Of Instruction Concerning the Eternal Sabbath
Jesus said: "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the son of man is Lord also of the sabbath" (Mark 2:27, 28).
Here Jesus rejects the false approach of the leaders of the people to the sabbath. When God said in His law, "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy," (Exodus 20:8) He taught His people the principle and duty of a holy worship of God from the heart for their spiritual welfare. Falsely corrupting the sabbath into a mere abstaining from work, the leaders had made all manner of human rules about it. They neither understood the sabbath nor its true purpose. For "sabbath" means rest. Never a mere ceasing from bodily labor, the rest of God was a holy consecration unto God, communion with Him in the blessings of spiritual life as His people. While the leaders of the people thought man gave something to God by keeping the sabbath day, as if man could thereby earn his salvation, Jesus teaches the opposite. It was by the sabbath that God gave to His people His blessings. The day was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
Moreover, Jesus made it plain that in Him alone was that true spiritual sabbath or rest. He is the "Lord also of the sabbath." True rest with God, true spiritual peace, is found only in Jesus Christ. Because sin separates us from God, only through the death of Christ and reconciliation through His blood is peace with God to be found. Jesus is Lord of the sabbath because He came to establish that rest and impart it unto His people by faith. Therefore it is written, "For we who have believed do enter into rest." (Hebrews 4:3)
The law of God taught the people, "six days shalt thou labor 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." (Exodus 20:9, 10) By this God taught the people two vital spiritual principles. First, fellowship with God, a holy rest, could not be by their own works. Secondly, their own works could never bring them into God's rest because they were works of sin. The law then drove them to Christ, the Lord of the sabbath, to find righteousness and salvation in Him by faith.
Christ has fulfilled the law and made His people holy: "For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10:14) Therefore it is written of faith in Christ, "For he that is entered into rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his." (Hebrews 4:10). In God's finished work of salvation in Christ alone is true peace with God and eternal sabbath rest. This principle the unbelieving leaders did not understand, and in fact, rejected. They did not see that they must cease from their own works and enter by faith.
In Christ, by the forgiveness of sin, we now have true peace with God, true sabbath rest. The believer begins to live a life of holy consecration to God, an eternal sabbath of eternal life. In Christ the believer lives now in God's eternal sabbath rest. He has entered into rest in principle. On this basis, believers who have entered that rest by faith also have the calling to walk by faith and to daily labor to enter that rest out of faith. "...Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest." (Hebrews 4:11). For the Christian every day, not just one in seven, is very really the Sabbath day which he enters by faith. To keep the seventh day sabbath is to seek salvation by the works of the law, by one's own works. It is a denial that the Lord of the sabbath has come. Have you entered the true sabbath rest? Do you live in the enjoyment of it?
By Rev. Thomas Miersma, Missionary Pastor
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