Wednesday, March 9, 2016

On Hebrews 4 And the Christian Sabbath

Fourthly, the weekly Sabbath has also its eschatological significance. It not only points forward to a future state of blessing, but is itself the pledge that there is to be such a state for man, and perhaps for the earth which he inhabits. It remains in time as God’s visible claim upon the order below, as the earnest of His coming reign, and the pledge that there shall be a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.

That the fullness of that promise of rest and restoration is exhausted by the redemptive rest that is ours here and now in Christ we cannot agree. Much of this so-called realised eschatology is based on what seems an unsound exegesis of Hebrews 4. The writer in that chapter undoubtedly deals with the rest into which the believer enters by faith. He uses two exalted illustrations of it: the rest that God entered into on the completion of His work of creation, and the rest of Christ on the completion of the work of redemption. These two he brings together in one verse: ‘He’, referring to Christ, ‘that is entered into His rest, He also has ceased from His works as God did from His’. This is clearly a reference to the Redeemer’s rest and the Creator’s rest, and on this two-fold analogy there is based the announcement that ‘there remaineth, therefore, a Sabbath unto the people of God’. In this context we have here a reference, not to heaven as the eternal rest of the believer, but to the rest here below, described as a Sabbatism, a Sabbath of rest. Nor is it specifically a clear reference to the rest of faith into which the believing people of God enter here and now; rather does it seem to point to the continuance of the weekly rest day as a present possession and an earnest of a rest that is to come. There remains the keeping of a Sabbath to the people of God, having its roots in the two great facts, that Christ rests from His work of redemption as God rested from His work of creation.

Whether this particular context actually refers, as we think it may, to the Christian Sabbath as we now have it, or to the gospel Sabbath following on Christ’s finished work, or to the Sabbath of the eternal state, we have evidence elsewhere that the Sabbath of the Old Testament and the Christian Sabbath of the New have a typical significance as pointing to the day when the Sabbath of grace is transformed to the Sabbath of glory, and the Lord’s Day of earth becomes the Day of the Lord in all its fullness of light and life and blessedness. And as man on his primeval Sabbath was called into the fellowship of God and the contemplation of His character in His works, so there is a Sabbath to come when God shall be worshipped in His spiritual temple and the light of an accomplished redemption shall shed its illuminating radiance on all the works of God. In that day God shall be advanced in His saints and glorified in all them that believe.

 ~ The Theology of the Lord’s Day -The Christian Sabbath by R. A. Finlayson

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