Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (Genesis 2:1-4)
The seventh day of creation has a blessing on it, which is ‘rest’. Furthermore it is said to be sanctified, that is to say, it was set apart from all other days of the week. On the seventh day God rested from his work. Thus the Creator established a seven-day cycle of life for man, six days to labor, but the seventh to rest.
The concept of rest includes the idea of completion. God’s creation is accomplished, and He sees it, that it is good, and it is done. Henry Morris points out that whatever is happening in the universe since the original seventh day, falls into the category of either conservation or disintegration, in accordance with the two laws of thermodynamics.
“The present processes of the universe…are conservation and disintegration, as formulated in the two laws of thermodynamics. The processes of the creation period were processes of innovation and integration,(“creating” and “making”). Science can deal only with present processes, to which alone it has access.”*
Man was made on the sixth day, as the very pinnacle of creation. Therefore his first full day was on the Seventh, the day of rest. Thus, there was nothing that he could add to what God had done, it was for him (man) to begin his life on the day of rest, enjoying God’s complete creation, without striving for anything. Out of his rest, the man was to accomplish his calling.
In other words, he is not trying to accomplish or attain to a position. He begins life already in the position of rest, as God’s Son and vice regent.
So also it is in the new creation. It was only after the Lord said “It is finished”, that our salvation could be accomplished, and that we could enter into a forgiven relationship with God. Jesus “sat down” at the right hand of God, after he had “By himself purged our sins”. We begin, as Adam, on the seventh day, the work is done, and there is nothing we must do but ‘enter into the joy’ that He has purchased for us.
What a unique day that original Sabbath was! On that golden day, all was right in the world. Everything was complete and all of Creation shared in ‘the rest’ of God, enjoying complete harmony and the sense of fulness and satisfaction that the Hebrews call ‘Shalom’.
Alas , ‘the Rest’ was disturbed by sin soon afterwards, and the majority of mankind has failed to enter into anything like that wonderful sense of God ordained rest since then. Spiritually, man is restless and miserable, like the mad man in Mark chapter 5, dwelling among the tombs, and crying day and night. Truly the prophet said, there is no peace for the wicked!
The story of Salvation is nothing less than the Creator working once again, making a righteous way to bring sinners back into the Shalom intended for them, through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.(Hebrews 4:1-3)
The New Testament book of Hebrews takes this theme up, again, reminding us that now through Jesus the way back into the Rest is restored. But we must “Strive” by faith to enter into the rest of God .
For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus(Joshua) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
That God himself rested on the seventh day, implies that ‘rest’ in this sense has little or nothing to do with being tired. God’s rest is a state of being. It is being right with God, free of sin, able to exult in God himsels and to rejoice in the work of another, that is Christ, who tells us
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.(Matthew 11:28-30)