Enjoy this excerpt from Kingdom Through Covenant as it discusses the Sabbath in both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Take a moment to consider the greatness of Christ as all things are summed up in him, the new and better Sabbath.
Discussion of this command brings us right into the middle of the problem of the relationship between the old covenant and the new, a matter which cannot be adequately discussed in this chapter. Nonetheless, a few comments on the Sabbath are in order.
First, we must note that the Sabbath was the sign between Yahweh and Israel of the old covenant, as is clearly stated in Exodus 31:12–18. Covenants often have a physical sign associated with them. The rainbow was given as a physical sign of God’s promise in his covenant with Noah. Circumcision was commanded as a physical sign in the body of every male in Israel as a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham. Similarly, the Sabbath is stipulated as a permanent sign between Yahweh and Israel that the God who created the world in six days and then rested has consecrated them to himself.
Second, as we compare the old covenant and the new covenant, we see that the self-identity of the people of the Lord in the old covenant was that of children, while the self-identity of the people of the Lord in the new covenant is that of mature adults (Gal. 3:24–25). The external forms and shadows of the old covenant have been done away now that the reality has come in Christ (Col. 2:16–17).
Now of what does the Sabbath speak? Let us notice at once that, in the two texts in the Old Testament where we have the Ten Words, the reason given for the Sabbath in one text is different from the reason given in the other text. In Exodus, the reason is given in 20:11. God’s work of creation was complete, it was finished; the people could add nothing to it. They were invited to enter his rest and enjoy his work. Hebrews applies this notion to the work of Christ (Heb. 3:7–4:11). We cannot do anything to add to the work of Jesus Christ. We are simply to enjoy it.
In Deuteronomy 5:15, a different reason is given for the Sabbath. The people of Israel must remember that they were slaves in Egypt and God brought them out of slavery, so they should give their slaves a chance to rest as they do on the Sabbath. Paul, in Colossians 1:12–14, speaks as do many authors of the New Testament of the work of the Lord Jesus as a new exodus. Egypt is a picture or symbol of the world; Pharaoh is a symbol of Satan, and the slavery is a symbol of our enslavement to our passion and pride from which Christ has redeemed us in his death on the cross. Jesus is the new Joshua, who will lead those people connected to him by the new covenant to enter and enjoy God’s Sabbath rest. (340-1)