Is Jesus the Sabbath Rest?
It was approximately a decade ago when some Christians began teaching how Hebrews chapter four revealed that a Sabbath rest does remain for the children of God. But for every truth Satan always has a lie and so it was not long before some started claiming that Jesus is our Sabbath in opposition to the real truth of this passage. On careful examination, the truth seeker will find that those opposing the truth have used eisegesis instead of Biblical exegesis just to avoid spending quality time with their Creator. It grieves me deeply that such people who do not love God with all their heart will hear these words from Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23 that no one should want to hear.
There is no scripture that specifically states that Jesus replaced the Sabbath and I challenge anyone to produce such a scripture. And since there is no required action for this most recent deception then this is no different from saying that the Sabbath was abolished. So what sounds better and tickles those itching ears of some? (2 Timothy 4:3-4) Jesus is our Sabbath or the Sabbath is abolished? And since this heresy is no different to saying that the Sabbath is abolished, then how can that be when the fourth Commandment is the biggest of all the Commandments? Christ stated that not even so much as the equivalent to a period or a comma is going to pass from His law as long as Heaven and Earth still exist. So based on this alone Jesus cannot be the Sabbath. (Matthew 5:17-20, Luke 16:17) We are also told that we are to be judged by the law God wrote in stone and one can be sure that God does not expect us to make assumptions to decide if one of His laws has changed and especially when He said His law was not changing. (James 2:10-12) If scripture does not specifically say so, then it is not so.
One of the many reasons God gave us His Sabbath Day is because our bodies require a full day of rest, minimum, each week or we will eventually burn out and our health will suffer. Knowing Jesus does not and cannot give you this required physical rest. I can quite assure you that if you pound rocks seven days a week non stop, your body will give up and you will eventually collapse regardless to if you know Christ or not. How could anyone not looking for ways to avoid one beautiful Commandment that is resting and quality time with God and others believe otherwise?
The exact meaning and definition of the Greek word “sabbatismos” (σαββατισμός) in Hebrews 4:9 is “Sabbath observance” and occurs just this once in scripture. Several Bibles such as the KJV and NKJV render “sabbatismos” as “rest” but the NIV, NASB, ASV, NRSV, RSV and the Amplified translations as well as many others render sabbatismos somewhat more accurately as “Sabbath rest.”
We also find that “The Scriptures” translated by the Institute for Scripture Research render it correctly as “Sabbath observance” and the Basic English Bible and the highly respected Thayer dictionary use the equally literal phrase of “Sabbath keeping.” Now it should also be blatantly obvious that “Sabbath keeping” or “Sabbath observance” entails a physical keeping of the Sabbath and is something that Christ alone cannot give. Note what Professor Andrew T. Lincoln stated in his symposium “From Sabbath to the Lord’s Day.”
Besides the facts given above, there are several more ways to demonstrate that Jesus did not replace the Sabbath but here is just one more very clear example that reveals the Sabbath was kept physically after the cross. The Apostles once asked Jesus about His second coming and the destruction of the temple that occurred in the Jewish wars in 70 A.D. (Matthew 24:2-19) It is in the very next verse that Jesus reveals that a literal Sabbath keeping remained even four decades after the cross. (Matthew 24:20)
One of course does not have to be apprehensive about fleeing on the Sabbath Day if Jesus is our Sabbath rest now do they? And what did Jesus call the Sabbath? Did He call it the “Abolished Sabbath day” or the “Old Sabbath day” or did Christ call it what it was? That is, “The Sabbath Day!” Note also that this conversation was in regards to both the destruction of the temple and His Second Coming and so did not apply to just one group of people as some have tried to imply. And note in Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28 and Luke 6:5 that Jesus did not say I AM the Sabbath, or I am LORD Sabbath! Jesus said, “I am Lord OF the Sabbath!”
Reading is the Sabbath in the New Covenant also reveals the Sabbath was kept physically and literally according to the Commandment after Jesus died on the cross and the New Covenant had begun. (Luke 23:55-56) And scripture informs us that the New Covenant cannot be changed after it was sealed by the blood of Christ that Friday afternoon. So the way we keep the Sabbath as Luke wrote half a lifetime after the cross is according to the Commandment. (Exodus 20:8-11) Jesus does not and cannot give us physical rest as God intended. Thus those who claim Jesus is the Sabbath have been deceived or have chosen to believe a lie from our adversary which was intended to hide the true meaning of this passage in Hebrews 4 that really states a literal Sabbath rest remains for the children of God.