Genesis 2:2

The finished heavens and earth and their host prepare the day of rest. God ended his work as an interchange of darkness and light.

I. THE REST OF THE SABBATH IS NOT INACTION, BUT THE CESSATION FROM THE LOWER ORDER OF WORK FOE THE HIGHER. The idea of the first proclamation seems to be that creation was perfectly adjusted through the six days into a settled harmony which puts heaven and earth in their abiding relation to one another.

II. Then THERE IS NO MORE SAID OF EVENING AND MORNING. The seventh day is only light. God's rest is complacency in his works. The blessing on the seventh day which hallowed it is the blessing on that which the day represents - perfect peace between heaven and earth, God satisfied in his creation, and inviting his intelligent creatures to "enter into his rest by communion with him. It seems quite unnecessary to vindicate such a sanctification of the seventh day from the insinuations of critics that it was a late addition made by the Jewish legislator to support the fourth commandment. In that case the whole cosmogony must be renounced. Such an observance of a day of rest seems a natural antecedent to the patriarchal as well as the Mosaic economy. We have already intimated that the whole account of creation is placed at the commencement of revelation because it has a bearing upon the positive ordinances of religion. It is not either a scientific or poetic sketch of the universe; it is the broad, fundamental outline of a System of religious truth connected with a body of Divine commandments. The sabbath is thus described in its original breadth. The sanctification of it is -

1. Negative. It is separation from the lower conditions of work, which in the case of man are the characteristics of days which are sinful days - days of toil and conflict, of darkness and light mingled.

2. Positive. It is the restful enjoyment of a higher life, a life which is not laboring after emancipation from bondage, but perfect with a glorious liberty; the true day, sacred, high, eternal noon," God and man rejoicing m one another, the creature reflecting the glory of the Creator. - R. § 2. THE GENERATIONS OF THE HEAVENS AND OF THE EARTH (Genesis 2:4-4:26).

He rested on the seventh day.

II. THE DIVINE CONTEMPLATION OF HIS CREATIVE WORK. Everything complete. Everything in subordination. Everything ready for the higher and more glorious exercise of the Divine activity in providence and grace. All prepared for the kingdom of probation, by which the last created of the world was to be tried, disciplined, and perfected. We may learn here —

1. Evil has no natural place in the universe.

2. Matter is not necessarily hostile to God. The Bible, in this picture of Divine contemplation, cuts away the ground from certain forms of false religion and philosophy. Divine life is not the destruction of matter, nor the rising out of the region of the sensuous; but so restoring the harmony, that God may again look upon the world, and say it is "very good."

3. The present condition of things, so changed from that which God first looked upon, must be the result of some catastrophe.

III. THE DIVINE REST AFTER HIS CREATIVE WORK. The rest began when the work was done. The contemplation was a part of the Sabbatic blessedness. The Sabbath:

1. It was a season of rest. It does not imply that there was weariness, but cessation from creative activity.

2. The rest was blessed by God. As He saw His work good, so He saw His rest good.

3. There was an appointment of a similar blessed rest for His creatures. "He sanctified the seventh day." It is not for us to discuss the relations of God to labour and repose. The fact may be beyond our comprehension. It has lessons for us:

1. There is a place and time for rest.

2. The condition on which rest may be claimed is that men work.

3. This rest should be happy. Much of the modern idea of a Sabbath is not that which God would say was blessed. The Sabbath is not a time of gloom.

4. This rest should be religious.

5. This rest is unlimited to any particular portion of the race.


An allegory lies in this history. Every week has its Sabbath, and every Sabbath is to be a parenthesis between two weeks' work. From the beginning of the world, a seventh of time was set apart for rest. The rest of the Sabbath must be



(3)complete.It must be refreshment to body, mind, and soul; and it must not infringe upon the rest of others. The rest of a holy peace must be combined with the loving energies of an active body and an earnest mind.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I. THAT THE WORK OF CREATION WAS COMPLETED ON THE SIXTH DAY. God could have done His creative work in a moment. Why, then, did He take six days?

(1)To show that His work is the result of a deliberate purpose.

(2)That His work might be instructive to others.


(1)Divine rest.

(2)Divine benediction.

(3)Divine hallowing.

(A. McAuslane, D. D.)

1. A memorial of past labour.

2. A pillar of testimony to God as Creator.

3. A proclamation of rest.

4. A type of coming rest.

(H. Bonar.)

I. THE FACT STATED. God blessed, etc.

II. THE REASON ASSIGNED. He rested, etc.


(W. Burrows, M. A.)

Paradise, with its calm, its purity, and its beauty, is gone; but the Sabbath has not with Paradise passed away. It has accompanied man in his sorrows, as it accompanied him in his joys.

I. THE CONSECRATION OF THE SABBATH. Fenced off by God as His own peculiar property. "Holiness to the Lord" is written upon it by the finger of our Creator. And the consecration of the Sabbath must be for such purposes as these.

1. Primarily and preeminently, for the consideration of the wondrous work of creation; that man, the intelligent creature, may behold, in the glorious workmanship of God, traces of the Divine power, and wisdom, and love, and that he may render to his Creator the homage that is due to Him.

2. It was further consecrated for services fitted to increase the holiness of man while he remained in innocency, and to restore fallen man to the holiness which he had lost. It was intended, therefore, for man not less than for God.

II. THE PERPETUITY OF THE SABBATH. Instituted long before Judaism, long before Abraham's time even; therefore, of perpetual obligation. God has appointed a holy rest for His people in every age, and though the day may be changed, yet the institution remains the same.


1. God designed it as a blessing to man.

2. God annexed a special blessing to the day.

(H. Stowell, M. A.)

That the Sabbath was originally a Divine institution, nobody can doubt. It originated with God: and now God has either abrogated the Sabbath, or He has not. If God has not abrogated the Sabbath, the matter is quite clear: it comes commended to us with all that Divine authority itself can rest upon. But if God has abrogated the Sabbath, I ask, who is the man that would dare to reinstitute it?

I. THE OBLIGATION OF THE SABBATH. First, I say that the fourth commandment is absolutely obligatory on Christian men. If not, one or other of these alternatives must be adopted: either the whole of the ten commandments are abrogated and abolished, or the fourth is an exception out of the ten. There is no escape from one or other of these alternatives. But now suppose for a moment, for argument's sake, you were to allow that the fourth commandment, as far as it is found in the Mosaic economy, is abrogated. What then? Is the law of the Sabbath destroyed? Now, here is the proper argument for the Sabbath. "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made." What has that to do with the Mosaic economy? Why, here is the institution of the Sabbath more than two thousand years before the Mosaic economy is introduced! Suppose you allow all the Mosaic law to be abrogated, here stands the original institution. And if any man says, "But that refers to Eden," I grant it, Was it abolished when our first parents were cast out of Eden? Then I will give you a proof for once to the contrary, in the sixteenth chapter of Exodus, the twenty-third and twenty-ninth verses. Listen to these words. "And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord; bake that which ye will bake," and so forth. Again, in the twenty-ninth verse: "See, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath." This is the sixteenth chapter of Exodus. How did they come to have the Sabbath day here? You know the law was not given till some considerable time after this: yet here you have the observance of the Sabbath, not based on the tea commandments at all — it is before they are uttered: here you have God recognizing the same thing. But now notice another remarkable fact. Why does the fourth commandment begin with the word, "Remember"? There is not another of the commandments that begins with the word "Remember." They are all positive institutions at that very time. But here is the fourth commandment notably commencing with the word "Remember." Why? Because it was an original institution, and the word points back to that. Another very remarkable fact in regard to the institution of the Sabbath, so far as it is connected With the Mosaic economy, is, that God institutes it in connection with the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. In the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy, at the fourteenth verse, it is said — "The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God," and so on. Now observe. "Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore" — I beseech you to notice this — "therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day." You observe, that the reason why God commanded Israel to keep the Sabbath there is because they were brought out of the land of Egypt; but when God gave the fourth commandment in connection with the ten from Sinai, evidently intending it to have a general application, He makes no mention of this particular deliverance, but merely states the reason we find in the second chapter of Genesis — because God had rested Himself on the seventh day. So that if we admit, as I will do, that there was a peculiarity in the reason for the institution of the Sabbath in connection with the Israelites, yet God marks a distinction between that peculiarity and the general application in the passages I have referred to: giving as the peculiarity in their case the deliverance from Egypt, but in the other case giving as a reason that He Himself rested from His work, that the institution might be known to be applicable to all men. One further proof let us for a moment notice. The object of the Sabbath — let us see what that involves. There is a two-fold object alluded to in my text — with reference to God, and with reference to man. First, with reference to God. God rested on the seventh day, in commemoration of the finishing of His work. Now, whatever that may involve, I suppose it will be admitted that it is applicable to all men, and that it does not apply to the Jews or to one age only. If God thought fit to commemorate the fact of His resting from His labours by setting apart one day in seven, you and I are as much concerned in it as the Israelite was. But this will be still further enforced, when we come to consider the reason for which the Sabbath was instituted with reference to man. This was a two-fold reason. It was in order to his physical rest, and in order to his spiritual profit; the one subservient to the other. His physical rest: is not that equally necessary at all times? What gave rise to this reason for the institution of the Sabbath? On what ground was it necessary that there should be one day in seven set apart? I tell you: the law of rest was based on the law of labour. That was true in Eden. In Eden man was to till the ground; and even in Eden, in his unfallen state, there was a day of rest appointed. If that was true in man's perfect state, before his physical ability became deteriorated and broken down through sin, as it has been, how much more is it necessary in his fallen state! Again, let me ask this: If it was needful to Israel that they should have a day of rest, on the ground of the physical system being liable to exhaustion, and on the ground of the law of labour not being remitted, will any man pretend to argue that the law of rest shall be abolished and abrogated while the law of labour still remains? Or again: look at the spiritual purpose of the Sabbath. It is instituted in order to give man an opportunity — by resting from labour and the ordinary transactions of secular concerns, to have an opportunity of cultivating a holy and heavenly taste, and becoming fit for heaven. Now, I ask this question: Do your secular avocations, the cares and anxieties with which you are conversant every day, produce the same general results that they did in Israel's days, or do they not? Do you find, or do you not find, when you go about your ordinary business six days in the week, that you have immense difficulty to keep your hearts and affections separated from these things, and give them to God? Do you find that you could afford to be without one day in the week, on which to meet in God's house, and have an opportunity of reading your Bible and meditating at home, feeling it to be so easy in your worldly vocation to separate your hearts for communion with Him? It is monstrous to suppose such a thing. But again. That the Sabbath is an eternal Sabbath is clear from this: that in the Hebrews the apostle says, "There remaineth a rest." I need not tell you that the word there translated "rest" is "Sabbath" — "There remaineth a rest," a Sabbath "for the people of God." "A Sabbath!" What is the present Sabbath? What was the original Sabbath? Without controversy, a type of the coming Sabbath. "There remaineth a Sabbath." And yet God gave a Sabbath from the beginning! The Sabbath God gave was of course a type of the eternal Sabbath. Now, do you conceive that Israel should enjoy the type of the heavenly Sabbath, and yet that you and I, who live so much nearer to the time of the end, and are supposed to be, by virtue of the pouring out of the Holy Ghost and a knowledge of Christ, so much more holy in heart, are not to enjoy that type? But a type is in force till it is fulfilled. When will that type be done away? Never, unquestionably, till it resolves itself into the eternal Sabbath.

II. THE MODE OF OBSERVANCE OF THE SABBATH. If God has given us the Sabbath, and we are to keep it on the Lord's day, every right-minded man will ask, How are we to keep it? Now, it is very remarkable and important, that in the passages where God teaches us how the Sabbath day is to be kept, He deals with the subject as a general subject. It is not spoken of in the passages I will refer to in reference to any peculiarities connected with Judaism; but there are such declarations and instructions as would be applicable to all men, and all Christian men, to the end of time. There is the fourth commandment and the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. The fourth commandment we know. Here is the passage I quote from the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah: at the thirteenth verse — "If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord." If you take the fourth commandment in connection with that verse, you will find that you have instruction as to the spiritual and physical obligation of the Lord's day. The fourth commandment instructs us in regard to our rest from all labour; this passage instructs us in regard to the object for which that physical rest is to be enjoyed, as subservient to our spiritual advantage.

(C. Molyneux, M. A.)


1. The Sabbath was made for man in Paradise.

2. The Sabbath was revived in the wilderness.

3. The Sabbath was established by an express commandment.

4. The Sabbath was confirmed by the practice of our Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles. The change of day, from the seventh to the first of the week, makes no alteration in the proportion of our time which God has "sanctified" and "blessed."

5. The Sabbath has been observed by the Church of Christ in general.


1. Its temporal advantages.

(1)The curse of toil is for a while suspended.

(2)The mind and body are invigorated for fresh exertion.

(3)Sabbath observance has the reward of prosperity ordinarily attached to it.

2. Its spiritual advantages.

(1)Finished redemption is then celebrated.

(2)The means of grace are enjoyed.

(3)The heavenly rest is anticipated.

(W. Conway, M. A.)

I. WHO WAS IT INSTITUTED THE SABBATH? God. It sets forth the Divine complacency — how He looked back on the work He had finished, and how He was refreshed with the contemplation of it. And this gives us the true idea of the first Sabbath, when the Lord rested from His work; He set it apart, that His creatures might rest also, that they might be taken from the work to the worker, from the gift to the Giver, from the creation to the Creator.

II. THE CONTINUATION OF THE INSTITUTION (Exodus 20). Though the appointing one day out of seven was a moral command, yet it was also positive: it was arranged in the garden of Eden before Satan tempted man to fall. Therefore it had its truth, not in Mount Sinai, not because Moses gave it, but from the living God Himself. And there it stands at an amazing distance from all ceremonies and all shadows. It sets forth a great truth, I allow — our rest in Jesus: but the setting apart a day of rest was no shadow; it was God's claim on His people. "Your bodies are Mine, your souls are Mine, and you shall give what you owe to Me."

III. THE GREAT END AND OBJECT OF THE SABBATH (Hebrews 4:11). Just as the Creator did rest from His work, and did command His creatures to rest as He rested, giving themselves up to the contemplation of Himself: so in the Christian Sabbath we are led by Eternal Spirit to seek our rest, and to find our rest, in the Lord Jesus Christ.

IV. WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THAT OBEDIENCE WHICH OUGHT TO BE GIVEN TO IT BY CHRISTIANS? Let him beware of Jewish legality, of the spirit of bondage — of that principle which, while it seemeth as if it honoured God in strictness, strains at a gnat and swallows a camel. You and I, to obey one single principle aright, must have a right principle. It is in vain the command comes to us: it can work on us by authority and by terror: but we must have a higher principle to influence the inner man. The nature of the obedience is at once unfolded in the nature of the institution. Whatever has a tendency to promote my entering into that rest, to promote my spiritual acquaintance with that rest, enters of necessity into the consideration of the Christian Sabbath. Whatever has a tendency to hinder it, whatever has a tendency to prevent it, whatever has a tendency to chain me down to this earth, is to be avoided by a Christian man.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)


1. Cessation of the creative process.

2. The Creator's resting.

3. Sanctification of the Sabbath day.(1) Seven the Scriptural number (Genesis 7:2-4; Genesis 8:8-12; Genesis 19:18-28; Genesis 41; Numbers 23:1, 2; Leviticus 23:1; Joshua 6:1; 2 Kings 5:9; Daniel 4:1; Isaiah 30:26; Matthew 18:22; Acts 6:1.(2) The seventh day sanctified. Seventh day of the creative week still continues. Although thousands of years have swept by since God ended His work of creation, it is still His Sabbath, or rest day. Works of necessity — i.e., works of providence and mercy — He still carries on: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17). But creation is not a work of necessity. That work He ended at the close of the far-off sixth day, and ever since has rested.


1. Man himself is the basis of the Sabbath.

(1)Man needs the Sabbath for his secular nature.

(2)Man needs the Sabbath for his religious nature.A day of conscious, formal, stately acknowledgment of the Divine supremacy. A day on which to dismiss worldly cares, and look through unobstructed vistas into the opening heavens. An English gentleman was once inspecting a house in Newcastle, with a view of buying it. The landlord, after having shown him the premises, took him to an upper window, and remarked: "You can see Durham Cathedral from this window on Sundays." "How is this?" asked the visitor. "Because on Sundays there is no smoke from the factory chimneys." Ah, man must have a day in which he can retire to some solitude, where his spirit —With her best nurse, Contemplation,
May plume her feathers, and let grow her wings,
That in the various bustle of resort
Were all too ruffled, and sometimes impaired.

2. Man greater than the Sabbath. Man, as God's son and image and representative, is the end, and the Sabbath, like every other "ordinance," is a means. An immortal being, outliving institutions, economies, aeons — capable of carrying a heaven within him — God's own image and son: man is more sacred than ordinances. Jesus Christ did not die for ordinances: Jesus Christ died for man. The Sabbath is sacred, not in itself, but because man is sacred. Hence the Sabbath is his servant — not his master. He is the Lord of the Sabbath. And in accordance with this principle Jesus Christ Himself ever acted.

3. The true method of keeping the Sabbath. Being made for man, the Sabbath must be used religiously: for the capacity for religion is man's chief definition. The Sabbath must be kept in homage of God, in the study of His Word and character and will, in the spirit of worship, private and public. But full unfolding of man's spiritual nature is possible only in the sphere of edification, or society building. The Sabbath summons man to conjugate life in a new mood and tense; but still in the active voice. And here the Son of Man is our Teacher and blessed Model. How many of His healings and works of mercy were wrought on the Sabbath day! And what is man's office in this fallen, sorrowful world, but a ministry of healing? And healing, or edification, is the highest form of worship. Nothing can take the place of it.

4. Objections.(1) "This view of the Sabbath allows too much liberty." My answer is two fold. First: there are two ways of treating men, either as infants, incapable of guiding themselves, or as men, capable of reasoning, and so of self-guidance. The first was the Mosaic way, the Church being a minor, under tutors and governors, and the law being a letter, graven on tablets of stone: the second is the Christly way, the Church having come into the possession of the privileges of majority, and the law being a spirit, graven on tablets of heart (Galatians 4:1-7; 2 Corinthians 3:3). But, secondly: Liberty is itself responsibility. The slave cannot understand, in any thorough, just sense, the meaning of the august word Responsibility; none but the freeman can understand it. And just because the New Testament gives me liberty in the matter of the Sabbath, I am bound to be more conscientious about it than was the Old Testament Jew. It is easier to be a Hebrew than a Christian.(2) But I hear a second objection: "Your view of the Sabbath is dangerous: men will pervert it, perhaps to their own perdition." Of course they may. It is one of the prerogatives of truth to be perverted.

III. THE CHANCE FROM SATURDAY TO SUNDAY. Here is a venerable, sacred institution — hallowed by the Creator's own example in Eden, solemnly enjoined amid the thunders of Sinai, distinctly set apart as one of the chief signs that Israel was God's chosen, covenanted people, majestically buttressed by loftiest promises in case of observance, and by direst threats in case of non-observance, freighted with the solemn weight of fifteen centuries of sacred associations and scrupulous observance — suddenly falling into disuse, and presently supplanted by another day, which to this year of grace has held its own amid the throes of eighteen centuries. How, then, will you account for this stupendous revolution? It is a fair question for the philosophical historian to ask. And the philosophical historian knows the answer. Jesus the Nazarene had been crucified. All through the seventh day or Hebrew Sabbath He had lain in Joseph's tomb. In that tomb, amid solitude and darkness and grave-clothes, He had grappled in mortal duel with the king of death, and had thrown him, and shivered his sceptre. At the close of that awful Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1), He had risen triumphant from the dead. And by and in the very fact of that triumphant rising, He had henceforth and for evermore emblazoned the first day of the week as His own royal, supernal day, even time's first, true Sabbath.

IV. JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF IS OUR SABBATH, alike its origin, its meaning, and its end. In fact the final cause of the Sabbath is to sabbatize each day and make all life sacramental. And Jesus Christ being our true Sabbath, Jesus Christ is also our true rest — even the spirit's everlasting Eden.

(G. D. Boardman.)

Man needs the Sabbath — i.e., one day of rest after six days of toil — for his secular nature, alike bodily and mental. The testimony of physicians, physiologists, political economists, managers of industrial establishments, etc., is emphatic on this point. Let me cite some instances. Dr. John William Draper, the eminent physicist and author, writes as follows: "Out of the numberless blessings conferred on our race by the Church, the physiologist may be permitted to select one for remark, which, in an eminent manner, has conduced to our physical and moral well-being. It is the institution of the Sabbath. No man can for any length of time pursue one avocation or one train of thought without mental, and therefore bodily, injury — nay, without insanity. The constitution of the brain is such that it must have its time of repose. Periodicity is stamped upon it. Nor is it enough that it is awake and in action by day, and in the silence of night obtains rest and repair; that same periodicity, which belongs to it as a whole, belongs to all its constituent parts. One portion of it cannot be called into incessant activity without the risk of injury. Its different regions, devoted to different functions, must have their separate times of rest. The excitement of one part must be coincident with a pause in the action of another. It is not possible for mental equilibrium to be maintained with one idea, or one monotonous mode of life...Thus a kind providence so overrules events that it matters not in what station we may be, wealthy or poor, intellectual or lowly, a refuge is always at hand; and the mind, worn out with one thing, turns to another, and its physical excitement is followed by physical repose. Lord Macaulay, in his speech before the House of Commons on the Ten Hours' Bill, spoke thus: "The natural difference between Campania and Spitzbergen is trifling when compared with the difference between a country inhabited by men full of mental and bodily vigour, and a country inhabited by men sunk in bodily and mental decrepitude. Therefore it is we are not poorer, but richer, because we have, through many ages, rested from our labours one day in seven. That day is not lost. While industry is suspended, while the plough lies in the furrow, while the Exchange is silent, while no smoke ascends from the factory, a process is going on quite as important to the wealth of nations as any process which is performed on more busy days. Man, the machine of machines the machine compared with which all the contrivances of the Watts and the Arkwrights are worthless — is repairing and winding up, so that he returns to his labours on the Monday with clearer intellect, with livelier spirits, with renewed corporeal vigour."

(G. D. Boardman.)

I. THE PRIMAL SABBATH. God's Sabbath. The end of the mysterious periods of God's creative operations, is the beginning of a new age in which all creation is intended to glorify God and be happy.

II. THE PERIODICAL SABBATH. Made for man. A sign of God's care for man; and a memorial of the holy rest which man should seek to obtain.

III. THE PERFECT SABBATH. The future rest in heaven. Unending joy and refreshment. Perfectly holy, perfectly happy; all things "very good."

(W. S. Smith, B. D.)

A week filled up with selfishness, and the Sabbath stuffed full of religious exercises, will make a good Pharisee but a poor Christian. There are many persons who think Sunday is a sponge with which to wipe out the sins of the week. Now, God's altar stands from Sunday to Sunday, and the seventh day is no more for religion than any other. It is for rest. The whole seven are for religion, and one of them for rest.

(H. W. Beecher.)

What the fire is amongst the elements, the eagle among the fowls, the whale among the fishes, the lion amongst the beasts, gold among the metals, and wheat amongst other grain, the same is the Lord's day above other days of the week, differing as much from the rest as doth that wax to which a king's great seal is put from ordinary wax, or that silver upon which the king's arms and image are stamped from silver unrefined, or in bullion; it is a day, the most holy festival in relation to the initiation of the world and man's regeneration, the queen and princess of days, a royal day, a day that shines amongst other days as doth the dominical letter, clad in scarlet, among the other letters in the calendar; or, as. the sun imparts light to all the other stars, so doth this day, bearing the name of Sunday, afford both light and life to all the other days of the week.

(J. Spencer.)

The Protoplast.
I. SABBATH REST. Sabbath rest is not merely a rest from sin, though it includes that: we are not merely required to lay aside things that are sinful to keep this Sabbath, for God rested, and He could do only good. It is not only a rest from labour, though it includes it: for God rested, and He knew no labour — commanding, and it was done. It is a rest from work. God rested from all His work. Even then those things which are lawful and pleasant work on weekdays, causing no labour and involving no sin, are to be put aside on the Sabbath, that we may rest unto God. This rest is a rest from care. You well know, that with all your desire to let the morrow take thought for the things of itself, the necessity of providing for the creature's wants will give a care and anxiety to your mind. Well, on the Sabbath you are privileged to put this all away, and to let everything remain in abeyance, leaving all in Christ's hands, while you enjoy present rest in Him. This rest is, or ought to be, a rest of body and mind, as well as of soul. Lastly, above all, this rest is a rest in the Lord. It is an everlasting satisfaction in what He has done for you; and what He means to do with you. It is to go in with David to sit before the Lord; it is to lie down in green pastures, by the waters of comfort; it is to hide in the secret places of the stairs; it is to enter that chariot whose pillars are of silver, and whose bottom is of gold, and whose curtains are of purple, and which is paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem; it is to drink that new wine which goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.

II. SABBATH OCCUPATION. It may seem a strange transition to pass from the thought of Sabbath rest to that of Sabbath occupation; but the rest of saints is not an idle rest, it is not a rest which excludes the idea of employment or of service. Even in the description of the eternal and heavenly Jerusalem we have the words, "His servants shall serve Him," as well as, "They shall see His face"; and how much more then shall the Sabbath of earth be spent in doing the will of God! Sabbath rest is found in beholding the face of God. Sabbath occupation is found in serving Him. All Sabbath occupation is lawful which does not break in upon and disturb Sabbath rest. If the employment in which we engage does not hinder, but rather promotes our enjoyment of that spirit rest which I have already spoken of, then may we be sure we are right in pursuing it.

1. First, then, as a lawful Sabbath occupation I would put self-study, for there is something in the quiet and leisure of the day of rest which seems peculiarly to favour it. God hath said, "Commune with your own heart, and in your chamber, and be still"; and he who is in the Spirit on the Lord's day will find it good and right so to do.

2. Next in order as a Sabbath occupation I would mention Bible study. I do not by that expression mean Bible reading, but that earnest, patient investigation of the Divine Word which requires time, and thought, and prayer.

3. As another Sabbath occupation I would name creation study. God has in so wonderful a manner linked together the visible and the invisible, the tangible with the things that cannot be touched, that we cannot go forth in our glorious world without seeing traced on almost every object the hieroglyphics which tell of the higher mysteries of an inner life. Those who are instructed in the emblematic glory of the things which are can walk with Christ amidst creation's beauties, and understand His parables. To them He speaketh still of the sower and the seed; the tares and the wheat; the lilies of the field, in their more than royal glory: and many a precious lesson is taught them, as they study the manner in which God is daily bringing about those results which preserve the frame of nature in its order and beauty.

4. I would next suggest as a fitting occupation for the Lord's day the ministration of good.

5. As another Sabbath occupation, I would mention, writing on sacred subjects: it may be original composition or otherwise.

6. Another precious Sabbath occupation will be found in Christian converse.

7. Christian correspondence.

8. Sacred music. Blessed, beautiful gift! which God has preserved to this disordered and disruptured world — the harmony of sound. David, in Scripture times, and Luther in more modern days, are instances of those who have appreciated its powers. There is something peculiarly soothing and healing (if I may use the latter word) in the effect of the higher cast of music upon the mind; it will sometimes bring tears to eyes whose fount has long been dried. And on the Sabbath day I know no more blessed relief to the mind, when it has been kept in a high state of tension for, many hours engaged in earnest thought and study, than that which is afforded by, the strains of sacred song.

III. SABBATH WORSHIP. In spirit and in truth we must worship that God, who is a Spirit, with our whole understanding, and soul, and strength; with our lamps burning and our armour bright, as a peculiar people, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood we must do Him service.

(The Protoplast.)

A world without a Sabbath would be like a man without a smile, like a summer without flowers, and like a homestead without a garden. It is the joyous day of the whole week.

(H. W. Beecher.)

The original distinction, made by God Himself, and founded both upon His nature and ours, between working and resting, must be kept in mind; and we must not attempt to confound these, or suppose that, provided we try to glorify God in everything, it matters little whether we set the two different things distinctly before us; viz., the glory which we are to give Him in working and the glory which we are to give Him in resting. In trying to make every day a Sabbath we are doing what we can to efface this Divine distinction. And can it be effaced without sin, without injury to the soul, without harm both to the Church and to the world, both to Jew and Gentile? It cannot; for thus God does not get the glory which He desires. He does not get the separate glories of which we have been speaking, but a mere human compound of both — vague, indefinite, diluted — something that neither glorifies Him nor benefits His saints, nor bears witness to the world. Those who deny the authority of the Sabbath now must undertake to prove the following things: —

1. That the Decalogue or Law is no longer binding; or at least that one out of the ten commandments is no longer binding.

2. That Christ came to diminish our store of blessings during the present dispensation; that He has narrowed instead of enlarged our privileges.

3. If they shrink from this, then they must maintain that the Sabbath is not a blessing; that it is an unwholesome, unnatural, in. tolerable restraint; a weariness, a bondage, a curse.

4. That the Sabbath was a Jewish institution exclusively, and therefore fell when Judaism fell.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

There are some who can see in this description nothing higher than the ignoble image of a weary Creator reposing after His fatigues; as if the God of this chapter were like the Olympian deities, or the Baal whose slumbers provoked the mockery of the Tishbite. Nor is the "rest" of God intended to suggest that the Creator has ceased to create; that He has constructed the world as a self-acting machine, and now commits it to its course. A far nobler thought, a religious and not a scientific conception underlies the image.

1. It marks a stage in the process of creation. The earth is rendered habitable. Every portion of the creation has been pronounced good in itself; now the whole is regarded by God with satisfaction. "God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good." God "rested from all His work which He had made."

2. The image of God's rest emphasizes the relation of man to the terrestrial creation. We rest when our purpose is complete. The plan of God was wrought out when man was formed.

3. There is a rest for the affections as well as for the purposes; a repose of the heart as well as of the planning intellect and the active will. A father who expects his children home, and prepares for their reception, does not rest until he sees them; in his welcome of them there is repose. It is not that he wilt have nothing more to do, that he abates his labour for them or relaxes his care. His heart is full of tranquillity; the excitement of preparation has given way to peace.

4. And yet once more — consider to what a history this creation legend is the introduction. The narrative only pauses a moment; and then begins a story of sin and chastisement, of strife and shame and struggle. It is the prologue of a long drama of passion, weariness, and woe.

(A. Mackennal, D. D.)

I. THE DIRECT REASONS why we believe the Sabbath to have been instituted at the time when the sacred narrative begins. The transactions of the seventh day immediately follow those of the sixth, precisely as those of the sixth follow the fifth — the history is chronological, unbroken, complete. This is the reason each day's work comes in order. These were the transactions of the seventh day, which come as directly in succession after the preceding as any of the other days. The plain literal common sense interpretation of the history of the Scripture is indispensable to faith. But in the present case we have yet further reasons. The distribution of the work of creation into its parts would be deprived of its object and end, if the institution of the Sabbath were expunged. For why this distribution but to mark to man the proportion of time allotted him for his usual labour, and the proportion to be assigned to religious exercises? Again, where is the example in Scripture of any instituted commemoration not beginning from the time of its appointment? One is ashamed to urge more arguments in such a case — but what meaning, I ask, had Moses in his reference to six days' labour and a seventh day's Sabbath, as matters familiarly known, at the time of the miraculous fall of manna before the giving of the law, if there had not been a preceding institution? Or what is intended by the citation of the very language of my text in the fourth commandment, if the reason there assigned had not really reposed on facts — "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth."

II. THE JUST INFERENCES to be drawn from them as to the glory and dignity of the Sabbath.

1. We learn from them, first, its essential necessity to man as man.

2. Consider, further, that it was the first command given by God to Adam, as soon as ever the work of creation was finished. Man never was without a Sabbath.

3. Observe, further, that this command was not merely made known to man, in some of those ways in which his Maker afterwards communicated His will, but it was placed, as it were, on the footing of creation itself. By the Almighty Hand all nature might have been called into being in an instant. The distribution of the work over six days, followed by the repose on the seventh, was to infix this grand principle in the mind of every human being, that after six days' labour one day of religious rest should follow.

4. We learn also from this order of creation that man was made, not for constant and unrelieved employment or for earthly pursuits chiefly, but for labour with intervals of repose, and in subordination to the glory of his God; man was formed not for seven days' toil, but for six — man was formed not for secular and terrestrial pursuits merely, but for the high purpose of honouring God, meditating on His works, and preparing for the enjoyment of Him forever.

III. Let us next show that THERE ARE TRACES OF THE OBSERVATION OF A WEEKLY REST DURING THE PATRIARCHAL AGES. The very first act of Divine worship after the Fall affords indications of a day of religion. Cain and Abel brought their offerings "in process of time," as the common reading has it, but literally, and as it is in the margin, "at the end of the days." Thus we have in the sacred narrative, the priest, altar, matter of sacrifice, motive, atonement made and accented, and appointed time — indications these entirely consistent with the supposition of a previous sabbatical institution, and indeed proceeding upon it — for that is the meaning of the expression, "at the end of the days." But one division of days had been yet mentioned, and that was of the days of the week, the Sabbath being the last or seventh day — we may, therefore, reasonably suppose that holy season to be here termed "the end of the days." Again, we read that "men," in the days of Seth (two hundred years, perhaps, after Abel's sacrifice), "began to call upon the name of the Lord," or, "to call themselves by the name of the Lord"; and four hundred years later, that "Enoch walked with God," — terms of large import, and which, when illustrated by the eleventh chapter of the Hebrews, where the faith of the patriarchs in the Divine order of creation is so extolled, are, to say the least, entirely consistent with the observation of a day of religious worship. We come to the flood. Sixteen centuries have elapsed since the institution of the weekly rest. And now we find the reckoning by weeks familiarly referred to as the ordinary division of time. The Lord said unto Noah, "Yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth." And again, "It came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the food were upon the earth." These passages occur in the seventh chapter. Nothing can be more certain than that the return of seven days brought something peculiar with it; and we judge it probable, from the institution of the Sabbath, that that peculiarity was the day of sacred rest. Accordingly after the flood, the tradition of that division of time spread over all the eastern world — Assyrians, Egyptians, Indians, Arabians, Persians, unite with the Israelites in retaining vestiges of it. In the earliest remains of the heathen writers, Hesiod, Homer, Callimachus — the sanctity of the seventh day is referred to as a matter of notoriety. Philo, the Jew, declares that there was no nation under heaven where the opinion had not reached. But we come to the history of Abraham. Here it is deserving notice, as we pass, that the rite of circumcision was to be performed after the lapse of seven days from the birth; but the commendation of Abraham's example, "That he commanded his children and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment," implies that there was a way prescribed by the Almighty, and certain observances in which consisted justice and judgment, amongst which the Sabbath was probably the chief. But in the more fall declaration afterwards made concerning him to Isaac; "That Abraham obeyed His voice, and kept His charge, His commandments, His statutes, and His laws"; the terms employed are so various as to be by no means naturally interpreted of the ordinances of circumcision and sacrifice only, but to include, as much as if it were named, the charge and law of the Sabbath. We come to Jacob; and few, I think, can doubt that when he uttered the devout exclamation, "This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven"; and then vowed that the "stone should be God's house" — he alluded to what was customary with the pious patriarchs, the worship of God in a stated place, and on a stated time — the Sabbath; without which a house of God would be a term of little meaning; but with which it would indeed be the pledge and anticipation of heaven. Even Laban seems to have had the notion of a weekly division of time, "Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also." But I will not dwell on more particulars. The numerous, the almost perpetual notices of places, of altars, of sacrifices, of the worship of God, of solemn titles given to particular spots, all confirm the supposition, which is the only reasonable one, that the sabbatical institution was not unknown to the patriarchs. We may notice the case of holy Job, as confirming this, who, remote as was the place of his abode, more than once reminds us of "a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord."

IV. THE MANNER IN WHICH THE SABBATH WAS REVIVED AND RE-ESTABLISHED BEFORE THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE MOSAICAL ECONOMY, proves that it was a previous institution, which had never been entirely lost; and therefore confirms all we stated of its origin in Paradise and its continuance during the patriarchal ages.

1. Let us, then, first, in applying this part of our subject, observe, the extreme violence which is done to the Christian faith, when any important fact in the Scriptures, such as the institution of the Sabbath in Paradise, is attempted to be explained away by the fancy of man.

2. Yes, come with me before we close this discourse and let us adore and praise the Almighty Father of all for the distinct glories shed upon the day of religious repose. Come and praise Him for condescending to imprint its first enactment, and the reasons on which it is grounded, on the six days' creative wonders. Come, glorify your God and Father. He bids you rest, but it is after His own example. He bids you labour, but it is after His pattern. Imitate the Supreme Architect. Work in the order in which He worked, cease when He was pleased to cease. Let the day of religion, after each six days' toil, be to you a blessed and a sanctified season. Plead the promise attached to the Sabbath: it is blessed of God, it is sanctified of God, it is hallowed of God. Implore forgiveness of your past neglect. Let no Sabbath henceforth leave you without having sought the blessing promised and performed the duties to which it is dedicated. Let your devout meditation on the glories of creation swell the choir of your Maker's praise. Join "the sons of God" in their joys and songs at the birth of the universe.

(D. Wilson, M. A.)

1. Delight in the Lord's day as a high privilege bestowed upon you: make it the matter of your holy joy.

2. Dispose of your earthly affairs wisely in the foregoing week, so that if possible you may not have the Lord's day, which is a day of rest and worship, invaded and intrenched upon by the cares and business of this world.

3. Think of the promises which are made to these who with a religious care serve and worship God upon His appointed day.

4. Whatsoever spiritual advantages or improvements you obtain on God's own day, take care that you do not lose them again amidst the labours or the pleasures of the following week.

5. Take notice what relish and satisfaction you find in the duties or services of the Lord's day, and let that be a test whereby you may judge of the sanctification of your souls and your preparation for heaven.

6. Let every Lord's day, every Christian Sabbath, lead your meditations, your faith, and hope onward to the eternal rest in heaven.

( Isaac Watts, D. D.)

I. ITS ORIGIN. Days and nights, lunar months, and solar years, are natural divisions of time; and may be easily supposed or accounted for, by the diurnal revolution of the earth, the appearance of the moon, and the annual course of the sun; but weeks of seven days cannot have the shadow of a reason assigned for their observance, except on the ground of the primeval institution of the Sabbath on the seventh day of the creation, and banded down by tradition to all parts of the world.


1. It was enjoined upon Adam, as the federal head and common parent of all mankind, and not given to Abraham, as the father of the Jewish nation.

2. It was introduced and enforced in the decalogue as a moral precept, and not a mere ceremonial institution.

3. The same, and even stronger reasons, may be assigned for the perpetuity of the Sabbath, than those expressed as the design of its original appointment. There is the same God to adore; there are the same works to contemplate; and we are the same dependent creatures as were our first parents, with this great disadvantage on our parts, that we are ever prone to forget the Almighty, and require more means to keep us in remembrance of the Lord than ever Adam needed in primeval innocence.

4. When the Gentiles were brought into the Church of Christ by the preaching of the gospel, their observance of the Sabbath is mentioned by the prophet Isaiah, as positive proof of their conversion to God (chap. Isaiah 56:6, 8). By this they testified their faith, affection, and obedience, in the great cause which they had espoused; they thus observed the command, exalted the goodness, and magnified the grace of that Supreme Being, whose name they were destined to profess and to honour in the world.

5. The last book of the inspired volume emphatically terms it, "the Lord's day."


1. A complete cessation of our secular employments.

2. Holy meditation of the Divine Being and works.

3. Fervent prayer.

4. A close attention to the Word of God.

5. Public worship.CONCLUSION:

1. Regard the Sabbath as a merciful appointment.

2. Lament the abuse of the Sabbath amongst us.

3. Observe the day thus blessed and sanctified.

(Thomas Wood.)



1. As serving for a public and notorious badge of our profession (Ezekiel 20:12).

2. An especial means of preserving and increasing of religion, being, as it were, the mart day for the soul, wherein we have commerce in a sort wholly with God in spiritual things, tendering unto Him, and pouring out before Him the affections of our souls in prayers and praises; and God pouring out grace and comfort upon our spirits in the use of His holy ordinances.





(J. White, M. A.)

Wilberforce accounts, in part at least, for the suicide of Castlereagh, Romilly, and Whitbread, by the absence of the Sabbath rest. Lord Hatherley, who rose to be Lord High Chancellor of England, testified, at a public meeting in Westminster, that many lawyers who were in the habit of Sunday study or practice of law have failed in mind and body — not a few of them becoming inmates of lunatic asylums; and that, within his experience, the successful and long-living lawyers are those who, like himself and Lords Cairns and Selborne, have always remembered the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. If you wish to get the full good of your mind, you will give it the rest which its Creator indicates; you will give it sleep; you will give it the Sabbath. The mind is not an artesian well, but a land spring. The supply is limited. If you pump continually, the water will grow turbid; and if, after it grows turbid, you continue still to work it, you will not increase the quantity, and you will spoil the pump. There is a difference of intellectual activity, but the most powerful mind is a land spring after all; and those who wish to preserve their thoughts fresh, pure, and pellucid, will put on the Sabbath padlock. In the subsequent clearness of their views, in the calmness of their judgment, and in the free and copious flow of ideas, they, find their speedy recompense.

It is the chief time for gathering knowledge to last you through the following week, just as summer is the chief season for gathering food to last you through the following twelvemonth.

(A. W. Hare.)

Yes, it was the beautiful remark of an aged Christian, a poor widow, when asked by her minister, as she stood lingering in the porch of the church, "What have you been thinking of so deeply?" — "I have been thinking, sir, oh! that my Sabbaths would never end." Happy state of mind! How natural the transition from the Sabbath that ends, to the Sabbath that never ends; from the Sabbath whose sun so soon sets, to the Sabbath of that city which "hath no Heed of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof," and which hath "no temple, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." There will be no more temple there, for it will be all one temple — a temple where they rest not day nor night, crying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts." God has annexed this blessing to His day, that in proportion as we love to enter into its blessed services, breathe its holy atmosphere, do we feel assured that heaven is ours, and that we are heaven's, and that our Sabbaths are as blessed steps by which we rise higher and higher till we reach a Sabbath whose sun shall never set.

(H. Stowell, M. A.)

In "Bereshith Rabbah," a Rabbinical commentary of the second century, it is beautifully said, "What is the institution of the Sabbath like? A king erected a marriage canopy, which he ornamented and beautified. When it was completed there was but one thing wanting, and that was the bride. Thus likewise, the creation of the world completed, its perfection required nothing but the Sabbath."

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