When Creation Was Finished but God Was Not

The beginning of Genesis is rich enough and deep enough to repay a lifetime of rereadings. I noticed something recently in these early chapters which cannot be original to me but which I had not seen before.

Here is the end of Genesis 1 and the beginning of Genesis 2.

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And 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. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 1:31–2:3)

What I hadn’t seen before is this: The heavens and the earth were finished on the sixth day, but God finished his work on the seventh.

On the seventh day, God “rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” This was the culmination and completion of his creation work.

The work of creation was complete at the end of the sixth day. However, God had not finished with his work until he rested from it. The sort of rest in view here must be more than just a ceasing from action.

This means that, in the same way, we may step away from our work without taking a sabbath rest. While this is not intended to be a comprehensive account of sabbath rest, here is kindling for the fire.

Sabbath rest acknowledges that we have work to do because God worked first. This comes right from the context of Genesis 1–2. Man has no work without God’s work first, and man continues the work God began. This creation truth is also gospel truth: our work flows from God’s work. Any faithful work we accomplish in the world flows from the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.

Sabbath rest should thank God for our work. If we have work to do, God has given it—even jobs we do not like. He has also provided the strength, wisdom, endurance, and creativity to complete any work that is behind us. (He has also given others to help us with our work!)

Finally, sabbath rest includes worshiping the Lord. At the end of this magnificent creation account, in which God spoke the world into being and formed it with such skill, wisdom, and love, we are compelled to praise our glorious God.

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