We are in a conversation and discussion about John Walton’s (professor at Wheaton) new book, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate.
Each chp in Walton’s book is a “proposition” and today we look at Proposition 7: divine rest is in a temple.
Question: What do you think of Walton’s theory that Sabbath is God’s assumption of his ruling function from then on?
In a materialist ontology of Genesis 1, in other words, one concerned with how matter came into existence, the Sabbath Day presents a bit of a problem: it seems an afterthought, almost as if God got tired. But in Walton’s functional ontology, in other words, once concerned with God giving functions to matter that exists, the Sabbath takes on a special meaning.
The big point is this: “Without hesitation the ancient reader would conclude [from any mention of rest] that this a temple text and that day seven is the most important of the seven days” (72).
Deity rests in a temple, and only in a temple. Rest is what happens when a crisis has been resolved or stability achieved. Sabbath, then, is “more a matter of engagement without obstacles rather than disengagement without responsibilities” (73). [I think this is a huge statement by Walton and expresses a major point: sabbath is not about relaxation or a nap, but about being in a condition of stability.]
“After creation, God takes up his rest and rules from his residence” (74). The temple was not so much the place where God’s people gathered for worship as the place where God ruled. The temple was God’s headquarters, his control room.