When I was a kid and went to temple, we went Friday night to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy (set apart). Some of my Jewish friends went on Saturday morning. In the same way, some Christians believe in setting apart the Sabbath rest for Saturday – and yet most others on Sunday.
In Exodus 20:8-11, The Lord commands His people to rest from their works – we labor for 6 days, and rest for 1. Yet, the people of Israel failed to enter any true physical or spiritual rest – and subsequently the people endured a long 40 year delay in gaining the Promised Land.
Persuading the heavily persecuted Jewish people “experimenting” with the idea of Jesus to stop running back in fear to the temple and the law – the author of Hebrews says that post cross God hasn’t appointed a specific day of rest … but rather TODAY!
Hebrews 4:6-10 (ESV)
6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience (unbelief), 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Jesus IS our rest, and no matter our storm - we enter His peace by belief. When we enter His rest by deep heart felt belief, we rest from our works … yes, even while working or “faithing” hard.
Remember, the book of Hebrews is written to Jewish “almost” believers in Christ who are being heavily persecuted by the angry Jewish elite. These “experimenting” Jews were beaten, flogged, raped, jailed, killed, and yes even sawed in half – 7 days a week. They didn’t choose WHICH days of the week to be persecuted, and which days to rest.
Look, the Greek word for “rest” (katapausis) is a noun, not a verb. This rest isn’t an action or an activity … it’s a Person. We rest in Jesus and His perfect peace.
Jesus says, “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:6-8
Jesus IS the Lord of The Sabbath. We don’t set aside a day of the week, we set aside ourselves daily and simply trust that He is good. Folks, the day of the week isn’t to be set aside as holy, we are! We don’t trust in our own works, we trust in His finished works – no matter what our eyes see.
In the context of our FULL freedom in Christ and obeying the 613 laws, Paul says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump (Galatians 5:9 ESV).” If we start to contractually legislate what, how, when, and why we do things – we miss WHO we are in the process. Our what, why, when, and how simply begin to permeate into the whole WHO!
A little bit of law, just a little bit of legal covenant, a little bit of contractual relationship building with God … takes unmerited favor and makes it based on both works and merit. As a co-heir and co-laborer, grace is already full supply. God can’t love you any more or less than He already does!
Can we take off a day of the week and rest? Absolutely! It’s healthy, and a very good practice. But, as part of the PERFECT and COMPLETE covenant cut between Father and Son - we truly believe unto rest 24/7 in a God who has our backs 24/7.