The Sabbath of the Lord in Your Dwellings

Notes of an Address

"And the Lord spake to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings" (Leviticus 23:1-3).

The Feasts of the Lord, as they were given to Israel in this chapter, begin with the Sabbath and end with the Feast of Tabernacles, the eighth day of which was a Sabbath. In the Sabbath with which these feasts begin, we have set before us in type the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom and through whom God will carry out all His purposes of blessing for men. In the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles with which they end, we have foreshadowed God's eternal rest, Eternity. So that this chapter spans that whole period of time from the moment when God's purposes were set in course until that moment when they shall be fulfilled without any fear of being overthrown in the eternal rest of God. I think it helps and encourages us to see that before any of these purposes began to be effected by the coming of Christ, God had them all sketched out in the Sacred Scriptures.

But my purpose is to speak of Christ, who is God's Sabbath, the One in whom He rests, and the One in whom we may also rest.

The Lord Jesus Christ is God's rest and His resource. When sin came into the world, when Adam and Eve turned their backs upon God and listened to the enemy's lie, the first prophetic words spoken in the hearing of fallen humanity were addressed to the devil, the old Serpent. To him God said, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel" — the Seed of the woman shall bruise the Serpent's head.

Thus early in the history of sinful man God made known the fact that He had a Person upon whom He could rely, through whom He would accomplish all His will, One who would undo the works of the devil; a Person who would not fail Him as Adam had done. The eternal God was not disturbed by man's rebellion and sin — it grieved His heart, but He was not disturbed by it. Sin brought disquiet and apprehension in the lives of men, but God was not restless and apprehensive, for He had One who was to meet the disaster and settle every question in connection with it, and in doing so glorify God and be an everlasting blessing to men. In due time Christ appeared, a Man upon the earth — a Man whose whole life was centred in God Himself, a Man who did not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God, a Man whose first recorded words were, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" — a Man in whom God the Father rested with perfect delight.

When the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized of John, after thirty years of hidden life — hidden as far as we are concerned, but not hidden from God's eye — the Father opened the heavens and said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Then towards the close of His ministry upon earth He went up into a high mountain, and there was transfigured before His disciples. In that mountain the glory claimed Him, enfolded Him, distinguished Him as altogether suited to it, and again the Father spoke, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." But He went from that mountain down into the very depths and darkness of death for the glory of God and our blessing, for God's sake and for ours. His obedience to death proved that God made no mistake when He rested in Him, and in those depths the Father's glory greeted Him and raised Him up and set Him in the highest place in heaven. There we see how complete and everlasting is the Father's rest in Jesus His beloved Son — He is the One who will carry out all God's will and work.

Think of those words, John 3:35, "The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hands," and again in John 13:3, And Jesus, knowing that the Father had committed all things into His hands." The "all things" cannot be computed by a creature mind. They embrace the whole range of God's counsel and will — the subjugation of all evil, the blessing of men, the establishment of Divine justice, the revelation of God's nature, and the introduction of eternal rest. All this the Father had given into the hands of His beloved Son, the lowly Man whom men despised and slew. And He did so without misgiving or fear. The Father had perfect confidence in Him; He would not fail the Father; the Father trusted Him with an absolute trust. Think of the Lord Jesus Christ in this character, and you will understand that He is indeed the Sabbath of God.

If the Father rests in Him, we may rest in Him too. We may rest in Him first as to the salvation of our souls. I have not a doubt in my mind that I shall be there in the eternal glory of God, before the Father's face for ever, and for that confidence I have many reasons, but the chiefest, the greatest of them all is the reliability of the One who came to be the Saviour.

The greatness of the Saviour forbids all question of doubt. He came into the world to save. "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His People from their sins" was the command from heaven at His birth. Jehovah's name had been linked up with many things in Old Testament days, and all of them blessed things. He was JEHOVAH-JIREH to Abraham, the great Provider for his greatest need; He was JEHOVAH-NISI to Moses, his banner and leader against an implacable foe; He was JEHOVAH-SHALOM to Gideon, the One to whom he looked for peace. But the New Testament opens with a greater glory. He is there JEHOVAH-SAVIOUR, for that is the meaning of His precious name. It is right that that name JESUS should appear in capital letters for the first time upon the first page of the New Testament. It is the title of the Book upon its title-page. JEHOVAH SAVIOUR — "Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." If He has undertaken the work, it will be carried through according to the will of God; we may depend upon that, and rest quietly in Him. Thus does He become our Sabbath as well as God's.

Having come as the Saviour, He spake as the Saviour; stretching out His hands to men He cried, "Come to Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!" He offered Himself to men as the greatest Giver, but what an offer! Who but Jehovah could have made it? He beheld men as they were, restless, burdened, sinful; He knew their sorrows, saw their tears, heard their sighs; He knew how labours wearied them and fears beset them; nothing of all their boundless need was hidden from Him, and knowing all He cried to all, "Come to Me." And His word stands for us to this day, and millions can bear witness to the fact that His deed is as good as His word.

Notice how it is put in the third verse of our chapter: "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation, ye shall do no work therein, it is the Sabbath of the Lord IN YOUR DWELLINGS." The days of labour for blessing and rest were those Old Testament days; if men could have kept the law that God gave them they would have entered into rest, but they could not, they would not keep it. They toiled, but they toiled in vain; they were like the troubled sea that cannot rest; their surge cast up nothing but mire and dirt, and of their best God had to say, "All your righteousnesses are as filthy rags." But when Jesus lay in the manger, the great change had come, a new day had dawned; men had now to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. God brought His Sabbath near to men, for His heart yearned for them in their miseries; in His infinite pity He said, I want you to have rest in all your dwellings. I want you to share My rest in Christ.

There could be no rest for us until the great questions of our sins and sinfulness were taken up and settled righteously, and Christ took up these questions on the cross when He "suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). He gives to us rest of conscience when we come to Him as the One who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities; and doubts and fears depart when we know that He is raised again for our justification. And we could have no rest until our hearts were satisfied. He, the living Christ, is able to satisfy the heart, and we get rest of heart when we discover that He can do for us what the world cannot do; that He can fill every void and satisfy every longing. The greater a man's sincerity is, the more laden will his conscience be with his guilt; the greater the eagerness with which a man searches for good in the world, the greater will his labour and disappointment be; but in Christ every question is settled, every need met, every desire satisfied, and conscience and heart are set at rest.

It is rest that men need today: it is the one thing above all others that all need. We live in a restless world; unrest is everywhere, and in every circle — political unrest, industrial unrest, social unrest, domestic unrest; unrest at home, unrest abroad, unrest in religious circles, unrest, alas, in the hearts and lives of Christians. Yes, the majority of Christians are uneasy, unsatisfied, restless. What is the cause? Sin and selfishness. God is forgotten, Christ is rejected or neglected. What is the remedy? Christ — simply and only Christ, the Son of the living God. Every man who puts his all into the hands of Christ, as the Father has committed all to Him, finds rest, even as the Father rests in Him.

And it is into our dwellings that God would have this rest to come; it is into our homes that the Lord would bring the rest of His presence. He did not bless Zacchaeus in the tree or leave him in the street. He said, "Make haste … today I must abide at thy house." Are we prepared for that? Don't say, "I shall have to put a lot of things right before I can admit Him to my house." Make haste, let Him in; let Him put them right, for they never will be put right until they are put into His hands. Was it not so in the house of Simon Peter? Restlessly, in a great fever, there tossed upon her bed his wife's mother, and anon they tell Him of her. That was all, and it was enough; and she who had been a burden, a cause of disquiet and sorrow, arose and ministered to them. Ah, it is the presence of the Lord that delivers, tranquillizes, and transfigures; that turns evil to good; that brings in quietness and rest.

Yes, "like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord" — He knows the trials and sufferings of His saints and He delights to give them rest, but there, is more than this — note the words: "A Sabbath of the Lord in your dwellings"; it is His own Sabbath, His own rest in Christ that He would share with us. Not merely burdens lifted and weary hearts rested — but fellowship with Him about His beloved Son. When we are free for this the Father is delighted, and in this the peace and joy of heaven begin on earth. Let us link this up with John 14:23, "If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him." If those words had come from any lips but the lips of Jesus we would not have believed them; but blessed be His Name, He spoke them, and He waits for us to know the blessedness of them, not only to believe them but prove them true.

"And the eighth day shall be a Sabbath" (v. 29). The eighth day carries us on to Eternity, when there shall be a new heaven and a new earth, in which God shall be all and in all, and where He shall dwell in everlasting complacency in the midst of men, "and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away." One word characterizes that blessed scene, it is REST — the Sabbath of the Lord — and lest we should have any doubt as to the effectuation of it, "He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, Write: for THESE WORDS ARE THE TRUE SAYINGS OF GOD" (Rev. 1:5). Then it will not be the Lord bringing His rest into our dwellings in a tempestuous world, but our being brought into His rest, where nothing can disturb for ever. This is the great end for which Christ became a Man; then shall the whole question of good and evil be settled; then shall sin and Satan and death be for ever banished into the lake of fire, and God shall be all as the object of His people's love and worship and in all as life and power and joy. Then will it be true:

"Joyful now the new creation,
Rests in undisturbed repose,
Blest in Jesus' full salvation,
Sorrow now nor thraldom knows."
The eighth day shall be a Sabbath.