GOD'S GREAT SABBATH DAY·
"And God rested on the Seventh Day from all His work which He had made." (Gen. 2:2)
Bible Students do not understand this text to mean that after God had created the earth, and all therein contained, He was so wearied with the labor of the great Creative Week that He ceased to work - sat down and did nothing for another Great Day. Rather we understand the Scripture to mean that within the space of six great Creative days, of seven thousand years each, the Almighty finished the work connected with this mundane sphere; and that then, having started earthly affairs in a proper way, He left them to accomplish that which He had designed for them, under the headship of Adam, king of earth. God well knew that man would sin because of inexperience, but He purposed to leave the race in their sin for awhile - in other words, not to interfere by lifting them out of the state of degradation into which sin would plunge them. Thus for six thousand years God has rested from doing any further work for the Adamic race. He is resting in perfect content, well knowing that through our Lord Jesus Christ the Divine Plan for human salvation will work out for man's highest good. So He leaves the world of mankind in the hands of the One whom He has tested, proven and commissioned to restore the race to perfection of character and all else that Adam lost in Eden.
As an illustration of God's not attempting to remove either the world's imperfections or those of any individual member of the race, witness His dealings with Abraham and with the children of Israel. When He appeared to the Patriarch Abraham, did He promise to bring him out of his inherited imperfection of body and mind? No! God left Abraham just as he was, and merely told him that at a future day something would be accomplished for mankind through his posterity - "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." If that promise wrought any change in Abraham, it was because Abraham believed God and acted in accordance with his faith in God's gracious assurance, and not because God did anything; for the due time had not yet come for Him to do anything further for mankind in the way of removing the curse. Again, after God led Israel out
of Egypt at the hand of Moses, He asked them whether they would like to be His peculiar people, His chosen people, to bless all the families of the earth. (Ex. 19:3-8) All Israel expressed their willingness to become His Kingdom people. God then told them that He could not deal with those who are imperfect; they must prove themselves worthy of life by keeping the Law which He gave them, and whoever kept that Law - thus proving himself to be perfect - should live everlastingly, and the death sentence would be suspended in his case. But the Law is the full measure of a perfect man's ability, hence the Israelites could not fulfill these conditions.
In due time our Lord Jesus came into the world. The Scriptures assure us that He had a pre-human existence as the Word, or Logos, whose life principle was transferred to a human mother and, partaking of her human nature, He was born of her, "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." (Heb. 7: 26) At the age of thirty He voluntarily went to Jordan to enter into a special covenant with God to sacrifice His life, if need be, in the Divine service. But even then God worked nothing. He merely set before our Lord certain conditions which, if carried out, would accomplish a great work for the fallen race of Adam. The miracles which our Lord wrought He did by the finger of God. (Luke 11:20) He was quick to say, "I can of Mine own self do nothing," and ascribed all the glory to the Father. Being in harmony with God, as any perfect man would be, He had entered into a special covenant with Him who had begotten Him of the Holy Spirit and had given Him the first fruits of that Spirit. By virtue of this our Lord was enlightened, illuminated. He had a wisdom from on High. We read that when He cured the blind and the sick, "virtue (vitality) went out from Him and healed them all." (Luke 6:19) Thus He expended His life in the work of amelioration of human suffering. But still the Father did not work with fallen humanity.
Similarly throughout the entire Gospel Age God is not working in the world, in any direct sense. He permits the Message of His Grace in Christ Jesus to go forth, and this Message has a power which influences a certain class to follow in the steps of Jesus. "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me," said the Master. Therefore the Church class come to the Father through the Son, and not because of the Father's active energy on their behalf. There are certain natural qualities of the human mind which lead men to desire to worship God, and in this way He draws those who are in this attitude of mind - not by any works on His part. There are many who are feeling after God, if haply they might find Him; but when they really come to God, it must be through the Son. During the call of the Gospel Age, when any have approached the Son, He informed them that they must have Him as their Advocate before they could come to God, but that He would not become their Advocate unless they became His followers and covenanted to walk in His steps. If they accepted these terms, then the Father would begin to do something for them; namely, He begot them to a new nature through His Holy Spirit. But He did not begin to work with any of this class until first they had presented their bodies a living sacrifice to Him through the Redeemer. (Rom. 12:1) Not until they did this, not until they indeed reckoned themselves dead as human beings and were begotten to a new nature has God
dealt with them or done any work with them. Thus it, is evident that during this Gospel Age God has been doing a work with the New Creation, but not with the fallen race of Adam. Those members of the human family who have taken advantage of the Divine arrangement whereby they become members of the Body of Christ, covenanted to die as human beings. Otherwise God would not deal with them; for He has been working with none except those who, having consecrated themselves fully to Him, have been made acceptable to Him through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Advocate for the Church. When this has been done, then He works in them to will and to do His good pleasure. Of the Church it is written: "We are His workmanship,created in Christ Jesus unto good works." (Eph. 2:10)
Throughout the Millennial Age the Father will have nothing to do directly with humanity. But The Christ - Jesus the Head and the Church His Body - will be active, will roll away the curse now upon the human race and will roll on the blessings promised. By the close of the Millennial Age the curse pronounced in Eden will have been removed, and the blessings will all have been brought in. When the Reign of Christ shall have been finished, then He will deliver up the Kingdom unto the Father that God may be all and in all. (1 Cor. 15:24) At the close of that Age the Father will once more begin to work with mankind. Previously He shall have done nothing for His human creatures for the period of seven thousand years - the Great Seventh Day, the figurative rest day, of the creative week. Of that period six thousand years are already in the past, and the seventh thousand is now well advanced - God's great Sabbath of seven thousand years.
IN WHAT SENSE GOD RESTS FROM HIS WORKS
God is not now judging the world. He judged the world more than six thousand years ago in Father Adam. The result of that judgment was the sentence of death on Adam and all of his children. In due time God made preparation for the redemption of Adam and His race, sending forth His own Son, the Logos, the Word, to be their Redeemer. In the Divine Plan, the death of Jesus was designed to be the offset of the sin of Adam; so that as by one man (Adam) came death, by one man (Jesus) should come the resurrection from death. (1 Cor. 15:21,22; Rom. 5:12, 17-21; 1 John 3:8) God has not yet finished the outworking of this Plan through the Son. Its operation began more than nineteen hundred years ago, but has not yet progressed to the place where it is dealing with mankind. During this present Age God's dealings have been only with the Church - the "called-out" ones. His dealings during the Jewish Age were only with the Jews. During the Millennial Age, His dealings will be with the entire world of mankind, through the Jews. God's dealings with the Church during the past nineteen hundred years has been to select some from every nation, people, kindred and tongue to belong to the new nation, the Spiritual Seed of Abraham. When this work is completed and the Time of Trouble is ended, this present "evil world" (Gal. 1:4) will have ended. This Gospel Age, therefore, is not yet
The completion of the Church, the Body of Christ, is the resurrection "change"; and the Church, with Christ, will then constitute the Great Spiritual Seed of Abraham, which God declares is to be "as the stars of Heaven." (Gen. 22:17,18; 1Cor. 15:40-44) With the establishment of the Kingdom, this Spiritual Seed of Abraham will begin immediately to bless "all the families of the earth." As the blessing was "to the Jew first" in the opening of the Gospel Age, so it will be again "to the Jew first" in the opening of Christ's Mediatorial Kingdom; for the Bible assures us that to Israel will come the great blessing, favor with God, under Messiah's Kingdom, and their eyes will be opened to see that God is again graciously dealing with them. The New Covenant is to be made with the Jews. They will have learned certain lessons from the cast-off condition in which they have been for nineteen centuries, and they will become the leading people of the world. Other nations will flock to them. (Isa. 2:2, 3; Mic. 4:1,2) God's dealings from that time on will be with the whole world, no longer with the Church, for the Church will be glorified. This matter is distinctly stated by the Apostle Paul, who declares that "God hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness." (Acts 17:31) God will not directly judge the world, but is preparing the Church to be sharers with Christ in this work. As the Apostle again says, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6: 2)
The world's judgment has not yet begun. They are still lying "in the wicked one." (1 John 5:19, Dia.) Altho Christ has died for all men, He has not as yet taken possession of them. They have not yet been turned over to Him. They are still in the condition of condemnation, the merit of Christ having thus far been used only as an imputation to the Church Class. With the close of this Age and the glorification of the Church, Jesus' merit will be applied for all the world. Then comes the inauguration of the New Covenant, which God promised through the Prophet Jeremiah, in these words : "The day cometh, saith the Lord, that I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah" - "all the house of Israel." (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:6-13) The blessings of this Covenant shall extend through them to all the families of the earth, until the whole world shall have been blessed through Abraham and his seed – spiritual and natural. (Gal. 3:16,29; Isa. 60:1-22; 61:4-9; 62:1-12)
During the six thousand years since man was created and fell, the nations of the world have been permitted to do as they pleased with respect to crime and to other matters, except as they would have gone too far, or if they interfered with the great "eternal purpose." If they should undertake to go too far in the work of sin and crime, they would be restrained, as in the case of the Canaanites. We remember that the Lord declared to Abraham that before He would bring the children of Israel into the land of Canaan there was to be a certain delay, because the Amorites had not yet come to the full of their wickedness (Gen. 15:12-16), indicating that there was a limitation and that they were going rapidly toward that limitation, but God would not cut them off, under His supervision, until their iniquity had reached a certain degree of fulness. See also 1 Kings 21:25,26, regarding Amorites. Now, with the world in general, nations have risen which indeed have not been very wise. God permits them to do largely as they please - only, "Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further." (Job 38:11: Psa , 76:10) And so they put people to death, sometimes righteously and sometimes unrighteously, under one pretext or another. The manner of their death makes little difference; for all these people are under the sentence of death and have been so since they were born. Sentence was passed upon them in Adam. Whether they are killed in one manner or another does not matter at all so far as the Divine sentence is concerned. God, therefore, does not interpose. He is leaving the whole matter for the present.
The Apostle Paul says that God is resting from His works. (Heb. 4:4) He has rested in the sense that He is not taking an active part in any of these affairs of earth - much the same as a lawyer "rests" his case after presenting his client's side of the matter. He rested after He had made man perfect; and He is now permitting man to work out his own schemes as he may please, that he may learn certain great lessons and have many unforgettable experiences under the reign of sin and death. However, God does not purpose that this shall be the everlasting condition. He is resting; for He has committed all this matter to His Son, the great Mediator of the New Covenant, the Antitype of Moses. The Messianic Kingdom is to be set up, and the world is to be judged in righteousness by this Kingdom, blessing all those who, when enlightened shall seek to do the right, and punishing all those who shall take the wrong course, thus giving the world instruction and judgment. The incorrigible will be destroyed in the Second Death. At the end of that Reign, the Bible says, Jesus, the great Mediator, the Antitype of Moses, will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father - after He shall have put down all sin, all insubordination and anarchy. (1 Cor. 15:14-28)
And to all those who have fully accepted by faith the Gospel Age call, St. Paul declared that they also have entered into a similar Sabbath, a rest by faith in the finished work of God, not one Sabbath day in each week as prescribed in the Law of Moses,but a seven-day rest each week, a perfect all-inclusive rest in the assurance that God's declarations are certain of accomplishment. (Isa. 55:8-11) "We having believed, enter the rest [God's perfect rest]." "A sabbath-rest remains for the people of God. For he having entered his rest, will also himself rest from his works, like as God from His own." (Heb. 4:3; 9-11, Dia.) Thus the more clearly we understand and believe God's great Sabbath Day, the more shall we have a similar sabbatical - a full assurance in the finished work of Creation.