Revisiting the “No Recreation” Clause

…Picking up on the wilderness motif of Israel’s exodus out of Egypt and to the Promised Land, the author of Hebrews compares the church as a pilgrim people to Israel in the wilderness (4:6-11). God promised eternal rest to His people but they did not enter with Joshua, and they died in the wilderness. Jesus accomplishes the greater spiritual Exodus from slavery to sin, and we enter that rest only through Him even as we journey through this wilderness awaiting the final consummation of our redemption from death and its corruption. Like baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the Lord’s Day is an eschatological sign pointing to the already finished work of Christ anticipating the consummation to be realized at Christ’s return. This sign of “a sabbath-keeping” or “sabbath rest” (Heb. 4:9) continues until Christ’s second coming. Richard Gaffin Jr. puts it well when he writes:

The Sabbath is a sure sign to the church that it is a pilgrim congregation that is still “on the way”. The weekly Sabbath is a recurring reminder to believers that while most assuredly they already belong to the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), are already resurrected with Christ (Eph. 2:5-6; Col. 3:1), and daily are being renewed inwardly (2 Cor. 4:16); nevertheless, in the body, in their psycho-physical existence, they are short of the final resurrection-rest that “awaits the people of God”.

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