God’s Rest and the New Creation

Ever since I read some of G. K. Beale’s works several years ago concerning the temple and the new creation, I have been fascinated with the issue. I’ve not been able to indulge my curiosities and questions to the extent I would like, but I still have a strong interest in it and matters related.

Along similar lines, John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One further piqued my interest on the subject of the cosmos as the temple. I’ve since come to understand Genesis 1 as Walton does, though my own understanding is not as precisely articulated as his. Preparing this week’s sermon from Hebrews, I was confronted with a passage I hadn’t reconsidered in light of my interest in the aforementioned subjects.

The passage was Hebrews 4:1-10, in which the author writes of entering God’s rest. Verse 9 reads “A Sabbath rest remains, therefore, for God’s people” (CSB). If I remember correctly (1-it’s been a while since I read Walton’s book; 2-the book is not here, but at my office), Walton argues that the seventh day of creation was the day on which God took up residence in the temple and inaugurated his rule over creation. A Sabbath, then, was not a day of rest in the sense of napping or relaxing (as if God could tire), but a day on which assumed the throne over creation, so to speak.

If this is so, would the author of Hebrews have understood it this way when he quoted from Genesis 2 (“2 By the seventh day, God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. 3 God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation”; CSB)? If so, would this verse in Hebrews then mean that entrance into the new creation (the Sabbath that remains for God’s people) is not so much an eternity of relaxing, but one of ruling over creation (not that I believe that the new creation/heaven was going to be an eternal la-z-boy afternoon!)?

That we will rule over creation with Christ is clear elsewhere in the NT, but I was wondering about this specific text, since it speaks of the Sabbath and rest. To answer my own question, I think this verse is further attestation of believers as co-heirs with Christ.

What do you think?

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason

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