Genesis 007 – The Sanctity of the SabbathGenesis 2:1-3 • Dr. Andy Woods • September 13, 2020 • Genesis
The Sanctity of the Sabbath
September 13, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
Let’s take our Bibles and open them to the Book of Genesis. Look at this–Genesis 2! Can you believe it? We are really moving lightspeed here, aren’t we? Genesis 2:1-3. The title of our message this morning is, “The Sanctity of the Sabbath.” Let me amend that. Let’s call it this: “Recovering the Sanctity of the Sabbath.”
If you’ve been following along with us, you know exactly where we are in the Book of Genesis. We are in Genesis, the first part of the Book, chapters 1-11, which is the story of the beginning of the human race. And that section has different parts to it, but we are just in that first subsection of Creation.
Genesis 1, which we emerged from last week, and also into Genesis 2:3, is essentially an overview of the six days of Creation. We’ll see today God resting on the seventh day. Once we finish verse 3, the next time I’m with you we will be in Genesis 2 where it will no longer focus on the six days of Creation, but it will focus on Day Six completely. More on that as the study unfolds.
By way of review, we saw Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens [plural– important for today] and the earth.” So the totality of everything that exists came into existence with the spoken Word of God as the heavens and earth leapt into existence at God’s Word.
Then you move to verse 2, and you have a description of that Creation in its unfilled, unformed state. We used the example of a potter who has a lump of clay. And it’s exciting to see what that talented potter is going to do with that lump of clay.
It’s like a canvas. The canvas has come into existence. You put it in front of a Michelangelo, and you’re just excited to see what he’s going to do with that canvas. That, in essence, is what you have described there in verse 2. There isn’t anything wrong with Creation; it just hasn’t been filled and formed yet.
Then we go from Genesis 1:3 all the way through Genesis 2:3, where God starts to fill and to form. Day One? Light comes into existence. Day Two? Water and sky come into existence. Day Three? Land and vegetation come into existence. That’s the shaping.
And then God begins to populate. Day Four? The sun, moon, and the stars come into existence. Day Five? The sea animals and birds come into existence. Finally, we get to Day Six where land animals come into existence. And we now have the pinnacle of God’s creative order—humanity—mankind—male and female.
Humanity represents the height of everything that God has made thus far that we can visibly see in Genesis 1 as man is made—and woman. Notice, male and female are made together in the very image of God. No orangutan can say that. Certainly not even an angel can say that! But humans can say that.
And God looks back on everything that He had created, and He doesn’t just say, in verse 31, end of the chapter, “It’s good.” He says what? “It was very good.” Which means that statement backs up to Genesis 1:1. Remember Genesis 1:1? “In the beginning God created…” What does it say? It doesn’t say the “heaven.” It says the “heavens” and the earth.
The Hebrew word for heavens there is SHAMAYIM. In Hebrew whenever you see that “im” ending on a noun, it’s like having the letter S at the end of a noun in English; it connotes plurality. What is coming into existence with these six days is not just the earth—the ERETS—and the heaven, or skies, but it’s the “heavens,” plural.
The Greeks divided up the heavens into three different parts. There’s the part from the earth to the clouds. Then there is the part from the clouds to the stars. And then there’s the part beyond the stars where God Himself dwells. That’s the significance of 2 Corinthians 12, where the Apostle Paul was caught up to that third heaven! By the way, any moment in time you could be caught up to that third heaven. Did you know that? It’s called the Rapture of the church.
So what God has brought into existence in these six days is not just what we can see; it’s the realm of the spiritual that we cannot see. And that’s why it’s very clear that everything was good in the heavens, the SHAMAYIM, plural. Which means that… Contrary to most models, I don’t think Satan has fallen yet.
We went over this a little bit last time. It’s very difficult for me to believe that Satan has fallen and deceived one third of the angels into falling with him if, in fact, everything is good in the SHAMAYIM—in the heavens. I’ve quoted Renald Showers. You can go back to last week and review.
Showers says, “These things [Genesis 1:31] prompt the conclusion that Satan’s fall took place in the interval between the end of Creation and the fall of man.” Clearly, Satan has fallen by the time we get to Genesis 3 because Satan comes into Eden as a talking snake or a serpent. We know that that serpent is Satan; Revelation 12:9 tells us that, as does Revelation 20:2.
So Satan, by the time you get to Genesis 3, is clearly in a fallen state, but that was not the original design of God. In fact, by the time you get beyond the six days of Creation, everything is not just “good”; it’s “very good,” including in the SHAMAYIM—the highest heaven that Satan once indwelled. Everything is functioning exactly as it is supposed to function.
From there we moved to Genesis 2:1-3, where God now has brought everything into existence—the heavens and the earth. He has shaped it and populated it exactly as He wanted. There is no flaw in it; there is no rebellion in it whatsoever.
Finally we come Day Seven which is what we’re going to look at today, found in Genesis 2:1-3. Notice, if you will, Genesis chapter 2:1—it’s kind of a summary statement looking backward. “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts.” Now, there’s a word most people just skip right over.
Most commentators—it’s very interesting—attach almost no significance to that word at all, because to them the “hosts” is just the luminaries—the sun and the moon and the stars that God brought into existence on Day Four. And I think the word “hosts” can refer to the sun and the moon and the stars. But what is interesting, if you do a word study on “host” or “hosts,” you can see that it just doesn’t refer to stars.
It can also refer to the angelic kingdom. For example, over in 1 Kings 22:19 it says, “Micaiah said, ‘Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.’ ” That’s a statement there, later on in the Old Testament, about the angelic kingdom, the angelic realm. So, can “hosts” refer just to stars and the sun and the moon and the planets? Yes, it can. But it also has a much broader meaning where it can refer to the angels themselves.
And I believe that a passage like this—although skipped over by a lot of people—opens the door to the idea that God didn’t just create what we can see in the six days of Creation. Also in that Creation week, He brought forth the angelic kingdom itself. After all, Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens…” Not “heaven.” “Heavens,” which would include the angelic realm, the angelic kingdom.
In fact, “heavens and earth”—here’s the fancy word for the day—is a merism. A merism is a figure of speech where you’re describing the outer limits of something, and by definition it would include everything in between. It’s like when the Bible says that the Lord watches over me when I rise up, and the Lord watches over me when I lie down.
So I guess the Lord just watches over me when the alarm clock goes off and then when I put my head on the pillow at the end of the day—moving into night? God’s watching over me just then also, right? No—it’s a merism; it would include everything in between. When it says, in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” that’s one of the most powerful merisms that you can find in Hebrew Bible. And it’s describing the totality of God’s Creation—including the angelic realm. That’s why “heavens” is plural there in Genesis 1:1.
In Jeremiah 23:24 God declares, “ ‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ ” God is omnipotent; He is everywhere at the same time. So that’s a merism there describing God’s omnipotence. And that is the identical merism that you have in Genesis 1:1. It means everything that’s created.
And we know that angels are created—just like humans. More on that in a minute; Colossians 1:16-17 tells us that. But everything God created—including the human realm—including the angelic realm—came into existence not at different time increments, as we’re commonly taught to believe, but during the six weeks of Creation.
You see the same argument being made by Moses—the same author—in Exodus 20:11 where it says, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth [there’s our merism], the sea and all that is in them…” You take Exodus 20:11 and Genesis 1:1, put them side-by-side, and I think you have a very good case that everything God created—not just the things that we can see, but things in the invisible realm—things in the spiritual realm—things in the angelic realm—came into existence during the six 24-hour days of Creation.
Now, what I’ve just explained might be a shock to some folks because it’s contrary to the model that you’ve learned. I know this to be true because I was always taught to believe that God created the angels a long time ago—let’s say a billion years ago. They’ve been in the presence of the Lord singing His praises for a billion years. And then God finally got about to the business of creating our world, and that’s what God did in Genesis 1. I don’t think that’s what’s happening.
I don’t think anything existed—including the angels themselves—until God began creating, shaping, and populating in six 24-hour days. Because if the angels came into existence a long time ago, then how do you explain Exodus 20:11, which clearly indicates that everything God created came into existence in the days of Creation.
How do you explain the merism of Genesis 1:1 which indicates that everything God created—including the angels—including the heavens—came into existence during these six 24-hour days of Creation? The passage that everybody uses to say that the angels existed a long time before man is Job 38:4-7. Job, of course, is the oldest book of the Bible, and it’s a section of the Bible where God gives Job a quiz.
How would you like a pop quiz…from God…just to show you how little you understand? Because in the Book of Job, Job and his three friends all thought they understood everything that was happening in Job’s life. And God’s point is, “You don’t know anything. And I’ll prove it to you by giving you a quiz.” In that quiz, the very first question God asks relates to Creation. He says, “ ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?’ ” (Job 38:4)
Then verse 7 says, “ ‘When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy?’ ” So the typical reading of this is, “The angels already existed—created by God a long time ago. Then when God got into the business of creating the foundation of the earth, the angels—already in existence—saw what God was doing and they began to praise the Lord. Therefore—case closed—the angels existed long before our world.” That’s the model I was taught.
I’ve moved away from it because I don’t think it harmonizes with all the biblical data. Riding to my rescue here is Renald Showers, a well-known theologian. He’s with the Lord now, but he was with the Friends of Israel. His book on angels is the very best book, I think, that’s ever been written on the subject. And He says this, “It [Genesis 1:1; Exodus 20:11] strongly implies that the angels were created within the scope of the six days of creation of Genesis 1, not before or after those days…”
Renald Showers continues, “Thus the angels were created by God on the first day of the six days of creation, but before the earth was created on that same day.” So on Day One—heavens and earth. Look at the order: heavens first; earth second. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He brought the spiritual realm into existence—including the angelic realm.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Heavens first, earth second, angels in existence first day of Creation, and now God creates the earth on the same day. Twenty-four hours is a long day when you think about it. I mean, a lot can happen in 24 hours. And when the angels who had just been created saw the hand of God bringing the earth into existence, they erupted into praise! That’s how to handle Job 38:4-7.
There is absolutely nothing here that demands that the angels existed billions of years before the earth. Showers goes on and says, “Thus, the angels were created by God on the first day of the six days of creation, but before the earth was created on that same day. It is interesting to note the order of Moses’ statement in Genesis 1:1. He referred to the heavens first, then the earth. It would appear that early on the first day God created the heavens…” The SHAMAYIM, including the unfallen angelic realm.
How many angels are there, exactly? Well, the Bible says 10,000×10,000; they’re innumerable. They’re clearly created beings. Christ brought them into existence early on in Day One, and Showers says, “It would appear that early on the first day God created the heavens. Later on that day He created the angels to inhabit the heavens. Still later on that first day He created the earth in its undeveloped, uninhabited state.”
So, first the heavens come into existence, then the angels come into existence, and the earth comes into existence. “And you’re telling me that God did all that in one day?” Why not? He’s God, isn’t He?
This model, which is different than probably what you’ve heard, harmonizes really well with Hebrews 1:14 which, of the angels, says this, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” Who is it that’s going to inherit salvation? Isn’t that you? Isn’t that me?
And isn’t it interesting that that’s one of the reasons God brought the angels into existence? To help us. Anybody here need help? I need help. My wife tells me, quite frequently, “You know why the woman is called the “helpmate”? Because men need help. I need a lot of help in my life.
And it’s interesting to me that God specifically brought the angels into existence to render service to those who will inherit salvation. So if that is their purpose, why would they exist a billion years before man even showed up? It just doesn’t make sense.
So, to put the whole thing together, what I’m seeing there in Genesis 2:1 is a summary statement of everything God brought into existence, including the angels themselves, during the Creation week. And Satan is still in an unfallen state. He hasn’t fallen yet, and that’s the best way to explain Genesis 1:31. Now, would I start a new church over this issue? Probably not. You know, “We’re the First Church of the Angels Coming into Existence During the Creation Week.” It’s not a matter of parting fellowship with people that view it differently. But whatever model you adopt ,try to adopt the one that answers the most questions.
We move away from Genesis 2:1 and move into the Sabbath day, verses 2-3. Notice what Genesis 2:2-3 says, “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Creation, once you move into Day Seven, is complete. God is now resting, or ceasing from activity, on Day Seven.
There is certainly a lot of work there in Days One through Six. Look at what God did. But the seventh day is different, because God ceases from His labor in Creation. So let’s talk a little bit about this. For starters, “Why would God have to rest from His activity in Creation?” Well, obviously, He was tired, right? Needed a day off. No—that can’t be true because God is omnipotent! He is all-powerful. Why, then, would God need to cease from His creative work on the seventh day? The answer is: God deliberately did it this way as a pattern for us.
You’ll notice in Exodus 20:8-11 that the whole week—in this case it’s the Hebrew workweek—but you can apply this, I think, to any week, even in the year 2020—is deliberately set up based on how God patterned things in Creation. Moses would say to the children of Israel in Exodus 20:8-11, “ ‘Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath [the Hebrew there is SHABBAT] of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.’ ” Now, “Why? Why do we have to do it that way, Moses? Why can’t we just sort of invent our own reality?” Because there is a pattern that God has established in Creation.
11 “ ‘For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the 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.’ ” See, it’s interesting. A lot of people say, “You really believe that God created the heavens and the earth so fast?! Do you really believe He did it in six 24-hour days?” And the reason they ask that question is that we’ve all been conditioned with evolution. Evolution is basically the idea, “From the goo to you by way of the zoo over billions of years.” We’ve all been taught to think this way.
So, therefore, God could not have created the heavens and the earth so quickly in six 24-hour days. We know that everything takes a long time. My question, in response, is not “Why did God do it so quickly?” But, “What took Him so long?” I mean, why did He deliberately stretch out the process for six 24-hour days when He Himself is God and He could’ve done it with just a single spoken word. What we learn here is that God did it for our benefit as a pattern for us.
There’s another passage that speaks of this. Exodus 31:15-17 says virtually the same thing. It says, “For six days work may be done [as Moses is speaking to the children of Israel], but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death.” Wow! It sounds like God is pretty serious about this!
16 “So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17 It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever…” Why, Lord, are You so serious about the children of Israel resting on the Sabbath?
Continuing verse 17, “…for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.” God has put into motion a principle of life. The principle of life is this: You work six days, and you rest on the seventh day.
Now, isn’t it interesting that when God gives commandments and we rebel against those commandments, we think we’re cheating God. “Gee, I’m to get even with God today. I’m going to disobey one of His commandments.” The fact of the matter is, those commandments exist for our own good!
Deuteronomy 10:13 says, “and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” When God gives us rules and regulations to follow, it’s not to stifle us; it’s to protect us. And a lot of times they are designed to protect us from our own selves and our own tendencies. It would be like driving out this afternoon on the street and I just decide, “You know what? These stop signs and red lights are just too cumbersome to my freedom. I’m going to ignore the rules! I’m going to ignore the regulations! I’m going to just drive however I want—whenever I want—into whoever I want.” And the foolishness of that, of course, is you know the end of that story. There’s good to be a fatality. There’s going to be an accident of some kind. You might even kill your own self in the process.
And if we can understand that with stop signs and streetlights, certainly we can understand this with the rules of the Creator for humanity. God didn’t give these rules to make our lives miserable; He gave us these rules for our protection!
So, the Sabbath principle—work six days, rest on the seventh day—how does that protect us? Well, let’s ask an authority on the issue—not Dr. Phil. But let’s ask Jesus Christ Himself. There is nobody that understands the Sabbath better than Jesus. Why is that? Because Matthew 12:8 calls Him, as the Son of Man, the Lord of the Sabbath.
Why is Jesus called the Lord of the Sabbath? Contrary to what many false religions will teach you, Jesus is not a created being but; He Himself is the Creator. John 1:3, of Christ, says “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”
Colossians 1:16-17 says, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens [that would be the angels] and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” As we read through the creative work of God in Genesis 1, Jesus, the eternally existent Second Member of the Trinity, was there doing the creating. He wasn’t there as a consultant. He was there breathing these very things into existence. So when the Sabbath itself comes into existence, that is the handiwork of Jesus Christ. And so there is no One better to interpret the Sabbath for us than this Man, Jesus Christ.
And here’s what the architect of the Sabbath said in Mark 2:27, “Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’ ” The Sabbath was made for man. The Sabbath was given as a blessing to man.
And it’s interesting. As you get into the New Testament you see Christ getting into scuffles or arguments—or theological tangles so to speak—disputes—debates with the Pharisees. Nine times out of 10, what’s the issue in those disputes? It’s the Sabbath. And it usually relates to Christ coming up and healing someone on the Sabbath, feeding His disciples on the Sabbath.
The Pharisees come along and say, “You’re breaking our rules. You’re breaking our traditions.” And Christ’s point is, “You Pharisees—you religious leaders—don’t even know what the Sabbath is about. I know because I’m the one that brought the Sabbath into existence. The Sabbath’s original intent was to be a blessing to man, and you have turned it into the enslavement of man.
That’s why it is ridiculous that you pull your ox out of the ditch on the Sabbath, and yet you get upset at Me because I heal a man, who is an image bearer of God, on the Sabbath. You have lost sight of the original intent of the Sabbath.”
Let me taste something, Beloved. That is exactly what legalism will do! Legalism will get you so caught up in following this maze of extra biblical regulations that what starts to happen is the tail starts to wag the dog. And this is what happened with Jesus in the first century as He was dealing with these Pharisees. They were so focused on the rules and the regulations which probably started off well-intentioned—everything we know of those vast rules that the Pharisees had passed. But they had lost sight of what the Sabbath is about.
“Of course I can feed My disciples on the Sabbath. Of course I can heal a man on the Sabbath because I’m the architect of the Sabbath. I’m the Lord of the Sabbath. I am the Creator of the Sabbath.” In Mark 2:27 Christ says, “ ‘The Sabbath was made for man…’ ”
There is a general principle that the Creator has established for everyone, I believe. Because what we’re reading here— not in Exodus but in Genesis—is pre-Israel. Israel doesn’t even exist yet as a nation. The calling of Abraham doesn’t even occur until Genesis 12. We’re still here in Genesis 2:1-3.
In fact, as fast as we’re moving, we may not even get over to Genesis 12—prior to the Rapture, anyway. But sign up for my Bible class in heaven and I’ll try to fill in the gaps. Of course, then you’re going to have Christ teaching you, so you won’t need me to teach you. But the fact of the matter is, Israel doesn’t exist yet. This is something that God established for the benefit of the world, for the benefit of humanity.
There’s a tremendous balance in the Bible. Ever since I’ve been studying the Bible, this is something about the Bible that I’ve always been impressed by; it’s a Book of tremendous balance. First of all, it does not advocate sloth or laziness. Certainly, the Bible can’t do that, because Proverbs 10:4 says, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.”
Paul the apostle said in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” There is no document that teaches productivity, and industry, and hard work more than the Bible! But at the same time, we can get ourselves into a mindset where we work ourselves right into the grave.
Thus you have the Sabbath being articulated that, “Yes, the Bible promotes industry and creativity and hard work. But here’s what it does not promote; it does not promote workaholism, where work becomes a god in a sense.” We work seven days, and the next week comes. And we work seven days, and the next day comes. And we work seven days—because we’re trying to get ahead. The Bible doesn’t promote that either! There’s tremendous balance.
The fact of the matter is you were designed by God for rest. We were not designed to work, and work, and work, and work with no rest whatsoever. In fact, over in Mark 6:31 Jesus said this to His disciples, “ ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.’ ” I would say that the Lord is saying that to some of us in this room—or anybody listening. “You’re too active. You need to come apart to a solitary place and rest for a while.”
One of my favorite commentators put it this way, “If we don’t come apart, we will fall apart.” For the simple reason that we were never designed by God for workaholism. The Sabbath principle, if it teaches anything, teaches that.
Probably about 20 years ago I was sitting in a seminary class in California, and I had a professor who said something that completely revolutionized my whole life. He said this to the class, “Look, people who work seven days a week actually accomplish less than the people who work six days a week and rest on the seventh.” Why is that? Because people that work seven days a week are living outside of their design. They’re living outside of the Sabbath principle.
But people who work six days and rest on the seventh typically accomplish more in a week because they’re more rested; they’re more energized. I heard that as a young person, and my whole life at that time was completely the opposite. I was going five—almost six—different ways, thinking I was doing the Lord’s work.
I remember after the class sort of confronting this professor and saying, “Well, you know what? If you look at my work schedule, if you look at my ministry schedule, if you look at my schooling schedule, I can’t take a day off! And he said this in response, “Well, who do you trust? Do you trust God? Or do you trust your schedule?” End of story.
Because I was organizing my life based on what seemed right in my own eyes. No wonder I was tired. No wonder I was burning out. No wonder I was frustrated. No wonder I was thin-skinned and over-reactionary. I was living outside of the design that God has given us where we work six days and rest on the seventh. That’s the Sabbath principle. That’s why this principle is designed by God as a blessing to man.
Now we all know that the day of the week changed in the New Testament. For 1500 years the nation of Israel, as they were given the Law at Mount Sinai, followed the Sabbath principle. They worked six days and they rested on the seventh day.
We don’t have time to read it all, but jot down Exodus 16:21-30 where the Sabbath principle for the Jews related to manna on the ground. “You’re not going to have manna on the ground on the Sabbath, because you’re not supposed to be out collecting it on the Sabbath! By the way, don’t hoard the manna because you’re supposed to be depending on God day by day. But you can collect for the next day—only if it’s one day before the Sabbath.”
So, for 1500 years the Jews honored the Sabbath. In fact, when you go to Israel… I say “when” not “if,” because you’re going there anyway in the Millennial Kingdom. So you might as well go over today and get the lay of the land.
When you go to the land of Israel today, they have in the Israeli hotels what is called the Shabbat elevator. You walk into this elevator and every single button on the elevator has been pushed, and you think to yourself, “Obviously one of those kids got in here and played a prank.” Like the pranks you used to pull when you we’re that age—so don’t act too “holier than thou” as I’m saying this.
You think, “Some kid got in here, pulled a prank, and touched every single button on the elevator,” when the fact of the matter is that the elevator is designed that way for the Shabbat. It’s called a Shabbat elevator. Why? Because you’re not supposed to work that particular day. You’re not supposed to push the buttons. And on that particular day there is functioning this Shabbat elevator.
Does God take the Sabbath seriously? Let me tell you something: He took it very seriously for the Jews. We learn, later on in biblical history, that the Jews went into Babylonian captivity for how many years? 70 years. Not 69 years. Not 72 years. Exactly 70! Where does that number come from? You’ll find it in 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 which says, “He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed…” (NIV)
You see, the Jews didn’t just have a weekly Sabbath. They were supposed to allow the land to rest every seventh year. They were not supposed to harvest crops. Humans get a rest; the land gets a rest. And they just decided to ignore it! “Oh, we’re going to live our lives the way we want!” And they violated 70 Sabbath years.
There were 70 years that the land was supposed to rest, and they didn’t allow it. And God says, “I’m a pretty good scorekeeper.” So on the eve of the Babylonian captivity, as He is speaking through Jeremiah in 2 Chronicles 36:20-21, “Every year you did not allow the land to have a rest is a year you will be out of the land in Babylon. Then once the land has its rest—which you didn’t let it have—you’ll come back into the land of Israel.” See, the whole 70 year captivity is based on the Sabbath principle.
Of course, the nation of Israel flees into the wilderness in the second half of the Tribulation period after the Antichrist desecrates the temple. Jesus says this, “But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.” Because the Jews are not supposed to move on a Sabbath; they’re not supposed to be active on a Sabbath. So if you flee on the Sabbath, you’ll be violating the Sabbath principle.
Now it’s interesting. When we get to the New Testament, Jesus rose from the dead on which day of the week? The first day. John 20:1 says, “Now on the first day of the week…” It goes on and it describes Mary and her encounter with the resurrected Christ.
John 20:19 is very clear, “…on that day, the first day of the week…” Now, here is something very interesting. In John 20:26 it says, “After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ ”
Exactly eight days later, Christ walked through a wall in His resurrected body, and He ministered to His disciples. They were in the Upper Room again, eight days later.
Thomas Constable says this, “John located this post-resurrection appearance on the eighth day after (seven days later) Easter Sunday, namely, the following Sunday. His “eight days” (Gr. hemeras okto) evidently included both Sundays. Perhaps he identified the day because, by the time John wrote, Sunday had become the day of worship for Christians, when they commemorated Jesus’ resurrection. They worshiped Him on Easter Sunday, then again the following Sunday, and then on succeeding Sundays from then on (cf. Acts 20:7). However, Sunday worship has its roots in tradition rather than commandment.”
So what happens to these believing disciples? Now they are no longer working six days and resting on the last day of the week, the Shabbat. They change the Shabbat—or the Sabbath—from the last day of the week, which they had been practicing for 1500 years, and this remnant moves it to the first day of the week—Sunday.
People are always asking, “How do you know the resurrection happened ?” Let me tell you something, these are Jews; these people are stuck in their ways! For 1500 years it had been like that, and they shifted the day of the Sabbath on the calendar from the last day to the first day because something historical happened: Jesus bodily rose from the dead. And ever since that point in time, Christians have met on the first day of the week.
In other words, our Shabbat, our Sabbath, is on the first day of the week. Acts 20:17, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.” You guys should be thanking the Lord that Paul is not your pastor and that your pastor preaches such short sermons.
But you’ll notice that the Sabbath for the Church Age for the Christian is on the first day of the week. Go over to 1 Corinthians 16:2. It says, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.”
Christianity started meeting on the first day of the week; that is the Christian Sabbath. That is proof of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The United States of America, contrary to what all of the politically correct theorists are telling you today, was founded on a Christian basis.
There used to be something in the United States of America called Sunday Closing Laws. Some of you may remember those. Businesses were shut down. Gas stations were shut down. Because it was assumed that everybody would be in church, worshiping the Lord on the first day of the week, as was the case for 2000 years of church history and Christian history.
In fact, this concept of the Sabbath is found in your own United States Constitution. Did you know that? Have you been reading your Constitution lately? How are you going to know if everybody’s stealing things away from you unless you know what the document says? Read it! It’s going to take you 11 pages to read it. Compare that to Obamacare, which is what? 3000 pages?
Our founders set up our Republic in 11 pages, including the Bill of Rights. And this is what it says in Article 1, Section 7, Paragraph 2 of the United States Constitution. It says, “If any bill should not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law in like manner as if he had signed it.”
In other words, if the legislative arm of government passes a piece of legislation, and it goes to the President’s desk, the President can do one of three things. He can veto it, he can sign it into law, or he can do nothing.
If he does nothing, that piece of legislation takes on the force of law after ten days. “By the way, in that ten day count we’re not going to include what? Sunday. Because that’s the Lord’s day.” And it’s assumed that the President of United States, the leader of our Christian Republic, obviously would be in church and not be working on Sunday. This is the foundation of the United States.
There are a lot of people today running around saying, “The United States Constitution has nothing to do with God! Nothing to do with Christianity!” Well, where did they get this little idea from? I mean, it looks to me like our founding fathers were reading the exact biblical passages that we are looking at this morning.
So what has the United States of America done with all of this? They’ve said, “We’re too smart for all of this!” And any business would say, “If I kept my doors closed on Sunday, it would be commercial suicide. Let’s keep the businesses open! Let’s keep the malls open! Let’s keep industry open! Let’s keep commerce open!”
And what has happened to the United States of America? More heart attacks. More blood pressure. More cardiovascular problems than you can shake a stick at because were living outside of how God designed us. God said, “Work six days and rest on the seventh day.” And if you don’t do that, you’re living outside of your design. Your god—little G—has now become workaholism because you think you can get ahead. In reality, you’re hurting yourself; you’re killing yourself in the process.
Today we have people running around, graffitiing statues based on the United States of America, our founding fathers—Abraham Lincoln.” Let’s tear down the statues! Let’s graffiti over them!” In fact, the city Council locally just passed an ordinance that says, “We’re going to tear down every street in our area that happens to have the word “plantation” in it, because that reminds us of slavery. And any street that reminds us of a Confederate General? We’re going to tear that down as well!”
This is not just happening locally; it’s happening all over the country. This is called the “cancel culture” movement. And everybody involved in the cancel culture movement thinks they’re so smart! They think they’re trying something new. And I’m here to tell you that the cancel culture movement is absolutely nothing new! They tried this already; it’s called the French Revolution.
Did you know that as the American Revolution was happening—roughly the same period of time—not exactly—give or take a few decades. But generally the same period of time, there was something else happening across the pond in Europe called the French Revolution. If you want to understand where the cancel culture movement is taking the United States, study the French Revolution. It’s all there.
What was the French Revolution? It was designed to create a world without God in it at all. One author sums it up this way, “The seven-day week was replaced with a week of ten days, with the results that Sunday as a day of rest and Christian worship was eliminated. The French calendar was also changed to reflect the new and Christian spirit of the revolution. The convention voted on October 5, 1793 to abolish the Christian calendar and replace it with a Republican calendar. The founding of the Republic on September 22, 1792 was the beginning of a new era and a new year one.” Forget Jesus and how He marked the calendar. We’ll just pretend that the calendar starts September 22, 1792.
“Instead of the birth of Jesus being the focal point of history, the founding day of the new French Republic would define how time would be kept.”
Another writer says, “When it comes to the liberty of conscience, religious liberty and civil liberty, it is interesting to note the vast difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution. In their revolution, the French cracked down on the church…” Does that sound familiar?”… confiscated its properties, desecrated the altar at Notre Dame by placing atop of it a naked woman, the symbol of reason.”
Isn’t that what they’re doing with all of these statues? Topple them! Tear them down! Replace it with something else.
“They did away with on anno Domini, “in the year of our Lord,” and made 1792 their year one, the first of the republic, a republic without God, and soon a republic that was subject to chaos and anarchy and finally tyranny.” You don’t have to have a PhD in history to know where the cancel culture movement is headed. It’s all been tried before.
Let me tell you, in the French Revolution the blood flowed through the streets. That’s where this cancel culture movement will take the United States by wanting us to erase every vestige of our past—good or bad.
One of the things they started to tamper with is this seven-day week. “Forget this idea that we can work six days and rest on the seventh! We’re going to work ten days!” And how that work for them? Read some of the works of Rabbi Lapin who talks about this. Every negative indicator went up when they went this direction. Heart attacks—up! Divorce—up! Spousal abuse—up! Bodily problems—up! Meltdown of the family—accelerated!
There was nothing good that came out of it. Why? Because they got a whole culture to live outside of their design. And when you start living outside of your design, the human body will break down. Emotions will break down. Psychologically we break down. Why? It goes back to what Christ said in Mark 2:27 where He clearly indicated that the Sabbath was made for man. You are not designed to work and work and work and work and then move into the next week—and work and work and work and work and move into the next week—and work and work and work and work without having at least a day of solitude.
As I was looking at this passage, asking the Lord what to say this morning, this is what kept coming to my mind: the sacredness of the Sabbath has been lost. You remember that great movie, don’t you, Chariots of Fire? They don’t make movies like that anymore, have you noticed? Where Eric Liddell turned down a potential opportunity to win an Olympic medal for his country because the race took place on the Sabbath.
How many Eric Liddell’s do we have today? The Sabbath is not respected. The Sabbath is largely marginalized. We see this every Sunday, don’t we? Maybe not so much this Sunday, but many Sundays that softball field behind me is jam-packed. You drive by and you see a handful of people at church. You’re living in a country and in a culture that has decided to cast aside God’s way of doing things. And we’re paying a terrible price for it.
I am very pro sports. I played basketball. I played it seventh grade through college. I learned lessons through sports that I could never learn any other way. But I was never put—in all of that activity—in a position where I had to choose between sports and church. And yet, because of how we have organized American society, those are choices now that people have to make routinely.
I have a pastor friend in Connecticut, and he tells a story about his son when he was very young. He signed him up—I think it was for soccer—and the son was so excited about playing soccer. They got to the front of the registration line, and the father learned that part of playing soccer would be missing a lot of church because the activities are on Sunday. My pastor friend turned to his son—just a child, a little boy—and said, “I’m sorry son. We can’t participate.” And he watched the head of that youngster just drop to the ground because that youngster was so excited about playing soccer.
Fast forward to the year 2020. Do you know what happened to that son who is now an adult? He is a full-time missionary. Why? Because he learned something from his father; he learned the sanctity of the Sabbath. His father took a stand—a stand against something happening in the culture. Consequently, he’s got the spiritual heritage and the spiritual lineage.
I don’t know what everybody’s schedule is in here—and I don’t want to know. It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord. But at some point in the insanity of our culture, we have to ask ourself the basic question, “Are we appreciating—are we recognizing—the sanctity and the principle of the Sabbath?”
“Well, Pastor, you don’t understand. I work on Sundays!” Well, guess what? So do I. I’m not up here for free. I get paid to be good; the rest of you are good for nothing, as the saying goes. But this is actually a job. So I get the idea of employment and all kinds of things interfering with Sunday!
Do you know when my Sabbath is? It’s Monday. If you call me on Monday, you’re going get my answering machine. I’ll tell you that much! Because that’s the time I need for rejuvenation.
If Monday—after the ordeals of Sunday—becomes a workday, my longevity as the pastor of this church will be dramatically curtailed. In fact, my life itself will be curtailed because I’m living outside of the design that God has made for me. And He’s made it for you.
Just a couple of thoughts here by way of conclusion. You’ll notice it keeps saying, “God rested.” Creation, folks, is complete. God is not creating today—unless He performs some kind of miracle.
Creation is past. That’s why, as you go through these Creation days, after every day it says, “And there was evening and there was morning…”
“And there was evening and there was morning…” It says that six times. But did you notice that it didn’t say that at the end of Genesis 2:3? It didn’t say it all. Why leave that out? It’s left out because it’s designed by the Holy Spirit to communicate that the Sabbath is different. it’s the day where God Himself, as a pattern for us, ceased from His creative activity.
God is not creating today. You say, “Well, what about when a man and a woman have a child?” Well, that’s related to the mechanics that God put into humanity on the day of Creation, allowing reproduction. But God is not in the business of creating today.
“Well, then, what exactly is God doing?” I’ll tell you what He’s doing: He’s sustaining. He’s keeping in motion that which He created in Genesis chapter 1.
Colossians 1:17 says, of Christ, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” God put the planets and stars into existence on Day Four, and now He’s in the business of sustaining what He created to prevent those planets from colliding with each other.
And I’ll tell you one other thing that God is doing today. He may not be creating. I’ll tell you what He is doing, though: He’s redeeming. In John 5:17 Jesus says, “ ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.’ ” Not creating—but sustaining and redeeming.
God has entered into His rest. It doesn’t say “evening and morning” there, but it’s still an ordinary 24 hour day. There is our normal formula of YOM (day) with a number. I don’t need the additional clause “evening and morning” to argue that the seventh day has been fulfilled, because I have this formula. As we’ve talked about, YOM plus a number is always a 24 hour day.
We’ve finished Genesis 2:3. We’re now at the end of the Creation week. And now we’ll be moving into Genesis 2:4 the next time I’m with you. We’re no longer looking at the six days of Creation and God resting on the seventh, but we’ll be looking at the sixth day of Creation.
You read through Genesis 1:24-31 and you say, “Gosh! I’d like to learn more about this.” God says, “I’m glad you asked. So now I’m going to focus on Day Six, the height of My creative work, the pinnacle of Creation, man as an image bearer of God, placed in a garden.”
What was that garden like? And why would God even put a tree of knowledge in that garden? We’ll see all of that the next time I’m with you.
In closing, it’s important understand that God has entered into His rest from Creation. Would you like to enter into the rest of God? Jesus said, “ ‘Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.’ ”
So many people spend their lives striving and straining, and yet Christ wants us to come to Him and rest in Him—and Him alone—for salvation. God may not be creating today, but He is certainly redeeming. He paid a horrific price 2000 years ago on a cruel Roman wooden cross, and through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, He has paved the way by which man and woman—humanity in our fallenness—can have a relationship with the God Who made us.
And He asks us not to fix ourselves through religion. The world of religion will tell you to fix yourself to get right with God; that’s not Christianity. The story of the Bible is not man climbing up to God; it’s God reaching down to man through the Person of Jesus Christ. And He asks us to rest in what Jesus has done. That’s the great work that God is doing today, as men and women are responding to that offer of salvation, entering into the rest that only Jesus can provide which comes by faith alone in Christ alone—period.
If anybody here within the sound of my voice—even people listening online—have never done that, God just requires one condition to receive this free gift, which is faith alone in Christ alone. “Faith” is another way of saying “trust.” You’re trusting and relying no longer in yourself but in what Christ did for you.
Becoming a Christian is not a 12 step process. It’s a one-step process where we’re convicted of this. And no doubt people who are listening are under that conviction, because the Holy Spirit has come into the world to, “ ‘convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me’…” (John 16:8-9)
If you haven’t believed in Jesus Christ, then the Spirit of God is convicting you. Our exhortation here at Sugar Land Bible Church is to respond to that convicting ministry to the best you know how in the quietness of your own heart and mind. It’s not a matter of walking an aisle, filling out a decision card, giving money. It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where the Spirit convicts you of your need to do this, and you respond in your heart, even without raising a hand.
It’s a matter privacy between you and the Lord where you respond in the quietness of your heart to what Jesus has done, and in a nanosecond you enter into the rest of God. So, our exhortation is for people to do that. If anybody here needs more explanation on it, I’m available after the service. Shall we pray?
“Father, we are grateful for these verses. Forgive us for losing the sacred nature of these verses and just kind of molding in with culture where we have lost sight of the fact that You’ve given us a blueprint here. You’ve given us instructions. We’ve allowed commercialism, busyness, workaholism, wanting to get ahead, entertainment—almost anything—to interfere with it. And we ask for Your forgiveness.
We know that we’re paying a terrible price in our culture because we’ve discarded Your Word. I just pray that we would restore the sanctity of the Sabbath and how that looks. Convict us as individuals in our own personal lives as we seek to walk this out this week. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.” And God’s people said? “Amen.”