Introduction: I love the Sabbath! In general, it is hard for me to
rest. If I’m at home, and I see something that needs to be done, I
almost always do it. When I’m at work, I always have something I must
do. At any other time than the Sabbath, I feel guilty (or something
like that) when I’m resting and there are things to do. On the
Sabbath, however, my guilt is gone. If I start thinking about the
work I must do, I say to myself, “This is the Sabbath, work is off-limits.” What a blessing to have a guilt-free time of rest! The
Sabbath is an important Bible doctrine, so let’s dive right into our

  1. How It Started

    1. Read Genesis 1:31 and Genesis 2:1. How long did it take
      for God to create the world? (Six days.)

      1. Do you think He could have done it in less? (Read
        Genesis 1:14-19. We see that God created the sun,
        moon and stars, and put them in motion in one day. My
        thought is that if He could do that in one day,
        nothing is impossible for Him.)

      2. Could God have taken more time to create the world?
        (Of course, if He made that decision.)

    2. Read Genesis 2:2-4. If God could have taken less time or
      more time to create the world, why do you think He took
      six days? (Read Mark 2:27-28. God did it for us. He wanted
      us to rest.)

      1. Look again at Genesis 2:3. What do you think it means
        that God “blessed the seventh day and made it holy?”
        (Something that is holy is set aside, it is special.
        The Sabbath is a special day.)

  2. God’s Authority

    1. Read Isaiah 45:11-12. What is happening to God here? (He
      is being challenged. Humans are second-guessing God.)

      1. What does God claim as the basis for His authority
        over humans? (He is the Creator! I researched this
        and found that God’s principal claim to authority
        throughout the Bible is the fact that He is our

    2. Read Exodus 20:8. What is the reason why God says we
      should keep the Sabbath? (God links the Sabbath to His
      power and authority as the Creator. He says that in a
      literal six days He created the world, and therefore on
      the seventh day we should rest as He did.)

      1. Let’s take a philosophical moment. If you are Satan,
        and you want to challenge the authority of God, what
        kind of strategy would you form? If you were God,
        what would be your strategy?(If I were Satan, I would
        try to create doubt about the creation, and I would
        try to make it irrelevant. If I were God, I would do
        exactly what we read in the Fourth Commandment – I
        would have a weekly reminder that I was the Creator.)

        1. Do you see these strategies being played out in
          the world? (Yes, both the literal six-day
          creation and the seventh-day Sabbath are under
          severe attack.)

    3. Re-read Exodus 20:11. Recall that Moses received the Ten
      Commandments from God. I’ve read claims that the “days” of
      Genesis 1 were not days as we know them today. How were
      “days” understood in the time of Moses? (What God conveyed
      to Moses is beyond debate. Moses and the people understood
      these were literal days.)

      1. I am not a scientist. I’m a logician and a debater.
        There are many so-called Christians, including in my
        own church, who do not believe in a literal six-day
        creation. Set aside the science issue. What is the
        proper conclusion if the world was not created in a
        literal six days? (God lied. There is no room for the
        argument that humans in Moses’ day were primitive and
        would not have understood, thus God told them
        nonsense. God did not have had to give any specific
        explanation of His Creation. But, he did. In Genesis
        1 and Exodus 20 He is very specific.)

        1. If God lied, what is the logical conclusion
          that follows? (God lied about the very thing
          that He claims as the basis for His authority
          over humans. This goes to the heart of the
          matter of who God is. It goes to the heart of
          the matter of being a Christian.)

    4. Read John 1:1-4 and John 1:14. Who is this “Word?”

      1. What does the Bible say about the Word and the
        creation? (That Jesus is the Creator of Genesis 1.
        This is why accepting the creation account is
        essential to accepting the authority of Jesus.)

  3. What Should Sabbath Look Like?

    1. Read Matthew 12:1-2. What is the charge leveled against
      Jesus? (He is not properly controlling his disciples.
      They are breaking the Sabbath.)

    2. Read Matthew 12:3-5. Is Jesus’ answer the same as our
      children would answer – my sibling is doing the same
      thing? Don’t pick on me, he is doing it too!

      1. Are Jesus’ disciples like the priests working in the

    3. Read Matthew 12:6-8. Wait a minute! Jesus is saying
      something much greater than “everyone is doing it.” What
      is Jesus claiming? (He is saying that His disciples are
      like the priests working in the temple because Jesus is
      the reason for the temple. More than that, Jesus is saying
      that He has authority to decide what is proper to do on
      the Sabbath.)

      1. If the Sabbath were about to go the way of the Dodo
        bird (become extinct), would Jesus have responded the
        way He did? (No. Jesus gives no hint that the Sabbath
        is no longer binding. Rather, He says He is “Lord of
        the Sabbath.”)

      2. What does Jesus mean when He says, “I desire mercy,
        not sacrifice?” And, why are His disciples
        “innocent?” (Notice the pattern in the examples Jesus
        gives. The first is showing mercy to those who are
        hungry. The second is helping those who have come to
        the temple. In both cases, showing kindness to humans
        is more important than the letter of the law.)

        1. I recall being at the zoo on Sabbath with a
          church group. One couple had young children who
          were crying because it was hot and they wanted
          a cool drink or ice cream. The couple would not
          buy anything for their children because it was
          the Sabbath. How do you think Jesus would have
          reacted to that decision?

    4. Read Matthew 12:9-12. What flaw do you see in Jesus’
      logic? (The sheep is in distress. This looks like an
      emergency. The man with a shriveled hand is no emergency.)

      1. If I’m correct in making this distinction, what
        lesson is Jesus teaching? (Whether you have an
        emergency or not is irrelevant. The only question is
        whether you are doing good on the Sabbath. If you
        are, then what you are doing is appropriate.)

      2. I often say that the Bible is very limited real
        estate. Any lesson that made its way into the Bible
        must be important. What is the important lesson here?
        (This is powerful proof that Sabbath-keeping would
        continue. These are instructions on how to keep the

    5. Read Matthew 12:13-14. What are the religious leaders
      doing on the Sabbath? (They were not doing good. They were
      plotting murder!)

    6. Read Matthew 24:15-21. Jesus is speaking about the
      destruction of the temple which took place in 70 A.D.
      Would it violate the Sabbath to flee death on the Sabbath?
      (That is certainly “doing good.”)

      1. If I’m right, what is Jesus saying? (Winter is an
        unpleasant time to have to flee. You want to enjoy
        your Sabbath, not be running for your life. I think
        that is the sense of this.)

      2. Notice the timing issue. If the Sabbath ended at the
        cross, would Jesus’ statement make any sense? (Jesus
        intended the Sabbath to continue to retain its

    7. Read Revelation 14:6-7. This is an end-time message. What
      role does the Sabbath play here? (Recall that the Sabbath
      was created as a memorial to creation. The call to worship
      the Creator directly implicates the Sabbath.)

    8. Friend, some who are reading this may have the wrong view
      of Sabbath-keeping and may have missed the message about
      mercy. Others, may be disregarding the weekly memorial to
      the authority of God, and losing out on a guilt-free time
      of rest. Will you resolve today to try to properly keep
      the Sabbath?

  4. Next week: Death and Resurrection.