The Sabbath Rest of Creation

Seven observations tying the end of the bible with the beginning of the bible.

Revelation 21:3 says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.’” God dwelt in the garden with Adam and Eve but they were exiled from that first dwelling place of God among men because of their sin. Then God dwelt in Israel’s tabernacle and temple, then in Jesus Christ, as John tells us in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”

 

Creation’s Coronation and Goal

Chapter 10 from Better Than the Beginning: Creation in Biblical Perspective (Palmdale, CA: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2013). Re-printed with permission.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:1-3)1

Introduction

This is a massive subject. The issue of the Sabbath has caused much ink to be spilled in our day as well as in previous days. Sabbath simply means rest. But what does God’s rest mean for God and for us? There is much confusion on this issue due to not understanding the first revelation of the Sabbath as found in Genesis 2:1-3. This confusion, in part, is due to not allowing other parts of the Bible to explain the function of the Creator’s Sabbath. In order to understand the Bible correctly, we have to understand what the Creator’s Sabbath means, not only for us but for God. In order to do that, we have to let the Creator tell us what it means. He does just that in various places in the rest of Scripture.

Every picture tells a story and every person has a story. But there is one Person whose story stands apart from all others and that story is God’s, recorded for us in the Bible. God’s story tells us that He created, what He created in the first place, why He created man and what man’s supposed to do, why there’s so much trouble on the earth, and where history is heading. In the next two chapters, I want to show that understanding the Creator’s Sabbath helps us understand the entire Bible–what it is about, what went wrong, how God’s going about fixing what went wrong, and where history is heading. In order to do that, it is important to understand the Bible’s diversity and unity and its beginning and end.

The Bible’s Diversity

The Bible is a huge book with many diverse parts. We have both an Old and a New Testament. There are thirty-nine books in the Old Testament, written over a period of about 1,500 years by many different authors, in different cultural and religious circumstances from which we live. The New Testament has twenty-seven books, written within the time-frame of one generation, a little over 2,000 years ago. But that generation existed in a world different than ours as well. Add to that the fact that the Bible has different kinds of literature, like narratives that tell stories of ancient events, people, and places, prophecies that tell of things to come, and epistles, which are letters written by apostles to local churches in the first century, and the Bible gives the appearance of being made up of disconnected books, written by various authors who did not know each other over a long period of time with no central point, no plot, no story-line, and no conclusion.

The Bible’s Unity

Those who read and think deeply upon the text of Holy Scripture realize that though it has diverse books and diverse authors and even diverse languages,2 in all its diversity there is a wonderful unity in it. This unity is due to its divine author, who is none other than God Himself.

One of the ways the overall unity of the Bible may be seen is by comparing the beginning of the Bible with its end. I have a book on one of my shelves entitled, The End of the Beginning: Revelation 21-22 and the Old Testament.3 The author, William J. Dumbrell, argues that the end of the Bible is the beginning of the Bible brought to its intended goal. He argues that the end is actually better than the beginning. Another author, T. D. Alexander, says:

As is often the case, a story’s conclusion provides a good guide to the themes and ideas dominant throughout. By resolving an intricate plot that runs throughout a story, a good denouement4 sheds light on the entire story.5

This is true in a good mystery novel or movie. The plot (or riddle or problem to be solved) is revealed early on and is finally solved at the end and then everything in between makes more sense. But suppose you start a movie, then 15 minutes later someone walks in and begins to watch. They will have many questions. Though you might be hooked by then, the person who came late will not understand the plot, or setting, or background of the story. By the middle of the movie you will be putting clues together trying to solve the riddle. The other person will be asking you to either explain the various scenes, start the whole thing over, or they will leave.

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