9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
Hebrews 4:9-11 (KJV)
That rest – The argument presented by the author of the book of Hebrews isn’t new. In chapter 4, he explains that while there is one type of rest (the seventh-day Sabbath) there is also a final rest which is to come. Many Christians today use this to justify a spiritual Sabbath. And because there is a spiritual Sabbath, then there’s really no need to keep the literal seven-day Sabbath anymore… because, hey, we’re spiritual, right?
But like I said, this comparison between the seventh-day Sabbath and a final Sabbath has been discussed ages before Christianity showed up on the scene. In fact, it was commonly accepted that there are 5 incomplete phenomena, the Sabbath being one of them. The Genesis Rabba testifies to 3 of them.
Sleep is a sixtieth portion of death; a dream is the same proportion of prophecy and the Sabbath of the Future bliss.
Genesis Rabba 17
Two more are understood as well.
[…] the incomplete form of the heavenly light is the orb of the sun; the incomplete form of the heavenly wisdom is the Torah.
Abraham Heschel, God in Search of Man, p.262
Genesis Rabba (The Great Genesis) is a midrash comprising a collection of rabbinical homiletical interpretations of the Book of Genesis. While it was composed in Talmudic Israel/Babylon (500 CE), the sayings were orally passed down for many ages prior to the writing. It is attributed to the author Rabbi Hoshaiah who may have began the work in the 4th or 5th century CE.
So why is this important to know? Because these concepts believed to be Christian have roots far deeper than the writings in the Bible. It’s important for us to understand that the concepts in the Bible are not new, though maybe new for us. They are stemmed in a rich history of God’s people, Israel. Men have been debating and discussing the details of Scripture far longer than Christianity has been around.
When we accept that the Bible is rooted in Hebrew worldviews and culture, maybe we’ll accept that our history is rooted there as well.