The Close Connection Between the Holy Sabbath day, the Tabernacle, and Beyond

Taken and adapted from “The Tabernacle, The Priesthood, and The Offerings
Written by, Henry W. Soltau, (1805-1875)

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Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. “‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’” — Exod. 31: 12- 17

Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the Lord has commanded you to do: For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of Sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.” — Exod. 35:1- 3

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If you look closely…

…you can see that the Lord closed His directions concerning the tabernacle with the commandment respecting the Sabbath day. (Exod. 31: 12- 17.) Moses commenced his recapitulation of these directions to the people, with the same commandment about the Sabbath. (Exod. 35:1- 3.) There is therefore evidently an intimate connection between the truths foreshadowed in the tabernacle, and the rest typified by the Sabbath. 

We read in Genesis 2 “thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

Everything had been pronounced by the Creator Himself to be good. No sin, no death, had as yet entered to mar the works of God’s hands. He could rest, and be refreshed in the contemplation of His own work of creation; crowned as it was with man, the perfection and head of it all. Quickly however was this beautiful scene changed. By the “one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” “The whole creation was made subject to vanity;” and from that time to this, ceases not to “groan and travail in pain together,” having been ruined by the entrance of death, and thereby subjected to the slavery of corruption. From that time we read no more of God resting. The first intimation of a Sabbath for man is in Exodus 16 where this word occurs for the first time in the Bible. God had indeed hallowed the seventh day, having Himself rested on it: but it is not called the Sabbath, which means the rest, until the manna was given to Israel in the wilderness. And this is in keeping with the truth. The manna (bread from heaven) was rained down in profusion for a people stiff-necked and murmuring: beautiful shadow of “the true bread from heaven,” “the bread of God,” “the bread of life,” given in the riches of God’s love to a ruined world; “of which if a man eat, he shall live forever.”

In close connection with the manna, came the Sabbath.

“It shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, this is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. See, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days: abide ye every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.” Exod. 16:5, 22, 23, 26, 29, 30.

God had so provided for Israel in giving them this strange new bread from heaven, that there was no necessity for their working in any way on the seventh day. Their wants were fully met; so that they could cease or rest from any labor or toil. And here we have for the first time, man able to rest: “the people rested on the seventh day.” The first occurrence of the expression in Scripture since Genesis, chap. 2, where it is said, “and he (God) rested on the seventh day.” Is not this a very significant type of the blessed truth that God has provided in Christ, the first and only rest that man can know. A perfect and eternal Sabbath?

Another peculiar word is employed here for the first time; “the rest of the holy Sabbath;” and is subsequently used in Scripture in connection with the Sabbath day. “A Sabbath of rest.” Exod. 31:15; 35:2. “The day of atonement.” Lev. 16:31; 23:32.

“The day of blowing of trumpets;” 23:24; where it is translated Sabbath. “The feast of tabernacles,” 23:39; where it occurs twice, and is translated “Sabbath.” And “the sabbatical year,” 25:4, 5; “a Sabbath of rest”—”a year of rest.” The word in the Hebrew is, shabbahthohn; it may mean a resting, a time or continued act of resting. It is not unlikely that the word, Hebrews 4:9, “there remaineth therefore a rest, (margin, keeping of a Sabbath, a sabbatism,) to the people of God,” is a Greek translation of this Hebrew word, although it does not occur in the Septuagint.

Israel kept their first, and perhaps their only sabbatism, in the wilderness of Sin, when the manna was fresh and pleasant to their taste. Who does not know the delight, the peace and joy of the first fresh taste of “the bread of life?” The rest of soul which Christ gives to those who labor and are heavy laden? But, alas! How soon is that rest spoiled by the inroads of Satan and the world; and by the restlessness of self-will, pride, and the flesh. If we would retain the rest, yea, deepen and increase it, we must listen to the Lord’s words, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matt. 11:28, 29. There is a rest that Christ gives. There is a rest we have to find.

In Exod. 16:29, it is written, “the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you the bread.” We first, by faith, receive Christ; the true bread from heaven, given by God, His Father. We eat His flesh, the bread which the Son of Man giveth, and rest from doubt and fear; from works of our own, and from the heavy burden of our sins. We experience the joy and peace of conversion. We cease from our own works, as God did from His on the seventh day. But soon the struggle comes, the conflict between flesh and spirit. Having received rest from Christ as His gift, we have next to take His yoke upon us. His yoke of love, and obedience to the Father; another kind of yoke, an easy yoke; another burden, a light burden; in the place of the grievous bondage under sin and Satan, and the heavy load of guilt and misery. And we have to learn of Him, the meek and lowly one in heart, in order that we may find rest to our souls in the midst of temptation and trial, and difficulties and perplexities in our path. The meekness and lowliness of Christ were evidenced in His constant dependence upon God. Never doing His own will, or pleasing Himself. Never putting forth His own power, but humbly trusting in, and waiting on His Father. And His soul was kept in a perfect Sabbath of rest. Circumstances, however sudden or unexpected, never disturbed the serenity of His soul’s confidence in God; neither did they cause Him to act independently of God. He trusted not in any resources of His own. He was never surprised into an act of independence, though having almighty power. However adverse therefore the circumstances, the rest and quiet assurance of His soul were unbroken. The tempter might seek to insinuate doubts of His Father’s love and care, but such thoughts found no place in His heart. He was deaf to such whispers of the enemy. He was blind as to the circumstances around Him, if those circumstances seemed to militate against the faithful love of God. Such was His rest all through His pilgrimage below, till on the cross the billows and waves of judgment, and the noise of the waterspouts of wrath overwhelmed Him. And yet even then He trusted, and was delivered.

When the Sabbath was connected with the gift of manna, there was no commandment, but the Sabbath was given; and there was no penalty for the breach of the rest. When the Sabbath was subsequently connected with God’s work of creation, as in Exod. 20:8-11; 31:14-17, there was a distinct commandment, and the penalty of death was appended to any breach of it.

This affords a striking contrast, between being under grace, and under law…

…Israel before they reached Mount Sinai were dealt with altogether in the way of grace: they had come out from Egypt under the shelter of the Passover blood. The power of the almighty hand of God had been made manifest in their favor, in opening the depths of the Red Sea, and giving them a passage through on dry land; whilst their enemies had been engulfed in its mighty waters.

They had murmured at Marah, and the bitter waters were made sweet. They had found palm trees and wells ready for them at Elim. They had murmured in the wilderness of Sin, and the manna was poured down from heaven in reply. They murmured again at Rephidim and the smitten rock yielded its streams of living water. Thus up to their reaching the mount of fearfulness and judgment, all God’s ways towards them were in unwearied goodness and mercy.

The 105th Psalm recapitulates these dealings of God with His people between Egypt and Sinai, and grounds His ways of grace towards them upon His “remembrance of His holy promise, and Abraham His servant,” v. 42; and then all the subsequent wilderness journey is omitted, and the psalm concludes with “he brought forth his people with joy and his chosen with gladness; and gave them the lands of the heathen; and they inherited the labor of the people; that they might observe his statutes and keep his laws. Hallelujah.” v. 42-45. Is there not in this a prophetic intimation of their entering upon the land and enjoying it hereafter, on the sure ground of promise and unlimited grace? When their true Sabbath, their rest shall be connected with the true manna, “the true Bread,” and not with a fiery law, they will enjoy it in reality, and retain it without fear of ever losing it.

In the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapters 3 and 4, three rests are spoken of—the rest of Creation; the rest which Joshua gave; and the rest of God.

The two former have passed away, for in Psalm 95:11, God speaks of another day of rest, although His works of creation were finished from the foundation of the world; and the rest which Joshua gave must clearly have been in vain, for otherwise God would not have spoken by the mouth of David, of another day, after the people of Israel had actually been for many years in the land into which Joshua had brought them. There yet remaineth therefore, a celebration of rest, a full enjoyment of it to the people of God. An eternal Sabbatism, when they shall enter into God’s own rest. This is yet future. We find that there is a day of new creation yet to come. “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold I make all things new.” Rev. 21:5. The old creation with all its groans— the former things, with their death, sorrow, crying and pain shall have passed away. A new heaven and a new earth, will have replaced the present heaven and the present earth. The holy city, the new Jerusalem, the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, will be seen in all her eternal freshness, glory and beauty, coming down from God out of heaven. The Tabernacle of God will be with men, and He will dwell with them. The Lord will have reigned the thousand years, till He shall have put all enemies under His feet, and God will be all in all.

This is the eternal rest of God.

Already it can be said, “We which have believed do enter into rest.” We have a blessed foretaste of it in the peace of God which passeth all understanding, and in the victory which God giveth us through our Lord Jesus Christ. And we shall begin to keep our Sabbatism at the coming of Christ; when He will Himself descend with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God, and when we shall be caught up with the departed saints, all alike, raised and changed into His likeness, to meet the Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord.

The connection of the Sabbath day with the construction of the Tabernacle, may have reference to this rest that remains, of which the Sabbath connected with the first creation, was a type.

A contrast may be drawn between the old creation with the man and the woman, formed at the close of it; and the new creation, of which the man and the woman are the commencement. The first Sabbath was broken (never to be restored) by the entrance in of sin and death. It stood at the close of the week of God’s work.

The closing act of God’s creative power being the making the man and the woman.

The putting forth of God’s power in new creation is the resurrection of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, “the last Adam” “the beginning of the creation of God,” and “putting all things under His feet,” according to Psalm 8. And the next exhibition of God’s mighty power in new creation, will be the resurrection of the Church in glory. The new heavens and the new earth will be the closing manifestation of His creative power.

The Sabbath is called “holy”; “a Sabbath to Jehovah”; “a Sabbath of rest—holiness to Jehovah,” and “a Sabbath of rest to Jehovah.” Exod. 16:23, 25; 31:15; 35:2. It was also “holy unto the children of Israel.” Exod. 31:14, and a sign between the Lord and them. 31:13, 17; and was “a perpetual covenant.” 31:16.

We are told in Col. 2:16, 17, that the Jewish holy days, the new moons, and the Sabbaths, were a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ. To be in Christ is to be separated off to God in true holiness. A resurrection separation: to be cut off from the body of the sins of the flesh, and to be risen with Him. In this is true rest, for rest must be holiness. “The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace saith my God to the wicked.” Isa. 57:20.

The Sabbath was a sign to Israel.

A token that they were a people separated off to God, claimed by Himself in a peculiar way as His creatures; and for whom He had prepared a rest in the holy land, provided they kept His law. May we not say that the risen Lord Jesus is a peculiar sign to us; an assurance of rest that yet remains for us. The first fruits in resurrection. A pledge therefore to us from God that resurrection shall be our portion, and that we are His peculiar people for whom He hath reserved an “inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.”

It will be observed that in Exod. 31:14, “every one that defileth the Sabbath shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.”—v. 15, “whosoever doeth any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.” This serves to explain the meaning of being cut off from his people, a phrase of constant occurrence under the law. It is the judgment of death to be inflicted upon the transgressor. Four special occasions may be noted in connection with which this fearful penalty is threatened.

First—If a man did any work on the Sabbath Exod. 31:14.

Secondly—If a man did not keep the Passover Num. 9:13.

Thirdly—If a man eat leavened bread during the feast of unleavened bread. Exod. 12:15, 19.

Fourthly—If a man did not afflict his soul in the Day of Atonement. Lev. 23:29.

May we not gather some instructive warnings from the non-observance of these four feasts? First—If Christ be not our true Sabbath; if we are mingling works with that rest of God which He has given, are we not endangering Salvation?

Secondly—If we trust in anything but the shedding of blood, the blood of the true paschal Lamb, for the complete answer to God, on account of sin, and for the complete putting away of His wrath, do we not imperil the soul’s safety?

If professing “Christ to be our Passover sacrificed for us,” we indulge in the sinful lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, are we not eating leavened bread, when we ought to be feeding on Him the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth? And will not our practice contradict our profession, and prove us to be still of the world, and not of the people of God?

Fourthly—If there be no real affliction of heart, because of sin, when the atonement made by the Lord Jesus in the shedding of His blood, is presented to the soul—but if there be a kind of boastful profession of faith in the doctrines of Salvation, without brokenness of heart because of sin, is not such an one in great peril as to eternal salvation, however well acquainted he may be with doctrinal truth?

The Sabbath therefore having this peculiar place in connection with the Tabernacle appears to intimate to us that a true rest of soul will be maintained only by our realizing the Lord’s presence with us, abiding in Him. And that our eternal rest will be attained when we dwell in His presence forever, in the holy perfection of new creation, on the morning of the resurrection.

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