I'm a Sabbath keeper. Does that sound strange? It does to countless people in the world today. The Sabbath (or a Sabbath) is seen to be archaic, primitive, and something that is no longer relevant in the modern world. Yet many people, even non-religious enjoy some type of Sabbath each week. A day off from work is what I have in my mind. Each time you get a day off from work, this constitutes (in some fashion) a Sabbath. Now, I believe that Sabbath keeping involves more than just a cessation from labor, but nevertheless the primary component of keeping the Sabbath is rest. After all, that is what the word literally means - rest.
One of the most frequent objections I receive from professing Bible believers concerning a devotion to the fourth commandment in Exodus 20 is that our rest is found in Christ. Jesus is now our Sabbath. I'm not really sure I've figured out what these people mean when they make these statements, because it often varies from person to person. I will say that the majority of the time, those who believe such are quick to quote this passage of Scripture, from the mouth of Christ himself:
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30 KJV)
"See," someone remarks to me, "Jesus said that He will give us rest, therefore we do not need to keep the Sabbath." Well, I definitely believe what the above Scripture says, but I've read it over and over and have yet to see where the Messiah says here (or anywhere else in Scripture) that the rest He gives us means we should no longer keep the Sabbath day. As a matter of fact, when we look into this text, examining one of the most important things there is to examine when looking at Scripture - CONTEXT - we should be able to see the following points:
(1) Yeshua made this statement living under the Old Covenant. No Bible believer will argue that a person didn't have to keep the Sabbath under the Old Covenant. If Yeshua was teaching an abolishing of the Sabbath here it would make him a minister of sin, seeing that sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).
(2) The Greek word translated as "rest" in Matthew 11:28 is anapauo. This word is never used in the New Testament in relation to the fourth commandment. It is translated rest 6 times, but is also translated as refreshed (3x), ease (1x), refresh (1x), and resteth (1x). Thus the Messiah was not saying that He would be our Sabbath in replacement of the fourth commandment, but that in some way He would give us rest from our heavy burdens.
(3) When we examine the text the Messiah was quoting we find that He had Yahweh's law in mind when He said, "Ye shall find rest for your souls." Most people do not even know that He was quoting Scripture here, and most people actually think that the rest He spoke of was freedom to break Yahweh's law. Jeremiah 6:16-19 states the following:
"Thus saith Yahweh, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it." (KJV)
Notice first that Yahweh mentions the old paths, the good way, and finding rest. Yet He also says His people will not hearken to this saying; they rather reject the law and words of Yahweh. This would have to mean that the law and words of Yahweh are the rest for the soul.
(4) When we examine this text and see the above 3 points we then can recognize that Yeshua was probably speaking of the Pharisaical traditions that were being bound on the Israelite people during His day. For instance, notice Yeshua refers to these traditions as being heavy in both Matthew 23 and Luke 11:
"Then spake Yeshua to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." (Matthew 23:1-4 KJV)
"Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also. And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers." (Luke 11:45-46 KJV)
It is no coincidence that the word phortion (burden) is used in both Matthew 11:30 and Matthew 23:4. It is also no coincidence that the word phortizo (lade) is used in both Luke 11:46 and Matthew 11:28.
The Messiah wanted people to come and learn of Him because He truly taught what brings rest. He knew the words of the psalmist in Psalm 119:165 which say, "Great peace, have they who love Thy law." The law of Yahweh brings rest and ease, while traditions of men bring bondage and slavery.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.