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Creation and the Seventh Day

Creation and the Seventh Day

Maybe you recognize these opening words: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Or maybe you don’t. [1]

Maybe you recognize these opening words: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Or maybe you don’t, either. [2]

But, surely, you recognize these: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Most people, even if they aren’t believers in the Bible, or in God even, are familiar with that line. Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous atheist, would recognize the phrase. So would most Muslim clerics who rule Iran. Most people, from communists to Hindus to American Indians, do as well.

They are, of course, the first words of the Bible. And, as such, they are some of the world’s most recognizable. People know the sentence.

The sentence itself points to the Creation, particularly to the creation of our earth and life on it, as revealed in the first two chapters of Genesis. That is, though the Bible is filled with doctrine, prophecy, and sacred history, it starts out with creation—not with the second coming of Jesus; not with the death of Jesus on the cross; not with the Exodus; not with the resurrection, either of Christ or of the saints at the end of time.

In the Beginning
And the Bible begins not just with creation but with God, the Lord, as the Creator, a theme that appears all through the Scriptures. (See Job 12:7­9; Psalm 33:6; Jeremiah 10:12; John 1:1­3; Hebrews 11:3.) And that makes perfect sense, too, because without God as the Creator, what can these other doctrines—the second coming, the cross, the resurrection—mean? Nothing. Apart from God as the Creator, they are nonsense, lies, fairy tales.

After all, what are we resurrected from in a godless universe? What good does Christ’s death on the cross do for us if God does not exist? What could the second coming mean if there were no God in heaven? Creation, with the Lord as the Creator, is the foundational teaching upon which all other biblical teachings rest.

In fact, the doctrine of creation is so important, so crucial, that God commands one seventh-of our lives, every week, without exception, to remember it—something that He does for no other doctrine because, again, no other doctrine makes sense apart from the Creation.

Look at the Sabbath commandment:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. … For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8–11).

Right up there with “you shall not steal” (v. 15), “you shall not murder” (v. 13), and “you shall not commit adultery” (v. 14) is the biblical command to “remember the Sabbath day,” the seventh-day Sabbath, as a memorial to the Creation. It’s not a memorial to the second coming, or to Jesus’ death on the cross, or to the resurrection. It is, instead, a memorial to God as our Creator, the foundation of all other biblical doctrine—and the fact that it is embedded in the Ten Commandments, God’s moral law, shows just how important it is.

Living Earth
Remembering the Creation is so important that the seventh-day Sabbath, the memorial of creation, comes to us. It’s not like a sacred hill, or a sacred city, or a holy shrine that we have to go to. Every week, at about a thousand miles per hour (that is how fast the Earth spins on its axis), the Lord’s 24-hour “monument” to creation of the Earth moves across the face of the Earth until it reaches each of us on the earth, no matter where we are.

Living Earth, an app designed for Apple devices, is a real-time satellite shot of the planet. You type in the name of a city and that side of the Earth appears. On Friday night, you can type in where you are—and you can watch the Sabbath approach. That is, you can see the evening come and, eventually, reach where you are. Though, of course, it looks like any other evening, we know from the Word of God that the seventh day is special—God’s memorial to His supernatural acts of creating our world and life on it.

Unlike the other commandments, this one begins with the verb “remember,” something not used with any other one. Remember, you shall not steal. Remember, you shall not murder. Scripture doesn’t read like that—does it? No, the verb “remember” is used only with the Sabbath commandment, which helps emphasize how special it must be.

And special it is. By remembering the Sabbath, we remember who we really are: beings made in the image of God. As Genesis 1:27 confirms, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him.” What a sharp contrast to modern evolutionary theory, which instead states that we’re made in the image of apes.

Famous author Stephen King intuited, “A really good first line can do so much to establish that crucial sense of voice. ... There’s incredible power in it.” [3] So, maybe you recognize these opening words: “Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course.” [4] Then again, maybe not. These famous first sentences are each a door into what the world considers the most epic love stories of our time—unrequited devotion, tragic infidelity, heroic deliverance. But only one first sentence towers above the rest—and it is, unlike the others, absolute truth. It is this: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” an invitation to the most beautiful love of all, the love that God has for His creation—you. The Sabbath is a weekly reminder of God’s ultimate love for you. You are His beloved, created in His own image, and through the death of His Son Jesus Christ, recreated unto eternity.

To learn more about this love in action, take a look at the biblical understanding of this common concept “Loving God and my neighbor is all I am required to do.”

[1] Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

[2] Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.


[4] Homer’s Odyssey.
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