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.
Numbers 14: 21: But as truly as I live all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.
Habakkuk 2:14: For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord As the waters cover the sea.
Luke 20:34-36: And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage.
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 very 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
Is God is still insisting people keep the Sabbath in the Old Testament legal sense laid on Israel that anyone not doing so should be put to death, or is He now wanting the Seventh Day respected as a foreshadowing of a wonderfully better age He will bring in for mankind as a whole? Let us put a few biblical facts on the table.
- As early as Hosea 2:11 the Lord said He would cause Israel’s Sabbaths to cease.
- Jesus effectively abrogated legalistic 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.
- In scripture none of the 12 apostles are ever found commanding Sabbath keeping as absolute law.
- 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).
- 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 or Sunday, as the Roman Catholic Church and the Lord’s Day Observance Society do, be rigidly kept as the Sabbath, step outside apostolic instruction. And folks, apostles are to be obeyed. Jesus said so through Paul. 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’ in its ultimate meaning 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 one 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, since it is written to you! 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 Apostles Peter and Paul are to be believed, then, yes, He will. For example, in Acts 3:19-21 Peter speaks of ‘the time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord’ and of the ‘times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began’.
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 after the Six Days of Creation and 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 the binding legality of it on penalty of death 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)’ but this was a binding legality laid them after their rebellion at Sinai. Prior to that the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments, had been given as a guide for good living without penalty (Numbers 20:1-17). Note that in Ps. 95:11, where God speaks of his rest, the word used is menuchah (not shabath). It is also 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, as scripture shows the Seventh Day had neither ‘evening’ nor ‘morning’ to start and conclude it. This implies that it is an eternal or everlasting state one gifted by God to man as his first abode in the Garden of Eden then lost through Adam’s sin. However, it is God’s abiding promise that in the present life believers can enter into spiritual rest by faith. Furthermore, God promises that in time to come there will be a Day of Rest for all mankind, not just for Israel, although obviously they will benefit too. And in that it has no ‘evening’ this day will be an epoch without end.
Thus, as God sees it, 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.’ As Hebrews clearly teaches this day of rest ‘remaineth’ in the sense that it is a state of being that can be entered into spiritually by faith.
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 therefore await future fulfilment.)
Sabbath keeping now a ‘no-no’?
Today, in the present dispensation of the grace of God (Eph. 3:1-4), any legal compulsion to keep the Sabbath seems to be ruled out. As the Apostle Paul said in Col. 2: 16:
Let no man therefore judge you in meat or drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days. Which are a shadow of things to come but the body (i.e. the substance of present spiritual experience) is of Christ.
Legalistic Sabbath-keeping is also set aside in Romans 14:5-7 in favour of freedom for the believer to choose which day he will esteem above another or none at all. The passage reads:
One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.
The principle the apostle sets out in this passage is that all believers, whether Jew or Gentile, ‘should live unto the Lord’ (vs. 8). None is to be judged or condemned by others to keeping a sabbath or not keeping it. It is the intent of the heart – i.e. whether observance or non-observance was done to please and honour Him or not - that matters. And Paul warns (vs. 10) that we shall give an account of what we have or haven’t done in this regard at the judgement seat of Christ.
Actually, Sabbath keeping in a compulsory, legalistic sense 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, for example.
Sadly, however, to this day widespread teaching of Sabbath keeping whether on Sunday or Saturday as a binding legal requirement has had the effect of obscuring the real meaning of the Seventh Day – which is that God will bring in a long Day of Rest for mankind in which there will be neither hard labour nor ongoing war. This will be a real Sabbath, a wonderful day of rest for all people counted worthy to attain to it. This ‘blessed hope’ (Titus 2:13) - has been lost sight of by Christendom. Indeed, today, as far as I know, 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 poised on the brink of huge change for the better. The ‘Day of Man’, which has been in force, if not since Eden then at least since God brought in human government after the Flood is all but over in real time. There must then be other ‘days’ to follow and indeed there are. Scripture details the Day of Christ, the Day of the Lord followed by in the far future the Day of God when a new heavens and a new earth will be created. Into which the four great days does the Day of Rest fit and what is such a day called in scripture? This study proposes that the Seventh Day begins in 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 theology but that it will be so is supported by many scriptures.
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. One occurrence is in Ps. 55:17 where David by inspiration speaks of praying ‘evening, morning and at noon’ a practice one might think should be followed by believers as devoutly as Sabbath worshipping on Saturday or Sunday.
The other is in Daniel 8:26 where the phrase headlines a vision in which the ‘treading down’ of Jerusalem by the Gentiles is brought to an end. It is my conviction this ending of Gentile domination of Jerusalem will take place in the coming Day of Christ, the pre-millennial kingdom of God where Christ takes over government of the world to rule from heaven.
The Day of Christ will fulfil the Old Testament prophecy that ‘the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’ (Habakkuk 2:14). And it is the Day of Christ that Jesus called the ‘kingdom of heaven’ and ‘the world to come’ (Luke 20:34-36).
It is my conviction that this time is also a Day of Rest – the Seventh Day. This new epoch or eon 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”.
(Importantly, the Day of Christ is not be confused with the Day of the Lord, nor should the Lord’s appearing (Titus 2:13, 2 Timothy 4:1), which brings it into being, be taken to be the same as the return of the Lord which ushers in the quite separate and much later Day of the Lord. Scripturally, it precedes it.)
I hope you are looking forward to this Day of Rest. I certainly am.
(For further information on the Day of Christ and related subjects visit day-of-christ-mnistries.com)