Isaiah 66:23 The Sabbath in Perpetuity…?

Isaiah 66:23  The Sabbath in Perpetuity ……?

The following passage of Scripture is often used as an example that the Sabbath will be kept in heaven. Is this the intent of these verses?   Or is it another example of a verse being taken out of context to bolster a preconceived doctrine?

Isaiah 66:22-24 AMP
“For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will remain and endure before Me,” declares the LORD, “So your offspring and your name will remain and endure. [23] “And it shall be that from New Moon to New Moon And from Sabbath to Sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down and worship before Me,” says the LORD. [24] “Then they will go forth and look Upon the dead bodies of the [rebellious] men Who have transgressed against Me; For their worm (maggot) will not die, And their fire will not go out; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.

What is really being said here? God is using the certainty of the promise of the new earth as a guarantee that what He has promised for Israel will come to pass. The context makes it clear that He cannot be equating heaven with this earth. There won’t be any dead bodies lying on the ground in heaven. There can be no comparison between the beauty and glory of Heaven and the starkness and awfulness of this sin tossed world. For ‘just as’ the promises of heaven are a certainty ‘so’ the promises of God for us in this world can be just as assured. A Christian, while not wanting to make this world his hope for eternity, will nevertheless strive to believe and trust  God and His promises while completing his earthly sojourn. We should not confuse our earthly sojourn here with the “blessed hope”.
The only thing being stated here is the surety of both. When the former becomes reality for us the latter will cease to be. The phrases “just as” and “so” make this clear. We do disservice to God’s word when we try and make it say something that it is not.

Life in the Spirit
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:1,2  NRSV

The Sabbath is, of all the commandments, the line of demarcation between believing and doing. Those who are embracing the ‘doing’ of the law – strict Sabbath keeping – are embracing what the Bible calls the “law of sin and death”. This is highlighted in the above text where sabbath keeping and the terrible results of lawlessness are equated. We remember that the Sabbath is in the very heart of the law which in Romans is called the “law of sin and death”. After His sacrifice for the human race Jesus lay in the tomb on the Sabbath day. The glorious resurrection morning had not yet dawned.
1 Peter 1:3 ESV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Colossians 2:16 MSG
So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ.

All of the 10 commandments need to be written into our hearts (faith) rather than in our heads (doing).  This is the litmus test of our transition from the Old Covenant to the New. And this comes into focus particularly with the the Sabbath, the fourth commandment, written in the very heart of the law. The Sabbath is a sign that God would write His law in our hearts.

Moreover  I gave them my sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, so that they might know that I the Lord sanctify them.  Eze.20:12 NRSV

Jeremiah 31:31,33 MSG
“That’s right. The time is coming when I will make a brand-new covenant with Israel and Judah. It won’t be a repeat of the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant even though I did my part as their Master.” God’s Decree. [33] “This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them—write it on their hearts!—and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about God. They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!” God’s Decree.

Never underestimate the power of God to do what He has promised.

This is the true Sabbath rest that we should strive to enter. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest…. Heb.4:11

Hebrews 4:8,12 MSG
……The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience. [12] God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.

We need to know God – not through doctrine and learning – but through experience. When the chips are down and the pressure is really on, claiming membership and an obedient life will not suffice. At times like these we need to have built a strong ‘fatherly’ relationship with God. Doctrine is good only so much as it leads us into greater knowledge of and closer relationship with God.

It is amazing how many Christians consider themselves people of the Book. When, in reality they are often relying on “proof texts” many of which are taken out of context and are in reality of no hope whatsoever.`

Isaiah 66 may be a case in point.

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