How does the author of Genesis conclude each of the seven days of creation (see Gen. 1:5, 1:8, 1:13, 1:19, 1:23, 1:31, and 2:1-3)? Consider the seventh day of creation as an ultimate rest day. What do you think it would be like to always live in that rest with God?
Read Genesis 3:1-7 and 3:21-24 aloud. What were the humans tempted to believe about God and themselves? How did they act on these beliefs, and how did this choice exile them from the place of rest? How do you think lies about God and ourselves prevent us from resting with God today?
God wants to restore humanity to ultimate rest, so he chooses the Israelites to reenact his seventh-day rest so they can share it with others. Of all the ways he invites them to practice rest (e.g., Exod. 20:8-11, Lev. 23:1-3, 25:8-13), which practice are you least familiar with today?
Jesus comes to restore us to God’s eternal rest! How does Jesus launch his public ministry? Read Luke 4:14-21, noting that the year of favor refers to the ultimate Jubilee—Israel’s super-charged Sabbath (see Lev. 25). What do you observe?
What is one specific way Jesus invites us to receive and practice true rest (e.g., Matthew 11:28-29)?
Tim: Yeah. In biblical Hebrew, the word seven is connected to the idea of fullness or completeness.
Jon: And that’s something we all long for but don’t often experience. Instead, we find ourselves working endlessly, fighting back chaos with no real rest.
Seventh-Day Rest Established in Genesis [00:22-01:09]
Tim: Yes. Now keep all that in mind as we turn to Genesis 1 in the Bible. It begins with darkness and disorder, but then God speaks to bring about light and order, so that life can flourish1.
Jon: And this happens over the course of six days.
Tim: Each day is marked with the phrase, “there was evening and there was morning.”2 But on the seventh day, something special happens.
Jon: God stops and rests.
Tim: Right. Creation is brought to its completion on the seventh day. And that phrase, “there was evening and there was morning,” it doesn’t appear on day seven3.
Jon: It’s like a day with no end.
Tim: On the seventh day, God’s presence fills his creation. The land provides for all of God’s creatures, including humans, who are appointed to rule the world with God forever4.
Jon: Kings and queens of the seventh-day rest. I can get into that.
Humans Forfeit Rest [01:10-01:57]
Tim: But the humans are deceived by a dark power, and they forfeit that rest5. They’re exiled into the wilderness6, where they have to work as slaves to the land7.
Jon: Until they die and return to the dust from which they came8.
Tim: But God wants to restore humanity back to that seventh day rest, so he chooses to give the family of Israel that experience of ultimate rest, so they can share it with others9.
Jon: But how? They’re in Egypt, slaves to an oppressive empire who is grinding them into the dust10.
Tim: So God confronts Egypt, and he liberates the Israelites11, taking them through the darkness and chaos on the way to the promised land12.
Jon: Now, while they’re on their way, they find themselves in the wilderness. It’s easy to get lost; life is a struggle13. They are not in the land of rest yet.
Rest Re-established with Israel [01:58-03:27]
Tim: But while they’re on the way, God invites them, in the wilderness, to start living as if they’re in the promised land14.
Jon: How do you practice the future rest in the wilderness?
Tim: Well, God tells them that every seventh day, they’re to stop their work, or in Hebrew, to shabat, so that they can rest and enjoy God’s good world15.
Jon: So take a whole day to live as if that ultimate rest has already come?
Tim: Yeah. This is the Sabbath, celebrated every week on the seventh day. But there’s more! The Sabbath is just one of seven festivals that Israel practiced every year––each one anticipating that seventh day rest16.
Jon: That is a lot of sevens.
Tim: And there’s even more! Every seven years, the Israelites were to liberate slaves, forgive debts, and let the land rest for a whole year17. And then every seven times seven years, was the ultimate seventh day rest called the Year of Jubilee. If anyone had lost their land or gone into debt, all was forgiven, everything restored.
Jon: Wow, so the Sabbath, these feasts, the Year of Jubilee, it’s all pointing towards the hope of future rest.
Tim: Right. Now when the Israelites went into the land, they forgot their God, and so they forfeited their chance to rest in the promised land.
Jon: They’re exiled and enslaved again by an oppressive nation, led back into a world of chaos and disorder18.
Tim: But Israel’s prophets said that their exile would end one day and that the ultimate Jubilee of freedom and rest would come. But generations go by, and they’re still waiting19.
Jesus Ushers in True Rest [03:28-05:01]
Jon: It’s at this dark point in the story that Jesus appears, and he launches his public mission on a Sabbath day20.
Tim: Yeah. He read aloud from the scroll of Isaiah, saying that it was time for all captives and slaves to be released because this was the year of the Lord’s favor21.
Jon: What did he mean? “This is the year of the Lord’s favor?”
Tim: He was talking about the ultimate Jubilee!
Jon: Ah. So Jesus is claiming that seventh day rest would come through him.
Tim: Right! He said that he was the Lord of the Sabbath22. And he confronted disorder and darkness in all of its forms, liberating people from sickness, sin, even from death itself23.
Jon: Yet Jesus was killed24, so even his work was undone.
Tim: Well, it seemed that way. But notice: Jesus timed his death to take place at the end of the week25. His body rested in a tomb during the Sabbath, and on the eighth day, he rose from the dead26.
Jon: Oh wait. The eighth day? You mean the first day of a new week?
Tim: Exactly. Jesus’ resurrection was like the first day of a new creation, where God’s light and life broke into the darkness.
Jon: So because of the resurrection, we have hope in God’s promise of future rest. But we’re not there yet. It’s like we’re still in the wilderness where we experience struggle and pain.
Tim: But as we journey towards that ultimate seventh day, Jesus invites us to experience a taste of real rest now by following him. Or in his words, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”27.