[On Sabbath] Genesis 1:1-2:3: God’s All-Nighters

Bible opened to Genesis 1 with Theo Orange 70 percent dark chocolate on snowman plate

Today’s ChocolateTheo Orange 70% Dark Chocolate

Today’s PassageGenesis 1:1-2:3

To continue our study of the Sabbath, we’re going to backtrack to the first two chapters of Genesis. You won’t actually find the word “Sabbath” in here, not in English. But if you look at Genesis 2:2, “[God] rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done,” in Hebrew? You’ll find that “rested” is the verb shabath.

First, it strikes me that God does a lot of creating in this passage: six days’ worth, in fact. And if God “neither slumbers nor sleeps” (Psalm 121:4), could we assume that he worked for 144 hours straight? That depends on how literally you take Genesis’ creation account, but I think it’s safe to say that God has different expectations for his own work week than he does for our own. For example, the Sabbath was the seventh full day in God’s new universe, but from the perspective of the newly-created humans, it was their first full day. They began existence in a complete heavens and earth (2:1), as complete beings. They began with rest.

God also gives the humans work to do. It’s nothing on the scale of creating an entire reality, but it’s nothing to sneeze at either. He commands them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (1:28). Humanity’s commission is to reproduce and to domesticate the other creatures in the world. We are stewards of the world.

What’s the takeaway here? What can we learn about working and taking healthy time to rest? I think we can take away that God’s expectations for our work and rest are reasonable. He doesn’t expect us to pull consecutive all-nighters like he did–well, I guess they weren’t all-nighters until he created night, but you know what I mean. And he provides not only rest for us, but food: “I have given you every plant…it shall be food for you” (1:29). He gives us what we need for the tasks he gives us. He gives us what we need in order to be healthy humans.

I’ll tell you up-front: I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know the best way to keep the Sabbath, to practice working and resting. I have some experience in trying to do this stuff, and I’ve formed some opinions about the Sabbath as a result. This study’s aim is not just to learn what I don’t know about the Sabbath, but to weed out my misconceptions and test my preconceived notions. But I’ve found that one day of rest is enough for the tasks you’ve got ahead of you each week. In rest, God can give you the strength you need.



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