Lesson 8

Rest

(Exodus 20, Matthew 5, Colossians 2, Hebrews 4)
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Introduction: If something needs to be done, I want to do it now. If you are wired like me, then "guilt-free" rest is of great value. That is why I love the Sabbath so much. I know I'm not supposed to be working on it, and therefore I can rest without feeling guilty. During law school it was wonderful. My diligent friends would be studying every day in order to get the best grades. On Sabbath I did not study law and I was blessed for it. Let's dive into the Bible and find out why a Sabbath rest is still a central part of God's plan for us!

  1. The Purpose For the Sabbath


    1. Read Exodus 20:8-11. What reason does God give for keeping the Sabbath? (To memorialize the fact that He created the heavens and earth.)


    2. Read Genesis 2:2-3. When God first created the Sabbath, what was His reason? (The same reason stated in Exodus - because God had created the world.)


    3. Try to put yourself in God's place. We often talk about why we, as humans, should follow God. What is God's view on this? If you were God and you were asked about why humans should serve you, what would you say? (Because I created you!)


      1. Is this in fact what God says? (Read Genesis 1:1. This is God's first statement to us - that He is the Creator.)


      2. Read Revelation 14:6-7. We looked at God's claim to worship in the first book of the Bible. What reason does God give in the last book of the Bible? (The reason to worship God is because He is our Creator. In fact, this is called "the eternal gospel.")


      3. Naves catalogs 104 Bible texts under "Creator," where God either directly, or through humans, stakes His claim to authority over humans on the fact of His Creation.)


    4. Strategy time. If you were Satan, and you were in a contest with God over authority over humans, what would be your goal? (To dilute or eliminate the basis for God's claim to authority.)


      1. Do we see this happening: is the history and memorial to God's claim to authority being eroded?


      2. Should this erosion matter to Christians? (Martin Luther said: "If I profess with the loudest voice ... every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ.... Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved.")


        1. Many say the Sabbath no longer matters. If Martin Luther is right, then isn't the Sabbath at the center of the battle between Jesus and the devil?


        2. If it is at the center, are we "confessing Christ" if we fail to take a strong stand on the weekly remembrance of God's authority over humanity?


  2. Sabbath, Still Part of God's Plan?


    1. Last week we discussed "Grace," and found ( Romans 8:2) that "the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Does that mean that the Ten Commandments (including the Sabbath command) are dead?


    2. Read Matthew 5:17-19. What does Jesus say is His purpose for coming to earth? (Not to abolish the Ten Commandments! Rather, He came to "fulfill them." I must not teach others to break the commandments.)


      1. What does that mean - to fulfill? (We learned last week that Jesus came and succeeded where Adam failed -in keeping God's law. But, we also learned that this is no license ( Romans 6:1) to sin and that we are charged with living a life "in accordance with the Spirit." Romans 8:5. This is consistent with Jesus' statement that we should never teach anyone to break the commandments.)


    3. Read Colossians 2:16-17. So far, we have seen that the Sabbath is at the center of the conflict with Satan because it symbolizes God's authority as our Creator. Is Paul saying here that the Sabbath does not matter? Will Paul be "least" in the kingdom of heaven?(Paul seems to be quoting roughly from Hosea 2:11. There, the reference is to the Jewish feasts which were also called "Sabbaths." Indeed, the Greek word translated "Sabbath" in Colossians 2:16 is really the plural: "Sabbaths." Many translations (but not the NIV) translate the term "Sabbaths.")


      1. What does Paul mean by calling the Sabbaths a "shadow of the things that were to come?" (Since Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament sanctuary service, it logically follows that the Jewish feast Sabbaths, which were part of the sacrificial system, were fulfilled. This would not be true of the weekly Sabbath which was the memorial to creation, and not part of the sanctuary service.)


      2. Many Bible commentators, especially the older commentaries, agree with my argument that Colossians 2 does not refer to the weekly Sabbath. Consider what Barnes Notes says on this text (and this is typical of others). He first points out that the term is plural and therefore refers to the Hebrew festivals, and then he continues: "No part of the moral law - no one of the ten commandments could be spoken of as 'a shadow of good things to come.' These commandments are, from the nature of moral law, of perpetual and universal obligation.")


    4. Read Hebrews 4:8-11. In recent years some have begun to argue that since the resurrection we have entered the "Sabbath" age. Every day is Sabbath. What would be the logical result of that argument? (You would either not worship on any day or you would worship on every day.)


      1. What does Hebrews suggest about a regular time of meeting to worship God? (Read Hebrews 10:25. It tells us that we should regularly meet together.)


      2. If you were celebrating living in the "Sabbath age," and you thought you should meet regularly to worship your Creator, what day would you logically choose? (Re-read Hebrews 4:9-10. If we are to enter God's rest, just as He did, we would worship on Saturday! It is the only logical conclusion.)


    5. Some argue, not based on any command from God found in the Bible, that Jesus' resurrection on Sunday changed everything about the Sabbath. Do followers of Jesus have any reason to think that is true?


      1. What day was Jesus crucified? (Read Mark 15:42-44. Friday.)


      2. Read Matthew 27:50-52. Is there any reason why Jesus could not have immediately come to life, and in plain sight of everyone lifted off from the cross in extraordinary power and glory to be with His Father?


        1. If you, as a parent, saw your child tortured and beaten, would you not want to come immediately to the rescue?


        2. If you, as a parent, saw your child win the most important contest in the universe, would you want to wait a minute, much less a whole day, to put your arms around your child in praise and congratulations?


        3. Why did Jesus wait? Against all natural instinct, why did He and the Father wait? (Jesus rested on Sabbath for the same reason He rested on Sabbath after He created the world. He was memorializing His original work of creation and now His latest work to rescue His creation from destruction.)


  3. Keeping the Sabbath


    1. In light of its historical background, how would you keep the Sabbath? (It is a day to pull back from the work and cares of the world and celebrate our Creator and Redeemer! It is a special day of praise and worship.)


    2. Read Mark 2:23-28. Is Jesus saying that because David violated the consecrated bread law the disciples can violate the no working on Sabbath law? (No. Jesus is saying that Sabbath was intended for the good of humans. The blessing of humans, not niggling rules and regulations, is the proper purpose of the Sabbath.)


    3. Friend, where do you stand in the battle over the authority of God? Are you a faithful and loyal soldier on the matters most in dispute? If not, you are missing one of God's greatest blessings for humanity! Why not determine right now to be faithful and blessed when it comes to the Sabbath?


  4. Next week: Heaven.

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