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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 7: Lord of the Sabbath *
Introduction: Last week we discussed that God's law is intended to
be a blessing to humans, not something to trip us up. One great
blessing of the law is the Sabbath. When I was in law school, the
competition was fierce. Not only was law school inherently a lot of
hard work, but students knew that the quality of the job they would
secure after law school depended upon their class rank. After my
first year, my school reacted to the pressure by not releasing our
class rank! I had my own safe harbor, the Sabbath. On it I would not
do any school work - and I was able to take a break without feeling
guilty! It was wonderful. God blessed my faithfulness and gave me
excellent grades. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn
more about the Sabbath.
- Sabbath Markers
- Read Genesis 2:1-3. We previously discussed these verses
in our lesson about the holiness of God. What was it we
said about the Sabbath being holy? (Being holy meant that
it was set apart from the rest of the days. It was
blessed. Its holiness came from something that God did,
not anything that we did.)
- Read Mark 2:27. Why do you think that God made the
Sabbath? (It was made for us. At a minimum, it was made
as a day of rest for us.)
- Read Exodus 20:8-11. What other reason do we find for God
making the Sabbath holy? (To commemorate God's creation
of "the heavens and the earth.")
- Read Deuteronomy 5:12-15. What reason do we find here for
keeping the Sabbath? (God rescued His people from unfair
treatment. Therefore we should treat those under our
control fairly by giving them a Sabbath rest.)
- Is that a reason to believe that the Sabbath was
made only for the Jews? (No. It was simply a
"rescue" example. God intervened to bring justice.
Today God rescues us from being slaves to sin and
- Superbowl Sabbath
- Read Mark 15:33-34, Mark 15:37-39 and Mark 15:42-43. On
what day was Jesus crucified? (Friday, before the
- Read Mark 16:1-3 and Mark 16:5-9. When did Jesus arise
from the grave? (Sunday.)
- Why the delay? Put yourself in the place of God the
Father. Your Son has just been tortured to death.
Just before your Son died He said to You, "Why have
you forsaken Me?" In addition, your Son just won
the "Superbowl" of the universe - He defeated sin
and brought victory to the Kingdom. How long would
You wait to put your arms around your Son? How long
would You wait to say, "I've not forsaken You!" (I
would not wait! Absolutely, I would not wait.)
- So, why did God do what none of us would have
done? (God waited for the very same reason why
He celebrated the creation of the world on
Sabbath. He waited for the very same reason
why He celebrated the liberation of His people
from Egypt on the Sabbath. Jesus rested on the
Sabbath in celebration of what He had
- Sabbath and the Early Church
- An early church father, Ignatius of Antioch, in his
letter to the Magnesians 9-10 says, "If, therefore, those
who were brought up in the ancient order of things have
come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing
the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's
Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him
and by His death.... It is absurd to profess Christ
Jesus, and to Judaize. For Christianity did not embrace
Judaism, but Judaism Christianity."
- What reason(s) does Ignatius give for worshiping on
Sunday? (Jesus' resurrection on Sunday. Antagonism
- How popular were the Jews when Rome destroyed
Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D.?
- Is Judaism in conflict with Christianity? (This
gives us a very clear insight into the reasons
for early Sunday keeping. It is based on a
"logical" argument that is no better than the
logic of Jesus resting on Sabbath after His
crucifixion. In addition, it has this dark side
of popular hatred of the Jews. It was not until
I engaged in serious theological discussions
with one of my Jewish friends that I was
educated to the close historical connection
between animosity towards Jews and the
rejection of the Biblical Sabbath. Animosity
towards Jews (think Moses, Peter, Paul) has no
theological basis, and no proper place in our
thinking. Jesus came to fulfill, not destroy,
the prophecies and practices of the Old
Testament. Matthew 5:17.)
- Roman Emperor Constantine in A.D. 321 officially declared
Sunday the new day of rest for the Empire. I'm reading a
currently popular book on the history of Jerusalem. It
says that Constantine had two great interests, the power
of the sun and Christianity. He struck some coins with
the image of the cross and others with the image of the
sun. What does this suggest about his motive for Sunday
worship? (He wanted Christians to incorporate the worship
the sun in their religious practices.)
- Some Christians run around saying that they pay no
attention to Christmas or Easter because they have
"pagan" roots. I reject these arguments because of
the importance of these religious holidays to
Christians today. Should we also have the same
attitude about weekly worship on a Sunday Sabbath?
(That would be my attitude if it were not for the
very clear, consistent, Biblical command that the
seventh day alone was made holy by God. Christmas
and Easter were never designated as holy in the
Bible, therefore I am free to claim their current
importance in Christendom.)
- Our Lord's Day
- A common term for Sunday is to call it the Lord's day.
Did Jesus worship on Sunday or give any indication that
He rejected the Sabbath? Let's read Matthew 12:1-2. If
Jesus wanted to signal a change worship from Sabbath to
another day, would this be an excellent opportunity to do
- Read Matthew 12:3-5. What is the underlying assumption
about the holiness of the Sabbath in these verses? (He
compares eating the consecrated bread to His disciples
eating on Sabbath - neither one is lawful. He compares
the priests working on Sabbath to his disciples "working"
on Sabbath. He says they are "innocent," but not because
of any problem with the Sabbath.)
- Read Matthew 12:6-8. Why was David innocent, the priests
in the temple innocent, and Jesus' disciples innocent of
Sabbath-breaking? (A higher purpose. David apparently had
a right to do this because he was God's anointed. The
priests were laboring for God. Jesus was God and His
disciples were with Him in advancing the Kingdom of God.)
- What does Jesus mean when He says, "I desire mercy,
not sacrifice?" (Read Hosea 6:6. The point of our
walk with God is not sacrificing animals (confessing
sin), it is to love and obey God. The accusers of
the disciples were in the presence of God, yet they
had their eyes on a minor matter. Jesus was not
undercutting the importance of the Sabbath, He was
directing His followers to focus on the important
thing in any matter.)
- How would Sabbath-keepers apply this lesson
- Read John 9:10-11 and John 9:13-16. (I once had a class
member strongly condemn Billy Graham for not keeping the
Sabbath. This is the charge leveled by some of the
- Read John 9:35-41. What does Jesus mean when He says that
He has come so that the blind will see? (Jesus again is
talking about keeping a proper perspective on the Sabbath
and the nature of its importance. Graham converted
hundreds of thousands in his life. Perhaps more than any
one else, he was face of Protestant Christianity for
decades. My class member, who probably never converted
anyone, was not focused on the Kingdom of God. Jesus
calls on us to focus on promoting the Kingdom of God.)
- Read Matthew 12:9-12. Is Jesus rejecting the holiness of
the Sabbath? (No.)
- What is Jesus saying about the Sabbath? (Again, He
is saying that we have to view it properly - a tool
to advance the Kingdom of God. Healing and helping
others are consistent with the Sabbath.)
- Read Matthew 12:13-14. Would it have mattered to the man
if Jesus waited until sundown to heal him? (No.)
- Why did Jesus heal him on Sabbath? (To make His
point about how the Sabbath should be understood.)
- If Jesus were about to abolish the Sabbath, why
would He make this kind of effort to clarify how the
Sabbath fit in the fight for the Kingdom of God?
- Friend, the Sabbath is a memorial of what Jesus has done
for us - He created us, He rescued us from sin, He died
for us and He rose for us. We must never stop celebrating
that on the holy day He designated and never changed.
But, we must also keep a proper perspective on the
Sabbath in advancing the Kingdom of God. Will you commit
to the Sabbath today as part of your work to advance
- Next week: Creation Care.
* Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.