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The Sabbath Rest

According to God’s Word, the Sabbath was to be observed by the Jewish community wherever they lived. No matter the circumstances, there were rules they were commanded to keep on the Sabbath. It was a day of rest. They couldn’t work; they couldn’t walk but a short distance. They were to keep the day holy. God set the time of the Sabbath on the seventh day – evening to evening – not when the sun rises but when it sets to the time of the next setting is a day. God created nothing on the seventh day. He rested and commanded His people to rest as well – to set it aside as a holy day.

God created humanity and everything we would need for food on the sixth day. I think it is quite fitting that Jesus would die on the sixth day; the day humanity was created. It just seems symbolic, doesn’t it? Jesus died for humanity on humanity’s day of creation. It all goes back to the very beginning when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God. They believed the lie from God’s enemy over God’s word. The first sin. And Jesus died for that first sin and every sin thereafter.

But the Sabbath rest came at sundown. They wanted Jesus’ body down from the cross before the Sabbath came. They rushed to put Him in the grave before sundown. Then they rested. I bet it really wasn’t much of a rest. The disciples gathered in an upper room mourning the loss of their leader – the one who was supposed to save them from the Romans, or at least that was their expectation. They were disillusioned, disappointed, and grieving such a devastating loss. Yet, it was the Sabbath, a day set aside for holiness – contemplation and rest. I am sure they discussed what took place. I am sure they wondered what’s next – who’s next? They weren’t just up in a room contemplating; they were in that room hiding from the ones who would come after them.

Their sorrow was great; but Peter’s sorrow was greater. He denied Jesus. He let Jesus down or at least, he let himself down. Jesus knew what was going to happen. Jesus wasn’t disappointed in Peter; he expected Peter to act that way. I would think that Jesus was sad that Peter denied Him, but not disappointed. Jesus also knew who all these things would be resolved. Jesus would return. Jesus would reinstate Peter as the leader of the movement in a few days time. But in the meantime, Peter and the others didn’t know all this would be resolved.

On this Sabbath rest, they saw nothing of the future even though Jesus told them the future. Jesus taught them all that would occur. Jesus said He would rise again. Jesus said that Peter was the rock that would build His church. They had a future, but they couldn’t see it on that Sabbath. They thought it was the end when it was truly the beginning. Something far greater was going to occur in just a few hours time when everything would change again. Victory would rise up. Sin was defeated by the blood of the Lamb.

We look back in ancient times when the Jewish people had to sacrifice a lamb to take away their sins to find that Jesus was that Lamb. God spoke to the prophets to record these things so that we could see the thread throughout history. Passover was an observance of killing the lamb, placing the blood on the doorposts of the house so that the death angel would pass over that house. It was in the land of Egypt before the deliverance of God’s people. The Passover lamb was slaughtered; the blood was shed to cover the people in that house. They didn’t have to fear death, because the blood covered them. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice – the Lamb that was slain to defeat death so that we would no longer fear death. He would save us from our sins through His sacrifice and His blood offering.

The Bible is full of threads that Jesus will one day fulfill completely. He is the Word of God come to life. In Him all things will be complete. God said it. We are to believe it. And Jesus will bring it to completion because He always fulfills what He started. It is done when He says it’s done. Today is the day we contemplate all that Jesus has done and will do.

This is the day set aside for holiness and the anticipation of things to come. Victory has been won. The blood of the Lamb says so. It is finished; rise up in victory and praise the Lord! We might not see everything right now. Like the disciples, we are still wondering what will happen next; but we haven’t seen the end yet. It’s still only the beginning of greater things to come!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-5, 14

The Day

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. You may be familiar with this verse from Psalm 118. I think I have quoted it a thousand times. However, I never realized the significance of it until Beth Moore taught about the Passover meal one January at the Passion conference. In Matthew 26:30 we are told: When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Wow! If you read Psalm 118 with the thoughts of Jesus leading His disciples through the last Passover He would observe on earth, it is eye-opening. Jesus fulfilled that Psalm on that Day. It was The Day that God chose for that hour when every sin would be wiped away. On The Day, every knee will bow before Him. Some will rejoice in it; others will mourn for they didn’t recognize Him as the Messiah who came to take away their sins.

God set certain days into His calendar which have great significance. He called every Sabbath holy. He set times of festivals for the coming together as His people to remember all He has done. Three of those festivals are significant and must be honored in Jerusalem. The men were supposed to make the trip to Jerusalem. I must say I know very little about these festivals. I didn’t really know much about these fall festivals until this year when the emphasis was on the Blood Moons falling on the festival days.

One day stands out among these fall festivals. The Day of Atonement. Today is the observance of the Day of Atonement. The significance is found in Leviticus 16. If you are like me, you might have breezed through Leviticus when reading through the Bible. There are just too many rules to follow about cleansing and such; do this not that type of thing in this particular book. However, God put Leviticus in the Bible for all of us to understand the depths of sacrifice which must be made for our relationship with Him. We can’t do it by ourselves. There must be atonement for our sins before we can approach His Holiness.

A sin offering must be made on the Day of Atonement. Aaron had to make himself clean before he went in to present the offerings before the Altar of the Lord. Aaron was to cast lots for two goats – one for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat (Lev 16:8). The Lord’s goat would be sacrificed as a sin offering. The goat chosen as a scapegoat would be brought to Aaron. He would then lay his hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites – all their sins – and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert (Lev 16:21-22). Does this sound familiar to you?

God told Moses “this is to be a lasting ordinance for you. Because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins. It is a Sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. (Lev 16:29-31) With Jesus, He fulfilled every detail of this Atonement. We no longer have to have a scapegoat with the sins of the people on its head. Our sins were nailed to the cross once and for all. However, there is significance in the observance of this Holy Day. God said – this is to be a lasting ordinance for you. Deny yourself – a day of rest. Fasting and prayer. A holy day.

There must be significance in this Day. It is God’s holy day. It is the Day the Lord has made; we must rejoice and be glad in it! We celebrate Jesus’ birth and we observe His death at special times, but do we deny ourselves anything on those days? Do we set them aside as holy days? This is the one that God calls us to be set aside; to remember all He has done for us. He has taken away all our sins so that we can have a relationship with Him through Jesus. This is the Day the Lord has made – Rejoice! Be glad for all He has done! Take the time today to remember and honor Him in some way. Fast. Pray. Whatever the Holy Spirit leads you to do today. Do it in the Name of the Lord Jesus – our scapegoat, our perfect Lamb sacrificed for your sins.

The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for his is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:27-29

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