Genesis 2:1-3

Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.

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.

Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

all the host of them (v.1) — the stars (Deuteronomy 4:19; Jeremiah 33:22)

The actual Hebrew verb used here [for “rest’ in v.2]—i.e., vayyishbot, which shares the same root as the noun “Sabbath”—does not properly mean “to rest” in the sense of physical recuperation from physical exertion (for this idea in the Hebrew Bible the proper verbs are yashen, “to sleep” (which we are told God does not do) or nuah, “to rest,” as in the name “Noah,” but in fact means literally “go cease,” “to abstain,” or “to not work”—that is to say, it denotes simply the absence or cessation of activity that would otherwise be classified as “work,” or “labor.” — Wechsler, pages 73-74. 

sanctified (v.3) = “set apart,” made holy

There is no evening to the Sabbath day; it has no evening, it is eternal. It foretells Christ, the true Sabbath, in whom God rests and in whom believers rest. This is “God’s own rest” of Hebrews 4. — Williams, page 9.


It is extremely significant that God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. Blessing, as we have already noted, fundamentally concerns the expansion of life, whereas sanctification—literally, “making holy”—concerns the sovereign granting by God of that quality which most distinguishes Him from all Creation (cf. Isaiah 6:3) and which, when granted to human individuals, is that which fundamentally enables us to commune or “relate”—that is, to “connect”—with God. What God is here doing, therefore, is establishing the crucial and unchanging paradigm of holiness—and hence the “relationship” with God that it enables—being inseparably connected with cessation from work. It is, indeed, precisely this point that the writer of the letter to the Hebrews makes, after quoting this very passage, when he concludes that “the one who has entered His rest (is the one who) has himself likewise ceased from his works, just as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:10). In establishing this paradigm God is once again demonstrating both His omniscience as well as His gracious love for man, since the need for this paradigm—which is in essence (and as clearly treated in Hebrews) a paradigm of how to get back into relationship with God—only became felt after the Fall of man in chapter three. The Sabbath observation, in other words, as based upon this passage in Genesis 2:1-3, was meant to be “a shadow of what is to come, the substance (of which) is in Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17). — Wechsler, page 74. 

What Wechsler said. The Sabbath isn’t about humans needing a day to recover from their work. It’s about humans needing to be reconciled to God so they can enter into the “rest” of Christ.

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