Friday, February 17, 2012

Why did God have to rest?

       In Genesis 2:2-3 we read:

2. 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.
3. 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.

        Ever heard an atheist read those verses and then say, "If your God is so great and all-powerful, then why did he need to rest, HUH?"

        First, we should tell such an atheist to quote the verse correctly. It doesn’t say God "needed" to rest; it simply says that He did. Also, it is clear from Scripture that God did not rest because He was tired:

Isaiah 40:28
Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.

        Forget the image of Atlas straining under the weight of the world on his shoulders. It’s not like that with God. The entire universe is held together by Jesus’ word (Colossians 1:16-17, Hebrews 1:3). The creation and maintenance of the universe is not difficult for God. A mere word will suffice. As Psalm 33:9 declares, "For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast."

        God made the seventh day holy because it was the day all the work and creation was finished. The Hebrew word translated "rested" in Genesis 2:2-3 includes other ideas than that of being tired. In fact, one of the main definitions of the Hebrew word shabat is "to cease or stop." In Genesis 2:2 the understanding is that God "stopped" His work; He "ceased" creating on the seventh day. All that He had created was good, and His work was finished. The context of Genesis 1–2 strongly affirms the idea of God’s "res" being a cessation of work, not a reinvigoration to do more work. God did not merely "rest" on the seventh day; He stopped creating. It was a purposeful stop. Everything He desired to create had been made. He looked at His creation, declared it "very good" (Genesis 1:31), and ceased from His activity. Had there been more to create, he would have kept going. The Bible tells us that his rest was an ETERNAL state, and it was. It was an eternal state of completion. 

        We see this in (Hebrews 3: 16-19 and Hebrews 4: 9-10), where the Bible likens God's rest to the land of Canaan, the place of rest waiting on the Israelites after their hard journey through the wilderness. This promised land was not to be a temporary, transitory state; it was to be a permanent place of rest. And though the Israelites have been dispersed from this promised homeland many times for disobedience, it is there that they have always returned and it is there that they will dwell forever.