Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
On the ancient Israelite calendar there could be as many as fifty-nine sabbath days each year, all of them holy. Using a solar calendar, there are fifty-two weeks in a year, which accounts for fifty-two sabbath days. In addition, there were seven other sabbath days associated with Israel’s feast days that were commanded by God for His people. If none of these festival sabbath days happened to fall on a weekly sabbath day, then the total would come to fifty-nine sabbath days for the year.
Beyond this, God commanded a sabbath year to be observed every seventh year. And every fiftieth year there was added another sabbath year called “jubilee”. Of course, since every seventh year was a sabbath year, every forty-ninth year was a sabbath year. Then that forty-ninth year was followed by the sabbath year of jubilee. Think of it! For His people, God commanded that there should be times when no labor was allowed in Israel for two years in a row. God promised that he would provide all the food necessary for His people during that time. Wasn’t God good to His people?
All sabbaths were holy, not just the weekly one. When God said, “Verily, my sabbaths shall you keep”, He was referring to all of them.
The days and years of rest which God gave to Israel were given as a type, or shadow, of the spiritual rest that Jesus would bring. When Jesus said, “Come unto me, and I will give you rest”, he was not advertising for a hotel chain. He was not speaking of physical rest. He was speaking of the spiritual rest He gives us from sin and from spiritual oppression.
Religious leaders who have not been sent by God never get it right. They either require too little or too much of people. This mass confusion makes life hard for those who are seeking the truth, and it is relief, or rest, from this burdensome confusion that the holy Ghost provides us.
God foretold of this rest that Jesus would bring. Through His ancient prophets, He spoke of what was to come. In Isaiah 28, He said, “For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people, to whom He said, This is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest, and this is the refreshing. . . .” Paul said that God was referring to the holy Ghost moving people to speak in tongues (1Cor. 14:21-22). When I pointed this out to one of my professors in the Graduate School of Theology at Oral Roberts University, he replied, with a sympathetic, condescending smile, “Well, I think maybe Paul just didn’t understand the Old Testament as well as he might have.” To which I replied, “I think you don’t understand Paul as well as you might have.”
Paul was right, of course. Through Isaiah, God WAS foretelling the spiritual rest that Jesus would bring, and to which the weekly sabbath days pointed. Paul called those Old Testament sabbaths a “shadow” of this life in the Spirit that Christ brought to us. This means that if we hope to please God in this New Covenant, then we must honor the means of “rest” that He has given us in His Son, and not continue in the Old Testament rest which was the mere shadow of it.
Do you honor the holy Ghost? Do you delight in it? Do you sanctify the Spirit in your heart, so that earthly things do not compare with the respect you feel for it? This is how we now keep the fourth commandment. We rest in spirit with Jesus when we walk in the Spirit with Jesus, and we “do no servile work” during this time of rest when we cease from our own works and do the will of God.
Yes, we are still required to keep the sabbath of the Lord, but His sabbath now is in His Spirit, not in the flesh.