The Sabbath and Your Future

beach_11246cYou cannot foresee the future. But keeping the Sabbath as a day of rest makes an important statement about your future, according to Hebrews 4:9.

Make every effort to enter God’s rest today. Listen to the exhortation of the book of Hebrews. The whole book, including this passage, is an exhortation. As this passage comments on Psalm 95 and Genesis 2:2, it not only shows you something about the Fourth Commandment—it also points you to the future.

Today is your day of repentance. For Psalm 95, today was used to call God’s people to repent. Behind the Psalm lies the rebellion of Israel in the wilderness. There the people displayed lack of faith and, related to that, lack of obedience. Those dangers continue to threaten you—that’s why Hebrews is an exhortation. Today is the time for the preaching of the gospel. It is the time of promise. It is, above all, the time to come to Christ. Today is your time of suffering in the wilderness, the time of walking in obedience to God. That helps counter any notion of triumphalism.

Observe the Sabbath-rest prepared for you. God himself established this rest. Israel had failed to enter God’s rest, so Psalm 95 spoke of a future rest. For you it is still today. Your situation parallels that of Israel in the wilderness. Rest is still future for you. You live in the last days, Hebrews 1:1-2. You are aliens and strangers. Yet your High Priest has completed his sacrifice for your sins. The rest into which you are called to enter is God’s rest, established at creation. Israel failed to enter, not because rest was unavailable, but because of unbelief. God established this rest for you to enter it with him, for you to share in it.

Thus, a Sabbath rest remains for you. Up to Hebrews 4:9 as the author has spoken of rest, he has used the ordinary word for rest, one that speaks of not laboring, ceasing from work. In Hebrews 4:9 he uses a new term, Sabbath-rest or Sabbath -keeping. God’s rest and yours are tied together in the Sabbath. The Sabbath looks to the future. It is a sign of the final glory of the new heavens and earth, of your entering fellowship with God there. That rest is future, so the Sabbath-rest is relevant for you, a New Testament believer. Your Sabbath-rest is a testimony that your future is not in the hands of chance. Rather, by faith you are entering the rest God has prepared for you.

Keep the Sabbath as a testimony of your hope. Don’t keep it like the Pharisees did, making it a burden. Rather, make it a day of rejoicing. Make it a blessing, as Isaiah 58:13-14 calls you to. The Sabbath focuses on your redemption, for it is only in Christ and because of his work in your place that you can now enter God’s rest.

Keep the Sabbath as a testimony to your certain hope in Christ.


“The fulfillment of the church’s hope represents nothing less than the fulfillment of the original purpose of God in creation, or more accurately, the realization of his purposes of redemption is the means to the end of realizing his purposes of creation.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Th.D., “Westminster and the Sabbath” p. 9).

About jwm

I serve as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Newberg, Oregon.
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