The Sanctified Sabbath

In Chapter 2 of Genesis, we see God sanctify the Sabbath, i.e. set it apart. Why was God so insistent on Israel keeping the Sabbath? In Numbers 15:32-36 we have the account of an individual who was put to death for simply gathering sticks on the Sabbath! Now, there is not a person on this planet who would say they think that is a reasonable response, yet we know that God is good and does good (Psalm 119:68). In other words, God cannot do anything that is not good. So how do we make sense of this?

Later in Israel’s history, we find that God actually has Israel removed from their land for 70 years because they had failed to keep the Sabbaths for the land (every 7th year)  – see 2 Chron 36:21

There is far more to the Sabbath than most are aware! As we study scripture we find there is a principle laid down here that has enormous implications. The Sabbath is about rest as opposed to work, and herein is the whole Gospel message!

If you want to listen to the audio teaching associated with this post, you can find both the Audio and Powerpoint slides in the Sunday Morning Teaching section or click this link:


Chapter 2

Genesis 2:1

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

Finished, complete, nothing new needed to be added. This means there will be no new information. That which has been designed to reproduce will do so, but no more matter or energy will created.

When we finish a project there is a sense of satisfaction, but for God, as wonderful as this new creation was, He knew that His special creation would soon ‘fall’. Satan would soon rebel taking a third of the angelic host with him and the Earth that God has created for man would soon be in Satan’s hands. It would take the sacrificial death of His own Son, the One who is Light, to redeem the Earth and Adam’s offspring – but even then, many of Adam’s descendants would reject the Light in favour of the Darkness. Yet there was hope…

Genesis 2:2

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.

This is far more than a pattern for our week – which of course it is. In establishing the Sabbath God was prophetically outlining the future-history of man. For the next 6000 years of human history there would be toil and suffering, the six days of work. But then there would be a glorious age – the millennial kingdom – when the Earth would be reclaimed by the Second Adam, the curse would be removed and it would be a day of rest. The Sabbath speaks of Christ’s reign on the Earth He had made. It also speaks of His completed work. The writer to the Hebrews states:

“Let [those who are Christ’s] therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto [Israel]: but the word preached did not profit [Israel], not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, [i.e. we have ceased from the days of toil] as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall [not] enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world [i.e. God’s plan and the opportunity to enter rest existed from the foundation of the World]. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. [Even from the beginning of the World, before sin had entered, God’s plan of redemption was established and God had foreordained a place of rest (in Christ) and a time of rest (Christ’s everlasting kingdom)]. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.[The key is ‘if’ – the gospel is for the ‘whosever will’].

Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. [Let me paraphrase this: God foreordained that some would enter into the Sabbath rest through Christ, the offer went first of all to Israel, but they would not believe by faith. God therefore chose a time, for this offer of Salvation and rest for our souls, to go out to the world through the Seed of David].

For if [Joshua – who had led them into Canaan] had given [Israel] rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. [If God’s plan had been fulfilled through Israel’s obedience to the Law of Moses, there would be no need for the cross].

[However] There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. [The Law could not bring us to a place of rest, it could only condemn us, But Christ has paid for our sin, so anyone who simply believes on Him by faith is assured that there is a place of rest from our striving against sin, and that place is in Christ!]

For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. [Those who believe by faith know that it is not because of what we have done, but because of who He is!]. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. [This ends in an oxymoron! In essence what is said is let’s labour to not labour! Simply trust in the completed work of Christ and we can be assured of the Sabbath rest God intended for all who would believe!]  (Hebrews 4:1-11)

Thinking again of the man caught gathering sticks (as mentioned in the intro to this post), it speaks of religion – man’s attempt to get right with God by his own efforts. God had said ‘rest’! He would provide. This man was all about ‘works’, ‘doing things’. In esence, it is either your own works, your own efforts, or it is the completed work of Christ on the cross. This is not an issue about sticks, it is about salvation! Are you going to trust in what you can do (which will only lead to death)? Or trust in Christ’s payment in full (which will lead to life!)?

God was not harsh in the judgment meted out to this man, nor in regard to the 70 years captivity for Israel. Both of these examples draw our focus to the most important decision anyone can make. Are you going to go your own way and gather sticks – your labour, your efforts to provide for your needs? Or are you resting in the Lord knowing He has done it all?!

Genesis 2:3

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Now that we have seen in type what the Sabbath is really all about, we start to understand why God was so protective of the model. The Sabbath is set apart because it represents the hope of mankind and the restoration of God’s walk with man.

Genesis 2:4

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

The phrase ‘These are the generations’  we find nine times in Genesis: 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10,27; 25:12,19; 36:1; 37:2. Each time it marks a division of the book and the commencement of a new section. Some scholars think that, whilst Moses was the compiler of this book, each of these sections were originally recorded by different individuals starting with God Himself recoding 1:1 to 2:3, then Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and finally Moses himself.

Genesis 2:5-6

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

Here we are told that originally there was no rain. This, coupled with the statement in Hebrews 11:7 and with what seems to be implied in chapter 1 verse 7 leads to the conclusion that the earth had a very different hydo-system before the flood.

The statement that ‘there was not a man’ indicated that this, along with the next verse, is a recap of what we have seen in chapter 1.

Genesis 2:7

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

This verse is very instructive! Firstly we are told that man was formed from the dust of the ground. It is very unlikely that Adam/Moses knew when they were recording this that the human body is made up almost entirely of 13 elements, all of which are found in the ground! The next insight we glean here is that we are made up of three component parts; body, soul and spirit.


Our physical body is the container in which we reside, but it is not who we are. God here forms man out of the dust, but man is not alive until God breathes life into him. We (the real ‘us’) reside in our body (the Bible likens it to a ‘tabernacle’ or tent, implying a temporary residence (see 2 Cor 5:1,4 / 2 Peter 1:3). When we die the body goes back to dust (Gen 3:19).


Then there is the spirit, given to us by God, and which will return to God when we die (see Ecclesiastes 12:7). The spirit is in effect our conscience; it is the part of us that is conscious of God. At the time of the fall man died spiritually, hence now we find that ‘the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, nor can his know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (see 1 Cor 2:14). However, when we are born again we are not merely given a new spirit, we are given God’s Holy Spirit!


Finally, we have the real ‘you’ – the soul. This is who we are, and as we noted previously, the soul comprises the heart and mind. The soul is not alive until the breath of life comes. The Bible makes it clear, life is not physical but spiritual. Those who live to satisfy the body exist, but are not truly alive.

Genesis 2:8

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

It may seem like stating the obvious, but Adam is created on day 6, and then God places him in this wonderful garden sometime after day 7; but notice this is before Eve is taken out of Adam.

Genesis 2:9

And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Now, it is surprising how many people seem to struggle with the following verses. Often we here allegations of contradictions between Genesis 1 and Geneses 2. Even well-meaning Christians attempt to point out two different creation accounts, and then deliberate as to which is the correct or best one?

However, as so frequently is the case, if we simply read the verses in context there is no confusion and we see a coherent single account.

What we need to note is the fact that God creates a garden and then puts man in the garden. God has already created all plant life, all marine life, all land animals etc, on day 5 & 6. Now we are told that he causes to grow, out of the ground, another of every plant and tree etc.

Why does God do this? To show Adam that He alone is the Creator! Adam did not see days 1 – 5 as God was creating. History has shown how easily man is led away from trusting in our Creator; very soon the great Tempter would come onto the scene, and how easy it would have been for Satan to convince man that he was the one who had created everything! But now, Adam is an eyewitness of Creation and sees, first-hand, God at work.


Genesis 2:10-14

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

All of Earth’s geography was rearranged at the time of the Flood. Clearly, some of these place names were re-used and given to other places / rivers after the Flood. But why do we have this record in scripture? Why did God choose to give us this information?

The honest answer is ‘I don’t know!’ – but that doesn’t trouble me. When you come to appreciate what the Bible is, when you realise that every name, every number, every letter and every place name are in the Bible by deliberate supernatural design, you begin to recognise what the Rabbi’s called a ‘Remez’ – a hint of something deeper. Just because we have not discovered it yet simply means we carry on looking. We might make and amazing discover that becomes a blessing and encouragment to the body of Christ, or we may not know this side of eternity.

“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law”. (Deut 29:29)

Genesis 2:15-17

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

So Adam has the opportunity to eat from the tree of life, but for some inexplicable reason, he doesn’t take it!

Instead, he ends up eating from the only tree that is forbidden!

Notice too that this instruction is given to him before Eve is created.

It was Adam’s responsibility to instruct his wife.

Notice that God holds Adam responsible, yet at the same time Eve is held accountable for her own actions.

Genesis 2:18

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Man was created for fellowship – ultimately with God, but we are not supposed to be on our own.

Is there one woman for every man?

Does God intend for some people to remain single?

Can more be accomplished as a couple?

What is certain is that we must maintain fellowship with other believers!

Fellowship and friendship costs. It cost Adam a rib! David would not offer to God that which cost him nothing (2 Sam 24:24). Don’t expect a free ride! Adam will appreciate Eve for more after this object lesson that God is about to teach him.


Genesis 2:19

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

As already noted, God forms another of each creature out of the ground in the Garden of Eden in front of Adam to show again that He is the Creator.

The other purpose of this is to bring Adam to the place of realising his need!

God does this with us today. He allows circumstances and even disappointment into our lives to help us to understand.

Experience is still one of the best teachers. Some things we need to learn the hard way.

Adam must have had an incredible intellect, but remember, he was created perfect!

Had God not have exposed Adam’s need for companionship, his attitude toward might have been different. What seems clear is that by the time God creates Eve, Adam is overjoyed!

Genesis 2:20

And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

If more proof were needed, there is a chasm of difference between man and animals.

We are created eternal – they are not.

Genesis 2:21

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

God’s intention in making woman was not to give man a helper, nor a servant, but an ‘opposite’, the other part of the equation.

Man was asleep when Eve was created!

Here God literally takes the woman part out of Adam!

Man does not have one less rib!!

Note that woman was taken out of Adam’s side; this is a picture in type of the Church being taken from Christ’s side.


Genesis 2:22-24

And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

The ‘woman’ part is taken out of man, but through marriage (which by the way, God invented so only He can define it – and He does, as the union between one man and one woman!!) man and woman are joined togehter and become one again – do you see from this why God hates divorce so much? It is like ripping part of your own self away, and you can never be the same after that.

That doesn’t mean God won’t forgive and bring a degree of healing, but God’s standard is clearly given – and for our benefit too!

Although they were naked they had a spiritual covering. They lose this at the time of the Fall (we will look at this in more details next week).


More next week…

Every blessing,


Pastor Barry.



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