Summary: The Old Testament Sabbath is merely a shadow of what is to come in Christ.
Today, we focus on day seven of creation. All of God’s work was finished, completed in six days. And on day seven he rested.
Was God tired? No!
Isaiah 40:28 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired nor weary and his understanding no one can fathom.”
God didn’t rest because he was tired; God rested because he was finished. This is where God establishes the Sabbath day, the Sabbath rest. The word “Sabbath” doesn’t appear in Scripture until Exodus 16 where we read of the account of God’s provision of manna and quail in the wilderness. On the sixth day they gathered twice as much so they could store some for the seventh day.
Exodus 16:23 “This is what the Lord commanded: Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord.”
In Exodus 20, we see even more clearly the connection between God resting on day seven of creation and his commandment for his people to observe a day of rest, a Sabbath day.
Exodus 20:8-11 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
A little side note…
Have you ever wondered why we have a seven-day week? There is no seven-day cycle in nature. There is no astronomical basis for it. The ancient Romans tried an eight day week. French revolutionaries tried to get rid of it; so did Russian revolutionaries. The government of Sri Lanka also tried to abolish the seven-day week in the 1960s. Yet, our seven-day week remains. Why? Because God established it! God worked for six days creating the heavens and the earth and he rested on the seventh. This is yet another reason why the days in the creation account cannot be eons or periods of time.
So Scripture is pretty clear about the Sabbath, right? We ought to start our Sabbath on Friday evening and observe it until Saturday evening. We should change our worship services to Saturday, like the Seventh Day Adventists. Hold on.
Colossians 2:16 “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
Would you rather have a shadow or the real thing? We’re not satisfied with shadows. How many of you moms and dads were content will just the ultra sound photo - a mere shadow of the reality inside the womb? How many of you military spouses or parents were content seeing a shadow of your loved one after a long deployment? We don’t want to hug a shadow; we want the real thing!
A shadow heightens our anticipation though, doesn’t it? Because a shadow tells us that the object casting that shadow is nearby, is close at hand. But again, we don’t hug a shadow, we embrace the reality!
When it comes to religious festivals, celebrations or Sabbath days, these are merely shadows. Don’t settle for the shadows; look for the reality! It’s found in Jesus Christ!
The other thing about shadows is that light is necessary for shadows to appear. We need the light of God’s Word to show us the shadows of the OT.
Adam – a “pattern” of the one to come (Romans 5)
Flood – a shadow of the final judgment and destruction (2 Peter 3:3-9)
The waters of the flood and baptism (1 Peter 3:20-21)
The temple sanctuary – a shadow of the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:5)
The high priests – a shadow of THE High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-5:10)
The OT Feasts – a shadow of things that Christ fulfilled or are yet to come
There are three shadows from the OT I would like to highlight this morning. Remember, these are merely shadows. The reality is found in Christ!
Shadow: The Old Covenant
Hebrews 10:1-4 “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”