Life-Study of Hebrewsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to the Sabbath rest (4:9). What is the Sabbath rest? As I have already pointed out, throughout the centuries it has been difficult for Christians to understand the matter of the good land of Canaan. Likewise, Christians have been unable to understand properly the Sabbath rest revealed in Hebrews 4. Some say that the Sabbath rest in this chapter is the millennium. They say that the millennial kingdom, a period of a thousand years (Rev. 20:4), will be the seventh period of a thousand years, the first six thousand years being the period from the time of Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back. This concept is based upon the fact that in the eyes of the Lord a thousand years are the same as a day (2 Pet. 3:8). According to those who hold this concept, six days mean six thousand years, and the seventh day will be the seventh thousand, the Sabbath rest during the millennium. This interpretation has never satisfied me. To say that the Sabbath rest in 4:9 is simply the millennial kingdom is not altogether accurate; it is only partially correct.
In order to have the proper understanding of the Sabbath rest, we need to consider the first mention of it in the Bible. The first time that the Bible mentions the Sabbath is after the creation of man (Gen. 2:2-3). Many Christians, looking at this matter superficially, only see that the Sabbath was the seventh day, the day on which God rested after completing His work of creation. Although it is correct to say this, we need to look into the contents. Why did God not rest on the fifth day? You may say that He did not rest on the fifth day because He had not finished His work. That is correct. What, then, did God lack? It is very meaningful to see what He lacked.
According to the record of Genesis 1, God created all things by means of His word, calling things not being as being through His word. But the creation of man was not done in this way. God did not create man simply by saying, “Man,” and bringing mankind into being. No, God made man with the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7). Nothing else was made with any kind of material substance. When God wanted light, He said, “Light,” and light came into being. The creation of man, however, was absolutely different. When God created man, He did not call things not being as being. Firstly, there was a conference among the Godhead (Gen. 1:26) and then He used a certain material, the dust of the ground, to create man. If man had not been created on the sixth day, God would have been unable to rest on the seventh day even though everything else had been created. It was not the completion of the work that caused God to rest—it was the creation of man. After God created man, He was satisfied and was able to rest.
How can we prove this? In all the days of creation, except for the second day, God looked at His work and said, “Good.” But at the end of the sixth day, after man had been created, God saw everything that He had made and said, “Very good” (Gen. 1:31). When He said, “Very good,” it meant that He was satisfied. At the end of the sixth day, seeing man in His image to express Him and committed with His authority to represent Him, God was satisfied and said, “Very good.”
Our study of the Bible has been greatly influenced by our religious background. Even before we ever read the Bible, we already had certain concepts about it. These concepts are damaging. Before we could look at the colors in the Bible, we had already put on colored eye glasses. As a result, we could not see the real colors in the Scriptures. We must take off our glasses and look at the Bible in a pure way. This is why I say again and again that we must return to the pure Word and reread and restudy it. We need to forget what we have heard about Genesis 1 in the past. If you reread Genesis 1 and 2, you will see that God rested on the seventh day not mainly because His work was finished but because He had attained what He desired. What God desired was not a finished work. Rather, He wanted mankind to be on the earth expressing and representing Him. This is His heart’s desire. As long as God can have this, He is satisfied. God’s heart is satisfied by having man on the earth expressing and representing Him. When God had this, He rested on the seventh day.
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