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The true and better Sabbath rest found in Jesus

The true and better Sabbath rest found in Jesus
Are you exhausted striving to be accepted by God in your own effort?

“How is Jesus our Sabbath?” I’ve received this question a number of times. Now I can point people to this post!

The Old Testament is about Jesus. He’s revealed through prophecies and types:

  • The sacrifices looked forward to Jesus as the true and better sacrifice (1 John 2:2).
  • The priesthood looked forward to Jesus as the true and better High Priest (Heb 4:14).
  • The judges looked forward to Jesus as the true and better Judge (John 5:22).
  • The prophets looked forward to Jesus as the true and better Prophet (Deut 18:15-19).
  • The kings looked forward to Jesus as the true and better King of Kings (Rev 19:16).

And the Sabbath looked forward to the true and better rest found in Jesus!

Jesus provides a Sabbath rest that’s as continual as God’s rest after the sixth day of creation.

Hebrews 4:9 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

The Greek word for “Sabbath rest” is sabbatismos, and this is the only place it occurs in Scripture. The definition is, “the blessed rest from toils and troubles looked for in the age to come by the true worshippers of God and true Christians.”

Genesis 2:2 On the seventh day God ended His work and rested.

God didn’t rest for one day only to begin working again on the eighth day. He began a rest that continued indefinitely. Hebrews 4:9 and 10 look back to God’s rest to make the point that this is the same rest that’s available to believers. Hence the words, “a Sabbath rest for the people of God…ceased from his works as God did from His.” 

Believers can rest from their labors as much as God was able to rest from His. This is a rest that goes on as indefinitely as God’s rest went on indefinitely. This rest found in Christ is much better than the one day of rest found in the Old Testament.

Jesus provides a Sabbath rest from working for salvation.

People labored under the Law to be accepted by God. They constantly disobeyed His commands, so He graciously provided sacrifices that restored fellowship with Him. But these sacrifices couldn’t take away sins. Hebrews 10:4 and 11 both state, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

Animal sacrifices atoned for, or covered sins, but that’s a far cry from having sins removed. Jesus was sacrificed because He was able to do what Old Testament sacrifices could not do:

  • When John the Baptist saw Jesus, in John 1:29 he said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
  • 1 John 3:5 [Jesus] was manifested to take away our sins.

Until Jesus, people struggled under the Law. Just as they continued working after a one-day rest, so too did their sacrifices continue. Contrast these verses:

  • Hebrews 10:1 The law can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
  • “[Jesus] offered one sacrifice for sins forever, then sat down at the right of God” (Heb 10:12).

Jesus did the work for us, then He rested. Now He offers this rest to us:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30).

God wants us to enter this rest for ourselves. That’s why Hebrews 4:9 says, There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.”

How do you enter this Sabbath rest?

Hebrews 4:3 We who have believed do enter that rest.

If you believe the Gospel you’ve entered God’s rest. You’ve ceased working for salvation and trusted Christ’s work for you. The Sabbath found in Jesus is bigger than resting one day per week: it’s realizing salvation is by grace through faith and trusting in that everyday. Are you still working for salvation or are you resting in Christ?

Do you have any questions about the Sabbath or the rest you have in Christ? What does it mean to you to rest in Christ? Share your thoughts or questions below!

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8 thoughts on “The true and better Sabbath rest found in Jesus

  1. I could read your posts all night.
    Here’s a sentence from a forthcoming blog of my own.
    “As difficult as it might be for some to understand, literal Sabbath-keeping is a work of the flesh, but it symbolizes that salvation cannot be achieved by works.”

    1. Thanks Terry. Being such an expert on the Sabbath, your comment really blesses me.

      That sounds fantastic. Following your site now. Looking forward to the post. If you remember, please come back to this post and put a link to the post in the comments section when it’s published!

  2. So do you observe the Sabbath by also physically resting? We think that is still very important! This article seemed relevant to your post:
    http://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/10-commandments/sabbath/sabbatismos/

    1. Hi Nadia,
      Good question!

      Yes, even if we don’t keep the Sabbath in terms of resting on the seventh day of the week, we make sure to take one day off per week for rest.

      Back in 2013, before we hired our associate pastor, I was under terrible stress/anxiety, including going months without a day off. I lost a lot of weight and it took a serious toll on me mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, on my marriage, family, you name it. Was probably the darkest season of my life, and easily the worst time in our marriage. Much of it had to do with the absence of rest.

      Even if believers are not under the Mosaic Law, there are principles in it that contain great wisdom for us. Discussing that further would make this comment very lengthy, but to simply answer your question: yes, we think it’s important to rest and God has revealed that in His Word.

    2. Thanks for clarifying! I figured you did but was unsure after reading your post.

    3. Thanks for asking Nadia. I think it provided a clarification that will help others who read it.

  3. […] the transition from the Old to New Covenant, the Sabbath was fulfilled in Christ. The same with other ceremonial portions of the Law. Sacrifices, circumcision, festivals, etc. The […]

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