Moses' second speech, Part 5
Jul 19, 2012
There were three levels of sabbath rests in the law. The sabbath day, the sabbath year, and the Jubilee. These give us three levels of entering into rest in the manner that God intended for us.
The first level of rest, as practiced in daily life, is to rest one day in seven. Our bodies need such rest. The second level is a sabbath year, a land rest which few people have put into practice--especially in the context of our Babylonian culture which makes it nearly impossible to follow this law. Thirdly, there is the Jubilee, something that has never been put into practice as a nation.
When we view these three levels in terms of our personal relationship with God and our spiritual growth, we can see them in terms of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. As we grow, we experience a greater rest, or sabbath.
Spiritual maturity can thus be measured according to our ability to rest in God, regardless of the circumstances in life. When we are justified by faith, we experience Passover and enter into the first level of rest in God. We can rest in Him, knowing that our sins are covered. We no longer need to struggle with guilt and condemnation. We know that righteousness has been imputed to us by faith, and that God views us as perfect, calling what is not as though it were (Rom. 4:17).
When we proceed into the experience of Pentecost, receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we enter into rest on the second level, which is sanctification. It is here that we begin to learn to hear His voice in order that the law might be written on our hearts. We thus begin to be truly led by the Spirit and receive on-the-job training that will bring us to maturity and prepare us for that final Tabernacles rest.
The Jubilee is the preparation day for the feast of Tabernacles. This final feast brings us into the manifestation of the sons of God and the glorification of the body. It is only through this feast that we can fully enter into God's Rest. This is what Israel refused in Numbers 13 and 14, for God had reserved that experience for a time after the Cross.
Even so, we are now at the end of the Pentecostal Age, and those who have prepared their hearts and have come into spiritual maturity are eligible to become the manifested sons of God at this historic window of opportunity.
The Passover Age began with Israel's departure from Egypt at Passover. The Israelite "church in the wilderness" had enough faith to leave Egypt, and hence they were justified by faith in the blood of the Passover lamb. However, they failed to proceed beyond Passover, because they rejected Pentecost in refusing to hear the voice of God (Ex. 20:18-21). Without the benefit of Pentecost, they were certain to have insufficient faith to enter Canaan at their appointed time. And so they refused to blow the trumpet of the Jubilee when the 12 spies gave their report. Thus, they were denied entry into Canaan at Tabernacles.
The potential existed in Israel to have a very short Passover Age, followed by a very short Pentecostal Age before entering the Promised Land at Tabernacles. It was God's will that they have this short time to achieve full spiritual maturity--but it was the plan of God that they fail in order to extend these ages to much longer time periods.
And so, Israel entered Canaan 38 years later at the time of Passover, showing that they had remained stuck in that first level of entering their sabbath-rest. Theirs was a Passover-level Kingdom, and this lasted until the 1480th Passover when Jesus died on the cross.
Jesus' death on the cross ended the historic Passover Age. His resurrection and presentation to the Father on the third hour of the day of the wave-sheaf offering began a seven-week countdown toward Pentecost. In each of those days, the people customarily counted out the grains of an omer of barley.
The Hebrew word omer is spelled ayin-mem-resh. The ayin means an eye, and it signifies seeing or watching. The mem means water. The resh means a head. Thus, when they counted the omer, they prophesied that during these seven weeks they were watching for water on the head. In other words, it was a countdown toward the outpouring of the Holy Spirit being poured out as rain.
Pentecost occurred seven weeks after the wave-sheaf offering. Hence, it was known in the Old Testament as the Feast of Weeks (Ex. 34:22), seven weeks to be exact. Lev. 23:15, 16 says,
(15) You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete Sabbaths. (16) You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord.
They were to count seven Sabbaths, using as their reference point the day of the wave-sheaf offering. That day, of course, was "the day after the Sabbath." In other words, this prophesied of a change in the Sabbath, based upon a new reference point. The seven weeks, dating from the day after the original Sabbath, established a Sunday Sabbath that was associated with the Age of Pentecost, as distinct from the previous Age of Passover.
The first Sabbath was, of course, patterned after God's creation rest, but with Israel it began with the Second Passover (Ex. 16:1). Hence, even as Israel was able to enter into a Passover-level rest, they were given a Passover Sabbath to commemorate their level of relationship with God.
This ended when the church was able to move forward into Pentecost, experiencing a new level of relationship with God hitherto unknown. Whereas Israel had floundered at Horeb by refusing to hear His voice, the disciples in the upper room were willing to draw near to God as Moses had instructed (Deut. 5:5).
Meanwhile, Jesus had visited with the disciples on the eighth day Sabbaths since His resurrection. John 20:19 tells us that He met with the disciples "on that day, the first day of the week" just hours after His resurrection. The next Sunday he met with them again, for John 20:26 says, "and after eight days again ... Jesus came." The Hebrews usually spoke in terms of inclusive time, so it was eight days inclusively--the following Sunday--when Jesus met them again.
Jesus' third appearance in John 21:14 is not dated, but it is clear that Jesus did not appear to the disciples daily, but rather weekly. In each case, he ate with the disciples. For what purpose? He was establishing a precedent, whereby He would fellowship with the disciples on the new Sabbath that was prophesied by the Feast of Weeks. By fellowshipping and eating with the disciples weekly, dating from His resurrection, He was setting forth the pattern of communion in the church each Sunday.
And so, when studying the early church writings, we see that they attributed their Sunday fellowship and communion to the fact that Jesus had been raised from the dead on Sunday, which, by the common vernacular of the day, was also called The Lord's Day (Rev. 1:10). While the Romans had a different "Lord" in mind when they named the day as such, the disciples applied it to Jesus Christ, their Lord.
The law, then, prophesies of the change of Sabbath from a commemoration of Passover to a commemoration of Christ's resurrection and Pentecost. While Passover remembers Christ's death on the cross, the wave-sheaf offering remembers His resurrection. Hence, the commemoration shifts from death to life and subsequently to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
This is the fifth part of a series titled "Moses' Second Speech." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones