Did you know that a healthy balance of work and rest is not only important physically but also important spiritually? In our sermon today, we shall study Genesis 2:1-3 and learn about the importance of God’s choice to rest on the seventh day and the eternal implications.
- The Sabbath Day in the Old Covenant. In the Old Covenant, the Seventh Day was literally the 7th day of the Jewish week. This day came to be known as the Sabbath because the Hebrew word for rest (Genesis 2:2) is Shabbat. God did not need to shabbat (rest), but did so in order to establish the Sabbath for the people of Israel. The Lord said in Exodus 31:16-17a, “Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between Me and the people of Israel…”
- A Holy Day. The 7th day (Sabbath) was a holy day because “on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation” (2:3). This day was unique in that it was blessed by God and set apart especially for Himself. God commanded Israel to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex 20:8) by resting from their labor.
- A Refreshing Day. The 7th day was a refreshing day. In Exodus 31:17b we are told that “on the seventh day [God] rested and was refreshed.” The Lord said, “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day…you shall not do any work” (Ex 20:9-10). The 7th day is proof of God’s grace because He, knowing our limitations, knows we need a day for rest and refreshing.
- The Lord’s Day in the New Covenant. Jesus came to this world to institute a new covenant in His blood (Luke 22:20). All the Old Covenant requirements (Civil, Ceremonial, & Moral) were fulfilled by Jesus (Matt 5:17-18). The Sabbath (7th Day) regulations of the Old Covenant were replaced (Col 2:16-17) with the Lord’s Day (1st Day) to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection.
- A Blessing, not a Burden. In Jesus’ day, the Israelites had turned the Sabbath into a burden rather than a blessing. Jesus regularly challenged the legalistic regulations constructed for the Sabbath and reminded the people that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). We see in the New Covenant the Lord’s Day is a blessing, not a burden because we get a glimpse of the promise of eternal rest through Jesus.
- A Promise of Eternal Rest. Hebrews 4 speaks of God’s rest on the 7th Day, “the promise of entering that rest” (v.1), and the encouragement for us to “strive to enter that rest” (v.11). This eternal rest with God can only be entered by faith in Christ (v.2) and it is available to you today (v.7). The promise is that you can cease your vain attempts to be good and please God. Instead, you can accept God’s free gift of salvation and enjoy a personal relationship with Him.
God rested on the 7th day in order to provide a model week of work and rest and to provide an eternal rest for your soul. Are you a follower of Christ? If not, today is the day of salvation.