Sabbath Rest #3 - The Eternal Sabbath

After seeing how the ‘original’ Sabbath is a seventh-day Saturday in the week, the next point is to identify when it first began and when it will end to appreciate the overall perspective.

We can then drill down into further details about how it may or may not have then changed.

The assumed stance on the subject nowadays interprets the Sabbath for a shorter period of time and for a specific group of people.

When the Sabbath Began

It started way back in the Garden of Eden at the creation of the world, before the mention of the Ten Commandments.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work, which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work, which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” - Genesis 2:1-3

Earlier in chapter one, there is also a reference to God creating day and night to mark sacred times:

“And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years,” – Genesis 1:14

This was a specific day that God created and then rested on. However, God obviously did not need any actual rest from creating things over the previous six days, as explained by Scripture elsewhere:

“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.” - Isaiah 40:28

As an aside, the reference to the seventh day is repeated three times in these Genesis verses, with seven being a number representing God’s completeness. (As an aside, there’s also lots of reference to sevens in the book of Revelation, compared to the number 666, which is three lots of the number six representing man).

God’s Rest & Refreshment

When this point of creation is referred to later on in the book of Exodus, it refers to God being 'refreshed'.

“It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” - Exodus 31:17

The Hebrew word for ‘rest’ here in Exodus is 'Nuach', which is more to do with the quality of rest, whereas the word ‘Shabbat’ used in Genesis describes more ceasing from something.

This is more descriptive than simply needing rest. It is almost like a breath of appreciation and interaction with His newly-formed creation, like an artist sitting back after painting a masterpiece and breathing a sigh of relief and appreciation of the finished piece.

After all, Genesis says that His creation was very good:

“And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” – Genesis 1:31

God’s Blessing on the Sabbath

The earlier verses in Genesis say how God blessed and sanctified this seventh day:

“And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” - Genesis 2:3

“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”- Exodus 20:11

Some interpret this blessing coming at the beginning of the seventh day, whereas others afterwards, once God and His presence had filled it. Either way, it was blessed with Adam and Eve there (created on the previous sixth day).

Throughout the Old Testament, God also re-iterated a blessing for people by observing the Sabbath that affected their whole lives, not just on the Sabbath day:

“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:...And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God....But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:” – Deuteronomy 28:1, 2, & 15

“Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.” – Isaiah 56:2

Once God blessed this Saturday-Sabbath, then to assume this is now no longer applicable in the future, then there must be a clear point of this somehow being ‘unblessed’.

Even if the Sabbath commandment becomes no longer valid and Sunday takes over, this seventh-day still has a blessing upon it like none of the other six – without clear biblical indication otherwise.

Also, women and marriage were also created by God at this point of creation and are still not seen to be unapplicable nowadays.

This blessing also involves being made sanctified and Holy, with God’s presence filling and resting on this day. Therefore, the reference to keeping this day Holy later on in the Ten Commandments makes more sense if God originally made it Holy.

On the Sabbath camper display, I've placed the starting point of the camper in the last section of the earth to represent the last day of its creation process before beginning to travel afterwards.

earth parked sabbath rest

Sabbath Implications

After this initial seventh-day was declared and blessed by God, four implications can be identified.

1. Before Creation

This probably never existed in heaven before creation, as it was formed as part of the earthly creation process.

2. Initial Blessing

Such a blessing is before and separates from any commandment that follows afterwards, and any sin entering the world.

This was therefore meant to be part of creation before the fall and plan of salvation for humankind.

3. Other Natural Forces

Other natural rhythms were also established at the creation, which continue to be taken for granted and still applicable today, namely, the sun, moon and stars to form times, seasons, and appointments.

4. Human Connection

Adam and Eve were created the day before and were present when God declared and blessed this seventh day of rest.

However, the assumed stance does highlights that there is no specific command to Adam & Eve to observe this new Sabbath day.

It also concludes that if there was an expectation to observe this new Sabbath day, this was before the instruction about not eating fruit from the tree; therefore, this Sabbath-issue, not the eating-fruit one, would have been the first test to them.

Although there is no specific reference to God commanding them to observe this, there is a future reference to the Sabbath actually being made for man.

“And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:” – Mark 2:27

Plus, as per the earlier point about God not needing to rest Himself, this means that this day was surely for man’s benefit. Although it was formed within God’s original creation, it was meant to be an everlasting blessing to man.

The Seventh-day Ending

The other six days in Scripture specifically refer to the evening and morning of that particular day, whereas there is none at the end of the seventh day; Genesis goes straight onto other things.

“And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” – Genesis 1:31

The assumed stance, therefore, interprets this as meaning this seventh-day of God resting never technically ended. Instead, it was meant for God to go into resting mode forevermore after creating (although he had to soon come out of rest and back into working-mode for man and Salvation once Adam and Eve sinned, beginning with making their clothes).

Man is therefore assumed to have forfeited his rest in God by sin, which Christ (as Lord of the Sabbath) has to fulfil later on at His Resurrection and ‘re-creation’, and which we’ll fully receive 24/7 in heaven.

In the meantime, a temporary pattern of weekly rest was assumed to have been brought in for the Israelites only until Christ, as a form of memorial to God’s creation and the rest they had lost from sin. Thus, new Covenant Christians can rest in Christ 24/7 rather than a specific day until the new heaven and earth.

However, two factors indicate that this was a weekly rhythm that God had set, not just a general overall principle of ongoing rest.

Firstly, this rest is still called a 'day', just like the other six, rather than say a 'phase' or 'period'.

Secondly, life then revolves around a seven-day weekly cycle until now, which God refers to later when referring back to in the Ten Commandments.

Whilst there is a principle of God’s initial creation stopping after the first Sabbath, and Christians having a Salvation rest in Christ now, there is no specific reference to this specific daily pattern being terminated.

The Sabbath Ending

Sabbath observance is then described as being perpetual and forever in Exodus:

“Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” – Exodus 31:16-17

There is a debate between theologians over original words here like ‘olam’ for ‘forever’ and ‘perpetual’. Some interpret this as just being as long as can be foreseen rather than literally never-ending, therefore, assuming just for the Israelites at the time.

However, taking the words at face value, and considering that Christian believers in the New Covenant are grafted into Israel, this declaration indicates of being ongoing for God’s people.

Israel’s Everlasting Sign

God specifically gave a commandment to the Israelites in the Old Testament to observe the Sabbath.

Although we’ll go into detail on this later, a point worth noting now is that the reason for this was a ‘sign’ of God’s relationship with His people, in addition to the original blessing pronounced at creation.

This sign is then described as lasting forever:

“It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” - Exodus 31:17

On the Sabbath Camper display, I’ve identified this everlasting sign and symbol with a sign along the journey in the Old Testament, saying that to last forever.

everlasting sign sabbath rest

 

Jesus and the Everlasting Sabbath

Scripture is clear that the world was first created through and for Christ, which therefore must have included this first Sabbath rest after six days creation:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” – John 1:1-3

“But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” - 1 Corinthians 8:6

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” - Hebrews 1:1-2

“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:” - Ephesians 3:9

Jesus states when on earth that He is the Lord of the Sabbath, which makes sense and is justified by the fact that He created the world:

“For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” – Matthew 12:8

The assumed position nowadays can refer to the phrase ‘even of’ here and assume that New Testament hearers already knew that he was the Lord on all other days (and life generally); therefore, Jesus needed to reassure them that He was even Lord of this over-religious and Old-Testament day.

However, we’ll come onto Jesus’ take on the Sabbath later on. At this point, it’s worth noting that Jesus was originally involved in its formation and is the Lord of it now, with no evidence that this has changed since.

To demonstrate this on the Sabbath camper display, I’ve placed a sign immediately at the beginning of the original creation before you then travel along the Saturday-Sabbath journey to the end of new heaven and earth to declare Christ’s Lordship and ownership of it all forever.

start christ sabbath rest

Everlasting Sabbath in Heaven

I was surprised first to see how Sabbath observance is also referred to in the future and the new heaven and earth with God’s eternal rule.

This is part of Isaiah’s prophecy in the Old Testament looking at this future heavenly-life on an everlasting basis that is ‘remaining’:

“For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” - Isaiah 66:22-23

Such a pattern of timely observance of things in heaven is also mentioned in Revelation and the monthly eating from the tree of life:

“In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” – Revelation 22:2

The alternative position on the subject of the Sabbath day points out that technically this refers to the reference points of Sabbath, with the focus being the worship between them, not the observance of the actual Sabbaths (and that it must therefore include new moon celebrations as well). Also, it might apply to the church age rather than heaven itself.

However, even if this is the case, any reference and acknowledgement to ‘Sabbath’ in heaven surely ends the argument that this has somehow been removed or complied with by New-Testament Christianity, never to be seen again.

This also refers to 'all flesh' following this, including final Christians in Revelation, rather than being an exclusive group of, say, just Jews from the Old Testament's Sabbath period.

Also, in Revelation, as you come to Christ’s Second Coming, you see an emphasis on following God’s commandment; and worshipping Himself with specific mention of Him as the original creator:

“Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” – Revelation 14:7

Eternal-Sabbath Conclusions

To finish this section off on the Sabbath Camper, I’ve highlighted a final end-of-destination new heaven and earth (of course, this is bigger and more glorious than what we can imagine), where the Sabbath camper experience will be 'parked up' for eternity.

end earth sabbath rest

To conclude this section, the principle of the Sabbath is described in Scripture as being eternal. It is something described as lasting forever, not just for a specific season or reason.

Although some question individual references, this is emphasised in various points throughout the bible.

It began at creation as a special day when God rested and appreciated His work, which He blessed and made for humankind's benefit.

The Old Testament is described as an everlasting covenant with God’s people and an eternal sign.

In the New Testament, Jesus claims that He is the Lord of this day that He originally formed it.

Such Sabbaths are then prophecised as still being in existence in heaven.

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