At the end of the sixth day of creation, Elohim (God) saw everything that He had made over the previous six days and said, “Behold, it is very good!” (Gen. 1:31 KJV)
It must have been an extremely awesome sight to behold – the perfect interoperability of all that Elohim had just created. Imagine the newly created heavens and earth interacting with the darkness and light of day one, and those elements working together with the creation of the firmament of day two. Now see all that working together perfectly with the Seas that had been gathered together from the waters under the firmament, and all that working together and with the dry land which was then bringing forth vegetation, and herbs yielding seed, and trees bearing fruit from day three. To behold all those things working together with the newly created sun, moon and stars of day four, and with the sea creatures and fowls of the air of day five; plus the land animals, and finally Adam and Eve on day six – it must have been an extremely exhilarating experience. It was! Elohim said “Behold, it is very good!”
In Genesis 2:1 (KJV) we read the continuation of the creation narrative: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” At the end of the sixth day, Elohim’s work of creating the heavens and the earth and the host of them was complete and perfectly integrated and interoperable. Nothing was created before day one, and nothing was created after day six. However, there was a seventh day that was about to dawn.
The Seventh Day
Even though the dawning of the seventh day would itself be a new thing – a day that had never existed before, its existence would not be the result of a fresh exertion of creative energy from the mouth or hand of Elohim; the seventh day would come into existence by the perpetual cycle of night followed by day (or darkness followed by light) that was previously established on day one of creation week. Elohim planned and implemented His creative works so that He could cease from His works at the end of day six and begin His rest at the commencement of the seventh day – which began with evening and ended after daylight as it did on the previous six days of creation (Gen. 1:5,8,13,21,31). By His wisdom, Elohim built perpetual processes into creation which permitted Him to rest for the entirety of the seventh day from all that He had made.
“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.” (Gen 2:2 KJV)
In Young’s Literal Translation, Genesis 2:2 reads:
“and God completeth by the seventh day His work which He hath made, and ceaseth by the seventh day from all His work which He hath made.” (Gen 2:2 YLT)
The Hebrew text can literally be translated as: “and Elohim ceased at the seventh day from His works…”
Elohim Blessed the Seventh Day
In Genesis 2:3 (KJV) is says, “And God blessed the seventh day…”
While I don’t know exactly what Elohim said when He blessed the seventh day of creation, one thing is certain – He spoke words that imparted into that day an extremely great potential for rest, refreshing and restoration. Think about it… whatever He spoke was so great that He, the Creator of the universe, could rest in it.
Seventh Day Sanctified
In Genesis 2:3 (KJV) it says: “… and [He] sanctified it…”
To sanctify simply means: “to set apart” usually for a specific use. When Elohim sets something apart it is almost always for a holy purpose. Elohim set the seventh day of creation apart for the specific holy purpose of rest, refreshing, and restoration. Elohim set the seventh day apart from the other six days so that He could set Himself apart and rest from His own creative works.
In Genesis 2:3 (KJV) it says: “… because that in it [the seventh day] he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
“He had rested…” The reason for the rest on the seventh day is because Elohim had set the example for us to follow; from day one through day six of creation week He worked; He exerted a tremendous amount of energy from Himself to create all things. On the seventh day of that week He rested or ceased from all His work so that He could be refreshed – He could reinvigorate Himself (Exo. 31:17). Yehovah is Self-Existant and Self-Energizing.
Remember the Sabbath
In the Ten Commandments given to Moses by Elohim at Mt. Sinai for the nation of Israel, the fourth commandment echoes the precepts established in the creation week of Genesis. The fourth commandment calls us to remember that Sabbath – THE seventh day – the seventh day from the beginning of Elohim’s creation of the heavens and the earth – the day when Elohim rested.
In Exodus 20:8-11 (KJV) it says: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
When we remember the Sabbath, we are acknowledging that Elohim is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all the host of them. We remember that we exist because of Him and that we live within the context of His purpose for creation. When we remember the Sabbath and keep it according to His instructions, we acknowledge that we have chosen to follow His example and His commandments.
Who Does the Sabbath Belong to?
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep…” (Exo 31:12-13 KJV)
One thing to remember about keeping the Sabbath is that the Sabbath does not belong to anyone other than Elohim. There is no such thing as a “Jewish Sabbath” or a “Gentile Sabbath” or a “Christian Sabbath.” Those are divisive designations invented by man that should be rejected. Elohim said they are “…My Sabbaths.”
A Covenant Sign and Sanctification
In Exo 31:13 (KJV) it goes on to say: “…for it [Elohim’s Sabbath] is a sign between me and you throughout your generations…”
Keeping the Sabbath is a covenant sign that has marked past generations of Elohim’s covenant people. Today, it still marks the lives of those who have been apart unto Elohim. By setting Himself apart on the set apart seventh day, Elohim set the example or pattern of life for those who would walk after His ways. He set Himself apart so that we could be set apart.
The Sabbath has been set apart by Elohim and we are to enter into that which He has sanctified through faith and obedience – by following His example. As we keep the Sabbath we come to realize that it is He who in fact does sanctify us. Keeping the Sabbath is the first principle of sanctification. Our sanctification is not based upon a religious denominational creed; it is rooted in the faith that Elohim is the Creator of all things and He sanctifies us by His means and methods.
The Sabbath is Holy
We must be very careful not desecrate the Sabbath by regarding it as an optional commandment to observe if we want to, when we want to, or how we want to; the Sabbath of Elohim is holy and we are commanded to keep the Sabbath holy as Elohim made it holy.
Exodus 31:14 (KJV) says, “Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.”
The Commandments of Men
As there are clear commandments in the Scriptures regarding how to keep the Sabbath, there are also hundreds of man-made commandments associated with the Sabbath that are nowhere to be found in Scripture. Many of these man-made commandments are based upon very technical definitions of what constitutes work and are extremely legalistic and prosecutorial in nature; these kinds of laws do not provide for the mercy and justice of Elohim. For example, in the writings contained in a book called the Mishna (the Oral Law), in Shabat 7.2 there are 39 various categories of work mentioned that are forbidden to do on the Sabbath.
Yeshua and the Sabbath
Many of the miracles that Yeshua (Jesus) performed were apparently done in direct violation to the Oral Law so as to say, the Creator does not recognize the authority of your laws as He recognizes the authority of His own laws. Yeshua was not bound or restricted by the Oral Law.
An example of Yeshua performing a miracle in direct violation of the Oral Law can be found in Matthew 12:9-14 when Yeshua healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath and was told by the Pharisees that what He had done was unlawful to do on the Sabbath. Their law did not prevent the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. The man was miraculously healed.
Another example is when Yeshua healed a man at the pool of Bethesda who had been ill for 38 years. After Yeshua healed him, He instructed the man to take up his bed and walk. That too was a violation of the Oral Law, but it did not stop the power of the Spirit. The man was healed, he took up his mat and walked away justified in the sight of the Almighty.
Yeshua often used such occasions when the Pharisees would question Him for breaking their laws to emphasize the gracious, merciful and just character of His Father. Love, mercy, and justice are attributes of the spirit of God’s Law. The commandments of the Father are not grievous (I Jn. 5:3). The Father takes no pleasure in making laws that pin people down with a plethora of burdensome nit-picky legalisms that are impossible for them to do so He can punish them for their violations.
When the Pharisees questioned Yeshua, accusing His disciples of breaking their Sabbath laws by picking ears of grain from a field on the Sabbath, then rubbing those ears together in their hands on the Sabbath, and then eating the produce on the Sabbath; Yeshua answered them: “…but if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless” (Mat 12:7). Yes, they were condemning the innocent by their own merciless rules. There are many today who will aggressively seek judge and condemn you by those same man-made laws. Beware of their leaven!
In Mark 2:27-28, Yeshua said to them [Pharisees], “…the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
As Elohim created all things by His Word, including the Sabbath; it is the Word that has mastery over the Sabbath. It is the Word that created the extremely great potential of that day for rest and refreshing. It is that same Word that became flesh and tabernacle among us in the person of Yeshua HaMashiakh of Nazareth – He is Lord of the Sabbath who says, “Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and you shall find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mat. 11:28-30).
The fullness of Sabbath rest is in Yeshua!
Elohim Delights in His Sabbath
The Sabbath was established by the Creator for man’s benefit; to allow him to rest, refresh, and have unified fellowship in and with Elohim and to take pleasure in that which pleases Him. Our God takes pleasure in His Sabbath where He has commanded His blessing for His covenant people.
For He said: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isa 58:13-14)
This article is a work in progress.
Charles J. Shields
Now Arise Ministries