The 7th Day Sabbath: Buried in Christ’s Grave

I’ve been reading through Joseph Pipa’s helpful book, The Lord’s Day, and I ran across this amazing quote by Geerhardus Vos.  I’ve read it before, but I forgot its depth.  While there are a handful of biblical arguments against a Christian seventh day Sabbath, I believe the argument from redemptive history is one of the most helpful ones.  Here’s Vos:

Inasmuch as the Old Covenant was still looking forward to the performance of the Messianic work, naturally the days of labour to it come first, the day of rest falls at the end of the week. We, under the New Covenant, look back upon the accomplished work of Christ. We, therefore, first celebrate the rest in principle procured by Christ, although the Sabbath also still remains a sign looking forward to the final eschatological rest. The Old Testament people of God had to typify in their life the future developments of redemption. Consequently the precedence of labour and the consequence of rest had to find expression in their calendar.”

“The New Testament Church has no such typical function to perform, for the types have been fulfilled. But is has a great historic event to commemorate, the performance of the work of Christ and the entrance of Him and of His people through Him upon the state of never-ending rest. We do not sufficiently realize the profound sense the early Church had of the epoch-making significance of the appearance, and especially of the resurrection of the Messiah. The latter was to them nothing less than the bringing in of a new, the second, creation. And they felt that this ought to find expression in the placing of the Sabbath with reference to the other days of the week. Believers knew themselves in a measure partakers of the Sabbath-fulfillment. If the one creation required on sequence, then the other required another. It has been strikingly observed, that our Lord died on the eve of that Jewish Sabbath, at the end of one of these typical weeks of labour by which His work and its consummation were prefigured. And Christ entered upon His rest, the rest of His new, eternal life on the first day of the week, so that the Jewish Sabbath comes to lie between, was, as it were, disposed of, buried in His grave” (p. 158).

The first Adam worked towards rest (the Covenant of Works); the last Adam worked so we can rest (the Covenant of Grace).  God’s people got a new calendar after the great redemptive event of the Exodus in the Old Covenant era (Ex. 12), so God’s people have a new calendar after the great redemptive event of the New Covenant era – Christ’s death and resurrection.  Now Christians rest on the first day of the week, the day of Christ’s resurrection.  

Lord willing I’ll come back to this theme in a few days.  For now, let me recommend Vos book as well as Joseph Pipa’s book (both named above).

shane lems 

5 thoughts on “The 7th Day Sabbath: Buried in Christ’s Grave”

  1. The first time I woke up to the concept was reading exactly this in David vanDrunen’s book, “Living in Two Kingdoms,” where he speaks similarly and about how we begin our work week AFTER we have rested in Christ on the Lord’s Day. It’s rest–then work, in gratitude for what has been done by Christ. Praise God.


  2. It continues to please me that the long ago reading I did, Vos, Bavinck and other Dutch Calvinists and learned men, remain relevant and are holding their place as we continue to search for understanding of the applications of the Word in the post, post, post of whatever world view is presently receiving and seemingly demanding attention.


  3. Where in the fourth commandment does it bear any significance to the future redemptive work of Christ? In the ‘rest’ of course. And indeed, we are to find our ‘rest’ in trusting in the grace and mercy of a faithful loving Saviour. And so yes, the Sabbath becomes a celebration of redemption.
    But what of the day itself? For if we read carefully, it is not the ‘rest’ that was blessed and sanctified and made holy. It was the actual day. And this occured before there was any need of redemption; before sin entered the world. Thus the day itself must still stand as a day blessed and made holy by the Creator of it, for nowhere in scripture is there any indication that God has made the day unholy. And the reason for this blessing is to establish the day as a memorial of creation. And so it stands today…despite many attempts to defuse its significance, the 7 day week has stood for 6000 years or more as a ringing testimony to creation, with the Sabbath as its crowning glory.
    It is only by our trampling upon it by doing our own works that we render the Sabbath unholy. This is the warning of the commandment. “Remember the Sabbath day to KEEP it holy”.


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