The Significance of the Seventh Day as Consecrated (Genesis 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, January 22, and Sunday, January 23, 2022
Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?
I’ve been to London to look at the queen.
Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you there?
I frightened a little mouse under her chair.
Stupid cat. She had the chance of a lifetime. All of London stretched out before her. Westminster Abbey. The British Museum. Ten Downing Street. Trafalgar Square. The House of Parliament. The Marble Arch in Hyde Park. She could’ve heard the London Philharmonic or scrambled up an old wooden lamp post to watch the changing of the guard. I doubt that she even cared she was within walking distance of St. Paul’s Cathedral. She probably didn’t even realize it was the historic Thames rushing by beneath that big rusty bridge she scampered across chasing more mice.
After all, she didn’t even scope out the queen as Her Majesty stood before her. Not this cat. She is such a mouseaholic, she can’t stop the same old grind even when she’s in London. What a bore!
There is an old Greek motto that says:
YOU WILL BREAK THE BOW
IF YOU KEEP IT ALWAYS BENT.
Which, being translated loosely from the original means, “There’s more to being a cat than tracking mice.” Or, “There’s more to life than hard work.”
I love that! Think about work, and overwork, and rest, and ceasing from labor. Think about being tired. Imagine perfect rest. Imagine, really imagine what it is like to be rested. At the same time, rest is not the same as not working. Right? We may rest while doing a hobby. Still, at some point we must cease from certain labors.
I am in a sermon series on Genesis chapters 1-11 and my goal is to show how these chapters are foundational to our faith. Today, I want to talk about God ceases from His labor. Today, I want to talk about how God consecrates the sabbath day.
My theme today is:
The Significance of the Seventh Day as Consecrated (Genesis 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11)
- The Sabbath in Genesis
- I want to begin talking about the sabbath being set apart, sanctified, consecrated in Genesis Then I want to show that in another place in the Old Testament, and then the New Testament.
- My goal is NOT to show that we are bound by the sabbath law now. I do not think that is the case. The sabbath is the only one of the Ten Commandments not repeated in the New Testament.
- My goal is to show that Genesis matters. This passage matters. We cannot cut verses out of the Bible without that effecting other parts of the Bible.
- We will see that God uses this text in Genesis 2:1-3 as the principle for the sabbath command in Exodus 20:8-11.
- We will see that in the New Testament this idea is shown to be even greater in that we will have true rest through Jesus.
- Read with me Genesis 2:1-3: Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
- We see in this passage that God is done creating.
- Then verse 2 shows that God finished working and He rested.
- In reality this means that God ceased from creating.
- This is not God taking a nap. Actually, God does not grow tired or weary.
- This is showing that after 6 days God’s creation is complete.
- This is also setting an example for us.
- Look at verse 3: God blesses the seventh day. God makes the seventh day holy. God is saying that this is a different day. God consecrates the seventh day. God declares the seventh day sacred, holy. Now, this is not the commandment, we see that in Exodus 20:8-11. Let’s go there.
- The Sabbath in Exodus
- Read with me Exodus 20:8-11: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
- Now, we see the commandment. Now we see it. Remembering the sabbath is the 4th commandment.
- Six days you labor and on the seventh day you cease from your labor.
- Your animals are not to work. Your servants are not to work. The strangers are not to work.
- Now, later on, there will be more laws about this and they are permitted to work to save a life.
- What does God do? He appeals to creation. In six days the Lord created and the seventh He rested. In Deuteronomy 5:13 and following Moses, inspired by God, refers to their slavery, but here God has Moses refer to creation.
- Now, this is why this matters.
- The Hebrew word “yom” is translated as “day.” It can also mean a period of time as well as other things. But think about it. Suppose we believed that the days in Genesis 1 were not 24 hour days but ages, maybe even thousands of years. But that would not work here, would it? That would mean it should have the same meaning here. If we believe the days in Genesis 1 were thousands, or millions of years, that should be the same in Exodus 20:8-11. In that case, it should be “for six thousand years God created and then rested.” That is my paraphrase. That would mean we should work for six thousand years and then rest for a thousand years. But that is not what this is saying.
- So, right here, we see that cross referencing Genesis 2:1-3 with Exodus 20:8-11 clarifies that the days in Genesis 1 were solar days.
- Further, we cannot tamper with one part of the Bible without it affecting other parts of the Bible.
- But what about the New Testament?
- The Sabbath in the New Testament
- Read with me Colossians 2:16-17: Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
- One person writes about this:
- “What Paul says here is remarkable,” Tom Schreiner writes, “for he lumps the Sabbath together with food laws, festivals like Passover, and new moons. All of these constitute shadows that anticipate the coming of Christ” (40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law, 212). And since Christ has now come, observing the Sabbath is no longer a matter of obedience or disobedience. Rather, Paul says, “Let no one pass judgment on you.”
- The author of Hebrews brings us closer to the heart of why the new covenant does not require a literal seventh-day rest. Christ’s first coming did not abolish rest; rather, it ushered in a deeper kind of rest than the Sabbath could ever offer.
- Read with me Hebrews 4:9-10: So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
- According to Hebrews 4, Israel’s Sabbath day always pointed forward to a far greater day: the still-future day when all creation will enter fully into the rest foreshadowed and promised in Genesis 2:2–3, the very first seventh day. “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). The ultimate Sabbath rest is coming, when God’s people will enjoy work without toil, hearts without sin, and an earth without thorns.
- Yet even now, Hebrews implies, we feel the first waves of the coming rest. In Christ, we “have [already] tasted . . . the powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:5), rest included. For, the author writes, “We who have believed enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3) — not “will enter,” but “enter”: fully later, truly now.
- And how do we enter that rest? Not mainly by putting aside our weekly labors for one day in seven, but by believing: “We who have believed enter that rest.” Faith in Jesus Christ brings the rest of the seventh day into every day.
- So, again, we see the sabbath of Genesis 2:1-3 referred to in other parts of scripture.
- The Exodus passage links back to Genesis 2:1-3.
- Notice that these Sabbath passages think back to the origin as authentic.
- Also, we are not bond by a sabbath law today, but there is a principle here. We do need rest.
- We must understand the significance of this teaching to the rest of the Bible.
- We must not compromise the sabbath part of the creation narrative.
- This means we must understand that God did not literally rest, but He did cease from His labor.
- This means we must understand that God also did not literally labor, but He did cease from creating.
- We must not view this as only part of an allegorical story. No, this is significant in the rest of the Bible.
- We must recognize that the Scripture says that God rested for a day, and we are to rest for a day (Ex. 20:8-11). This has significance for our interpretation of the rest of the creation narrative.
- We must believe that this part of the Scriptures is accurate just like all the rest of the Bible.
- We must understand that as God ceased from labor we also need rest one day a week.
- Further, we must understand that as God ceased from labor, some day as Christians we will also have rest in the new heavens and earth.
- We must understand that through the Gospel we have a taste of this sabbath rest now.
- We have rest through the peace of God Jesus gives us through the Gospel (John 14:27).
- We have rest from the weariness of trying to take care of our sin problem.
- We have a relationship with God (Romans 5:10).
- We have the Holy Spirit within us (John 15:1-5).
- We must understand, the seventh day as consecrated is significant in our faith.
I read the following:
I smile when I read this from the newspaper. “The world is too big for us. Too much going on, too many crimes, too much violence. Try as you will you get behind in the race. It’s an incessant strain to keep pace. You still lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen so rapidly you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can’t endure it much more!”
Now it wasn’t that that made me smile. It was that it appeared June 16, 1833—150 or more years ago. That was the “good old days.” And you don’t have any idea, nor did I, what the Boston Globe had as its headlines November 13, 1857—three words: “ENERGY CRISIS LOOMS.” That’s 1857. The subheading said: “World May Go Dark since Whale Blubber So Scarce!”
You’re smiling, aren’t you? You can’t help but smile, because everything has to do with perspective. For some, the “good old days” means what was simple and uncomplicated and beautiful and free of the horrors of our present times. Or was there ever a time like that?
My “good old days” take me back to a world war where there were little markers on windows up and down the little street where I lived in Houston. And grieving parents peeled those little markers off when their son died in that war.
The “good old days” would take you back to the time when, horses died in the streets of New York because of cholera. The “good old days” were times in my father’s era when cars couldn’t be started from inside. You had to go outside and crank them. And you had to walk in rainy days on boggy streets because back then there weren’t hard surfaces and beautiful freeways and roadways.
One news commentator said it very well. It was Paul Harvey. “Had the first product using electricity been the electric chair, we would all be afraid to plug in our toasters in the morning!” It’s how you look at it, isn’t it?
 Charles R. Swindoll, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life. Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 621–622.
 Desiring God; April 20, 2021; Scott Hubbard: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/should-christians-keep-the-sabbath?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=120563864&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_50obWsswcOOhLNjqHCTWasXFk1va5FEva0hYzAyvW1R-6cylZcrk_3K2kn68HFafFe0E6RniJJeNfvJdovo5nhUyRug&utm_content=120563864&utm_source=hs_email
Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 624–625.