When Jesus was questioned about why He and His disciples were eating corn from the field on Sabbath, He said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Since Creation week, the Sabbath has remained one of God’s greatest blessings to humanity, and the Bible reveals that it will continue to be a day of worship and communion for all eternity (Isaiah 66:23). In this week’s lesson we will look at the Sabbath’s lessons and provisions for all people.
Read Genesis 1:1-31. In many ways, God used the principle of division to create the world and life in it. How many times does Genesis 1 says that God “divided” something? (On Day 1, 2, and 4 the Bible explicitly says that God divided something, and this theme continues on the other days of Creation as well. For instance, on Day 3 God divided the waters and dry land appeared. On Day 5 God created birds and marine animals, and they were divided in their habitat and method of transport. On Day 6 God divided the land animals according to their kinds and then created Adam by dividing him from the dust of the ground, and Eve by dividing her from Adam’s side.)
Read Genesis 2:1-3. In what ways did God also use the principle of division on the seventh day of Creation? (God divided the seventh day from the other six by resting on it, blessing it, and sanctifying it.) What does this imply about what our attitude toward, and activity on, the Sabbath should be? (Answers will vary.)
Although it is often assumed that the Sabbath was first given by God to Israel at Mount Sinai, it is important to remember that God obviously expected the Israelites to be aware of, and to observe, the seventh day Sabbath before the Ten Commandments were given at Mount Sinai. In today’s lesson we will look at this fascinating story in Exodus 16.
Read Exodus 16:4. For what reason did God begin sending manna from heaven? (To test the Israelites and see whether they would walk in His law or not.)
Read Exodus 16:5,22-26. What unique thing happened with the manna on the sixth and seventh days of each week? (Twice as much fell on the sixth day, and none fell on the seventh day, or the “sabbath.”) What does this reveal about the Sabbath at this time? (Clearly, God saw the Sabbath as special and expected the people to as well.)
Read Exodus 16:27,28. When the people went to collect manna on the Sabbath, how did God respond? (He asked them how long they would refuse to keep His commandments and laws.)
Read Exodus 16:16-18. How did the miracle of the manna reveal God’s providence and care for each person? (They were promised as much as they needed, and were not to hoard more than necessary for themselves.)
What spiritual lesson(s) can we draw from the fact that no manna fell on the seventh day? (The Sabbath was to be a weekly reminder, and exercise in faith, that God would provide for their needs.)
Read John 6:38 and Matthew 4:4. What two things, spiritually, does the manna represent for us today? (Jesus Christ and the Word of God.) What lesson can we draw from the fact that the manna fell daily? (We need daily time with Christ in prayer and Bible study.)
The two versions of the Ten Commandments in Exodus and Deuteronomy reveal two important aspects of the Sabbath: it serves as a memorial of God’s work as Creator (Exodus 20:8-11) and as a reminder of His power to save and redeem us (Deuteronomy 5:12-15.)
In what ways are these two reasons for the Sabbath—a memorial of God’s work as Creator, and a symbol of His power to save and redeem us—linked and connected together? (Only the Creator can re-create a new heart and mind within us and give us new spiritual life.)
Read Hebrews 4:9-11. What does it mean to enter God’s rest? (To enter God’s rest is to “cease from our own works.”) In what ways are we called to cease from our own works on the Sabbath? (Sabbath rest includes ceasing from the ordinary labor of the other six days, but it also encompasses the spiritual rest that comes with accepting God’s forgiveness and sanctifying work in our lives.)
Read Hebrews 4:12. What key to experiencing God’s rest is revealed in this verse? (One of the primary ways that we experience spiritual rest is to allow God to divide and separate us from those things in our lives that keep us from Him. He reveals these things to us through His Word.)
Read Hebrews 4:14-16. What connections do you see between Christ’s ministry for us in heaven’s sanctuary and the Sabbath? (Answers will vary. The seventh-day Sabbath and Christ’s work in the heavenly sanctuary are closely linked. Both reveal the work He does in our redemption and salvation. Historically, the Sabbath truth was understood by the Advent believers shortly after they realized that Christ had moved into the Most Holy Place of heaven’s sanctuary in 1844. Prophetically, the Sabbath issue will be a testing truth for the entire world as Christ ceases His priestly ministry in heaven at the close of probation.)
The Sabbath has always held the promise of human equality and oneness with God. On the first Sabbath at the end of Creation week, Adam and Eve worshipped their Creator, in harmony with each other and with Him. Similarly, throughout eternity, the redeemed will gather around God’s throne every Sabbath, at one with each other and their Redeemer. Right now, in the midst of a world of sin, the seventh day of each week provides a weekly opportunity for a broken human race to experience, in a small way, the promise of equality that God has built into the Sabbath.
Read Isaiah 56:1-8. For whom were, and are, the blessings of the Sabbath intended? (All people, including the “stranger,” the “eunuch,” and the “outcast.” Far from being a day of rest only for the Jews, the Sabbath was always intended for all people.) What implications should this have for us in how we think about and observe the Sabbath? (Answers will vary. An important focus of our personal and corporate Sabbath-keeping should be on the blessing that we can bring to other people during these sacred hours.)
Discuss what the following statement could mean, and should mean, for your family and your church: “The Sabbath should be the best day of the week for our community.” (Answers will vary.) What are practical ways that your family and your church can better emphasize this aspect of the Sabbath on a regular basis? (Answers will vary.)
Christ performed many of His miracles of healing on the Sabbath. In today’s lesson we will look at some of these healings and their lessons for us today.
Read Matthew 12:9-13. What lesson in regard to priorities and human dignity was Jesus trying to teach by this Sabbath healing? (Human life is of much greater value than many of the other things that we prize and protect.) What might the “sheep in the pit” represent for us in our lives today? (Answers will vary.) In light of this story, and Christ’s words, what dangers could true Sabbath observance keep us from? (True Sabbath observance is a strong deterrent against materialism, selfishness, and misplaced values in our lives.)
Read Mark 1:21-28. What lessons can be drawn from this healing story on the Sabbath? (God is more powerful than the devil and evil spirits. As a weekly reminder of Creation, the Sabbath should give us continual reassurance that God is stronger than sin and evil, and He alone has the power to rescue us from its power.)
Read Mark 3:1-6. What did this Sabbath miracle reveal about the Pharisees’ true spiritual condition? (It revealed the hardness of their hearts.) In what ways can the Sabbath perform a similar purpose today? (Answers will vary. Our attitude toward the Sabbath, our anticipation—or lack of it—at its approach each week, and our safeguarding of the hours of the Sabbath, can all help reveal the nature of our relationship with God.)
Read John 9:1-16. According to Jesus, why was this miracle performed? (That the works of God should be made manifest.) In what ways has the Sabbath helped you better understand “the works of God”? (Answers will vary.)
God’s plan for ancient Israel provided for a remarkable “rest” in many aspects of life every seven years. In these years, crops were not to be planted, Hebrew servants and slaves were to be set free, and debts were to be cancelled (see Leviticus 25:1-7; Exodus 21:1-11; and Deuteronomy 15:1-11. Following these guidelines would certainly provide opportunity to trust in God’s providence and sustenance.
In what ways has God provided for you, your family, or your church, through the blessings of the Sabbath? (Answers will vary, and may include financial blessings, health blessings, social and relational blessings, or spiritual blessings.)
In what ways are the blessings shared in the question above tied to the two reasons for Sabbath observance—a memorial of Creation and promise of redemption—discussed in Monday’s lessons? (Answers will vary.)
In what ways could the principle of a “rest for the land” every seven years be incorporated into our lives today? Would this require faith in God’s providence as it would have for the ancient Israelites? (Answers will vary.)
Read Matthew 6:31-33. In what ways is this passage connected with true Sabbath observance? (The Gentiles, who did not observe the seventh day Sabbath, focused their lives on obtaining material possessions and providing for their own needs. On the other hand, God has always provided the Sabbath rest as a practical, regular, recurring way to demonstrate our faith in His promise to provide for our needs.)
In His discourse about how to be prepared for the second coming, Jesus said, “But as the day of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the son of man be” (Matthew 24:37). The name Noah means “rest,” and his story contains powerful and important lessons for us today, especially in regards to the Bible’s call to enter God’s rest.
Read Genesis 6:5-9 and Isaiah 57:20,21. How did Noah’s walking with God contribute to the “rest” that his name implies? (There is no true rest or peace apart from God.)
Read Genesis 6:13-21. Does this job assignment sound very restful to you? (No! God gave Noah an enormous task, one that could be completed only with God’s help and power.) What does this imply about “resting” in God? (God’s faithful people are called to active service for Him. His promise to them is not one of physical ease with few challenges, nor of a long and relaxing retirement. He does, however, promise the privilege and responsibility of working with and for Him for the salvation of other people, and the faithful pursuit of this goal leads to a rest within the soul that only God can provide.)
Read Genesis 6:22. How did Noah respond to God’s instructions? (He did all that God commanded him.) Spiritually speaking, how did this completion of his divine assignment contribute to the “rest” that his name implies? (Noah’s completion of his job was accomplished through the power of Christ within him [Philippians 2:13].)
Read Genesis 7:7-10. What additional aspect of resting in God is brought out in these verses, especially verse 10? (Resting in God also means to be patient and trust his timing. Noah and his family remained sealed in the ark for seven days after the door was closed and before the rain fell.) In what ways has God recently, or is God right now, working to grow more patience and trust in your life? (Answers will vary.)
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