The pursuit of holiness requires a day of rest.
Genesis(86) (Part of the Origins(84) series)
by Stuart Johns(199) on February 7, 2021 (Sunday Morning(282))
“A few years ago, I received a phone call at my desk. A girl in the college department called to say that her car had broken down and she was stranded about two miles from the office. So, I drove over to the location and found her leaning against her car, looking flustered.
I leaned against the car next to her and asked what happened.
‘Well, I was just driving down the road and it quit running,’ she said. ‘So I pulled off to the shoulder.’
‘Could you be out of gas?’ I asked.
‘No, I just filled it up.’
Well, that one question pretty well exhausted my automotive diagnostic abilities, but I persisted. ‘What happened? Did it make any noises?’
‘Oh, yeah,’ she replied. ‘As I was driving down the hill, it went 'brump, brump, brump, POW!’’’
In an effort to be an active listener I reflected back to her, ‘You say the car went 'brump, brump, brump, POW!'?’
I was feeling a little more confident, so I asked, ‘When was the last time you changed the oil?’
She gave me this quizzical look and said, ‘Oil?’ As it turned out, she had owned the car for a year and a half and never changed the oil.
I get that same look when I ask frazzled friends, ‘When was the last time you took a Sabbath rest?’
I know that many people think that Pastors have this Sabbath rest thing down to a science, since we only work one day a week
For many years, I struggled to even take a full day off from work
There were many Saturdays when I would get up early and go to the office until lunch, so that I could finish things up for Sunday morning
I wanted everything to be perfect for the worship service
That was taking a toll on my body and my family relationships
A couple of years ago, the Lord prompted me to change my weekly work schedule, so that I could be home every Saturday with my family
That has been such a blessing to me and to Judy and the boys
A day off is one thing, but a Sabbath rest is something else
We do take Sunday afternoon as a time to rest (naps are encouraged and practiced often)
When I take Saturday as my day off, I’m still busy doing projects around the house or going out to shop, etc.
This is something that I continue to seek the Lord’s wisdom about
How do I really practice a Sabbath rest?
Perhaps every one of us is asking the same question
Maybe we’ve stopped asking the question, because we’re so busy that we can’t even think about stopping to rest at all
Last week we learned that God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it, over a six-day period of time. Today we’re going to learn that on the seventh day, he ceased creating. God wasn’t weary or worn out from creating everything, but He knew that human beings would be. So, He modeled for us a Sabbath rest. He blessed that day and made it holy. Through God’s example, we should understand that . . .
BIG IDEA – The pursuit of holiness requires a day of rest.
GOD (Genesis 2:1-3)
Celebrating Rest (Genesis 2:1-3)
God completed His creation (vv. 1-2a)
A couple of introductory thoughts
The chapter break is unfortunate here, because the first three verses of chapter 2 really are a concluding statement to the six days of creation
The seventh day is the final day of the week
The word “Thus/So/And” points back to the six days of creation
It includes all six days of creation and everything that God created
Other translations say “all their host/all the host of them”
It’s definitely talking about the sun, moon, and stars
Deuteronomy 4:19, And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon, and the stars – all the heavenly array – do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.
It also includes the animals and humans that were created on the fifth and sixth day
That’s the vast array or all the host of them
The narrator tells us that by the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing
“No further creation was needed other than that which God would bring into his created order through procreation or reproduction (Gen. 1:11, 22, 28).” [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 15]
As we saw last week in Genesis 1:31, God saw all that he had made, and it was very good
There wasn’t anything else that He needed to form or make to complete His vision for creation
So, God modeled something important and significant for us as human beings
God stopped working (v. 2b)
Almost every English translation has the verb as “rested”
“Lexicographers and commentators have reached a consensus that the Qal of the verb šbt (shä-vath’) means ‘to cease’ rather than ‘to rest.’” [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 146]
God ceased from all his work
Perhaps we’re using a fine toothed comb at this point, because the opposite of ceasing/stopping work would be resting
PRINCIPLE #1 – God is infinite!
Because God is infinite and all-powerful, He did not cease working, and rest, because of exhaustion or being weary
Isaiah 40:28, Do you not now? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He also didn’t withdrawal from the world He created and take a hands-off approach, rather, He was taking His place as the head of His creation to oversee it and guide it operations [Walton, 153]
Colossians 1:17, He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
PRINCIPLE #2 – God’s love for us is demonstrated through His modeling of rest.
God was modeling for us what we needed to do, as finite beings – stop working and rest one day a week
“Part of bearing the image of God involves resting as he did.” [Gangel & Bramer, 19]
We honor God and recognize His authority over us when we follow His example of rest
The pursuit of holiness requires a day of rest.
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Thank the Lord for demonstrating His love for me by modeling a day of rest, once a week.
God not only ceased from working on the seventh day, but He blessed that day and made it holy
God’s blessing (v. 3)
Blessed the seventh day
Wiersbe mentions that God didn’t bless any of the other six days [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 20]
He did bless the sea animals, birds, and human beings
He said that what He created on each day was good or very good
He blessed the entire seventh day, but He also sanctified it
Made it holy
“The sanctification of the Sabbath institutes an order for humankind according to which time is divided into time and holy time . . . By sanctifying the seventh day God instituted a polarity between the everyday and the solemn, between days of work and days of rest, which was to be determinative for human existence.” [Westermann cited by Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 143]
God set the seventh day apart for His purposes [Wiersbe, 20]
The word Sabbath is not found in Genesis 2:1-3, but the Hebrew word for “rest/cease” is the root word for the Hebrew word used for Sabbath in Exodus 16:23; 20:8
Commanding Rest (Exodus 16:22-26; 20:8-11)
God modeled, at the very beginning of our time, the concept of taking one day to rest and not work
He did not command that His chosen people observe this Sabbath rest until the time of Moses
The Israelites were grumbling about being hungry as they wandered through the wilderness
God promised them quail in the evening and manna in the morning
Read Exodus 16:22-26
Notice that the Lord commanded the Israelites not to gather manna on the seventh day, but to gather twice as much on the sixth day
God preserved the manna overnight from the sixth to the seventh day
If the Israelites tried to keep leftovers on any other day, they woke up with stinky, wormy manna – not fit to eat
That began the command to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy
Next we see the Sabbath rest command, as part of the Ten Commandments
Read Exodus 20:8-11
“Observing the design of creation weekly sanctifies Israel in several ways:” [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 71-73]
“First, it reminds Israel again and again that God completes his work.”
“Second, by observing the Sabbath Israel confesses regularly that their God is Lord of all.”
“Third, God blesses the Sabbath and makes it holy in the best interest of all people and all animals (Ex. 20:8-11).”
“Fourth, the Sabbath is the sign that the Creator has set Israel apart for a special covenant relationship with him (Ex. 31:17).”
“Fifth, Sabbath observance reminds Israel that they were slaves in Egypt but that the mighty Lord has redeemed them from servitude into rest (Deut. 5:15).”
“Sixth, in the book of Hebrews the Sabbath rest gives concrete expression to the church’s realized eschatology (Heb. 4:1-11).”
“Seventh, it can be inferred from the creation narrative that the Sabbath is a day to recognize and celebrate the significance of time.”
The significance and importance of the command for Sabbath rest, that was given to the Israelites, is still important for us today, even though that command was under the covenant of the law
Christ fulfilled the Jewish Sabbath Law
Colossians 2:16-17, Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
Read Galatians 4:1-11
“The seventh day of the week, the Jewish Sabbath, symbolizes the old creation and the covenant of law: first you work, then you rest. The first day of the week, the Lord’s day, symbolizes the New Creation and the Covenant of Grace: first you believe in Christ and find rest, and then you work (Eph. 2:8-10).” [Wiersbe, 21]
Ephesians 2:8-10, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
“The old signs of circumcision, dietary laws, and sabbath observance were set aside as ‘boundary markers for the people of the covenant’ (cf. Gal 4:10). Christians are circumcised in heart (Rom 2:29), undefiled by foods (John 15:3), and free to treat every day as sacred (Rom 14:5, 12; 1 Tim 4:3-5). Sabbath has given way to the realities of the ‘Lord’s day’ – the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:1; 1 Cor 16:1-2).” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1A, Genesis 1-11:26, 181]
As Christians, we celebrate the covenant of grace on the first day of the week instead of the covenant of law on the last day of the week
So what does this mean for us as Christians?
We should take one day each week to rest
Taking one day to stop working and rest is important for our well-being as human beings
Our finite physical bodies need some down time and God, as our Maker, modeled that for us
We should follow His example
“. . . if we have to be reminded, commanded, or coerced to observe it, it ceases to serve its function. The Sabbath is not the sort of thing that should have to be regulated by rules. It is the way we acknowledge that God is on the throne, that this world is his world, that our time is his gift to us.” [Walton, 158]
The pursuit of holiness requires a day of rest.
Principles for the day of rest
Choose a day
Most of us have Sundays off from work, so I would encourage you to choose Sunday as your day of rest
Gather together with other believers for worship and studying God’s Word (in-person or online)
Take time to rest and enjoy activities with family or friends
I know that others don’t have Sundays off, so I would encourage you to choose another day as your day of rest and make sure that it’s different than the other days of your week
Scripture doesn’t give us a list of rules for the Sabbath
I know that’s frustrating for those of us who like to follow rules
“Do whatever will reflect your love, appreciation, respect, and awe of the God of all the cosmos.” [Walton, 159]
Isaiah 58:13-14, “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the Lord has spoken.
A Sabbath rest is going to look different for each person or family
Jesus had to address the Pharisees’ legalism when they confronted Him about His disciples picking heads of grain on the Sabbath
Mark 2:23-27, One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Make it a priority
Walton uses the example of Memorial Day
It is a federal holiday that most people have as a day off
The activities that you do on Memorial Day are based on how you honor those who have given their lives in war
If we have a relative or friend who died in a war, we are more intentional about honoring their memory on Memorial Day
“The more the day means to a person, the more deliberate he or she will be about scheduling appropriate activities . . . The more gratitude we feel toward God and the more we desire to honor him, the more the ceremonies will mean and the more we will seek out ways to observe the Sabbath.” [Walton, 159]
It’s not about us as individuals, but about God
“. . . the perfect church service would be one that we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.” [C.S. Lewis cited by Walton, 161]
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Honor the Lord by intentionally setting aside one day a week to rest and worship Him.
As followers of Jesus Christ and children of God we have an eternal rest that’s coming
Coming Rest (Hebrews 4:1-13)
Preparing for this coming eternal rest
God planned from the very beginning to provide an eternal rest to those who are His children
Notice that just because people hear the Gospel message doesn’t mean they will enter God’s eternal rest
Verse 6 says that those who heard the Gospel, but continued to disobey will not enter in
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There has be a transformation that takes place
We have to repent and turn away from our disobedience and sin
We have to soften our hearts to the Gospel message and accept Jesus as our Savior from sin
Ephesians 2:8-9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Accept God’s free gift of eternal life, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Benefits of this eternal rest
We will be able to rest, for all of eternity, from our own work
This is the hope that we have as children of God and followers of Jesus Christ
We will experience the kind of rest that God did after He created the world
We will have a sense of completion – that everything has been accomplished
Are you grateful that God modeled a day of rest for you – then thank Him for demonstrating His love this way
Are you honoring the Lord by intentionally setting aside one day a week to rest and worship Him?
Have you prepared to enter your eternal rest?
When we set aside one day a week to rest and worship the Lord, we are showing those in our community and circle of influence that we believe in the God of creation
We are telling the world that we believe that God is infinite and loving
“A photographer was snapping pictures of first graders at an elementary school, making small talk to put his subjects at ease.
‘What are you going to be when you grow up?’ he asked one little girl.
‘Tired,’ she said.”
Hopefully that’s not what our children want to be when they grow up. It’s our responsibility to model for them what the Lord modeled for us – the importance of rest and the Sabbath.