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Greek Word Study on 4521 σάββατον sabbaton Sabbath.
Hebrew Word Study on 7676 שַׁבָּת shabbat Sabbath.
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Introduction 3.2

This bible study explains what to do on the Sabbath day and how to fulfill these commands in a spiritual sense. Paul said, "For we know that the law is spiritual" (Romans 7:14), and "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning" (Romans 15:4). The scripture says, "the word of our God shall stand for ever" (Isaiah 40:8), so even though we may not believe that we should always keep every commandment of God literally, there must be something spiritual in them for us today. Therefore, in this section we will be examining the instructions where we are told to do something on the Sabbath day, and we will be looking for the spiritual understanding that we are meant to fulfill.

#3.21 Rest

EXODUS 16:23
23 And he said to them, This is that which the Lord has said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath to Yahweh: bake that which you will bake today, and boil that you will boil; and that which remains over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.

EXODUS 31:15-16
15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to Yahweh: whoever does any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
16 Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.

2 Six days shall work be done but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a Sabbath of rest to Yahweh: whoever does work in it shall be put to death.

LUKE 23:56
56 And they returned, and prepared spices, and ointments; and rested on the Sabbath day according to the commandment.

Note: This commandment was one that Israel kept literally in the days of Moses, and it is one that we should keep now if we are involved in secular work. Human beings need physical rest, because God created us this way. He knew that we would need a physical rest day every week, and through the Sabbath he has provided one for us. Taking advantage of it gives us the opportunity to devote our time to spiritual things on that day, which is not always possible during the week, so for these reasons we should still keep the Sabbath Sabbath command to rest, except where higher principles of love and mercy overrule it. There are also spiritual meanings to "rest" which we should also fulfill, and these are as follows.

   (1) Rest in Death
In the Old Testament there are several references which indicate that death is a type of rest.

(Job 3:11-13) "Why did I not die from the womb? ... then had I been at rest."
(John 11:13) "However Jesus spoke of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep."
(Revelation 14:13) "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on: Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."

(See also Job 3:17; 17:16; Revelation 6:9-11). When people die they rest from the labors of this world, because they can no longer do them. Spiritually, dying can refer the death of our “old man” (Romans 6:6), the "self" (Galatians 2:20) that lives in us. When we have crucified these, we will be dead to "the world" (Galatians 6:14), dead "to sin" (Romans 6:2), dead to "the flesh" (Galatians 5:24), and be spiritually fulfilling the type of "rest in death".

   (2) Rest from Our Enemies
Another type of rest came when all the enemies had been defeated, and the people of the land had rest from wars.

(Deuteronomy 12:9-10) "For you are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which Yahweh your God gives you. ... when he gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety."
(Joshua 11:23) "And the land rested from war."
(Joshua 23:1) And it came to pass a long time after that Yahweh had given rest to Israel from all their enemies round about."

(See also Joshua 1:13-15; 21:44; 2 Samuel 7:11;  1 Kings 5:4;  1 Chronicles 22:9; 22:17-18; 2 Chronicles 14:6; 20:29-30). This was a literal rest from physical enemies for Israel. It applied to them as long as they did right by God, and did not go out and attack their enemies, but for us today there is a spiritual significance. Our warfare is now spiritual (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:11-18), and our adversary is the Devil (Ephesians 6:11; 1 Peter 5:8-9). However, we can get to a place, walking in full obedience to God, where the Devil cannot touch us directly.

(Proverbs 16:7) "When a man's ways please Yahweh, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him."
(Psalm 91:5-7) "You shall not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you."
(Ecclesiastes 8:5) "Whoever keeps the commandment shall feel no evil thing."
(1 John 5:18) "We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one does not touch him."

When we get to this place, we will be spiritually fulfilling the Old Testament type of rest from our enemies.
However, when the Devil cannot touch us directly, he will seek to get at us through other people, and then we may suffer persecution, as we have been promised.

(John 15:20) "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you."
(2 Timothy 3:12) "Yes, and all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

   (3) Rest from Our Own Works
The different types of work that we are to rest from in order to spiritually fulfill "rest from our own works" has been discussed earlier (See #3.11).
When we get to the place where we are spiritually fulfilling all these different types of rest, we will be fulfilling the Old Testament type of rest on the Sabbath day.

#3.22 Have a Holy Convocation

3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, a holy1 convocation2; you shall do no work in it: it is the Sabbath of Yahweh in all your dwellings.

Note: The word translated holy1 (Hb. קֹדֶשׁ , Htr. qōdesh) means "sanctified, set apart, or holy", and the word translated convocation2 (Hb. מִקְרָא , Htr. miqrāʼ) refers to "a called out gathering, or a convocation". In the Old Testament, these words were reserved exclusively for the seventh day Sabbath (Leviticus 23:3), and the special feast day Sabbaths (See #2.1). The seventh day Sabbath was a time which was set apart for people to gather together for worship (See #3.24), reading of the law (See #3.32), teaching the Word of God (See #3.31), and prayer (See #3.33). In the time of Jesus and the apostles this was done by gathering together at the synagogues (See #1.22; #1.31), which were open on that day for that purpose. Our equivalent today would be going to church on the Sabbath day, Saturday or Friday after sunset. So in the natural sense, a holy convocation was a physical gathering together of people, but in a spiritual sense this is a spiritual togetherness of people. This is what Jesus prayed for before he died:

(John 17:20-21) "Neither do I pray for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on me through their word;
That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us."

This refers to a oneness of spirit. Just as it is possible for people to be physically together, without being spiritually together, so it is possible for people to be spiritually together, without being physically together:

(1 Corinthians 5:3-4) "For I indeed, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him who has so done this deed,
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ."
(Colossians 2:5) "For though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit."

Paul would not be physically present at those meetings, but he would be with them in spirit. This oneness of spirit is something that Christians today ought to be striving to achieve.
This is another case where fulfilling the spiritual does not do away with keeping the physical, because we have been told to gather together:

(Hebrews 10:25) "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching."

Gathering together on the Sabbath day was a habit of Jesus and the apostles (See #1.22; #1.31).

#3.23 Keep the Gates of the City Closed

NEHEMIAH 13:19-22
19 And it came to pass that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath: and I set some of my servants at the gates, that there should be no burden be brought in on the Sabbath day.
20 So the merchants and sellers of all kinds of ware lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice.
21 Then I testified against them, and said to them, Why do you lodge about the wall? if you do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth they came no more on the Sabbath.
22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of your mercy.

21 Thus says Yahweh; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem;

27 But if you will not hear me to sanctify the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.

Note: Jerusalem is the capital city for all Israel. It is the place that God chose for himself, and his temple.

(2 Chronicles 6:6) "But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there."
(2 Chronicles 7:16) "For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and my eyes and my heart shall be there perpetually."

It has a large wall around it for protection, and a main Gate through which the inhabitants and visitors to the city can go in and out. It is a type of the spiritual heart of the believer, the place where God has now chosen to dwell (2 Corinthians 6:16; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 3:17). The wall for protection is like our shield of faith (Ephesians 6:15), and the inhabitants that live there are like the thoughts of our heart. The gate, which is what we need to consider in this section, is equivalent to the mind. The gate was a very important place in every city, because a lot of activity went on there. People who wanted to know what was going on often "sat in the gate" (Genesis 19:1), in particular the elders of the people (Deuteronomy 22:15; Ruth 4:11; Proverbs 31:23), sometimes even the king (2 Samuel 19:8; Jeremiah 38:7). Any news that came to the city came first to the gate, where it could be discussed, and judgments were made (Psalm 69:12; Amos 5:12; 5:15). Wisdom was spoken there (Proverbs 24:7), people were often reproved (Isaiah 29:21; Jeremiah 17:19-20; Amos 5:10), and trading was done (2 Kings 7:1; 7:18). This was the place where any undesirable person could be rejected, so when enemies came to attack them, the gate would be firmly shut. Our mind is where all of our mental activity goes on, and because it is the entrance to the heart, this is where information first enters. Judgments are made here, things are thought over, and it is the place where we can receive wisdom, or reproof. When the enemy comes to attack us, we need to reject his thoughts, by "casting down imaginations" (2 Corinthians 10:5), and close our mind to his attempts to enter. Spiritually, shutting the gate on the Sabbath day to stop outsiders from coming in is equivalent to shutting our mind to outside thoughts, so that we can concentrate on the things of God, and meditate on him (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2). True rest comes from him when we are in his presence (Exodus 33:14; Matthew 11:28).

#3.24 Worship God at the Gate of the Temple

EZEKIEL 46:1-3
1 Thus says the Lord God; the gate of the inner court that looks toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened.
2 And the prince shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate outside, and shall stand by the post of the gate, and the priests shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate: then he shall go forth; but the gate shall not be shut until the evening.
3 Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before Yahweh in the Sabbaths and in the new moons.

Note: The literal temple at Jerusalem has not existed since 70 A.D. when it was destroyed by the Romans. No one has been able to fulfill this scripture in a literal sense for nearly 2000 years, but the body of every believer has now become the new spiritual temple.

(1 Corinthians 3:16-17) "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If any man defiles the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are."
(1 Corinthians 6:19) "What? do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?"

Jesus also said:

(John 4:23-24) "But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him.
God is a Spirit: and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

The fulfillment of this scripture (Ezekiel 46:1-3) in a spiritual sense is therefore to worship God in Spirit and in truth in a holy physical body, which is the spiritual temple of God.

#3.25 The Prince shall Offer Burnt Offerings

EZEKIEL 46:4-5
4 And the burnt offering that the prince shall offer to Yahweh in the Sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish, and a ram without blemish.
5 And the meat offering shall be an ephah for a ram, and the meat offering for the lambs as he shall be able to give, and an hin of oil to an ephah.

Note: Literal animal sacrifices are no longer required because Jesus has fulfilled them all #4.24), so how can we fulfill this scripture in a spiritual sense today?

(1 Peter 2:5) "You also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."

Jesus is now a high priest after the order of Melchisedek (See Intro 3), and we are his priests, who are to make the spiritual sacrifices to God. Here is a list of some of the spiritual sacrifices that we should be giving to God today:

   (1) The Sacrifices of Righteousness.

(Deuteronomy 33:19) "They shall call the people to the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness."
(Psalm 4:5) "Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in Yahweh."
(Psalm 51:19) "Then you shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness."

   (2) The Sacrifices of Joy.

(Psalm 27:6) "therefore will I offer in his tent sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to Yahweh."

   (3) The Sacrifices of a Broken Spirit, a Broken and a Contrite Heart.

(Psalm 51:17) "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

   (4) The Sacrifices of Thanksgiving.

(Leviticus 22:29) "And when you will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Yahweh, offer it at your own will."
(Psalm 107:22) "And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing."
(Psalm 116:17) "I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of Yahweh."

Sacrifices made with our mouths are called, "the calves of our lips" (Hosea 14:2).

   (5) The Sacrifices of Praise.

(Jeremiah 17:26) "bringing sacrifices of praise, to the house of Yahweh."
(Jeremiah 33:11) "those who shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of Yahweh."
(Hebrews 13:15) "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

   (6) The Sacrifices of Doing Good and Communicating.

(Hebrews 13:16) "But do not forget to do good and to communicate: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

   (7) The Sacrifice of our Holy Living Body.

(Romans 12:1) "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."

   (8) The Sacrifice of Obedience

Obedience is really a great sacrifice, because it requires us to deny ourselves. It is equivalent to sacrificing "our old man" up to be crucified (Romans 6:6), and is really a sacrifice of our self-life: "I am crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20).

(1 Samuel 15:22) "And Samuel said, Does Yahweh have as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Yahweh? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hear than the fat of rams."

   (9) The Sacrifice of Love

Love is also a great sacrifice, because love expresses itself in obedience to God (See #1.25 Note). So another way that we can fulfill this scripture (Ezekiel 46:4-5) is to love God with all or heart and soul, and our neighbour as our self:

(Mark 12:33) "And to love him (God) with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."

These spiritual sacrifices are our fulfillment of the animal sacrifices that were made by the Levitical priests. These sacrifices were increased on the Sabbath day (Numbers 28:1-8; 28:9-10; Ezekiel 46:4-5), and ceasing from secular work gives us plenty of time to do them.

#3.26 Remain in Your Place

EXODUS 16:29
29 See, for Yahweh has given you the Sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days; let every man abide in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.

Note: This was a restriction against going out to gather food on the Sabbath, just as it was also forbidden to gather sticks (See #3.13), or go out to do any work (See #3.11). It could not mean that they could not go out of their tent, because they had to go to the tent of the congregation for a holy convocation (See #3.22). Also Jesus and others walked through the cornfields on the Sabbath day without breaking the commandment (Mark 2:23). In a spiritual sense we can look on this command, "let no man go out of his place on the seventh day" as being fulfilled by these things.

(1) Staying in God's will, which is the duty of every believer, and makes us brothers and sisters to Jesus (Mark 3:35).

(2) Staying, or "abiding in Christ", and not backsliding. This means that we will not sin (1 John 3:6), that we will walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6), that we will bear much fruit (John 15:5), and that we will remain a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

(3) Stay, or abide, in the love of Jesus. This means that we will obey him:

(John 15:10) "If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."

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