Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily ye shall keep my sabbaths: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am Jehovah who sanctifieth you.Exodus 31:13(ASV)
On the sixth day of creation, God finished His work, and on the seventh day, He rested from all that He had done. God ordained that the man, created in His own image and likeness, was to be His representative on earth, and the Lord gave dominion of the whole earth into his hand - but man sinned, and God began to work once more - a work of redemption began - a plan that He had purposed before the world was created.
Jesus told the religious folk of His day, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working". When man sinned, an immovable barrier was erected between God and His creation - but in His grace, God began His ongoing work of redemption. Lost souls had to be redeemed, and once they were saved and justified in His eyes - by faith, they had to be kept and upheld by His mighty hand
By the goodness and grace of God, both Father and Son are working in the lives of men and women to bring all who will believe into a right relationship with God – through faith in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, on Calvary’s cross. By His grace and goodness He is conforming all who believe in Him, into the image and likeness of Jesus - as His ongoing redemptive masterpiece continues to unfold.
But many years later, God used the example of His seventh day of rest as a distinctive sign between Himself and the nation of Israel. He had chosen this People out of all the nations of the world. They were to be His special witness on earth. They were to tell the pagan nations of God's promise of Salvation. They were to bring the lost into the sheep-fold of Israel so that God would be their Shepherd and their Deliverer.
God told Moses to speak to the people of Israel and to use the Sabbath Day as an exclusive sign and unique witness between Himself and His people – for He is the Lord Who called them and sanctifies them. While circumcision was given through Abraham, as a sign in their flesh of God's covenant promise, the Sabbath day was also to stand as a witness of the covenant He gave through Moses - from one generation to the next.
At the beginning of their nationhood, God gave Israel the Sabbath Day as a special sign between Himself and them. Israel's Sabbath Day was to be a reminder to the nation, that they were to be a consecrated people who were set apart unto God. Their Sabbath was a witness of their a special relationship Jehovah Meccadeshem – the LORD Who Sanctifies.
The Sabbath Day was a sign pointing back to that first sanctified day, when God rested from all His work. God's Sabbath rest happened before man fell and sin entered the world, and so Israel's Sabbath was also to be a sign that pointed forward to a future rest - a promised rest for the people of God. Israel’s Sabbath was to remind them of a future, sanctified day, when `god's anointed Messiah would right all wrongs and set up His eternal kingdom on earth.
But although that day will be translated into the Millennial rule of Christ and the eternal ages to come… as with all God’s signs to Israel, the true meaning of God’s rest was to be personified in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." is Christ promises to all/ "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls - for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Israel’s Sabbath rest, just like their Law, their Tabernacle, their Priesthood, and their Sacrifices was to be a sign that pointed to Jesus. He is not only to rule as King of kings and Lord of Lords, but He gives rest for the soul. Rest is only found in Jesus for He is our living Rest - our promised Rest - our eternal Rest - our Sabbath Rest.
The Sabbath was to be the special sign that set Israel apart from the nations; a sign that they were a sanctified people – a sign that was endorsed by God Himself Who thundered: I AM Jehovah Meccadeshem – the Lord Who Sanctifies you. A sanctified vessel is set apart from all other vessels for a special purpose, and the sanctified nation of Israel was also different and distinct from all other peoples of the world.
Israel’s Sabbaths and Israel’s Feasts, Israel’s Oracles, and Israel’s Scriptures all point to Israel’s coming Messiah and all find their full and final fulfilment in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. But because they rejected their Messiah at His first coming, Israel had to be set aside for a season, so that God could call out a people for His name, from among the Gentiles, who would become His sanctified people – for a season.
We are that sanctified people. The Christian Church are the ones who are called to tell the world of God’s goodness and grace. For a season Israel has been set aside, and the Church, which is the Body of Christ, has been called to be God’s witnesses to the world. And as we come to Him, we discover that it was for the Church that He prayed, when He said, "for their sakes, I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth". It is JESUS Who was and is and is to be the ultimate Sabbath Rest for ALL the people of God.
Praise God that our Sabbath Rest is found in Jesus and not in the keeping of the Law. Praise God that the day is coming when Israel will recognise the Lord Jesus as their own Sabbath Rest. Praise God that Jesus is both Sanctified by God and the Sanctifier of our souls. Praise God that Jesus is both Son of God and Son of Man, to Whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given and Who is the only One Who can truly say, I AM Jehovah Meccadeshem – the Lord Who Sanctifies you.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You that You are the one that has sanctified me and set me apart as a special vessel of Yours. Thank You that I was called, chosen, sanctified, and glorified from before the foundation of the world. Your wisdom is unsurpassed and the picture of the Lord Jesus as my beautiful Sabbath rest rejoices my heart. Bless Your people Israel and bring them at last into their promised rest in Jesus, this I ask in His precious name, AMEN.