Entering Our Sabbath Rest

An exposition of Genesis 2:1-3. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, January 4, 2009.

Have you noticed we live in a hectic world?  You’re thinking, “Duh?  This guy’s brilliant.”  Of course you’ve noticed that.  Everybody is busy.  We all acknowledge we’re too busy.  We don’t have time to do what we do and yet there is more to do.  School, work, ball games, clubs, organizations, church activities.  Most of us have our week planned for us with each day full with just our routine schedule.  What do we do about things that come up?  What about the unexpected?  Add to our hectic schedules the fact that our world is changing rapidly.  There was a time when things changed gradually if they changed at all!  Now everything changes – with little or no notice.  Add to the restlessness of our busy schedules the inner turmoil that rages in the heart of the average person.  Do you think we have enough to worry about?  We worry about keeping our jobs; we worry about the safety of our children.  We worry about the stability of the political climate in our shrinking world.  We worry about the economy.  Is it any wonder that we have record numbers of emotional illnesses?  Is it any wonder that heart disease and stomach disorders abound?  If you’re concerned about your finances now might be the time to invest in Rolaids!  What do we do?  How do we turn things around?  How do we find rest in this restless world?  Well, maybe we’d better start at the beginning – literally.

Text: Genesis 2:1-3

We have a lot to learn from the opening chapters of the book of Genesis. There is far more present than meets the eye.

Do you remember the “Bible Code”?  Whenever I’m asked about my response to the Bible Code I say I am far more concerned with what the Bible plainly says than any hidden messages encoded in its text.  I’m not all that interested in whether the Bible has an encoded message about Adolf Hitler or the assassination of JFK.  I am far more interested in folks knowing that the Bible makes it clear that there is an answer to our sin problem and the answer’s name is Jesus! Rather than searching for hidden messages through the use of sophisticated computer programs why not dig into the text itself and mine its treasure to feed our souls?

As we explore the opening words of the book of beginnings we discover that our God is the self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal God.  He is creator of all that is.  He is a God of order rather than chaos and the creation itself is good.

This evening we discover:
Thesis: The seventh day of creation provides insight into God’s plan and purpose for His people.

Reflected in our text are the two goals the Lord has in mind for His people – rest and holiness.

I. The plan of God includes rest for the restless.
The OT is preparation for the coming of Christ – the promised Messiah. The OT is full of symbols and pictures pointing to the reality – the Lord Jesus. What is the OT about?  Christ.

Do you remember the Lord Jesus walking with the two on the road to Emaus?  What did He talk about?  Using the Scriptures He spoke of himself.  What Scriptures?  The OT!

Keep that in mind as we look at the text. What does it mean God “rested”? Took a nap? Dozed off? Didn’t pay attention?  Was indifferent to what went on?

We know that it was not that God was tired.  It is not that he was plumb tuckered out from all that creat’n.  He is omnipotent.  He doesn’t grow weary or tired.  Neither does he slumber or sleep.

We also know that He is, in addition to being the Creator, the Preserver, Provider, Redeemer and Judge.  He remains very active in His creation.  Note there is no reference to morning and evening in day seven – no end to this Sabbath.

What does it mean then? God rested from the work of creation.  It must also be noted the word used in Hebrew is closely related to the word for peace – an element I believe is important as we proceed.

Now turn to Exodus 20:8-11 this is the first reference to man joining in the Sabbath.  This is the first command for him to do so. He made heaven and 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.

Now look at Exodus 31:12-17.  (Note sign between me and you.  Note the connection with holiness.) Psalm 62:1,5 — Psalm 95:7-11.

“Wait a minute pastor, I think you’re stretching this a bit too far.” Look at Hebrews 3:12-15,19; 4:1-6.

The OT Sabbath was a picture.  A picture of what?  A picture of salvation in Christ.  All of the OT rituals were pictures and allusions to Christ.  The Sabbath was a picture of the fact that salvation is not the result of work.  It is wholly of grace!  Romans 4:5.

To enter into the rest of God we have to have our sin dealt with – Christ has done just that.  As a result He, himself, is our peace.  He is our rest.  John 14:1, 27.

Now if God has purposed that His people should enter into this rest – why is it that a restless world will not run to embrace this rest?  That brings us to the second thing in our text.

II. The plan of God provides sanctification for the wicked.
Holiness – that is why the world doesn’t want to embrace this rest. If you come to this rest – you come to God who is sovereign, omnipotent and holy! Sinners can’t find God for the same reason crooks can’t find police officers – they don’t want to find him!

Exodus 31:13 – “I am the Lord who makes you holy.” This is God’s plan and purpose for His people and has been since the creation of the world.  That fact is reflected in the 7th day of the creation.

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