The Sabbath and Worship
(Genesis 1-2, Exodus 20, Colossians 1)
Introduction: Imagine a terrible divorce involving children. The mother hates the father, feels like she is in competition with him, and wants to erase his memory from the minds of the children. What diabolical things could the mother do to hurt the father? The first thing would be to try to keep the father from seeing his children. Second, she could tell the children the father did not love them or even care about them. Third, she could suggest that he is not their father. The father's goals are just the reverse: to reinforce the fact that he is the father, that he loves and cares for his children, and that he regularly wants to see his children. Now consider the conflict between God and Satan. Isn't it logical that Satan would have the same goals as this mother? Satan wants us to believe that God does not love or care for us, God is not our Father, and we should not be concerned about meeting with God. Let's dive into our study of the Bible learn more about the specifics!
- Creation Sabbath
- Read Genesis 1:26-27. What does this teach us about our relationship to God? (To some degree we are created to be like God.)
- What is our relationship to the rest of the creation? (We are created to rule the rest of the creation.)
- Why do you think God decided that humans should rule the rest of the creation? (This reinforces the idea that we are created like God. From this hierarchy of relationships, we begin to see part of how we are like our Father in Heaven.)
- Read Genesis 2:1-3. What is God's reason for creating the Sabbath? (He finished His Creation. God's mighty work was done.)
- What did God declare about the Sabbath? (It was blessed and it was holy.)
- What does it mean to make a day "holy?" (God sanctified the day.)
- Let's put this together. What is the relationship between God's creation of humans and the Sabbath? (Saturday is a special day, a sacred day, on which we are reminded that God is our Creator.)
- Read Exodus 20:8-11. When God says "Remember the Sabbath day," to what is He referring? (This is an obvious reference to the creation story in Genesis.)
- Why does God tell us to work six days? (This again is an illusion to God's six days of creation.)
- Why are we told not to work our animals on Sabbath? (Not only is God telling us that all deserve a Sabbath rest, but He is reinforcing the idea that we are to rule the creation.)
- The Sabbath Link to Worship
- Read Genesis 1:1. How does God introduce Himself to us? (As our Creator.)
- Why do you think this is the very first thing God says to us from His Bible?
- Read Revelation 14:7. What is God's basis for claiming our worship? (That He is our Creator.)
- Nave's Topical Bible catalogs 104 Bible texts (under "Creator") ranging from Genesis to Revelation where God either directly, or through humans, stakes His claim to authority over us on the fact of His Creation. What do you conclude about God's thinking from this? (We learn that God's consistent, simple and primary claim to authority over humans is His creation work. God is telling humans: "I created you, therefore you should obey Me.")
- Recall our introduction about the divorced woman who wanted to erase the children's memory of their father? Why is it important for Satan to attack Sabbath worship? (It fulfills two of Satan's logical goals that even we were able to figure out. First, since the Sabbath is the weekly reminder of God's six-day Creation, it removes this weekly reminder that God created us and therefore has authority over us. Second, since the Sabbath is an important time to study, praise and worship God, disregard for the Sabbath limits our time to meet with our Heavenly Father.)
- How is Satan doing in his quest to have humans forget that God is their Creator? (Huge numbers no longer believe that a six-day creation is the correct account of the origin of humans. Many believe that we came into existence by chance and natural selection. Many believe that humans have no claim of superiority to animals, and that we have no authority to rule them. Most Christians, even devout Christians, disregard the seventh day Sabbath.)
- Sabbath Importance
- Many say, "So what? What you just said about the importance of the Sabbath is not good enough. I can believe in God even if I do not believe the creation story or observe the Sabbath." If you think believing the Genesis account about the Creation and the Sabbath makes a difference, explain why? (First, if the account is not true, it means that God did not tell us the truth about the origin of humans. If that is so, then God is not telling the truth about His authority over us. Finally, if God is not telling the truth about our origin (because He is overstating His power), that suggests that our God lacks power.)
- Are we sure this raises a question about God's honesty? Could God simply be telling us an allegory, giving us some sort of grand parable? (When we read Revelation, we know we are reading about symbols. Genesis is extremely specific about the details. It is illogical to consider it to be an allegory -especially an allegory about evolution!)
- Read Colossians 1:15-18. Did the Apostle Paul believe in the Creation? (Yes.)
- Who is Paul referring to in this text? (Jesus.)
- What is your most important hope as a Christian? (Heaven. You hope that Jesus will take you and those you love to Heaven.)
- What link do these verses make between the Creation and our hope of Heaven? (Jesus has "the supremacy" over Creation and death. If Jesus is not powerful enough to create the earth and its inhabitants, why should we believe that He is powerful enough to defeat death? Paul shows that these beliefs are logically linked.)
- Let's consider where we are now. The Sabbath is linked to the Creation, the authority of God, and the power of God to resurrect us to eternal life!
- Freedom From Slavery
- Read Deuteronomy 5:15. Why would the Bible give two different reasons for the Sabbath?
- Read Romans 6:15-18. What has set us free from the slavery of sin? (Jesus set us free from the slavery of sin through His life and death on our behalf. We obey God because of what He has done for us.)
- Can you see a link between a memorial to the Creation and a memorial to our salvation? (God gave us life, and then He gave us eternal life.)
- Has this anything to do with the power and authority of God?
- Sabbath and the Resurrection of Jesus
- Read Matthew 28:1 and Matthew 27:50-53. Jesus rested in the grave on Sabbath, but these others apparently were resurrected on Friday. If you were God the Father, and your Son had been brutally killed while winning the Super Bowl of the universe, would you want to take Him into your arms immediately? (Of course! No parent would want to wait even a second to comfort and congratulate a son.)
- Why did God wait to raise Jesus back to life? (Consider our discussion so far. The Sabbath is at the center of what Jesus was and is doing for us. The logical conclusion is that Jesus rested on the Sabbath! Just as Jesus rested after His great work of Creation, so He rested after His great work of salvation. It is the only reasonable explanation for the delay.)
- Friend, if you believe there is a battle going on over God's power and authority, why not decide today to show your allegiance to God by accepting His Creation account and remembering and memorializing His authority by keeping the Sabbath?
- Next week: Rejoicing Before the Lord: The Sanctuary and Worship.