So how does God have the audacity to invite us to Enter His Rest when...
Mass shootings by domestic terrorists are on the rise, even in places of worship.
When we’re anxious about our children’s health, much more their salvation.
When the rhetoric of fear, division and hate seem to be normalizing and the powerful continue to oppress.
When we’ve lost a loved one and are grieving.
When there’s tension in marriages and families, despite how we look when we come to worship!
How does God expect us to rest in the middle of this mess?
CJ, last week you said, “The weekly Sabbath is a gift of grace for all that reminds us that Our Creator is our Savior, the One who makes us holy, and is the One who gives and defines rest through Jesus Christ.” That, basically, the Sabbath is a weekly illustration and celebration of the gospel we’re called to experience. But wasn’t all that done away with at the cross or changed to Sunday? Seriously. Is this a rest that remains for us now?
I believe we’ll begin to discover our answer in a place you don’t expect. It’s the year 1947 and a young shepherd, looking for his sheep, begins to throw some stones near some desert caves. One of the stones hits some old clay pots in a cave near the Dead Sea, in the Qumran. What he discovers in this first of twelve caves becomes one of the most important archeological discoveries of the 20th century. Known today as the Dead Sea Scrolls, they contained over 900 texts in Hebrew Aramaic and Greek, including every book of the Hebrew Bible, which we call the Old Testament, except the Book of Esther. These scrolls were 1000 years older than what had previously been considered the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, dating back to the 2nd century BC. This discovery shook the skeptics of the time who criticized the credibility of the Bible as merely an ancient book of tales and legends. These scrolls astonishingly confirm, with great accuracy, the authenticity of the inspired text you have in your hands or on your devices. But what I find most interesting is that the largest biblical scroll was an almost complete text of the book of Isaiah! Why is this so significant? Well, what you may or may not know, is that the Book of Isaiah is probably the most gospel saturated book of the Old Testament, written 700 years before Christ. It vividly and prophetically portrays Jesus as the coming Messiah who would suffer and die to save the world, and it reveals the impact of this gospel on the nations after the cross into eternity! God didn’t just orchestrate this discovery to silence critics and show the truthfulness of the Bible to win an argument, but to uplift the astounding gospel truth of Jesus and Him crucified to save the world! For example, you could read Isaiah 56:1-2, 6 in the Isaiah scroll and it would accurately compare with your English versions which says…
What you have just read is a prophecy about the coming of Jesus the Messiah who would come to bring salvation not only to the Jews, but to the nations of the world, thus ushering in the era of the new covenant. Now did you notice that this prophecy foresees those that receive the gospel of Jesus Christ from among the nations as keeping the Sabbath and being blessed for it? Do you see the link between finding rest in Jesus through the gospel and resting in Him through the weekly Sabbath? This prophecy clearly lets us know that His rest remains because…
GOD’S SURE WORD FORETOLD IT.
The weather has been getting a lot colder lately, so my wife has been encouraging me to check the weather forecast on my iPhone before I take Tommy out to the school bus, to ensure he’s dressed warm enough. When I look at the weather forecast for that day or even for the rest of that week, I trust that what I read is an accurate description of what the weather is going to be like when I go outside or foretelling of what it will be like in a few days. And God is saying you can trust His word even more than you trust the weather man. His prophetic word is sure and has foretold that His rest remains for you!
Listen carefully to Jesus’ words to His disciples as He prepares them for the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world in Matthew 24:20.
“And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.” Matthew 24:20. Describing the need for His followers to flee Jerusalem at the sight of the approaching Roman army, Jesus foresaw them still keeping the Sabbath almost 39 years after the cross, for the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple happened in 70 AD. There was no confusion on the part of Jesus’ followers about whether the Sabbath that Jesus, Himself, kept was to still be observed, for even on the Friday evening after His death on the cross, when they laid Him in the tomb, the Bible records in Luke 23:56, “Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.” Luke 23:56. To this day, we still call that Friday “Good Friday” and the Sunday after the seventh-day Sabbath “Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday” on the first day of the week. This same weekly cycle continues to this day as it has from the beginning of time. And followers of Jesus, following the example of Jesus Himself and trusting in His sure word of prophecy, continued to rest on the seventh-day Sabbath well past the 1st century AD.
You see, we are living in the wake of the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 56, that after Jesus ushered in the new covenant, after the cross, His non-Jewish followers would continue to enter His rest every seventh day Sabbath. By faithfully fulfilling His word, He wants you to trust Him. He wants you to trust that His rest still remains… just for you. He calls you to enter into the gift of the weekly Sabbath rest as an illustration of the rest you have in Christ for salvation, because His sure word foretold it.
After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, His followers waited in Jerusalem until they received the powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit that set them on fire as a mighty disciple making movement that took the 1st century Greco-Roman world by storm with the gospel! At the forefront of this mission to take the gospel to the cities of the nations was Paul and his associates. Let’s see what we discover as we enter into a scene from the early part of their first missionary journey in Acts 13:14…
Follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, Pastor, Author.