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Without the Seventh day?

Without the Seventh day?

Scott Hubbard is a lay pastor who works full-time as an editor at Desiring God, an online publication with Baptist origins. In a December blog called “A Rest for Any Restlessness,” he writes eloquently, even passionately, about the seventh-day Sabbath. What did he write, and what did he get right

Hubbard begins with an evident fact: This world is a tough place. It’s “broken,” “dark,” “restless.” Hubbard focuses on the last descriptor. He says that we seek “to dam the restless flow” with the various offers and opportunities of this life, none of which really work. “We long for something deeper,” he writes.

How many of us have indeed felt this restlessness?

The Seventh Day Is Not the Seventh Day?
Hubbard proceeds to give the solution to restlessness: resting in Jesus Christ. However, along with that, he also attempts to debunk the observance of the literal seventh-day Sabbath.

While he cites the inauguration of a literal Sabbath day—“on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Genesis 2:2)—Hubbard then states the following: “Between us and Eden’s rest stand cherubim holding a flaming sword (Genesis 3:24). When Adam and Eve left Eden’s gates, they left not only a place, but a whole posture of soul. They left the restful garden and entered a world without the seventh day.”

So according to Hubbard, humanity was separated from the Sabbath at Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. He then cites Exodus 20:8–11, the actual fourth commandment to keep holy the seventh-day Sabbath—and yet insists that it was not the same Sabbath held in Eden. Instead, he describes the Sabbath commandment as “a witness to Eden’s lost world,” “a whisper of what might be again.” He further explains, “For the week’s seventh day was not the seventh day; however much rest the Sabbath offered, it could not stop the river of human restlessness.”

Incidentally, he also appears to believe that the Sabbath was unknown to the children of Israel until the Ten Commandments were given at Mount Sinai, despite clear Scripture to the contrary (16:1–30).

The Day of Rest
After this setup, Hubbard comes to his main point: The seventh-day Sabbath was fulfilled in Jesus; hence, Jesus is our true Sabbath rest. It’s a concept we’ve heard before and that this blog has even covered

Says Hubbard: “The Sabbath was a pointer, a prophecy, a partial melody filled with promise. As Israel’s animal sacrifices foretold the Lamb of God, and as the temple anticipated the Word made flesh, and as every king and priest shadowed the outline of the Messiah, so the weekly Sabbath spoke of a rest far greater than Saturday—and of a Lord from whose heart it would flow.”

This train of thought is in line with the beliefs of many Sunday-keeping Christians, of which Hubbard is one. In essence, Hubbard is saying that the Sabbath is a type and that Christ is the antitype; he’s clumping the Sabbath along with the ceremonial laws done away with at the cross. The Bible, however, states that this is not so: The keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath isn’t a ceremonial law; it’s one of the Ten Commandments. Hubbard even references that fact in Exodus 20.

But the fallacy actually begins, not surprisingly, at where Hubbard begins—at Creation. Upon reading Genesis 3, we find that the “cherubim holding a flaming sword” separated Adam and Eve from “the tree of life,” not the Sabbath (v. 24). The “whole posture of soul” that mankind left, after it fell into sin, that is, was eternal life; Jesus came to restore us to that by forging for us the path of salvation (Romans 6:23). The Bible nowhere relegates the Sabbath as “Eden’s rest,” in other words, as belonging or confined to that location. In fact, the Bible records Jesus as saying, “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27); that is, God made the Sabbath for man to observe—wherever he is in the world.

Furthermore, if the Sabbath had been left in Eden, as Hubbard believes, then why wasn’t marriage left there as well? They both were constituted at Creation before the Fall, the Sabbath on the seventh day and marriage on the sixth (Genesis 1:26–31; 2:21–24). Could it rather be that God gave the seventh-day Sabbath as a gift to bless mankind?

“I will give you rest,” Jesus assured in Matthew 11:28. Hubbard interprets that rest as Christ’s “gentle Sabbath heart,” stating, “He is our living, breathing, saving Seventh Day.” Rest absolutely is found in Jesus, as the Bible says. But why should that preclude Jesus giving us that rest through the seventh-day Sabbath?

“The LORD has given you the Sabbath” (Exodus 16:29); “moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths,” God said (Ezekiel 20:12). In both of these cases, the context refers to the literal seventh-day Sabbath. God isn’t talking about a person when He refers to the Sabbath in Scripture; He’s talking about a day, the seventh day. And God says that it is through keeping that day holy “that [we] may know that [He is] the LORD [our] God” (v. 20).

Scripture is clear: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life” (Revelation 22:14). According to the Bible, those who desire access to Eden once again should follow God’s commandments, and that includes the fourth commandment of the seventh-day Sabbath.

Do you desire rest in Jesus? Start with what Jesus desires of you. Learn about why our Savior desires you to follow the seventh-day Sabbath in the first place with our free article “Sabbath Observance Honors the Creator.” 

This article contributed by Clifford Goldstein
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