Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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by George C. Clark, Sr. and John D. Clark, Sr.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest!”
Jesus promised rest to all who come to him when he said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest!” Using the tongue of the prophet Isaiah, God foretold of this rest with these remarkable words (28:11–12): “He will speak to this people with stammering lips and another tongue, to whom He said, ‘This is the rest with which you will cause the weary one to rest,’ and, ‘this is the refreshing.’ ” About one hundred twenty were refreshed with this heavenly rest when it was first poured out on Pentecost morning (Acts 2).
In the law of Moses, God ordained symbols of His rest. In particular, He gave to Israel days, and even years, of rest. The weekly Sabbath day was only one of many days of rest God commanded them to keep. The first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread were Sabbath days, regardless of the day of the week upon which they fell. The day called “Pentecost” in the New Testament was a Sabbath day. The 1st, 10th, 15th, and 22nd days of the seventh month were Sabbath days. Moreover, every seventh year the fields were to be given a year of rest from tillage, and every 50th year (the year of Jubilee) debts were to be forgiven and inheritances restored to their original owners. Jubilee was the greatest prophetic time of rest in Israel. Israel never observed these Sabbaths as they should have, but the Sabbaths were holy, given by God to foreshadow better Sabbaths to come.
In the book of Hebrews, the law’s symbols are called “figures of the true.” Paul called them “a shadow of things to come” (Col. 2:16–17). And what wonderful things have come! The washing away of our sins by the blood of Christ, the body of believers, the “nation born in one day”, the fellowship of “just men made perfect”, the “access to the Father”, and the “hope that enters into that within the veil.” We are blessed beyond expression to partake of a new covenant with God through Jesus Christ. It is God’s relief from sin for us, and it is, as Peter said, “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” It is the holy rest to which all the Old Testament Sabbaths pointed.
And yet, this rest in the Spirit, so rich and so free, is itself just a foretaste of the things “God has prepared for those who love Him.” It is just a foretaste of the glory that awaits those who believe in Christ. Just as the old covenant Sabbaths pointed men to life in the Spirit of Christ, so the Spirit is pointing us to the thousand-year reign of Christ. His reign will be a day of rest for the whole earth. Wars will be forbidden, and the redeemed of all the ages, resurrected with bright, immortal bodies, will be given authority over the nations to “reign with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4). One can only imagine the joy that will fill the hearts of the children of God as they work not only for Christ but with him on this earth!
The apostle Peter wrote that “with the Lord, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years, as one day” (2Pet. 3:8). Accordingly, the Bible makes it clear that there have been but six thousand years, or six “days” of human history. The seventh “day” of human history is approaching, and it is this thousand-year Sabbath for which the saints throughout history have yearned and to which the writer referred in these compelling words: “There remains a rest for the people of God. . . . Let us, then, make every effort to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall, following the same pattern of the disobedient [Israel]” (Heb. 4:9, 11).
This thousand-year reign of Christ with his saints is that terrifying and glorious “day of the Lord” spoken of by the prophet Isaiah (13:9–11; 2:10–12, 19):
“Behold, the day of the Lord is coming – cruel, with fury and fierce anger – to make the earth a desolation, and He will annihilate its sinners out of it. And I will punish the world for evil, and the wicked for their iniquity, and I will make the vainglory of the arrogant to cease. . . .
Go into the rock, or hide yourself in the ground, in terror at the Lord’s presence and from the splendor of His majesty. The haughty looks of the great man will be humbled, and the pride of common men will be abased, and the Lord alone will be exalted on that day. For the day of the Lord of Hosts is upon everyone who is proud and haughty, and upon everyone who lifts himself up, and he will be abased . . . . And they will go into crevices in the rocks and holes in the ground, in terror at the Lord’s presence and away from the splendor of His majesty when He rises to shake the earth.”
And from Paul, in 1Thessalonians (5:2–3):
“The Day of the Lord is coming like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction shall come upon them as labor pains on her who is with child, and they shall not escape.”
As terrifying as this Day of the Lord will be for the ungodly, it is the most precious hope of the saints. Those who believe in Jesus have nothing to dread and everything to gain from the coming of the day of the Lord!
But the good news grows greater and richer still! For the thousand-year reign with Christ, glorious as it will be, is itself but a foretaste of our eternal rest on an entirely new earth! This blessed state is beyond all human capacity to perceive. As the man of God wrote, “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered the heart of man the things God has prepared for those who love Him.” And who could imagine escaping the frighteningly complete devastation of this universe which Peter describes here in 2Peter 3:10–13:
“The Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements, consumed with burning heat, will be destroyed, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. So then, seeing that all these things are to be destroyed, what kind of people ought you to be in all holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, in which the heavens, being on fire, will be destroyed, and the elements, consumed with heat, will be dissolved? But we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
There will be no wickedness on the new earth, no sickness, death, or pain. The ancient prophets wrote, “At His right hand are pleasures for evermore.” And, “He will make an utter end. Trouble will not rise up a second time.” This sweet life on a new earth is The True Sabbath which all other Sabbaths foreshadowed – the Old Testament Sabbaths of days and years, the New Testament gift of the Spirit, and the thousand-year reign with Christ. All of those wonderful rests were designed as ever-greater foretastes of life in a new universe that God has created for His people, and He will give that life to every soul who loves His Son now, in this present, evil world.