Does the rest of God’s creation keep the Sabbath?

Author: BibleAsk Team


God’s Creation and the Sabbath

The Sabbath, a day of rest and worship, holds significant theological and practical importance within Judeo-Christian tradition. While much emphasis is placed on human observance of the Sabbath, there is curiosity about whether God’s creation, beyond humanity, also participates in Sabbath rest. This article endeavors to explore this question, reflecting upon biblical references to shed light on the Sabbath’s broader implications for God’s entire creation.

The Sabbath in Creation

The institution of the Sabbath finds its roots in the creation narrative of Genesis. After six days of creative work, God rested on the seventh day, blessing and sanctifying it as a day of rest (Genesis 2:2-3). This foundational act of divine rest establishes the Sabbath as a fundamental aspect of God’s creative order, reflecting his care for all of creation.

Genesis 2:2-3 states, “And on the seventh day God ended 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” (NKJV). This passage underscores the divine precedent for rest and sets the pattern for Sabbath observance.

Sabbath Observance in the Old Testament

Throughout the Old Testament, the Sabbath is reiterated as a sacred institution for the people of Israel. The Ten Commandments, given to Moses on Mount Sinai, include a command to remember the seventh day Sabbath day and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8-11). This commandment not only emphasizes the importance of Sabbath rest for human beings but also extends to the entire household, including animals and servants.

Exodus 20:10-11 affirms the inclusive nature of Sabbath observance: “but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (NKJV).

This passage suggests that Sabbath rest extends beyond human beings to encompass domestic animals and even foreigners residing within Israelite communities. The Sabbath is portrayed as a holistic and inclusive practice that honors God’s creative work and provides rest for all members of society.

Rest in the Psalms and Prophets

The Psalms and prophetic literature of the Old Testament further develop the theme of Sabbath rest within the context of God’s creation. Psalm 104 celebrates God as the Creator and sustainer of the natural world, highlighting the interconnectedness of all living creatures and their dependence on God’s provision.

Psalm 104:19-21 reflects on God’s care for the animal kingdom: “He appointed the moon for seasons; the sun knows its going down. You make darkness, and it is night, in which all the beasts of the forest creep about. The young lions roar after their prey and seek their food from God” (NKJV). This passage depicts God’s sovereignty over the cycles of nature and his provision for the needs of every creature.

Similarly, Isaiah 40:28-31 celebrates God’s incomparable power and wisdom in sustaining creation: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength” (NKJV). This passage reaffirms God’s role as the sustainer of all living beings, providing rest and renewal for the weary.

Sabbath in the New Testament

The New Testament also focuses on the significance of the Sabbath especially in the context of Jesus’ ministry and the early church. Jesus expressly declared that He had not come to destroy the law. He says, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets” (Matthew 5:17). Instead of abolishing the Sabbath, the Savior taught how it should be observed (Matthew 12:1-13.) And He declared, “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8). The Book of Acts gives a record of the disciples keeping the Sabbath (Acts 13:14, 44; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4,11)

There is no mention anywhere in the New Testament about the seventh day Sabbath as being abolished, done away, or changed. “For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Hebrew 4:4,5, 9,10). The promise of entering into God’s “rest” remains valid to all.

Sabbath in New Earth

“And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 66:23). This verse says “all flesh.” So, does all flesh mean earthlings or does it mean all of God’s creation? The Bible is not clear. The fact remains that all will observe the Sabbath in eternal recognition of Christ as the Creator of the world. And He will be recognized as the re-Creator of the new heavens and the new earth.

The Bible also reveals, “for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men” (1 Corinthians 4:9). God’s children and their lives have been of interest for the inhabitants of heaven (Hebrews 10:32, 33; 12:1). This whole world of ours is a stage on which the conflict between sin and righteousness, truth and error, is being carried on before an intensely interested audience composed of the inhabitants of the universe. This interest may lead them to join in the celebrations that will take place during the Sabbath.

Revelation 21:1-4 envisions the new heavens and the new earth, where God’s presence will dwell among his people, bringing an end to suffering and death. Revelation 21:4 describes the future state of God’s creation: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (NKJV). This vision of the new creation embodies the culmination of God’s redemptive work, where Sabbath rest will be fully realized in the eternal communion with God.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Sabbath is a multifaceted concept that encompasses both temporal observance and eschatological hope within the framework of God’s creation. Biblical references suggest that God’s rest extends to all of creation, including animals and the natural world. The Sabbath serves as a reminder of God’s sovereignty over creation and his provision for the needs of all living beings. Furthermore, the eschatological hope of Sabbath rest points to the ultimate fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan, where believers will experience eternal communion with God in the new heavens and the new earth every Sabbath. As believers reflect on the Sabbath, they are invited to embrace God’s restorative and grace, finding renewal and refreshment in the midst of life’s challenges.

For more on the Sabbath, please check (Lessons 91-102) of the Bible Lessons.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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