Genesis chapters 1 and 2 tell the story of creation, although from different angles. Genesis one is a broader view focusing on the entire creation while Genesis two focuses more on the creation of humanity. In Genesis one there is a theme to creation, some repeating characteristics. Each day starts with “And God said.” Each day ends with a similar phrase; “And there was evening and there was morning, the first (second, third…) day.” And each day contains the phrase “it is good.” Also the actual days have a theme. In the first three days God is creating habitats. (Day one light and dark, day two sky and seas, day three land.) In the last three days God is creating occupants for the habitats. (Day four sun, moon, and stars, day five birds and fish, day six land animals and humans.) This structure not only informs us that creation had a design and purpose but also helps us theologically discover what is happening during the act of creation.
In the seven day cycle of creation days one through six are all very active. God is speaking the world into existence. God is creating many different things. God is always doing something. On day seven however nothing seems to happen. God takes a break, as if the creation of the world made God tired. But could there be something else happening in this moment? Could day seven actually be something new? Remember the text again.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. – Genesis 2:1-3
The work of creating the earth was finished after day six. However, on the seventh day God actually finished the work and rested. Or more accurately stated, God finished the work by resting. Resting was actually work. That idea seems strange to us who live in a culture where many professionals do not work on Saturday but instead have the day off. However, in the Ancient Near East rest was not seen as taking a break but of actually returning to normal life. John Walton in his book The Lost World Of Genesis One discusses how rest in the ancient world happens after a crisis has been controlled; after chaos has been stopped and a state of peace or calm has been achieved. Rest in the ancient world then means that “normal routines can be established and enjoyed.” For God to rest means that God is assuming “the normal operations of the cosmos.” Rest is not stopping work it is continuing work.
Day seven then embarks on a new task. The work does not end, but instead God works by resting: blessing, sanctifying, sustaining the creation. God’s new work is to be in fellowship with the creation. But notice, day seven does not end with the same formula. Days one through six all end with the phrase, “and there was evening and there was morning.” This phrase acts as a period, a completion. The day is over; it is time for a new task. Day seven though leaves the ending formula out. Day seven has a beginning but has no ending. Day seven is not just one day a week when one rests from the normal routine of life. There is something about day seven that continues throughout all of life. God will continually be in the process of blessing, sanctifying, and sustaining the creation. God does not leave the creation to tend for itself, but is intimately involved with the creation. The seven day formula used in Genesis one does not just provide a beginning to the story, it carries the story on until the end of the ages. As long as there is a creation God will be resting with the creation. As long as there is something to share love and relationship with, God will share love and relationship. The story of creation is not a separate unit and it does not end in Genesis one and two; it continues on to the end of the age.
God is always working; taking care of and watching over what God has made.