"on the seventh day he rested from all his work." GENESIS 2:2
"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God." Hebrews 4:9
To paraphrase a quote from John Walton (NIV Application Commentary) "The Sabbath is to pause (weekly) and remind ourselves that we are living in Someone Else's House and live accordingly." "This is what the LORD says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD." (Isa. 66:1-2)
Both in Scripture and in the conceptual world of the ancient Near East the cosmos is seen as a temple where Deity resides and comes to rest, to settle into His rightful place at the center of His creation. "But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him." (i.e., listen up to hear and obey God Almighty! – Hab. 2:20) Thus the seventh day is not an appendix to God's six days of work but the achievement and consummation of God's purpose for His creation – that He comes to rest, to reside, to settle into His rightful place at the center of His creation. (Yet, He remains actively and eminently involved in His world. – Col. 1:16-17) Thus God's instructions for building the tabernacle and temple symbolize His creation where He is the center. Eden, the Garden of God, (not the garden of man – Ezek. 28:13) is like the Most Holy Place and is seen with rivers of water flowing out as the Source of life and fertility for all of creation. (Gen. 2:10) We see this in the trees and the river flowing from the Millennial temple in Ezekiel and the New Jerusalem: "The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing." (See Ezek. 47:1-12; also see Rev. 22:1-2) In both the tabernacle and later the temple the menorah symbolizes the tree of life; the lampstand symbolizes light – both physical and spiritual and the table of bread symbolizes God's provision for food as in the garden of Eden and in the New Jerusalem. Also see Moses' words as he completed the building of the tabernacle and how they parallel the creation account and how the glory of the Lord filled both the tabernacle and the whole earth. (Exodus 39 & 40; Psalm 78:69; Isa. 6:3) God's world and His temple are "sacred space" that Adam and Eve were to keep sacred as did the priests in the temple and now all believers are to do (the priesthood of believers – 1 Peter 2:9). Through evangelism and discipleship we expand this sacred space by expanding "the invisible geography of the kingdom of God person by person."
Now as New Testament believers we are the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19-20) and we can enter the Most Holy Place to commune with God and find rest in His Presence. "In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forever." (Psalm 16:11) The veil that separated the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple was torn and opened to us when Jesus death (His body was torn on the cross) took away our sins which separated us from God. "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water."(Heb. 10:19-22)
So what is Sabbath Rest all about? I repeat, "The Sabbath is to pause (weekly) and remind ourselves that we are living in Someone Else's House and live accordingly." It means we get into our proper place "under God" our Creator in worship and obedience and remember and live out the very purposes for which He created us: 1) To bring Him glory and honor: (Rom. 11:36); 2) To live in a way that is pleasing to Him; (Rev. 4:11 KJV); 3) and to deepen our love relationship with Him and, for His sake, to love, serve and enjoy His creation – especially His people. (Mark 12:30-31) When my life brings glory/honor and pleasure to God and I am experiencing His love and responding with wholehearted love to Him and others I will find rest for my soul. Yet, when I am concerned about "me" and my little world more than God and His world and His purposes, I lose soul rest. So the weekly Sabbath is taking the time that God has given us to focus on Him in order to stop being so preoccupied with ourselves and to recalibrate our attitude to one of worship, gratitude and joyfully serving Him as He directs. "Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture." (Psalm 100:1-3; also see Isa. 58:13-14)
The temple is to space (i.e., it serves to make all space sacred – everywhere I go) what Sabbath is to time (it serves to make all time sacred – everything I do) for all of our time is God's gift to us; it is not "my time". "The day is Yours, and Yours also the night; (Psalm 74:16) A Sabbath lifestyle means we are generous with our time both to be with God and others as Jesus modeled through His use of time; to be available, accessible, approachable, other-focused (vs. preoccupied) and present to those we "spend" time with. In being truly present to God and to others we experience God and others in the "now" – the place where eternity intersects time.
"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience." (Heb 4:9-11) "Believers today enjoy 1) rest of conscience, knowing that the penalty for their sins has been paid through the finished work of the Lord Jesus. This is the rest which the Savior promised, "Come to Me and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). 2) The believer also enjoys a rest in serving the Lord. Whereas the preceding is a rest of salvation, this is a rest of service. "Take My yoke (of service) upon you and learn from Me and you will find rest for your souls" (Matt. 11:29). 3) Trusting Him completely in the midst of trials brings rest. Verse 11 says that effort is necessary in order to enter that rest. We must be diligent to make sure that our only hope is Christ the Lord. We must diligently resist any temptation merely to profess faith in Him and then to renounce Him (or not trust Him completely – my comments) in the heat of suffering and trials. 4) Finally there is the eternal rest which awaits the believer in the Father's house in heaven. This future rest, also called a Sabbath rest (Heb. 4:9), is the final rest of which the others are either types or foretastes." (Thomas Nelson – Bible Commentary)
Questions for reflection/application.
"The Sabbath is to pause (weekly) and remind ourselves that we are living in Someone Else's House and live accordingly." This is My Father's World as the song says yet I might act like it is my world, my life. What is one thing you can regularly do to unplug from focusing on God's creation (self, people, job, entertainment) and instead focus on Him the Creator. "Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles." (See Romans 1:20-23 NLT)
What is one thing you could do to make "your space" more sacred?
What is one thing you could do to make "your time" more sacred?
"And now arise, O Lord God, and enter your resting place, along with the Ark, the symbol of your power. May your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation;
may your loyal servants rejoice in your goodness."(2 Chron. 6:41 NLT)
Len and Kristen
(See The REST of God by Michael Buchanan on living a Sabbath lifestyle.)