One of the first intimations that the Sabbath was a type of the Millennium, the seventh day Rest, is found in Psalm 95. The Psalm is divided into two parts. The first part is a call to true worship. The second part is the word of the Lord urging His people to beware of copying the sins of their fathers in the Wilderness. This is what the Psalmist said, and what the Lord had to say.“Today if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation [at Meribah, Numbers 20:13] and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness [at Massah, Exodus 17:7] when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with that generation, and said, It is a people that err in their heart, and they have not known my ways, unto whom I swore in my wrath that they should not enter my rest.”
The local application of these words relates to the Promised Land, but even this is a picture of something much greater in its significance. It is important to realise that God’s “Rest” is something that is not automatically available to everyone. The children of Israel in the wilderness believed the evil report of the ten spies, and refused to listen to the godly assessment of Caleb and Joshua. They raised a revolt and were about to stone these two men to death, were it not for the intervention of the Lord Himself. This final act of rebellion cost them their chance of crossing over Jordan. And so we learn that God’s Sabbath Rest is reserved for those who “worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
Next we turn to the reigns of David and Solomon. It was David’s desire to build a Temple to the Lord in Jerusalem, but the Lord forbad it. David spoke to Solomon in this wise, “My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build a house unto the name of the Lord my God, but the word of the Lord came to me, saying, You have shed blood abundantly and made great wars. You shall not build a house for my name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to you, who shall be A MAN OF REST; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about, for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for my name.” (1 Chron.22:7-10)
The Lord gave an impression of His “Rest”. During Solomon’s reign there would be safety, security, peace from all enemies, and a time of great prosperity. The prophets took up this theme, giving God’s word of joy for the future. Isaiah spoke thus, “In that day there shall be a Root of Jesse who shall stand for an Ensign of the people; to it shall the Nations seek, and His Rest shall be glorious.” (Isa.11:10) Paul quoted this in Romans 15:12, showing that Jesus was the Root of Jesse, the Ensign.
In Isaiah’s 14th chapter, which deals with the downfall of Babylon, the Lord gave another word about His Day of Rest. “The whole earth is at rest and is quiet, they break forth into singing.” (14:7) We now learn that the most wicked of men shall be excluded from the Millennial Rest. This is amplified in Psalm 101:7-8. “He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not tarry in my sight. Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land, and cut off all the wicked from the city of the Lord.” And again, in Zephaniah 3:5, “Every morning He brings judgment to light, He fails not, but the unjust know no shame.” In the Millennial Kingdom there will be rapid judgment meted out to offenders. There will be no waiting about, no lengthy term of restraint awaiting court hearings. Matters will be dealt with “morning by morning.” This will require numerous godly judges acting under divine orders, able to attend to every matter in the way in which the 70 men operated under Moses in the desert.
To conclude, we must turn to Hebrews chapter 4:4-10 “God spoke in a certain place of the seventh day in this wise, And God rested the seventh day from all His works. And in this place again, They shall not enter into my Rest. Seeing therefore it remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not because of unbelief, again He limits a certain day, saying through David, after so long a time, Today, if you hear His voice harden not your hearts. For if Joshua had given them Rest then He would not have afterwards spoken of another day. There remains therefore a Sabbatism [a time of Rest] for the people of God.”
The clear message has therefore gone forth, understood by the writer of the Letter of Barnabas, that we read before. A Sabbath Rest remains for the people of God, but it is conditional on obedience, and once the Lord establishes His Day of Rest, judgments will begin; a sorting out process will come into effect.
The majority of our Lord’s teaching found in the Gospel records relates to the coming Kingdom, the time of God’s Rest. All the parables, for example, show the sorting out process. The character of those who are judged worthy to attain that day is continually brought to our notice, and those who fail to reach the desired standard are excluded, to their chagrin and hurt.
The Millennial Reign of Christ is therefore to be seen from two perspectives. For those who are privileged to enter, there will be singing and rejoicing in their worship, and positions of government in their daily work. For those who are excluded, there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, because they misinterpreted the Lord’s words, and thought only of their own advancement. This vision of two groups of people will lead us on to the next topic, the Day of the Lord.