Dan Popp
Rest
Written in stone: Thoughts on the Ten Commandments
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By Dan Popp
October 2, 2012

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11 NKJV)

How does this Commandment apply to Christians today? Or does it? Does the Sabbath remain unchanged, as Sabbatarians like the Seventh Day Adventists believe? Has it been switched from Saturday to Sunday, as the Puritans held? Or has it been totally abolished, as Luther taught?

My view is: None of the Above. Based on the way Jesus expands the application of the Commandments in Matthew 5, I think the Sabbath has been made larger and more transcendent. Let's go to Hebrews 3:7-4:10. It's a long passage, and I'll only be able to select portions of it, but please study the entire section when you can.
    Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'"
The writer shows that in addition to the weekly cessation, God established a second rest or Sabbath which was to begin with the people of Israel entering their Promised Land. He's about to add that there's rest in the believer's future. But there is another day of rest happening now. God did change the day of the Sabbath. He changed it to Today.
    And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

    Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest.... Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts." For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Did you catch that last part? Weymouth translates: For he who has been admitted to His rest, has rested from his works as God did from His. Someone who would come to Jesus must drop his crude carving tools, abandon the idol of his own works and participate in the ceasing of God. He believes the Lord's promise, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) Those who are in Christ have a wonderful rest coming in heaven, that's certain. But the message of the gospel is peace with God now. "Today is the day of salvation"; the day we rest in peace, so to speak, from our "dead works"; it's "the day that the Lord has made," and "made for man"; the Sabbath.

For a Christian, every day is the blessed day. Every day, we should observe the Sabbath in its spiritual sense. We should remember to rest. We should keep Today holy, that is, set apart for God's purposes, by ceasing to rely on own strength and simply receiving His.

And of course, take a day off work once a week. That's just good for you.

Previous articles in this series: God, Images, Name.

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© Dan Popp

 

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