A Study on Genesis 2:1-3
Let’s open our Bibles to the second chapter of Genesis. Let me read the opening three verses, Genesis 2.
Genesis 2:1-3 “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed and all their hosts; and by the seventh day, God completed 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 (why? So that people can follow his example? No the reason is) because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
The creation account thus closes with those words, a reference to the seventh day.
The seventh day is mentioned three times in those verses I just read to you. It is mentioned because it is important. It is mentioned three times because it is important. The seventh day is unique. It has incomparable significance, indicated also by the fact that this is the first time the word “holy” is used in Scripture. The Hebrew word qedesh translated “sanctified,” in verse 3, is the word holy. The root meaning of qedesh, holy, in the form of qadash, the root, is thought to mean “to be cut off, or to separate.” And holiness, qodesha is elevation, or exaltation, above the usual level.
So that seventh day is a special day. It is a day set apart. It is a day cut off from the other days and elevated. It is a day lifted up. It is a day exalted. It is then a very, very unique day. None of the other six days is so identified and set apart as holy or sanctified, as exalted and lifted up above the others. Hebrews 4 will later explain a greater significance of this day for people of God. This is a unique day.
Now there are three reasons why it is unique and those three reasons are indicated by three verbs in this passage…
- the verb “completed,” you see it there in verse 1
- you see it again in verse 2, the verb “rested,”
- you see that in verse 2 and again in verse 3; and the verb “blessed.”
It became a sanctified day, it became a holy day, it became an exalted day, it became an elevated day for the three reasons, that which signified that God completed, God rested and God blessed. Each of those three verbs, by the way, is associated with the seventh day explicitly”
- Verse 2: “The seventh day God completed.”
- Verse 2 again: “He rested on the seventh day.”
- Verse 3, “He blessed the seventh day.”
So in each case the verb is tied explicitly to that seventh day which is mentioned three times.
Also, each of those three verbs is associated with the work of God.
- In verse 2, “God completed His work which He had done.”
- Verse 2 again, “He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”
- Verse 3, “God blessed the seventh day and because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
So the pattern and the structure here is very simple. This is a sanctified day. This is a holy day. This is a set-apart day. This is a unique day. For the reasons that it marks out God had completed His work, rested from His work and blessed this unique day.
Now let’s just take those three for a moment and look at them. The first one is “completed.”
Verses 1 and 2 indicate the uniqueness of this day is connected to the fact that God completed creation. Verse 1, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed and all their hosts, by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done.”
It is clear by the language here that the entire work of creation was completed, that’s what the Hebrew term means. The entire work of God was completed so that on the seventh day it had been already completed and God rested. That is again to reiterate that creation was finished at the end of day six, finished in six 24-hour days. Since that time, there has been no other creation. No creation after that, it was completed. The heavens were completed, the earth was completed and “all their hosts” simply means everything in the heavens and everything in the earth.
How the universe came into existence is clearly told to us in Genesis chapter 1 and 2. There is nothing in any part of the Scripture to indicate that any evolutionary process existed. God created everything as it is now and He did it in six 24-hour days. This is what the Bible says and the Bible is the Word of God, inspired and inerrant. It is unmistakable.
So when you come to day seven in that original creation account, all creation has ceased. If you believe in evolution, even theistic evolution, you have to believe that things are still evolving and that is in direct contradiction to the clear statement that the heavens and the earth were completed and all their occupants, all their hosts.
Now we remember on day one God created light; in day two He created water and the firmament. On day three He created the dry land; on day four the sun and the moon and the stars; on day five, the fish and the birds; day six, the land animals and man. He did it in each case in a 24-hour day as indicated by the phrase, “There was morning and there was evening,”. For example for all six days, God ends like this:
- Gen 1:8, “God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day..
- there was evening and there was morning, a second day…
- there was evening and there was morning, a third day…
- there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day…
- there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day….
- there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day….
And at the end of the six days the heaven and the earth were completed. Back in verse 31 of chapter 1, “God saw all that He had made. Behold, it was very good.” That is God’s final stamp of approval on His completed creation at the end of day six. It was finished, it was complete, it was very good which was to say it lacked nothing.
Now that takes us to the second verb here, rested.
Genesis 2:2 “By the seventh day God completed His work” literally could be translated, “And since by the seventh day God had completed His work which He had done, He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”
Repeatedly, I told you, three times it tells us that His work was done, His work was done, His work was done.
Now the verb “rested” is very interesting, shabath in the Hebrew (it is not the Hebrew word for Sabbath). Rested is not to imply any kind of weariness. It is not that God was worn out after a tough work week. Isaiah 40:28, you ought to remember this verse, Isaiah 40:28 says, “He faints not, neither is weary.” There is when God works whether He’s working in creation or whether He’s upholding the creation by the Word of His power as we saw in Hebrews 1, or whether He’s accomplishing any particular task, there is no dissipation of energy, there is no law of entropy, there is no breaking down of matter, there is no disintegration in the absolute, ineffable, pure, holy power of God. That’s why Psalm 121:4 says He doesn’t slumber and He doesn’t sleep. He needs no replenishing. He needs no refreshing because He never gets weary, He never gets tired.
What does the Hebrew verb mean? Rested is a word that we could misunderstand, that’s why I’m taking a minute or two to explain it. The Hebrew word simply means “not to do work.” It is a negative connotation, primarily, not to do work. And what it is saying is since He had completed the creation, there was nothing for Him to do with regard to the creation. He ceased to work. He ceased to do the work of creation. That’s what it means. And the word is used in those negative ways even the Mosaic Sabbath Law texts (Exodus 20), giving us the idea that the indication, first of all, here is that God was done with His work and so He didn’t do any further work.
But there’s something more than that. I don’t want to just leave it at that. There is also a positive effect in that word. It can be used in a positive way and I want to draw that from Exodus 31:17. It says, “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased and was refreshed.” He stopped. He stopped creating. He stopped making. “And was refreshed,” now that’s an addition. That’s the positive side of it.
Now you say, “What does it mean He was refreshed? That sounds again like He needed to sort of regain His dissipated energy. Not at all. The idea of that Hebrew word “refreshed” is the idea of satisfaction or delight. It is not to say that the result of God not working was some necessary replenishing of lost energy or strength, not some level of rehabilitation, but the idea of being refreshed or to find delight because of satisfaction. It’s really the response of God to what is stated in verse 31 that He saw everything He made, it was very good and as a result of that, He was satisfied. He found joy. He found delight. He found a certain fulfillment, satisfaction of accomplishment. Not unlike a master painter when he finishes his masterpiece and steps back to delight in what he has accomplished, not unlike a sculptor who molds the perfect image of a man and steps back having concluded his work to enjoy the finished product.
It’s noteworthy, I think, and you need to follow along with this thought, it’s noteworthy that there’s no mention of the word Sabbath here, it doesn’t occur in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, the creation account. No mention of Sabbath…that word is not here. And furthermore, I want you to file this, there is nothing said about man resting here or ceasing from work. This is God’s rest, not man’s. It is not appropriate to inaugurate or imply here in Genesis some rest for man, that is to miss the point here. In fact, man isn’t even mentioned here in connection with this seventh day rest, only God is mentioned. No rest for man is inaugurated here. No Sabbath for man is inaugurated here. That doesn’t come until the Mosaic Law in Exodus 16. Marriage law was commanded in Genesis. Not to eat from tree was commanded. However, no Sabbath law is given to man. That is significant.
And I want to take you further into understanding this. If you were to read through the six days and read day seven, what component of the first six days that was there in every single day is not in this discussion of day seven? The little phrase that says…what? “There was morning and there was evening,” it’s not there…it’s not there.
It was in first six days…verse 5, verse 8, verse 13, verse 19, verse 23, verse 31. But when you look at the seventh day, you find no such formula and we might expect that “On the seventh day was evening and morning,” but it isn’t there. And, you know, in any kind of examination of the creation account, you can go into the minutest detail and you find careful, careful accuracy, great care taken by the Spirit of God in inspiring Moses to write down this description, this historic description of creation. It is a very, very careful account, carefully constructed. And when you see something there all the time and is all of a sudden omitted, there must be a reason, there must be a design, this can’t be accidental because everything in this account is so well thought out and well planned. What was God endeavoring to say by not saying that? Well I think it should be obvious but let me help you with it a little bit.
What are we talking about when we talk about God’s rest? That He was tired mentally, tired physically? No. Simply that He ceased, He ceased creating and then was, as it were, sitting back and just being satisfied with what He had created.
He was enjoying it. He was delighting in it. I mean, it was the delight of God to see the work of His hands that had never existed before this time. How refreshing it must have been, how delightful, how well pleased God must have been when He saw the created universe free from sin, free from decay, free from the curse, no death, no decay. When He saw pristine blue skies sparkling with diamond stars and birds and fish, animals cavorting all over His created earth without fear. And how much God must have delighted when He walked through the Garden and fellowship with man, with Adam and the wife He made for him, named Eve. What a delight it must have been.
And God must have delighted in the fact that everything that man needed had been provided for him. Everything necessary was there for the happiness of Adam and Eve, this was the seventh day. But the reason it doesn’t say evening and morning is because that rest didn’t end in 24 hours, did it? It didn’t end. The 24 hour seventh day ended, but not that rest. In fact, God’s delight wouldn’t end until when? Sin came. That one day, that seventh day inaugurated some period of time in which God delighted in a world that sparkled with pure life and a world which enjoyed the presence of God and a man and his wife in open fellowship with their creator ever day. Sin and its resulting curse still unknown. There was no more creation work to do and there was no work of preserving all of this because it wasn’t prone to decay. And so we could say that on day seven God entered into a permanent state of rest, at least permanent until sin.
The conditions and characteristics then of that seventh day were designed by God to continue and they would have continued had it not been for the sin of Adam and Eve. It was not God’s design that they would eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and bring a curse. It wasn’t God who prompted them to do that and destroy their paradise. The entrance of sin devastated Eden’s perfection. As the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 59:2, “Your sins, your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.”
The seventh day, listen, was a 24 hour day because the cycle of days began in creation, but the seventh day rest and its perfection conditions were to remain after God having created in which He delighted. We don’t know how long that was because we don’t know how long it was until man sinned.
Summarizing God’s rest then. It was an ongoing rest. He was delighting in the satisfaction of the goodness of what He had made in all of its pristine perfection. It was characterized by His delight and His satisfaction. He enjoyed perfect fellowship with Adam and Eve daily (not one day in seven). And I remind you again, the seventh day of rest in Genesis had nothing to do with man. God didn’t say to Adam and Even…Now you folks, every time a seventh day rolls around, you do this. There’s no command for man to rest on the seventh day. There’s no command for Adam to do that after the Fall. God doesn’t say, “Okay, now that you’re fallen you can only work six days and take one off,” that is not in Genesis. There is no Sabbath rule given here. There is no Sabbath rule given in the Abrahamic Covenant. You come in to chapter Genesis 12 and the following chapters and you have the rehearsal of the Abrahamic Covenant, and there is no discussion of any Sabbath, there’s no discussion of any single day. And that, by the way, was a covenant of promise, a covenant of blessing.
So when you look at the seventh day here, what you’re seeing is a day related to God. He ceased from His work and He delighted in what He had made.
The 7th day of Creation lasted only 24 hours, but the memory of it will last forever. The day a person graduates from college is a very blessed day, and the day for the graduation ceremony is set aside by college leadership. A college graduate will always remember that day without the need for any weekly, monthly, or annual rituals.
Now is it wrong to be reminded ourselves daily that we can enter God’s rest and that He created us? That’s exactly what Hebrews 4 says that His rest still stands for anyone to enter daily if we believe what God says about our salvation through Christ. How about if we decided to remember this seventh day, every seventh day, every Saturday as a memorial of creation? Yes, we are free to remember that God is creator not just every single day, but every seventh day. You are not commanded to do so, but it is a good way to remember God’s seventh day.
For us, for those of us who believe in the one true and living God, we believe in creation and no day or week goes by without a memorial, without a witness, without a testimony that we are God’s creation. But something special happened in the new covenant, Christ rose from dead on the first day (we’ll talk about the precedence for the first day later).
I think that’s what’s on the heart of God as He blesses that seventh day. And I think we need to leave it at that. He did not start working on the following week, and bless the following seventh day. He just blessed that first seventh day (which doesn’t mean he blessed every seventh day ever since) because he considered that the creation of the previous six days was complete and very good.
Genesis 1:3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it (why? So that people can follow his example? No the reason is) because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
Now all of that opens up the subsequent teaching on the Sabbath law on the Mosaic economy. How is that connected to this? We just leave Genesis where it is and next time let’s go through the Sabbath law of the Mosaic economy and show you if and how that connects and if at all it establishes any precedent for what we do now on the first day, the Lord’s resurrection day. That’s going to be a fascinating study.
Father, it’s…it’s such a joy to just see the Word of God come to life. We bless You, we honor…we thank You for…for doing it in a week. Every day we glorify You as our creator. We adore You as our Redeemer. We realize, God, that it is beyond our comprehension that You could create in six days. Your power and Your wisdom is way beyond us. It is equally beyond our understanding that You would redeem us. But, Lord, You filled us with such richness for we know You and we love You and thus we can remember You as the creator every single day, every week, every month, every year. May we never forget, never forget. And may we glorify You for all that You’ve done. By virtue of the work of Jesus Christ we offer You our prayers and our lives in Christ’s name. Amen.
Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.
There is something called His rest or God’s rest in the Bible. That’s why Hebrews 4:1 says that we can still enter His rest today. How do we enter?
Hebrews 4:2-3 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they [Israel] heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, They (Israel) shall not enter My rest,”
All who look to Jesus, and place their faith in Jesus, are entering God’s rest. It’s clear this is not the seventh day Sabbath rest of the Jews commanded in Exodus 16 and after, for Jews entered the Sabbath day by ceasing from labor, not by believing. Here God’s rest is a different rest, that we can enter by believing.
But wait! Didn’t God rest thousands of years ago in Genesis 2? How can it be possible for us to enter something that is long gone? The author deals with this objection by bringing it up:
Hebrews 4:3-5 Although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this passage, “They (Israel) shall not enter My rest.”
So God’s rest or My rest is the first seventh day He blessed and sanctified. The author of Hebrews observes that God’s work has been finished ever since, but His rest still stand for us to enter. This is a fitting explanation for why God did not demarcate the seventh day with an ‘evening and morning’ so that His rest was open from the time of Adam to everyone to enter daily. His rest was available for the ancient Israelites; otherwise there would be no point in saying, “They will not enter my rest.” God’s seventh day rest was available to them, but they refused to enter, yet they observed the seventh day Sabbath (they would have been stoned had they not-Numbers 15:32-36).
Hebrews 4:6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience
God’s rest is still available to us, too: “it remains open for some to enter it.” The offer is still open, and it is made even more clear and compelling through Jesus Christ. The Israelites at the time of Moses, “those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience.” Their disobedience was evidence of their lack of faith. They did not believe that God would give them what he had promised.
Hebrews 4:7 He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.
Many years after Moses, God again spoke about His rest, urging people to not harden their hearts and thereby fail to enter His rest. Hear him today, David urged. The offer was still good. People could enter God’s rest today (not weekly), if they listened with faith and willingness. But didn’t the people enter God’s rest when they entered the Promised Land? No.
Hebrews 4:8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.
If Joshua had given them God’s rest, God would not through David speak later about another day.
Hebrews 4:9-11 So there remains a Sabbath rest (Sabbathismos) for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
The author then concludes: “So then, a sabbath like rest still remains for the people of God.” Is he bringing up a new subject? No — he is still on the same subject, using different words to develop it further. He is saying, since people did not enter God’s original seventh day rest in Moses’ day, nor in Joshua’s day, and yet we are still exhorted in the Psalms via David about God’s rest, the conclusion is that this rest still remains for the people of God today. It is still available.
Why does he call this a sabbath rest? He is not slipping in a command for the seventh-day Sabbath. That would be totally out of context. His exhortation throughout this book is telling Jewish people to look to Jesus. He is not urging them to do a better job of keeping Jewish customs. The ancient Israelites, even though they had the Sabbath, did not enter God’s rest. God’s rest is entered by faith — by believing the gospel (verses 3-4). The author is not interested in a day of the week — he is concerned about how people respond to Jesus. A person who keeps the weekly Sabbath or any day but rejects Christ has not entered God’s rest. We enter God’s rest only by believing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God rested from his creative work, but what kind of work do we rest from? What do we quit doing when we come to have faith in Christ? The work of trying to earn our salvation, the work of trying to qualify for the kingdom, the work of trying to be accepted by God. When we look to Jesus for our salvation, we quit looking to ourselves.
Hence, the Adventist and Sabbath keeping assumption that God’s rest = Jewish Sabbath rest is erroneous. There is no command in Genesis to observe a day for man because the rest of Genesis 2 is God’s rest, not man’s. Genesis 1&2 commands marriage for mankind (Gen 2:24). Even commands the married couple to ‘be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). Not only that, God even commands the first parents to ‘not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (Gen 2:27). But never does God command man to observe the seventh day. Besides, the word Sabbath is no where associated in Genesis with God’s rest for a very good reason.
Jesus also made it clear that “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath”(Mark 2:27). Man was not made for the Sabbath or to serve its requirements. It was other way around. When God made man in Genesis, He did not make man for the Sabbath. Besides man was to experience God’s fellowship daily, and not just one-day in seven. Instead Jewish Sabbath day came to be for the man as a ‘shadow’ of God’s rest, and also to provide physical rest. We are no longer under the ‘shadow’, as God commands the church that Sabbath observance or not is no longer a matter of judgment since Jesus is the ‘reality’, our Sabbath rest (Col. 2:16).