ESV Genesis 2:2-3
“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
I found Walton’s explanations of God’s rest particularly enlightening. He redefines “rest” to mean residing or living. When the Israelites seek “rest”, it means “freedom from invasion and conflict so that they can live at peace and conduct their daily lives without interruption” (Walton, 47).
Thus God’s rest gives the prior six days purpose. Those six days were an ordering and preparing for this final day where God takes up his residence in his ordered creation. Walton returns to the analogy of the house by explaining when we move into a house, we work to make it functional for the sake of living there. This “living there” is what the Hebrew writer meant by God’s rest on the seventh day. It’s both a living within and a having relationship with those on earth.
Walton goes on to argue that the seven days here aren’t actually a reference to time, but rather are marking the transition of the earth from physical structure to functioning order. He goes on to explain how Moses, the author of Genesis, would’ve used these seven days of creation as a parallel with God’s ordering the universe and the Israelites ordering the tabernacle making it ready for God’s presence to dwell there. Seven was used because seven was significant in the ancient world. He says that the Hebrews wouldn’t have read Genesis to mean an actual seven day period because they were reading Genesis as a story about function and not literal material.
I find Walton’s argument somewhat circular here. Why did the ancient world see the number seven as sacred? Why reference time at all, if God is merely lining things up in an order? Why emphasis morning and evening on each day? Did God make the number seven significant or did man?
I understand the bending of language to serve an author’s objectives, and I understand reading Genesis as a story about a home’s function and not a house’s origin, but I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. And I don’t think one can talk about a home’s function without talking about physical matter. I can tell you how Philip and I have turned part of our home into a dinning room with a tall table and a chandelier. I use this dining room to sell my ebay items and work on the computer. This would be talking about the room’s function. But the room’s functions were created when we physically put a table and chandelier in it.
Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.