Introduction: I love the Sabbath! My life is a series of deadlines.
When I’m home, I have work to do on the house and the lawn. I’ll bet
you know what I’m talking about. When I was a young man, the pressure
cooker of law school brought the blessing of the Sabbath into clear
focus. While other students were studying, I was able to have a
guilt-free time to go to church, eat with friends, and read and
relax. Let’s plunge into our Bibles and see what other blessings we
can find in the Sabbath!

  1. Manna Plan

    1. Read Exodus 16:14-16 and Exodus 16:21. When it came to
      being fed, what responsibility did the people have? (They
      had to get out of bed and collect the food. If they did
      not, it would melt.)

    2. Read Exodus 16:17-18. Why did everyone have just the right
      amount? (God told them how much to gather, they obeyed,
      and everyone had what they needed.)

      1. The Bible Knowledge Commentary states that an omer is
        about two quarts. What about hearty eaters? Those
        who need more calories? (These verses talk about how
        much everyone needed. I think the point of how it all
        worked out is that God supplied what was needed for
        each person.)

      2. Does this teach us anything about economics today? (I
        suspect that however much you have, you always need
        more than you have!)

    3. Read Exodus 16:19-20. Why would a person try to keep more?
      (They did not trust God. It made no sense to try to store
      it up if you received fresh supplies each morning.)

    4. Read Exodus 16:22-25. What does this teach us about the
      Sabbath? (God intended us to rest. No need to go out early
      and gather food.)

      1. What is the practical lesson for us today? (We will
        not miss out by resting on the Sabbath. This was a
        lesson I learned early on. Those fellow law students
        who studied diligently on Sabbath did not receive
        better grades than mine.)

      2. What does this teach us about putting God’s interests
        first? (I’m reminded of the days when we were
        building our church. I had just bought a used
        Mercedes Benz and I was excited about changing its
        oil. Instead, I put God first and worked on our new
        church. When I got home I immediately started working
        on the Benz, and found that it had an unusual oil
        drain plug. It required a huge allen wrench. None of
        mine would fit it, and I doubted any were sold
        locally. Then I noticed that the leather nail apron
        that I used at church had a nail puller with a handle
        shaped like a huge allen wrench. It fit perfectly!
        Had I not put God’s business first, I would have
        wasted my time working on the church by looking for
        the right wrench!)

  2. Sabbath Rest

    1. Read Exodus 20:8. What is God asking us to do when He says
      “remember?” (He could be telling us to “keep it in mind,”
      but it is more likely that God is telling us to remember
      Genesis 2:2-3.)

    2. Read Genesis 2:2-3. What does this tell us about the
      Sabbath and rest? (The history of the Sabbath is that our
      Creator God made everything in six days and memorialized
      His work by a Sabbath rest.)

      1. How would you rate the world in remembering our
        Creator God? (Instead of being reminded every Sabbath
        that God is our Creator, the popular culture tells us
        that God had nothing to do with the creation. It came
        about by chance and competition.)

    3. Read Exodus 20:9-10. What is the main point of the
      Sabbath? (The debate is between “rest” and “remembering
      God.” I think both are important.)

      1. Why do you think that servants, animals and
        foreigners were also to rest? (This shows the
        importance of the rest component of the Sabbath –
        everyone and every animal was entitled to rest.)

      2. Over the years, I’ve contemplated what is appropriate
        on Sabbath. I recall that once my church decided that
        on Sabbath they would do some good by helping some
        poor member by moving their belongings out of their
        house. After all, Jesus says we can wrestle an ox out
        of a well on Sabbath! See Luke 14:5. I’m rather sure
        I helped! What do you say about this? (I think this
        ignores the rest component of the Sabbath. It is
        hardly rest to move furniture. Unlike the ox, this is
        not a situation in which the furniture was in

    4. Read Exodus 23:12. I read an article about a farmer who
      did not use his automatic irrigation equipment on Sabbath.
      He reported that it lasted much longer than the equipment
      of his competitors. What do you think about that? (A pump
      is not like a human, an ox, or a donkey. However, Exodus
      23:10-11 says that we should not farm the land on the
      seventh year.)

    5. Read Luke 13:10-11. Was this an emergency situation? Was
      it like an ox falling down a well? (No. It had been going
      on for 18 years.)

    6. Read Luke 13:12-14. Healing is part of Jesus’ normal work.
      Why is this appropriate on the Sabbath?

    7. Read Luke 13:15-16. The issue with the ox or donkey is
      giving it something to drink, not untying it! Can you
      defend Jesus’ logic? (I would have responded that this was
      not work. Following the logic Jesus used, the lady was set
      free on the Sabbath.)

    8. Read Mark 2:23-27. Jesus’ says that King David set an
      example of violating the law. David also committed
      adultery and murder! Is that also acceptable? Are David’s
      unlawful actions a reasonable defense? (I don’t think
      Jesus is telling us to act like King David. Rather, He is
      making a more sophisticated argument. He points to a
      balance between human needs and the Sabbath. The “Sabbath
      was made for man,” meaning that it was made to improve our
      life. There is a hierarchy, and curing personal hunger is
      more important than the Sabbath.)

      1. What if the disciples started working in a soup
        kitchen on Sabbath?

      2. What if the disciples started working in a restaurant
        on the Sabbath?

    9. Read Mark 2:28. What is Jesus’ point here? (That He gets
      to say what is appropriate on Sabbath!)

    10. Matthew records more of this conversation. Read Matthew
      12:5-6. My regular job is to teach and try to persuade.
      I’m teaching nearly every Sabbath and I preach sometimes.
      I have often taught and then preached that same Sabbath –
      which is a lot like my regular work. Jesus says that I’m
      “innocent” of Sabbath-breaking. Why?

      1. Is it because I don’t charge? Paid clergy charge.
        (Think back to my soup kitchen/restaurant question.)

      2. Is it because of the subject matter? I teach at a
        religious school and often litigate religious liberty

      3. What does Jesus mean by “something greater than the
        temple is here?” (He is referring to Himself.)

        1. What is Jesus stating? (That the disciples are
          attending Him, and therefore their work is like
          that of the priests in the temple.)

          1. The disciples were just with Jesus, they
            were not collecting grain for Him to eat.
            What other activities could the disciples
            engage in the presence of Jesus on Sabbath
            and still be innocent?

    11. Read Matthew 12:7. I’ve asked a series of questions that
      show the difficulty of drawing lines. Some may say that
      drawing lines is “legalism,” but Jesus never said, “forget
      the lines.” Rather, He seems to say that the Jewish
      leaders were drawing the line in the wrong place. This
      text provides a standard for line-drawing. How would you
      explain this standard? (Here is a non-traditional
      explanation: to make the disciples go hungry would be a
      sacrifice on their part. Jesus says that showing mercy on
      the hungry disciples is more important than the sacrifice
      of making them go hungry. Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6, in which
      the context is different. There, God says that He prefers
      to have us obey, rather than offer a sacrifice for our
      disobedience. That context is difficult to explain here,
      which I why I suggest a new explanation.)

    12. Friend, the Sabbath is important for both our physical and
      spiritual health. When you decide what is consistent with
      the Sabbath, will you remember that Jesus says it was made
      for our benefit? Ask the Holy Spirit for God’s insight!

  3. Next week: Mercy and Justice in Psalms and Proverbs.