What is the Sabbath rest?

Is observing the Sabbath day the same as partaking of the Sabbath rest?

Let us find out by starting right at the beginning – the creation week.

The Bible says: “Thus the heavens, and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3

Now we know that “God is a Spirit:” John 4:24, and that God is never tired: “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?” Isaiah 40:28

As for man, God created man after having completed all His works of creation. Adam was the final work and crowing act of God’s creation. He was created on the sixth day. What was the seventh day for God was the first day for Adam. When Adam was created, he received all the created works of God as a gift; he had neither toiled nor took part with God to contribute towards the creation. So Adam could not have been physically or mentally tired and in need of rest but on the contrary he must have been full of life and energy and eager to explore his beautiful surroundings. But as soon as he was created he was first led into God’s Sabbath rest, even before he began his week. The first day of Adam’s existence was the Sabbath.

So we can safely conclude that originally this Sabbath rest that God introduced had nothing to do with a physical rest caused by physical exertion due to physical or mental labor, but instead has a deeper spiritual implication.

So, having a knowledge of the Sabbath day as being the seventh day of the week and observing it as holy is not the same as entering the Sabbath rest.

During the forty years of wanderings in the wilderness, the children of Israel had the knowledge of the Sabbath. In fact, they had received the law written by the very finger of God, and the grave consequence for violatiing the fourth commandment was capital punishment. So the people strived to keep the Sabbath day holy.
But yet God says, “When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)” Hebrews 3:9-11

Again we can see clearly that physically and mentally they kept the Sabbath but still couldn’t enter His Spiritual rest.

Paul further clarifies this: “For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.” Hebrews 4:4,5

Why could they not enter His rest?

“And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:18,19

Because of lack of faith and an unbelieving heart, they could not enter His rest.

“For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” Heb 4:8,9

What is this Sabbath rest?

The Bible says: “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Gen 1:31

So when God rested on the seventh day, He ceased from his own good works of creation.
However, God required Adam to begin his eternal life by exercising faith in the good works of God, which had already been accomplished for him even before he was brought into existence.

Similarly, today we are called to cease from our own works and efforts in attaining salvation by fulfilling the obligations of the law, to cease from our own works of goodness and righteousness and instead with complete faith and a believing heart put our entire trust in the good works of righteousness and salvation that has already been accomplished by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by living a sinless life on earth and overcoming sin, the world and even death.

“For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” Heb 4:10
(The comparison is actually a contrast between God ceasing from His good works and man ceasing from his own sinful works at attaining salvation)

Brethren, this rest is only experienced when “through faith we become partakers of the righteousness of Christ.” DA 154

“As the Jews departed from God and failed to make the righteousness of Christ their own by faith, the Sabbath lost its significance to them.” DA 154

The Jewish leaders and priests prided themselves in meticulously following God’s commandments, especially the observance of the Sabbath day, however, they did not enter His rest because of their unbelief. They held on to the physical day and lost sight of the Spiritual rest it contained.
Jesus said that He was “Lord also of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:5
How can we hold on to a day and ignore the Lord of the day?
How can we reject His good works of righteousness and fail to make them our own by faith?
And finally, how can we enter His Sabbath rest if we don’t believe in His imputed and imparted righteousness?

“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”  Hebrews 4:11

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