Entering the sabbath rest remains our inheritance. Preachers generally ignore this theme of scripture. It says, “Therefore a rest remains for the people of God. For whoever enters His rest will also cease from his own works, as God did from His.” [Hebrews 4: 9-10 MEV]
I remember my surprise as I studied this out, in the 1970s. This was a result of reading Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, a book my father gave me. He was an early, powerfully anointed missionary to China. He had some horrible times as he strove to reach the lost there. But finally, the Lord gave him victory when he learned to relax and allow the Lord to work.
Entering the sabbath rest remains our inheritance if we’ll believe it
One of the key verses comes right after a verse which seems to say the opposite. “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the One working in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure.” [Philippians 2: 12b-13 MEV] Everyone sees the working out with fear and trembling portion. Most of us miss how this happens. We must recognize that God is working in us, both to make us willing, and to make us able—to will and to do.
How many of us understand how completely the Lord has broken with works righteousness? The Good News is that if we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit we will automatically fulfill the law. He will fulfill it in us. This reveals the power of our freedom to walk in the Spirit—no longer giving in to the desires of the flesh.
It’s not about taking Sunday off, it’s about the completeness of Jesus’ work
We can freely take our Sabbath rest knowing that His provision for us is dependent upon our faith, not our work. The Lord is such more radical than that, however. He commanded Sabbath years—the Shemitah or Shmita. Every seventh year we are to lay aside our works and focus on our relationship with the Lord and His people.
But it is more than that, for in an agricultural society, a Sabbath of the land is also a year-long sabbatical for most of the populace. Indeed, the Biblical shemitah is a stirring example of an entire society choosing to live at a significantly lower material standard of living for a year in order to devote itself to more spiritual pursuits than the daily grind. The vision is more revolutionary still, with its radical egalitarian thrust: All the produce of the land that grows by itself must be free to all (even animals have equal access), and all loans are to be forgiven, allowing people sunk in debt an opportunity to start over. (From “Stop the machine—the sabbatical year principle” )
The Lord tells us that if we’ll take our Sabbath rest, He’ll take care of us. He will bless our lives. We will become more fruitful. “Be still, and know I am God.” This tenth verse from Psalms 46 is better translated in the NASB, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”
If we return and rest in the Lord, he will directly guide our way
Isaiah says in 30: 15, “For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” This is followed by some of the most precious verses in all of scripture, “Though the Lord has given you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet He, your Teacher, will no longer hide Himself…Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left.” [Isaiah 30: 20-21 MEV]
There’s our Sabbath rest. There is peace, security, rest, and strength. We rest in Him and he transforms us and our lives. It’s a major part of our inheritance—if we’ll trust Him.