13-06-18 THE SEVENTH DAY

 

Published 18th June 2018

By John Aldworth

Heb. 4: 4-5: For He (God) spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, and God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

Heb. 4:7-8-9: For if Jesus (that is, Joshua) had given them (the children of Israel) rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day (Cf. Joshua 22:4). There remaineth therefore a (day of) rest to the people of God.

Dan. 8:26: And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.

Hosea 3:4-5: For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image (i.e. sacred pillar), and without an ephod (i.e. a priesthood), and without teraphim (i.e. household idols). Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.

Mention the words ‘Seventh Day’ and most people immediately think of the Seventh Day Adventists and keeping Saturday as the Sabbath. And there is a widespread public perception that Christians must rigidly obey this Old Testament law. However, as this study will show, actually the term ‘Seventh Day’ means far more than keeping one day of the week aside. In fact, it is the scriptural key to a whole new world and time of blessing for mankind God is about to bring in. It is about a specific day, a certain set time, in which God will bring in his Day of Rest, not for Himself but for mankind.

Simply put, God wants all people to enter into rest, just as He entered his day of rest after his six-day labour of creation. In fact He has been offering his people such a day of rest - one which will last several centuries, not just 24 hours – for thousands of years but to date without many takers. Now, as the Dispensation of the Grace of God draws to a close, God’s next move will be to bring in the age of rest which He calls ‘the Seventh Day’, regardless of whether religious people keep Saturday or Sunday as their Sabbath, or don’t keep any day at all.

 Five biblical facts

To further dispel the myth that today God is still insisting people keep the Sabbath in an Old Testament sense, let me put a few biblical facts on the table.

  1. As early as Hosea 2:11 the Lord said He would cause Israel’s Sabbaths to cease.
  2. Jesus effectively abrogated Sabbath-keeping in his time on earth ‘working’ as a healer on that day and asserting ‘the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’, and that He, the Son of Man, was ‘Lord of the Sabbath’  (Mark: 2:27-28). His disciples were to freely rub corn on the Sabbath if they wished.
  3. In scripture none of the 12 apostles are ever found commanding Sabbath keeping.
  4. Sabbath keeping was not one of the four ‘necessary things’ the Jerusalem apostles required of Gentile converts in the Acts period (Acts 15:28-29).
  5. What’s more, apart from Col. 2:16, the word ‘Sabbath’ or ‘Sabbaths’ is not found in any Bible epistle. And in Col. 2:16 the Apostle Paul commands believers to ‘let no man judge’ them in respect of the Sabbath, i.e. as to whether they keep it or not.

So, clearly, those insisting that either Saturday (Seventh Day Adventists, the Worldwide Church of God and others) or Sunday (the Roman Catholic Church and the Lord’s Day Observance Society) be kept as the Sabbath, blatantly disobey apostolic instruction. And, apostles are to be obeyed. Jesus said so. To wit: ‘If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things I write unto are the commandments of the Lord’ (1 Cor. 14:37). Philippians, for example, always obeyed the Apostle Paul, (Phil. 2:12) and so should we.

This much has been said to quash the erroneous idea that the ‘Seventh Day’ is a matter of keeping a certain day of the week. It is not. But the ground must be cleared before we can uncover the real meaning of the term in ‘present truth’, that is, in scripture ‘rightly divided’ and thus applicable to us today.

As to what the ‘Seventh Day’ really means, and, I would submit, has always meant, consider this: If you were a Jew living in the Acts period, living now, or even living in future, what scripture would you look to for guidance to achieve your God-ordained destiny. Why, the Letter to the Hebrews, of course!  And, guess what? Nowhere in this epistle written specially to Hebrews and Jews about their inheritance in God is there any mention of the Sabbath or of keeping it!

Instead, in Hebrews, the ‘Seventh Day’ (Heb. 4:3-5 and 9) is presented as a Day of Rest, a prolonged epoch, lasting several centuries at least, in which mankind at long last lives by faith and enjoys the fruits of the earth without war, theft or labour. What a blessing that time will be.

But can it be so, you ask? Will God really restore the earth to its original creation splendour, will He banish war and bring peace; will He turn back the clock to re-engage all people in close-up, loving conversation with Himself? If the Old Testament prophets, Jesus and the Apostle Peter are to be believed, then, yes, He will.

Study Hebrews chapters three and four carefully and it’s clear God has always intended his people to enter his rest – that is the cessation of working and creating He ordained for Himself after his six-day labour of creation described in Genesis Chapter One. Thus in Heb. 4:3:

For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest; although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Jesus broke the Sabbath

You see, the ‘Seventh Day’, the Day of Rest for both God and man, was created during the Six Days of Creation – then God rested in it. But then sin came in and God went to work again. As Jesus told the Jewish leaders seeking to kill Him for healing the impotent man at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath day:

My Father worketh hitherto and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He had not only broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making Himself equal with God (John 5:17-18).

In passing, did you notice that Jesus broke the Sabbath and broke it for all time? Do you also see that because of sin God had to work when He wanted to rest? In Matt. 11:28-29 Jesus promised those who took his yoke upon they would find ‘rest unto your souls’; that is in this life. In the wider sense, however, God has promised a whole age of rest for mankind in the “Seventh Day’.

Consider what rest is. In Psalm 95:11 and Ps. 116:7 the Hebrew word translated ‘rest’  is not the Hebrew word for Sabbath shabbath (Strong’s 7676), from which ‘Sabbath’ obviously derives, but menuchah  (Strong’s 4496) meaning peaceful repose, a resting place and consolation (particularly in matrimony).

True, ancient Israel was covenant bound to keep the Sabbaths (Ex. 23:12): ‘On the seventh day thou shalt rest (shabath). However, in Ps. 95:11, where God speaks of his rest, the word used is menuchah (not shabath). It is the word for rest in Ps. 116:7:

Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee’.

This blessed state of rest (menuchah) was created by God for Adam and Eve to live in. Thus ongoing rest is the God intended natural habitat and abode for man. You see, Adam did not dig before the fall nor did Eve spin; there was no need. Vegetables and grain sprang up weed-less without planting. The trees fruited all year round, the climate was balmy; no clothes were needed. The animals were friendly and co-operative and man, woman and God talked and walked freely with one another. There was no need do anything other than hear, believe and obey what God said and love Him and each other. Simply put, resting in God’s rest took care of everything else.

An idyllic state of rest

No effort was required either by man or God to maintain this idyllic state, save that that the man and woman were to ‘keep’ the garden. And they would do this not by weeding, clipping the bushes, pruning trees or cultivating the ground, but by guarding it through faith (Hab. 12:4, Rom. 1:17). You see when a believer ceases from his own works and trusts God fully, not only is his faith counted for righteousness (Rom. 4:3, Heb. 4:10) he also enters into rest. And, as already said, that rest takes care of everything.

How long this ‘Seventh Day’ lasted back in Genesis we are not told. What we do know is that it followed the Six Days of Creation and that it was unlike them. ‘God blessed the Seventh Day and sanctified it’ (Gen. 2:3). That is, He separated it from the six days of creation each of which began with an evening and ended with a morning: For example: Gen. 1:31: And God saw everything that He had made and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.

However, the Seventh Day had neither ‘evening’ nor ‘morning’ to start and conclude it. The implication is that it was and is an ongoing day. That is, the Six Days of Creation came and went but the Seventh Day still remains. Heb. 4: 9: ‘There remaineth therefore a (day of) rest to the people of God.’

 The ‘Seventh Day’ then is a blessed state of rest which God provided for our first parents to live in. Sin caused them to be shut out of it but God has ordained it as our ‘long (or eternal) home’ (Eccl. 12:5). What’s more, down the long millennia since Eden He from time to time has opened a door into this realm of peace, rest and plenty. Thus ‘Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord’ (Gen. 6:8), Israel was given ‘rest’ in the Promised Land by God and Joshua, but soon lost it. And in Hebrews 4: 9 we assured that there ‘remaineth a rest for the people of God’, that is the Hebrews.

But what about the Gentiles. Do they get rest, too? Yes, they do. The Apostle Paul promises the troubled Thessalonians they will have ‘rest with us (i.e. the saved Jews) when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels’ (2 Thess. 1:8).

Now let us break down the ‘present truth’ meaning of the words ‘Seventh Day’. To start with, according to Heb. 4:4 it is the ‘Seventh Day’,  not because it is the last day of the week, but because in it God ‘rested after all his work’ of the six-day creation.

Now, it’s widely accepted that the six days of creation are a prophetic template, or pattern, for the ongoing process of time throughout history. Each of the days are seen as a period of 1,000 years because 2 Peter. 3:8 stipulates by apostolic command that ‘one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day’.  

Now, granted, keeping a weekly Sabbath, and several others as well, was a covenant requirement for Israelites in Old Testament times. But today we do not live in Old Testament times, nor in the New Testament era, for that matter. (New Testament promises to Israel were put on hold when God set Israel aside and sent salvation to all men at the end of the Acts period and await future fulfilment.)

Sabbath keeping now a ‘no no’

Today, in the present dispensation of the grace of God (Eph. 3:1-4), Sabbath keeping is a definite ‘no no’ for believers. The Apostle Paul said so (Col. 2: 16). Actually Sabbath keeping has been on its way out for a long time. Jesus liberalised it during his earthly ministry and I can find no later scripture where it was commanded by his 12 apostles. It is not included in the ‘necessities’ the Acts 15 Jerusalem council of Jewish apostles laid on Gentile converts.

Sadly, however, to this day widespread teaching of Sabbath keeping with other examples of salvation by works through the law, such as not eating shellfish or pork, have had the terrible effect of obscuring the real meaning of the Seventh Day. Sadly, this meaning – that God will bring a Day of Rest for mankind in which there will be neither hard labour nor ongoing war - has been lost sight of by Christendom. Indeed, today no denominational church creed recognises the Seventh Day as a major episode in God’s plan of the ages.

And that’s a great pity, because the Bible’s teaching about the Seventh Day is actually great good news for all people. Let us see why.

If the Six Days of Creation followed by the Seventh Day, God’s Day of Rest, are indeed a prophetic template for the outworking of God’s purposes in subsequent human history, then we live posed on the brink of huge change. For six 1,000-year days – the ‘Day of Man’ - have already been and gone in real time. There must then be a seventh period to follow. As such it will be a Day of Rest but what is such a day called in scripture?

This study concludes that the Seventh Day is actually the ‘Day of Christ’ mentioned seven times in Paul’s epistles.

Sadly this proposition will be brushed aside by many who fail to recognise there will indeed be a centuries-long age designated by scripture as the Day of Christ. That such a day will come into being when the current Dispensation of Grace of God (Eph. 3:1-4) shortly closes, finds no place in their thinking or exegesis.

Let me say again, it is notable that while the ‘evening and the morning’ began and ended each of the six days of creation (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), neither evening nor morning are mentioned in connection with the seventh day on which God rested. Outside of Genesis 1 ‘evening and morning’ only occur twice more in the whole bible – in Ps. 55:17 denoting daily prayer times and in Dan. 8:26 as the title of a vision in which the ‘treading down’ of Jerusalem by the Gentiles is brought to an end.

Daniel is told (Dan. 8:19) that this far future punishment of God-regathered Israel by invading armies, headed by a ‘little horn that waxed great even to the host of heaven’ (vs. 10) will be ‘the last end of the indignation’ (vs. 19).What will follow then is a Day of Rest – the Seventh Day. This day is known in Paul’s epistles as ‘the Day of Jesus Christ’ or the ‘Day of Christ’. Consider then what the Apostle had to say about it:

2 Thess. 2:2. “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the Day of Christ is at hand”.

1 Cor. 1:8. “Who shall confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

1 Cor. 5:5. “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus”.

2 Cor. 1:14. “As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the in the Day of the Lord Jesus.”

Phil. 1:6. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ”.

Phil. 1:10. “That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the Day of Christ”.

Phil. 2:16. “Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the Day of Christ that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain”.

I hope you are looking forward to this Day of Rest. I certainly am.