When do we keep the Sabbath?

by | Apr 20, 2022 | 01 Podcasts, sabbath

When do we keep the Sabbath? Sabbath rest is yet to come —the rest we enjoy today anticipates the real Sabbath rest that awaits us in the kingdom. That future rest is granted to those who have saving faith in Jesus Christ.


  • Sabbath is to remind us who God is. We rest to remember God.
  • Sabbath reminds us that God created us (Exodus 20).
  • Sabbath reminds us that God chose us (Exodus 31).
  • Sabbath reminds us that God redeemed us (Deuteronomy 5).
  • We rest by refraining from doing the work that sustains our lives (Exodus 16; Exodus 35).
  • Sabbath is more than what you do or don’t do on the outside. Sabbath is about where your heart is and why you are doing what you’re doing (Numbers 15).
  • What constitutes keeping the Sabbath changes with culture (Nehemiah 13).
  • We are to cease striving and relate to God (Psalm 46).


7Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice,  8do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,  9where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years.  10Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’  11As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”  12Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  – Hebrews 3:7-13

  • The author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 95, which refers back to Exodus 17.
  • To test or try the Lord is to refuse to believe despite the fact that you have plenty of evidence.
  • At Massah & Meribah, the children of Israel tested God by demanding proof that He was taking care of them, despite the fact that He had already given them ample proof. God refuses to let that generation enter His the promised land, because of their unbelief.
  • Hebrews warns, if you hear His voice, don’t demand further proof, rather encourage one another to believe.

14For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.  15As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”  16For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses?  17And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?  18And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient?  19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. – Hebrews 3:14-19

  • Entering God’s rest is entering God’s presence.
  • Entering God’s rest is tied to belief.

1Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.  2For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.  3For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.  4For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”  5And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.”  6Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,  7again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”  8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.  9So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,  10for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.  11Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.  12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  13And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:1-16

  • Hebrews looks forward to a Sabbath rest for God’s people (4:9).
  • Jesus Christ is the great high priest who can usher God’s people into His rest.
  • Real Sabbath isn’t found in the promised land; it is found in the Promised One. That rest is still in our future.
  • Rest is entering God’s presence and is tied to belief. Jesus made that rest possible for us but it is our future hope.
  • Keeping the Sabbath now is a shadow or a foretaste of that future promise.
  • Sabbath is about stopping the work you do that sustains your life and instead doing whatever encourages your faith.
  • We are to cease striving and know that He is God. Corporately and individually build time into your life that regularly encourages your faith.

More: What is saving faith?

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are you waiting/hoping for? What lies ahead in your future that you are excited about?
  2. What’s the difference between sleepiness, tiredness, lethargy and rest?
  3. Hebrews says that lack of faith prevented God’s people in the Old Testament from entering God’s rest. Do you think that’s true for believers today as well? Why?
  4. Hebrews 4:11 encourages us to “make every effort to enter that rest.” Is making an effort to enter rest a contradiction to you? What would that look like in your life?

Please listen to the podcast for more detail and explanation.

Next: Did Jesus change the Sabbath?

Previous: How do we keep the Sabbath?

Series: Sabbath: Why, how and when

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Podcast season 19 episode 10