“So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; 10 for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.” –Hebrews 4:9-11
Our God entered into a “Sabbath Rest” on the seventh day of the creation event. And He did not return to work on day eight. The first five days came and went. The Lord expected to continue His creative work the next day. The sixth day was different, for when the creative work was completed on day six, the Lord stopped working. Not stopped for a day, only to pick up the work again later. He was done. The work was completed. The seventh day, the Sabbath rest, continues from that point forever for our God.
Science clearly tells us that our God has not returned to the work of creating, for there is no new matter or energy that is being produced in the universe. What we have now is all we will have. No more is being created, for our God has entered into His Sabbath rest forever.
Today, we are each invited to join into our God’s eternal Sabbath rest. We are to no longer labor on our own for righteousness or holiness before Him. He intends to do all the work of making us righteous and holy. Our role is to simply surrender fully to His work in us, holding nothing back for ourselves. When we surrender our living to Him and walk in intimacy with Him daily, we will indeed enter that rest.
Our God established rest as the state of being for Himself and for His children. He offered humans a place in His rest, a chance to rest from our efforts at holiness and right living. This rest is supplied through an intimate union with our God to which we, too, have been invited.
The church of the last few hundred years has gotten part of this rest story right to varying degrees. We have held to salvation by grace, and not by works. Our hope for salvation is in Christ alone. Yet we have not gotten all of it right. We have missed the fact our God intends that we rest from our labors of religion, human effort and performance, and divided living.
Unfortunately, we have inherited a religious system of human effort and performance, not intimate union and communion with our God. The majority of Christian adherents know little or nothing of the path of intimacy with our God. They do not grasp the union we are meant to enjoy every day with our God. And so, we almost always fall into living a divided life, trying to manage both religious and secular activities. We resort to human effort and performance to try to please our God.
When the people of God follow this path of religion, they miss the Sabbath rest into which He is inviting us. The Sabbath rest we are intended to have in Christ is mistaken for the Sabbath day commandment in the Mosaic law. We get caught up in observing a day each week for rest, some on Saturday and some on Sunday. And no shortage of ink and venom have been expended trying make the Sabbath about resting or not resting, about one day or the other.
Yet the Sabbath rest of God is not about one day each week, either Saturday or Sunday. The Sabbath rest of our God is never-ending. Our Sabbath rest is above all a state of relationship to our God. It is the relationship He intends for all His children, all the time. It is rest not only from works of the flesh leading to salvation, but rest from works of the flesh leading to righteous and holy living. Just as He did all the work of our salvation in the atonement of Jesus, He intends to do all the work of holy living in us by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The Sabbath rest is a state of being found in those who are fully surrendered to our God. Full surrender is the key. Only in our fully surrendered state are we able to be freed from the self-oriented life that defines our old nature. Only in our fully surrendered state can we allow the Holy Spirit to live the life of God in place of our own living.
In absolute surrender is our freedom from work, our Sabbath rest. Our God has already made us righteous with the righteousness of Christ through the Atonement. He intends to do to the work of spiritual formation in us by His Spirit. He intends to do the work of holy living in us as well. When we rest in full surrender, the righteousness of Christ will become our righteousness in our living each day.
“God presents the Sabbath rest as a shelter we can enter.” – Charles R. Swindoll