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These two passages seem contradictory: the first says that God rested and was refreshed on the seventh day, but the second says God is never tired or weary. How can these passages be reconciled?

It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed. (Exodus 31:17, NIV)

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. (Isaiah 40:28, NIV)

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2 Answers 2

The simplest explanation is that God did not literally rest, but simply that he "rested from creating." From a Christian perspective, God did not rest, in the sense that he stopped doing anything, on the seventh day. In fact, he was then very active in his relationship with Adam and Eve, and all the rest of humanity.

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Indeed, the Hebrew for the word rest in Gen. 2:1 can mean to cease from working, as shown here: blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/… –  Steve Apr 14 at 3:36
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But in this case, how would you deal with the phrase "and was refreshed"? –  david brainerd Apr 17 at 4:26
    
@davidbrainerd: It's simply an Anthropomorphism. –  Flimzy Apr 17 at 8:49

On the seventh day, he ceased

The Hebrew word used in Ex 31:17 (as well as Ge 2:2-3, 8:22; Ex 5:5, 12:15, 16:30, 23:12, 31:17, 34:21; Lev 2:13, 23:32, 25:2, 26:6, 26:34-35; De 32:26, ...) is שָׁבַת (shabath, 7673, to cease, desist) not the word used for sleep or rest. I don't think you could claim that the writer of the Pentateuch was contradicting himself since he used this very phrase in other places.

You may well ask about the meaning of "and was refreshed," which (given the greater understanding of God we can get from Scripture) wouldn't mean that God took a nap and woke up full of energy. It is the clear testimony of the Scripture that God doesn't need to sleep or rest, nor that he gets tired. So what could this mean? Perhaps God was "refreshed" in the sense that he was pleased how he had created the world (and established the idea of a sabbath rest). Perhaps this anthropomorphism is prescriptive of how the Jews were to respond to a Sabbath day.

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