We often speak and teach about the annual “Feasts of the LORD” as given in Lev 23 as all being prophetic, pointing and looking to their fulfillment in the plan of redemption, focused on the Messiah and on the people and nation of Israel. But also included in that calendar (and even mentioned first) is the weekly Sabbath (Shabbat), the seventh day of the week.
In much of Christianity, Saturday has become the sixth day of the week, and Sunday the seventh. This brings in some confusion, and also detracts from the prophetic significance of both of these appointed times and holy days. Sonday is the day after the Sabbath; Sonday is the first day of the week; Saturday (the Sabbath) is the seventh day of the week. This was established by YHVH God, when He created the heavens and the Earth in six days, and ceased and rested and was refreshed on the seventh day, which is called Shabbat, meaning “ceased”, usually meant related to working. God is not the author of confusion or disorder.
After finishing His work on the sixth day, God looked upon all that He had created and made, and saw that it was very good. This is the best that this Creation can be: very good. Interestingly, there is no word in the Old Testament (Tenach) for what we too often call “perfect”. When we say that the Law of YHVH is perfect, this is not the same sense. The Creator knew that what He did was perfectly what He wanted, according to His will and wisdom, but not perfect in the sense that it would endure forever without any problems to fix. For this, we wait for that which is perfect to come, the New Heavens and New Earth where sin and all its destructive fruit will be no more forever! These present heavens and Earth will pass away. (Is 34:4; Rev 6:12-14; Mt 5:17-18; Rev 21:1) This perfect new creation is what the day after the Sabbath points to in its prophetic significance: life from the dead; a new creation through new birth; God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
God knew from before this Creation that there would be a redemption. The Lamb was ordained from before the foundation of the world, and slain from the foundation. (2Tim 1:8-10; 1Pt 1:17-20; Rev 13:7-9) If Adam and Eve were perfect, they would not have been deceived and disobeyed. Only God is perfect; only Yeshua/Jesus as a flesh-and-blood man was without sin within and without. If the first covenant could make anyone righteous, there would have been no need for the new covenant in which God forgives us our sins forever. The Law of Moses was never an end in and of itself, but pointed to the truth of our imperfection and of the need for the promised acceptable sacrifice and Savior. Redemption was factored into this “very good” creation; perfect will have to wait until the work is done in real time, and the final judgment completed in separating the justified from the condemned, truth from all lies, the light from the darkness, holy from the profane, clean from the unclean, good from evil.
The seventh day Sabbath reminds us that God is the Creator of the Universe in six days and that He rested on the seventh. It looks back to that first day when YHVH formed the light to separate the darkness which was the state of things created in the beginning outside of the Creator, who is light. We have to be born-again from Above by the Holy Spirit through repentance and faith in the gospel to be brought into God’s light, and to become children of light and of the day, and no longer of the night and of darkness. We are brought into the light of the first day, which becomes for us the eighth day, the day after the Sabbath. In Christ, it is no longer to be a once-a-week-day — whether the seventh or the first — but we are to live as a new creation, seated with Christ in the heavenlies above His creation, abiding in Him and in His rest, even as we continue to labor for Him until our time is done. The day of vengeance of our God will come in due time. (Is 61:2)
The seventh day Sabbath looks to the seventh 1000-year Day of the Millennial Kingdom of Messiah Yeshua, when the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah/Christ! Satan will be bound, and righteousness will reign! All will know Jesus/Yeshua, the Son of God and King of Israel, from the least unto the greatest! The Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of YHVH God as the waters cover the seas! Israel will no longer have merely a remnant of believers, but all Israel will be a holy and righteous nation, a kingdom of priests, to YHVH, who chose them for His glory! The whole creation will be freed from the present vanity it is unwillingly subjected to when the sons of God are revealed in the resurrection of the saints, of the righteous, of those in Christ at His coming! All of this wonderful transformation and restoration of all things, as good as it is, will be, from God’s vantage point, only “very good”, even if perfectly so. There will still be, despite all, sin and death, even a final rebellion when the devil is released for a short time! (Rev 20:1-3, 7-15) Hard to imagine, but that is the reality of the power of the sinfulness of the devil’s and man’s iniquity versus the absolute purity and holiness of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In addition to remembering on the Sabbath what YHVH Himself said that He did: “For in six days YHVH made the heavens and the Earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day” (Ex 20:11), He also commanded Israel to “remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and YHVH your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore, YHVH your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day”. (Dt 5:12-14) Not only are we to remember God’s rest, but that He has given us to rest. The Sabbath is a day to cease from our own works and rest in God’s. (Heb 4:1-13) In other words, we are to remember that YHVH, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; the God of Israel; the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ — He is our Creator and our Redeemer.
Israel looks ahead to the restoration of YHVH’s Kingdom, which we rejected in the days of Samuel the Prophet, getting what we wanted in Saul as King. (1Sam 8:1-9; Mt 23:37-39; Acts 1:4-11) This restoration will be the 1000 year reign of Messiah/Christ at His return. This will be the fulfillment of the seventh annual appointed feast, Succot/ the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles, but the eighth appointed time in Lev 23. The regathering and salvation of God’s chosen people will be so great that they will forget the exodus from Egypt, and instead remember how “YHVH lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them”. (Jer 16:14-15; 23:7-8) It will be indeed very good! As in the Garden of Eden, even the animals will be at peace with each other and with man. Wars will cease!
But God has something better than this for those who love Him, which no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor entered into the hearts and imaginations of man. Something perfect, about which none of us has a clue to what that will be like — and for ever and ever! — other than there will be no more death and suffering and tears and pain and all else that is associated with sin. What it will be is that Yeshua/Jesus (by whatever His new name will be) will always be dwelling with us, ages without end! Come, Lord Jesus!