Posted by: Heather | March 22, 2009

There Remains A Rest for God’s People

First, let me say that I don’t think this is a salvation issue.

Second, I don’t want to argue with anyone about this.

Third, don’t take my word for it, as Scripture says (Romans 14) that we should each be convinced in our own minds, we are blessed if we do not condemn ourselves by what we approve, and whatever does not come from faith is sin.

In Exodus chapter 20, God said to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy, because God created the world in 6 days, and on the seventh day he rested. Why did God rest on the seventh day? Was it because he needed a break, He was just too tired? I think not. I think He rested because his work was complete and everything (in all of creation) was “very good.” I think this is what is intended by the author of Hebrews in the end of this verse:
Hebrews 4:3
(3) For we who have believed do enter into that rest; even as he hath said, As I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Many say that the Sabbath was kept from creation. I find one problem with this assertion. I do not read one account in all of Genesis, or before Exodus 20 of a Sabbath being kept. I do not even find where God told Adam and Eve to rest with Him. It simply says He rested. Now when I have mentioned this, the return question has been whether I can find a place where it was not kept, and no such place is there either. So it cannot be proven from scripture either way whether or not the Sabbath was kept before Sinai.

Next, I find it interesting to compare the lists of sins in the old and new testament when sinners are condemned. You will find the accusation repeatedly in the old testament prophets that Israel did not keep the Sabbaths. However, you will not find “sabbath breakers” or any such phrase in the lists in the new testament. I think this is significant. Some do not.

How did Jesus treat the Sabbath? John 5:18 says he broke the sabbath. Now people tend to get excited when I say this, I understand. They say I don’t get it. It was the Jews who thought he was breaking the sabbath. However, that is not how it reads. John (the narrator) says the Jews were seeking to kill him for two reasons. First, he broke the sabbath; and second, he made himself equal with God (no argument there, he was indeed making himself equal with God). In addition, look at Jesus’ argument to them. He did not say, “you guys don’t understand, I am keeping the sabbath, you’ve just gotten carried away with your idea of keeping the sabbath” No, he pointed to how He is the judge of all mankind and will one day judge them. He said he is the one who decides who is judged and who is condemned.

Now in case you are thinking I am saying Jesus sinned, I am not. Jesus said that he did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. (Matt. 5:17) So if he appeared to be destroying the sabbath, he must in fact be fulfilling it.

How could he fulfill it? I think it is in the same way that he fulfilled the atonement sacrifice.

Hebrews 9:25-28

(25) Nor yet that He should offer Himself often, even as the high priest enters into the Holy of Holies every year with the blood of others
(26) (for then He must have suffered often since the foundation of the world), but now once in the end of the world He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
(27) And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment,
(28) so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. And to those who look for Him He shall appear the second time without sin to salvation.

You see, the atonement sacrifice did not do anything to atone for sin, it was only a shadow of the true atonement sacrifice that was yet to come.

I believe in the same way, the sabbath looked back to a time when God rested because all was as it should be, and also looked forward to a time when the work of redemption would be complete and man could rest in God’s presence.

This was fulfilled when Jesus (the man) sat down at the right hand of the Father.

This is what I believe is spoken of here:

Hebrews 4:9-16

(9) So then there remains a rest to the people of God.
(10) For he who has entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His.
(11) Therefore let us labor to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of unbelief.
(12) For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing apart of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
(13) Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
(14) Since then we have a great High Priest who has passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
(15) For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted just as we are, yet without sin.
(16) Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice in my place, He sits at rest on the right hand of the Father. Since Christ is seated with the Father, I can go boldly to the throne of grace and obtain mercy. This allows me to enter the rest.

The difference between this rest and the Sabbath of the Sinai is that this rest does not end. The seventh day always ended, and the work had to continue. However, now I can enter a rest that does not end.

So as Romans 14 says, some consider every day the same. It is not that I don’t observe the Sabbath. My sabbath never ends, and it is a time where I am holy unto the Lord. It does not matter to me whether it is Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday. My rest does not end.

I believe this is the meaning of Hebrews 4:9
(9) So then there remains a rest to the people of God. (emphasis added)

What do you think?




  1. Mary,I agree with you there. Actually, it is my opinion that the Sabbath was the sign of the covenant at Sinai, and the Lord’s Supper is the sign of the new covenant. Personally, I am not “keeping the Sabbath” when I go to church.There are those who are better at history than I am who claim that the switch to Sunday did not happen until about 300 AD. Personally, I have not attempted to verify that claim, because the particular day does not matter to me. I would be in the category mentioned in Romans of those who consider every day to be the same.Incidentally, I don’t see a difference in the old testament law between the 7 day Sabbath, the feasts, the 7th year,and the year of jubalee. I think if you try to keep one, you have to keep them all. God actually called all of them “Sabbaths”Just some random thoughts.Craig

  2. Mary, If you believe the Sabbath is a creation ordinance, than you should keep it, and I would not want to try to talk you out of it. The reason is that what you do must be out of faith, and I don’t want to get in the way of that.I believe Hebrews 3 and 4 are (among other things) telling us God rested because the work of creation was done, and this set a precedent so we would understand that the work of redemption is finished when we see our Savior sitting at God’s right hand. You cannot rest in God’s presence unless your work is done. Praise God, I can enter God’s presence and rest because Jesus’ work is done on my behalf. (I can enter boldly!)Jesus went through several of the 10 commandments in the sermon on the mount, and demonstrated how the observance went from external to internal. (true righteousness was always internal) My understanding of the Sabbath in that light is that we must rest on Christ’s work on the cross by faith, rather than depend upon our own righteousness. Just my thoughts.There was a time before the 10 commandments, but there was not a time before righteousness. Righteousness is one of God’s eternal attributes. I say this to illustrate that righteousness does not depend upon the law, but is pointed to by the law. Jesus was pointing to this when he said that our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and pharisees if we are to enter the kingdom of God. I believe entering into the rest is putting my faith entirely in the work of Christ, which is what the Sabbath pointed to. Again, just my thoughts.I am not opposed to setting aside a day to meet, and Sunday works as well as any. Growing up in a preacher’s house, the thought of Sunday being a day of rest has always seemed a bit laughable to me. I see you know what I mean there. 🙂May seem a bit cold to say this – and I don’t intend it that way at all – but if someone wants an excuse to not attend church, I don’t want them there anyway. This may come from my perspective that the church is for preparation to minister through the week. Some see church as the mission field, and want the worldly to attend so they can hear the gospel. I suppose my attitude would be a problem for them. But in my opinion church is for the equipping of the saints. If someone is not interested in being equipped, they are sort of in the way. Let’s deal with those people where they are, and allow God to grant them repentance. Then they will be looking for an excuse to meet! I appreciate your comments and you are not coming across argumentative at all. I hope you can say the same for me, I am not intending to seem confrontational. Craig

  3. Oh, those are some good thoughts. Yeah, I know what you mean about people not wanting to come to church — if they don’t want to come, they don’t want to come. I’m sure you know as a preacher’s son, that you can’t really make people come and if you have to twist their arm it isn’t doing them any good. I agree.My husband was just talking to a preacher on the telephone and they were discussing this “once prayed always saved” stuff, where people superstitiously believe just saying a “sinner’s prayer” that they don’t really mean will get them to heaven and their life didn’t change.The other preachers said, “If that prayer didn’t get you to church, it won’t get you to heaven.” I thought that was very succinct!Anyway, those were good thoughts. What kind of church did your dad pastor? We’ve pastored several different kinds of churches (Pentecostal, Congregational, Reformed and now Baptist) as the Lord leads.

  4. We attended a Baptist church when Dad was going to Bible School, and then Dad pastored 2 small Congregational churches out in rural Montana at the same time. I don’t know what Congregational theology is, but I got the impression that ours and theirs didn’t exactly match. However, we were there about 4 years. After that we moved to Northern Idaho where Dad has been in church leadership at various capacities in a non-denominational church that was planted by American Missionary Fellowship. From the time I was about 12 (I am now 37) Dad has been working full time in Christian education.So really, Dad was a pastor for about 4 of my growing up years. But he has been a preacher my whole life. Make sense?Heather and I met and were married in a Nazarene Church, but neither of us were Nazarene. Since then we have attended four churches including where we attend now, and they have all been non-denominational.The church we are part of now is different than anything I have been involved in before. We do not have a building or any paid staff. We don’t have a pastor, but we have 4 elders. About 7 or 8 of the more mature men rotate on the speaking schedule and we have a couple of weekly Bible studies that these men handle as well. There is no offering plate, but people’s needs get met as we become aware of them. We have some variation in doctrine. But we all believe Christ is God, who became man and paid the full price for our sins. We all believe the Bible is God’s inspired word and is the final authority for all of life. We all believe salvation is by grace through faith, but this work of God in one’s life will produce evidence in how they behave. We also believe the world will recognize us by our love for one another.Got a little long winded. I guess I am a preacher, too!Craig

  5. Interesting thoughts. I still believe we should set a day aside to worship – and rest – I echo Civilla’s thoughts – it sure is nice to have a day to go to church and just take it easy! Still enjoyed reading your thoughts on it, and not trying to be argumentive either 🙂

  6. It sounds like you are in a nice church now. Well, we didn’t get “preacher’s day off” today, Monday, as one of our parishioners is in the hospital and looks as if she won’t make it. The poor gal has been sick a long time. My husband does rural ministry here in the Dakotas.

  7. Mark,Thanks for your kind words. As I have been saying, I don’t want to talk someone into my perspective who has not been moved there by God and their own study of scripture. I would hate to be part of searing someone’s conscience.Heather and I have spent the last 4 or 5 years in a journey where we have been shedding what I call our “churchianity”. In this journey, we have had to re-evaluate everything according to scripture. You have said you think it is nice to rest on Sunday. I agree. But my study of the Sabbath has had to be based on Scripture alone. What I think should happen, or what seems nice can lead me in the wrong direction. I know you are aware of this, and I don’t want to appear to quarrel over words. Just explaining how I see it. I have become convinced in my own mind in this area, but in the last couple of weeks Heather has been going through a time of questioning. My goal in putting this up on my blog was to get input from as many people as possible so that we could re-examine our way of doing things. I really do appreciate the input. Again, I hope I have not seemed confrontational, as that has not at all been my intent. You certainly did not seem argumentative.Mary,I am sorry you guys did not get your break. I will pray that you and your husband get a good restful sleep tonight, and will pray for your friend as well.Blessings,CraigP.S.There are a lot of you people reading this who have not commented. Please feel free, I want to hear more than one perspective. . . Karina? Lyle? Ryan? you are being awfully quiet 🙂

  8. Yeah, Mark! Actually, at this point, I’m for one day of labor and six days of rest, ha-ha. Craig, surely your body needs a day of rest! Of course, you are still a “young pup” compared with a “geezer” like me.I would like for Karina to tell about what she knows about how people in 3rd world countries take care of the poor. I have not been to one of those countries in 25 years and maybe things have changed.

  9. Oh, and Craig and Heather, my husband and I have also been to the place, a couple of times, where we have re-evalutated everything to see what is scriptural and what is important. We have recently discovered that some things are important even though they are mere habits and traditions, because it is habits and traditions that carry you through the hard times, when you don’t feel led to do anything or feel like there is no spiritual life in you. We call it “Christian life support.” These traditions will carry you though until you feel life again. (We’ve been through some very hard times.) So, don’t be too quick to discard them. Just our opinion.

  10. I like your thoughts here – quite reasoned through. Though I also like “Civilla”s last comment about the traditions being sometimes the thing that links you to the spiritual. Also makes sense. It’s good to have a place to reason through things, and to think – thank you all for sharing.

  11. Well, it is good to evaluate things periodically. Sometimes a tradition needs to be thrown out if it is counter-productive or takes us away from our families too much. As our lives change, we need to think about such things.

  12. Mary, You make me laugh. I bet you are fun to be around. Of course I need to rest from time to time, and regular rest is appreciated. But that wasn’t my question.I was asking if we are required as New Testament Christians to keep the Sabbath.Thanks for the advice about traditions. Those of you with a few more birthdays can see things us younger whippersnappers cannot.Lisa,Thanks for the comment. Welcome to my site, have not seen you here before. Hope you enjoyed!Craig

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