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How Can God Possibly Need Rest?

There are many verses in the Bible that describe God as being omnipotent, which means all-powerful. Genesis 17:1, details the story of God engaging in conversation with the patriarch Abraham. In that interaction He personally describes Himself with the words “I am Almighty God.” The supremely powerful nature of God is witnessed repeatedly in the Bible. In Psalm 147:5, the writer penned the words, “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.” These verses reveal that God can accomplish anything by His supremacy. The very nature of divinity is that God never weakens, tires or is in need of any type of recuperation. As Isaiah wrote: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary” (40:28). This reality leads to confusion concerning the Genesis account of Creation that states “on the seventh day God ended His work, which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Genesis 2:2). So, what gives? What does the Bible mean when it says that God rested? Were the demands that came with creating the universe so severe that God was compromised and in need of a reprieve? Did His person need to be revitalized in some capacity?

When the English verb “rest” is used in a statement people generally think of someone being tired or needing to recover spent energy. The Hebrew word translated “rest” in Genesis 2:2 does not carry that same idea, though. Actually, the initial two characterizations given for the Hebrew word rendered “rest” (shābat or shābath) are to “cease, desist.” The Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon documents that, of the 71 times it is used, 47 of those occasions it is basically translated “cease,” and only 11 of those times is it described as “rest.” So, the explanation to the statement that God rested is rather quite simple.

God did not get tired upon accomplishing the work of creation. Furthermore, He did not need time to replenish His strength. He simply ceased fashioning the world. He finished His work in six days and stopped on the seventh. Upon doing so, He instituted the pattern for a seven-day week. God never needs to rest, per se. If He did, He would be fallible. God “neither faints nor is weary.”

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