We can end up thinking the Old Testament was about keeping the 10 commandments and the New Testament was about Jesus playing with sheep and children. However, God is the same in the Old and New Testament and both are pointing to God’s work and us resting in His work.
In Exodus 20 we see the list of 10 commandments and it can look like God is just some mean boss up in heaven making us work to keep Him happy, but we forget in the previous verse it teaches us that God is the one who did the work.
In verse 2 it says, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
The order here is very important to the gospel. Did God say here are some commandments and if you keep them I will deliver you? He is not saying obey me then I will save you. He is saying I have saved you, I brought you out of the land, I brought you out of the house of slavery, and now you get to obey me and experience the rest of my work.
We can easily miss this and think it isn’t about God’s work, but about our work. We think if we keep the 10 commandments, are good people, then we will be in a good standing with God. After all that is how people get to heaven right? Keep the 10 commandments. Well, yes and no. Yes, but we would have to keep the 10 commandments all the time in thought and deed. Only one person can do that. His name is Jesus.
Exodus 20 is a foreshadow of what Christ ultimately accomplishes at the cross. Just like in Exodus 20 Scripture teaches we are in a foreign land, in a house of slavery and it is called sin. Scripture teaches that all of humanity has sinned, and all fallen short of the glory of God. It is why we see hate, hurt, pain, disasters, and Scripture teaches Jesus entered into that pain with us, came to take on flesh and blood, experience death so that He might render sin and death powerless and take all those who have been enslaved to sin and through faith in His death, burial, and resurrection we might experience freedom.
Who does the work? It is Christ who delivers us, it is Christ who frees us from slavery and as a result we get to live out obedience and experience His rest. In the OT they participated in the Sabbath as a reminder that it wasn’t their work and in the New Testament we participate in the Sabbath as a reminder that it isn’t our work.
Here is why this is important. We live in a culture that is always striving to improve, get better, competing against ourselves, our peers, our friends to constantly win and please so that we can advance. We compete in our friendships so we are not excluded and left out. We compete in our classes so we can get grades and scholarships. We compete in our jobs so we can get promotions. We compete with the guy at the red light to get ahead of the traffic. The Scriptures teach us that we live in a world of constant competition and the gospel is that we have a Savior who has competed for us, He has run the race, He has received the prize, and He has clothed us in His righteousness and it is in His righteousness that we can rest.