The Sabbath in All Sixty-Six

As you read through the sixty-six books, the meaning of the Sabbath is repeated and enlarged. For example, at Sinai, in the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath is connected with creation (Exod 20:11). Then when you read on, John and Paul make it plain that the One who created us, was none other than Jesus Christ. John wrote: “Through Him, all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3, NIV). Combine that with Paul’s comment in Colossians 1:16:

“For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things were created by him and for him” (NIV).

Think of the significance of that. The One who came to save us is the One who made us in the beginning. And who would know better how to heal the damage done by sin? The gentle Jesus who walked so softly among men and then died the way He did on Calvary, is not some weak person. He is the supreme all-powerful Creator of the whole vast universe. That’s the One who died on Calvary. Nor did God send some subordinate person; not even the leader of His angels. The Creator Himself, the One who is equal with God, came, for He actually is God (John 1:1).

Every time we observe the seventh-day Sabbath we are publicly acknowledging to God, to our friends, and to ourselves, that we have faith in Jesus as our Saviour, our Creator, and our God. So when you raise the question about what kind of person our God is, the reply comes every Sabbath. God the Father is just as gracious as the Son is. If Christ is Creator God, and we want to know what our God is like, all we have to do is look at Christ. In pointing to Jesus and creation, every Sabbath reminds us also of what the Father is like.

There are other ways in which the Sabbath helps strengthen our faith. God Himself speaks in Exodus 31:13: “Keep the Sabbath, my day of rest, because it is a sign between you and me for all time to come, to show that I, the Lord, have made you my own people” (GNB). And in Ezekiel 20:20 He says: “Make the Sabbath a holy day, so that it will be a sign of the covenant we made, and will remind you that I am the Lord your God” (GNB). In Ezekiel 20:12 He also says: “I made the keeping of the Sabbath a sign of the agreement between us, to remind them that I, the Lord, make them holy” (GNB).

Note that the Sabbath is a reminder of a very important truth about the Lord our God and His relationship with His people. His people are an unholy, sinful bunch! Yet God is saying to them, “I have not abandoned you. I am still working to save and heal you. I still regard you as my people.” Salvation is not merely forgiveness, but also the healing of the damage done, making us holy people. Some of us, therefore, keep the seventh day Sabbath to show that only the Creator can heal the damage done. Only the One who made us in the beginning could restore us to what we used to be. He has the creative power, and it requires creative power. Surely it’s no less a miracle to take damaged merchandise and restore it than to create it perfectly in the beginning! That is why when David prayed in Psalm 51:10, he said: “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (KJV). The very same creative power is necessary now to make us trustworthy, holy children of God. Now, we cannot do this by ourselves. Some try by self-discipline and restraint. But it is only by faith and trust in our Creator that all the damage can be perfectly restored.

There are other aspects of the Sabbath mentioned in the Bible. When Moses repeated the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy, he gave a different reason for keeping the Sabbath than the one he gave in Exodus.

“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God brought you out with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for that reason the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (Deut 5:15, NEB).

Now that’s no contradiction or lapse of memory on the part of the elderly leader. The Sabbath is about God. He created us free in the beginning. But when we lost our freedom, He used His creative power to set us free again. Note that the Sabbath is always connected with freedom.

There is another aspect of the Sabbath mentioned in Hebrews 4. The Sabbath there is described as a type and a foretaste of the rest to come. The apostle says that when Israel entered Canaan, they physically entered the Promised Land, but they certainly didn’t enter God’s rest; because they didn’t trust Him. “There remains, therefore, a Sabbath-like rest to the people of God” (based on Heb 4:9). That is, if we have been led to really trust God, we begin to enter into that Sabbath-like rest now. But certainly in the earth made new, we will know completely what that Sabbath-like rest is all about. “So there must still be a promised Sabbath of Rest for God’s people” (Heb 4:9). That was Goodspeed’s translation. But look at the one in The Jerusalem Bible: “There must still be, therefore, a place of rest reserved for God’s people, the seventh-day rest.”

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