April 24, 2016
In this issue: The "Last Sabbath" by Roger Lindsey
The question of the Sabbath of the Law of Moses and whether or not it is still in effect today has taken much time, energy, ink and paper over the years. In this article we will consider what can be called the “Last Sabbath.” There is of course a caveat that needs to be noted concerning the “Final Sabbath” which is the rest for the people of God in eternal glory (Hebrews 3). We are concerned in this effort with just those Sabbaths mentioned in Scripture that pertain to earthly history.
If we trace the subject of the Sabbath in the Scriptures we find:
The Original Sabbath
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:1-3
The seventh day was blessed and made holy because God had finished his work of creation, and rested (Hebrew ‘shabat’) on that day. This word ‘shabat’ is the word that will later be attached to the day as a name or description of the day and will become, after the giving of the commandments to Israel through Moses, interchangeable with “seventh day.”
It simply means “rest” as it is translated in virtually all English versions of the Scriptures.
The fact that God blessed the day and made it holy has been taken to mean that he required Adam and all future generations to observe that day as a day of rest. This is wholly without Scriptural basis, and, as we will see shortly, is absolutely not the case.
The Commanded Sabbath
Even before Israel had reached Mount Sinai after being brought out of Egyptian slavery the Lord introduced them to his Sabbath. Exodus 16.22-26 records the Lord’s direction through Moses that the children of Israel were to gather double the usual amount of manna on the 6th day (Friday) because there would be none on the ground on the following day, the Sabbath or seventh day. It was their first introduction to this idea of a day of complete rest. It is also the first time in all of Scripture where this day is commanded to be a day of rest for man.
Of course, the Sabbath also holds the position of the 4th of the Ten Commandments, and was from that time forth a major difference between Israel and the rest of the nations. They were commanded to refrain from all ordinary labor on that day. It was given to Israel as a sign between them and God (Ex 31.17) and a reminder of their Egyptian bondage (Deut 5.15).
It was, from that time on, observed by the Jews because it was a part of the Law of Moses.
The Sabbath of our Lord
This brings us to consider what can be called the “Last Sabbath.” The Law of Moses has been taken out of the way, removed, because it was “finished” or fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Law was “blotted out” (Col 2.14-16; Heb. 8:6-13; Gal. 5.4). This blotting out of the Law includes the Ten Commandments (including the Sabbath). All Ten Commandments except the Sabbath have found their way into the New Covenant. But the Law with its animal sacrifices (Num. 28.9-11) and the Levitical priesthood (Heb 7.11-12) has been done away.
When Jesus was crucified it was finished; he had completed his work, the final work of redemption of fallen mankind, just as God had finished his work of creation in Genesis 2.
And just as God rested on the day after he finished the creation, so also Jesus rested on the day after he completed the final work of salvation. He was in the grave by the end of the day on Friday, his body stayed there for the “Last Sabbath” and was raised the morning after the Sabbath was finished.
This can be considered the last Sabbath that God ordained to be observed on earth, and nothing is more fitting than for the Son of Man to be the last one to rest on a God-ordained Sabbath. It was ordained because of the prophecies which foretold it. It was the one who was God and Man resting for the “Last Sabbath.”
Thereafter no Sabbath of an earthly nature is prescribed for mankind. There is no mention in the New Testament of there being any Sabbath rest on a particular day, and Sunday, the first day of the week, is never described as a day of rest. The laws of the Sabbath do not apply to it.
We are left to look forward to one “Final Sabbath,” eternal in length, and complete in relief from struggle. It is the rest that is reserved for those who believe and obey the Son of Man who has promised us “rest for our souls” if we come to Him. While we find relief in Him in the here and now, the real rest, the “Final Sabbath” is yet to come. When he descends from heaven with a shout, the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, we who are found in him at his appearing will enter his rest forever.
“Even so, come Lord Jesus.” (Rev 22.20 KJV)