The key to understanding how Jesus is our rest is the Hebrew word sabat, which means “to rest or stop or cease from work.” After creating the heavens and the earth in six days, God “rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made” (Genesis 2:2). This doesn’t mean that God was tired and needed a rest. We know that God is omnipotent, literally “all-powerful.” He has all the power in the universe, He never tires, and His most arduous expenditure of energy does not diminish His power one bit. So, what does it mean that God rested on the seventh day? Simply that He stopped what He was doing. He ceased from His labors.
God used the example of His resting on the seventh day of Creation to establish the principle of the Sabbath day rest for His people. In Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15, God gave the Israelites the fourth of His Ten Commandments. They were to “remember” the Sabbath day and “keep it holy.” One day out of every seven, they were to rest from their labors and give the same day of rest to their servants and animals.
With the establishment of the Old Testament Law, the Jews were constantly “laboring” to make themselves acceptable to God. Their labors included trying to obey a myriad of rules from the ceremonial law, the Temple law, the civil law, etc. Of course they couldn’t possibly keep all those laws, so God provided an array of sin offerings and sacrifices so they could come to Him for forgiveness and restore fellowship with Him, but only temporarily.
Hebrews 10:1 tells us that the law “Can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the [people] perfect.” Just as the people began their physical labors after a one-day rest, so, too, did they have to continue to offer sacrifices. But these sacrifices were offered in anticipation of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ on the cross, who “After He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). Because of what He did, we no longer have to “labor” in law-keeping in order to be justified in the sight of God. Jesus was sent so that we might rest in God and in what He has provided.
There is no other Sabbath rest besides Jesus. He alone satisfies the requirements of the Law, and He alone provides the sacrifice that atones for sin. He is God’s plan for us to cease from the labor of our own works. We dare not reject this one-and-only way of salvation (John 14:6).
—Condensed from GotQuestions.org
Originally posted on gotquestions.org