This is an interesting passage because we are not exactly sure what it meant by work and rest. Did God really work? Can you work without sweat on your brow? Was creation so difficult that after six days of it God was exhausted and needed time to recuperate? If that is not true and it isn’t (Isa. 40:28), then what is the message in these verses.
Let’s begin by noticing how the writer of Genesis treats these verses in comparison to the things that preceded them. We know from the first chapter of Genesis that the creation of the world was completed in six time periods denoted as days. They were measured by evening and morning even before there was a sun or moon or stars. At the end of each of these creative periods, God paused long enough to evaluate the work that had been done and in each case, he pronounced it good. All except the last day of creating when he pronounced that work “very good.”
By the seventh day, God was finished. So he rested. Here is the interesting part. God, who never grows weary or tires rested on the seventh day and in so doing pronounced the day blessed. Not good but blessed. Rest was not just good, it was more, it was blessed. So blessed that God made the day holy just because he rested. He rested but didn’t need to. Hmm?
My studies of these verses turned up some interesting thoughts I would like to share with you.
First, Once the seventh day, the day of rest, began, no mention of evening and morning is brought to our attention. This must imply that the rest has no end but is continuous. Later in the New Testament, we read, “For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. (Heb. 4:8-11) NASU
The rest is eternal and was promised by God at the very beginning of creation. Don’t miss the rest.
Second, as far as the record shows God blessed none of the other seven days. He did bless the seventh one but not the others. The seventh day is a blessed day and the rest of God is a blessing. The Jewish Sabbath was symbolic of the real rest to come. What God was promising was not one day a week but one day of eternity.
Third, once God had blessed the seventh day he also sanctified the day. The day of rest is holy. I think this indicates that only those who are holy can be a part of the holy day. If the day is holy then, those who participate in the day must be made holy as well. We know now that the Holy Spirit works in us to bring that holiness to bear.
God is an eternal being and has no need of time but he made time. God divided time up into days and nights making one whole period of time. Life is lived in the rotation of the days, that flow into years. Seventy or so and like the flower we are done. Not. For the Christian, there are no days or years. The moment we become the children of God we can stop counting time. Remember the great hymn…?
“And they count not time by years, for there is no night there.”
Then there is this quote about the people of our world, saying they “are being crucified between two thieves: the regrets of yesterday and the worries about tomorrow.” If true then it’s no wonder people can’t find rest. But they can, in God. “Take my yoke,” Jesus says, “and find rest for your souls.”
Augustine was correct when he wrote, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
Christians have a holiday every day, not just today.
Ideas from (The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament © 2001-2004 by Warren W. Wiersbe. All rights reserved.)