I’ve said this a lot lately: I am very drawn to the idea of “entering God’s rest.” Why? Because I’m tired! It all started a couple of weeks ago, (pre-amazing beach trip,) and I just couldn’t catch up. Couldn’t catch up, catch a break, catch a nap… nothing!
During this tired phase, I read through Hebrews. My fatigued eyes widened as I read about who will enter God’s rest, and my heart swelled as I saw that “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” Something in my heart aches for that… even when I can’t fully comprehend what it means.
Sabbath, or “entering God’s rest,” is one of those concepts that comes from the Old Testament and foreshadows the future of every Christian. It is the past shining light on the future. But deep in my needy, weary soul, I began to see that Sabbath is also a gift for today. It just has to be, because I get too exhausted to please God — yet He demands our obedience!! And I know that He always provides for us whatever He requires from us. I needed His rest and strength. And so I prayed for God to show me the meaning of Sabbath for the here and now.
That same day, the June edition of a Christian magazine came in the mail. The magazine’s focus for June? Sabbath. I skipped feverishly through the first several articles and landed on one by R.C. Sproul, Jr. called “The REST of the Story.” What I read forever changed my view of our weekly Sabbath.
Sabbath is one of the ten commandments. Sproul points out that the command not only demands that we rest one day a week; it equally states that we must work the other six days. During the six days of WORK, Sproul says, “We are to be passionately pursuing the kingdom of God. We are to recognize that we live in the not-yet of the kingdom.” Not everything God promises has yet come to pass; therefore, we work towards God’s kingdom to be “on earth as it is in heaven.”
While in one sense, we live in the “not yet” of God’s kingdom, in another very true sense, Jesus was right when He claimed on the cross that “It is finished.” Hebrews says that God’s works “were finished from the foundation of the world.”
And so, Sproul says, Sabbath is for celebrating the sense in which “it is finished” already. Sabbath is for resting in faith. Sabbath is for knowing that God has already conquered. Yet, six symbolic days a week, we still WORK towards making it “on earth as it is in heaven,” at least until Christ returns.
Here are some of my favorite parts of Sproul’s article. It blew my mind:
“We rejoice and we get over worries when we come to understand the the Lord’s Day is that time when we leave the ‘not yet’ of the kingdom, and enter into the ‘already.'”
“Are we resting in the finished work of Christ? The most faithful Sabbath keeper will in the end be the most joyful Sabbath keeper. Sabbath, in the end, isn’t something to be observed but celebrated. And we celebrate not merely a day off from work. We celebrate the victory of our King. We are of good cheer, for He has overcome the world. And we reign with Him.”
Amen. I can rest in that.