The Sabbath Rest

For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His…Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” (Hebrews 4:8-10; Revelation 14:13).

In this English translation of Hebrews 4, it is impossible to know that the word translated “rest” in verse 9 is a different word (sabbatismos) than the ones translated “rest” in verses 8 and 10 (katapauo and katapausis). Several other standard English translations (e.g., ASV, RSV, NASV, NIV, ESV) do try to alert their readers to this fact.

This one-time use of the word sabbatismos points to the wondrous combination of two rests found in Scripture:

  • God rested on the seventh day from all His works. After the sixth day of creation, God has neither created nor destroyed a single particle of our physical world. In this facet of His sovereignty, He has been in a perpetual state of rest/inactivity. (Note: Shortly after the creation of our material world, however, He began working in the spiritual realm—the redemption of humanity; this “work” of God is probably what Jesus is making reference to in John 5:17).

  • In the Law of Moses, the Israelites were proscribed a day of rest on the seventh day of every week. This temporary blessing began at sundown on Friday and ended twenty-four hours later.

What the Sabbath rest—sabbatismos—envisions is a point in your existence in which you will have a rest which is not temporary (like the Jews’) but perpetual (like God’s).

What a rich and wondrous blessing the Sabbath rest entails!

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Author: jchowning

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