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The Doctrine of the Great Sabbath

By on June 6, 2010

Down through the centuries, Christian theologians have searched the Scriptures for clues, which might shed light on the nearness of the Second Advent of Christ. Among the prophets, Hosea stands out as one of the most important. His treatment of the two advents of the Messiah should be examined.

Hosea’s Third Day

The first passage to which I draw your attention is given in Hosea 5:14-6:3:

“For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him.

“I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.

“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

“After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth” (Hosea 5:14-6:3).

This is one of the most remarkable prophecies concerning the Second Coming of Christ to be found in the Bible. I have highlighted certain words and phrases to emphasize them. We shall look at each of them carefully.

First, the Messiah says that He will be “unto Ephraim as a lion.” I think this is a reference to the Lord as He represents the Mosaic Covenant. But when He says that He will be “as a young lion to the house of Judah,” He was referring to His birth in Bethlehem. There will come a day when the Messiah will be born of the house of Judah.

Messiah’s First Coming

He will become as a baby lion. But His First Coming will become a judgment for Judah. Messiah will “tear and go away.” We can relate this to Christ as He chides the Pharisees. Matthew 23 gives the account of Christ condemning the religious leaders for their unbelief. Finally, in the last few verses, He says that He is going away rather than setting up the kingdom they had long hoped for:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

“For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:37-39).

Christ predicts the desolation of Jerusalem, rather than the establishment of His throne in the holy city. Instead of staying and being crowned King of kings, Christ announces that He is returning to heaven from whence He came. This corresponds with Hosea 5:15:

“I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence” (Hosea 5:15).

All of this is historic fact. We know that Christ ascended back into heaven with the promise that He will return when the Jews acknowledge their offense.

Messiah’s Second Coming

In the following sentence, there is an all-important clue as to when that will occur:

…“ in their affliction they will seek me early” (Hosea 5:15b).

The Hebrew word for “early” is shacher [rja], meaning “at the time of dawn — the darkness which becomes light!” Some day, at the crack of dawn, Israel will be thrown into the midst of affliction — which I believe is a reference to the Tribulation Period. They will acknowledge their offense and seek the Messiah. This will occur “early” as one would watch for the rising of the sun.

After Two Days

So when is this crack of dawn? Which future day will observe this phenomenon? The following verses tell us specifically that it will be “after two days” and “in the third day.” In fact, Hosea mentions being raised up — a term used to describe rising in the early morning — shall we say at the crack of dawn?

“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

“After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight” (Hosea 6:1-2).

Hosea is not speaking of ordinary days in this passage. Christ could not come as a young lion to the house of Judah, tear (as the metaphor implies) and return to His place, only to come back on the third day of an ordinary week. He must be referring to the concept introduced by Moses in Psalm 90:4:

“For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”

Thousand-Year Days

Moses, the first of the biblical prophets introduced the days of Creation as metaphors of seven millennia. The six days of Creation represent six thousand years since the creation of Adam. And the seventh day, the day of Sabbath rest, represents the seventh millennium as a time of kingdom rest.

Many view this Hosea passage as referring to the passing of two thousand years. The “third day” following the First Coming of the “young lion” of Judah would be the same as the “seventh day” wherein God rested after His work of Creation.

Since we have lived to see the conclusion of this sixth millennium of human history and the introduction of the seventh with the year 2001, we would do well to observe what the prophets were trying to tell us.

Sabbath Days in the New Testament

Let us consider the possibility that certain events in the Gospel narratives take on prophetic implications when viewed with respect to the “millennial day” concept. There appears to be a correlation between certain events recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the number of days listed in each story.

Several events occurred on a Sabbath day lending support to the implication that these events will be ultimately fulfilled during a future millennial Sabbath.

Christ Announced His Ministry On a Sabbath

In Luke’s Gospel Jesus enters the synagogue at Nazareth to announce the beginning of His ministry. It was on a Sabbath that He took the scroll of Isaiah and read:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

Then He closed the book. Had He continued to read, He would have read the words “and the day of vengeance of our God.” Perhaps the fact that He read the words on a Sabbath day offers a prophetic implication that the day of vengeance will be fulfilled during the future millennial Sabbath — the seventh 1,000 year period of human history.

Christ Plucked Corn on the Sabbath

On another Sabbath, our Savior plucked ears of corn — a seeming violation of rabbinical law:

“And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.

“And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days? …

“And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Luke 6:1-2,5).

It seems the Savior was saying that the future millennial reign of Christ would be a time of planting and harvest. It would be a time of activity and progress. Though it is considered to be a Sabbath rest, that rest will be spiritual rather than physical. It will be a rest from evil — a rest from the temptations of Satan.

Notice the Savior’s reply to the Pharisees in Luke 6:5: “And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

He implies that He will bear the title of King of kings and Lord of lords during that future 1,000-year reign.

Christ Healed a Withered Hand On the Sabbath

Then there was the time Christ healed a man with a withered right hand on the Sabbath day:

“And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.

“And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; and they might find an accusation against him.

“But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.

“Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?

“And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other” (Luke 6:6-10).

By healing on the Sabbath, Jesus implied that the millennial kingdom would be a time of healing. During the seventh millennium, mankind will see the eradication of all diseases.

Christ Healed a Woman on the Sabbath

In Luke 13 Jesus performed another healing on the Sabbath day. This time it was a woman who had suffered a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years. The Savior loosed her from her infirmity, and in verse 16, implied that Satan had been the cause of her problem:

“And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16).

The implication is at once apparent: During the future “Day of the Lord” all will be healed.

Christ Healed a Man with Dropsy on the Sabbath

Luke records yet another healing on the Sabbath. That time it was a man diseased with dropsy.

“And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.

“And behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.

“And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and the Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day:

“And they held their peace. And he took him and healed him, and let him go;

“And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

“And they could not answer him again to these things” (Luke 14:1-6).

Jesus healed the man of his infirmity in the presence of the lawyers and the Pharisees. In doing so, it seems that Jesus implied, prophetically, that such would be the case during the great Sabbath rest — the seventh millennium of human history.

In the verses following, He told the parable of a wedding. By doing so, He seemed to imply, prophetically, that during the seventh millennium, there would be a wedding:

“And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,

“When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him…” (Luke 14:7-8).

Following that, Jesus gave the parable of a great supper, implying that in the future kingdom, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb would be celebrated and that there would be no hunger in the Lord’s kingdom:

“Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many…

“And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:16,23).

It is amazing that all of these incidents appear to have a prophetic implication when viewed in the context of the great Sabbath — that seventh 1,000-year period of human history.

At the Pool of Bethesda

Another Sabbath healing took place in Jerusalem at the pool of Bethesda. Jesus healed a man who had been sick for 38 years. The religious authorities became angry and confronted Jesus with an accusation that He should not heal on the Sabbath. Jesus replied:

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:22-24).

Christ spoke of those attributes, which He possessed, and which would be manifested during His millennial reign. Since these events occurred on a Sabbath, Jesus seemed to imply that His reign would be a time of Sabbatical rest — the seventh millennium.

A Blind Man Healed Near Siloam

Another healing took place on a Sabbath, recorded in the ninth chapter of John’s Gospel. Jesus made clay, put it upon the eyes of a blind man and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. When he did so, he was healed.

“And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay” (John 9:14).

This healing took place on the Sabbath, and is another reminder of that which shall occur during the millennial reign of Christ. Blind eyes will be made to see, withered limbs will be made whole, leprous diseases will be made clean, and evil spirits will be cast out. Yes, those events recorded in the Gospel narratives that occurred on Sabbaths seem to be prophetic of that which shall occur during the millennial reign of Christ.

Also, there are certain events in the Bible that occurred over a period of two or three days.

The Story of Jonah

Jonah spent three days and three nights in the stomach of a giant fish, and, in like manner, Jesus spent a similar time in the heart of the earth. These two events could be a prophetic picture of three thousand years wherein God has dealt with His Chosen People. Like Jonah, the nation of Israel had refused to take the message of God’s judgment and mercy to the Gentiles. As Jonah spent three days in the whale’s belly, so have the Jewish people been judged of God for the past three millennia.

The Story of Saul

There is another story given in the book of Acts that also may offer a prophetic scenario. It is the story of Saul on his way to Damascus and seeing the Lord in the midst of a brilliant light. When the light was gone, Saul was blind. He had to be led by the hand into the city of Damascus. Please note, he was blind for three days. This may be a prophetic picture of the history of Israel over a period of about three millennia. In I Corinthians Paul referred to this experience:

“… last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (I Cor. 15:8).

According to Dr. C. I. Scofield, Paul represented the nation as a whole. His experience of conversion was a prophetic picture of the future national conversion of Israel. His healing after three days of darkness, could represent that future time when Israel’s national conversion would take place.

Joseph and Mary Searched For Three Days

Now let’s go back to the Gospel narrative and pick up a few more events which seem to have prophetic implication when viewed from a millennial day perspective. In Luke chapter 2, Joseph and Mary searched for the twelve year old Jesus. On the third day, they found Him in the temple:

“And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).

If the Dispensation of Grace covers a period of 2,000 years, and if the millennial reign of Christ covers the third 1,000 year period, then the finding of Jesus in the temple on the third day may well represent His being about the Father’s business during the coming millennium.

Feeding the 4,000

The story of the feeding of the 4,000 is recorded in Matthew 15 and Mark 8. Please note that the multitude had followed Him for three days. It was on that third day that Jesus fed the multitude. Prophetically, it may refer to the millennium when hunger is eradicated.

In Luke 13, some Pharisees came to Jesus saying,

“Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee” (Luke 13:31).

Jesus replied, “Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected” (verse 32).

Three days later, Jesus made His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. These verses seem to have a powerful prophetic implication. They may refer to the third millennium, when Jesus will make yet another triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem.

The Wedding at Cana

In the Gospel of John, Jesus attended a wedding at Cana of Galilee:

“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee” (John 2:1).

Please note, that the wedding took place on the third day. Again, this may be a prophetic implication of the future marriage of the Lamb to His bride, New Testament Christianity. The Scripture implies that it will take place after two millennia, on the third day!

The Money Changers

In the latter part of that chapter, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Upon entering the temple, He found moneychangers selling oxen, sheep, and doves. He drove them out and said:

“Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:16).

When the Jews asked Him why He had done these things and what sign He could show them that He had the authority to cleanse the sanctuary, Jesus answered:

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (verse 19).

Now, to be sure, He was speaking of the temple of His body, which they did destroy and which He did raise up the third day. Prophetically, however, it may be a picture of the future temple, which the Messiah will build when He returns. It may be that the three days listed in verse 19 represent three millennial days. The statement made by Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem may be far more profound than we might think.

One of these days, the Savior will come again and drive the moneychangers out. Those moneychangers may well represent a prophecy of the future one-world monetary system through which men will be required to receive a mark in the flesh in order to buy or sell. They may represent the abomination of desolation, which is predicted to take place on the temple site in the midst of the Tribulation Period.

Perhaps the Antichrist will set up an image to the beast in the temple itself, thus committing the abomination of desolation. At the end of the Tribulation Period, however, Christ will return to this earth to destroy the Antichrist and the image that will have desecrated the sanctuary during the last half of the Tribulation Period.

When He returns, He will cleanse the sanctuary, drive out those future moneychangers, and will build a magnificent millennial temple. Remember, He said that day, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Trial of Christ

That statement, by the way, is also referred to in Mark 14:58. When Jesus was arrested and brought to trial before the Sanhedrin court, certain false witnesses came to testify:

“We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands” (Mark 14:58).

Those people never forgot the statement made by the Savior. In Luke 15:29, we find the Savior hanging upon the cross. Those who passed by:

“… railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross” (Luke 15:29).

Even in the last hours of His life the people mocked Him about the promise He made that He could rebuild the temple after three days. Those three days, however, may refer to three millennia, three 1,000-year periods. The prediction will yet be fulfilled, just as Jesus said it would!

The Story of the Samaritans

There is another story given in John 4, which may also lend support to the prophetic implication that a day could equal a thousand years:

“So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.

“And many more believed because of his own word;

“And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

“Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee” (John 4:40-43).

Jesus spent two days among the Samaritans. This may represent the two millennia we call the dispensation of Grace. It has been a time of Gentile conversions. The New Testament church may be prophetically typified by the Samaritans, among whom Jesus stayed for two days.

The story begins with Jesus and His disciples passing through the country of Samaria. As they came near to a city called Sychar, Jesus stopped at a well and sent His disciples into town to buy bread. While He was there, a Samaritan woman came out to draw water. Jesus asked her for a drink and then told her how she could receive living water to quench her spiritual thirst. This is a prophetic picture of the Dispensation of Grace. When the woman replied that Jews worship at Jerusalem and the Samaritans worship at Mt. Gerizim, Jesus said:

“Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21,23).

Jesus introduces the dispensation of Grace. It began with the First Advent of Christ and shall be concluded when He comes back. Meanwhile, just as He spent two days with the Samaritans, He has spent two millennia among the Gentiles.

The Story of Lazarus

There is another story recorded in the Gospels which seems to bear a prophetic implication to the teaching that one day equals a thousand years. It is the story of Lazarus. When he came down with the illness, his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus that he was sick:

“When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

“Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again” (John 11:6-7).

Please note, that Jesus delayed His trip to Bethany for two days. When He finally came, Lazarus was already in the grave. Obviously, however, He planned it that way. Prophetically, it may imply two millennial days before He comes again. Just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, one of these days He is coming to raise all believers from the dead. His two-day delay in coming to Lazarus may well represent the prophetic time schedule when the great resurrection will take place.

The Transfiguration

Finally, the story is given in Matthew 17, of the Transfiguration. On a high mountain, somewhere out of the land, Jesus met with Moses and Elijah. The event was a prophetic picture of the Tribulation Period, and of the Second Coming of Christ in glory:

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart” (Matthew 17:1).

This event took place on the sixth day. It may well be a prophetic scenario of that which shall occur at the end of the sixth millennium of human history! Time after time after time, throughout the Gospel narratives, we find prophetic implications which lend support to the teaching that a day equals a thousand years, and that after six thousand years of human history, the Savior will return to this earth, raise the dead, eradicate hunger and disease, establish a millennial kingdom, and rule over the earth during the seventh 1,000 year period of human history. That is the doctrine of the great Sabbath Rest!

Go to Lesson 5: The Secrets of Psalm 90

Go to Lesson 7: Dispensationalism and the Menorah