Monday, December 14, 2009

The Enduring Sabbatism of Hebrews 4

"The next place to be cited is Heb iv. 9. This verse (with its context, which must be carefully read) teaches that, as there remains to believers under the Christian dispensation a hope of an eternal rest, so there remains to us an earthly Sabbath to foreshadow it. The points to be noticed in the explanation of the chapter are: That God has an eternal spiritual rest; that He invited Old Testament believers to share it; that it is something higher than Israel's home in Canaan, because after Joshua had fully installed Israel in that rest, God's rest is still held up as something future. The seventh day (verse 4) was the memorial of God's rest, and was thus connected with it. It was under the old dispensation, as under the new, a spiritual faith which introduced into God's rest, and it was unbelief which excluded from it. But as God's rest was something higher than a home in Canaan, and was still offered in the ninety-fifth Psalm long after Joshua settled Israel in that rest, it follows (verse 9) that there still remains a sabbatism, or Sabbath-keeping, for God's people under the new dispensation; and hence (verse 11) we ought to seek to enter into that spiritual rest of God, which is by faith. Now, let it be noted that the word for God's 'rest' throughout the passage is different one from 'Sabbath'. But the apostle's inference is that because God still offers us His 'rest' under the new dispensation, there remaineth to us a Sabbath-keeping under this dispensation. What does this mean? Is the sabbatism identically our 'rest' in faith? But the seventh day was not identically that rest; it was the memorial and emblem of it. So now sabbatism is the memorial and emblem of the rest. Because the rest is ours, therefore the Sabbath-keeping is still ours; heaven and its earthly type belong equally to both dispensations."

- Robert L. Dabney, Discussions, 535 (as cited in Joseph A. Pipa, The Lord's Day, pp. 128—129).

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