The True Sabbath

Hebrews 4:6-10

Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:

“Today, if you will hear His voice,

Do not harden your hearts.”

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a 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.

Today is a big day.  It’s the day of rest.  Now, it might not be Sunday, the typical western day of rest.  It might not be Saturday, which some denominations honor as a Sabbath day.  It might not be anytime between sundown on Friday and sundown on Saturday, which  is a simplified description of what Jews observe as the Sabbath.  Fortunately, none of that matters.  A certain day has been designated as the day of rest: Today.

In some church circles, there is much fuss made about the idea of taking a Sabbath day.  People choose different days as it fits their schedules and unplug from work, chores, etc.  It is a day to unwind and rest.  This is an important thing and we recommend taking time to rest and press into your relationship with God.  But it’s not a Sabbath and candidly, labeling it such sounds religious.  The fact is, the Sabbath is not a day.  It is Today, which is every day for the New Covenant believer.  The true Sabbath is a lifestyle of resting in Jesus’ finished work.

It is interesting that in the beginning of Hebrews four, the author referred to the Promised Land as a place of rest.  Yet in today’s passage, we see that Joshua, the man who led the Israelites into the Promised Land and settled it, did not give them rest.  Even though they entered the land, they did not enter His rest.  By grace, it has been reserved for those who believe. “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.”

What is this rest?  Look at verse 10 – “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”  The New Covenant Sabbath rest is the rest from working to earn God’s favor.  It is the rest from working to earn righteousness.  It is the rest from striving to perform for provision and acceptance.  It is the rest that comes from receiving grace.  Many people understand intellectually that they don’t have to work for salvation, yet they work to serve because deep down, they believe that it boosts their position with God, or it is a way to manage the shame they continue to carry, or it makes them feel better that they are doing more than someone else.  Work, work, work.  And none of it makes any difference regarding their righteousness or God’s love and acceptance of them.  God’s righteousness and acceptance are based on Jesus – receive Him and the rest comes as a package deal.

We want to make one more important point.  In western culture, the work ethic is a big deal.  People pride themselves on the hours they put in, again, based on a performance mindset.  But Philippians 4:19 says that “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  Is working for a living a good thing?  Absolutely!  Is being stressed out and working so many hours that you wreck your family and have stress-related sickness and worry about bills a good thing?  Absolutely not!  

The Sabbath was a day of provision.  God provided so that the Israelites didn’t have to work seven days a week to have enough.  And neither do we.  If you are striving and stressed about provision, the Sabbath life is for you.  Let God show you how to work smarter and earn more with less striving.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [everything else that you need] will be added.” 

Whether it is from religious works, a performance-based mindset, the pursuit of righteousness, or striving for provision, we all need rest.  Brave grace today and enter into the true Sabbath.  He’s not striving, and neither should we.

Day 10 – Diligence and Accounting