Summary: God’s rest and the 7th day

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Genesis 2:1-3

November 14, 2012

God created everything:

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

The topic we’re going to discuss from this passage is the topic of rest. What does it mean that God rested?

We find elsewhere in the Scripture that “the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary” (Is. 40:28). We also find Jesus saying, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (Jn. 5:17). So, it’s clear that God’s rest has nothing to do with being too tired and it doesn’t mean that He stepped back from creation and stopped all interaction with it.

A few things worth noting here:

(1) Of the six days, God blessed only this one.

The meaning of “bless” is to celebrate and adore. He’s not celebrating the completion of creation though; He’s celebrating “because that in [day 7] he had rested from all his work.” The completion of creation isn’t the focus—it’s God’s rest that we’re looking at here.

(2) Only this day was sanctified.

The meaning of “sanctified” is to set something apart as sacred. Day 7 is distinctly different from days 1-6. Israel is sanctified from the world. Priests are sanctified from the Israelites. Day 7 is sanctified from days 1-6.

(3) Nothing but rest is done on day seven.

“Rest” gets a day all to itself. God created more than one thing every day for the first six days; even man is created on the same day as the beasts. But only one thing happens on day 7: God rests. The Hebrew meaning of שָׁבַת (shabath) “and He rested” is to cease (Jos. 5:12) and put down (II Kings 23:5). God ceased from His act of creating and He celebrates that fact.

(4) This last day doesn’t have “a morning and an evening” like the rest of the days. I don’t want to force anything into the text, so I’m not going to make a big deal out of this, but God’s rest is finished and nothing comes after it, so I can see how this observation might be made to support that fact.

Regardless, like everything in the Old Testament, this day of rest has a purpose, and that purpose is to point us towards Christ. It’s a shadow of something far better. To understand what it might be let’s look through the Old Testament to see how this concept is used:

First, look at Genesis 3:17-19: “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Adam was put in the garden to tend it, but when he sinned work took on a totally different nature. Sorrow and sweat became his lot in life.

Think of how Israel was in slavery in Egypt but God set them free: “Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. 2And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go. 3And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto theLORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword. 4And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens. 5And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens. 6And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, 7Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God. 9Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words” (Ex. 5:1-9).

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