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Lesson 11: Sabbath: A Gift From Eden *

Introduction: Think about a time when you forgot an event important to your spouse, a family member or a friend. What was your excuse for forgetting? My excuse is that I'm too busy, meaning that I am focused on something else. Frankly, I hate that excuse because it suggests that something else in my life is more important. When it comes to the Sabbath, God has taken away that excuse. He invites us to put away everything else and put our focus on the reason for the Sabbath. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and find out more about God's view of the Sabbath and what it means to us!

  1. Why the Sabbath?

    1. Read Genesis 2:1-3. What reason is given for the Sabbath? (God finished His creation work, and He rested. For that reason He "blessed the seventh day and made it holy.")

    2. Read Exodus 20:8-11. What reason is given for the Sabbath? (The same reason given in Genesis 2.)

    3. Read Deuteronomy 5:12-15. What reason is given for the Sabbath? (The rescue of God's people from slavery.)

    4. Read Exodus 31:12-13 and Ezekiel 20:12. What reason is given for the Sabbath? (It is a sign that God makes us holy.)

    5. We now have at least three different reasons for the Sabbath: celebrating Creation, celebrating the rescue from slavery, and celebrating our rescue from sin. Does God keep changing His story about the reason for the Sabbath? Or, is there a common thread? (The common thread is that in each of these things God has done something very important for us. They all have something to do with a home - the Eden home, permission to return home, and qualifications for our heavenly home.)

  2. The Nature of Sabbath

    1. Read 1 Samuel 7:10-12. Why did Samuel erect the Ebenezer stone? (To memorialize the victory over the Philistines.)

    2. Read Genesis 17:10-11. What is the reason for circumcision? (To memorialize the covenant between God and His people.)

    3. We see the kind of memorials we just read about all the time. Humans create stone and metal monuments to help remember important people or events. People write on their skin or on paper as a reminder of important events in the past. The Sabbath is much different - it is a marker in time. Why so you think God created a marker in time? (Remember in the introduction I mentioned that life distracts us from important things? God takes away the distractions of life by giving us a time period to celebrate Him and what He has done for us.)

      1. What do you think about the frequency of the Sabbath? (I don't know what day of the week I was born, because I celebrate my birth only once a year. The same is true of my marriage. We celebrate the birth of my country on only one day a year. We have Christmas and Easter seasons once a year to celebrate aspects of our Lord's life. My Black and Hispanic friends lay claim (in the United States) to a whole month to celebrate them. Groundhogs and sweethearts get one day each a year. God had something special in mind for the Sabbath.)

      2. What does the frequency of the Sabbath teach us? (It points to a literal creation week. God could have keyed the celebration to a monthly or yearly event if the creation account was an allegory. In addition, it gives us a needed rest each week.)

    4. Read Mark 2:23-26. What do you think about Jesus' answer?

      1. When was the last time you caught your children in some misbehavior and they responded that other children misbehaved? Did you say, "I'm sorry, you are right. Unless we can stop all evil, we should excuse your bad behavior."

        1. Is our Lord making such an argument? (Unlikely. Jesus seems to be saying that in every situation you have to remember the big picture. Yes, regular people were not normally allowed to eat temple bread. But, providing food for humans is more important than the normal temple rules.)

      2. Were the disciples, like David, in some sort of emergency situation? (No. They were snacking.)

      3. If I were Jesus' advisor, I would have suggested that He respond to the Pharisees, "What, are you nuts? Grabbing a few grains is not harvesting. They are not working." That seems to be the obvious answer. What does the fact that Jesus did not give the obvious answer tell us? (It tells us that He wanted to make a specific point about the Sabbath, as opposed to disputing the facts.)

    5. Read Mark 2:27-28. What point (or points) is Jesus making? (Human need (here snacking) comes before the Sabbath. Jesus' second point is that He gets to make this judgment because He is Lord of the Sabbath.)

    6. Read Mark 3:1-4. Is this a difficult question to answer?

    7. Read Mark 3:5-6. What is the hypocrisy here? (On Sabbath Jesus was healing, while His Sabbath critics were plotting murder.)

    8. These two stories are next to each other in the Bible. What point is God making to us in these stories? Do these stories suggest that the Sabbath is unimportant? (These stories show the importance of the Sabbath. The Bible has limited space, and God thought the Sabbath so important that He would show how to properly regard the Sabbath.)

  3. Sabbath Attacks

    1. Read 2 Peter 3:3-4. What is a sign of the "last days?" (Attacks on God based on the failure of the Second Coming to take place.)

    2. Read 2 Peter 3:5-7. What is wrong with the argument of the attackers? (They forget that God brought judgment on the world in the flood. They forget that God is the Creator.)

      1. How is the Sabbath an antidote to this kind of argument? (It is a weekly reminder of God's power as our Creator and Redeemer.)

    3. Read Revelation 14:6-7. What is God's message for the end times? (Give glory to God because the time of judgment has come.)

      1. What is the basis for God's claim to our worship? (His Creation.)

    4. Consider this a moment. If God's argument in support of His final judgment is His power as demonstrated in the Creation and the Flood, how important is the Sabbath? (It is in the middle of the battle. It is the reminder of the very thing that God claims as His authority for the final judgment.)

      1. Can you understand why Satan would make it a high priority to erase the importance of the Sabbath?

    5. In Hebrews chapter 3 the Bible warns us not to be like the Israelites who failed to enter into the promised land after their exit from Egypt. It calls the promised land "enter[ing]" into "His rest." ( Hebrews 3:18.) With that background, read Hebrews 4:1-5. To what is the Sabbath compared? (Entering into the promised land after the hardships of the journey from Egypt.)

      1. Focus again on Hebrews 4:1-2. To what else is the Sabbath compared? (Salvation by grace alone. Recall that Exodus 31:13 and Ezekiel 20:12 predicted that the Sabbath would memorialize Jesus making us holy.)

    6. Read Hebrews 4:6-10. What Sabbath rest should we enter into that is much more important than God's people entering the promised land? (Rest from the our efforts to save ourselves by our own works! The Sabbath also memorializes salvation by grace alone.)

      1. The most recent attack on Sabbath worship, comes from a group who claims the texts we just read mean that we have now entered the "Sabbath rest" portion of history. Therefore, we no longer need to worship on Sabbath. Does that make any logical sense? (No! The Sabbath is a memorial. It is a marker. You no longer have a marker if it becomes the age in which you live.)

    7. Read Hebrews 10:23-25. Does the writer of Hebrews suggest that observing the weekly Sabbath is no longer needed? (No! He says "hold unswervingly to the hope we profess!" That hope is grace in the face of judgment, that hope is the Second Coming. As we saw earlier, Sabbath observance is weekly reminder of the basis for our hope!)

    8. Friend, God designated the seventh day as His Sabbath. This memorial in time has never been changed, or eclipsed by time. In the last days, its importance is as strong as ever. The Sabbath is under attack by Satan because it is the weekly reminder of our hope and trust in our Creator and our Redeemer. If you have not been serious about observing the Sabbath, will you commit to it now?

  4. Next week: Creation and the Gospel.
* Copr. 2013, 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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