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In the Beginning, God Rested
Dr. Tony Chute, Lead Pastor
Overview: The creation of the heavens and the earth was completed on the sixth day, but Genesis includes a seventh day when God rested from His work. The fact that God did not exhaust any energy in creating the heavens and the earth indicates a rest of satisfaction rather than fatigue, thus highlighting the intimate relationship between creation and the Creator. God also blessed the seventh day, setting it apart from all others and setting in motion a pattern of continued rest and reflection for successive generations. Accordingly, the original audience welcomed the Sabbath; Israel was distinct in its observance of the Sabbath; Jesus clarified the purpose of the Sabbath; the early church established the Lord’s Day in place of the Sabbath; and Christians ever since have attached great significance to it. Even though the Sabbath first occurred in the beginning, it is built into our weekly worship and points us to the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God.
01. We who are worried can rest in the fact that God never sleeps, nor does He slumber; He continues to work, day and night, without interruption.
02. We who are weary can rest in the fact that Christ has completed the work of salvation; He invites all who are weary and heavy laden to find their rest in Him.
03. We who are working can rest in the fact that our labor for the Lord is never in vain; He calls us to persevere in light of the promise of a future Sabbath rest.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION & DISCOVERY
1. How does the reference to God’s rest differ from human rest in terms of recovering from the exertion of energy? How does God’s rest compare to that of an artist completing a portrait in terms of appreciating the finished product? How can you use the Lord’s Day to rest and reflect?
2. Genesis 2:1 states that God finished creating the heavens and the earth, and then He blessed the seventh day. Note how similar language is found in Exodus 39:32, 43 with the completion of the tabernacle where the work was “finished,” and Moses “blessed” the people. What does this parallel suggest about the connection between creation and redemption as themes of worship?
3. What is the distinction between the seventh day of creation, the Sabbath, and the Lord’s Day? What other sabbaths occurred in Israel’s history? How did Israel’s entrance in the Promised Land illustrate the Sabbath while falling short of the true Sabbath? See Leviticus 25, Joshua 1, and Hebrews 3-4 for further insight.
4. Why would the original audience (those who left Egypt to go to the Promised Land) welcome a day of rest in the midst of their work? How did Israel honor the Sabbath rightly? In what ways did Israel misapply the Sabbath? How did Jesus clarify the purpose of the Sabbath? See Jeremiah 17:22 and Matthew 12:1-12 for further insight.
5. In what ways does our weekly worship at Northpoint encourage you to rest in God’s ongoing work in the world, the finished work of Christ, and our future rest in heaven? How can your ties with fellow believers help you to persevere in your work for the Lord until you fully enter the rest God promises to provide? See Isaiah 58:13 and Hebrews 4 for further insight.
For Further Reading: Walter Chantry, Call the Sabbath a Delight (Banner of Truth, 1991)