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Bible verses about Rest
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 2:1-3

Because the Sabbath is from creation—and the Creator Himself set the pattern for man by resting on it—it has universal validity. It is not from one of the patriarchs or Moses or from the Jews because none of these existed when it was created. The Bible shows three times in two verses that God very clearly inspired the seventh day, not a seventh day.

God could have ended His creative work at the end of the sixth day because it seemed at that point as though He had provided everything man needed for life. But He did not complete it then because all man needed was not yet created! The Sabbath is, in fact, THE VERY CROWN of the creation week. It is vital to man's well-being. So God created a period of rest and holy time—a very specific period, as the context shows.

God draws our attention to four things He did on that first Sabbath. He (1) ended His work, (2) rested, (3) blessed the seventh day, and (4) sanctified it. He created something just as surely as He created physical things on the other six days. He is instructing us that, on the Sabbath, creation continued but in a different form, one not outwardly visible. To those with understanding, the Sabbath symbolizes that God is still creating. Jesus confirms this in John 5:17, when a dispute arises over how to keep the Sabbath. He replies, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working."

The Sabbath is an integral part of the process of creation. God finished the physical part at the end of the sixth day. The spiritual aspect began with the creation of the Sabbath and continues to this day. Through the sequence of events on the first six days, God created an environment for man and life. But God shows through the creation of the Sabbath that the life-producing process is not complete with just the physical environment. The Sabbath provides an important part in producing spiritual life—life with a dimension the physical cannot supply.

The Sabbath is not an afterthought of a tremendous creation, but a deliberate memorializing of the most enduring thing man knows: time. Time plays a key role in God's spiritual creation. It is as if God says, "Look at what I have made and consider that I am not yet finished creating. I am reproducing Myself, and you can be a part of My spiritual creation."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Genesis 2:1-3

The Hebrew word translated here as "rested" is the verb shabath, from which comes the noun form that is rendered in English as "Sabbath." Interestingly, the primary meaning of this word is not "rest," in terms of relaxing or rejuvenating, but "to desist from exertion" or "to cease." This makes perfect sense considering that God does not get tired (Isaiah 40:28)!

Genesis 2 states that at the end of Creation Week, God stopped His physical labors, not because He was tired, but because He was setting an example for us. Furthermore, God blessed this specific day of the week and sanctified it—He set it apart for a specific purpose. Just as God deliberately sets apart or sanctifies those people with whom He is working, He purposefully made the seventh day different from the other six.

Thus, not only did God create the Sabbath day—and thus it belongs to Him; Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28)—but He also made it separate and distinct from the other six days. So how can we think that this day belongs to us? There is not a single second of this sanctified time that we have authority over! This day is not our day—not for our work, our sports, or our entertainment. It still belongs fully to God, and only He can dictate its right and proper usage.

It is not that we have no part in this day. On the contrary, the Sabbath day is the most important day of the week for us as Christians, because it enhances our relationship with God the most.

When we tithe, we decide whether we are going to tithe by choosing whether or not we will submit to God and follow His way. Once we make the decision to follow God, we give up all claims to the money God requires of us. If we start "deciding" that money is ours to use, we also choose not to submit to God. Similarly, once we decide to follow God, we give up all prior claims to the 24-hour period of the Sabbath, to the extent that God requires us to monitor our speech and even our thoughts (Isaiah 58:13-14)!

We recognize that God has given us a stewardship responsibility in using the money and material possessions He has provided us, and correspondingly, we have a stewardship responsibility over His holy time and its proper use. The Sabbath is not our time. It may belong to God, but He entrusts us with the responsibility to keep it righteously. We had better handle it with care!

David C. Grabbe
It's Not Our Time


 

Genesis 2:3

On the seventh day of the creation week, God rested, blessed it (made it special), and sanctified it (set it apart as holy). This was not for His own benefit, but for the benefit of all mankind. Jesus clearly says in Mark 2:27 that the Sabbath was made for man. God rested on it, blessed it, and sanctified it—all for mankind.

Some say that God did all these things on and with the Sabbath and yet did not tell his people how to keep and use the day. Although the details are not recorded, there can be little doubt that God would have instructed Adam and Eve—His first human children—in how to keep His Sabbaths holy. Those simple instructions were later repeated by Moses, Isaiah, and of course, by Jesus Christ! Moses, under God's direction, stated that we are to rest on the Sabbath day because God did. God's people are to follow His example in how He kept it.

God clearly blessed and sanctified the seventh day at creation and made a special point of making it very plain to His people that He had done these things. It is illogical to believe that He would secretly remove His blessing and sanctification from the day without clearly and plainly telling His people—and not such statement exists! The seventh day is still blessed, sanctified, and to be rested upon.

Staff


 

Exodus 5:5

The word "rest" here is translated from the Hebrew shabath. Through Moses, God was demanding that the Israelites be given time off for special worship (likely one of God's Feasts, which are special Sabbaths).

Staff


 

Exodus 16:23

This is the first use of the English word "Sabbath" in the Bible. This usage comes from the Hebrew word shabbath (Strong's 7676). The word shabbath comes from a primitive root word shabath (Strongs 7673) which is translated in various places "cease," "rest," "away," "fail," "celebrate," and miscellaneous other words, some of which precede this usage of the word shabbath. For example, Genesis 8:22 uses "cease," and both Genesis 2:2-3 and Exodus 5:5 use "rest."

Moses was transmitting to the Israelites a Sabbath commandment from God, four chapters before their arrival at Sinai where the tablets of stone (the Ten Commandments) were given. There is no indication that this Sabbath commandment was something that was newly initiated by God at this time. In fact, other verses state that the Sabbath Day of rest was initiated at creation (see Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 20:11). God said through Moses, "Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest...". He did not say, "This is a new command: from now on, every seventh day is to be a solemn rest, etc."

This appears to be a reminder to the Israelites of God's Sabbath requirements, and specifically with regard to the collection and preparation of manna. It must be remembered that the Israelites had been in captivity for hundreds of years, and that they had not, during those years, enjoyed the freedom to obey God's Sabbath commands (see Exodus 5:1-5). Now that they were free from Egypt and the restrictions of slavery, they needed to be reminded of their obligations as the children of God. This verse reiterates that the seventh day was set apart by God to be holy.

The Israelites were commanded to rest solemnly. This does not mean that they were to be miserable, but that they were to be strict in their keeping of this period of rest. Even their food preparation was used as an example of God's intent: Other verses show that they were to collect twice as much manna on the previous day. This verse states that they were to do any preparation and cooking of the manna on the previous day. Any leftover, unprepared manna could be left unconsumed until the Sabbath without fear of it rotting (as it did on the other six days of the week). This was a miracle, which proved to the Israelites on a weekly basis that God continued to put His blessing on the Sabbath day. It also clearly revealed to them, after hundreds of years of slavery, which day was God's Sabbath.

Staff


 

Exodus 16:26

Moses is repeating himself here, perhaps for emphasis. He had already told the Israelites that:

  • They should gather manna for six days
  • The seventh day is a Sabbath—a day of rest
  • There would be none for them to gather on the Sabbath Day.

Staff


 

Exodus 16:30

Finally, the Israelites get the point, realizing that God is serious about what they do with His Sabbaths, and they begin to obey. The Israelites begin to shabath every seventh day.

Staff


 

Exodus 20:8

This is the fourth of the Ten Commandments and is the last of the four commandments which show love towards God. It is quite a simple statement and yet causes so much controversy. Some say that the Ten Commandments were given to and meant only for the Israelites—not for the rest of mankind—and that they were part of the Old Covenant between God and Israel which was nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ. God answers this opinion through Jesus Christ in Mark 2:27, and through the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 20:11-21, where He clearly puts the emphasis on the fact that they are HIS statutes, HIS judgments, and HIS Sabbaths. The prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 56:2 also shows that the Sabbath blessing is available to any man—not just the Israelites.

The original giving of God's Sabbath commandment to Adam and Eve at Eden (and from them to all the nations to whom that first couple gave birth) preceded the giving of the Sabbath commandment to the Israelites at Sinai. At that time (man's beginning), God made the Sabbath for man (not for the Israelites who did not yet exist as a nation), and it was therefore to be kept by all nations (see Genesis 2:2-3; Mark 2:27). The Sabbath command, already in existence, is here repeated and included in the Ten Commandments. Even though the Old Covenant with Israel has become obsolete, the original sanctification of the Sabbath Day, made holy for all mankind at creation, still remains!

There is absolutely no scripture in the entire Bible that tells of God "de-sanctifying" His Sabbath Day! In fact, both Isaiah and Ezekiel give very strong indications that the Sabbath will be kept in the World Tomorrow (see Isaiah 66:22-23 and Ezekiel 44:24; 45:17; 46:1-12).

Some say that the Sabbath was changed from the seventh day of the week to the first. Most Bible experts and scholars agree that there is no biblical support for this idea at all and that such changes were made much later by (human) church leaders.

The Hebrew word translated here into the English "remember" is zakar (Strongs 2142). As well as "to remember" and "to recall," the word zakar can mean "to think about," "to bring to mind," "to mention," "to record," and "to make a memorial of." These meanings show the special status of the Sabbath.

Many scriptures show that the Sabbath Day should be a day of rest from work (see Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 16:23; 20:10-11; 31:15; 35:2; Leviticus 23:3, Deuteronomy 5:14; Luke 23:56; Hebrews 4:9). Isaiah tells us that we should not do our own pleasure on the Sabbath, but rather that we should do God's pleasure (see Isaiah 58:13).

In the gospel accounts, Jesus shows us (by word and example) that:

  1. The Sabbath Day of rest should be a pleasure, and not a day of bondage to a list of pharisaical "do's and don'ts" (See Matthew 12:1-12; Mark 2:23-28; 3:2-4, Luke 6:1-9; 13:10-16; 14:1-5; John 5:9-18; 7:22-23; 9:14-16).
  2. The Sabbath is a day on which we should, if possible, attend church services. Jesus attended synagogue services, as He was a practicing Jew, illustrating the need for us to assemble together (see Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 12:9; 13:54; Mark 1:21; 6:2; Luke 4:16; 4:31; 13:10; John 6:59; 18:20).

Staff


 

Exodus 20:8-11

In verse 8, God says "Remember the Sabbath day." Then He tells us that we are to work six days, and the seventh day we are not to work. Verse 11 gives the reason why.

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 [not a seventh day.] Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

This verse firmly establishes the Sabbath as law, a command to be kept. Yet, it is very clear that this law has its roots in Genesis 2:1-3, for there, God set the example in what He did. He rested, and He blessed the seventh day.

God could have rested at any time. Or, we might say, He needed no rest at all. But He rested. God does not grow weary or become tired. He could have ended the creative cycle at the end of the sixth day, but He did not. Creation did not cease at the end of the sixth day. This is a very important concept. The seventh day is also a creation of God. He kept right on creating, only this time He created by not working, by ceasing.

What did He do? He created a period of rest and of holy time. He created a specific period of time: the seventh day. What He created was just as real as the things created on the other six days. Thus, on the Sabbath, creating continued, but it took on a different form in that it was not outwardly visible. The Sabbath symbolizes to man that God is still creating.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 1)


 

Exodus 31:17

Though He had just created the world and everything in it, God had no need for rest. Isaiah writes, "The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary" (Isaiah 40:28). But this verse shows us how God rested on the first Sabbath: "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day, He rested and was refreshed." God's Sabbath rest was a real rest—though He was not tired—because He was refreshed, at ease, and satisfied with His work.

William Gray
Sharpening Our Saws


 

1 Kings 19:4-15

While pitying himself, Elijah asks for death, saying, "It is enough! Now LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!" His situation reveals several problems that can fatigue and erode our attitudes: He presumes the outcome, focuses on the problem and himself, and becomes physically exhausted. God provides the solutions to alleviate self-pity: Pray for God's help, rest, find a new focus and new expectations, repent of sins, and take obedient action. When Elijah crawls into his shell, God commands him to get up and get moving. He wants Elijah to choose godly action based on obedience rather than inaction based on his emotions. Genuine repentance and a clear view of our true condition, not a distorted one, fights self-pity.

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 10): Self-Pity


 

Isaiah 40:28

Though He had just created the world and everything in it, God had no need for rest. Isaiah writes, "The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary" (Isaiah 40:28). But Exodus 31:17 shows us how God rested on the first Sabbath: "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day, He rested and was refreshed." God's Sabbath rest was a real rest - though He was not tired - because He was refreshed, at ease, and satisfied with His work.

William Gray
Sharpening Our Saws


 

Hebrews 4:1-10

Hebrews 4 shows a connection between God's rest on the Sabbath day during the creation week and the thousand-year reign of Christ, commonly called the "Millennium." It is logical to conclude that the other six days of Creation typify 6,000 years of man's government on earth. Thus, God has a 7,000-year plan to bring humanity into His Family, and we find ourselves near the end of man's allotted 6,000 years!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
God's Master Plan


 

Hebrews 4:9-10

The Lamsa translation of the Bible from the Aramaic renders Hebrews 4:9-10 as: "It is therefore the duty of the people of God to keep the sabbath. For he that has entered into his rest also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his." Along with the examples of Christ, His apostles, and the early church, this scripture indeed shows us we have a responsibility in keeping the Sabbath. It is on the Sabbath day that we have the best opportunity each week to learn and grow toward entering God's rest, His Kingdom.

William Gray
Sharpening Our Saws


 

Hebrews 4:9-10

Have we entered into that rest? We have not entered into it yet; it has not occurred. So, what rest is God talking about here? The Kingdom of God, which still lies before us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 4)


 

Hebrews 10:25-31

Considering Ezekiel 20 and what happened with Israel, that God's rest is introduced earlier in Hebrews 4 and that assembling is mentioned here make an inference of the Sabbath in these sobering verses seem inescapable. The Sabbath commandment is just as important as any of the other nine.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Find more Bible verses about Rest:
Rest {Nave's}
 




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