Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

And God Rested

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

If you would please remain standing andlet's hear God's Word now from Genesis, Chapter Two, verses one through three. Genesis two, verses one through three. This is the word of God.Thus the heavens and the Earth were finished, and all the host ofthem. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had doneand he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it wholly because on it Godrested from all his work that he had done in creation. May God blessthis to us. You may be seated well. As we hear in Genesistwo, verses one through three, these acts of God, his finishing thework of creation and then resting, of blessing and making the day wholly humwe are reminded, of course, of our own need to rest. Weall know that we need to rest. We know how important it is,we know how necessary rest is. Today, of course, is mother's Day,and is there anyone who knows the importance of rest more and desires itmore than a mom? Our mothers, of course, are the ones thatteach us from early on how important it is to get to bed how muchwe need a good night sleep and how will feel so much better in themorning. But of course, even as she says these things, we learnas adults, we know that she is...

...longing for them herself. She knowshow much you need to go to bed because she knows how much she needsto go to bed. She knows how tired she is and how desperately shewants to be free of your care for just a little while so that shecan recoup. That is to say, then, when it comes to rest, we're all in this together, children and parents, young ones, adults, all of us. We all share this common need and this desire forrest. But it's not just sleep that we need. The rest that weneed goes deeper than that. We want rest for our bodies, of course, but but also for our souls. It's why, even though our MOM'smay be very tired at the end of the day, she might stay upan extra hour just to unwind before she sleeps. That's why one of thenumber one selling APPs in the iphone store was an APP that helps you getthe most out of your sleep, not just to help you get to sleep, but to get the most out of it, to be most restful,most rejuvenating, most refreshing. So it's not that we just want rest.We want something more than that, and rightfully so. We want refreshment,we want meaning as well. We want our work to be finished in away that we can sort of breathe freely and and be satisfied with, tosay that that was a good job, I did a good thing, it'scompleted and I can rest. We want our moments of rest not to bemere sleep, but to be meaningful and refreshing, whether it's a week endbreak or a midyear vacation or just a good night's sleep. We want ourwork not just to end, but to end in a satisfying way. Wewant our work not just to stop,...

...but we want to rest in peace, as we say at the end of life. Genesis two, one throughthree explains why this need is so deeply in us. It explains this needfor meaningful, refreshing rest. It helps us understand why we are the waywe are. As you will see, God worked and rested in the wayhe did, not because he was tired, not because he ran out of energy, but to set a pattern for us. God worked and rested inthis refreshing and meaningful way to set a pattern of life for us, apattern for us to follow, a law to obey and a reward to enjoy. You work as I have commanded, to be fruitful, multiply rule asI have commanded, and you will enjoy this satisfying rest. Work as Idid and rest as I did. But we have to be careful as weconsider this, this pattern God gives us to follow, because it's not anoptional pattern. These instructions for life are not like the instructions for a newset of legos. They're not optional. You won't be considered a master builderif you decide to take another path or figure out a way on your own. You will be a failure. If you do not do as God hasrequired, your work will not be blessed, but will be cursed instead. Ofcourse, you know this already. The reason you feel the need forrest so deeply, the reason refreshing rest is not optional as because God didnot just establish a pattern that you might follow, but that you must follow. That is why we need it.

It is ingrained in us, itis a part of us. It's established this way because of the particular relationshipGod put us in the particular way in which he institutes these things. Solet's look at Genesis two, one through three and see both what it isGod did and what it is he made us to do. So first let'sconsider very carefully what it is God did. The first thing we have to sayis that God created the world and finished it. It finished it.We start here because this is so clearly and so obviously a major point ofthese three verses. You get this in in all kinds of ways. Noticethe repetition of this phrase. Were finished. The these verses begin this way.Thus, the heavens and the Earth were finished, and all the hostof them here were reminded that the world came into existence and was completed byGod. This is remarkable on several accounts. We could spend all day reflecting onjust this one thing, but consider just a narrow, narrow thing.Consider what this means in relation to our own work. What can you pointto in your life and say with complete satisfaction it is finished. What canyou point to in your life and say this thing right here, this one, maybe not this, but this one, this is over and I've done itwell and I've done it perfectly and I can rest satisfied. Of coursethe answer is nothing. Sure you have completed tasks in your lives. Youmight have closed a sale, you might about to be about to get adegree or fold a basket of laundry or any kind of a number of thingswe might do, but the customer always...

...wants more. Some aspects of yourlearning will prove to be inadequate. Even things you thought you had mastered.The laundry will just keep coming and coming and coming. There's nothing that wecan ever really point to and say this is completed, this is finished,and I've done it perfectly and I've done it well, I've mastered it ina way that God speaks of his own work here in creation, and sothis is God finishing his work. He doesn't just finish it, but hefinishes it perfectly. And what he finishes as well is nothing less than thecreation of the heavens and the earth. God did not in a degree orfold some laundry or clean some dishes or close a sale. He created theheavens and the earth and all the host that is in them and he finishedthat work. He finished it completely. This is the first action of Godand we see that underlined in the following verses and verses two and three.On the seventh day, God finished his work that he had done. Andagain in the second half of verse two, and he rested on the seventh dayfrom all his work that he had done. And then verse three.So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it God restedfrom all his work that he had done. And as you read that and youhear that repetition, as you hear that hit again and again and again, there's this sense of completion that comes even more done, done, done, done. So the point couldn't be more clear. God finished his workof creation. He didn't sort of do it, he didn't almost do it, he didn't try his best, he didn't create a prototype or a Betaaddition to be improved upon after some testing. God made the heavens and the earth. He did it well, he...

...did it perfectly and he finished it. So, versus one through three, you tell us that God finishes thiswork of creation, but we also hear what happens after he finished it.We're told that after God finished the work of creation, he rested. Andthis is so important because here we see that there's a big difference between stoppingyour work and resting from it or even in it. The word used here, for rest, has the sense of breathing easy or freely, being satisfied, being refreshed, being at ease and light of what has been accomplished.So, as I mentioned earlier, God does not rest because he's tired.He rests as an expression of his self satisfaction of what he has done.There's no evaluation period here, no probation period, no product testing. Goddoesn't try to learn from his mistakes now that he's finished his work and seewhat he can do better next time. He simply rests. He finishes hiswork and he rests. He rests in the perfection of his Almighty power.He rests in the perfection of his perfect accomplishment of his perfect will, whichis to say that God rests not just in his work, but he restsself sufficiently in himself. The last thing God does is bless and consecrate theday. You see that in verse three. We say that God bless the seventhday and made it holy because on it God rested from all his workthat he had done in creation. Because of God finished his work and herested. On that day, he blesses...

...it and makes it holy. Whatdoes it mean to bless? What does it mean to make holy? Tobless it something is to bestow good on it. It is an action froma superior to an inferior. In the Bible it is this divine action mostoften, in which God bestows good, causes good to flow out from himselfonto the things that he's made. The first time we see this is increation, in the creation of the animals and things that populate the waters andthe skies and Exodus one hundred and twenty. God says, let the waters swimwith swarms of living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across theexpanse of Heaven. So God created the great sea creatures and having living creaturethat moves with which the waters swarm according to their kinds, and every wingedbird according to its kind, and God saw that it was good and Godblessed them, saying be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seasand let birds multiply on the earth. It is a command that has somethingof a of a promise to it as well. This thing, this intentionthat God has for them. He wants these animals to be fruitful and tomultiply and to fill the next time we see this bestole of good is,of course, on man. In the sixth day, God creates man,male and female, and he calls them, blessing them, and calls them todo similarly, to be fruitful and multiply, and we read this inVerse Twenty Eight of Chapter One. And God bless them and said to thembe fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. But here wesee also that they're not just equal in the animals in this but they ruleover the animals. Part of this, this command includes this have dominion overthe fish of the sea and the birds...

...of the heavens and over every livingcreature, over every living thing that moves on the earth. And so inthis blessing, in this bestole of good, we see God's this desire, thiscommand, this will of God for mankind. If we continue to tracethis word. We won't do that now, but if you continue to trace thisword throughout genesis, you'll see it connected in very specific ways. I'mto God's promises to his people after the fall of man. I'm God blessesShem, the Noah, then Ham and then Abraham. And when God getsto Abraham, if you're too if you were to do a search of thisword, you'll see that all of a sudden this word starts happening a lot. Bless bless, bless, bless, bless, blessed, blessed all throughoutGenesis, Chapter Twelve, throughout the story of Abraham and Abraham's sons, whenGod makes this promise to them, this covenant of Grace, he begins to, I'm cause this blessing to really out out pour in a special way.He Bestows Approval, He Bestows Peace, He bestows temporal blessings, eternal blessingsand promises. Well, this word blessing that is poured out on these creaturesis here poured out on a day, the seventh day. God blesses theseventh day. He Pours Out Good, bestows good on this day, andhe also makes it holy. To make it holy, to make something holyis to consecrate it unto God. It's to set it apart, and sohere we see God setting apart the day for himself. There are some contrariesto holy. One is unh holy. Obviously but also common. I'm thingsthat are not are common, are not...

...holy. But God here takes aday. The other days were good, one, two, three, four, five, six, but on the seventh day he makes it holy,special, he sets it apart, unto himself, for his special honor,for his special use. Holiness will come, this word will come to be filledwith meaning as you continue to read throughout the Bible and throughout the firstfive books and in particular, we see it illustrated in all kinds of ways. Holiness illustrated in Old Testament worship and the beauty and transcendence of the temple, in God's purity and election, in worship and holiness and perfection. Godhimself is called holy and Isaiah, six, three, holy, Holy, holyis the Lord of hosts. This holiness is then given to this day, not at set apart from God, but but unto God. And sowe see God making the seventh day because of the way that he finishes hiswork and he rests. He makes it special by blessing it, by makingit holy. And one other wail tack on, if I might, bymake it the seventh. There's no particular reason it had to be the sevenththe fact that it's the seventh really stands out. Among all the world's ofvarious religions, most often holy days, consecrated days, days that are setaside onto to God or to false gods, are days that correspond with other things, like calendars in particular months, years, cycles of the sun,comments, all kinds of things. There doesn't seem to be any particular reasonthat it's set on the seventh, except...

...that God rested on that day andmade it holy. And in this we see the great sovereignty of God.We see him setting, by his own perfect and holy will, a numberthat will come to symbolize a number of perfection and scripture, of wholeness andcompletion. And so in all kinds of ways, God is signifying that thisday is special because of the work that he had done and the rest thathe had entered into. So this is the work that God did. Hefinished his work of creation, he wrested from it, he blessed this dayand he made it holy. Now how does this relate to man? There'snothing here that explicitly tells us this is for man, but there are severalthings that we might consider, both from genesis and from other passages in scripture. First, remember that this didn't just happen in the abstract. This ishappening in time and in space on the seventh day. And you remember whowas created right before the seventh day? It was man. We might sayin a certain sense, that what the things that God is doing and sayinghere on the seventh day are coming within earshot of the one that he hasmade, this one that he has called to bear his image and to workafter is is the one whom he is seeing his Lord, his commander,his sovereign, his maker, working and then resting. This pattern is madeexplicit in other places in scripture, liken at in the Ten Commandments and ExodusChapter Twenty. We read in Exodus Twenty, verse eight, remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do allyour work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Jehovah, your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son oryour daughter, your male servant or your...

...female servant, or your live stockor the soul journer who is within your gates. For here's the reason why. For in six days Jehovah Made Heaven and Earth, the sea and allthat is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, thewhole of a blessed the Sabbath Day and made it holy. And so Godexplicitly tells us what, how was happening in the beginning of creation, akind of cycle that Israel is called to repeat over and over and over againin their lives. Work, then wet rest, work then rest, workthan rest. This is the pattern that God is set. Because he didthings this way, you shall follow after this. There's one more thing Iwant to point your attention to, back in Genesis two one through three,and that goes back to this blessing and making holy. Remember that God blessedthe day. He bestows good on it. But we might ask in what sense? On the day or on the other or on the day for thosewho would follow after him? God bless the Sabbath Day for our good.He pours out good in particular for us. The fact that God is blessing theday in genesis two three is immediately reminding us and telling us of ourconnection with it. As Jesus puts it, the Sabbath was made for man.The Sabbath was made for man. The same is true for God,making it holy. It shows us that our rest is to be found notin our own working, ultimately, even though we may follow after God inthis pattern, but we rest in his rest. We enjoy our rest aswe find it in God. So as we think of all of these things, as we think of this work that God did and the way that hedid this work and the context of this...

...relationship with Adam and eve and allof those of us who come after them, we again we begin to get avery serious and robust explanation for why you feel the way you feel,why you need the rest you need, because you were made for this,because God specifically established our relationship with you in this way, a relationship thatyou can't opt into or opt out of. You simply belong to it by virtueof your being made and called to follow after him. It explains whythings are the way they are and why you feel the way you feel,but what it doesn't explain is why it doesn't work. It doesn't explain why, despite all your longing and your yearning for peace, you never find therest and you never will it never it doesn't explain to us why, despiteyour longing, in your yearning for peace and rest, you also hunger afterthe very opposite of those things. Why, when you want peace, you goto war and why, when you want rest, you work harder?And why, even in the most the times when you have the greatest opportunitiesto rest, even as we typically define them, long periods of vacation orthings like that, you find yourself compulsively checking your email and trying to getsomething done and being productive even in it. And some really interesting articles lately byDavid Zol he makes this great insight that lately we've been coopting our rest, even for work. We can't even rest any more for rest's sake,but we optimize it, we calculate it, we do the best we can tomake our rest good for work,...

...as if it's only purpose is justto allow us to work. All the more. Why do should you restbecause you'll be more productive later in the week? You see, in thissense, are continual striving over and over and over, even in our resting. There's so many ways in which God calls us to this rest, andthen we pervert and go after other things we pursued in our own way.We fail to even understand what it is is. We pursue after other endsand perhaps worst of all, we pursue them in our own means. Godcauses us to follow after him, to rest in him, to find ourjoy and our satisfaction and our peace and our refreshment in him and in thethings that he has done and our being and are following after him. Butwhat did Adam and Eve do? What do we do? Did they findtheir self their satisfaction in God and in himself? Know, they sought itin their own power and in their own ways. They wanted to rest notin God but in themselves and in their work. And because of this itis great sin, it is great disobedience. And what ends up happening, ofcourse, and it's a yet another explanation for why we can't rest theway we want to, why a good nap is always sort of elusive andalways hoping for the next thing. It's because of punishment, and it's notonly a just punishment for failing to obey God and work as he has calledus to work and then rest as he has called us to rest. It'salso a necessary punishment. How can man...

...rest in the holiness of God whenhe's not resting in God and his blessing, but striving after his own way andwanting to find his own path and doing his own things. When manwants to sin instead of obey and then find true peace and rest in that, apart from God, it is of course a necessary punishment that rest wouldbe taken away from him. True rest is rest in God, and manwants rest in himself, and so man will not receive rest, but willreceive curse instead. All this to say you can strive all you want,but nothing's going to come of it. In the fall, your internal wiringhas all been twisted up and corrupted, that the closer you come to understandingwhat true peace and what true rest is, the more you will separate it likea magnet hitting its polar opposite, moving you, repelling you away.You will continue your striving, you will continue your cursed work and you're evenin your resting, you will find that you are continually lacking and wanting.This is man stayed in the fall. This is what sin and disobedience brings. It explains both why we want rest so bad but why we don't haveit. It's a part of the curse and it's a part of our messedup insides, are bentedness away from the things of God. But God,in His grace and in His mercy, provides a solution to this problem.God gives us the rest that you cannot obtain. He fulfills the work thathe has called you to do. He blesses you in the midst of yourcurse. How does he do this?...

He does it by, in thefullness of time, sending the Lord, Jesus Christ, who is called inthe Gospel the Lord of the Sabbath, the Lord of peace, of rest. And he is the Lord of the Sabbath not only because he is theone who created all things and rested, the one who instituted the sabbath andcalls it his own, but he's also the Lord of the Sabbath and theway that he brings us cursed, wretched, sinful people that can't recognize rest and, when they do, flee from it, and he takes us inour curse and in all of our sinful working and he gives to US peace. God comes in Jesus Christ and he fulfills the law that we were unableto fulfill. He obeys God in the way that he called, that Godoriginally called man to obey. He does it perfectly, he does it completelyand more than that, he also endures the Anti Sabbath, the Anti Resting, he endures the curse on the Cross and the death and the wrath andall of those things that can were poured out on him for us. Anddo you remember what he says? It is finished, it is finished,and it does finished. Jesus Christ finished the work, not just that Goddid in creation, that he did in creation, but now he is finishingthe work of redemption, of salvation, of bringing cursed, unrestful, ungratefulpeople into peace, into blessing and into holiness. When God created the world, he established this eternal law and rule for man, but because of thefall, man was going to eternally break...

...that rule and fail to obtain thatblessing, earning for him curse and still in curse for himself. Instead.This would be, of course, in temporal expressions of this, lost naps, lost sleep, bad vacations, frustrations and all of all kinds, buteven worse in the eternal expressions of this. We're in that five or of Hell. Man would rest not a moment but would endure a curse forever andever. But when Jesus came, he interrupted all of this to give Hisgrace to those whom he desired to save. He fulfilled his law in our placeand offers to US rest. Because of His grace. The Sabbath,which is a so clearly a law in Genesis two, one through three andcondemns it if we seek it on our own, becomes a great blessing tous and I promise to us, when we have it in Jesus Christ andin his righteousness. All of your life you will struggle to find the restthat you want and you need. All of your life you will be tempted, according to the flesh, to find rest in your own ways, inanother way, but in Christ, God freely gives to you something that isseparate from yourself, separate from your own ways and your own glories, aglory that is of him and a rest that is eternal and real. InChrist, God has promised a rest from your labors, the good ones andthe bad ones, so that you might rest eternally in him for all thefuture and body and soul and so on. Conclusion, we all know we needto rest temporarily and eternally. Our...

...problem is that we don't know howand that we don't know how. Not Not only that we don't know how, but we also don't want to know how. We'd rather work. We'drather work for our reward. We'd rather rest in ourselves and our own productivitythan resting in God. If we do rest, we want it to bein our sinful pleasures or in our obedience to the law. But this,my friends, is a dead end. It will result in temporal burnout andin eternal hell. But Jesus gives us something different. He gives us areal solution to a problem that we really face. He gives us true andeternal let rest. He gives us himself, the Lord of rest, the giverof life. He is that cup of cold water that quenches the flameand our thirst. He is that word that comes and calms the storm and, as he says it himself in Matthew and twenty eight, come to me, all who labor and our heavy Laden and I will give you rest.May God grant this grace to us that we might rest in him and knowhim forever. Let us pray.

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