So the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts (inhabitants). And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested (ceased) on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it [as His own, that is, set it apart as holy from other days], because in it He rested from all His work which He had created and done. (Genesis 2:1-3 AMP)
The day of rest has long since been a source of contention the world over. The debate has waxed long and hard about which day is the “right” day. While I have my convictions, I’m not going to go into it here. I want us instead to focus on the purpose of the Sabbath day and how it tells us of the glory of God.
Imagine this: a man woke up one morning and said, “Let there be light.” Just like that, there was light. The man approved. He smiled and walked away.
The next day he got up and said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” It happened just as he pictured it. The man was pleased with his work but decided not to do anymore that day. He smiled and left the area.
Things were looking good. There was color and delicious fragrances in the air. The man decided it was a good day’s effort and so he walked away.
On day four he said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”.
He set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. This was a lot of work; he was definitely not doing anything else that day.
The fifth day dawned nice and clear, he decided to walk down to the waters that he had created on day three, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.”
That day was another busy one, he created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind.
Then he said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”
On day six he looked at all that he had made, the skies were teeming with birds, the waters were filled with fish and sea creatures... but the land was still. Except for the plants there was nothing there. “This will never do,” says the man. “Something must be done.”
“Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”. Now the earth was filled with all kinds of life-forms but something was still missing.
“I know!” says the man. “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
This one called for physical labor. He stooped down and collected the dust of the earth and formed it with his hands until the shape was just right.
Then he leaned over and blew breath into his latest creatures. And then viola! Man became a living thing. He had accomplished a lot that day and so he decided to take a break.
While this is not quite how the creation story happened and you can read the full account in Genesis 1 but I wanted us to collectively look at the effort expended on each day.
I’m going to oversimplify it and say that even for a man saying a few sentences each day would cause him to become especially tired. How much less God? All of that to show that when God said that he was resting on the seventh day it had nothing to do with him being tired.
When we examine the reasons for creating the Sabbath we realize that it was made for us and find new reasons to give honor and glory to God.
The Sabbath was set as an example for humanity. Here’s the truth: God doesn’t get tired but man does. Now, it may have been that in our perfect form that it took a lot more for man to get tired but I think after a while, working all day long, every day would have caused some wear and tear on the human body.
God therefore gave us his example, if he as God could cease from the important job that he was doing, we can’t do anything less.
Rest is important. One of the biggest jokes in my house is how my two boys fight sleep. Like, if fighting asleep was an Olympic sport, I would be hard-pressed to decide which one of them would be the gold medalist. But ultimately, no matter how hard they fight it, sleep claims the victory and soon they are out like a light.
God designed our bodies. He knows what happens to us on a cellular level for every minute that we’re awake. He made it so that our bodies would repair overnight while we rested. And that’s just one of the benefits.
Rest improves mental clarity, our moods, our reflex and reaction times. It reduces stress and our susceptibility to illnesses.
By sanctifying the rest day, God made it the point of the week. I do it and I’m sure we all do – I make the work week the focus of the entire seven days. But that’s not really how God intended it. Yes man was supposed to be industrious - he had a list of tasks that he was supposed to accomplish but it was not supposed to be his reason for living.
We are told in Isaiah 43:7 and again in Revelation 4:11 that we were for God’s glory. In other words, our whole purpose is to praise God. It is not to pay the bills or to acquire wealth. It is so that we can acknowledge that there is a Creator and that we were made for a purpose.
Everything we do from Sunday to Saturday should in some way give or bring glory to God. The focus of our week should be that seventh day when we get to stop all that we’re doing and spent the day giving glory to God.
The Sabbath was a day created so that we could have time to spend focusing on the glory of God. We were to stop doing all the work that we did on the other days and spend some time resting. When we spend this day as God intended, we bring honor and glory to him.
Lord, I thank you that I was made for a purpose. Help me to remember that my whole duty is to serve you and to give honor and glory to your name. Help me to take the time each week to spend the Sabbath with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.