Lesson 12

Sabbath and Redemption in Creation

(Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:11, 31:17; Revelation 14:6-7)
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Introduction: Do you remember concepts you learned as children that, when you became an adult, turned out to be wrong? Take the word "rendevous." I knew from childhood reading what "rends-a-vus" meant and I knew from listening what "rond-de-voo" meant. It was only much later in life that I was astonished to find they were the same word!

This week my secretary sent me the following statement from an unidentified child: "In the first book of the Bible, Guinessis [sic], God got tired of creating the world, so he took the Sabbath off." Aside from spelling, do we still have that same childhood concept about the Sabbath? Let's jump into the Scriptures and explore an "adult's" view of the Sabbath!

  1. TIME-OUT!


    1. Read Genesis 2:1-3. Why did God "take off" the seventh day? Was it because, as the child wrote, He was "tired" by all that creation work?


      1. Does God get tired? (Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 40:28 that our Creator does not become physically weary. Instead, Isaiah 1:14 reveals He only gets weary about the way we act.)


      2. Since God was not yet tired of the way we act when He finished creating, and He does not grow physically weary, why would He rest?


        1. Genesis 2:3 tells us that God "blessed" the seventh day and "made it holy." What do you think God's "blessing" and "holy" stamp on the day have to do with rest? (The inescapable conclusion is that God is making the Sabbath a memorial to Creation!)


        2. Does the Sabbath need a memorial? (We have discussed all quarter how the evolutionary theory drives a wedge between our connection with God. Not only do we lose the kinship with our Father, but lose the basis for our gratitude to Him.)


        3. Why didn't God just create a huge monument on the earth as a memorial to Creation? Something, say, 5 miles high, solid obsidian, with huge engraved golden letters saying, "Remember I created the world!" (He made a place in time, a "time-out" instead.)


          1. Is this an unusual idea? To have a "time memorial" instead of some monument? (If you think this is strange, you have forgotten about your birthday!)


      3. If you believe that God is your Creator, what is your obligation towards this memorial to Creation? Or, how to do you feel when people forget your birthday or anniversary?


        1. Who has a vested interest in eradicating the memory of God as our Creator?


        2. If you believe that Satan is behind the attempt to erase the knowledge of God as the Creator, is the Sabbath a "line in the sand" for those who are God's followers?


          1. Assume you were kidnaped when you were five years old. Your kidnapers wanted to erase all knowledge of your parents from your mind, so they started celebrating the date of your kidnaping as your "birthday." What would you say? What attitude would you have about your real birthday?


    2. Read Exodus 20:8-11 and 31:17. Is the Sabbath the oldest commandment? (It certainly is the first one mentioned in the Bible.)


      1. What is the significance of the Sabbath being given to man as a memorial to Creation long before the Ten Commandments were given on Mt. Sinai?


      2. What is the significance of the Sabbath commandment ( Exodus 20:8) starting out with the word "remember?"


      3. Notice that Exodus 31:17 says that the Sabbath is a "sign between me and the Israelites forever." Is it fair to call the Sabbath a "Jewish" institution?


        1. Of what does Exodus 31:17 say the Sabbath is a sign? (It says (again) it is a sign of the Creation. Since Creation took place a long time before any "Israelites" ever lived, it must be a sign for Israelites and all who believe in God the Creator.)


      4. If the Ten Commandments were "nailed to the cross" (see, Colossians 2:14) would it be logical for the memorial to Creation (see Colossians 2:16) to also be nailed to the cross?


        1. This is a "gut-check" time. If you believe that the Ten Commandments no longer have any relevance to a Christian's behavior after the cross, how do you explain Colossians 3 (the very next chapter) which is filled with all sorts of commands?


        2. Does Colossians 3 suggest that it is "OK" to violate the Ten Commandments? (Chapter three is filled with a "to do" list of attitude and actions modifications for the Christian aspiring to walk closer with God!)


        3. If a Christian today believes that any of the commandments should still be kept, would there be a reason to leave the Sabbath off that list? (No! In light of fact that it is a memorial, and in light of its institution at the time of creation, it would logically be the last commandment to leave off the list. When we stop claiming that God is the Creator, we can stop keeping the Sabbath!)


  2. THE TIME-OUT AND REDEMPTION


    1. Read Ezekiel 20:12 and Exodus 31:12-13. Here is a new idea. So far, we have read that God made the Sabbath holy. Now, we read that the Sabbath is a sign that God makes us holy.


      1. What does it mean for God to make us holy?


      2. If we believe that God had the power to create us in the first place, does that bolster our belief that He has the power to recreate us?


      3. Is it possible the Sabbath is also a memorial to our salvation? Let's explore that intriguing idea!


    2. Read Hebrews 3:7-11. Who are we talking about here? (The Israelites in the Exodus.)


      1. What would be "rest" for them? (Entering the promised land.)


      2. Why didn't they enter God's rest? (They were rebellious and disobedient.)


    3. Let's read on: Hebrews 3:12-15. In light of the Exodus example, what does God call on us to do today? (To turn to God and not rebel or harden our hearts.)


    4. Let's read on: Hebrews 4:4, 7-11. What rest are we offered today? (It is best to read this entire chapter which makes clear that the "rest" that God offers us is salvation and ultimately heaven. The "rest" "from our own work" offered by Christ is our acceptance of the sacrifice of His life -- the perfect "Lamb of God." We are not saved by our works but by His works!)


      1. Why does Hebrews refer to the Sabbath when talking about the rest of our salvation? (This strongly suggests that the Sabbath is a memorial to our salvation.)


    5. Why would we refuse to keep His Sabbath as a memorial, not simply to Creation, but our personal "re-creation?" (For the same reason the Israelites died in the desert - hard-hearted rebellion.)


    6. If you agree that the Sabbath is a memorial to both Creation and our salvation, what do you make of the sequence of the crucifixion weekend? (See Mark 15:42-16:6: Friday crucifixion, Saturday resting in the grave, Sunday resurrection. This sequence strongly suggests that Jesus is observing both the memorial to Creation and the memorial to His victory over sin.)


    7. How important is it to keep the Sabbath?


      1. Read Revelation 14:6-7. Is the "eternal gospel" important?


        1. What is the "eternal gospel?" (Fear God because judgment is at hand and worship the Creator.)


        2. What does it mean to "worship" the Creator? (Based on what we have studied so far, this obviously refers to Sabbath observance - the memorial to Creation! Notice something else. If you believe that the Sabbath is also a memorial to our salvation, wouldn't it be an important part of "fearing God" because judgment is at hand?)


  3. SO WHAT DOES "TIME-OUT" MEAN AS A PRACTICAL MATTER?


    1. In light of the fact that the Sabbath is a memorial to Creation and our salvation, and is a central part of the "eternal gospel," what should we do during this "time-out?" How do you think we should keep it?


      1. Should we be out in nature every Sabbath because, after all, it is a memorial to Creation?


      2. Should we contemplate Jesus' life, death and resurrection every Sabbath because the Sabbath is a memorial to our salvation?


    2. Let's try to figure this out by reading a few texts on the Sabbath.


      1. Read Luke 6:5-6 (read the context because these two verses are not naturally linked) and Acts 17:2. What do these texts suggest we should do on the Sabbath? (We see that both Jesus and Paul attended "church" on the Sabbath. That is consistent with the Revelation 14:7 command to "worship" our Creator. So church attendance is an important part of the Sabbath.)


      2. Read Mark 2:27-28. What does this text mean when it says, "The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath?"


        1. If we are to worship God on Sabbath, doesn't that indicate that man was made for the Sabbath? (No! Jesus clearly tells us that the Sabbath was made to benefit us. It is not some dry, useless regulation for us to keep. Anyone who has truly entered into a worship experience realizes that it is certainly a benefit to mankind. More than that, it seems Jesus is telling us that the Sabbath is a time to recharge our batteries! The Sabbath is meant to benefit us.)


      3. Read Isaiah 58:13-14. Should the Sabbath be just like any other day? (No. Clearly, our normal routine should not be followed on Sabbath. If you treat it as any other work day, doing the tasks that you do all week, it is no longer a memorial in time. It is just another day. God calls us to a delightful Sabbath, where we turn away from our normal, everyday activities.)


    3. Friend, the Sabbath is a test of your allegiance to Jesus. Will you honor Him as the Creator of the universe and the Author of your salvation?


  4. NEXT WEEK: GOD'S RE-CREATION: THE EARTH MADE NEW

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