Sabbath Rest: Highlights in the Old and New Testament

by Jews for Jesus | August 01 2009

Old Testament

God rested from His work of creation.  “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended 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” (Genesis 2:1-3).

The first mention of word “sabbath” in the Bible occurs in the instructions about gathering manna. “Then he said to them, ‘This is what the LORD has said: “Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning”‘” (Exodus 16:23).

Sabbath is given as the fourth commandment, and as a reminder of God’s seventh-day rest. “‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.'” (Exodus 20:8-11).

God makes Israel the first of many promises to “give you rest.” And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).

Sabbath is linked with redemption from Egypt. “And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:15).

God promises Israel rest during His future reign. “My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,” (Isaiah 32:18).

New Testament

Yeshua promises to “give rest” to those who come to Him. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

The Sabbath was given for people, not to oppress people. “And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath'” (Mark 2:27).

Yeshua is Lord of the Sabbath. “Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28).

Jesus follower’s will have rest from tribulation when He returns. ” …and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,” (2 Thessalonians 1:7).

There remains a future Sabbath rest for God’s people. “For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:8-11).

What is elsewhere called “rest” for God’s people is here described as the new heavens and new earth, also depicted as a return to Eden. “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea… In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him” (Revelation 21:1, 22:2-3).

For an in depth look at this subject, you might want to read Christ in the Sabbath.