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.

  1. Sabbath Markers

    1. 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.)

    2. 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.)

    3. 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.”)

    4. 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.)

      1. 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

  2. Superbowl Sabbath

    1. Read Mark 15:33-34, Mark 15:37-39 and Mark 15:42-43. On
      what day was Jesus crucified? (Friday, before the

    2. Read Mark 16:1-3 and Mark 16:5-9. When did Jesus arise
      from the grave? (Sunday.)

      1. 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.)

        1. 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

  3. Sabbath and the Early Church

    1. 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.”

      1. What reason(s) does Ignatius give for worshiping on
        Sunday? (Jesus’ resurrection on Sunday. Antagonism
        towards Judaism.)

        1. How popular were the Jews when Rome destroyed
          Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D.?

        2. 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.)

    2. 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.)

      1. 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.)

  4. Our Lord’s Day

    1. 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

    2. 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.)

    3. 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.)

      1. 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.)

        1. How would Sabbath-keepers apply this lesson

    4. 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

    5. 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.)

    6. Read Matthew 12:9-12. Is Jesus rejecting the holiness of
      the Sabbath? (No.)

      1. 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.)

    7. Read Matthew 12:13-14. Would it have mattered to the man
      if Jesus waited until sundown to heal him? (No.)

      1. Why did Jesus heal him on Sabbath? (To make His
        point about how the Sabbath should be understood.)

      2. 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?

    8. 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
      God’s Kingdom?

  5. Next week: Creation Care.