Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And 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. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:1-3)
Why did Jesus Christ, who had done the work of creation, rest? Was He tired? Was He so exhausted that He was forced to stop and rest? We know this is not the case, because Isaiah 40:28 states unequivocally, "The Creator of the ends of the earth neither faints nor is weary." He is not physical, nor is He bound by the physical laws of time or energy.
The word translated "rest" or "rested" in Genesis 2:2-3, as well as in Exodus 31:17, is the Hebrew word shabat, from which our English word Sabbath derives. It literally means "to repose, in the sense of stopping from exertion." It is translated elsewhere as cease, celebrate, and keep.
God ceased from the active work of creating, and in doing so, He created the Sabbath. He stopped, not because He was tired, but because He was in the process of instituting something different. At this time, He also "blessed" (barak) the seventh day, just as He had blessed the animals (Genesis 1:22) and Adam and Eve (verse 28). In blessing the seventh day, God promised to make the Sabbath a valuable and energizing occasion by which our lives are continually renewed (Isaiah 58:13-14).
God also "sanctified" or "hallowed" this day—He made it holy, set apart from all other days both of that creation week as well as on a repeated and continual basis. The sanctification of the Sabbath does not come from man's observance of it, but from God's institution of it. He has designated it as set apart; we are merely commanded to keep it that way.
Exodus 31:17 says that God was also "refreshed":
It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.
The word translated "refreshed" literally means "to breathe," and only figuratively means "to be refreshed," as if by a current of air, or a breeze. The last part of verse 17, then, would literally be rendered "He stopped and breathed." Again, given the statement in Isaiah 40:28, God was not refreshed in the sense of regaining strength or energy, because He is the source of all strength and energy. But it was God's "stopping" and "breathing" that created the Sabbath!
Elsewhere, when the Bible speaks of God "breathing," it denotes a transference or infusion of His Spirit (John 20:22)—in fact, the literal definition of the word translated Spirit is "a current of air, such as a breath." We could say that, when God "stopped" and "breathed," He infused His Spirit into this time, making it holy!
Sabbathkeeping (Part 1)