THE IMAGO DEI. Sabbath Rest & the Image of God. Genesis 2:1-3. Sunday, September 25, By David A. Ritchie

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1 THE IMAGO DEI Sabbath Rest & the Image of God Genesis 2:1-3 Sunday, September 25, 2016 By David A. Ritchie Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation (Genesis 2:1 3, ESV). Almighty Heavenly Father, your word awakens us to worship you. You have made us for yourself; and our hearts are restless, until they find their rest in you. This morning, may your Holy Spirit lead us to a place of Sabbath rest that he may also form us and conform us to the image of Christ your Son and our Redeemer. For it is by his work that we find our rest. AMEN. I. Introduction My friend and his wife were driving in the car talking about how their kids were learning the Ten Commandments at church. They wondered whether or not they too could recite the commandments off the top of their heads. One by one, the began listing out the easy ones like Thou shall not murder and Thou shall not commit adultery. But at the end of the list they could only remember nine of the ten. So they pulled up the Bible app to Exodus 20 where they discovered that the commandment they forgot: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy (Ex. 20:8). My friends are not alone in their memory lapse. Among culture at large and even self-identifying Christians the command to set aside one day of seven for the purpose of rest, rejuvenation, and worship may very well be one of the most forgotten, neglected, and broken commandments in the entire Bible. With all of our moral crusades and agendas, have you ever wondered whether the most important moral issues of our day are not what we talk about most, but rather the moral issues we talk about the least? Is it possible that there may be a moral issue that is so foundational so woven into the fabric of creation that if we get it wrong, we are in danger of missing out on something that is crucial to the way we have been designed by our Creator? In the last few weeks, we have slowly been exploring the doctrine of the Imago Dei that is the Christian belief that all people are created in the image and likeness of God. Last week, we talked about how the image of God is expressed through the way we possesses dominion over creation, particularly in how we work.!1

2 But this week I want to talk about the relationship between the image of God and how we rest. II. The Text So for the rest of our time today I would like to talk about three ideas: 1.) What Sabbath Is, 2.) How Sabbath Works, and 3.) How Sabbath Rest is Connected to the Imago Dei. 1.) What Sabbath Is. Genesis 2:1-3 is the origin of the biblical idea of Sabbath. God has completed the work of creation over the course of six days, but on the seventh he rests. And in the same way that the six days of God s creation forms a pattern for us to understand how we are to work, so too God s rest forms a pattern for our rest. Dr. Bruce Waltke comments on this passage: In the first six days space is subdued; on the seventh, time is sanctified. This day is blessed to refresh the earth. It summons humanity to imitate the pattern of labor and rest of the King and so to confess God s lordship and their consecration to him. 1 If you step back and look at the structure of this passage, the importance of this pattern becomes clear. Immediately preceding these verses is the creation of man (Gen. 1:26-31), and immediately following these verses is the creation of man (Gen. 2:4-25). You could say that, according to the Bible, humanity s existence is framed around the idea of Sabbath rest. The word for Sabbath and the word that is translated here in verses 2 and 3 as rested both derive from the Hebrew word shabbat, which means, to cease, stop, be at a standstill...stop working, take a holiday. 2 In the Bible, it refers to the day of the week when the people of God were to regularly cease from their labors as a sign of worship and devotion unto the Lord. For ancient Israelites, Sabbath worship was celebrated on Saturday as the last day of the week. However, Christians since the book of Acts have equated Sabbath rest and worship with the first day of the week to honor the resurrection of Jesus, which occurred on a Sunday (cf. Acts 20:7). This is why many Christians, especially in earlier times, referred to Sunday as the Lord s Day (Rev. 1:10). Here is the big idea I want you to understand. The essence of Sabbath is rest. And as rest, Sabbath is something we should eagerly desire for our own benefit. We should desire to take one day out of seven to be rejuvenated, restored, and revitalized through the worship of God. But this isn t just a good suggestion that can be taken or ignored at will. Sabbath is a moral issue. The moral nature of Sabbath is further fleshed out in commandment four the Ten Commandments: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do 1 Bruce K. Waltke and Cathi J. Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), William L. Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament: Based on the Lexical Work of Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 680.!2

3 all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (Exodus 20:8 11, ESV). Notice that Sabbath is to the Lord. It is an act of worship. By connecting rest and worship through the fourth commandment, God is saying something profound. According to our Creator, rest and worship are deeply connected. You might even say what you rest in is what you worship. The hearts of all men good and bad are drawn with a gravitational force to find rest; and we find rest in what we love most. 3 We are spiritual beings than need spiritual nourishment. We were created to find our rest in God. Nothing else will satisfy. As the great Augustine of Hippo prayed on the first page of his book Confessions, You awaken us to delight in your praise; for you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until our hearts rest in you. 4 And here s the thing. Even as I am saying all of this stuff, you are saying, That s great but I can t do it, because I m too busy. This is true. I am busy. You are busy. Our culture is busy and it s only speeding up. We are all crazy busy who think that we are unable to set aside one day in seven for the purpose of rest and worship. Our gas tanks are always on empty, and when we stop we are hardly ever able to put more than five dollars in the tank. We are never full. Could it be that our lack of observance of the Sabbath is contributing to our weariness? Could our lack of Sabbath rest and worship potentially explain why we are an exhausted people? Could it be the ways we try to find rest never restore us because we were created to find our rest in God? 2.) How Sabbath Works. Now I realize the phrase Sabbath works is at first glance a bit contradictory. But even the Bible is self-aware of the fact that we are going to need to work hard to apply the principle of Sabbath to your life. We see this when we go back to the very first phrase of the fourth commandment. Remember the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8a). The Sabbath is something that must be remembered. To observe the Sabbath requires intentionality and planning. A day of rest will not happen by itself. There is too much of a gravitational pull in our sin-fractured world toward busyness and anxiety. So schedule your Sabbath day. Put it on your calendar. Set it as a nonnegotiable priority. Too often our rest and our attendance of worship is the first thing to go in our busy lives. 3 Augustine of Hippo, Letters of St. Augustin, in The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustin with a Sketch of His Life and Work, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. J. G. Cunningham, vol. 1, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1886), An modernized rendering of Augustine. The Confessions. Trans. Edward Bouverie DePussey. (Philadelphia: Franklin Library, 1982), 5.!3

4 Secondly, the Sabbath isn t only to be remembered, it is to be kept: Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8). The word keep it holy means to consecrate and purposely set apart. We can t just put the Sabbath on our calendar and expect it to happen. We need to actively guard the sacredness of a day of worship and rest, and we need to say no to things that conflict with Sabbath worship. This is a personal responsibility. No one else is going to make sure you are getting to rest and worship. This may cause us to make certain sacrifices. If your kid has a Sunday soccer league, I think you should reconsider his or her involvement in a league that would take you and your child from Sunday worship. If you have a somewhat flexible job that is constantly scheduling you to work on Sundays, I think you need to ask your boss to not schedule you to work any more on Sundays, so that you can be a part of corporate worship. If you are self-employed, I think you should do everything you can to make you are able to have a day of rest for both you and your employees. We can t always control whether or not we can attend Sunday worship. And indeed, many of us are employed with jobs of necessity (like people who guard nuclear weapons) and mercy (like our healthcare professionals) that might prevent us from attending Sunday worship from time to time. But my point is that wherever possible I think we should always fight for a day of Sabbath, even if that day is not on the weekend (cf. Rom. 14:5-23). But last thing that it is meant to be is a harsh burden. As Jesus himself said, The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27, ESV). The Sabbath was meant to be a gift for God s people. This means that we should look for ways to make Sabbath enjoyable. If your Sabbath day is a Sunday, make Sunday a day of joy. Let worship be something that you and your family look forward to throughout the week. Share a special meal with your family. Take a long nap. Read the Bible out loud to your kids, and sing songs of worship as a family. Go for a long walk in the park at sunset. And whatever you do, do it with a heart of worship to the Lord. Sabbath is a good habit to form. It is not always easy to keep the Sabbath, but I believe it is always worth it. As Dr. Philip Graham Ryken notes: God uses the Sabbath to sanctify us. When we keep it, God has a way of keeping us away from sin and close to God. Another blessing is physical rest...we stop working and instead rest in God s peace. We stop producing and rest in God s provision. We stop accomplishing and rest in our identity in Christ. We stop acquiring and rest in God s care. We stop worrying and rest in God s sovereignty. 5 3.) How Sabbath Rest is Connected to the Imago Dei. In ancient Judaism, Sabbath was crucial. In fact, to forsake the Sabbath was to forsake your covenant relationship with God, which is why you could even be executed if you broke the Sabbath (cf. Ex. 31:14; Num. 15:32-36). 6 But even when we talk about the importance of Sabbath, it is easy to miss the point. For example, in one of my seminary classes I did extensive research on this topic, and I remember 5 Philip Graham Ryken. Exodus: Saved for God s Glory. Preaching the Word Commentary Series. Edited by R. Kent Hughes. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2005), Peter Enns. The NIV Application Commentary: Exodus. The NIV Application Commentary Series. Edited by Terry Muck. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 545.!4

5 reading pages and pages of old rabbis arguing with one another about whether or not executing someone on the Sabbath for Sabbath breaking was itself an act of work that broke the Sabbath! 7 This seems ridiculous, right? Yet this was the environment in which Jesus lived and ministered. In fact, all four gospels record several instances in which Jesus came into conflict with how the religious leaders of his day understood the Sabbath. In their minds he was a law-breaker, but in reality he was reclaiming the true purpose of the Sabbath. One of my favorite examples of this happens in Mark chapter 3. 8 Jesus enters into a synagogue on a Sabbath day, and in this synagogue there is a man with a withered hand. The religious leaders are watching Jesus like a hawk, because Jesus is a healer. In their minds if Jesus heals this man, he is breaking God s law, and that means he is a false teacher. Jesus is angered and grieved by the hardness of these men s hearts. But he is also filled with mercy toward this man with a withered hand. This isn t just an inconvenience for him. It is an ailment that prevents this from working and living a fulfilled life. So Jesus asks whether it is lawful to do good or to do evil on the Sabbath, whether it is lawful to save a life or to kill. Then with a voice that once spoke creation into existence, he commanded the man to stretch out his hand. And the man s hand was restored. On this Sabbath day, he had encountered Jesus, and Jesus made him whole. This I believe is the greatest living picture of the true purpose of Sabbath. We live in a world that is still very much broken and fractured by sin, and often that brokenness wounds us. It deforms us, like the man with the withered hand was deformed. But on the day of Sabbath, we are invited to cease from our works. We are invited to worship. And in that place of rest and worship, we are invited to encounter Jesus through his word and his Spirit; that he might heal us and restore in us that which is bent and broken. The purpose of the Sabbath is to be renewed in the image of God as we behold Christ together in worship. Philosophe James K.A. Smith says it this way, In Christ, the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), we become the image bearers we were created to be (Gen. 1:27-30) The goal of Christian worship [then] is a renewal of the mandate in creation: to be (re)made in God s image and then sent as his image bearers to and for the world. 9 III. Conclusion But at the heart of the matter, Sabbath keeping is often very hard for us. Sabbath is a gift, but it is a gift we feel we haven t earned or deserve. We feel the pressures of our jobs and our responsibilities, and we never feel like our job is done. 7 b. Yeb., Mark 3:1-5 James K.A. Smith. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit. (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2016), !5

6 And this is true. Our work isn t finished. We have not earned this rest. But still we are commanded to stop and rest. Why? We may know Sabbath rest, not because our work is finished, but because Jesus work is! God established the Sabbath after accomplishing the work of creation (the word finished is used twice, and the word done is used three times in our text). So too Christ has now established the true and better Sabbath after accomplishing the work of redemption. By his atoning death and victorious resurrection, Jesus has completed the ultimate work. By declaring on the cross, It is finished! (John 19:30), Jesus invites his people into his true and better rest, which has already begun, and will be perfected at the end of time. Often times we never rest from our work because we are trying to prove something. We never stop because we crave validation and meaning for our lives. We long to feel justified. But our work will never give us the rest we need. In fact, to be a Christian means to acknowledge our work could never earn for us the rest we need. So today, if you are exhausted and hungry for rest in your soul, know that your rest is found in the work Jesus has done. Come to him. Trust in him. Find rest in him. Hear the words of Jesus, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV). Let us come to him today. Amen. Questions for Community Groups: 1. Why do you think that Sabbath (resting one day out of seven) is a part of the moral law that we tend to think is optional? Why do we tend to make regular attendance of corporate worship optional? What are some potential dangers that arise from these tendencies? 2. Exodus 20:8 show that the Sabbath is something to be remembered and kept. What are some ways that you can intentionally plan for a weekly day of rest and worship? How can you actively keep or guard the Sabbath? 3. In Genesis 2:1-3, God rests because the work of creation is finished. John 19:30 records another finished work of God in Christ. How should this finished work of Christ enable us to find spiritual rest?!6

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