As we come to the end of our brief study on the Biblical concept of Sabbath, it remains for us to deal with the eschatological aspects. In other words, what does the future hold for Sabbath observers?
The Epistle to the Hebrews anticipates an eschatological “sabbath rest” (sabbatismos) that remains for the people of God. Hebrews 4:1-11, is an important passage for us to read in this regard.
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,
“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
The term sabbatismos, Sabbath rest, appears nowhere else in the New Testament, and may be the writer’s own creation to indicate the superiority of our future rest to that of the seventh day. Though a superior quality of rest, it is still marked chiefly by the cessation of labor patterned after God’s rest on the seventh day.
This final rest is only for Christians. Revelation 14:12-13 states
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
So, this eternal, rest will not be a complete stoppage of all activity. It will be like an active retirement. It will look like this,
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:9-17).
The idea is that you work during your lifetime, but don’t allow yourself to become a slave as Israel did when they worked 400 years without a vacation (Deuteronomy 5:15) and were, therefore counted as slaves. Always be looking forward to the time when you are no longer a slave to schedule but will have the opportunity to worship God as your full-time activity.
NOTE: Next week we conclude this study with a comment (guest blog, if you will) from a Puritan writer.