Turn in your Bible to Genesis 2:1-3. Last time we focused on what we called creation ordinances and blessings, and we focused, in particular, on the first two of them: procreation and labor. The ordinance of the Sabbath is set forth in Genesis 2:3, and we’ll look at that this time. As we said last time, God establishes certain blessings and obligations for man at the very outset of His relationship. The very first words out of God's mouth were a blessing, and this ordinance of the Sabbath is also meant to be a blessing. I'd like to look with you verse by verse at this passage.

In verse 1 we see that the seventh day marks the completion of God's special creative work. We've already been told in Genesis 1:1-2 that God created the heavens and the earth, but there is a new phrase added in Genesis 2:1, "and all their hosts," designed to express to us that the entirety of creation has been filled out. Look back at Genesis 1:2 and see the contrast: "The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep." We've gone from emptiness to fullness, from the beginning of creation to the completion of creation. In that phrase creation is brought to a finish.

Let me mention some interesting things. This same Hebrew word for finish is used twice more in the Old Testament for important works of completion. In Exodus 40:33 the same term is used of Moses’ completion of the tabernacle. All that labor prospectively described in the chapters preceding Exodus 40 is brought to a culmination. Then over in II Chronicles 7:11 the same term is used in the context of the feast of the dedication of God's house which Solomon had built, emphasizing that Solomon completed what he set out to do.

It ought to encourage us that God brought to completion that which He set out to do in creation. That is very important for our confidence that He has brought to completion what He set out to do in redemption. The terminology of finished is applied to that as well in the New Testament. In John 19:30, John records for us Jesus’ words, “It is finished.” Those words are packed with significance indicating that Christ has brought to completion that which was necessary for the work of redemption. I also want to note that the same terminology is used in Revelation 21:6 with regard to the new creation, so we see the finishing of the old creation and the establishment of the new creation by the Lord Jesus Christ in the same language. What God begins, He completes. That ought to bring us confidence that, when He promises that He will not leave us or forsake us and that He will complete the good work that He has begun in us, He really means what He says.

So here in Genesis 2:1 God finishes His work of creation, but that does not mean that He ceases to work. The work of creation is never to be repeated; it is done. The only thing comparable is in the new creation. But God continues His work of providence, preserving and governing the creation, as Jesus especially tells us in John 5:17. God's Sabbath rest is not pure inactivity; it is a resting from His creative works.

In verse 2 we learn that God rests from His creational labors on the 7th day, and we’ll learn from the New Testament that He does that for our benefit. Look at verse 2: "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." So God's finished work of creation is sealed with the words, "He rested."

But, again, this does not mean that God is inactive. Indeed He continues to nurture His people and His creation. In John 5:17 Jesus defends his healing a man on the Sabbath day by saying, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” Notice again Jesus’ words in Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” God made the Sabbath to be a blessing, not a curse. It's a day in which God is concerned to nurture His people. Again in Hebrews 3:7-4:11 it is stressed that God's Sabbath was not only a gift for man but a promise for believers of a rest which we experience in part now and which we look for in the future. God's Sabbath is entirely designed for the blessing of His people and as a day for the nurturing of spiritual life, for worship and service.

Finally in Genesis 2:3 we see that God set apart and favored the seventh day because of His rest from creative work. Look at those words. "Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because in it he rested from all His work which God had created and made." Because of His resting, which He did for our benefit, God blessed and made holy the seventh day. When I say that He blessed that seventh day, I mean that He made it an effective means of blessing for all those who sanctify it by rest, worship, and service. When I say He sanctified it, I mean that He set it apart for holy use. Now, remember. those who first heard these words already had a Sabbath. Moses isn't trying to argue that they ought to have a Sabbath but to explain to them where their Sabbath came from. His point is that God’s pattern of work and rest was designed specifically for us because He knew that we needed that rest from our labor.

So the Sabbath is a memorial of God's blessing to us in creation. It's a memorial also of the rest that we will have in redemption. In the two passages of Exodus and Deuteronomy where they record the Ten Commandments, that both of those things are stressed. In Exodus 20:11, Moses stresses that the reason we're to remember the Sabbath day is because the Lord established this in creation. Then, if you’ll turn over to Deuteronomy 5, he stresses God's redemptive work. Beginning in verse 13, the command for the Sabbath day concludes this way: "And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day." Because God freed Israel from slavery, they were to observe the day. His work is grounded both in creation and in redemption. And I want to just say in passing, remember this is an entire nation made of former slaves whose lives had been completely controlled by those who owned them. What a blessing this would have been to slaves! Their response would have not been our customary, "Oh, no." It would have been, "This is wonderful!" The Lord's day is provided for them as a blessing, and we ought to be excited about this provision of the Lord for us in the Lord's day.