The book of Hebrews was written for Jewish Christians. It was written to show them that Jesus’s new covenant ministry (saved by trusting in Jesus) is superior to the old covenant (relying on sacrifices and rituals).
As the author talks about how everything has changed because of Jesus, the book lists certain things as much better or superior in the new covenant:
Jesus himself (Hebrews 3:1-6). New Covenant (Hebrews 8:6). New covenant law (Hebrews 7:12) Jesus’ sacrifice (Hebrews 9:23). Heavenly Temple (Hebrews 9:11). God’s promises (Hebrews 8:6). Resurrection (Hebrew 11:35). Blood atonement (Hebrews 12:24).
And then he gets on to another topic: a Sabbath. He says it this way:
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest (Greek: Sabbatismos) for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9, New American Standard Bible).
After saying the Sabbath ‘remains’, he goes on to explain that the idea of the Sabbath (Sabbathismos) rest is now much bigger than just taking some time off each week. Now this verse doesn’t do away with the need to set aside exclusive time for worship, rest and fellowship (Hebrews 10:25).
With that in mind, here’s five things Christians need to remember about this Sabbath. These points will also show that this Sabbath is not a physical day of rest.
1. We enter this Sabbath by believing
“For only we who believe can enter his rest” (Hebrews 4:3, NLT).
2. Having a day off doesn’t mean you’ve entered God’s rest
You can keep a physical day of rest and still not enter this Sabbath. Israel who were keeping the seventh-day Sabbath rest didn’t enter this Sabbath rest:
“Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come” (Hebrews 4:8).
3. We need to rest from trying to earn salvation
You can enter this Sabbath rest when you stop trying to earn salvation by your own works. Works here does not refer to good works that a Christian does by faith, but the effort of trying to win God over by being ‘good enough’ – something nobody gets right.
“For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors (own works of salvation), just as God did after creating the world” (Hebrews 4:10).
4. Rest begins today, not Sunday or Saturday
“So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today” (Hebrews 4:6, 7).
The reality is, the Sabbath is about God’s promised rest. Something we enter into fully when we get to Heaven, but we start experiencing it today.
5. This Sabbath is associated with the gospel
“So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God” (Hebrews 4:6).
What is the gospel or good news if not salvation by trusting and believing in Jesus alone? Paul wrote:
“We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us” (Romans 3:22-25).
We are declared righteous in the presence of God simply as a gift of God’s grace we receive by faith in Jesus’ finished work of salvation.
Did you know that when you gave your heart to Jesus, you entered this Sabbath rest?
“For only we who believe [in Jesus] can enter his rest” (Hebrews 4:3, NLT)
This Sabbath rest is a spiritual rest of grace, acceptance, and forgiveness we experience in Christ. It is also a rest from guilt, sin, and its penalty.
Jesus promises this Sabbath rest today for anyone who comes to Him:
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Make sure you enter God’s Sabbath rest
Some do not enter this rest for at least three reasons.
- First, they do not know about the gospel, the spiritual Sabbath rest and what Jesus has accomplished for them.
- Second, they do not enter this rest because they do not believe completely in Christ’s finished work and His power to save them.
- Third, they do not “make every effort to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:11, NIV) in response to the good news, allowing Satan to challenge their trust in Jesus’ finished work and what God says about them.
What does God say about those who belong to Him? He says:
You are: Reconciled (Rom. 5:10). Dead to sin (Rom. 6:11). Freed from sin (Rom. 6:18). Released from law’s condemnation (Rom. 7:6). Conqueror through Him (Rom. 8:37). Sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13). Saved through faith (Eph. 2:8). The dwelling of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:22). Chosen in Christ (Eph. 1:4). Qualified to share in the inheritance (Col. 1:12). Transferred to His kingdom (CoI. 1:13). Chosen to be like Christ (Rom. 8:29).
You have: the living presence of Christ in you (Phil. 2:13). A Helper to encourage you (Rom. 8:26).
You: serve in the newness of the Spirit, not in the oldness of the letter (Rom. 7:6). Received a spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12).
Well said friend, as a former Adventist myself Hebrews chapter 4 was a absolutely eye opener to understand the true Sabbath rest of the new covenant.
Thanks for your Blog.
BTW many Adventists i debate with use and refer to your former Blog as a defense for there beliefs, but when i reveal that you yourself have left those doctrines behind they are left speechless.
I used to use his blog and its unfortunate he has discarded the truth. He has simply embraced Dale Ratzlaff’s interpretation of Heb 4
Dale is debunked here
Spiritual rest nullifies the fourth command no more than embracing the bread of life nullifies your physical hunger
Not all old testament laws are binding on Christians. The above statement is like saying Christians should obey the commandment to offer animal sacrifices despite Christ’s once for all sacrifice because the Spiritual benefits of Christ’s sacrifice doesn’t nullify the literal commandment to offer animals.
Here’s some things to ponder.
1) There is no Sabbath day in Genesis. The Seventh day (which was a 24 hour period) in Genesis is unique and it points to a REST that goes beyond a 24 hour period, that one can enter into DAILY, and that is the message of Hebrews 4. Adam and Eve were ushered into this first Seventh day without six days of labor. So, whatever the rest that Adam and Eve experienced on their first day (they were created on the sixth day) is not the Sabbath day mentioned in Exodus (that only comes after six days of labor), but something much more.
2) Sabbath day is given as a fresh institution to Israel (not to the whole world) in the wilderness in Ex.16, and later codified in the covenant, called the ten commandments, which had 613 laws in total.
3) Passover, Circumcision, Sabbath day were SIGNS of the covenants, and were all RITUAL laws and not moral. Mainstream Jews, the covenant people understood, and believe that Sabbath was a ritual law, the only one in the Ten Commandments. Sabbath being associated with the Ten doesn’t make it a moral law. If association is what constitute moral, then Sabbath is 12:1 ceremonial given its association with other holy days. Jesus compared Sabbath to ritual laws like shewbread and circumcision.
4) The law of Moses and law of God are terms used for the old testament law There is no evidence that law of Moses excludes the ten commandments, nor is there evidence that everything outside the Ten commandments and written on book are ceremonial. This entire system of old covenant law, including the ten commandments, were an indivisible unit, which were fullfilled by Jesus, and were declared obsolete, when the new covenant was established. Paul is clear Christians are not under the law of Moses, but under the law of Christ. If one insist on cherry picking old testament laws, they are obligated to obey the whole system of law (old covenant) with its 613 commandments.
5) There is no command to observe Sabbath for Christians. Col. 2 makes it clear Sabbath day is a shadow that is no longer binding. After all, the Sabbath day is a ritual law.
6) There is absolutely no emphasis of the Sabbath day as an end time decisive salvational matter, a seal of God in the teachings of Jesus or the apostles, who were entrusted with the whole counsel of God for the new testament church. You are free to observe Sabbath days, in fact circumcision or any ritual for that matter, but there is no obligation nor a single punishment for breaking it, neither is Sabbath breaking listed in any of the list of sins, or works of the flesh.
7) Finally, do you (& Sabbatarians) really observe the Sabbath day according to the Bible? The commandment requires you to work every Sunday through Friday, and to rest on the seventh day (Saturday). Few so-called Sabbatarians work on Sunday as commanded. ‘Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” (Ex 16:29-30). Moreover, there is to be no cooking, no buying and selling, no working others, and much more. Add EGW’s commands to this. In Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the Sabbath command specifies rest from labor as the way to keep the day “holy.” There is no mention of going to a worship service each Sabbath; it was out of custom, meaning tradition, not command, that the Jews started going to synagogues after Babylonian captivity.
Sabbath keeping is far from simply going to church on Saturday and napping at home, and reading the Bible, and recognizing it’s a holy day, yet many claim to keep the Sabbath law without knowing what the law says!
The new testament is clear that all days are alike and there are no more sacred days!