Simplicity Series #40

The Sabbath Reveals the Glory of God

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 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.” Genesis 2:1–3

I have been meditating on the Sabbath. Actually, I should say, meditation on the Sabbath concept has been “forced” on me. Sometimes, inexplicably (though I suspect the Spirit of God is at His subtle work), I am awakened in the very early hours of the morning and cannot go back to sleep. As I lay there, tossing and turning, a thought, like a whisper, enters into my foggy brain and, try as I might, I can’t shake it. It nags at my mind, like something important I was supposed to do but forgot.

Not only does it remain, it begins to grow until it solidifies into something coherent and concrete. Then I think, “okay, now I can go back to sleep.” But maddeningly, not only will it not go away, it begins to grow. This little “mustard seed” thought begins to give birth to an entire family of antecedents and descendants. Suddenly, it is as if I am looking at a genealogy chart, complete with Scripture references attached. Then I think to myself, “This is great, I’ll write all this down when I get up.” But this idea continues to nag at me, until I finally surrender and get up to write it down. As I take a sheet of paper and begin to write, the thoughts and connections begin to tumble out onto the page, sometimes faster than I am able to record them. I am almost out of breath by the time I get to a point where the ideas stop for a moment, and that is when I begin to laugh! I know who has been goading me, I confess my own laziness, and the Spirit and I have a good laugh together.

I am going to try to relate to you, my faithful readers (you surprise me by reading, but I am thankful), the fruits of this latest “episode” in the night, with—wait for it—seven posts on the Sabbath, and how the concept of the Sabbath glorifies God. So, here we go.

A Rest Without End

It is interesting to note that with each of the first six days, there was “evening and morning,” but not on the seventh day. This gives the idea that, after the work of creation was finished, God rested in a time without end.

This is actually what the Jewish rabbis believed. To them, the whole concept of the Sabbath was so important. God was resting, and on the seventh day—the Sabbath—we were to “enter into His rest.” It was one day a week that Israel was able to actively share in God’s rest. No work was to be done, because [His] works were finished from the foundation of the world” (Heb. 4:3b).

This is why, when Jesus began (purposely) healing people on the Sabbath, the scribes and Pharisees were outraged. Not only was He, according to their understanding, violating the Law of Moses (Exod. 20:8–11), but He was also violating the oral tradition handed down by rabbis for hundreds of years. It is worth noticing, if you go back and read Exodus 20:1–17, how much space is given to explaining the Sabbath.

The Lord Jesus had to explain to these outraged religious leaders that they had the concept of the Sabbath all wrong. Not only did God continue to work, but His Son Jesus Christ was also working with Him (John 5:16–18). But the unique thing about this “Sabbath work” was that it was work accomplished because of, or out of, His rest.

I want to keep each of these posts as short as possible, so that we can all chew on and digest the great truths contained in the Sabbath concept. So, let’s just consider in closing why God rested on the seventh day.

And God Saw That “It Was Very Good,” Genesis 1:31

  1. His work was “finished” (see John 19:30 for a preview)—nothing was lacking. In the Septuagint (Greek version) of the Old Testament, the root of this word is the same word that Jesus used from the cross. Hold on to the thought of Hebrews 4:3, … Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”
  2. God is not only Creator, but also interested Observer, of His creation. He delights, like a good craftsman, in the work of His hands. And His creation is self-perpetuating: “Be fruitful and multiply” is spoken to all living creatures! Interestingly, the same command is given to the new creation: “Abide in Me, and I in you” and “you [will] bear much fruit” (John 15:4, 8). In other words, you will reproduce.
  3. Not only does God delight to observe, but He likes to participate in His creation: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day …” (Gen. 3:8). He had been doing this since the day He created man, on the sixth day” (Gen. 1:31)!The Creator seeks the fellowship of His creation.
  4. God’s self-perpetuating creation has an eternal purpose: “Also He has put eternity in their hearts” (Eccl. 3:11b). What began at creation is moving toward an eternal finale. The glory of the initial creation is aiming at an eternal glory that far surpasses it. “You have crowned him [mankind] with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5b).

So “He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Gen. 2:2). Just what does “rest” look like from the divine perspective? I’m going to leave you to ponder that question until the next post, with this one hint: God loves a good party!

See you next post,
Gene




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