BIG Volume 1, Issue 5: The Seventh Day of Creation

BIG (Bible Insights and Gems) In Genesis

Although we will only cover three versus in this issue, we need to talk about the seventh day on which God rested. We can really misunderstood in our day. Even Christians can misunderstand it, let alone unbelievers who want to talk about God being tired.

We have just discovered in the previous issue possibilities for what the image of God may mean. God has just created man and woman in His image. As much as we think humanity is the important part of that passage, we find out that God is the important One.

Here we focus solely on God after He has finished creating everything with the sound of His voice. This issue focuses on God’s rest and how significant it is to everything in the Christian life. We will unlock the meaning of rest so we can apply it to our lives. I will briefly give a biblical theology of rest in the Bible as well.

God Finished His Work

Genesis 2:1: So the heavens and earth were finished, and all their host.

Even God does work. He worked all week, all six days. Now on the seventh day God was finished. The verb for completed, or finished, actually applies to the creation, not God. But since God created all things, He was finished with creating.

The fact God was finished on the seventh day makes it different from the six days of creation. What does “their hosts” refer to? “Host” can refer to the armies of Earth or heaven and to angels. “The heavens” refers to all the heavenly bodies, the universe, planets, stars, and moons.

The host here probably refers to the angels and any other celestial beings God had created. The idea of them being finished means that creation was not still happening. The natural laws God put into place were still happening. Trees and plants were still having other trees after their seed. Animals were still breathing. But original works of creation God ceased.

We must not think that God has finished acting on His creation. The rest of the Bible bears out that God has only begun to act on His creation. He still has a lot to do, especially after He has made man and woman. They will become the focus of most of what he does with His creation from now on. In fact, the next versus after Genesis 2:1-3 show just how much God works with humanity.

This first verse of chapter 2 gives us several markers that the seventh day is unlike any other day of creation. There are changes. God does not speak. Nothing is created. And the completion of creation appears here. This is the first time the verb of completion is used. These changes tell us that this day is special.

God Rested?

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

Twice in this verse we are told God ceased from working. Just using His voice to create all of creation is considered work. We have now received three cues that this day is different. God finished creating in Genesis 2:1. And now twice Moses has written that God’s work was done.

The same word is used for “finished” in both verses. It is the first word of both verses in Hebrew. Then we see the word for “work” used twice in this verse. It’s interesting that both words are used twice. “Finished” is used twice before “work” is used twice.

These are clear markers of the difference and special worth God will sign to the seventh day. “The seventh day” is also used twice. The word for “done” also appears twice. This repetition of words in the first and second verse of chapter 2 signifies the difference of the seventh day.

The word for “rested” is very similar to the Shabbat the Israelites will celebrate in the law of Moses. Shabbat refers back to this seventh day, and that is the example of “resting” God calls the Israelites to do on the seventh day.

The law of Moses will point back to the seventh day when God rested and use it as a precedent for the practice in Israel. However, we would be looking forward to the law of Moses to see this example appear. We must not see God resting as setting a precedent for the Sabbath and seventh day until then.

In other words, looking back from the law of Moses in Exodus and seeing how God sets the example for rest, the Sabbath, and Israel’s practices to honor Him on this day is not saying that as we start from Genesis 2:2 to see God resting as an example.

Not until Moses’ law will we understand that we are to rest as God rested. But what about this idea of God resting? God does not need rest. He is not like us. He gave us this need for rest as He created us to not work all seven days of the week. I wonder if Adam and Eve rested on the seventh day like God. Scripture does not discuss this.

God does not need to rest. “Rest” actually refers to ceasing from labor. It does not mean God took a nap or slept. So, we should not understand that God needed to rest, nap, or sleep. It simply means that He stopped working.

This would only appears three times in Genesis (Genesis 2:2, 3; 8:22). In Genesis 8:22, God tells Noah in the re-creation that the seasons will not cease. We can understand it to mean the same thing here, that God ceased from creating.

This agrees with the idea Moses gives in his law. The Israelites were not commanded to take a nap on the seventh day or to sleep on the seventh day. But they were commanded to not work on the seventh day.

The word for rest in Hebrew resembles the word for Sabbath. The rest is not connected to sleep in but to ceasing from work or resting from work. Unlike the words for “finished,” “work,” and “seventh day,” “rested” only appears once in this verse. I will take the cue from Moses that this word is the important word in this verse.

The word for “seventh” is very close to “Sabbath” also. They only differ in one Hebrew letter. Many people want to argue for the day the seventh day or Sabbath must be. I don’t believe God wants us to argue about it. He simply wants us to take a day of rest, cease from labor one day out of seven.

Arguing about which day the seventh day, the Sabbath, can divide people. I know that is not God’s desire or design for us. The Israelites celebrated from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. You can see the fingerprints of creation’s days of the week beginning on the evening and going to the next morning.

Christians celebrate the Lord on Sunday because that is the day Jesus rose from the dead. I would imagine the early disciples still celebrated the Sabbath on the same day other Jews celebrated. But we also see them meeting on the first day of the week which would have been Sunday.

My point is that different traditions celebrate Sabbath on different days, but we all celebrate it. No one can go to Genesis 1-2 and see a definitive day that was set on which the Sabbath must be celebrated.

The only rule set down here is that we observe God resting from His work, and so should we according to the law of Moses given by God. We can understand God’s rest to be ceasing from the working of creation. I will talk more about resting below.

The Seventh Day

Genesis 2:3: So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, for on it He rested from all His work, which God created to do.

Finally we get to why the seventh day is mentioned so much in verse 2. The seventh day receives the same blessing the man and woman receive (Genesis 1:28?). Genesis is the book of blessing as the word occurs 39 times in 36 verses (Genesis 1:22, 28; 2:3; 5:2; 9:1, 26; 12:3; 14:19, 20; 17:20; 18:18; 22:18; 24:1, 27, 31, 35, 48, 60; 25:11; 26:12, 29; 27:27, 29; 28:6, 14; 30:27, 30; 32:1, 30; 35:9; 39:5; 47:7, 10; 48:3, 15; 49:28).

“Blessed” is the first word of this sentence, which means it could possibly be emphasized. God both blesses and makes holy the seventh day. “Holy” means to be separate and consecrated to God. It’s a special day because of God’s finishing and ceasing from creation and work.

Indeed, later in the law of Moses it remains a holy day onto the Lord. The seventh day becomes one more thing God separates. To consecrate the seventh day means to make it belong to God for His purpose. This is why it becomes a crucial day of celebrating the Lord’s rest later.

When we acknowledge and celebrate the Sabbath day, the seventh day, and observe it, we received the blessing of that day in our lives. It is crucial that we observe the seventh day of ceasing from labor. You can shut yourself off to one of God’s blessings when you work seven days a week and ignore observing the day God ceased from His work.

Genesis 2:3 serves as a summary of what God did not do on the seventh day. Moses could not have emphasized it any more than he has in these three verses.

We see “create” once again to finish out the creation account from Genesis 1:1-2:3. William D. Ramey from recognizes a chiastic structure in Genesis 1:1-2:3.1

He shows Genesis 1:1 where God created to be the same words used in Genesis 2:3. Going further in on the chiasm is Genesis 1:1b and 2:1 where God created “the heavens and the earth.” In the middle of the chiasm is God’s work of creation informing and filling.

The Significance of Rest

God’s rest appears later throughout the Old Testament. It is foundationally spoken of here in the creation account. But the seventh day and Sabbath, along with God’s rest (closely related to the word Sabbath in Hebrew) have ripple effects through the Bible.

I’ve already mentioned how Moses’ law given by God on Mount Sinai commands the Israelites to rest on the seventh day, known as the Shabbat (Sabbath in English). They are to celebrate the Sabbath rest on the seventh day, which for them is Friday sundown to Saturday sundown every week.

The neat thing about the Sabbath in the law and feasts of Israel is that it does cool things like introducing the feasts (then called a super Sabbath). It is also part of a system of yearly sabbaths known as jubilees. We don’t know if Israel ever celebrated the Jubilee year because it requires a giant leap of faith.

The Jubilee year was celebrated every 50 years, the combination of 7 seven years. The Jubilee acted the same way the Sabbath day acted, except the Israelites would be required to not work for a whole year. They would rely on the Lord to supply in that seventh sabbatical year supernaturally because they were to put their crops to furlough.

God’s rest also becomes a theme in Hebrews 3:7-4:13 where the writer of Hebrews riffs off the reference to Psalm 95:7-11. God’s rest is a place the Israelites rejected in the wilderness. It is also a place the writer of Hebrews directly applies to Christians. In short, to enter God’s rest is to trust in His provision and not rely on our work and resources.

Enter God’s Rest

You need to take the time to read Hebrews 3:7-4:13 because it is such an imperative for us today to enter God’s rest and not rely on our works. Make an effort to keep that one day a week holy and separate to the Lord. Consecrate it for worshiping God for all He has done for you.

Do not allow anything to profane that day and cheapen it. Rest in God. But avoid becoming legalistic about how much work you do or don’t do on your Sabbath. Worshiping God should be much more than one day. Observing the Sabbath once a week is a privilege.

Even when you are working, you can apply this idea of God’s rest. Our minds become cluttered and clouded with all the things we put in our schedules and calendars. We commit to many activities per week. Even as you are going about the business of your day you can rest in God’s presence and peace.

I can’t begin to recount all the verses about God’s peace and presence. There are so many that we can apply to ourselves on our Sabbath and throughout the week. Let your mind be cleared and peaceful from everything it dwells on.

Take time to rest during the week and get your sleep. Although sleep is not the same as God’s rest, it is vital for our bodies to receive the same rest our minds receive. Resting in the Lord is not easy. If it was, we would make it more important to us. Take a moment to acknowledge how much you rest in the Lord and ask Him how you can rest more, even when you must work.

The Saga Continues…

Genesis 1:1-2:3 is one literary unit and needs to be taken as such. I have divided this passage because one issue would be way too long. Although we have finished the creation account, we will move to another “zooming in” of the creation account as we focus next on the creation of Adam and Eve in our next issue.


  1. William D. Ramey. Literary Analysis of Genesis 1:1-2:3. Christian Publishers’ Bookhouse, 1997. PDF copy accessed February 9, 2024.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Betsy Frailey

    I am really getting a lot out of these BIG issues!!!
    You asked for typo notification. Whats the easiest way to alert you to any I find

    1. Jonathan Srock

      Good question. I suppose the easiest way would be to copy the sentence and email me telling me which article you found it in and pasting the sentence so I can see the error. Thank you for your editing help! My email address is

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