Sermon Sunday 5th September – Liberating the Sabbath 1 – The Seventh Day of Creation
Unfortunately the Sermon was not Recorded. There is a copy of Caroline's Sermon notes below.
Liberating Sabbath sermon series 5/9/21
Psalm 8 was read at the beginning of the service
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
5 You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
9 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Bible reading Genesis 1 vs. 31 to 2 v 3
We’ve used the material for this series from the organisation ‘ReSource ‘
In Liberating Sabbath we will discover how extensive the concept of Sabbath is right through the Scriptures.
Understanding the Sabbath as revealed throughout the Bible is truly life-changing because it has such deep significance for every aspect of our lives and relationships.
The freedom offered by God through Sabbath, and the liberation experienced by discovering its significance in our lives, is desperately needed today as we all struggle to deal with global issues such as climate change, poverty, injustices, racism, pandemics, identity, overwork and no work. This series touches on all these issues and more – including having fun and relaxation!
We will discover that the Sabbath is about returning and entering into the Father’s presence at ‘home’ and celebrating with Him. It is about changing from ‘all these years spent slaving’ to ‘we had to celebrate and be glad.’
(We also slowly read through an edited by me reading of Genesis ch 1)
Gen 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed , and trees bearing fruit with seed in it And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth
God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems, and every winged bird And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
God said, “Let the land produce living creatures 25 God made the wild animals, the livestock, and all the creatures that move along the ground And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground - I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Gen 1: 31
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Whatever we’ve read or heard of about the creation, we tend to think of the climax being when God creates man and woman in His image
Is this a bit egotistical .... and perhaps typical of humans - maybe this is why we have so many problems in our lives and leads to the way we treat one another and our communities and environment..
Yes, it is amazing, important and just so special, to consider that God made us in His image in order to have a relationship with Him, as we read in Psalm 8 but we tend to skip over the 7th day
‘ when God had a rest’ ???
Do we really think God needs to rest in the sense that we do ?
God the Almighty Creator isn’t limited in energy like we are.... needing oxygen, water and the right nutrients and exercise and rest, to flourish ... God is Spirit
Is. 40: 28 The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary and His understanding no-one can fathom
He had simply finished what He was creating and it was good !
The 7th day almost passes unnoticed because nothing significant is created during it
In these verses in Gen 2 vs 2-3 the word ‘rested’ is translated from Hebrew word Shabat ( one ‘b’ )
( which is used earlier than the word Sabbat with 2 ‘bs’ ‘Sabbath’ )
The word Sabat means to cease , stop, desist , to stand still
The seventh day has no ending, unlike the other six days.
If we stop to think about it, the climax of the first creation narrative in Genesis is extraordinary
. ‘By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work’ (Gen. 2:2).
Both phrases contain potentially difficult ideas. The first can suggest that creation is essentially over, the world is finished and perfect, and God will only be needed now for maintenance when things go wrong. The second phrase can make God sound very human – needing to rest up after a particularly busy week.
There are difficulties with a completed, perfect world. It sounds too static. The idea needs reconciling with those phenomena that can’t be simply attributed to human destructiveness: earthquakes and volcanoes, and maybe even viruses and pandemics.
It can undermine the place of human stewardship and caretaking in the ongoing story, and the importance of work. Similarly, the idea of God resting cannot be taken too literally. Otherwise we are in danger of him being more like Baal, whose prophet Elijah taunted with the suggestion that he was sleeping and needing to be awakened.
When Jesus is in dispute with the Pharisees about healing on the Sabbath, he puts forward a contrasting truth: ‘My Father is always at his work’ (John 5:17) – restoring, renewing, perfecting.
The Bible does not spend time describing an idyllic paradise which we must strive to regain. It is much more concerned with telling the story of God at work in a broken world, in partnership with humanity, realising the goodness of his kingdom.
This final day is telling us that the fundamental elements of a world that is ‘very good’, are in place. However much there is an evolving future, or the necessary human task to ‘fill the earth and subdue it’ (Gen. 1:28), there is the initial gift of something beautiful and good which simply has to be received and enjoyed. And this gift is received and enjoyed through the right balance of work and rest.
So the story of creation is the story of God’s life-giving grace from beginning to end.’ Although work is important, and necessary for the flourishing of the earth and human community, life starts as resting in and with God in a world that is good.
If Sabbath was originally for Israel a day of rest, it is easy to see why it also became a day of worship, because rest demonstrated a trust that this world was created and sustained by a good and loving God and was not dependent on human effort alone.
The Sabbath created space to notice and enjoy God’s goodness, responding in all sorts of creativity, worship, and play.
How easily we miss the truth that is demonstrated by the chapter divisions that were put in between Genesis 1 and 2. Ending chapter 1 on day six with the creation of humans and their rule over life on earth suggests that here is the climax of creation, but this was not the last day!
The world is a gift that we are invited to celebrate and enjoy as our first calling, before any exercise of work and dominion. By telling us that God rested, we are meant to see that by resting ourselves we make space for appreciation and enjoyment of life, which gives meaning to all our working and responsibility. Life works best when we make space for God and the beauty around us.
‘Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.’ (Eddie Cantor)
We’ve been all too aware of this truth through the pandemic
We have seen how the seventh day was meant to be unending blessing and enjoyment for God and his creation, and that God blessed humankind. He created humankind to enter not only into his perfect creation but also into the eternal rest of the seventh day, in his company. Humankind did not have to work to enter or earn the seventh day rest – it was (and still is) a free gift, along with the blessings of the whole of creation.
In the next session, we will look at how we have spoiled God’s creation and what some of the consequences are.
Encourage Daily readings
Closed with Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress