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!
- Why the Sabbath?
- 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.”)
- Read Exodus 20:8-11. What reason is given for the Sabbath?
(The same reason given in Genesis 2.)
- Read Deuteronomy 5:12-15. What reason is given for the
Sabbath? (The rescue of God’s people from slavery.)
- Read Exodus 31:12-13 and Ezekiel 20:12. What reason is
given for the Sabbath? (It is a sign that God makes us
- 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.)
- The Nature of Sabbath
- Read 1 Samuel 7:10-12. Why did Samuel erect the Ebenezer
stone? (To memorialize the victory over the Philistines.)
- Read Genesis 17:10-11. What is the reason for
circumcision? (To memorialize the covenant between God and
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Read Mark 2:23-26. What do you think about Jesus’ answer?
- 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.”
- 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
- Were the disciples, like David, in some sort of
emergency situation? (No. They were snacking.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Read Mark 3:1-4. Is this a difficult question to answer?
- Read Mark 3:5-6. What is the hypocrisy here? (On Sabbath
Jesus was healing, while His Sabbath critics were plotting
- 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.)
- Sabbath Attacks
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Read Revelation 14:6-7. What is God’s message for the end
times? (Give glory to God because the time of judgment has
- What is the basis for God’s claim to our worship?
- 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
- Can you understand why Satan would make it a high
priority to erase the importance of the Sabbath?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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!)
- 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?
- Next week: Creation and the Gospel.