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Sabbath School Lessons on The Promise - God's Everlasting Covenant
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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: Covenant at Sinai *
Introduction: In some Christian circles the Ten Commandments have
gotten a bad reputation. Even the apostle Paul seemed to say some
pretty harsh things about them. What do you think, are the Ten
Commandments something good or bad? Are you glad they exist? Are they
a "contract" to which you would like to be a party? Not sure? Let's
jump into our study to find out more about the Ten Commandments!
- God's Attitude Toward Us
- Does life seem fair to you? Without getting into the
details, this week I was getting very upset at an
insurance company because it seemed it was taking unfair
advantage of its customers. The particular customer I was
most worried about was me!
- Read Psalms 103:6-7. Who does this text say God helps? (It
tells us that God makes things right for those who are
unfairly treated and cannot do anything about it.)
- Why is this important? (When you cannot do anything
about injustice, you feel God is the ultimate power
to whom you can appeal - if He is willing. Turns out,
He is willing.)
- In verse 7 God's justice is linked to Moses and Israel -
the subject of our study today. How do they fit into this
topic of righteousness and justice for the oppressed?
(Israel was in slavery - oppressed by the Egyptians.)
- Read Psalms 103:11-12. How high are the heavens above the
earth? If you could use one word to describe God's love
based on this text, what would it be? (Limitless!)
- Why does this text mention our sins (transgressions)?
What do our sins have to do with God's love? (The
most important point of God's love is the removal of
our sins. Jesus came to bear our sins and allow us to
accept the gift of eternal life.)
- Read Psalms 103:13-14. Are you concerned about whether God
is doing what is in your best interest? What does this
suggest? (God loves us as our own parents love us.)
- Does God have compassion for everyone? (The text
contains a qualifier we need to soberly consider. It
says God shows compassion on those "who fear Him.")
- Why does God show compassion on those who fear Him?
(He knows we are only human.)
- Let's look at the points we just covered. God will make
things right for the oppressed. He revealed Himself to
Moses and Israel. God loves us like a father and His love
for us is limitless. God's great gift of love to us was
sending His Son to free us from sin.
- God's Love at Sinai
- Read Exodus 19:1-3. What is the setting? (God has just
pulled His people out of slavery in Egypt. They are 60+
days into their journey to Canaan and God has called Moses
to a special meeting to discuss what Moses will say to
- Read Exodus 19:4-7. What is God's message to His people?
- Why do you think God presented this message in this
- Are these essentially the main points that we found
in Psalms 103? (Yes, except for the explicit point
about removing sin.)
- Scan Exodus 20:1-17 (the Ten Commandments). Do the Ten
Commandments relate to the points that we discussed from
- Which of the Ten Commandments relate to justice for
- Which of the Ten Commandments relate to God's love
- Which of the Ten Commandments relate to the
forgiveness of sin? (This one may be a trick
- When God gave His people the Ten Commandments, was
the purpose to create justice for the oppressed, show
His love for us and give us a way out of sin?
(Creating a "rule of law" always helps to protect the
oppressed. God shows His love for us because the last
six of the Commandments are for our protection. By
helping us to see what is sin, God began to show us
how to escape from sin.)
- You know the old adage about helping the poor: it is
better to teach a man how to fish than to give him a fish.
The older I get, the more I am convinced that we "teach a
man how to fish" by protecting property rights and giving
people freedom to grow their own food and earn their own
money. Do the Ten Commandments address this problem? (Yes.
If followed, the Ten Commandments would eliminate "class
warfare." They prohibit the rich from cheating the poor by
lying and stealing. On the other hand, they tell the poor
not to covet what the rich own.)
- Why do so many of the Ten Commandments deal with
man's relationship to man? (This demonstrates God's
love for us. God wants us to treat each other
- God's Messengers
- Let's go back and read Exodus 19:5-6 again. If the Ten
Commandments are such a great thing, something that
reveals all of these good things about God, why would God
want to give this gift to so few?
- When God calls Israel a "kingdom of priests" what
does this suggest about their relationship to the
rest of the world?
- Why does God mention that the "whole earth is mine?"
(The picture we get is that God, who God over the
entire earth, wanted to have a special relationship
with a group who would be His "priests" to share the
benefits of the Ten Commandments with the rest of the
- The Importance of God's Sinai Message
- Read Romans 3:19. Would role, if any, do the Ten
Commandments play in making us righteous? (The Ten
Commandments do not make anyone righteous. However, they
play a very important role in making us conscious of sin.)
- Is that the only role of the Ten Commandments? (No.
They teach us basic principles of God's kingdom. They
teach us to respect each other and our property. They
teach us to respect and honor God.)
- Put yourself in God's place for just a moment. Adam and
Eve have sinned. You have the option of either sending
your Son to earth to show that Adam and Eve could have
obeyed the Ten Commandments (and, in the process, your son
will die a horrible death) or you can just discard the
idea of the Ten Commandments. Which would you choose?
(Despite the bad reputation of the Ten Commandments among
some Christians, this shows the extraordinary importance
that God the Father and God the Son placed on them. God
wanted to show that the Commandments could be obeyed. Adam
and Eve did not have to sin.)
- Considering the importance of the Ten Commandments, how
should we approach them? Are we required to obey them? Are
we required to obey them to be saved?
- Read Romans 9:31-33. Did God's people want to follow
the law? (These texts say they did.)
- What was the problem?
- What or who is this "stone?" (The Israelites
determined to keep the Ten Commandments by
gritting their teeth and obeying, rather than
pursuing them by faith. "Pursuing them by
faith" is a pretty ambiguous statement. The
"stone" is Jesus. The message that I find in
this text is that faith and trust in Jesus
allows us to "pursue" the law of righteousness.)
- Read Romans 3:28-31. How do we "uphold" the Ten
Commandments when we tell others that they are
justified "apart from observing the law?" (This is
both the beauty and the complexity of this teaching.
We cannot be saved by keeping the Ten Commandments.
We are only saved by faith in Jesus, who kept them on
our behalf. However, anyone who has at least two
brain cells to rub together realizes the
extraordinary importance that God places on the Ten
Commandments, His Sinai Covenant. God the Father and
God the Son went through a terrible sacrifice to
uphold them. Therefore, we take obedience to the Ten
Commandments very seriously - even though we realize
that keeping them is not the ticket to heaven.)
- Friend, what do you say about the Sinai Covenant, the Ten
Commandments? Considering their importance to life and
our God, are you willing to take them seriously?
- Next Week: Covenant Law
* Copr. 2003, 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.