In Part 1, we examined the curious claim by the apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Rome:
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19, 20). (NOTE: All references are from the English Standard Version.)
We saw that it is relatively easy to understand how God’s eternal power can be seen in the things that have been made.
In Part 2, we developed an understanding of how his divine nature could also be seen in the things He made. We noted that there were seven days of creation and on the seventh day, God created holiness in time. We also noted the words of the very one who spoke the universe into existence when he said, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). We uncovered the significance of his use of the word “man.” Now, in this final part we turn to the second part of Mark 2:27 and look deeper into the purpose of Sabbath and to what makes it holy.
Not Man For The Sabbath
Sabbath is associated with worship of the creator. Did God create man because he had an unsatisfied need for worship? This portion of the verse would point us to a conclusion that God did not create us just so he could have our worship. We were not made for the Sabbath.
God wants to be known, and not just known about. He wants to be really known. Jeremiah 9:23, 24 informs us of this:
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD."
Hosea 6:4-6 echoes the same sentiment:
“What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
The Living Bible translation captures verse 6 particularly well:
“I don’t want your sacrifices—I want your love. I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me.”
God wants us to know Him, to really know Him. He wants us to “clearly perceive” his “divine nature”. We were created for friendship with God! Pause a moment and take that in, if you can. Paul wrote that God’s divine nature can be clearly perceived in the things that he made. This is the purpose of God’s grand Cathedral in Time that he created for us on that seventh day of creation.
God wants us to know Him, really know Him, and He created unique, holy time just for that purpose. Now that is good news. And yes Lucy (Narnia), he is safe!!!
Why The Seventh Day And Not Some Other Day?
Genesis 3:8 says:
“And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”
By this point, sadly, they had already messed up and that is why they were hiding, but we can note from this passage that Adam and Eve had the privilege of walking and talking with God anytime. They could apparently converse with God on all days of the week.
One of the “omni” characteristics that Christians assign to God is that He is omnipresent, that is, He is everywhere. David asks in Psalms 139:7-12:
"Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you."
God is everywhere, all the time. He is accessible all the time. So, what makes something holy? What makes the 7th day holy? As might be expected, God’s Word will give us the answer to the question.
Moses was taking care of the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro in the desert and he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. Moses sees a bush that appears to be on fire, and so it was. Moses looked, and although the bush was on fire, it was not burning up. So he thought, "Why isn't this bush burning up? I must go over there and see this strange sight." We read in Exodus 3:4, 5:
When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then he said, "Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."
God is everywhere; He was everywhere Moses went in that desert. But when Moses came to the burning bush he was on holy ground because at that time, God was uniquely present there in the burning bush.
The experience of Joshua, Commander of the Lord’s Army, will further illustrate this reality. Joshua was leading the Israelites in their initial conquest of the Promised Land. The manna had stopped, and they are now eating crops from the land of Canaan. Joshua 5:13-15 picks up the story:
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us, or for our adversaries?" And he said, "No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, "What does my lord say to his servant?" And the commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, "Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.
God is everywhere; He was everywhere Joshua went in the Promised Land. But when God was uniquely present, Joshua was standing on holy ground.
God and Moses had a mountain top meeting at Sinai, and when God was uniquely present the mountain smoked and trembled. Any other time it was just Mt. Sinai.
During Israel’s travels in the wilderness desert, they had a portable sanctuary. While traveling, the materials of the sanctuary were packed for travel, and except for the Ark of the Covenant, they were just materials. But, when Israel camped and the sanctuary was assembled, the Shekinah Glory of God, His unique presence, descended on the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary and it became holy ground.
To recap, God is omnipresent, He is everywhere. But when He is uniquely present somewhere; that somewhere is holy.
The creation historical account, Genesis 2:3, records that, “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, . . .” God uniquely enters His Cathedral in Time on His appointed 7th day; and that makes it holy. This is Holiness in time.
We have been examining the nature of the “In the beginning God.” We considered God’s powerful action on the first six days of creation and concluded that indeed, God’s eternal power has been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. We asked the question “Is a God that powerful safe?” Is it safe to encounter that God? Is there anything in the things that have been made that reveal His divine nature that would encourage us that He is safe?
We have proposed that God’s creative act on the seventh day is an affirmative answer to these questions. God did create something on the seventh day of creation, a making of something that is uniquely different in nature from His creative activities on the first six days. It was a making of holy time.
Our considerations then turned to Mark’s record of Jesus’ words that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Jesus’ own words inform us that He made Sabbath for all humankind and that He did not make it just so He could be enthralled with our worship. God’s purpose for creating holiness in time was so that mankind could truly come to know, in the deepest sense, Him who was their creator.
Finally, we have established that while God is omnipresent and can be accessed at all times, when God is uniquely present, the place of His presence is holy. This explains why the seventh day of each week is holy—because God is uniquely present in those hours in a way that He is not on any other day because of His own choosing.
His presence in that day each week is His invitation for us to join Him in his Cathedral in Time; His invitation to come into His unique presence to discern and perceive His divine nature.
Len Cornwell graduated from Mountain View Academy in 1965, and received a B.S. in Aeronautical Maintenance in 1971. He received an M.B.A. in 1991 from Portland State University. He retired from his position as Coordinator for Safety, Emergency Response Planning, and Security at a large wastewater treatment plant in 2012. He currently lives in Ryderwood, WA.