“He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:9–14 ESV)
“Feel the futility of it. In the Old Testament, the priests of Israel were required to offer daily sacrifices to atone for sins. Hebrews points out that the fact these sacrifices had to be performed over and over for hundreds of years shows that they were ineffective in removing sin (Hebrews 10:1–2). Let the language of these tasks being “endless” and being required “year after year” make you tired.
But when Jesus comes, acting as our high priest, he makes a sacrifice of his own life and body that pays the debt once and for all. “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). Jesus, unlike any other priest, completed his work and was able to sit down. Like his Father in Genesis 1, Jesus sits because his labor for us is perfect and complete. In other words,
“It was very good.” Because Jesus rests, you can rest.
Jesus’ death and resurrection embody the promises of Sabbath. His work is perfect; complete. He has redeemed us from our sin. By trusting him and obeying his words and his Spirit within us, we are no longer slaves to our corrupted nature. We are free to be God’s children. His resurrection is a picture and promise of the new life we have now and will have forever when Jesus returns and we are resurrected as well.”
by Winston T. Smith, April 17, 108. From Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives by Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. Copyright © 2012 by Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. Used by permission of New Growth Press.
“‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:12–15 ESV).
This command applied to everyone that lived within their borders – family, foreigners, servants and animals included. The reason for the Sabbath was multifaceted, we’ll explore a few of them in this post.
REMEMBER. Remembering is not passive, but active – they were called to REMEMBER that they were slaves in Egypt and the LORD brought them out from their oppressor with His mighty hand. As Christians, God has brought us out of the oppressive domain of darkness and delivered us into His kingdom. He has freed us, we need to actively work on remembering this not only with our heads, but in our hearts. You were powerless & dead, but God, being rich in mercy, called you out of the darkness and brought you into His kingdom of light.
REFLECT. All of their lives were to reflect that they were a people in relationship with the living Creator who is not far from any of us. Jesus has set up His kingdom in the hearts of those whom He has delivered from the domain of darkness. The rule & reign of Christ in our hearts causes us to be increasing reflectors of His glory.
RELY. The people were called to stop one day every week and rely upon the provision of their covenant keeping God. In a subsistence lifestyle, this is very hard to do; it required sacrifice and trust in God, not just in themselves. Though we may not live a subsistence lifestyle like the Israelites did over 3000 years ago, we are still recipients of God’s bountiful provision to us; all things are a gift from His hand.
RHYTHM. The Sabbath pointed back to creation and Eden and created a rhythm for the people – work six days – rest, remember & reflect for one. God modeled this by working six days and resting on one. There is a rhythm to life that is God wrought.
REST. This is much more than just physical rest. This is the restoration of the ultimate rest found in the the garden of Eden; Jesus invites everyone who is weary & heavy laden to find rest for their weary souls (Matthew 11:28-30) in relationship with Him as He reconciles all things to Himself. We know that the Exodus generation failed to enter God’s rest (Hebrews 3:7-19), but this rest is available to those of us who acknowledge that we need the rest that God is offering (Hebrews 4:1-13).
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath (Mark 2:27). It is a gift for us to enjoy, not to make ultimate or legalistic. Life constantly pushes back on us in all areas as our souls long for peace, rest & deepest satisfaction that is not found under the sun. The sabbath is certainly about physical rest in the here and now, but is ultimately pointing us to an eternal seventh days rest that offers total soul satiation: a kingdom that is already being establish. Are you experiencing this rest are are you still striving to make life work on your own?
“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God,” (Hebrews 6:19–7:1 ESV)
Melchizedek means king of righteousness and he was the king of Salem, which has the same Hebrew root word as Shalom (peace). The best Hebrew word to describe our ancestor’s existence in Eden is Shalom. There was a restful rhythm to life in the garden that was free of frustration, futility and conflict. The garden was a safe and prosperous place; it was good, friendly, healthy, perfect and the welfare of everyone was ensured – justice, fairness and equity reigned. Jesus came to take back this rebel world from the throughs of sin and evil; He came to conquer our rebel hearts and set up His rule and reign in them – He came to reestablish shalom. This is God’s mission in His Son: to reconcile rebel hearts to Himself and reestablish shalom for His glory and our joy. There is coming a day when King Jesus, our high priest, makes all things new, and reestablishes Shalom on a global & cosmic scale. The safe, just, fair, meaningful existence marked by prosperity, goodness, health and perfection that we all long for will return. Our hope is a Person: Jesus, who is a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul; this Hope is returning us to the restful rhythm of a life lived in the presence of our Creator.
“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.
For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.”
Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 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.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:1–13 ESV)
The seventh day rest that existed in Eden still exists today and the offer of reconciliation and rest still stands to all who will abandon self willed, self reliant effort and trust completely in the finished work of Jesus (v3-5). The Sabbath day rest of God is centered around the completed work of God in creation, just as the eternal rest of God is centered around the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Both are finished and provided for by God to those who will believe and receive (v6-7); this means resting in the certainty of the finished work of Jesus on the cross – all spiritual striving which reflects our uncertainty of our ultimate home now ceases. The joy of being reconciled with the Creator ensues. The same contentedness of soul that Adam & Eve experienced in Eden before the fall is now being restored to humanity; this abiding, peaceful, safety (shalom) in the presence of God is being returned as those who trust have been reconciled with the Creator of the cosmos. We begin to taste this now as the rule and reign of the Messiah is set up in our hearts, but will be ultimately culminated at the end of time when Jesus himself makes all things New (Revelation 21:4-5). We see this offer of rest being extended to the Israelites in the rest extended in the promised land, but they did not enter into God’s rest because they did not have faith; belief is the activator of this rest. There should be a sober mindfulness in us regarding those who have not yet entered in to the rest of God. Do you have rest in your soul? It is still available TODAY! Persevere in your faith, battle against unbelief, lean on God’s revealed word for conviction, encouragement and assurance of His rest for you. Let us strive to enter the rest of God by fortifying our belief in Him and His promises. We must remember that we are not saved or sustained by our own good works, but rather by the finished work of our preeminent high priest, Jesus.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:3–4 ESV)
Perfect peace is supplied to those whose minds are “stayed” on God and TRUST in Him alone! He is an unmovable Rock. What are we trusting in? Our own self salvation or the eternal God that reigns on high? God will humble those who trust in their own self sufficiency. “For he has humbled the inhabitants of the height, the lofty city. He lays it low, lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust.” (Isaiah 26:5 ESV) Trust in God!