The first pages of the biblical text give us God’s account of how He created the universe. We learn that from the immensity of His greatness and power, He simply spoke it all into existence out of nothing. There are many things we learn about the reality of our world from this:
The God that created everything is a Being of incomprehensible power.
He stands apart from our universe as totally “other,” yet He acts within our world. In fact, because He made everything, all of it belongs to Him, and He has every right to do exactly as He pleases.
God’s right to do what He wishes in our world is not only because He made it, but because He is good. He is the ultimate moral authority in the universe, and so He is the most qualified to rule over it. We will see this in many ways as we study scripture, but we can see it in creation because everything He made was profoundly good…beautifully ordered…rightly and well made. By His wisdom, God laid the foundations of the world (Proverbs 3:19-20).
There is no way to underestimate the importance of this. If the Being that created everything was evil, or toggling back and forth between right and wrong like some kind of force…if God Himself wasn’t pure and holy and right, it would mean chaos for everything. But God is perfectly good, and who He is establishes the basis of all reality.
There is a profound internal transformation that takes place in those who embrace this explanation of reality as their own. Knowing that the God of the universe is not only powerful but dependable…stable…unshakably good…lays a foundation for our souls by which we find our own stability, comfort, and peace. Whatever chaos or craziness we see in the world or find in ourselves, we can know that the One who rules in power…the One who made us and determines how all stories will end…is unchangingly stable and secure.
On the sixth day of Creation, the Lord made humanity. The human race is the pinnacle of Lord’s work: the special, set-apart beings that were made in His image. Their sacred role, the very thing they were made for…that we were made for…was to act as a reflection of God as they served Him as His stewards in the Garden. Once humanity was brought into the world, the cosmos was complete.
At this point in the story, things take a shift…a surprising turn. Day after day we have seen God depicted as powerful and profoundly able as He spoke everything from the might of His will. Now that everything was ready, one might expect to see Him move into action. What was He going to do with it all? Instead, the Lord, the all-powerful God, the mighty King, did a remarkable thing. He rested. This is what the Bible says:
“By the seventh day, God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.’”
After six days of abundant outpouring, His work went quiet. The entire universe was set in place. The massive stars throbbed in the heavens, the planets whizzed along their ordained paths around the sun, the animals gamboled about in perfect safety on the earth. God made everything with exacting excellence. Even the darkness was molded by God to accomplish His perfect will. There was no more chaos. Everything was appointed to its rightful place in the sweeping harmony of God’s pristine world. His creation of time brought order to the development of its wild beauty.
At the end of all His creation work, the Lord took some of this time, and set it apart to rest. It was not as though God was tired or weary. He never grows weary. His work was simply done. It was totally complete and good, operating in perfect balance. Rest was a form of celebration…a space of time by which to behold, enjoy, and commune.
God blessed this day of rest, somehow filling it up with His vibrant power and creative might. Then He set this day into the laws of the universe, into the very fabric of how all things are made. He created time to have within it a day that was meant to be set apart. It was a sacred space of hours for reflection and worship of the One who created it all. His people would draw near to their God by spending a special, empowered time with Him every week, the seventh day. The people made in His image would rest, too, just like their Lord.
The people of God would write songs and poems to celebrate God’s work and His sacred rest. Here is a psalm written for the Sabbath by a servant of God some three thousand years ago:
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day:
It is good to praise the LORD
and make music to your name, O Most High,
to proclaim your love in the morning,
and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre,
and the melody of the harp.
For You make me glad by your deeds, O LORD;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
How great are your works, O LORD,
how profound your thoughts!
We can still sing these songs today. And if our hearts are not full of praise, we can be sure that it means we need a Sabbath rest all the more. Our souls were created to need sacred time for celebration and rest with our Creator for one-seventh of our days.