Summary: The seventh day rest changed three times from creation to the church -- here is what it means for us today.
God’s Sabbath Rests
There are three different sabbath rests described in scripture, having at least two features in common: 1) God created them
2) They involve the idea of “rest”
Gen. 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested onthe seventh day from all his work which he had done.
3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all hiswork which he had done in creation.
God “rested”, though He never tires nor is fatigued (Ps. 121:1-4)
God made this seventh day “holy”. It is important to know that this account was written by Moses
to Israel about 2,500 years after the event. Moses is explaining to Israel why God chose to make the seventh day holy for them.
this “rest” was for God alone. It was not given to Adam, nor anyone else in the book of Genesis
this day was not holy for God, since God already is all-holy.
This seventh day “rest” for God is not called the “sabbath”
2) Ex. 16:22-23; 29-30; Ex. 20:8
Ex. 16:22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers apiece; and when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses,
23 he said to them, "This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake, and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay by to be kept till the morning.’ ”
Ex. 16: 29 See! The LORD has given you the sabbath, therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days; remain every man of you in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day."
30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
This is the first usage of the word “sabbath” from the Heb. “shabbat” = “rest”. It was first a rest from food preparation.
Ex. 20:8 "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work;
10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates;
11 for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.
this sabbath rest now extends to all work done for six days.
since is has been set aside by God for man, it now becomes holy for man
it is also holy, because God patterned it after His own “rest” from creation in Genesis 2.
During His ministry, Jesus still lived under the old covenant. This covenant only ended at His death
(Mt. 26:28; Jn. 19:30). So, he kept the seventh-day sabbath as a Jewish custom (Lk. 4:16).
He also showed that things were about to change. For example, we saw in Ex. 16, that gathering food on the sabbath was forbidden. In Num. 15:32, a man was stoned to death for gathering firewood to cook food on the sabbath.
However, Jesus readily gathered food on the sabbath (Mt. 12:1 ff) and corrected the leaders who had
rebuked Him for doing so. He also did good works, like healing, on the sabbath over their protests.
3) Hebrews 3 – (not quoted here)
:1-6 - Jesus is greater than Moses
:11, 18-19 - the children of Israel never entered God’s intended rest
:7-10, 12, 15, 18 - disobedience and unbelief kept God’s rest from them
Yet they were commanded to rest every seventh day……..
:1 – the promised intended rest is still offered to Christians
:3 – only believers can enter the rest God intended
:3b-5 – the rest God intends for His church goes back to creation (not the 10 commandments)
:8 – even Joshua was unable to lead Israel into the intended rest
:9 – so only the people of God (the church) can have that sabbath rest
:10 – we are to enter a rest from our own works (pl. in Greek) just as God did. We cannot be justified before God either by the works of the law (Gal. 2:16), or by the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19). So we must rest in the work God is doing in us.