The first chapter of Genesis describes how God created heaven and earth and all that is therein, ending with the glorious fashioning of humankind on day six. Then, in Genesis 2:1, we read that “The heaven and the earth were finished; and all their array.” It is a bit surprising, therefore, to read the following statement in the very next verse: “On the seventh day God finished the work which He had been doing” (Genesis 2:2).
If the work of creation had been completed during the first six days, what was God doing finishing His work on the seventh day? Wasn’t the seventh day supposed to be a day of rest?
The problem becomes all the more perplexing because we are told in two other places in the Five Books of Moses (the Pentateuch) that God created everything in six days.
According to the Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:11), the Children of Israel are commanded to refrain from work on the seventh day because:
“ … in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.”
In concluding the detailed prescriptions for building the Tabernacle in the desert, God tells Moses that the Israelites should observe the sabbath because it is a sign for all time between Him and His people that