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Enjoying Christ as the Sabbath

Updated on July 18, 2020

Wonderful Rest!

This is the first of an eight-part series on enjoying Christ in Leviticus 23, which describes the eight convocations, or feasts, that Israel was to observe. For New Testament believers, these feasts speak of the reality of Christ, who is our real feast (Col 2:16-17).

The first feast In Leviticus 23 is the Sabbath (23:1-3). The Sabbath is to enjoy Christ as our rest. This speaks of our enjoyment of the complete and finished work of Christ and our salvation by grace (John 19:30) . The Christian life does not start by YOU working, but by you RESTING in the finished work of Christ.

What does it mean to be religious? It simply means that I think that I can be a good person, pleasing to God, by my own effort

Come Unto Christ, Not Religion

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

(Matt 11:28-29)

There are two basic ways to consider God. One is as a religion, with rules and regulations. The other is as a Person to love and enjoy. When God created man, He first created a wonderful world filled with living creatures and abundant food, including trees pleasing to the eye. Man was made on the last day of creation, the sixth day. The seventh day, which was man’s first day on earth, was called a day of rest. This shows us God did not intend for us to work for Him in a religious way, but to enjoy Him in a pleasant and restful condition (Gen 1-2).

Unfortunately, humanity became separated from God, sinful, and excluded from this state of rest. Eventually, God gave His chosen people, Israel, a religion to follow, with detailed rules and regulations. However, God’s goal was not to create a religion, neither to make us religious people. Rather, God’s goal in giving us the Law was to lead us to Christ (Gal 3:23-24; Rom 7:13; 10:4). This is why Jesus said to the crowd of people burdened by religious rules and regulations, to simply come to Him, and enjoy rest. Wonderful!

How To Enjoy Christ as the Sabbath

How can we rest in Christ? It is all based on who He is and what He has done for us. Religion is focused on what you can do for God. The Sabbath is based on what God has done for you in Christ. Religion highlights your lowlights, shining on all your failures and sins. The Sabbath means Christ died for your sins, and He constantly intercedes for you, to bring you to God’s abundant, overcoming life, full of peace (Rom 8:1-2; 31-35).

The Sabbath is the same as grace. Grace means I receive what God in Christ has done for me. I stop my working, and let Him come to me. I let Him forgive me, let Him cleanse me, let Him sanctify me, and let Him fill me with the life of God (1 Cor 6:11). It is all Him! “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9).

The Sabbath is the basis, the foundation, of enjoying all the following seven feasts. The principle of the Sabbath is “not I, but Christ” (Gal 2:20). We enjoy Him! And who is He? He is the Passover, the Unleavened Bread, the Firstfruits, the Spirit, the Coming Lord, the Righteous Judge, and the King of Kings. He is everything!!

The response of religious people to this enjoyment of Christ as our everything is quite predictable. Religion judges those who want to enjoy Christ as the Sabbath rest. Jesus Himself had to endure the criticism of religious leaders to His “working” on the Sabbath. After Jesus splendidly restored a man who had been lame for 38 years, we read that “the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, 'My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working'" (John 5:16-17).

Jesus had to work, because sin had destroyed the enjoyment of God. The Sabbath ended with man's fall in Genesis 3. Spiritually, we were blind, lame, poor, diseased, and even dead. Jesus had to work hard to bring us back to the restful condition we were created for. Even now, Jesus is still working, as the Spirit in your heart and the Lord on the throne, to bring you to your end, so you can simply enjoy Christ.

The Purpose of Failures

Why do we have failures and disappointments in our life? It is to bring us to our end. When we stop working, when we finally give up, Jesus can then reveal Himself to us, and begin His working in us. This is rest.

What does it mean to be religious? It simply means that I think that I can be a good person, pleasing to God, by my own effort. Religious people are thus either filled with guilt, because they cannot do it, or filled with pride and judgment to others, because they think they are succeeding. Neither extreme is the enjoyment of rest.

Make every morning a Sabbath rest by beginning your day in Christ. Wake up and say “ Thank you Lord for all You are, and all You have done for me! I rest in Your grace today. I open to Your forgiveness of sins and Your supplying Spirit of grace. May it be no longer I, but Christ who lives in me! Today I am dead to the Law, and alive to God!” Make the following verses your daily reality by coming to Him, the real Sabbath rest:

"For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly." (Gal 2:19-21)

“Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Col 2:16-17)


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