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Moses' second speech, Part 4

Jul 18, 2012

Deut. 5:12-14 says,

(5) Observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. (13) Six days you shall labor and do all your work, (14) but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.

This law was first stated in Exodus 20:8-10 with no significant change. However, the purpose of the Sabbath changes between the first law and the second. Compare these two verses:

Exodus 20:11
"For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy."

Deut. 5:15
"And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand, and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day."

So in the first law, given shortly after Israel left Egypt, they were to keep the sabbath as a remembrance of God's rest in Genesis 2:3, which says,

(3) Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Holidays all commemorate some event from the past. Their purpose was to remember that specific event. In the Exodus law, the sabbath day was given to remember God's rest after creation. But in Deuteronomy, forty years later, we see that the purpose of keeping the Sabbath day had shifted from God's rest to their deliverance from Egypt.

What had occurred in the interim to cause this shift?

One clue is found in Hebrews 3:17-19,

(17) And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? (18) And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? (19) And so we see that they were not able to enter [God's rest] because of unbelief.

This is a reference to Israel's refusal to enter the Promised Land in Numbers 13 and 14 when the spies gave their report. Because of their unbelief (lack of faith), God swore that they would die in the wilderness. After laboring in Egypt for many years as slaves, they would not be allowed to enter God's rest in the Promised Land.

In other words, they would not be allowed to participate in God's rest (sabbath). They were given an alternative sabbath-rest, for we read in Heb. 4:9 and 10,

(9) There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. (10) For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

Is there more than one sabbath? Yes, of course. There were many sabbaths, or festivals, including Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Each one commemorated a different event in history that the people were to remember. God did not allow Israel to participate in His own sabbath, because of their lack of faith.

If Israel had entered the land at the urging of Caleb and Joshua, they would have done so on the 50th Jubilee from Adam--or more specifically, 50 Jubilees from God's rest after He finished the work of creation. This was a Jubilee of Jubilees, the year 2450 (50 x 49 years = 2450). Their historical entry into Canaan would have coincided with God's rest by the Creation Jubilee Calendar.

However, they lacked faith, and so they were unable to enter into God's rest. Instead, they remained another 38 years in the wilderness (Deut. 2:14) and entered Canaan, not at Tabernacles but at Passover (Joshua 5:10).

In other words, their alternate "rest" shifted in its purpose from God's rest to Passover, the day that Israel was delivered from Egypt.

God even gave Israel an alternate route, along with an alternate angel to lead them. The angel that led them out of Egypt, mentioned in Ex. 14:19, was named in Isaiah 63:9 as "the angel of His presence" (paniym, "face"). This was Peniel, representing the face or presence of God. Then Israel arrived at Mount Sinai, where they received the first law, as recorded in Exodus 20.

While God was giving the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Horeb, Israel began to worship a golden calf. As a result, God's personal presence (represented by the angel Peniel) was replaced by another angel. God told Moses in Ex. 33:2-4,

(2) And I will send an angel before you. . . (3) Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, lest I destroy you on the way. (4) When the people heard this sad word, they went into mourning....

Most people today would be delighted at the news of being led by an angel. But this was "sad news," because they lost the angel of God's presence on account of their rebellion (Is. 63:10). Peniel was called to lead Israel into God's rest without having to cross the Jordan. The alternate angel, called to lead them across the Jordan River of death and resurrection was Michael. Hence, in Daniel 12:1-3, we find that Michael was "the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people." When he stands up, we are told, the dead are raised from the dust of the ground.

When we understand the distinction between Peniel and Michael in the history of the Kingdom, we can see that this is tied into the purpose of the sabbaths. Peniel would have led Israel into God's rest; whereas Michael became their guardian during the interim to lead them through death and resurrection.

The Jubilee is God's Rest

There are three levels of sabbath in Scripture. The first is the seventh day sabbath. The second is the seventh year sabbath. The third is the Jubilee after seven sabbath years have passed. It is only when we have entered God's Jubilee that we truly cease from our own labor (Heb. 4:10; Isaiah 58:13). It is then that we speak only what we hear our Father say, and we do only what we see our Father do. This is how we enter God's Jubilee rest.

Israel, however, lost God's rest through unbelief. They entered the Promised Land 38 years after the 50th Jubilee. For this reason they were given a Passover sabbath, an alternative rest, commemorating their departure from Egypt.

God already knew that this would happen, of course, and so the seeds of change were already sown earlier in Exodus 16. The people ran out of food when they arrived at Elim a month after leaving Egypt (Ex. 16:1-3). So God told Moses that He would begin sending manna and quail. This manna and quail would be given for six days, but the seventh day it would cease for that day (Exodus 16:26).

Exodus 16:25 is the first mention in Scripture of the word "sabbath." It is tied to the manna cycle. That manna cycle began on the 15th day of the 2nd month (Ex. 16:1), which later became the day of the Second Passover (Num. 9:9-11). This sabbath, then, commemorated Passover.

God foreknew that Israel would not have the faith to enter His Creation Rest and would be given an alternate sabbath based upon Passover, albeit, the Second Passover.

Therefore, the sabbath given to Israel was not the sabbath rest that He intended for us. It was given to people who lacked faith and had no vision of the feast of Tabernacles.


This is the fourth part of a series titled "Moses' Second Speech." To view all parts, click the link below.

Moses' Second Speech


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Category: God's Law

Dr. Stephen Jones


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