"A New Approach to Revelation" by Tricia Tillin (Part Four)
how the day of atonement Temple service sheds light on the book of revelation: Is it Also the Sabbath?
In part Three we looked at the possibility that the Book of Revelation portrayed in prophetic terms the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. There is also a suggestion that this important day may be a Sabbath. Certain holy days could not fall on the Sabbath, but Yom Kippur was not one of them. [The modern Hebrew calendar has been arranged so that Yom Kippur does not fall on a Friday or Sunday, but it can occur on a Saturday.]
Arguing against this is the fact that trumpets could not be blown on the Sabbath in reality. However, the prophetic Sabbath of the Revelation is not just the ordinary day of the week, but the "Sabbath of Rest" that is to come at the end of the age.
We will shortly look at the way the Jews viewed this concept and how it relates to Revelation and the End. The Bible plainly states that Christ's earthly kingdom will last one thousand years (Rev. 20:1-7), and it also makes perfect sense that this one thousand year kingdom should be the seventh thousand year period, or seventh millennium, of human history. This makes Christ's kingdom the Sabbath day of the earth and human history.
Jesus is our 'Rest'
Those of us who are Christians have in a real sense already entered into rest, because we depend on the finished work of Jesus for our future. However, as Paul pointed out, "there remains a rest for the people of God" -
Heb. 4:3-11 "For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest," although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works"; and again in this place: "They shall not enter My rest". Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts". For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience."
The principle of the Sabbath is one of the oldest institutions in the world, dating back to the creation of the world. Later it became one of the most important parts of the Law given to Moses. Indeed, we find it hard to understand why anyone defiling the sabbath day by working (or doing other prohibited things) was put to death! This seems extremely harsh, but it establishes a part of God's message that is vital. God rested on the seventh day:
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:1-3)
For each of the other days of creation, there follows an evening and a morning which speaks of a progression and development onwards. Yet on this final day of the week there is no mention of evening and morning, nor any alteration or development, only the repeated words FINISHED and DONE.
The other repeated word is REST, because that is the hidden prophetic message of the Sabbath. Indeed, the word "seven," the word "sabbath," and the word "rest," are all the same basic word in Hebrew, Shabat, seven, sabbath, rest. However this rest is not just recreational time after work, but a "ceasing of activity", a cessation because the work is COMPLETED..
Although the tradition of Israel established a certain day of the week (Saturday) as the weekly Sabbath, they were in danger of missing the point God was making. God's true sabbath rest was an illustration that pointed to the Son of God. The weekly sabbath ended at the cross. In Colossians 2:13 Paul says "let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. "(Colossians 2:17)
The Lord Jesus confirmed this in his death and resurrection, rising on the Sabbath day (for when the women arrived at his tomb at daybreak on Sunday they found that "He is RISEN" already!) Thereafter, the NEW DAY had begun just as the work of God in redemption was finished. On the cross as Jesus died he said as much, "it is finished!" and from that point on, the work of trying to please God and keep the Law was ended. From that point on, resting in the finished work of Jesus Christ was our hope of salvation.
This is why Paul cries, "Not I, but Christ. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me," (cf, Gal 2:20). This is the secret of the Christian who learns "it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure," (cf, Phil 2:13). So true Christian life is to cease from dependence on one's own activity, and to rest in dependence upon the activity of the One who dwells within. That is fulfilling the sabbath, the true sabbath. (Facts taken from 'The Seventh Day', by Ray C. Stedman, 12/10/67)
A Future Rest
So, believers enter into the rest of trusting the finished work of Christ. Then why is it that Hebrews 4:11 goes on to say, "Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, that no one fall by the same sort of disobedience."
The simple and obvious answer is that we all need to be vigilant against temptation and backsliding. We all need to be diligent in keeping ourselves in the centre of the love of Christ. A deeper answer is that it refers to the "final rest", the final sabbath of this world which is to come at the end of this age. That is what we find hinted at in the Book of Revelation.
Many Christians and also Jews believe that human history is divided - like the days of creation - into seven eras of a thousand years. There are - they say - six days of labour followed by a seventh millennium that is like the Jewish Sabbath, a day of rest for mankind, nature and the earth, the Age of God.
"For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night." [Psalm 90:4] "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." [2 Peter 3:8]
"The early fathers most commonly looked for the second advent at the end of 6000 years of the world's history" (New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: Vol.VII, p.376).
"Of the sabbath He speaketh in the beginning of the creation; 'And God made the works of his hands in six days, and He ended on the seventh day, and rested on it, and He hallowed it.' Give heed, children, what this meaneth, 'He ended in six days.' He meaneth this, that in six thousand years the Lord shall bring all things to an end..." [The Epistle of Barnabas, circa 200 A.D]
"For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: 'Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works.' This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to and END at the sixth thousand year" (Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol.1, p.557).
"The view most frequently expressed there . . . is that the Messianic kingdom will last for one thousand (some said two thousand) years. 'In six days God created the world, on the seventh He rested. But a day of God is equal to a thousand years (Ps.90:4). Hence the world will last for six thousand years of toil and labor; then will come one thousand years of Sabbath rest for the people of God in the kingdom of the Messiah.' This idea must have already been very common in the first century before Christ" (Encyclopedia Britannica, eleventh edition, concerning the Talmud: Millennium," p.459).
Jewish Belief in the Sabbath Rest
A much more complete and interesting explanation of this ancient Jewish belief, which long ante-dated the time of Christ and Peter, is given in the Jewish New Testament Commentary, by Dr. David H. Stern. In a commentary on II Peter, chapter 3, dealing with the "day" for a "thousand years" equation, Dr. Stern writes that this idea "has deep roots in Judaism, specifically in connection with dating the Messianic Era." He then quotes the Talmud, in tractate Sanhedrin, as follows:
"Rav Kattina said, 'The world will exist for six thousand years, then for one thousand it will be desolate, as it is said, "The Lord alone will be exalted in that day"' (Isaiah 2:11). Abaye said, 'It will be desolate two thousand, as it is said, "After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, and we will live in his sight"' (Hos.6:2). "It has been taught in accordance with Rav Kattina, 'Just as every seventh year is a year of sh'mittah [letting the land lie fallow], so it is with the world: one thousand years out of seven are to be fallow -- as proved by the following three texts taken together [in which the key word is "day"]: 'The Lord alone will be exalted in that day' (Isaiah 2:11); 'A psalm and song for the day of Shabbat' (Psalm 92:1), meaning the day that is entirely Shabbat; and, "For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past" (Psalm 90:4). "The school of Eliyahu teaches: 'The world exists for six thousand years -- two thousand of them tohu ["void"]; two thousand, Torah; and two thousand, the era of the MESSIAH. But because of our numerous iniquities many of these years have been lost'" (Sanhedrin 97a-97b). [Source]
The Days of Creation and the Days of the World
Clearly the dates are approximate!
- First Day of 1,000 years - Adam to Noah/The Flood = Innocence and Ignorance (Light and Darkness divided)
- Second Day of 1,000 years - The Flood to Abraham = Separation [of peoples, nations and religions] (Heaven and Earth divided by the firmament)
- Third Day of 1,000 years - Abraham to the Kingdom = Growth and Expansion (Land, vegetation, trees, seeds and fruits)
- Fourth Day of 1,000 years - Kingdom to Jesus = Rulers, Prophets, Exile & Return = (Signs, rulership, light and darkness distinguished)
- Fifth Day of 1,000 years - Jesus to Religious Empires = Church Expansion & Corruption (Abundant living creatures in sea and sky)
- Sixth Day of 1,000 years - Reformation to Modern Day = Church Recovery (Domestic and wild animals and mankind)
- Seventh Day of 1,000 years - Return of the Lord to end of Millennium = The Kingdom (Sabbath Day)
Now it can be seen that Revelation, being a book of prophecy about judgement day and the return of the Lord to earth, incorporates the idea of the SABBATH REST into the Day of Atonement ceremonies.
Therefore I will suggest that this feast day seen in vision by John was not only a heavenly Yom Kippur of the most perfect and final kind, but that it is a prophetic Sabbath Day. There are few differences in the rituals and prayers to watch out for, and today "The only difference in observance between a weekday Yom Kippur and a Shabbat Yom Kippur is that (in Ashkenazic communities) the Avinu Malkeinu prayer, which is normally recited four times in the course of the Yom Kippur services, is recited only once on a Shabbat Yom Kippur, at the conclusion of the final (Ne'ilah) prayer." However, this statement confirms the sacred nature of Yom Kippur:
"...all other fast days are postponed until Sunday when they fall on Shabbat.1 However, unlike all other fasts, Yom Kippur is not postponed, and is fully observed even on Shabbat. The Torah dubs Yom Kippur Shabbat Shabbaton—the "Shabbat of Shabbats," implying that it takes precedence over Shabbat. According to chassidic teachings, Yom Kippur falling on Shabbat doesn't "deprive" us of the pleasures—eating, drinking, resting, etc.—which Shabbat normally affords us. Rather the extremely holy nature of Yom Kippur accomplishes the same objectives, albeit in a higher, more spiritual manner." [Source]
The Song of Moses and the Lamb
And here is a piece of evidence that in Revelation we not only have the Yom Kippur but also the SABBATH ceremonies:
(Rev 15:3 KJV) And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
(Exo 15:1-3 KJV) Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.
"Moses and the children of Israel sang on the other side of the sea a song of thanksgiving and triumph, which, repeated every Sabbath in the Temple, when the drink-offering of the festive sacrifice was poured out ...Tradition informs us that the "Song of Moses" was sung in sections (one for each Sabbath) in the Temple, at the close of the Sabbath-morning service. The Song of Moses consists of three stanzas (Exodus 15:2-5, 6-10, and 11-18), of which the first two show the power of Jehovah in the destruction of His enemies, while the third gives thanks for the result, in the calling of Israel to be the kingdom of God, and their possession of the promised inheritance. (Alfred Edersheim, Bible History, Old Testament, vol. 2, chap. 7)
"... At the close of the additional Sabbath sacrifice, when its drink-offering was brought, the Levites sang the 'Song of Moses' in Deuteronomy 32. This 'hymn' was divided into six portions, for as many Sabbaths (v 1-6; 7-12; 13-18; 19-28; 29-39; 40-end). Each portion was sung in three sections with threefold blasts of the priests' trumpets, the people worshipping at each pause. If a Sabbath and a 'new moon' fell on the same day, the Sabbath hymn was sung in preference to that for the new moon; if a feast day fell on the Sabbath, the Sabbath sacrifice was offered before that prescribed for the day. At the evening sacrifice on the Sabbath the song of Moses in Exodus 15 was sung." (Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, chap. 9)
" There is yet a third reference in the Book of Revelation to 'the harps of God' (Rev 15:2), with most pointed allusion, not to the ordinary, but to the Sabbath services in the Temple. In this case 'the harpers' are all they 'that had gotten the victory over the beast.' The Church, which has come out of great tribulation, stands victorious 'on the sea of glass'; and the saints, 'having the harps of God,' sing 'the song of Moses, the servant of God.' It is the Sabbath of the Church; and as on the Sabbath, besides the psalm for the day (Psalm 92) at the ordinary sacrifice, they sung at the additional Sabbatic sacrifice (Num 28:9,10), in the morning, the Song of Moses, in Deuteronomy 32, and in the evening that in Exodus 15, so the victorious Church celebrates her true Sabbath or rest by singing this same 'Song of Moses and of the Lamb,' only in language that expresses the fullest meaning of the Sabbath songs in the Temple." (Ibid., chap. 3) [Source]
That seems conclusive to me!
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© 2014 Tricia Tillin-Booth. All rights reserved. Birthpangs Website: http://www.birthpangs.org/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.