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What is the Sabbath?

JESUS IS OUR SABBATH REST

To understand how Jesus is our Sabbath rest is the Hebrew word sabat, which means “to rest or stop or cease from work.” The origin of the Sabbath goes back to the Creation. After creating the heavens and the earth in six literal 24 hour days, God “rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made” (Genesis 2:2). This does not mean that God was tired and needed a rest. We know that our God is omnipotent, literally “all-powerful.” He has all the energy and power in the universe, He never get’s tired, and His most hard expenditure of energy does not diminish His power one bit at all. So, what does it mean that God rested on the seventh day? Simply that He stopped what He was doing, HE ceased from His labors. This is important in understanding the establishment of the Sabbath day and the role of Christ as our Sabbath rest.

God used the example of His resting on the seventh day of Creation to establish the principle of the Sabbath day rest for His people. In Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15, God gave the Israelites the fourth of His Ten Commandments. They were to “remember” the Sabbath day and “keep it holy.” One day out of every seven, they were to rest from their labors and give the same day of rest to their servants and animals. This was not just a physical rest, but a stopping of laboring. Whatever work they were engaged in was to stop for a full day each week. The Sabbath day was established so the people would rest from their labors, only to begin again after a one-day rest. AMEN

Jesus can be our Sabbath rest in part because He is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8). As God incarnate, He decides the true meaning of the Sabbath because He created it, and He is our Sabbath rest in the flesh. When the Pharisees criticized Him for healing on the Sabbath, Jesus reminded them that even they, sinful as they were, would not hesitate to pull a sheep out of a pit on the Sabbath. Because He came to seek and save His sheep who would hear His voice (John 10:3,27) and enter into the Sabbath rest He provided by his death on the cross as a sin offering for those who obey. He could break the Sabbath rules. He told the Pharisees that people are more important than sheep and the salvation He provided was more important than rules. By saying, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27), Jesus was restating the principle that the Sabbath rest was instituted to relieve man of his labors. We no longer rest for only one day, but forever cease our laboring because of HIS sacrifice on the cross. Jesus is our rest now, just as He is the door to heaven, where we will rest in Him forever as long as we pick up our cross daily and abide (obey) in Him.

Hebrews 4 is the definitive passage regarding Jesus as our Sabbath rest. The writer to the Hebrews exhorts his readers to “enter in” to the Sabbath rest provided by Christ. After three chapters of telling them that Jesus is superior to the angels and that He is our Apostle and High Priest, he pleads with them to not harden their hearts against Him, as their fathers hardened their hearts against the Lord in the wilderness. Because of their unbelief, God denied that generation access to the holy land, saying, “They shall not enter into My rest” (Hebrews 3:11). In the same way, the writer to the Hebrews begs his readers not to make the same mistake by rejecting God’s Sabbath rest in Jesus Christ. “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. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:1–11).

Heb 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
Heb 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
Heb 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Heb 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.
Heb 4:5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
Heb 4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
Heb 4:7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Heb 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
Heb 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
Heb 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
Heb 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

There is no other Sabbath rest besides Jesus.


There has been much confusion caused by grievous wolves on this subject of the Lord’s Day. Beware of the Judaizers that try to keep the law of Moses! The testimony of the Word of God is clear to those who don’t have an ax to grind — or a date at their favorite Restaurant.

WHAT IT IS NOT

1. It is not the Jewish Sabbath. Contrary to Seventh Day Adventist literature; Gentile Christians are not required to keep the Jewish Sabbath, which was Saturday. It was a part of the old covenant between God and Israel “throughout their generations” (Ex. 31:12-18). It was no more “perpetual” than other ceremonial laws (Ex. 29:9,
Lev. 24:9). It was not given before Moses (Ex. 16:23-30; Deut. 5:2,3,15; Neh. 9:13,14; Ez. 20:10,12; Justin Martyr Dialog with Trypho).
 
It was not required of Gentile Christians, being part of the old covenant ceremonial laws (Acts.15, 21:25; Rom. 14:5; 2 Cor. 3:6-16; Gal. 4:10,21-31; Eph. 2:14,15; Col. 2:13-17; Heb. 4; 7:12; 8:6-13; 10:9,10
12:18-20); and Jesus, through his apostles, established a new memorial day, commemorating Jesus’ redemptive work, which was much more glorious than deliverance from Egypt or creation. This was all foreshadowed in the Old Testament and is an exciting study.

WHAT IT IS

The testimony of the New Testament is this: Jesus rose the first day of the week (Mt 28:1, Mr 16:2, Mr 16:9, Lu 24:1, John 20:1, John 20:19)
He appeared to his disciples on the first day of the week (The resurrection day and the next Sunday- John 20:19,26); Pentecost was on the first day of the week (Lev. 23:15,16).
 
The disciples came together for communion on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
 
Paul admonishes them to take up their collection when they meet on the first day of the week (I Cor. 16:1-2).
 
John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:10).
 
All the early church writings verify it was on the first day of the week, Sunday.
 
“Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead” Barnabas AD 100 (chapter 15)116
“But every Lord’s Day, gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, so that your sacrifice may be pure.” Didache 80-140 AD
 
“No longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day.” Ignatius 35-107 AD
 
“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read….But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God ….made the world. And Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead on that same day.” Justin Martyr 140 AD
 
John died about 96 AD, so all the previous quotes are within 44 years of John’s death. Ignatius was the second bishop of Antioch, where the disciples were first called Christians, and knew the apostles.
 
“In fulfillment of the commandment according to the Gospel, a person keeps the Lord’s Day….” Clement of Alexandria 195 AD
 
[Mark Bullen] Teaching Them to Obey