Chapter 35 Sabbath Rest Of Soul

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).

God’s Creation Rest

Concerning the work of creation, we read that God ended the works which He had made in six days, and “rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made” (Genesis 2:2). Why God should take six days to complete the work of creation belongs to His own chosen ways of wisdom and love. There is certainly much that is symbolic both in the order in which things were created and in the number of days taken to create them.

The seventh day, God’s day of rest, was man’s first full day of life, since he was made on the sixth day. The day of rest was instituted with man, and stands as the firstborn law and blessing. There are many intimations that this day of rest was observed long before the Sabbath of Judaistic law. Antediluvian times observed it. It told of God’s rest when worlds were made.

But the Sabbath was instituted from the beginning because man needed it. Man’s body is a wondrous fabric and was made for toil. But toil brings weariness and strain. Rest must repair it and renew its vigor. Rest must bring oil to the wheels to make it run smoothly and without a breakdown. Incessant labor brings dullness and ultimate collapse. In human history tyrants have arisen who have driven men to work seven days, and in so doing have broken their health and strength.

Israel’s Sabbath Rest

When God brought Israel out of Egypt, He separated that nation from all other nations and fenced them round with the Law given from Mount Sinai. The majesty and sovereignty of God was manifested on the mount amidst rolling thunder and flashing lightning. God made Himself known there as the moral Ruler of the universe. Central to that moral Law was the sabbath day of rest. Even before the Law was given on Mount Sinai, the Sabbath of rest was observed (Exodus 16:23).

On the Sabbath no manna fell from heaven, and the Israelites were forbidden to seek it. “To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD.” But in Exodus 20 God’s own finger wrote on tables of stone what had been written on the tables of man’s heart in creation. The Sabbath belongs to creation’s law, and was reiterated and reemphasized at the beginning of Israel’s history as a nation. Through the centuries of time the prophets of Israel inveighed against any breach of the rest of the holy Sabbath.

The Believer’s Redemptive Rest

The Lord Jesus spoke of Himself as “the Lord of the sabbath,” and said that “the sabbath was made for man.” That is a word which looks backward to tell us that there has always been a day of rest, for man always had need of such. It is also a word which looks forward to the future, and declares man will always have need of a rest day.

Then came Calvary’s cross, and the same Scriptures of truth which tell us of creation ended tell us now of redemption completed. Thus there are really only two completed works—creation and redemption. Israel’s Sabbath of rest was but a reiteration and reemphasis of what had been from the beginning and was a type of the second rest which was to come in Christ.

With the coming of the Saviour, all things in Judaism came to an end. Its rites and ceremonies died as autumn leaves from a tree. But moral law is reemphasized in the New Testament—being a natural expression of the life of God given to those who believe in the Lord Jesus. The day of rest did not cease but the Judaistic form of this day, which was but a symbol, was done away. There was, therefore, an end to the Jewish Sabbath for believers. It did not apply to them.

Man still needs the day of rest given in his creation. Both body and mind need it; but, far more important, such a day is for the refreshing of our spirits. It is a day when we must shut out the world and give ourselves to waiting upon God to offer worship, praise, and thanksgiving.

The believer’s sabbath rest is found, not in a certain day, but in the Person of the Lord Himself. He is our rest. God rests in Him. Each attribute of the divine nature finds repose in His blessed Person and work. Justice has claims, but the Lord Jesus pays all. Truth has claims, but the Lord Jesus fulfills every word. Holiness has claims, but the Lord Jesus more than satisfies. Mercy and love have claims, but the Lord Jesus gives them their fullest exercise. The Lord Jesus is God’s Sabbath throughout Heaven.

Trusting souls on earth rest in Him. The duties and paths of ritualistic observance brought no rest to Israel. None of such observances can remove guilt or cleanse from sins. Under such a load how weary and languid men were! But in the Lord Jesus weary sinners have found rest for their souls. He Himself is our sabbath rest of soul.

This is why Heaven is spoken of as a place of rest. It is so because the Lord Jesus is there. Heaven is Heaven because there is an eternal rest in the presence of the Lord.

To nurture the rest of the whole man, believers have set aside, from the beginning of the church age, our Lord’s resurrection day as a day of rest—a memorial to His completed work of redemption. This day has Old Testament sanction, as for instance in the feast of first fruits, when one sheaf only was gathered and taken into the Temple and waved before the Lord. This was done, not on the seventh, but the eighth day, our Sunday, resurrection day. This might remind us of creation’s rest day, when God’s seventh day was man’s ^rst day. Let not Satan rob us of this. Let us not make it a common day. Let nothing disfigure it. Let us keep it as a holy day, and drive the devil back by making it a day of worship, praise, adoration, and meditation upon holy things.

Jesus, before Thy face we fall—
Our Lord, our life, our hope, our all!
For we have nowhere else to flee—
No sanctuary, Lord, but Thee!

In Thee we ev’ry glory view,
Of safety, strength, and beauty, too:
’Tis all our rest and peace to see
Our sanctuary, Lord, in Thee!

Whatever foes or fears betide,
In Thy blest presence we abide;
And while we rest our souls in Thee,
Thou wilt our sanctuary be.

Samuel Medley