Is the Sabbath done away?

No, the Sabbath is not done away, as Hebrews 4:9 makes clear: “There remains, therefore, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.”

So what is this “Sabbath-rest” that’s still in operation today? It’s the same Sabbath-rest that God himself took on the 7th day of Creation, “for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his,” verse 10. And when did God rest from his work? Verse 4, “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” And why did he rest on the seventh day? Because, verse 3, “his work has been finished since the creation of the world.” So the Sabbath-rest that remains for us today is the same Sabbath-rest that God took on the 7th day of Creation when all his work was finished.

But why, if it’s supposed to be a rest, does it take “effort to enter that rest,” verse 11? Because it’s possible to fall short of it like Israel did, verse 1: “Therefore since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.”

So how does one fall short of the Sabbath-rest? By lack of faith, verse 2, “because those who heard (the gospel) did not combine it with faith,” but verse 3, “we who have believed enter that rest.” The Sabbath-rest that remains today, therefore, is still entered by the same method – by faith. Without faith, God “declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest,'” verse 3.

The effort involved in entering the Sabbath-rest, therefore, is faith, but faith in what, though? Faith in Jesus Christ, verse 14: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” We enter God’s Sabbath-rest by doggedly hanging onto our trust in Christ.

And why do we trust Christ? Because “Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house,” Hebrews 3:6, and we “come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first,” verse 14. We get to share in Christ’s faithfulness if we keep on trusting him to see us through, and that’s what Hebrews means by the Sabbath-rest: It’s all about trusting in the faithfulness of Christ, and always “approaching the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need,” Hebrews 4:16.

And that’s the Sabbath-rest that remains for the people of God today. It’s Jesus Christ – and he’s certainly not done away.


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