Do you know that one of the seven days of the week is a holy day? Have you ever heard that one of them is blessed? Have you ever read that one day of the week is especially for people’s benefit? Can you say which one it is? What makes it holy and blessed? How can you know that? What makes it possible to receive its blessing? Where can one find information about the holy, blessed day? These and many other amazing questions are waiting to be answered, so there is a special place for this longawaited book that draws enlightenment from the one true source of life and hope, God’s word.
In some societies, the frantic pace of activity is reaching dizzying levels, while in others unemployment is a serious problem. But especially in large cities, people work more than one job or long hours seven days a week under constant stress, which wreaks havoc on their bodies, minds, and spirits. Adding un-healthful, unsafe workplaces to the pressures, it is easy to see that work and stress are risk factors that threaten the physical, mental, and spiritual health of many people, with serious negative consequences for families and society. What good is it to work like a slave day and night under tension until one drops from exhaustion? Common sense dictates that regular rest periods are necessary for employees to relax and restore their energy. At the very beginning, when man was still in paradise and sinless and work was not difficult and exhausting as it can be now, the Lord planned for man to have one whole day of rest. Great benefits would thus be poured upon him, providing refreshment and spiritual growth.
Have men always paid attention to what is best for their employees and granted them such a day of rest, or did their personal interests take precedence over the health and well being of those who labored for them? What about when people were in slavery, subject to all kinds of abuse day and night? Even after slavery was abolished in some countries, terrible working conditions often prevailed during the industri-al revolution. And today, all around the world, people in power exploit those who work for them, ignor-ing and trampling on the right to a just wage and human dignity. Left to himself, rarely does a man in power care about his employees over the long term. In fact, there is no certainty that a business owner will even provide for his own well-being!
The Lord knows what is in men’s hearts and what temptations are constantly placed before them. He not only set a good example in the beginning but made promises and provided universal guidance not only for those who are free but also for those who work for others as employees and servants. Everyone needs time for rest so that work does not crush him. God appointed just such a day of rest and pronounced His blessing upon it at the very beginning. Do you know what day that is?
When the heavens and earth were finished
Giving a panoramic view of the marvelous creation that God completed, the inspired author wrote: “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 2:1-3.*
The first chapter of the Bible records the most amazing creation ever–the origin of the earth and all life on it. It is a light that illuminates earth’s history and shows where man and all life came from. The second chapter gives the history of the great institution and blessing of the seventh day. It, too, is a light that illuminates not just the past but also the present and future, showing that we are not alone. A divine blessing constantly accompanies us as we live our lives.
The verses presenting the end of God’s creative work include four fundamental concepts: (1) the completion of creation, (2) God’s rest, (3) the blessing of the seventh day, and (4) the sanctification of the seventh day–He made it holy. We will examine these concepts in detail.
To conclude God’s creative activity and introduce the holy rest day, the Biblical report states simply and unequivocally: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” Genesis 2:1. The mention of the heavens, the earth, and the entire host of them–everything that they encompassed–the epilogue to that stupendous work.
“‘The heavens,’ writes John Calvin, ‘without the sun, and moon, and stars, would be an empty and dismantled palace: if the earth were destitute of animals, trees, and plants, that barren waste would have the appearance of a poor and deserted house. God, therefore, did not cease from the work of the creation of the world till He had completed it in every part, so that nothing should be wanting to its suitable abundance.’” –Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, comments on Genesis 2:1. Ac-cessed June 5, 2018, https:// www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/genesis-2.html.
Fulfilled on the seventh day
In the second verse of Genesis 2 is the statement, “On the seventh day God finished His work that He had done.” The sentence that precedes it and the facts stated in Exodus 20:11 and 31:17, show the fixed relationship between earth and its Creator. When was the creation actually completed, according to God? On the sixth or the seventh day? Faced with such an interesting question, some commentators have suggested that an error was made in copying the verse. In fact, the first translation of the Bible into Greek, known as the LXX or Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Syriac and Arab text of Genesis 2:2, and the Talmud (Megil. 9,1), has the word “sixth,” not “sev-enth,” day.
The commentary of the French Bible of Louis-Isaac Le Maistre de Sacy reads: “God finished His work on the seventh day, that is to say, He ceased to act that day, all having been completed the previous day. This is why it is said in the Septuagint that God ended the sixth day, because He finished His works at the end of this day.” –Bible de LouisIsaac Le Maistre de Sacy. La Genese traduite en François avec l’explication du sens literal et du sens spirituel, Paris, Guillaume Desprez, 1725, pp. 35-36, comments on Genesis 2:2. Accessed June 4, 2018, http://jesusmarie.free.fr/bible_ sacy_genese.pdf.
The German Konkordante Wiedergabe, published in 1958, follows this idea and translates the verse as, “And God finished His work on the sixth day.” Genesis 2:2. – Konkordante Wiedergabe der Heiligen Schrift (AT): Erstes Buch Mose, Pforzheim, Germany, Konkordante Verlag, 1958.
Nevertheless, others consider this differently. While the creation in itself was complete, operative, and “very good” (Genesis 1:31) on the sixth day, it was still lacking the blessing and sanctification of the seventh day. One author therefore writes that “the Sabbath completed creation” (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath: Its meaning for Modern Man, New York, Ferrar, Straus and Young, 1952, p. 21), and another interprets the verb “finished” of verse 2 as putting the seal on His creation. “God did not work on the seventh day, but put the seal on His works; this is the sense of fin-ished.” [“Dieu ne travailla pas le septieme jour, mais il mit le sceau à ses oeuvres; c’est le sense de complevit.”] –La Sainte Bible commentée d’après la Vulgate par L. Cl. Filion, Tome I, Paris, Letouzey et Ané Editeur, 1899, p. 25, comments on Genesis 2:2. Accessed July 9, 2018, http://jesusmarie.free.fr/ bible_fillion_genese.pdf
This is also the position of the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, which asks the question: “When did God complete His work? We can only answer, ‘On the seventh day God ended His work’ (ch. 2:2), ‘for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day.’ Exodus 20:12.” –Seventhday Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, Washington, DC, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1953, p. 208, comments on Genesis 2:1.
The seventh day
In the same chapter, in commenting on the blessed and holy day established by the Lord at the begin-ning, the book of Genesis confirms that it was “the seventh day.” “… 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 2:2, 3.
While the report of creation in chapter 1 mentions other days only once (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), Genesis 2:2, 3 includes the term “the seventh day” three times–twice in verse 2: “On the seventh day God finished His work,” and “He rested on the seventh day,” and once in verse 3: “God blessed the sev-enth day.” After telling about all six days and specifying what occurred on each one, the same thing is seen in the description of what happened on the seventh day–finishing of the work, rest, blessing, and sanctification.
According to this account, the Lord memorialized the seventh day of the creation week because it was the end, conclusion, or culmination of His work. The text states it twice: “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.” Genesis 2:1, 2, emphasis supplied. In hallowing the last day of creation, the Lord expressed His approval of what had been done. That approval could not have been given until He finished His work. Five times in five different verses (Genesis 2:2, 3; Exodus 20:11; 31:17; Hebrews 4:4) the Scriptures link the “seventh day” directly with creation, showing that its origin dates back to the beginning of the earth and mankind.
We read the following thoughts concerning the fact that the origin of the holy day of rest goes back to creation. “At the end of the account of the creation of the world with which the book of Genesis begins, we read: ‘On the seventh day God finished His work which He had made, and He rested (Hebrew, šāḇaṯ) on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.’ Genesis 2:2. The story of the Old Testament Sab-bath therefore begins with the Sabbath or repose of God after His work of creation.” – Roger T. Beck-with and Wilfrid Stott, This is the Day, London, Marshal, Morgan and Scott, 1978, p. 2. Accessed March 7, 2018, https://earlychurch.org.uk/pdf/ttd/chapter01.pdf.
“Moses used this … pattern to represent in a brief yet accurate manner God’s creation of the heavens, the earth and all things therein in the space of six sequential numbered, literal days…. Moses’ theologi-cal emphasis was to demonstrate in literary form that day 7 was a day of cessation from divine creative activity as the two uses of šāḇaṯ (“ceased” in NET Bible) in Genesis 2:2, 3 clearly indicate.” –Terry Mortenson, Thane Hutcherson Ury, eds. Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth, Green Forest, Arizona, Master Books, 2008, p. 242.
“God first created space, and then He filled it with the inhabitants. On the first day God created light, and on the fourth day He put lights or luminaries (sun and moon) in their place as ‘inhabitants’ of the light element. The second day He separated water from water by creating an expanse and on the fifth day filled the waters with fish and the sky with birds. On the third day God formed dry land and the vegetation on it, and on the sixth day God filled the land with the inhabitants He created–first a variety of land animals and creatures, and finally humans. He then gave humans and animals vegetation for food.
“As a final and climactic act of His creation, God made the seventh day–separating it from the other days of His creation and making it holy. Sabbath is a palace in time. God created/formed a very signifi-cant temporal space, but much more than that, He also filled the time with His holiness.… The Sabbath is the only day where forming and filling are put together…. From the … creation story it is evident that the creation of the Sabbath is highlighted….” – Jiří Moskala, “The Sabbath in the First Creation Ac-count,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 13/1, April 2002, pp. 56, 57. Accessed October 7, 2018, http://www. atsjats.org/publication/view/62.
“We are simply told that God enjoyed His rest, because all was done, so far as the mere creation was concerned. There was nothing more to be done and, therefore, the One who had, during six days, been working, ceased to work, and enjoyed His rest. All was complete; all was very good; all was just as He Himself had made it; and He rested in it. ‘The morning stars sang together; and all the sons of God shouted for joy.’ The work of creation was ended, and God was celebrating a Sabbath.” –Charles Henry Mackintosh, Notes on the Book of Genesis, 1878, comments on Genesis chap. 2, w.p. Accessed May 15, 2018, http://www.baptistbiblebelievers.com/LinkClick. aspx?fileticket=8lY-RvDKSwI%3d&tabid=268&mid=887.
“The seventh day, rich with God’s blessings, was the climax of God’s creative work. In the words of Abraham Heschel, ‘Last in creation, first in intention, “the Sabbath is the end of the creation of heaven and earth.”’ Everything was declared to be ‘very good’ and no shade of disorder can be traced in the complete Creation Story.” –Zdravko Stefanovic, “The Great Reversal: Thematic Links Between Genesis 2 and 3,” in Andrews University Seminary Studies, Spring-Summer 1994, vol. 32, no. 1-2, p. 49. Accessed October 7, 2018, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/ Scholarly Jour-nals/AUSS/AUSS19940401-V32-01,02.pdf. For the reported quotation, see Abraham Heschel, The Sab-bath: Its Meaning for Modern Man, New York, Farrar, Straus and Young, 1951, p. 14.
Other authors, who also traced the origin of the sanctified rest day to creation, made the following comments. “According to the Biblical creation narrative the Sabbath originated at the end of creation week as an expression of the divine will. Genesis 2:1-3.” –Ángel Manuel Rodríguez, The Biblical Sabbath: The Ad-ventist Perspective, Genève, Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventhday Adventists, 2002, p. 1. Accessed May 15, 2018, https:// www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/sites/default/files/pdf/ Sabbath-Catholic_2002.pdf.
“Silence and stillness once again enter the atmosphere. The mood of the prologue now resurfaces in this epilogue. There is no activity, no noise, no speaking. All that God has willed and designed for His can-vas of the universe is now in its place.” –Victor P. Hamilton, “The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17,” The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1990, p. 141.
Right at the beginning, when every day had its proper designation with an ordinal name (first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth days), the last day also received the next consecutive ordinal name, the “seventh” day, so it was specified exactly and could not be confused.
Some people think that it is no matter which day they keep to worship the Lord; they think that every day is alike. According to them, neither the day nor the name has any importance; the only important thing is to worship Him. This may seem like a harmless, acceptable idea, but is not. This type of think-ing has generated enormous differences and confusion among people who want to follow their own per-sonal opinions, according to their own understanding, simply because they will not accept what the Lord instituted for man’s blessing and sanctification. It is good to worship and praise the Lord every day, morning, noon, and evening, and even more at other times of the day; but this is no justification for al-tering and rejecting what the Creator established–the “seventh day.”
This is not just the seventh day in sequence; it is also the day when God rested from His marvelous work of creation. His “resting” was part of that work of creation, imparting a very special, spiritual meaning to Sabbath rest, or cessation, while still identified as the “seventh day.” Exodus 16:23, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30; 20:8, 10, 11; 31:14, 15, 17; Genesis 8:22; Job 32:1; Proverbs 18:18. In some verses, both names are used–“seventh day” and “Sabbath”–as in Exodus 16:26, 29; 20:10, 11; 31:15.
The term “Sabbath” denotes the concept of “rest” or “day of rest,” while “seventh day” indicates its ex-act location within the week, coming every seven days. Thus, it refers properly to the events of creation and to its origin when everything was brought into existence. Of all the days of creation, the one that is set apart, blessed, and sanctified day is the “seventh”–not another and not just any one of the seven. Let us not ignore or oppose the order established by the Lord!
The day the Lord appointed at the beginning of all things is thus definite and not just one of several, which one may select as he prefers. The clearly specified “seventh day” is clear evidence that when no day had an exact name, God carefully identified each one, including the last one. Reading the sacred scriptural record, it is clear that the day that is blessed and sacred is the last of the series and therefore called “the seventh day.” Genesis 2:2, 3. In His holy word, the Lord inspired the writers to use that exact designation. This shows that He is very particular about this identification, so that people may receive the blessing of His holy day and never be confused with keeping another day.
By Antonino Di Franca
Source: Sabbath Watchman