STUDY ELEVEN: THE SEVENTH DAY [Genesis 2:1-3]

© Rosemary Bardsley 2013

[Note: This is a very long study that is far broader than the Genesis text. If you are using it in a group setting it will be necessary to spread it over two or three sessions. Also if you are using it in a group study I suggest that you pause and allow discussion at each point.]

Genesis 2:1-3 sums up the completion of God’s work of creating:

‘Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.’

These facts from the beginning of time are recalled at various points through the history of God’s self-revelation recorded in his written Word:

‘For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.’ [Exodus 20:11, following the command to remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.]

‘It shall be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.’ [Exodus 31:17].

‘You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You gave life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.’ [Nehemiah 9:6]

 ‘And his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work”.’ [Hebrews 4:3b,4].

These texts draw attention to three facts: [1] creation is the work of God and [2] that work was complete. [3] Because that work was complete God ‘rested’ on he seventh day, blessed the seventh day, and made the seventh day holy.

In addition to these direct scriptural references to the seventh day of creation, there are many other scriptural texts that stress the sanctity of the seventh day, in a wide range of contexts, and irrespective of what particular day one has started counting from.

There is something about the ‘seventh day’ that God deems to be intrinsically significant.


A. CREATION IS THE EXCLUSIVE WORK OF GOD

Genesis 1:31 – 2:3 reaffirms that creation in its entirety is the work of the triune God, exclusively. No one else is involved. No other god can claim credit. No evil power can claim credit. No creature can claim credit. No natural process can claim credit. No natural law can claim credit. Neither time nor random chance can claim credit. It is all the work of God. This seventh day rest comes after, and because of, a completed work of God.

It is necessary to stress this fact in the light of significant additional truths that the Scripture reveals later on.

 

B. THE WORK OF CREATION HAS ALL BEEN DONE – IT IS FINISHED, IT IS COMPLETED

Everything is created; everything is functioning.

Genesis 2:1 tells us there is nothing more to be created [no more species of plants and animals; no evolution of new kinds; no more stars; no more planets; no more natural laws to be programmed]. It is all done – all created, all completed, in ‘all their vast array’. There is no more creation to be done. [This does not mean that there cannot be variations within the created species as some genes are lost and some genes become more dominant.]

This reference to ‘all their vast array’ [NIV] (‘all the host of them’ [KJV]) is a reference to a great mass of individuals comprising the whole. The word is used elsewhere to refer to human armies, to the great number of Israelites delivered from Egypt, to the population of each tribal group in Israel, to the totality of all heavenly bodies, to ‘the army of the LORD’ - ‘all the host of heaven’ which includes spirits and angels, [1Kings 22:19f].

Here it may be a simple all-embracing reference to the great number of physical things that God created; or it may refer to the unseen angelic hosts to which the scripture also refers by this word; or both could be included, and they probably are. But, whatever the word ‘host’ or ‘array’ means, it is here in this verse to emphasise comprehensive, all-inclusive completion. Deliberate and total completion. Not something half-done. Not some process merely set in motion. Not some animals and some pre-human creatures created that have to yet evolve into something better.

This completeness and finality is again expressed in 2:2:

‘By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing…’

These two statements exclude the validity of the evolutionary hypothesis, which teaches that existing species are continually in the long process of evolving into new species. The created universe and all that is in it are here declared to be the completed work of God, and to be the completed work of God alone.

If we believe that God used evolution, we are stating that the Scripture is in error when it uses the words ‘completed’ and ‘finished’, for evolution sees no completion, no finishing, but an endless continuum.

 

C. GOD RESTED FROM ALL HIS WORK ON THE SEVENTH DAY

If we say that God uses evolution, there is also no such thing as this seventh day rest of Genesis 2:2-3 as God would be still in the process of creating new life forms. Just as there would be no completion, no finishing, there would also be no resting, for the theory of evolution does not anticipate an end. The whole basis of the Sabbath/rest concept, (which is very significant throughout the Old Testament, and features in the ministry of Jesus Christ and the impact of his death), falls to the ground if God’s resting on the seventh day, after completing his work of creation, is mere myth or allegory, denied its historicity by the assumption that the theory of evolution is actually fact.

This ‘rested from all his work’ is not the kind of rest necessitated by exhaustion – the Creator God does not grow weary [Isaiah 40:28]. Nor does it mean the rest of total inactivity. [Jesus stated ‘my Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working’ – John 5:17]. His powerful Word continues to sustain and give life to the universe and all that is in it [Hebrews 1:3].

Let us back track to Genesis 1:31, where God ‘saw all that he had made, and it was very good’. This English word ‘very’ fails to communicate the strength of the Hebrew word meod. The core meaning of the word is something akin to vehemently – stressing strongly the totality of the exceeding goodness and perfection of everything that God created. God saw the complete and utter goodness of everything. It was complete; it was exceedingly good. There was nothing more to be created.

This is the rest of desisting from, ceasing from, the work [activity] of creating. There was nothing that God needed to fine-tune or adjust. There was nothing that God wanted to change.

God had done it all. It was all his work. His work of creation ceased. There was nothing that was left to the creature but to enjoy and to live in the blessedness already bestowed upon him [Genesis 1:22,28].


D. GOD BLESSED THE SEVENTH DAY AND MADE IT HOLY

In Genesis 2:3 we are given three simple facts:

God blessed the seventh day
God made the seventh day holy
God did this because on the seventh day he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

This blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day is not an arbitrary act. God does not do arbitrary acts. This blessing and sanctifying, rather, are related to and because of the completion of creation: it is ‘because on the seventh day he rested …’ and he ‘rested’ because his work of creation was complete.

In this blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day God is in fact pronouncing his approval and his ownership of the whole created world – the seen and the unseen, the visible and the invisible, the physical and the spiritual. Creation is complete. Creation is perfect. It is his workmanship. This day, on which the creative work of God is proclaimed completed, is blessed by God, and that blessing consisted in being designated ‘holy’ – that is it is set apart by God for God.

Nothing is said here about man keeping the seventh day holy or man not working on the seventh day, and there seems to be no mention of man acknowledging the holiness of the seventh day anywhere in Genesis. But this absence of reference to the blessedness and holiness of the seventh day in the rest of Genesis does not really say much, for we are from Genesis 3 onwards dealing with a world and a religion corrupted by the fall. We are dealing there with men who rejected his Word.

Nor are we told if Adam and Eve were aware of this blessedness and holiness of the seventh day. We do not know if it is from them that this history is passed down to us through Moses, or whether God revealed it directly to Moses when he inspired and empowered him to record or collate the Genesis narratives. [We do not hear anything more of this blessedness and sanctity of the seventh day until we move into Exodus.]

John Piper infers that this blessedness and sanctity of the seventh day was even here at the beginning of time communicated to man:

’The reason given in both Genesis 2:3 and Exodus 20:11 why God blessed and hallowed the seventh day is that "on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation." What does it mean that God rested? It means at least that he was satisfied that his work of creation was complete and was "very good." His rest means that he wanted to now stand back as it were in leisure and savor the beauty and completeness of his creative work.
 
‘This is the real basis of his hallowing and blessing the day of rest. He is saying in effect, "Let my highest creature, the one in my image, stop every seven days and commemorate with me the fact that I am the creator who has done all this. Let him stop working and focus on me, that I am the source of all that he has. I am the fountain of blessing. I have made the very hands and mind with which he works. Let one day out of seven demonstrate that all land and all animals and all raw materials and all breath and strength and thought and emotion and everything come from me. Let man look to me in leisure one day out of seven for the blessing that is so elusive in the affairs of this world."

‘The beautiful thing about the sabbath is that God instituted it as a weekly reminder of two things. One is that all true blessing comes from his grace, not our labor. The other is that we hallow him and honor him and keep the day holy if we seek the fullness of his blessing by giving our special attention to him on that day.’
[http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/remember-the-sabbath-day-to-keep-it-holy]


D.1 What does it mean that God ‘blessed’ the seventh day and ‘made it holy’?
To be blessed is to have the hand of God upon you for ‘good’ [as opposed to ‘for evil’]. It is to be given the ‘inestimable privilege’ [Boutier, in Vocabulary of the Bible, p36-37] of knowing God, of being the object of God’s grace, of being acknowledged and accepted by God.

To be made holy is to be declared sacred: to be identified as the unique possession of God: set apart by God for God – no longer common, no longer ordinary.

The two go together: ‘blessed’ and ‘made holy’. To be blessed by God is also to be God’s special possession. To be declared God’s special treasure is also to be blessed – the uniquely privileged recipient of the grace of God.

This blessedness, this uniqueness of the seventh day is directly related to the fact that this day announces and celebrates that the work of God is complete. And in blessing and sanctifying this day of completeness God thereby also blesses and sanctifies the whole universe and all that it contains. It is his. It exists by his gift, his work. And it is the theatre of his glory, the theatre of his grace.


E. THE BLESSEDNESS AND HOLINESS OF THE SEVENTH DAY IN SCRIPTURE

When we track the Scriptural commands for the observance of the seventh day [etc] we find that almost invariably they are related to a work of God that was totally God’s work, and through which blessing and grace came to the people of God.

E.1 The Passover [Exodus 12:6-13,27; Leviticus 23:5]
The Passover occurs on the fourteenth day [= 2 x 7] of the first month in the Jewish calendar. In the original ‘Passover’ a lamb without defect was slaughtered and eaten; its blood was painted on the doorways of the houses; when the angel of death passed through the land of Egypt killing the firstborn in every house, the firstborn of the Israel were redeemed from death by the blood of the lamb.

Here we see a miraculous and gracious work of God, commemorated by the Jews even to this day.

E.2 The Feast of the Unleavened Bread [Exodus 12:14-20; Leviticus 23:6-8]
The Feast of Unleavened Bread began immediately after the Passover and lasted for seven days. On the seventh day of this feast [the 21st of the month – 3 x 7] a sacred assembly was to be held and no work was to be done. In other words, it was a holy day and a rest day [Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:8].

This Feast commemorated God’s great and gracious work of delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt [Exodus 12:17].

E.3 The Provision of the Manna [Exodus 16]
When God miraculously provided bread from heaven (‘manna’) for the Israelites for the forty years they were in the wilderness, none was supplied on each seventh day. A double amount was supplied on the sixth day. The seventh day is described as ‘a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD’ [16:23, 25,29].

Here again we see the rest and the sanctity of the seventh day in the context of a mighty and gracious work of God.

E.4 The fourth commandment [Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15]
The fourth commandment is ‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy’. In both the original in Exodus and its restatement in Deuteronomy the following two aspects are included:

‘the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God’
the prohibition of all work by the Israelites and anyone in their house

When the reason for the seventh day rest and holiness is explained we see two reasons:

Exodus 20:11 gives Genesis 2:2,3 as the foundation;
Deuteronomy 5:15 gives the deliverance from Egypt as the foundation.

This is not a contradiction. In the original statement of the commandments in Exodus 20 the seventh day sacredness and rest is grounded in the completion of God’s mighty work of creation. This is not undermined by the Deuteronomy restatement of the commandments. Rather it is intensified. Not only is the existence of the universe, including the Israelites, dependent solely on the power and the grace of God, but the existence of the Israelites as the redeemed people of God, who are about to enter the land promised to their ancestors, is also totally dependent on the power and the grace of God. This sacred day of rest reminds them constantly of these two truths.

Note that this focus on the sovereign and gracious work of God is the real basis and meaning of the Sabbath, the holy seventh day on which rest was commanded:

Exodus 31:13 states: ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.’

Similarly, Ezekiel 20:12: ‘Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the LORD made them holy’.

These two divine comments on the purpose of the Sabbaths teach us that the weekly observance of the Sabbath rest and holiness was a perpetual reminder to God’s people that it was he, by his deliberate will and work, who had made them his set apart people. It was nothing they had done. It was nothing they were or had achieved. It was all from him. It was all his work. Totally.

E.5 The Feast of Weeks [Leviticus 23:15-22]
The Feast of Weeks spanned a period of seven weeks plus one day, that is seven Sabbaths, plus one day. This final day was also to be observed as a day of rest and sacred assembly [23:15-16,21]. This Feast of Weeks was a Harvest Festival, in which the firstfruits of the harvest were offered to God, and by which it was acknowledged that the whole harvest was a gift of God.  The harvest was not the work of their hands, nor was it the work of some other god [note the reference to idols in the context of the initial instructions about this feast (Exodus 34:10-34).]  

E.6 The Seventh Month
The seventh month was particularly sacred.  The first day of this seventh month was a day of rest and sacred assembly introduced with great fanfare [Leviticus 23:23-25].

On the tenth day of the seventh month another day of sacred assembly and rest, and also self-denial, was observed. This was the great Day of Atonement more fully described in Leviticus 16, but summarised in Leviticus 23:26-32. On this one day the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place with the blood of a goat, and atonement for sins was granted by God.

From the fifteenth day of this seventh month the Feast of the Tabernacles commenced [Leviticus 23:33-43]. The first day was a day of rest and sacred assembly. The eighth day, the great and final day of the feast, another day of rest and sacred assembly was observed. During the days of this feast the people were to live in ‘booths’ or temporary shelters, and ‘rejoice before the LORD’. This feast celebrated the wilderness period of the Israelites, when they lived in tents for forty years after the Lord brought them out of Egypt, and through which the Lord miraculously sustained them. Over time the Israelites added to the biblical prescriptions of this feast: a symbolic, prophetic prayer in the form of a water-pouring ritual, and the brilliant illumination of the temple.

It was also in this seventh month of the year, on the Day of Atonement, that the amazing Year of Jubilee was ushered in with a fanfare of trumpets [Leviticus 25:8,9].

E.7 The Seventh Year and the Year of Jubilee
In Leviticus 25 we read God’s instructions that the land should be left unworked and unplanted every seventh year [25:1-7] and every fiftieth year – 7 x 7 +1 [25:8-55]. The simple significance is that the land itself is thus given rest. A little bit deeper and we realize that in resting the land, the people also rest. The people are forced to depend on God’s provision through what grows on the fallow land without human aid. The people are forced to acknowledge that everything comes from God.

This is intensified in the fiftieth year – the Year of Jubilee – a second year in a row of being forced to simply trust God [Leviticus 25:19-22]. But not only must the land rest in the Year of Jubilee, but all debts must be cancelled, all property lost because of debts must be restored to its owners, and all persons enslaved to others because of unpaid debts must be restored to freedom.

The foundation of this highly significant year is that God is their God, and it is God who redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt [25:17,38,42,55.] It was not their own doing. It was not a human work.


F. LOOKING DEEPER AND FURTHER

The deep, deep truth embedded in this seventh day rest, blessedness and sanctity, is that it takes its surety and its meaning from Jesus Christ. It is not that Jesus Christ came to fulfil the significance of seventh day, but rather that the seventh day proclaims here at the beginning of time, the reality and significance of Jesus Christ.

This Christological significance of Genesis 2:2-3 is affirmed in every one of the expressions of the seventh day rest, blessedness and sacredness identified in the previous section of this study. Each of these exists only because of the eternal reality of the time/space incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. None of them, although looking back to a historical reality, exists only because of that historical reality. Indeed those historical realities themselves exist only to reveal the truth and the glory of the Christ who was to come.

Old Testament

The eternal Christological reality of which the OT is the shadow and on which the OT is patterned.

NT reference

The Passover

Christ’s institution of the Lord’s Supper in the context of the Passover, said of the Passover cup: ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’

Matthew 26:27,28

‘For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.’

1Corinthians 5:7

Also 1Peter 1:19

Unleavened Bread

We are accustomed to think of ‘yeast’ as symbolic of sin, and the New Testament does use it this way; yeast also speaks of the spread of the kingdom of God. But a dominant New Testament use of yeast is as a symbol for false teaching in which human effort is taught to be the basis on which salvation is determined. Hence, the Feast of Unleavened Bread points us forward to the pure and perfect salvation which we have in Jesus Christ. It is not in any way our own doing: it is all of Christ, just as the deliverance from Egypt was not in any way the action of the Israelites, but totally the gracious and sovereign work of God.

Matt 16:6,11,12; Mark 8:15;

Luke 12:1; Galatians 5:9

The Manna

Jesus Christ gave lengthy teaching in John 6 that he is the real bread from heaven, the bread of life, the true bread, the bread of God who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. To believe in him is to never ever again be thirsty, to believe in him is to never ever again be hungry. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.

John 6:1-15,

John 6:25-59

The Sabbath

The Sabbath is a shadow of a greater reality: that reality is Jesus Christ. This concept underlies the teaching of Hebrews 3:7-4:11.

Col. 2:16-17

Heb. 3:7-4:11

The Feast of Weeks [seven weeks plus 1 day]

This feast is also called ‘the Firstfruits’ and ‘Pentecost’. It has a double-barrelled Christological significance: [1] Jesus Christ is the ‘firstfruits’ of the resurrection, guaranteeing the resurrection of all who trust in him; his resurrection occurred on the first day of the fifty day feast; [2] after he ascended to heaven, he sent from the Father the ‘firstfruits’ of the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing our salvation. This occurred on the Day of Pentecost, the final day of the fifty day feast.

1Corinthians 15:20-23;

2Corinthians 1:22; 5:5

The Seventh Month – The Day of Atonement

The Letter to the Hebrews teaches that Jesus Christ is the reality depicted in the Day of Atonement. This included both his sacrificial and substitutionary death and his high priestly mediation in the presence of God.

Hebrews 4:14-5:10; 7:11-28; 9:1-10:23

The Seventh Month – The Feast of the Tabernacles

In the Gospel of John two aspects of the contemporary celebration of the Feast of the Tabernacles are given Christological significance:

[1] The symbolic, prophetic pouring out of the water, during which prayer was made for the coming of the Messiah and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was part of his coming. It is in this context on the last day of the Feast that Jesus Christ said ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink …’

[2] Immediately after the Feast, when the brilliant lights illuminating the temple had all been extinguished, Jesus said ‘I am the Light of the world …’

Here in Jesus Christ is he of whom both the water and the lights spoke in symbolic, prayerful and prophetic form.

John 7:37-39; 8:12.

The Year of Jubilee

When Jesus read from Isaiah 61, the last statement he read was ‘… to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’. This year of the Lord’s favour is the Year of Jubilee. Here we understand that Jesus is the real meaning of the Year of Jubilee:

  • In him there is we are set free from our own work
  • In him there is cancellation of our sin debt
  • In him there is freedom from spiritual indebtedness
  • In him there is freedom from slavery to sin, death and Satan
  • In him we rest

Luke 4:14-21

 

As discussed in Study Seven, even here on this seventh day God knew what he had known before he began to create: that man, whom he made in his image, would shortly rebel, deceived by another of his creatures, and the result of that rebellion would be catastrophic. God knew this; yet he still called this completed universe, including man, exceedingly, utterly good. God knew this; yet by blessing and sanctifying this day marking the completion of his work of creation he blessed and sanctified the whole universe he had created, including man. God knew this, and he ‘rested’.

And here we see once again the depth of the grace of God and the great over-riding power of the absolute sovereignty of God. Here again we must note that over and beyond the sin, suffering and death that was about to enter and destroy, God had redemption, perfect and powerful redemption, already in place. Rest is here possible and appropriate, blessing is here possible and appropriate, holiness is here possible and appropriate, not only because creation is now completed and perfect, but because, behind the scenes, the remedy for the disaster about to fall has already been determined, decided, decreed and completed.

In the divine decree, in the divine economy that transcends time, the Lamb is already slain [Revelation 13:8].
In the divine decree, in the divine economy that transcends time, the Christ, the lamb without blemish and defect is already chosen [1Peter 1:19,20].
In that divine economy, before the beginning of time, grace is already given to us in Christ [2Timothy 1:9].

This perfect creation, which is about to suffer curse, condemnation and alienation from God, is here in this seventh day rest, blessing and holiness, given the promise, the affirmation, that, irrespective of what happens, God is God, that all things are in his hands, that our human actions cannot and will not in any final sense undo the blessedness and the sanctity of the world God created; nor can they undo in any final sense, the blessedness or the sanctity of human life.

G. REST FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD

Here in this seventh day rest of God, God’s rest for his people is anticipated. This rest, blessedness and holiness speak of the rest, blessedness and holiness of the people of God.

The burden of the Letter to the Hebrews is to call its readers away from the sin of unbelief and into confident faith in Christ, into ‘God’s rest’. In 3:7-4:16 the concept of ‘rest’ is discussed. The failure of the Israelites to enter God’s rest because of their sin of unbelief [sometimes called their ‘disobedience’] on the borders of Canaan is used as a teaching point, and we are urged to make every effort to enter God’s rest that has existed since the beginning of time.

It is here in these two chapters of Hebrews that we see most clearly the truth that Jesus Christ is the deep meaning of the ‘rest’ of God in Genesis 2:1-3.

Task #1: What do these verses teach us about ‘rest’?

3:7-11

3:16-18

3:19

4:4:1a

4:3

4:4

4:5

4:6

4:7-9

4:10

4:11


From these verses we learn:

That this ‘rest’ is never referred to as ‘our rest’ or ‘their’ rest. It is always God’s rest. [3:11,18; 4:1,3,5,10]. We enter his rest.

That ‘rest’ is the promise of the gospel, a gospel not limited to the Christian era, but also heard by those whose unbelief prevented them from entering God’s ‘rest’ back in Numbers 13 and 14 [4:2].

That, although Joshua brought the next generation of Israelites into the promised land, their physical ‘rest’ in the ‘promised land’ was not the real ‘rest’ of God promised in the Gospel to those who believe. This, says the Hebrews writer, is obvious because God was still referring to people entering his rest many centuries later [4:6-9].

That the Genesis 2:1-3 rest of God is twice mentioned in these verses as the basis of the rest offered in the Gospel [4:3b-4,10].

The way to enter God’s rest is faith; the way to miss out on God’s rest is unbelief [also called ‘rebellion’, ‘disobedience’, ‘hardness of heart’, ‘sinning’, throughout this passage].

That the one description of this rest given in these verses is simply: ‘anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his’ [4:10].

Here we are brought right back to Genesis 2:1-3: that God rested from his work. He rested from his work of creation because his work of creation was all done. It is this rest that those who believe enter, and it can only be entered if we ‘rest’ or cease, from our works.

The call of the Gospel is a call to faith: a call to enter the rest of God.

God calls us away from any kind of trust in ourselves, irrespective of how that self-trust is expressed, because any self-trust is disbelief in God.

So he calls us:

Away from rebellion and into faith.
Away from disobedience and into faith.
Away from hardness of heart and into faith.
Away from unbelief and into faith.
Away from trusting in our own works and into faith.

Each of these is simply a different way of stating any of the others. Each of them, in rejecting God and his word, casts us onto ourselves and our own endeavours.

The opposite of them all is faith. And the result/meaning of faith is to enter God’s rest, the rest that is first expressed in Genesis 2:1-3. The rest that is symbolised in the rituals of Israel. The rest that is grounded in and defined by Jesus Christ.

Here, through faith, having finally put aside all our sinful trust in ourselves that began in Genesis 3, we rest in Christ. And here we are blessed [Ephesians 1:3]. And here we are declared holy [Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 10:10].  

Here in the Genesis 2:1-3 rest, and here in Jesus Christ, the real Sabbath rest [Colossians 2:16-17], we understand that all is of God. We trust not in ourselves but in God. We believe not in ourselves, we believe in God.

Psalm 100 recalls us to the joy of the seventh day, to the joy of faith, the joy of trust:

‘Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.’

 Conversely, the Scripture also highlights the wretchedness and ceaseless burden of trusting in oneself:

Task #2: How do these texts describe the opposite of God’s rest?

Isaiah 28:10-13

Isaiah 30:15-18

Jeremiah 6:13-16


Colossians 2:16-23

 

To those burdened down with the heavy necessity of trusting in themselves Jesus Christ says:

‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and confidence is your strength, but you would have none of it’ [Isaiah 30:15].

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’ [Matthew 11:28,29].

This is God’s rest, this trust, this coming to Jesus Christ, the Creator of the world, the Lamb who was slain. This is the deep truth embedded in Genesis 2:1-3 … even before Genesis 3, even before we sinned.