On the seventh day of creation, God completed His work, and He rested (sabat) from His work (Gen. 2:2). God blessed the seventh day and set it apart as holy because He rested in the work He had accomplished (Gen. 2:3). Merriam Webster defines the word “meaning” as “the thing one intends to convey especially by language.” So, what is God conveying to the reader about Day Seven? What is the meaning? In the Gospel of John, Chapter 5, Jesus was criticized for healing a man on the Sabbath. In fact, the religious leaders persecuted and, ultimately, sought to kill Jesus because He performed miraculous works of healing on the Sabbath. However, Jesus explained, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (John 5:17). In fact, God never stops working and creating, and He never gets tired. When God rested on the seventh day, it was not because He was tired. He rested in confidence in what He had accomplished. God has absolute confidence in His plan and provision for humanity. Further, God’s rest was not an absence of work or activity. Jesus and His Father are always interacting with His creation. John 5:17 should encourage the reader to consider the metaphorical and higher spiritual meaning of Genesis, Chapter One.
Proverbs 25:2 states that “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, [b]ut the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” The Hebrew word haqar means “to search out, examine, or investigate.” It is incumbent upon humans to seek meaning (what is of lasting importance and value) from the Creator. Without faith, however, it is impossible to discover true meaning. Sadly, most humans have little faith. Therefore, inevitably, most live in a state of anxiety, fear, and confusion. As an example, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that most Americans live in a state of irrational fear and anxiety. COVID-19 is not the Bubonic plague (Black Death), which killed estimates as high as two thirds of all Europeans between AD 1346-AD 1353. A lack of faith in God is our most serious disease.
The writer of Hebrews explained that after escaping from Egypt, most Israelites did not enter into God’s rest (Heb. 3:11), despite their religious practice of observing the Sabbath. They hardened their hearts, and their lack of faith provoked God (Heb. 3:15). The Israelites’ lack of faith was a sign of their disobedience to God (Heb. 3:18). They could not enter into a state of God’s rest because of their unbelief (Heb. 3:19). They did not have trust in God.
The evolution of the U.S. Government and modern American culture can be disheartening to followers of God and those seeking rest in God. Christianity is increasingly under attack, and it is helpful to take a short digression into American history. In the 1950s, in the face of advancing Communism around the world, we (the United States) began inscribing “In God We Trust” on our money. In 1956, it became the official motto of the United States. It is important to note that this did not violate the U.S. Constitution, despite the arguments made by many in opposition to Christianity. The interpretation of the First Amendment, which establishes the freedom of speech and religion, is often approached in one of three ways: strict separation (of church and state), accomodationism, and secularism. Accomodationism is a Constitutional Doctrine of Interpretation that asserts that the First Amendment encourages a mutually beneficial relationship between government and religion. Those who interpret the First Amendment with accomodationism believe that “[g]overnment and religion are compatible and necessary for a well-ordered society.” In contrast, secularism and strict separation often encourage an antagonism toward religion, in general, and Christianity, specifically. Accomodationism provides a more accurate picture of the history of the United States and those who drafted our constitution. For example, the Congress that proposed the First Amendment was opened in prayer and featured a Congressional Chaplain. The U.S. Government should encourage religious freedom, without any preference to any sect, denomination, or group.
Now, more and more, our Christian traditions of faith are being severed from the public square. The mention of God and Jesus Christ is rarely welcome in the hallowed halls of education or government. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are effectively abridged in both public and private education. Inevitably, we have become a balkanized, cynical, vacillating, perverted, and weak people. We are enveloped by Chaos. Is it any wonder most find it hard to find rest?
The writer of Hebrews proclaimed, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Heb. 4:7). We must be reminded that “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9). As explained in the letter to the Hebrews: “For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (Heb. 4:10). We must trust in God’s eternal plan and provision in spite of the growing chaos in which we live. Simply, we should seek to do the works that God gives us to do. God shall bring to completion His intended plan even during times of suffering and national judgment.
Under the Old Covenant, the Israelites were required to do no work on the seventh day of the week (Exod. 35:2). The penalty for disobedience was death. In establishing the Sabbath, God intended to teach His people that a lack of trust in God will kill you and destroy a nation. The Sabbath taught God’s people to organize their week around God. The Hebrew word ana had an important association with the Sabbath. Ana means “to humble oneself.” For example, Leviticus 16:31 states: “It is to be a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, so that you may humble yourselves; it is a permanent statute.” Under the New Covenant, we no longer have to literally practice Sabbath observance like the Israel of old. However, spiritually, we must still practice Sabbath observance by building our week around God, which includes more than just worshiping God once a week. If you want to escape the chaos of this world, you must build your life around God.
To be a servant of God, we must humble ourselves before our Creator. We are promised that God listens to the humble (Ps. 10:17). He teaches the humble His way (Ps. 25:9). As a reward, the humble will inherit (take possession) of the Earth (Ps. 37:11). In fact, God will judge the Earth to save the humble (Ps.76:9). With the humble is wisdom and honor (Prov. 11:2, 29:23).
Photo credit: Painting titled: The Sabbath Eve by Alexander Johnston https://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_197973/Alexander-Johnston/The-Sabbath-Eve
 “H7673 – šāḇaṯ – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (nasb20).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 26 Aug, 2021. <https://www. .org/lexicon/h7673/nasb20/wlc/0-1/>.
 “Meaning.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meaning. Accessed 26 Aug. 2021.
 “H2713 – ḥāqar – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (nasb20).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 26 Aug, 2021. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h2713/nasb20/wlc/0-1/>.
 “Bubonic Plague.” Cleveland Clinic. 26 Aug 2021. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21590-bubonic-plague
 Bobic, Michael P. Updated 2017 by John R. Vile. “Accomodationism and Religion.” The Free Speech Center.
 Noll, Mark A.; Harlow, Luke E. (13 September 2007). Religion and American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the Present. Oxford University Press. p. 82.
 “H6031 – ʿānâ – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (nasb20).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 26 Aug, 2021. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h6031/nasb20/wlc/0-1/>.