God’s Sabbath Rest – A Sign Between God And Those Separated Unto Him

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Series: Waiting on the Lord/Meditation

Sun am 25th March 2012 – Kobus Swart

Gen. 1:5, 8; Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 31:13, 17;  Eph. 3:3; Eph. 5:31-32; Heb. 3:7-19; Heb. 4:1-16

When the Bible refers to a day it refers to a period of time and that period, especially when we talk about the Sabbath day, has nothing to do with a 24 hour day on the calendar. The word “day” in the Hebrew has been translated 1181 different ways (including, off course, where it does refer literally to a 24-hour day)  into English in some Bible translations. There are many examples in Scripture where a “day” actually refers to a period of time. For example  the “day” of temptation in the wilderness actually refers to a period of 40 years! 

Another example is when the earth was created in 6 days. Genesis 1 gives an account of creation: And there was evening and there was morning, one day (vs. 5). And there was evening and there was morning, a second day (vs. 8). It doesn’t say anything about night; it refers to transitional “pockets” from one period of time to another period of time. In fact, the sun, moon and stars were only created on the fourth “day”. We are going to talk about a day and that day’s name is TODAY, the now, the present.  To grasp this is very important on our journey right now ie. to connect fully with the reality of the Sabbath rest“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8). Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I AM”.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made (Gen. 2:1-3). “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you (Ex. 31:13). ‘Sanctify’ means to set apart; to make holy and perfect.

Although this was (and still is in Jewish communities) seen as the 7th day of the week (Saturday), the SABBATH “day” is pointing to a deeper truth which is further explained in Hebrews 3 & 4. In Genesis 1 it says of all six days that it was evening and it was morning except for the seventh day. There is no reference to evening and morning on the seventh day. We are dealing with something higher than the six “days” of creation. God sanctified the 7th day which was a major upgrade, a major step into something higher. “It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labour, and was refreshed” (Ex. 31:17). God didn’t go into what we think rest is – being inactive or tired. Jesus said, “My Father is working unceasingly and so do I”.  It is a different kind of work altogether.

There’s a mystery in God, a mystery in Christ that has been hidden through all the ages. The Apostle Paul was the first who began decoding the mysteries of the Christ (Eph. 3:3). More is said in Ephesians 5:31-32.  God created the seventh day with a deeper purpose and that purpose involves you and me. God wants to find rest in the people of the Sabbath.

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL (which was 40 years!) IN THE WILDERNESS…” Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end…(Heb. 3:7-19). Obedience must follow faith. And faith comes by hearing His Word.

Here is God’s grace: He has extended the day called ‘today’ even to this very moment. “Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest…”  Christians! Don’t harden your hearts! For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest …  We ask “how?” For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Let’s expose ourselves to a living Word, let it come and discern between soul and spirit, and bring us into that rest. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:1-16). Thank you God that we can still draw near to the throne of grace!

God is looking for His final resting place. He has sanctified the Sabbath, set it apart, and made it Holy. Seven days a week it can be the day of the Lord, seven days a week it can be our ‘today’, our Sabbath – rest, intimacy, communion. People on this journey have said goodbye to systems and patterns and old mind sets. There is something of a hunger and thirst and they are migrating to the next level. God has rested from His works and sanctified the day and now He is making the day and the people to become one. There is no full stop behind that when we and the Sabbath have become the resting place of God, because God is not inactive; He is still the ever Creative One. Let’s separate ourselves unto Him in a fresh way. Sanctification is not a ritual; it’s the next step for the church.