ alone.
What does Christ our Sabbath mean for us?
1. No more working to achieve God’s favor
Hebrews 4:9-10 says, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His.” We rest from religious strivings because Christ has done what we could not do in paying the price for our sin and making us His own.
2. No more eternal anxiety
In John 10:28 Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” We can peacefully rest in the fact that our future with Christ is secure.
3. No more condemnation
Romans 8:1-4 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
The list goes on and on. Because of Christ our Sabbath we no longer have to seek the world’s pleasure, settle for lesser things, endlessly search for joy and peace. He has done it! His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
Our weekly practice of Sabbath will be meaningless without a daily practice of resting in Christ alone as our Sabbath rest.
Next week- Part IV of IV: Resources on Sabbath