Remember the Sabbath day
Where is the world heading? Climate catastrophes? Asteroid impact? Nuclear armageddon? Global Pandemic? Cosmic big crunch? Heat death?
Not according to the bible. In the beginning, God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. And ever since, the week has proclaimed to us God’s purposes with the world. Through His Word going out in the power of the Spirit, this world will be brought to rest, perfection, consummation, peace. The goal is Sabbath.
So we, made in His image, should work and rest like Him:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, 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, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8-11)
And for centuries the Jews kept the seventh day. They invested huge significance in keeping it. For some it was the most important gauge of spiritual health imaginable. With such a mindset, there were always going to be demands added to the plain words of Scripture. It got to the point where, in Jesus’ day, simple acts of kindness were considered heinous breaches of the holy day. (See here for one of many Gospel examples).
But Jesus came to do work – the true work of bringing rest. He came to remake His world from the inside. And, just as the law requires, He completed the job by the sixth day (the sixth day being a Friday). And, with evening coming and the Sabbath closing in, He cried out from the cross, “It is finished.” (John 19:30).
Christ had accomplished the work on that sixth day. By the sweat of His brow Christ had done it. And so He rested on that holy Saturday. Rested in the grave.
But wonderfully, on the next day He rose up into a whole new week – a whole new world! And in this whole new world, it all begins with consummation and rest.
Under the old covenant the day of rest was at the end. The goal of life was peace. But Christ took on that work Himself. And, having accomplished it, His day (the Lord’s day) is at the beginning. So we begin with peace.
Now, physically speaking, this world is still the old world. Creation operates according to the old calendar. It’s groaning, awaiting its seventh day of rest. And we still have to live in our old bodies, groaning along in our worldly labours. We look ahead to a world perfected.
But spiritually speaking, Jesus has begun a whole new world. And by the Spirit we are brought into His resurrection reality. Spiritually speaking we’ve entered that rest. We’re on the other side – beyond the seventh day. We’re eight day people!
Because we share in the life of the risen Lord, we’ve begun with rest. We may live in a fallen world with fallen bodies and we may groan along with it, awaiting physical Sabbath. But we never have to strive for spiritual Sabbath. Right now, and for all time, we have rest for our souls.
As Jesus says to a world weary with work:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
See also “God rested“
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