The Significance Of "Rest" On The Seventh Day: Four Interpretations Of The End Of The Creation Story
The beginning of Genesis in the Bible describes how God separated the light from the darkness and the waters from the dry land. During the six days of creation, He set the sun, moon and stars in motion and placed upon the earth every living thing, including humankind. On the seventh day God "rested... from all his work which he had made." (Genesis 2:2) An all-powerful God did not have need for "rest" unto himself; Isaiah 40:28 says that "The everlasting God... neither faints nor is weary." If God did not need to rest, what significance is the rest on the seventh day?
To mark the cessation of the creation:
The seventh day signaled the end of creation, and then God moved to sustain the earth He created. (Colossians 1:17) The wording in Genesis was a way to express the completion of His work of creation (Genesis 2:2).
To understand Sabbath day worship:
Ecclesiastes 3:1 explains that "there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." The seventh day became Shabbat — the Sabbath, which was to be kept holy according to the fourth commandment handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai. The word "Shabbat" comes from Hebrew to "set apart" or "make holy." The seventh day represents a time separate from the rest of the week to give praises to the Lord and remember His blessings upon the world. During his life, Jesus demonstrated honoring the sabbath by going to the synagogue to read and study the Torah (Luke 4:16) and blessing the lives of others (Matthew 12:12).
To signify the need for rest from labors:
Although an all-powerful God did not need to rest, the authors of the Bible simplified the language about God's works to be understood from the perspective of human nature. The creation story teaches about the importance of time for recharge and renewal. People cannot constantly run without pause and are not intended to operate without stopping. God's "rest" on the seventh day was for the benefit of the world — to set a pattern for people to follow.
To foreshadow the death and resurrection of Christ:
Jesus proclaimed himself the "Lord of the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:8), but no one at the time yet knew the ultimate significance of these words. At the end of his earthly work, he proclaimed it "finished" (John 19:30). He was crucified and his body entered into rest, which continued through the Sabbath day, later to be revealed as the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25) as he rose from the tomb. Thus, the creation story draws a powerful parallel to the life and work of Jesus Christ.
If you want more information on how did God rest, contact a local ecclesiastic leader.