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Devotional by Ray Stedman for April 25-The True Sabbath

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Topic:The True Sabbath

There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord.
Leviticus 23:3

The weekly sabbath had begun at Creation. God worked six days and then he rested on the seventh day. God did no work on the sabbath. This was reinstated and renewed in the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai when God reminded his people that the sabbath was at the heart of all his work.

I often hear Sunday referred to as the sabbath. And perhaps you think that is just an old-fashioned word for Sunday. But that is completely wrong. Sunday is never the sabbath, and never was the sabbath! A transference is made of these ideas which is totally unbiblical. The seventh day was Saturday. The first day was Sunday. And Saturday was to be observed as the sabbath, as it still is in Israel today.

Some Christians feel that Christians still ought to observe the seventh day as God’s day of appointed rest. They tell us that we should be worshipping on Saturday, not on Sunday. In their contention that God has never diminished the importance of the sabbath they are absolutely right. For the point of it was that it was a day of rest, and there was to be no labor done on that day. But this was but a shadow, a symbol, and the symbol is never all-important. This observance of a day of rest is a picture of something else that God wants, which is of great significance to him.

In the book of Colossians Paul specifically tells us that the observance of a day is one of those shadows which, for the believer, ended at the coming of Christ (Col 2:16-17). But then what is it that God is after? It does no good to do away with an observance if you don’t find what it is pointing toward and begin to fulfill that. For the reality of the sabbath has always continued. It is given to us, among many other places in Scripture, in Hebrews 4, where the apostle reminds us that sabbath means rest, and that this is a reference to the secret of life. Humans were made to operate out of rest, not out of tension, not out of anxiety, out of pressure. We are to operate in activity which proceeds out of rest.

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What is that rest? Again Hebrews 4 tells us. In Verse 10 it says, For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his… (Heb 4:10). That is, on the seventh day of creation, God ceased from all work. He who enters into rest has stopped his own work and is resting on the work of another. So if you learn the principle of operating out of dependence upon God at work in you, and if you don’t try to do it all yourself — but instead learn to rest on what God is ready to do in you and through you and around you, and expect him to do it — then you are observing the sabbath as God intended it to be observed.

Father, thank you for this picture of the Sabbath as a symbol of rest, not just for one day a week, but for every day. Teach me to rest in the finished work of Christ and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

Life Application
High energy performance is standard in our everyday world where rest is considered a luxury. How does this compute in God’s economy? Are we learning the true Sabbath principle, of work out of rest?

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