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The whole pageantry of Old Covenant symbolism with its internal constraints, is past. A new liberty is present simply because the substance for which the symbols were shadows, being now present, it dismisses these as merely preparatory shadows. Unneeded in this consummation, they are not rejected as wrong, but may be fulfilled in their teaching office, by the presence of their focus, now Himself present and presented to view: Jesus the Christ.
In the case of symbolism in its civic, theocratic totality, it is no more a criterion, let alone KEYSTONE OF THE FAITH, as Colossians 2 specifically advises. The legislated things required in the law of the land, as governed by God, in the theocratic State, are not as civic laws now applicable. There is no force to exact them, and the political structure has changed. The lore of the law in such symbols is definitely past. The conceptual basis is replaced however, not with some novel alien feature; but rather with what it signified, as if $20 were suddenly replaced with a note to that value, on your desk, while the symbols on the screen disappeared. It is a good exchange; they intimately relate; but the latter has more power, is more direct.
What is NOT past is this: the realities provided as such, in divine-human relations, and in the essential character of the inter-human relations as such. God is still the same, man the same. Thus wrong treatment at the inter-personal level does not become right now that Christ has come: human persons being now, as before, in the same image of the same - indeed the ONLY - God, they remain subject to the same principles and equities, the same righteousness and truth, though it is expressed more directly.
Both Christ Himself (Matthew 5:17-20) and Paul (Romans 3:31) are quite explicit that the law is to be established, not forsaken. Indeed, if it were to be forsaken, what requirement would Christ have met, since He became accursed in order to fulfil the righteousness of the law (Galatians 3:10-13, II Cor. 5:19-21, Hebrews 9:12-15, Romans 5:16-18). It is rather that both its theocratic office and its preparatory symbolic ministry are apt to be superseded: the one because the international body of Christians is no longer a civic community, but sprinkled throughout many nations; the other, because the preparatory office of symbols has been swallowed up in great and substantial ways, consummated in the One who as sacrifice, offered Himself, the High Priest, in the Temple of His own flesh, declaring the absolution to faith, in the spirit of forgiveness, and paying the ransom in the spirit of love and service (Matthew 20:28, Luke 23:34).
Isaiah 22:22-25 expresses it as does Zechariah 3:9, in this, that the symbolic apparatus, the whole priestly set of ordinances is fulfilled, He bearing in one place and in one event, the entire global and indeed universal burden of all sin that is remitted to Him, He remitting its penalty in its midst, subduing it by arising from the death it required and exacted. It is like a whole set of garments hung on a nail, says Isaiah, and the nail is suddenly ... cut. It all falls to the ground.
It is like a stone, says Zechariah, and inscribed on it, is SIN; and this cuts off the sin's dreadful destiny producing pardon, in one day. "I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day," and "I will engrave its engraving", which is to say what Isaiah says, in effect, in Isaiah 53:10: " It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief; when you will make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand." It is at least in the same milieu of discourse, the jewel of many facets being examined in the one bright light, and turned this way and that...
As to Sunday: the divine-human reality was explicit. God, the Creator had made man in a creative thrust that encompassed the universe, in seven days. He rested. So man would follow this pattern, being in the image of God. Based on an historical fact wrought by God , it would be followed by an historical act, performed by man. God is still God and man is still man, and man is still created and that is precisely the way he was created, in all this, there being precisely no change. This divinely demanded rest day, at the level of murder and theft in its litany of requirements, this is to be done, with those other offences left undone: it was based on history, things past. It bespoke creation, format, the nature of man in itself, as God made it, according to His OWN desire and order, in creation. In Colossians 2:16-17, we are told of the relinquishing in the New Covenant of what signified things to come, in the area of sabbaths, of which there were quite a number, with their various requirements, specifications, purposes in the ritual actions of the law, that vast symbolic teacher and expression of righteousness. Shadows, not substance, were out.
On two grounds, therefore, the enactment of the day of rest is not altered: it was in the domain of a matter of fact, of history, of the divine requirements in terms of what was past; and it was a specific constructional derivative from it. This was how man was made, and this was how man would make it, being made, and do so pleasingly to God. Secondly, this day of rest, the one in seven, did not symbolise Christ to come, since in this aspect it was explicitly stated to be grounded in creation, long finished: a physical, absolute creation from nothing at all in the physical world - that world itself being the OBJECT of the creation, that it might be. In six days we read, was the generation of the heavens and the earth, and in this the Lord did it all. Their genealogy was thus, and not otherwise, says Genesis 2:4. The account is clear, direct, decisive and sharp; and the summary is equally so. THIS is the history of the creation of the heavens and the earth. As to their creation, that account is it. It was done by His word, and the consequence is what is, heaven and earth and the special features as noted.
THAT is what the creation was; THIS was what the rest was; and the arithmetical parallel was express in that field.
As to the particular day,
however, on which this feat, this fact, this creation is to be honoured and
implemented at the maintenance level, the service requirements for man, in
terms of his conduct in ongoing history: this is subject to alteration, to
development and to consummation of its message, meat and meaning. In fact,
indeed, it became a matter of re-creation through redemption, life through
death, the Messiah's act. That is of course (Matthew 5:17-20) is not
repudiation, but fulfilment.
Development is not repudiation; and the day being apportioned arithmetically, its development to cover more of the coming works of God is still HIS affair, without any abrogation whatever. The PRINCIPLE however of one day in seven - being founded on the divine mind in its approach to the creature, the creation called man - was to parallel the day of rest, days of work fraction of the Almighty's work, in the labours of man; and this is to be maintained where consistency occurs.*1
And it does.
The word of God is fulfilled in the thrust of its comparison, in the parallel, the fraction, now that its perfection has come in a new work, for another day. It is not two days, or none: it is ONE for the One who has completed His work for a new day. It is "the Lord's day" (Revelation 1:10).
In fact, the rest day now
has the superior sanction of His personal redemption, which is founded for all who are
the Lord's: without this, man's creation would simply and justly land him
in hell. Thus Galatians 6:14, where all this is expressly and categorically covered: GOD FORBID
THAT I SHOULD GLORY EXCEPT IN THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST .. (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms,
Appendix III, The Living God, pp. 313ff.).
What rule however has this realm of redemption, and has Christ the Redeemer, in the realm of rest, the day of rest?
As explained elsewhere in this article, it is as "Lord of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28, of the "rest"):
as is just in view of man's entire dependence on Him, and the price He has paid in this redemption.
Not only was this no small
office, but it was the only event which directly involved the Creator in
express anguish in the human format itself, in a penal setting. Nor is it
simply that He is Lord and paid for the pleasure of making some adjustments.
Known to God are His works from the beginning. Rather, having paid in history
for the sins of His people, He wills to represent this payment and this
rest which results, in a day which is forever and before all, the day of
His triumph, of the enactment which fulfils the glory, and rescues such
of His creation as are willing to drink of His water of life.
The scene has moved, the scenario moves in accord; and it is all as arranged and provided, logical, spiritual, succinct. As Paul puts it in I Corinthians 15:
Moving now into the heavenly, we have a heavenly redeemer with a heavenly way and a heavenly day on which He rose to break the earthy penalty of the earthy ways which provided no rest, except in Him who was to come, and coming, was to act, and acting provided rest by His performance on that day, the grand final of God's work for man, fittingly to be honoured, and honoured fittingly by His power after passion, appearing bodily in their midst. It was not by permission or protocol, but by the overwhelming physical reality of spiritual power which raised Him from the dead, that the last vast work was completed, and His "Peace" echoed in their hearts while, perforce, they worshipped the Lord who had now completed the essential ingredients of their salvation, and presented the same with His face.
Christ indeed made it apparent at the time of His enunciating this principle, that the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath, and that He Himself, "the Son of Man" was Lord of it; that similarly, in terms of real action, it was a day of mercy, in which those in unplanned need should be visited with pity. This too was articulated into the rest day, without in the least abrogating it: merely putting it into the hands of the God who being rich in mercy, looks for people activated by mercy; who, being great in goodness, expects His people to feel the pressure of goodness as it were, to exhale with their breath and to flow from their hearts: even on Sunday. The blend, REAL REST without UNREAL RIGOUR that demeans human life, was perfectly seen in His own ways and life. LAW informed with LOVE was the personal progress of beauty, even on the Sabbath.
Similarly, again, in His resurrection, not merely did He grant the ONLY rest of spirit and of heart that by that time had objective basis (for if HE were a fraud, if HE did not rise, then hell itself yawned before His followers, as "reward", and "rest" as an aspect of godly living would have no counterpart in repudiation in the dark passages of just judgment)!
To commemorate the realities of their creation and covenant with God OUTSIDE this new, startling and substantial feature, this over-riding reality, would be blasphemy, at best; denial at worst. Again, this is precisely what the tenor of Galatians 6:14 is constantly bringing to our minds and harts.
The Sabbath as a choice day WITHIN the week therefore had to be re-drafted into the acceptable mode, where creation and redemption, both of God, acknowledgment of the day they were brought into existence and the way in which they were bought into acceptance, would yield a fitting result. The new consummation would equally acknowledge the way, indeed the day, when, having been "delivered up for their offences", He was now "raised for their justification " - Romans 4:25.
To short-circuit that, created by God by His action, enacted by the Lord by His presence, performed into their very hearts by His Peace evoking worship and the very principles of worship as Thomas capitulated on that day: to do this as though the creation was still their ground of being, remaining as a sufficient ground for rest, it would be to short-change the Cross.
Hence the "Lord of the Sabbath" exercised His claimed capacity to be Lord, not by word only, or enactment, as in His double appearance on this day, but in His very life eruption from the baulked hands of death, to declare justification a fact! So that they indeed, having been justified by faith (Romans 5:1), they might even "rejoice in the atonement" (Romans 5:11).
Hebrews tells us in Ch.4 of the rest which GOD Himself had, when He ceased HIS work of creation, pointing out that Psalm 95 shows that there was still a rest available to the saints of God, a rest which was vainly offered to the generation in the wilderness (though not all did not disbelieve), who did not enter into their rest. This rest, it declares, is still available, and rests in resting in the Rest of God, who has accomplished our salvation (Ch.9) with ONE offering ONCE made, securing eternal redemption and that, even from the transgressions made against the very law of God. It is not merely on offer, but necessary, being the gift to faith through the grace of God (Hebrews 6:18-19; 4:9-11,16).
This rest is integumental to walking with God. HE rested. There IS a rest in God, is the message of Hebrews at this point. Our salvation is not to be wrested by some works of our own, but involves that the gospel be mixed rather with FAITH (Hebrews 4:2), the real and vital deficiency displayed by the lost generation in the wilderness under Moses, whose children went into the land, they holding back. The word and works of God are the basis of rest, He rests, and those who know HIM are to rest in Him. There is the principle of rest applied to salvation, and it is necessary to make sure, to labour, to enter into that rest. Now the rest is not the entering, but the result of entering wholly by faith. When the children of Israel were bruised by their brutal refusal to enter into the promised land, through lack of faith, fear in place of acceptance, divorce from the leading of God in the place of marriage to it, then they decided to go it alone, and force a way on their own, if need be without the Lord, and contrary to the word of God through His prophet.
THIS did not work. Moses told them of their folly, but they persisted as stubbornly in GOING IN contrary to the offer of faith which would infallibly ensure their entry into the promised land in the very presence of the Lord, as they had done in NOT GOING IN WHEN asked to do so. THEIR way was the criterion both in refusal and in later insistence. ANY WAY they went, it was of their own making, whether in negating the offer of God or affirming their own way to get where the Lord would have led them, had they only followed HIM and not the desires and inventions (Eccles.7:29) of their own hearts. For all this, see Numbers 13:30-14:45.
There remains a rest therefore for the people of God, a rest of place through grace, of majesty accepted, salvation granted by divine power alone, accession to His Lordship, confession of His pardon through price paid in sacrifice, now revealed in the sacrifice literally to end all sacrifices of blood, that of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Nevertheless, as far as the world now is concerned, as then the children of Israel, it does not go in, invents all kinds of sects and foolish, false religions, manipulating the Saviour - if it were possible - and His testimony, which is possible but irrational - and these, seeking to "go in" anyway,
It is ludicrous, impossible and a phantasmal nightmare of prodigality of mind and heart in the grip of rebellion.
No! says Hebrews, enter into
your salvation by faith alone, with NO works of your own through His ONE
sacrifice, by which you are complete for ever (Hebrews 10:10-14, cf. Ephesians
This however, justly, has nothing whatever to do, either in the text or in the context, in the theme or in the development in Hebrews, with the choice of a day of rest, or indeed its existence, to commemorate that institution for man, who, in terms of what God has said, is to be oiled with rest on a day. It is a day in which LABOUR is to cease in making one's living, a day for maintenance of the product, and worship of the Lord. This day continues as surely as we were created in the first place; for it is a direct, explicit, express divine directive formally related BY HIM to the mode of our creation, which, being past, is not subject to change. The DAY of rest is because of the manner of our making, and this by the word of God which is unchanging, unless developed (when it does not change but reaches its fulfilment), or is directly fulfilled. The word of the Lord is one which, as the Bible says, endures forever.
The rest in Hebrews is a direct, divine command requiring faith for its operation, having salvation for its target, the Lord Himself for its ground in personal inter-relation beginning with faith and ending never. It is perennial, perpetual, bought by ransom and proceeding from the restful heart of God who said, "In returning and rest shall you be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength, but you would not" - Isaiah 30:15. Like the day of rest, it rests in the restfulness of God who, having made or granted, creation or salvation, allows those who are both His and formed in His image, to have this inward quality and beauty of expression, called rest. HE made it, the universe or salvation, and we accept what He offers BY FAITH, and so rest.
This being done, we also keep His commands, not to secure or pay for our salvation, being already redeemed with an eternal redemption as we have seen, and appointed to obtain salvation (I Thessalonians 5:9-10), indeed, if justified, to be glorified (Romans 8:29ff.) and not at all to be condemned by Him who justifies, as the apostle declares. No, we keep them out of love (John 14:21-23), and for that matter of that element, let us note what Paul says in I Cor. 16:22; and indeed, how should one NOT love who with such love is so rescued - if rescued indeed! - from such a just fate outside the promised land of the Lord in His beauty, wonder and holiness, at such cost and with such humiliation of Majesty Himself! Small wonder His Father has so exalted Him, who was at the first exalted (Philippians 2:1-10), and that His saints in all integrity of heart, so exalt Him who is thus doubly exalted, in nature and in works. And they rest in Him who so has worked. And they rest in His word, which is like a rock (Matthew 7), as the Lord Himself declared in the days of His flesh, on which one builds a house.
One does not decline to build a house because one is given free entry into the domain, or here more precisely, into the (promised) land of faith; but accepts His provisions, follows His commands and rests in Him, in His mercy and in His word, to love it, and to do it. Thus Christ stated that IF a man love Him, he will keep His words, words not His but His who sent Him (John 12:48-50), for whom He is the word, the living word who confirms the written word (Matthew 5:17-20), and in His own day, did what He also declared, for His own part (Hebrews Chs. 2, 5).
It is foolish to build on sand, He says, and it is wise to build on the rock, to hear and to do His word. The word, it is HIS, and those who love Him do not except the mouth. Indeed, as we see in the Song of Solomon (cf. Ch.11, The Kingdom of Heaven), it is "most lovely". Again, the inspired psalmist declares in Psalm 119:
"Great peace have they who love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them" (v.165), and again,
"My soul breaks with longing for Thy judgments at all times" (v.20),
"I made haste and did not delay to keep Thy commandments" (v. 60),
"Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness endures to all generations" (vv.89-90) and
"I have seen the consummation of all perfection; Thy commandment is exceedingly broad" (v.96).
"O how I love Thy law!" (v. 97).
Let us then resume our thoughts on this day in which the rest is the more appreciated, the love the more uninterrupted in manifestation of its peace and the product, man, serviced in his spirit with less diversion, while his mind and heart is fed in quietness.
The Lord Himself, then, began the routine appearance on the second occasion of the first day of the week, collecting into this slot, His spiritual benediction in a special, public and intense manner, befitting what He had done on that day. He recalled their minds to the commencement on the first Lord's day, using again that day which made the way for His appearance to them, in a purification better than that much commemorated for Esther, who delivered her people from certain physical devastation and from death. Much more this day of far greater deliverance is to be commemorated in rest as long as the Age shall last, not merely for some, but for ALL of that creation first mandated a day of rest by its Maker. And that, we recall, was because of the way in which they were made!
This is so. The resurrection was implemented as ground of rest but the week of creation, this was not "abolished" as if history could be reversed or God were unsure of His principles, or as if Christ were simply wrong in declaring that He did not come to abrogate the law, but that it might be fulfilled.
Fulfilled it assuredly was in HIM, who intensified and completed the rest, focussing it in the justification which He conferred through His arising from the dead (Romans 4:25) and executing it visibly on the first day, first in arising and second in appearing, arisen in their midst; and thirdly, in EXPLAINING it carefully on the Emmaus road, to the disciples who had found trouble in understanding that the suffering came first, then the glory, which was exhibited in this display of power which forever for the Christian, removes the fear of death. It is finished. Change of format, not sentence, is all that remains (II Corinthians 5:1-4).
The fulfilment arrested the day, re-directed the traffic to it, as it were, saying: THIS day is the WAY for on THIS DAY the way becomes available, and for all time, as at first the creation calls for one day in seven rest, not to be undone in this Gospel era, till we know as we are known and see His face. Creation is basic to existence, and salvation to continuance, and the rest for the one and the rest in the other shall be blended in this day of rest, divinely provided as surely as flesh for man at the first. Neither is to be negated, but the first fulfilled in the normal way, without abrogation.
It is precisely the same case as in the sacrifices which were not abrogated, in that the necessity for them was not removed, in their place; but the ground for them being removed, the site was moved, and in Calvary, not in the Temple, was the place of fulfilment, in His hands, not those of man, was the offering made, and to HIM was the new focus directed not to REVOKE sacrifice, but to CONSUMMATE it and fulfil it for ever. It was not that sacrifice was UNDONE but done up. So with the rest day: it was OF COURSE not a change of mind of God as if He commanded in vain, and declared to no purpose what He was about in marshalling forces to make man and to maintain Him who had ears, with words as well as power direct (Hebrews 1:1-4).
It was instead an arresting
of it and focussing of it, with all its necessities and provisions, in a
new day, one day as before, but a different one. God had done ONE MORE WORK
and THIS THE GREATEST, and the day followed the week day record, adding
itself so that what had signified the end, now was the START of the new
day, on which the new work would have its record. SO Saturday became the
record day for the LAST of His works, and Sunday the rest from all of that.
It was now SEVEN days of works, but the last was not for the construction
of man, so that the six sufficed for his work on earth for man; but the seventh
demanded its place, and that day became the new day of rest, the Lord's day.
No other possibility exists but to revoke what God WILL NOT revoke, or to disdain what God has required to be the very acme of glorying, saying GOD FORBID THAT I SHOULD GLORY EXCEPT IN THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST (Gal. 6:14)*1. Constrained on all sides, we accept gladly our status as created ( a day of rest is not revoked by any fulfilment, we are not unmade, God has not ceased to be God, nor man to be man, nor his creation to be a fact in the hand of his Maker), and as saved (there, through the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, is now the greatest of all the works to be commemorated, without which rest would be a shadow that mocked, and by which rest is actually itself conferred). THIS is the day of the Lord's choice, and to ignore it is to ignore the resurrection which expresses it, as if our rest were dependent on creation, not salvation, and Christ misled.
This then is no slithery, slippery verbal substitution for the requisition of our Maker, who requires that His word be kept, and who does not exempt from its provisions, whose Son came to fulfil not abrogate: it is not a question of having His salvation substitute for His creation, but complement it, and being acknowledged, fulfil it without which there is no fulfilment but in hell. Not denial of the word of God but addition by God Himself, who just as He added the New Testament to the Old, the New Covenant in fulfilment of the Old, so here has this new sign and this new fashioning of the old fact: Christ is risen, and on that day will their be a memorial. Otherwise, shall w e then return to animal sacrifices and all the rest of the preparatory covenant; or shall we indeed ram God's words back into His mouth and not bother with a day of rest at all!
Small wonder then that in I Cor. 16:1 we find the custom of preparing offerings marked for the First Day of the Week, this being the religious focus, and that Paul likewise preached on the first day, when at Troas; and that this is addressed as follows by Luke:
"Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight" -
a statement of several aspects. It was the FIRST DAY; it was that on which they came together; their purpose in so coming was to break bread, a form of expression that related to the Lord's Supper, which being required to be orderly was no mere oddity or addendum, but to be received with due preparation and solemnity. It was not that Paul being there, they decided to accommodate him in meeting. On the contrary, it was that first day which was that on which they met for the bread-breaking purpose: it is this that is written.
This offerings are set aside on that day, on it the disciples met for breaking bread, and on that Paul at length addressed them as Christ had done when His body was liberated and His legs could move again, taking Him to the worship which He repeated on the next occasion. If we are to follow the scripture which is for our instruction in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16), on this alone we have no difficulty. There is our instruction, even if we had not thought at all. But man is to meditate on the word of God, and the requirements of the word, as also the instruction of the example of the apostle and of the Lord, are all one, and in one command.
The ground of rest is now supplemented in a vital fashion: not only is it that we were so made, but now it is that He who rested went on with His labours, and that His greatest labour is now a wonder and a praise and ground for worship (John 20:27-29), and faith so generated in His demonstration of the triumphant fulfilment of this, His last work for rest, is made into a principle applicable for all who come to Him ON THAT DAY AND IN THAT WAY.
Thus the very principle of God on which the rest is based is not merely that we are so made, but this also, that He who made us then rested. Now there is a rest from His labour on the Cross, attested on this day and not before, which is from another labour for man, and which HE has accomplished that man might rest. This therefore not merely ACCORDS with the word of God in Exodus 20, but in terms of that principle, REQUIRES its acknowledgment, in that the rest is now from what has come to pass subsequently to that time, and in pre-eminence, moreover, surpasses what was past. It does not negate it; it consummates it. Like the sacrifices, then, it does not remove them as if wrong; it fulfils them as right, overpowering without negation, completing without rejection. So here.
God chose, substantially and not merely symbolically, to have a rest day for His creation, man, the one made in His own image; it was God who worked in creation of what was good, and who yet worked once more. He held in reserve explicitly when on earth the power to adapt this, without denial, in that He declared Himself Lord of the Sabbath. It was a great provision in terms of mercy from man to man, and in terms as would be soon seen, of mercy from God to man. He then acted to give ground for the adaptation, and required that the Cross, this new 7th "work" of God, now also "finished" as the first 6 works had been from the foundation of the world, be given precedence, acted it out in His appearance for communion and worship, and instituted a critical, crucial principle of the faith at such a meeting (John 20:29).
The saints then met regularly on that day, as these realities indeed required.
It is a New Covenant, as Hebrews 8 states, founded on better principles, because more explicit and completed, with a better ministry, even that of the Lord Himself. The "Old" has accordingly become obsolete in all matters which concern the source and heart of the rest (Hebrews 4) of the patterns, features and programs, indeed of the officers of the covenant, priests; for HIS priesthood entirely supersedes these, who is the Messenger of the Covenant, who has come suddenly to His temple: nay, who is the Covenant itself (Malachi 3:1, Isaiah 42:6), by divine decree! Woe to those who in the name of the Covenant which gives a rest day, ignore "the Messenger of the Covenant" who IS the covenant, in their pastimes!
All this is perfectly explicit. A new realm becomes the new starting point; it is the new environment as well as the new environment of terms. It is Christ crucified, yes rather risen from the dead. THERE is the covenant and that is where faith and all its paraphernalia now lie (Isaiah 22;22-25, Hebrews 10:1-9).
If then the creation's finish was heralded in one day, its required aspect of redemption (Romans 8:19-21) was both historically and necessarily mirrored in another. These things, which angels desire to look into, focus on man through the God-man who becoming man, made for man a refined resting place, in Him whose rest is glorious (Isaiah 11:10), and holds and is given its own grace and place on the First Day, the Day of the Lord who brought with its light, light for the restless.
As to that, Christ commenced it PERSONALLY as High Priest in executing His mission from the first; and then exhibited and narrated the same, complete with exegesis of the resurrection reality; both doing and teaching on the same day, in the very midst of very proper worship, impossible to restrain. Thus He made rest available at all, by His deeds, and personally instituting worship without delay by His various words assembled on that day; as also, He established vital principles for faith on that same day.
It is simply, therefore not possible to honour "God" without now honouring the Son, set for one rule in a position of pre-eminence as God manifest (Philippians 2) - that Christ should in all things have the pre-eminence (Colossians 1:18), in whose name all things must be done (Colossians 3:17). Without this work of His, man is unmade and has no rest; and through it man is re-made and granted a rest which can and must now be commemorated where it is. The work of God is not finished without this, and the rest which does not take now its rest from here, is an abrogation of Christ's WORK AS GOD. It presumes to ignore in Him, and in His resurrection its ground. It is failure to consider that the principles for rest which God enunciated in Exodus 20 now REQUIRE for their very fulfilment, the adoption of this, the consummation and satisfaction of rest in the further work now done for that purpose.
Christ then must have the pre-eminence, God must have His own work recognised which this time is IN Christ as personal agent, teacher in robes of sacrifice, lecturer in a place of power, the laboratory worker whose experiment is the restoration of rest, the consummation of creation, the work of God. This day of rest, then, over which He expressed His controlling power by word, and then by deed, is ONE of the ALL things over which He is explicitly given pre-eminence. That is an assault on His name which fails to do so, a revolt from the word of God, and a denudation of its vital principles, given even at the very institution of the day of rest for the Old, the former Covenant which looked ahead at all times, to this very thing, the coming of THAT prophet who was to be heeded above Moses (Deuteronomy 18). Those who keep the law then, let then keep it; and those who know the Lord, let them show it.
To ignore this change, then, explicitly or implicitly, intentionally or not, is
Paul's word about the essence of such things, such lingerings, are very firm indeed (Hebrews 10:19-29). The Old has now become the New, and if one has understood at all the Old, then he will adopt the New as a three year old "adopts" on his birthday, being now four. To "refuse" is to fail in life for both years; for the former year by such a rejection would be merely frustrated in its benevolently planned purpose, as a preparation for being - four!
The Old Covenant has absolutely no standing except as a preliminary to the New - except in that capacity; for although it is the word of God, it is the word of God directed to a consummation in a prepared path; and as Hebrews 8 states, the Old Covenant where fulfilled, is now obsolete and passing away.
In fact, the redeemed heart, the Christian saint of course, is NOT one praying FOR salvation, since it is already accorded to FAITH BY this redemption (Ephesians 2:8, Titus 3:5, II Timothy 1:9-10), and that from predestining before this world's time began (cf. Ephesians 1:4); and Christ is not to be installed as a co-Saviour along with the works of the flesh. On the contrary, He has ALREADY conferred this salvation, so that there is already ground to rejoice in the fact that this thing, it is DONE!
Thus, THIS heart, the redeemed one, wants to exalt Christ. It exults in exalting Him (cf. Psalm 34:3, 145:10-13). It is His. His triumphs it receives and commemorates with joy, with far more thrust and desire than any child ever gave to commemorating the most recent triumph of the football team it follows. You do not have to ENCOURAGE such a child to honour his team in its latest victory, because you see, his heart is in it already!
How much less does the Christian need encouragement of heart to exalt Christ: ceasing work on the ONLY day where rest could first come to disquietude, where indeed there could be ANY rest. Not only however is there some rest, is there met the necessities of rest by the Lord on His day that saw His triumph over what Paul calls the last enemy, but there is through this provided the acme and scope of rest complete. Thus now made available through final and authenticated payment for man (Romans 1:4), it has its source not through the WORK of ANY day which preceded the WHOLE PROCESS, or its cessation; but in that where also in terms of the action of the Divine Himself, it shows the rest from God's own works when commemorated. It commemorates the last wine kept till last; the last rest which dominates the whole, the final work which integrates the plan, the personal work which consummates all, and completes in its domain, the recognition of the passion which was work indeed! THIS is not a matter of MAN'S days, but of GOD'S DAY!
Will the day of rejoicing for the football team omit the day it won the premiership, and insist on not moving from the day the Club was founded! Far less this, in which the result of NOT having this consummation is not mere diminution of glory, but obliteration of peace altogether, with no place to be found for rest in reality, let alone in any commemoration, or maintenance day. If the Club be demolished, what is there to 'maintain' or what thing to commemorate!
Let us now summarise this aspect.
Recalling that it was to the work of God that the day in the first place was in Exodus directed - to the creation which He had done, or rather to the completion of the same, we see that this work is in addition the one of which the Lord Himself, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, BEING PRESENT, explicitly cried, IT IS FINISHED! What more is required before it is realised at last by such as would dabble in Judaism, that lingering with addition that subtracts Jesus the Christ, that THIS is the work of God, and that He THEN finished it! In so working, He created the conditions for the extension of that rest day which was to cover what He has done in creation, to what was required to make the provision for the new creation past the old curse, taken by the Creator, that He might redeem.
Then, THAT was done when construction occurred, in terms of Exodus 20 creating the rest commemoration day; and now, and now only THIS is done, this work of the greater-than-Moses (Hebrews 4), Himself the focus to which indeed the whole New Covenant is directed! The crucifixion leading to the resurrection is the turning point, and the resurrection issuing from the crucifixion! "WHO," says Paul, "shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns! It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God..." (from Romans 8:33-34).
Within a Covenant*2, to ignore that covenant is quite a work! But alas, it is a work of the flesh, and does not merely fail to commemorate the work of God, now and in this way and on this day complete in this rest provision: it also obliterates the status of the travail of Christ in its witness to the work of God (John 5:19-23) which it is, and so denies in form the very work of the Cross...
Let us re-state this in its full horror. It is only in the sin-bearing substitutionary atonement for repentant sinners that Christ gives final and just meaning to the earlier model of the Old Covenant; and in that this is the work which God has added to that of creation, that man might live, and testify, in the New Covenant. To fail to attest this in cutting off to Old Testament limits the rest-concept is not only a principial outrage, since here is ANY rest to be generated, but in form, a covenantal rejection; for in this is the covenant focussed, this work of God done by THIS member of the Trinity.
Indeed, here was God's last work for what man HAD TO HAVE (or else hell itself would desecrate the whole work for ever).
The first- born man from death is thus accorded
the day for the first-born, He being
newly moulded in resurrected flesh,
the new focus and topic,
the new triumph by whom
believers also become new creations.
Here then is the creation-focus which CANNOT be ignored,
for it is the chief creative work of God,
this work through just travail leading to the production
of the resurrected body
of the first-born from the dead.
It is as if the early members of the divine creative actions
that made the universe,
are recognised in one day,
commemorative of rest;
and then, in its own day, precisely the next, the Lord's day,
a commemoration that transcends
Moreover, as it bespeaks the next work,
that of the redemption producing offer of rest from sin and damnation itself,
to the fallen creation in the image of God,
how much more is there now recognition of these wonders,
on the self-same day of the completion !
As it is a work of God Himself, IN THE FLESH, how much more is it to be honoured, this consummation
That produces justification
by faith (Romans 4:25, Romans 1:1-4).
Indeed how surpassingly more is this,
which is the pre-eminent member of the category of the creation works of God,
for it is the despatch of sin through the increate-Creator, conquering it in the flesh,
that "new thing" which
He has "created", in that He has raised Him in divine authentication, from the
It is more for it cost Him more,
greater in scope, in magnitude, in covenant, in redemption, in Christ,
in the new creation which is everyone who is based on His redemption:
now to be recognised in its own day,
for He has rested also from this work, most publicly declaring it "finished".
No merely so, but specifically rest from this work is the chief rest, as it was rest from the chief toil, most testing travail, for Him, the LORD, who would see from the "travail of His soul and shall be satisfied" (Isaiah 53, Hebrews 2:10-12, 5:7).
As creation fires the Old Covenant, moving towards the New, so redemption fires the New, moving towards judgment.
Thus He says,
"How long will you gad about,
O you backsliding daughter?
For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth-
A woman shall encompass a man" - Jeremiah 31:22 (emphasis added).
And this is in the very chapter of the famed declaration in the Old Testament, perhaps as pivotal as any in it, of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31), of which Christ is the Head, and in which His cross is the cancellation of doom, and His resurrection the annunciation of the reality of the new creation in which death shall have no more place (Revelation 1:18, Romans 1:4, 4:25, II Corinthians 5:17-21).
Covenantal rejection is no abstruse concept; for it simply means this, that this work of Jesus Christ is here rejected as NOT necessary and sufficient to secure rest by simple faith in Him; for the rest day is for the rest of GOD from His works, which He created; and here is their apex, the final work to create for man a place, status and covenantal acceptance at ALL. The engagement ring of the Old Covenant is still retained, but the new wedding ring is tossed to the dust, its glory a shame, its wonder a desecration as if it were no work at all, let alone the very mould and matrix of the whole New Covenant. It is far better than seeking to explain such dishonour, to refrain from it; and much the best, to delight in the acknowledgment both on His day, for what it pronounces in rest, and in the Lord whose rest is so shown*3.
Horrible as this would be
in fealty, in covenant breaking, it is the more so in that this is ALSO breach of explicit Biblical
principles requiring the focus for ALL glory to be where this outrage denies
any at ALL!
*1 See The Kingdom of Heaven..., Appendix, pp. 213-219, Question and Answer on the Cross.
Regarding God's word and covenant, see Question and Answers, No. 11, *2, on pp. 145-146.
As rest was offered in ancient times (as seen in Psalm 95, before Christ died, as also in the devotional life for example of David expressed in the Psalms):
it is apparent that it is no more a case of rest being invented after the Cross, than is it a question of pardon being invented after Calvary. In fact, both were ALWAYS dependent on Calvary to come, just as buying on credit, really, is dependent on the assurance of cash to come.
Thus, when the cash comes, however, the preparatory is consummated, the expectation is realised and the proof of payment is provided. THAT is a major event, the living on credit beforehand in no way diminishing it, but rather accentuated the excellence of the actual payment when it is made.
So the word of God requires a day of rest, requires a way of rest, and the One who provides both having paid, the day is His.
See also above, Ch. 12, That Exuberant Day of Rest, esp. pp. 136-139, 146-150.
It is surely no accident that the Seventh Day Adventism movement has the teaching that one's salvation is not full-formed, processed and complete from the time when faith began in Him, according to His covenant. A marriage of that fashion may indeed lack the wedding ring. SO forms do not make the facts, but they may reflect them uncommonly well.