Genesis 2:1-3 - The Seventh Day: Creation of A Day For Rest and Worship

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Creation is now complete. Additional details about the creation of Adam and Eve fill most of Genesis 2.  But Genesis 2 begins with an account of day seven, bringing creation week to a close.   

And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.  Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (vv. 1–3).

The seventh day is unique.  It is an exalted day, because God blessed it and sanctified it.  The Hebrew word translated “sanctified” in verse 3 is qedesh.  Its root meaning is “holy,” and it conveys the idea of being set apart.  This is the first time in Scripture anything is said to be holy.

There are three reasons this day was unique, and those three reasons are indicated by three verbs in the passage.

·         The first verb is “finished” (v. 1).  The same Hebrew word (kalah) is used again in verse 2, where it is translated “ended.”

·         The second verb in verse 2 is “rested” (Hebrew, shabath), and it appears again in verse 3.

·         The third verb is in verse 3: “blessed” (Hebrew, barak). Each of those verbs is associated with the seventh day explicitly: “on the seventh day God ended His work” (v. 2); “He rested on the seventh day” (v. 2); and “God blessed the seventh day” (v. 3).

·         Furthermore, in each case, God is the grammatical subject in the clause: “God ended… He rested….  God blessed.”

A.                 God finished the creation of the heavens and earth (v.1)

1.                  “The heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished…”  (v.1).

a)                  The entire work of creation was complete.

(1)                 The entire work of creation was complete.  There were no loose ends to tie up.  There were no problems to fix.  No modifications to the original plan were required.  Everything was completed in six days, just as God had planned.
(2)                 This argues powerfully against the evolutionary doctrine, which suggests that creation is a work still in process.
(a)                 The biblical emphasis is on the utter perfection of everything God created and the wondrously brief time in which He accomplished it all.
(b)                The clear statement of Scripture is that “the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished” (v.1).

The words of Psalm 104:24 are a fitting description of this moment: “O Lord, how manifold are thy works!  In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches” (kjv).   

As Paul wrote Timothy, “Every creature of God is good.”

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 19 “The heavens were declaring His glory and the firmament displayed His handiwork (Psalm 19:1).

And He was pleased, “May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works” (Psalm 104:31).

(3)                 The emphasis that is given to the seventh day throughout Scripture is especially significant in establishing the time frame for creation.
(a)                 That first week determined the periods of labor and rest God would later require of His covenant people.

And the truth of a literal six–day creation week was therefore written into the Ten Commandments: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God…. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:9–11).

God reiterated the same truth again when he set forth the specific Sabbath requirements: “The children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath….  It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made the heavens and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:16–17).  The whole point is invalid if the days can be turned into time periods of indefinite duration.

b)                  God always completes and perfects what He begins.

(1)                 Since God completes what He begins, He will complete and perfect the work of salvation within the life of every believer, until the glorious day of redemption.

Paul makes this very clear when he says "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6, NASB95)

He also says in 1 Thessalonians "Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." (1 Thessalonians 5:24, NASB95)

Peter says that we "are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."  (1 Peter 1:5, NASB95)

And I love how Jude finishes his book by saying "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (Jude 24-25, NASB95)


B.                God rested on the seventh day from all His work (v.2)

1.                  “On the seventh day, God ended His work…and He rested on the seventh day…”  (v.2a).

a)                  God stopped or ceased from His work.

(1)                 God’s rest on day seven is another major reason why this day was an especially hallowed one.

Verse 2 says, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”

(2)                 Don’t get the notion that God was weary or needed to recoup His strength.  When God works there is no dissipation of His energy. He cannot be fatigued, and He doesn’t need rejuvenation. 

As Isaiah 40:28, says, “The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.”

God does not get tired and have to sleep to feel better, the Psalmist says “Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4).

(3)                 The Hebrew word translated “rested” in Genesis 2:2 (shabat) simply means that He abstained from creative work.  He had completed all creation, so there was nothing more for Him to create.  Therefore, He ceased His work.

Look again at Exodus 31:17, which established the weekly Sabbath as a sign between God and Israel forever: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.”

(4)                 To say that God was “refreshed” does not imply that He was rejuvenated by regaining lost energy; rather, the sense of it is that He paused to delight in His works. 
(a)                 He was “refreshed” by delight and satisfaction in what He had done.  The “rest” and “refreshment” of which this speaks is figurative, describing God’s cessation of work and His repose for the sole purpose of enjoying what He had made.
(b)                The imagery is like that of a master artisan who, having completed a masterpiece, pauses to admire and reflect on his finished work.
(5)                 Specifically, God ceased His creative activity. 
(a)                 This doesn’t mean that God withdrew His providential working or that He ceased working altogether.  He continued to sustain and govern His creation, just as He sustains it and providentially rules over it even today.

Jesus told the Jewish leaders, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working” (Mark 3:4).  

(6)                 The word Sabbath doesn’t even appear in Scripture until (Exodus 16:23).  The ceremonial Sabbath restrictions therefore pertained to national Israel in a particular way.
(a)                 Exodus 16:23; 16:29; 35:3
(b)                Exodus 20:10; Jer.17:27; Neh.10:31; Is.58:13-14  

!!! 2.                  “He rested on the seventh day from all His work…”  (v.2b).

a)                  Man is to follow the example of God.

(1)                 Man is to set aside a day when he is to rest from his labor, however, man must labor as God labored throughout the week, diligently and faithfully.                                                     
(2)                 We should be able to do as God did on the seventh day: look back over the previous week and have a sense of accomplishment. 

In the parable of the talents, Jesus said "His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave.  You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’" (Matthew 25:23, NASB95)

Paul says that "It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy."  (1 Corinthians 4:2, NASB95)

Writing to the Ephesians, Paul says "Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.  With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men," (Ephesians 6:5-7, NASB95)

And "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”  (Colossians 3:17, NASB95)


b)                  Sabbath restrictions were abolished under the New Covenant (Colossians 2:16-17). 



C.                God blessed the seventh day and set it apart as holy (v.3)

1.                  “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it…”  (v.3a).

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