International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday December 6, 2015
Purpose: To affirm Sabbath as our opportunity to remember and strengthen our relationship with and worship of God
Bible Lesson: Exodus 20:8-11, Exodus 31:12-16
Background Scripture: Exodus 16:23; 20:8-11; 31:12-18; Leviticus 23:3-8; Deuteronomy 5:12-15; Matthew 12:1-14; Acts 13:42.
Key Verse Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. (Exodus 20:8)
Exodus 20:8-11 (CEB)
(8) Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. (9) Six days you may work and do all your tasks, (10) but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you. (11) Because the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Exodus 31:12-16 (CEB)
(12) The Lord said to Moses: (13) tell the Israelites: “Be sure to keep my Sabbaths, because the Sabbath is a sign between me and you in every generation so you will know that I am the Lord who makes you holy. (14) Keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who violates the Sabbath will be put to death. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath, that person will be cut off from the people. (15) Do your work for six days. But the seventh day is a Sabbath of complete rest that is holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day will be put to death. (16) The Israelites should keep the Sabbath. They should observe the Sabbath in every generation as a covenant for all time.
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Our text for this week’s lesson comes from the Ten Commandments. The first four of which are about our relationship with God and God’s character.
I guess the first question about the Sabbath is, “Did God need to rest?” I think there is a better way to think about God and His creation. Think of it as His creation was a temple, and on the seventh day He came to dwell in that temple He had created.
Which now means God is ruling from His residence. He has come to dwell with His creation. We see this thought in Revelation 3; I heard a loud voice from the throne say, "Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. The Sabbath represents God’s enthronement. Sabbath is also the time that celebrates God coming to live among mortals, so it is a time that celebrates the relationship between God and humankind.
The other misconception about the Sabbath is that it represents one day, but throughout the Old Testament it could mean many days and even a Sabbath year. A Sabbath is anytime we set aside and reflect on God’s creation, and all that He has done, especially now that He has made salvation available to us. Remembering the Sabbath is not an item on an appointment calendar. Remembering the Sabbath is like a mother that has given birth to a child. Although there was pain and agony and it was not always pleasant, she will never forget it. That is what God wants us to remember.
God wants us to take time to remember His work of creation and salvation. It is as important as circumcision in the covenant God made with Israel. The sentence of death for those that do not remember, reminds us of the importance, and our ignoring it will not change the sentence, only postpone it.
When we say we don’t need the Sabbath, we are saying we have become our own god. I think that is the message that Jesus taught in the New Testament “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” Isaiah 1:17 “learn to do good. Seek justice: help the oppressed; defend the orphan; plead for the widow". And Psalm 51:16-17 “You don’t want sacrifices. If I gave an entirely burned offering, you wouldn’t be pleased. 17 A broken spirit is my sacrifice, God. You won’t despise a heart, God, which is broken and crushed.”
The Sabbath is a day when we should concentrate on doing good and being obedient to God. 1 Samuel 15:22 says “Then Samuel replied, "Does the Lord want entirely burned offerings and sacrifices as much as obedience to the Lord? Listen to this: obeying is better than sacrificing, paying attention is better than fat from rams.” I think this is what Jesus was talking about to the Pharisee’s.
Remembering the Sabbath is not about keeping laws, it is about honoring God with our obedience, our prayers and our service.
My hymn for this week is “O How I Love Jesus.”