After Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath, some in Jerusalem object because they interpret his activity as a violation of Sabbath rest. “But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working continually, and I am working’” (John 5:17). Yeshua asserts that God works even on the Sabbath, and that he is following the divine example. At first glance, this assertion seems to contradict biblical allusions to God resting on the seventh day. However, Jesus’ assessment aligns with those of other Jewish interpreters who affirm God’s continuous work in the world—even on the Sabbath.

Following six days of creation, God rests on the seventh day: “On the seventh day God finished all his work (מלאכה; melakhah) that he had done, and he rested (שׁבת; shavat) on the seventh day from all the work he had done” (Genesis 2:2). God’s initial seventh-day rest serves as the prototype for the institution of the Sabbath at Mount Sinai. God tells Moses, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work (מלאכה; melakhah) but the seventh day is a Sabbath (שׁבת; shavat) for the Lord your God; you shall do no work” (Exodus 20:9-10). Insofar as the Sabbath is said to be “for the Lord,” this verse suggests that God continues to rest every seventh day—and now God’s people, Israel, must follow the heavenly pattern.

Yet, the notion that God “takes time off” once a week did not seem logical to some ancient Jewish thinkers. While Philo of Alexandria agrees that God rests on the Sabbath, he also asserts that “Moses does not give the name of ‘rest’ to mere inactivity…. [God] never ceases to work all that is best and most beautiful. God’s ‘rest’ is a working with absolute ease, without toil and without suffering” (Cherubim 87). The rabbis who came after Philo agree that God never really stops working among humanity, noting that God “rested from the work of [creating] the world, but he does not rest from the work of the wicked and the work of the righteous; rather, he is working (פועל; po’el)… [by] punishing the wicked… and bestowing reward upon the righteous” (Genesis Rabbah 11:10). Likewise, Jesus affirms that God “is working” (ἐργάζεται; ergázetai) on the Sabbath (Jn 5:17), and concludes that his own earthly work mirrors that of his heavenly Father.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for explaining the 6day work of creation and that he only rest from his creative work but continue to work for the soul’s of the righteous and condemning the wicked we come together on the Sabbath or Sunday to fullowship God and with each other

  2. God rested, Divine rest,a rest of worship that glorfied the Lord, when Jesus was talking about this,he meant to, Divine rest,we need to rest, while giving God all the glory and the honor, resting need dedication of the pure heart, this is to believe,who has surrender there life Jesus Christ.

  3. The emphasis of Jesus was that God continues to work even on the Sabbath to safe lives and to preserve the creation. The injunction to rest is for human good to be replenish but that does not mean we should not lift a finger especially in saving lives.

  4. Thank God for that understanding, our God is working everyday if not so darkness would have destroyed the work of God totally. Praise God for His works.

  5. Remember a thousand years is as one day with the Lord.
    He is working on the second week so time hasn’t arrived for Him to take a Sabbath rest.
    Probably will arrive during the Kingdom age.

  6. Even an almighty god – Jahweh in this case – can not get tired after six days making miracles.
    The Genesis-story is only an “excuse” for the sabbath-tradition.
    Look at Mark 2:27 : “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath….”

  7. When God rested (שׁבת; shavat) on the seventh day, it was a qualitative rest implaying the moment of intimacy with His creation and specially with human being. It included observation, communication, closeness, joy and service to the whole Creation. We are called to meet with God and others.

  8. If God were not to work, even for a moment, the world would cease to exist for He holds each atom together. Atoms have positively charged nuclei and negatively charged particles surrounding them. There is no logical reason for atoms not to either explode or implode. Only God.

  9. Agreed. While we may rest on Shabbat, our bodies are still working, our minds, our thoughts, our love. Legalism must be fought at all times. Obedience is love.

  10. I believe that God rests on the Sabbath from creating and extending the universe like a curtain. His main job in the process is to look after lsrael from the Benning of the year to the end thereof. He does not slumber nor fall asleep. The Keeper of lsrael

  11. In light of the Genesis verse perhaps the coorect interpretation would be that God rested from His Creation related work placing the ongoing works of creation in the world on the natural order. The Sabbath is dedicated to recognition and worship of the Sustainer of the Universe.

  12. God did rest after the initial recreation of this world. Gen 1:2 Starts with a world covered with water., Above and below. Not because He was tired. We are flesh and blood and need to rest after working. And ost will wok all 7 days without God’s guidance NEXT

  13. Mark2:27 “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”. God does not need a law to rest, to not lust, to not lie, to not steal, to not murder. We DO. This law is to give man a time set aside to worship and praise our God.

  14. This commandment also says we should work other days if we are physically able. If you stretch things activities like breathing, walking and eating all take effort. On Atonement an even greater effort not to eat or drink. The reason is we are made aware that we are very weak.

  15. The Question should not be does God work? Is helping made others lives more bearable the type of work this law intended? We can say I do good deeds helping others when we have 6 other days to do Good. So Jesus had to make it clear what work.

  16. We need to see this was not done every Sabbath nor did Jesus go seeking these people out. In other words worshipping God was not limited to one day. We are not to justify doing good things while ignoring the reason which is rest and worship God bless.

  17. Interesting. I do not work at all as far as toil. But I still like to honor the Sabbath as special. Only someone raised Jewish can do all the things the way they do tham. But, I like to light the candels and pray just before Sundown on Friday. I also try not to buy or sale on that day.

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