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Don Stewart :: In What Sense Did God Rest upon the Seventh Day?

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Don Stewart
God finished His work of creation in six days. The Bible says that on the seventh day God rested.

And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done (Genesis 2:2).

How can an all-powerful God rest? How should we understand this concept?

All Power

God's rest does not have anything to do with His being tired or weary. The Bible makes it clear that God has infinite power.

Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you (Jeremiah 32:17).

The Bible also states that an infinite God does not have to rest.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary there is no searching of His understanding (Isaiah 40:28).

Stop Creating

God has rested in the sense that He stopped creating. His ministry of creating new things is now over. Presently God is sustaining the universe that He created. The prophet Nehemiah wrote:

You alone are the Lord; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all things on it, the seas and all that is in them, and you preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You (Nehemiah 9:6).

Still Working

Though God has rested from His creative work, He is still working. Jesus said.

My Father has been working until now, and I have been working (John 5:17).

Holds Our Breath

The work of God has not ceased. The prophet Daniel said to the pagan king Belshazzar.

And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your very breath in His hand and owns all your ways you have not glorified (Daniel 5:23).

Jesus Holds It Together

The Bible says that Jesus Christ is presently holding together the universe.

And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (Colossians 1:17).

Why Speak Of God's Rest?

Why then did the author of Genesis use the term rest when referring to the cessation of God's creative activities? Oftentimes Scripture simplifies the language about God's nature and works so that we finite humans can better understand. For example, we have such statements as, God rested, God repented, and God forgot. These statements are to be understood from a human standpoint, not a divine standpoint. God does not rest, repent, or forget, but the Bible explains His acts in terms we can understand. From our vantage point God rested but the eternal all-powerful God does not need rest.

Summary


The God of the Bible does not need to rest. When the Bible says He rested it means He ceased creating new things. God has continued to work by preserving the universe as well as staying intimately involved in His creation. The Bible uses terms like rest, repent, and forget, in describing some of the works of God. Yet this description is for our benefit so that we can better comprehend His works.


CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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