This is part three of a series called “The Backstory.” Parts one and two can be found here and here. Backstory is a reference to the sequence of events which form the backdrop to “The call of Abram” and the unfolding of God’s mysterious plan of redemption.
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
Let’s look at the phrase, “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” He did not bless any of the prior six days of creation. Was it because God was finally able to rest after a busy work week? Or is something more happening?
In an earlier study we looked at the two creation stories, but what connects the two stories together. I believe there’s a series of opposites which come together in Sabbath. Allow me to explain, in Creation Story One we have “heaven and earth” in story two we have “earth and heaven.” Also, in world one the creator is Elohim, but in world two he is YHVH Elohim. And lastly, in world one Adam is alone, but later in world two the woman is created from Adam. These pairs of opposites are reflections of each other and they have relationship.
Story Two – Does anybody know what time it is?
In Creation Story Two, what day is it? Creation Story One had clear delineations for the events of each day but what day is it in story two? I want to suggest that story two takes place on the seventh day (Sabbath) and the seventh day never ended. There is no mention of time in world two, it is timeless. For God, it is now always the seventh day. For it was on sabbath that he stopped creating; he then stepped into creation to live, walk, and talk with humanity, the objects of his creation.
At the end of the first creation, Sabbath was the time when the Creator stopped. A wise creator knows when to stop, just as an artist or sculptor knows when to stop designing so as not to diminish the completed work. The final act of creating was to stop creating, stop commanding, stop separating, stop dividing and stop judging. And that is what happened in world two, God stopped creating and began relating, connecting, and revealing. The heavy lifting of creation was done and for YHVH Elohim it was time to enjoy the finished work.
The message of Sabbath
Something happens to us when we are creating, when we are busy “doing” life. Our identity can become synonymous with what we do. Life becomes about our creations, performance, problems we solve, and name recognition. We live in this “works” cycle (world one) so much that it becomes normative, and we feel powerless to break from its’ clutches. Often the first question we ask a new acquaintance is, “What do you do?” Our identity comes from being a teacher, a doctor or a baker. Do we see the lie of identity this promotes?
Maybe the whole point of Creation Story Two is about Sabbath, a time to stop, rest and step away from a state of performance. Maybe this is a window into what it means to be a “human being” and not a “human doer.” Sabbath can help us from becoming disconnected and unbalanced. In Sabbath we take time to lay down the tools of work. We appreciate what God has allowed us to do and the gifts he provides for our enjoyment. It is time to reconnect with our source, our family and to enjoy the fruits of labor from world one.
There is an integration that comes together in Sabbath (our Eden in this world). Sabbath is the connection point for the finished work of world one and the dynamic and connected nature of world two. Notice how Adam is connected to the woman and all of life in story two, all made possible because of work that was completed in story one. Above I mentioned it can be a time to reconnect with our source, what does this mean? If we consider Adam, he was created from the ground and the breath of God. So his source is both earth and the Creator.
To apply this as a spiritual discipline, let’s ask ourselves, how I can reconnect with my spouse, my Lord, and the earth he has provided for me. I expect this will look different for each of us and will likely change over time. This exercise may seem awkward, so begin with a prayer asking the Lord, “How can I begin to integrate my life with all you have provided me?” A simple example may be to put down work for a day and take time for family. Recently, I bought hiking boots as motivation to spend time hiking local trails with my spouse. What steps can you take to begin a Sabbath practice?
A Continual Sabbath
From God’s perspective Sabbath never ended, there is no eighth day. God stopped creating at the end of day six and stepped into his creation on day seven. This is not to imply that God did nothing in story two, rather what he did was considerable. But it was relational, connected, and empathetic. I get a very different sense of the God of story one than what I find in story two. In story two his power and revelation are not in doing, but in being. Now, it’s always the seventh day for him. Therefore, the writer of Hebrews can say that a Sabbath rest is still available for the people of God. It’s still the seventh day!
….. his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
- How do I currently celebrate and enjoy Sabbath? Is it helping me reconnect with my source?
Please add your experiences in the comments section below.
- What does it look like to enter his rest today? What works do I need to cease from?
- Have you had times in life when you were so busy that you lost yourself and became more robotic than human? How did you recapture your true essence?