When we rest from our work, it is usually because we are tired. Or, we rest from our work in order to do more pleasurable, leisurely activities. Sometimes, we take a rest from our work so that we might return to it with a refreshed perspective and attitude toward it. Whatever the specific reason, we tend to associate resting from our work with renewing our energy so that we can work more effectively when we resume working.
But what does the Bible mean when it says that God rested from His work? God doesn’t get tired (Isaiah 40:28), He doesn’t need to sleep (Psalm 121:4), and we can be certain that He never needs to take a break in order to get a fresh perspective or attitude. So why did He rest on the Seventh Day of Creation?
For one, God rested from His work in order to show us that we should take the time to rest from ours. When giving His commandments to Israel, God would provide for a day of rest each week that was modeled after His own resting in Genesis 2:2 (Exodus 20:9-10). God demonstrated the importance for people to make adequate time for rest here at the very beginning.
But even more than this, we find a key to understanding the reason for Genesis 2:2 by looking at Genesis 2:1: “Thus the heavens and the earth were FINISHED…” God rested from His work, primarily, because He was done! Genesis 1:31 stated right before this that God saw everything and that it was “very good.” He didn’t need to add anything to His work, it was complete. We don’t normally leave our offices at the end of the week because all of our work is finished, but at the end of that very first week, God rested because His work was finished.
It was God’s perfect, completed work that provided everything necessary for man to live on this Earth. God provided everything necessary by His work, Adam and Eve did not need to labor for it. God was resting from His work and all that they needed to do was enter into that rest with Him.
There is a rest that God has invited us into, as well. This rest is a spiritual rest, not a physical one. Just as God provided everything needed for the man and woman to live in the Garden of Eden, He has provided everything needed for us to live with Him. The rest that Adam and Eve were invited to enter into was completely provided by the work of God, and so is this rest. Jesus Christ completed the work (John 17:4) and declared it finished (John 19:30). God has completed he work necessary for us to enter into this rest, all we need to do is trust in Him.
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:9-10)