On the Seventh Day God Rested

Why did God rest on the seventh day of creation? Was He tired?

[Genesis 2:1-3]So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested[a] from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.

 A review of the broader context of scripture reveals  that God tells man to set apart the seventh day as holy… as a day to rest and to focus on God. Scripture also tells us that this rest is for man’s benefit, not for God’s.

[Exodus 20:9] “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

[Leviticus 23:3] “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of complete rest, an official day for holy assembly. It is the Lord’s Sabbath day, and it must be observed wherever you live.

[Exodus 34:21] 21 “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but on the seventh day you must stop working, even during the seasons of plowing and harvest.

[Luke 4:16] 16 When [Jesus] came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures.

[Matthew 12:9-12] Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, 10 where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)

11 And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. 12 And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”

[Mark 2:27] 27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 

There is much more that can be shared from scripture regarding the Sabbath, but here are a few points to consider as a start:

  • God rested on the seventh day following creation.
  • God observed in Sabbath in the person of Jesus Christ during His ministry on earth.
  • God commands us to honor the Sabbath.
  • Sabbath was made as a help for man, not for God.
  • Sabbath was made as a time for rest and for focusing on God.
  • We should prepare in advance while we work for six days to be ready to honor Sabbath.
  • Sabbath should be honored even during busy times, like harvest. Work is not an excuse to ignore Sabbath.
  • We are permitted to do good works on Sabbath. Jesus demonstrated personally by healing on the Sabbath.

Since I have started observing Sabbath I have genuinely found a slice of peace in one day of every seven. I spend it focused on family and God and at times on doing good works such as acts of service in Jesus’ name. It is truly a blessing to follow God’s command to honor the Sabbath.

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In the Beginning God Created

Scripture documents God’s creation of the universe in Genesis 1. The scripture is written such that even young children can understand. However understanding the full revelation of the creation has enough complexity that even Biblical scholars can have a healthy debate on whether or not it is a literal account. Of course the world dismisses it consistent with their rejection of the rest of God’s holy scripture.

I am personally enjoying a deeper study of the debate for creation as literal or literary as I seek to know God more intimately. However, for now, I will attempt to simplify.

Much of Jesus’ teaching during His ministry on earth was using parables. Parables are stories that help us understand God’s character even though they are not specific historical events. Whether we read Genesis 1 as an historical event or parable, let us consider it as truth and seek to understand what God is telling us.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.[a] The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.

Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. God called the space “sky.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.

Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened. 10 God called the dry ground “land” and the waters “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. 12 The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.

13 And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day.

14 Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. 15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. 16 God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, 18 to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

19 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fourth day.

20 Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”

23 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.

24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. 25 God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings[b] in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth,[c] and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

27 So God created human beings[d] in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.

31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!

And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day

There are several key points to highlight:

  • God created the heavens and the earth.  Overwhelming evidence (for those willing to study with open mind) proves creation as a series of random events is not possible. I will come back to this as a future topic for more discussion.
  • God created man in His image. Man is given opportunity and responsibility to reign over the animals, fish, and birds, etc.  Man is special amongst God’s creations.
  • God created man as male and female, intending them to work together as a team to fill the earth and reign over it. Men and women are not intended to compete against one another and try to be the same. They are created to be different, to complement one another… or  He would not have made two kinds.
  • God took time to review and evaluate each step in creation. He was pleased with what He created. Nowhere is there an indication He felt disappointed in His creation. He was methodical and created exactly what He intended, without error.
  • Creating the universe was not challenging for God. He is truly amazing to consider who He is and what He is capable of.

I encourage you to spend time reflecting on how these simple points should be reflected in your attitude toward God, man, woman, and the rest of God’s creation. How you view creation, the Creator, and the role of man sets a foundation for how you live your life.

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Wisdom Shouts in the Streets

Proverbs 1:20-33 highlights the importance of pursuing godly wisdom for the decisions in our lives, and God’s desire for us to find His wisdom.

20 Wisdom shouts in the streets.
    She cries out in the public square.
21 She calls to the crowds along the main street,
    to those gathered in front of the city gate:
22 “How long, you simpletons,
    will you insist on being simpleminded?
How long will you mockers relish your mocking?
    How long will you fools hate knowledge?
23 Come and listen to my counsel.
I’ll share my heart with you
    and make you wise.

24 “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come.
    I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.
25 You ignored my advice
    and rejected the correction I offered.
26 So I will laugh when you are in trouble!
    I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
    when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone,
    and anguish and distress overwhelm you.

28 “When they cry for help, I will not answer.
    Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.
29 For they hated knowledge
    and chose not to fear the Lord.
30 They rejected my advice
    and paid no attention when I corrected them.
31 Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way,
    choking on their own schemes.
32 For simpletons turn away from me—to death.
    Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.
33 But all who listen to me will live in peace,
    untroubled by fear of harm.”

This scripture is written elegantly and passionately to get our attention. A few key points that we should all consider:

  • God wants us to have wisdom. God’s wisdom “shouts” to us, but we must actively seek it and not reject it.
  • Fools have chosen not to fear the Lord.
  • Fools prefer mocking others rather than seeking true knowledge, for they already decided what they want to do.
  • Fools ignore the correction they receive from God.
  • God lets us choose. He does not force us to obey Him. Those who reject His wisdom “eat the bitter fruit of living their own way”.
  • The wise find “peace, untroubled by fear of harm”.

Take a few moments and reflect personally on whether or not you are really seeking God’s wisdom  in the detailed decisions of your life. He cares about us and wants to guide us… we need to listen!

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What Does God Say About Homosexual Behavior?

With recent news regarding the United States supreme court ruling that same sex marriage is now legal, many seem in an uproar on one side or the other. For those of us who follow Jesus, the answer is not dictated by one or more governments but rather by the very words of God Himself. We can point to countless examples of governments throughout history that reject God’s instruction and choose to endorse immoral behavior as legal.

[Matthew 9:4-6 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’[a] And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’[b] Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

[1 Corinthians 6:9-11] 9Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

[Romans 1:25-28] 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. 28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.

[Leviticus 18:22] 22 “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.

Genesis 19:1-13 tells of the wickedness of sexual sin that led to God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Despite many governments or cultures throughout human history that try to re-define what is moral… God is very clear and consistent on the issue of homosexual behavior.  Throughout Old and New Testament He confirms the same message, that it is a sin… an act of rebellion and rejection of God.

That is not where the story has to end though for any sinner. Jesus loves sinners and through God’s grace has made a way for us to come back in relationship with Him. Repent from your sin, turn to God and seek Him wholeheartedly, and ask forgiveness. He can set you free from your sin.

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You Are the Salt and the Light

Jesus provided important insight into the kingdom of God when He taught a crowd of followers during the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:13-16 He shared two simple but powerful metaphors for us as His followers to understand our roles in this world.  

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Our lives should be visible, public testimonies to our faith in Jesus Christ. We should stand out and apart from the world through our behaviors and actions. If we blend in with the world and fail to live for Jesus we are like salt that has lost its flavor or a light that is hidden under a basket.

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Sermon on Mount

Matthew records an historical sermon in which Jesus taught a crowd of people. There is important insight to be gained regarding God’s kingdom by reading and studying this sermon.

Mathew 5:1-11

 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

The blessings do not always show up in a way that the world recognizes, because God’s kingdom is different from the world. The blessings may not show up even in a way you are looking for, but His promises are true none the less. Perhaps the richest blessing of all is developing a close relationship with God as we follow Him and obey His instruction.

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Jesus is the Good Shepherd

A good shepherd loves his sheep, lays down his life for his sheep. A good shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep know his voice and will follow him. Jesus uses this elegant metaphor to describe His love for us in John 10:11-17.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”

This is a beautiful scripture giving us insight about Jesus and His love for us as His flock.

  • Jesus loves us enough to willingly lay down His life for us.
  • Jesus wants us to hear His voice and follow Him.
  • The better we know Jesus, the more clearly we will recognize His voice.
  • We may see ourselves as a collection of small flocks around the world each following Jesus, but Jesus sees all His sheep as part of a single flock following a single, good shepherd.

Whenever possible, we should work together across denominational or geographical boundaries with our brothers and sisters in Christ across the world. We are one flock. We should all be striving to hear and follow the instructions of our good shepherd, Jesus Christ.

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Teaching Your Children Wisdom

For those of us who have embraced the marriage covenant before God and been blessed with children, we have a great responsibility to raise them up in the Lord. We must teach them truth about God’s word throughout scripture and how to apply it so that they will not stray from the path.  We want our children to have wisdom in confronting the temptations and lies of the world.

Proverbs 1:8-19

My child,[a] listen when your father corrects you.
    Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
What you learn from them will crown you with grace
    and be a chain of honor around your neck.

10 My child, if sinners entice you,
    turn your back on them!
11 They may say, “Come and join us.
    Let’s hide and kill someone!
    Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent!
12 Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave[b];
    let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death.
13 Think of the great things we’ll get!
    We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take.
14 Come, throw in your lot with us;
    we’ll all share the loot.”

15 My child, don’t go along with them!
    Stay far away from their paths.
16 They rush to commit evil deeds.
    They hurry to commit murder.
17 If a bird sees a trap being set,
    it knows to stay away.
18 But these people set an ambush for themselves;
    they are trying to get themselves killed.
19 Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money;
    it robs them of life.

It is often tempting to think that whatever we see in the world today is somehow worse than it used to be in the past. The reality is that there is nothing new under the sun. People have been sinning and rejecting God in the same way with the same selfish motivations for thousands of years. The solution to overcoming this world is also the same… turn to God wholeheartedly, repent from our sins, study His word, and live according to God’s instruction.

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Wisdom from the Book of Proverbs

Most people would tell you they seek wisdom to make important decisions in their lives. However, many look for wisdom in the wrong places. They look toward celebrities, the wealthy, athletes, or even politicians to tell them what they should do and how they should live… instead of God.

God provides Proverbs as an important part of the scriptures to  share the wisdom He gave Solomon with generations of His people throughout time. Carefully studied in the context of the whole Bible it is a fantastic place to seek wisdom and find it!

Proverbs 1:1-7

These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.

Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,
    to help them understand the insights of the wise.

Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.

These proverbs will give insight to the simple,
    knowledge and discernment to the young.

Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.
    Let those with understanding receive guidance
by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs is easy to read and apply and just as relevant to today as it was thousands of years ago.  Human nature has not changed. Neither has God’s wisdom in how to deal with it.

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Be Strong and Courageous

Moses’ introduction to the leadership role of the Israelite people is unforgettable. He represented the people before Pharaoh as God unleashed the 10 plagues on Egypt.  Then Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, through the wilderness and eventually to the promised land. He was there for many miracles including manna from heaven to feed the people and water from rocks to quench their thirst. Undeniably Moses had a special and very strong relationship with God.

When God called upon Joshua to lead the Israelites, it must have seemed quite a challenge to Joshua to follow a great leader like Moses. Joshua had been at Moses’ side for a long time and thus had experience in leading his people. Joshua was well prepared to fill the role. Still, God took time to provide Joshua with both clear instruction and encouragement to help him get off to a strong start.

Joshua 1:1-9

After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea[a] in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

God provided Joshua with both clear instruction and encouragement, just as He did for Moses at the burning bush.  God did not want Joshua to doubt himself in the new role or be timid. After all, the first task was to lead Israel into battle.

God also did not say “Do whatever you want and you will succeed anyway.” God instructed Joshua on several elements critical to his success:

  • Be strong and courageous in following God’s direction.
  • Carefully obey all the instructions Moses gave you.
  • Study this Book of instruction continually… obey everything written in it
  • Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Whether God asks us to lead a million people or just to conduct ourselves through our daily lives, He calls us all to use the same formula for success. Be strong and courageous in following God. Study and obey His word carefully. Do not be afraid or discouraged no matter what we face for the Lord our God is with us.

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