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The Seventh Day of Creation Week

Updated on August 30, 2013

The Seventh Day

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. Genesis 2:2-3

The seventh day of creation was different from the other days, the other days were days of activity, the seventh day was a day of rest. It is not simply that God was inactive, but rather that God rested. This difference is noted by the lack of the phrase “evening and morning”. The passage of time is not noted on this day of rest.

This is a lesson to us regarding rest, we should not note the passage of time. Consider what happens when you have to watch the clock when resting versus not having to worry about time when resting. Which sort of rest is more helpful? For most people it is when we do not have to worry about the time. When we have to watch the clock, our time of rest is almost always too short, our rest is incomplete. The lesson is that we should not be watching the clock when resting.

Dependent Theology

God makes the Sabbath Day law dependent on his resting on the seventh day of creation.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. Exodus 20:8-11

This law takes a literal view of the seven days of creation. There were six literal days in which God created, just as there are six real days in the week that we can work. There was one real 24 hr. day in which God rested, just as there is one real 24 hr. day that we are expected to rest.

Period Rather Than Day?

There are some who claim that the lack of the phrase “evening and morning” indicates that the seventh day was a period of time rather than a 24 hr. day. To allow this claim is to ignore the obvious in creation week, that each day was a 24 hr. period. The Sabbath Day is not simply called a day, it was not simply that God finished his work and rested a day, but “he rested on the seventh day”. By calling it the seventh day shows that this is one of a sequence, the rest of the sequence is composed of 24 hr. days; therefore, this day is also a 24 hr. day. The seventh day differs from the other six days in that it is not a day of creation, but a day of rest, but it is still a day, it is still part of the creation week.

The Unending Sabbath

Another suggestion for the seventh day is that it is an unending rest, and continues to the end of time. This suggestion suffers from the same problems mentioned in the previous paragraph; it ignores the grammatical understanding of the passage. In both Genesis 2 and Exodus 20, it states quite clearly that God “rested”, not is resting. God’s rest was finished on that seventh day and is not continuing now or into the future. The work of creation was finished in the previous six days, and the rest was accomplished on the seventh day, all of the days being of equal length.

Epistle to the Hebrews

The Epistle to the Hebrews contains a passage on rest in chapters 3 and 4. From this passage, some would suggest that the God’s rest on the seventh day is continuing until now, but this ignores the point of the Epistle. The Epistle to the Hebrews was written to a group of Christians who were working for their salvation through the Law of Moses.

The “neglect” of the “great salvation” found in Hebrews 2:3 is this working for salvation. The author of the epistle warns his readers of the consequences of such neglect throughout the epistle. In chapters three and four, he shows that there is definite end of works and uses two historical examples, the journey into the Promised Land, and God’s rest on the seventh day of creation. The two examples look in two directions, in chapter 3 it is looking forward to the future, while chapter 4 looks backward to the past.

In chapter 3 the author is considering the Israelites in their passage to the Promised Land, the people are looking forward to the future. As they traveled, they refused to obey God (3:8-10). It was because of this disobedience occasioned by unbelief that the Israelites delivered from Egypt were unable to enter the Promised Land. Of those people over the age of 20 who left Egypt, only two, Joshua and Caleb, entered the Promised Land, all of the others died in the wilderness. So the author warns his readers that not believing in the gospel will have the same consequences for them (3:18-19).

In chapter 4 the author now looks back at what has been accomplished, For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And did rest the seventh day from all his works. Hebrews 4:4. Just as the works of creation were finished and God rested, so the works of salvation (cf v.2) are also finished (vv. 10-11), and we need to enter God’s rest concerning salvation and cease our works to earn salvation.

This does not mean that we have no work to do. Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day, on the eighth day, and the days thereafter, they were expected to work. They were created to perform a specific work on the Earth, and while they were able to enjoy that first Sabbath, they were also expected to work afterwards. Even so, we have works to still do, as the author reminds the Hebrews 6:9-12. He does so again in 9:14 showing their need to “serve the living God.” Furthermore, the Hebrews are instructed to provoke one another to love and to good works (10:24).

The point the author of Hebrews is trying to make, is not that the first Sabbath is an eternal, or a continuing Sabbath, but that even as the work of creation was completed and then God rested, so also the work of salvation has been completed and we who believe may enjoy the good of that completed work. This is also dependent theology from Genesis 2:2-3.

A Completed Creation

The seventh day was the final day of activity of in the Creation Week, but that activity was rest. The use of the ordinal number, seventh, makes this day part of the sequence of the Creation Week. The lack of the phrase, “and the evening and the morning” simply highlights the fact that this was a day of rest. God had finished the miracles of creating; from that point forward the universe would run on the processes he created.

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