Subject 18 : GENESIS

[Chapter 2-4] God Blessed and Sanctified The Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3)

(Genesis 2:1-3)
“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
God worked on His creation until the sixth day, and after having completed it all, He rested on the seventh day. He rested because He had fulfilled everything He had wished. So, He blessed this day and sanctified it. When the day’s work is all done, we also rest in peace in the evening. Likewise, God rested after making the whole universe and mankind, because He had fulfilled all His plans.
God made all things until the sixth day and rested on the seventh day. Based on evolutionist interpretation of geologic strata, some people deny that God made the heavens and the earth in six days, but these six days are according to God’s time, different from six days as conceived by mankind based on the earth’s rotation. We have to always interpret the Word of the Bible from God’s perspective.
Did God really complete everything on the seventh day and then rested? Yes. Our God completed everything in His plan through Jesus Christ. God also fulfilled our salvation in Jesus Christ. When the Bible tells us here that God rested, it means that He accomplished everything in His plan. Therefore, the biblical concept of keeping the Sabbath means enjoying rest in our hearts, which accrues from believing that the Lord has blotted out all our sins and completed our salvation.
To enjoy rest in our hearts, there must firstly be no sin in our hearts. To achieve this, we should believe that Jesus Christ has blotted out all our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. In other words, our hearts find rest by believing that all our hearts’ sins were passed onto Jesus Christ when He was baptized, and that He bore the punishment of our sins by dying on the Cross. Rest refers to the condition where our hearts have been sanctified, received God’s blessings and found peace.
The Bible reveals God’s spiritual realm through the affairs in the visible world. So today’s Scripture passage cannot be understood if viewed only from the carnal point of view. Put differently, to interpret the Bible in carnal terms will surely bring our ruin. The Bible says, “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). This passage means that if one interprets the Bible only literally by its letter, then he will reach spiritual death. For example, in Genesis chapter one God had made man and woman and told them to rule over the universe and everything in it, but when we turn to Ephesians 5:22-32, we can see that this was God’s promise to save many people through Jesus Christ and through God’s Church. So wouldn’t we go astray if we were to interpret this passage in Ephesians only in carnal terms?
For the Jewish people, the Sabbath lasts from the sunset on Friday to the sunset on Saturday. If one were to literally keep the Sabbath holy, then he must not do anything at all during these hours. Yet Jesus Himself healed people’s illnesses on the Sabbath. So the Jews at that time denounced Jesus saying, “You call yourself the Son of God, and yet how can you break the Sabbath?” To this Jesus replied, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” and He also said, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). In other words, when we compare the Old Testament with the New Testament, it is not by keeping some dates that we are blessed. And just because one does not do anything on the Lord’s Day, this does not mean that he is keeping the Sabbath faithfully.
When the Bible says, “On the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it,” it means, because of the blessing of salvation God has bestowed upon us, we have now come to find rest in our hearts. It is telling us that God has given us the true Sabbath by granting us the remission of sins. God’s real intention in establishing the Sabbath was to command us to believe in the Truth that the Lord has blotted out all our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and that He has brought true rest to His believers; however the problem is that legalists are still insisting on the exact day and hours of the Sabbath even today, going as far as not selling or buying anything during its hours to keep the Sabbath with all their efforts. That is why the Lord rebuked them sternly saying, “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:24)
When Protestantism was first introduced into Korea, it was heavily influenced by American Presbyterian missionaries. They founded and ran a seminary in Pyongyang (the biggest city in the northern Korea at the time), and produced many pastors. These people put their lives on the line to keep the Lord’s Day thoroughly by the Law. So when Korea was subsequently placed under the Japanese colonial rule, to break down Christianity in Korea, these Japanese rulers deliberately forced Korean Christians to work on the Lord’s Day and to attend Shinto shrines, and as a result many Korean Christians during that awful time were martyred for refusing to do this. When Korea was liberated in 1945, its churches were mired in a controversy over which pastors did or did not attend Shinto shrines under the Japanese colonial rule. Some sought to rebuild the church based on the faith of the martyrs who had refused to attend Shinto shrines and defended their beliefs, and so these people were called “Jaegunpa,” that is, “the gathering of the re-constructors.”
After being liberated from the Japanese colonial rule, Korea was divided into two separate states as a result of great power politics, resulting in the foundation of two separate governments fiercely opposing to each other: namely North Korea and South Korea. When the Korean War eventually broke out in 1950, similar events also happened. During the early stage of the war, when North Korean troops occupied most of South Korea, they assembled the people on the Lord’s Day and forced them to clean the neighborhood. A certain young Christian with the name Chudal Bae, is said to have refused to obey the order, insisting that he could not work on the Sabbath, and was shot to death as a result. Later on, Korean Christians praised Bae’s faith for his martyrdom suffered at the young age of 25 to keep the Sabbath holy, and his denomination honored him posthumously by conferring deaconship on him.
If mankind were to keep the Sabbath by its exact day and hours, could anyone really keep it holy to perfection? Can anyone truly do no work and commit no sin whatsoever on the Sabbath, and spend the whole day keeping his heart and body holy? No, it’s truly impossible. Did God tell us to keep the Sabbath like this? No, the real meaning of the Sabbath is a call for us to believe that God has remitted away all our sins. God had planned everything in Jesus Christ before He created the heavens and the earth. Since God had planned to remit all our sins, and He has actually fulfilled this plan in Jesus Christ, everyone’s sins have already disappeared in God’s eyes. To know this and to believe in it, and to receive the remission of sins, and to keep this faith in our hearts—that is exactly what God meant when He told us to keep the Sabbath.
However, Christians who have not been born again have totally misunderstood this, and so they are trying hard to keep the Sabbath holy and to the letter. Some of them insist that the Sabbath must be kept literally, saying, “We should go into the mountains and farm our own fields. We can keep the Sabbath wholly only if we are cultivating our own fields. How could we keep the Sabbath if we were working for someone else? God has also told us not to steal, but how could we keep this commandment? If we live separated from this evil society, we’ll be able to avoid stealing, and keep the Sabbath holy as well.” So a certain group, stemming from the Seventh-day Adventist Church has actually gone into the mountains and built a communal home there, living on subsistence farming. However, when we hear the testimony of people who have left this denomination, they say that all this is only in words, and that none of them really keeps the Sabbath. Even though the legalists themselves cannot keep the Law, the mere fact that they are trying is enough to make them feel superior and proud. If one misunderstands the Bible like this, it will bring disastrous consequences. Spiritual ignorance will lead to certain death.
The Adventists claim that the Sabbath is from the sunset on Friday to the sunset on Saturday, and they denounce every other Christian who keeps the Lord’s Day as someone who is practicing lawlessness. Jesus was actually crucified on Friday at three o’clock in the afternoon. As the Sabbath was to begin shortly thereafter, the disciples who had kept the Sabbath said that Jesus’ corpse had to be brought down and laid in His tomb in a hurry. And as the first day after the Sabbath dawned, Jesus defeated death and rose again from the dead (Matthew 28:1). That is why we call this day the Lord’s Day in remembrance of His resurrection, and we keep it as a day of rest. We remember and keep the Lord’s Day because it is the day when the Lord blotted out all our sins and triumphed over it and because it is also the day when the Church was born (Acts 2:1). If you come across any Adventists, you should explain this to them.
When we turn to the Old Testament, many passages say that God would bless us if we keep the Sabbath, but when we turn to the New Testament, we see that Jesus Himself worked on the Sabbath. And the Lord also said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). To keep our remission of sins is to enjoy true rest, and the spiritual meaning of the Sabbath is to receive this remission of sins from God, become His children, attain His blessings, and praise His glory with faith.
Therefore, the teachings of every denomination that seeks to keep the Sabbath literally are all wrong. Among such denominations that emphasize the statutes of the Sabbath are Adventists, Presbyterians, the Holiness Church, and Baptists; and of these, the prototype is the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Even now, its followers try to keep the Sabbath thoroughly to its letter. So they are mostly self-employed, since it’s difficult for them to work for someone else, as they would have to work on Saturdays. For a while, I had belonged to the “Koshin” branch of the Presbyterian Church in Korea, and this denomination also places a great deal of importance on keeping the Lord’s Day in a legalistic way. Its followers don’t purchase anything on the Lord’s Day, and they don’t even sew torn pants, all to keep the Lord’s Day as the Sabbath. They stay away from even needlework because they think God told them not to do any work on the Lord’s Day.
My fellow believers, you must remember the spiritual meaning of the Sabbath. Everyone who believes in God must keep the ‘spiritual Sabbath’. Was there a day when true rest came into your hearts and mine? Yes, there indeed was such a day. While we may not remember exactly what month and what day it was there still was a day when we received the remission of our sins. Which passage of the Bible blotted out your sins completely? All our sins were passed onto Jesus when He was baptized, right? It took me so much suffering and hardship to find this incredible Truth. When I was attending seminary, no one taught me this Truth of the water and the Spirit, no matter how often I had inquired that question from professors. There was sin in my heart back then.
One day, while attending a revival meeting, I asked a certain brother to explain to me the gospel he believed in. He explained the gospel according to how he understood it. He started to explain the sacrificial system from Leviticus, and then, coming upon Matthew chapter three, he asked me to read the passage describing the baptism of Jesus. So I read the passage, and at that very moment, all my questions were answered in an instant, and I saw how both the Old and New Testaments were linked together before my very eyes. So I told him, “That’s enough. You can stop now.”
I finally realized the Truth that I had yearned so much to know. While reading Matthew 3:13-17 I grasped the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit and received the remission of sins into my heart. At that very moment, a great peace and rest came into my heart. From then on, I have wholly believed in this gospel of the water and the Spirit, and I have preached it ever since. Whenever I preached the gospel to others, I made them realize their hearts’ sins by pointing them out clearly, and I explained to them the meaning of the baptism of Jesus.
For everyone and anyone, it is only when one meets the Lord through the gospel of the water and the Spirit that he can find true peace. Although those who claim to be sinless just by believing in the blood of the Cross profess to follow the Lord, they have no rest, nor any fruit. They find rest not from the Lord, but from the teachings of their own denominations. They say that they have received the remission of sins only through the blood of the Cross, but how could their sins have disappeared unless Jesus accepted these sins by being baptized? It’s because Jesus accepted all sins through His baptism that there is now no sin; how else could there be no sin by just believing in the blood of the Cross? If the baptism of Jesus is left out the Bible cannot be understood, whether it is the Old Testament or the New Testament.
Without understanding Jesus’ baptism, we cannot understand the Bible, nor can we receive the true remission of sins. A certain sister once told me that her husband claimed to be sinless without even knowing the baptism of Jesus. So thinking that this was rather a bizarre claim, the sister asked the husband, “Honey, are you really sinless?
“Yes, I have no sin.”
“But how is this possible?”
“Why should I have sin, when Jesus took it all away on the Cross?”
So, the sister asked, “Then what about if you commit sin tomorrow? Would you still have no sin?” Then the husband finally said, “Well, honey, actually I will then have sin.” So the wife then told her husband all about the gospel of Truth fulfilled by the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross. The husband then listened to her attentively, and he was thus truly and perfectly remitted from all his sins. Unless we believe that Jesus took upon our sins through His baptism, none of us can claim to be sinless, for all of us commit sin every day.
To keep the Sabbath God has given us really means that we should keep the Truth of the remission of sin God has given us. The fact that God rested on the seventh day implies that God has given us perfect salvation. It is not by offering prayers of repentance fanatically that we have received the remission of sins. After all, did we offer prayers of repentance? Did we fast and pray? Were any of us imprisoned for campaigning against Shinto worship? No, we did none of these things, but only believed in the Word of God, and yet we have still received the remission of sins. Because God Himself has blotted out our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit we have now become sinless by faith. It’s only because we have found and believed in the perfect gospel, the gospel through which God has blotted out all our sins, that we have no sin. If we otherwise believe in a half gospel that cannot assure us of the fact that God has indeed eradicated all our sins, then such faith is inevitably bound to change, no matter how fervently we might believe in God and how hard we might try.
Genesis chapter one explains God’s overall plan for us, while chapter two explains what God has done for the salvation of mankind. From then onwards, God moves onto specific details to elaborate what His Church is, how Satan made man fall, how God planned to eradicate all our sins, and how we should believe in God. So without understanding Genesis chapter one, we can’t understand the rest of the Book. In contrast, if we secure a firm grasp of chapter one, then we can understand God’s overall plan, and therefore we can also understand and believe in chapters two and three.
The first three chapters of Genesis may be defined as an overall blueprint of the whole Bible. On the first day of His creation, God spoke about His remission of sin; on the second day, about spiritual discernment; on the third day, how we still in our flesh, nevertheless can bear the fruit of righteousness; on the fourth day about becoming God’s servants; and on the fifth day about living by faith. On the sixth day God told us that He created mankind according to His image. That God made man and woman on this day means that He was rejoicing over the fact to have built His Church and completed all the work of salvation through Jesus Christ. And on the seventh day God said that He rested, for He had finished everything all in accordance to His intentions. Since God had finished making the universe and everything in it, completing them all in accordance to His intentions, He then gave us peace. That is why God is saying to us, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).
In fact, if you have learned thoroughly this far, then you would have learnt the whole Bible. This Truth cannot be learnt by attending seminaries. The Word of God is something that cannot be understood by anyone who is not truly born again. That is why even among theological professors, there is virtually no one who can teach this Truth. So those who have been born again through the gospel of the water and the Spirit are not intimidated by anyone, even if they should encounter people who come across as great theologians. No matter how long these people might have been professors of theology, they know absolutely nothing. When asked to open the Bible and speak, they cannot utter anything worthwhile.
When people fail to receive the remission of sins through the Word of Truth, they try to learn the Word of God by studying theology. But the Bible cannot be learnt through worldly scholarly efforts. Even though there are so many Christian books, there has not been a single book explaining the true gospel exactly. So while many scholars have studied hard and left many written works, their conclusion is no more than a humanistic teaching, extolling us to live virtuously, offer prayers of repentance and to receive the Holy Spirit.
It is therefore inevitable for today’s Christianity to begin its sharp decline. In Europe, Christianity had prospered for a hundred years, but during a short time it decayed helplessly. In the case of Britain, which had been one of the strongholds of Christianity in the world, it is said that Christians with regular church attendance now compose less than 5 percent of the total population. More or less similar phenomena are unfolding across practically all other so-called Christian countries, where the entire population had once believed in Jesus Christ just a century or age ago.
The same thing is happening in Korea. For a while, the number of Christians had expanded radically as if it were on fire, but now it is declining every year. This is happening because Christians believe without knowing the Truth. If they had believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, Christianity would not have declined like this. In spite of this, Christians all over the world who had been weakening, are reading our books, and from this they are discovering the Truth in absolute wonderment, realizing the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and restoring their true faith.
The Book of Genesis shows us God’s plan of salvation. God did not give us the Sabbath for no reason. He meant to tell us the Truth of salvation that He has delivered us from all our sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. When and where was this Truth of salvation that God has blotted out our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, completely forgotten? The true gospel disappeared when man-made doctrines and teachings, stemming out from man’s own fleshly thoughts and knowledge, began to garner more recognition and thereby covered the truth in the Word of God.
Therefore, those who have as yet not tasted the true rest in Jesus Christ because of the sins in their hearts must turn around from their evil ways and believe in the Word of the Truth as soon as possible. Only when they believe in God’s Word, rather than arrogantly thinking of their own merits and being proud of themselves, will they be able to find true rest in their hearts and keep this rest in their lives.
By giving us the Sabbath, and by blessing us truly in this day, God has enabled anyone to know His Word properly, reach his true salvation and keep the Sabbath. We must become such people who keep the Sabbath with true faith.
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Sermons on Genesis (III) - No More Chaos, Void or Darkness Now (I)