Lesson – 3 The Sabbath and Worship

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Read for your study: Exod. 20:11, Deut. 5:15. Isa. 44:15–20, Matt. 11:28–30, Rom. 6:16–23.

Memory Text: “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:6-7).

Introduction: We have learned in the introduction of the first lesson that creation and redemption are central to the theme of worship. Revelation 14:6.7 clearly links these themes commanding us to worship the Creator who made the heavens and the earth. In the book of Revelation, God is on center stage as Creator of the universe. When we think of worship, we are reminded of the creation week and the seventh day Sabbath which the Lord had sanctified.

In John 1:1-3 we are told through whom God did work in the creation of all things, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.”  Isaiah 43:1 directly speaks of the Creator as Redeemer, “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” Thus, worship is linked to the themes of Creation, Redemption, and sanctification, which are revealed in the Sabbath, says the author. Let us dive into our study to learn more!

Creation and Redemption: The Foundation of Worship

Question: How central and important is the Sabbath to you and your worship of God? How do you think God would like to see the Sabbath observed?

God’s day of worship is very central to how we worship Him. Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”! Our Creator God starts off the fourth Commandment with the word “Remember.” This is because He knew it would be lost and forgotten. God asks that we keep the Sabbath set apart for Holy purposes so we can draw nearer to Him. The Fourth Commandment to remember the Sabbath helps define a proper relationship with God, how we are to love, worship and relate to Him. It explains why and when we need to take special time to draw closer to our Creator. It is also a special sign between us and God forever, that it is Him that sanctifies us; Him alone who we belong to and worship. The Sabbath, the Seventh day of the week was set apart by God as a time of rest and spiritual rejuvenation.

Within the Jewish economy, the question about the Sabbath revolves on the keeping of the Sabbath. How to keep the Sabbath properly was the main concern of the religious leaders. The question was not the “when” of the Sabbath but the “how” of the Sabbath. Thus, instead of Sabbath being a blessing to them was seen as a burden to them.

Question: Why is God worthy to receive our worship, praise and honour? He is worthy to receive our worship, praise and honour because He is the Creator. “Thou are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11.  Paul clearly link Christ in His role as Creator and Redeemer in Colossians 1:13-22.

Question: So why is this Commandment so frequently ignored, attacked and explained away by so many Christians? It is because the challenges to the Sabbath Commandment are views generated by the ‘ruler’ of this present evil world? After all, this being wants us to accept these views because he hates God’s law. He does all he can to influence us to ignore, avoid and reason our way around it. On our calendar the Sabbath begins at sunset Friday evening and ends at sunset Saturday evening. And this period of time is very crucial to a faithful Christian.

Those that keep the true Sabbath day say that it is a blessing and their favourite day of the week. The Sabbath is quality time with family and relaxing and fellowshipping with God and other Christians. Jesus said we are to not only obey the Ten Commandments but teach them also. God says we are to find this day a delight and a blessing. God did not say we should call it legalism or a burden!

Isaiah 58:13-14 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a DELIGHT, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shall honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shall you delight thyself in the LORD…”

Within the Christian church, many believe that the Sabbath principles, i.e., resting from our labors, spending time with God, are still applicable in our time. But “when” do you rest from your labor, when do you worship God, has become an individual prerogative. We call this principle “When-it-is-convenient-to-serve-God principle.” The overall principle within the Christian church when it comes to the Sabbath is—“I will choose my Sabbath.”

Remember Your Creator

Question: Why does the Sabbath commandment begins with the word remember? Is this evidence that God knows how forgetful we tend to be? When we begin with the creation the Sabbath is an ongoing, weekly reminder. Then, we come to the Exodus which is to remind us that God has freed us from the slavery of sin just as He freed the children of Israel from their slavery in Egypt. Next, we come to Passover weekend when Christ lay dead, resting in Joseph’s new tomb as a reminder of the Sabbath rest that He commanded in the beginning. And we are reminded of all that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ should mean to Christians. Further, Isaiah 66:23 tells us to look forward to when the Sabbath will be observed in God’s new headquarters on this earth as an ongoing memorial to all that the plan of salvation has cost, and what it means to all of us.

Question: What does it mean to “remember?” The Sabbath commandment begins with the word “Remember.” The word “remember” does not simply means putting into memory God’s commandments, or reciting the days of creation, or remembering God as the Creator of the world. The Sabbath commandment, though it begins with the word “remember,” does not depends its applicability to our lives, or to our time, on the basis of whether we remember it or not. The fact is that we forget! Thesaurus gives us some other words for the word “remember” : Consider, Think,  Believe.

Moses’ words to God’s people clearly define this point about the word “remember.”  Deuteronomy 11:18-21, “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.”

The Psalmist clearly tells us from where it all came. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made. . . . For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Ps. 33:6-9, NKJV).
Thus, Sabbath is a remembrance of God as Creator and His creation. The Sabbath is intended to be a memorial–a reminder–in an ongoing exercise regarding creation, sanctification, and redemption.

Freedom From Slavery – Genesis begins with the creation of the kingdom of God and the rebellion of man under Satan. The rest of the Bible tells how God restores the kingdom to Himself and brings man back into the position of kingdom glory that God originally designed for him. History is the story of God’s war against Satan. God defeats Satan and reconstructs His kingdom through Christ, bringing to pass His original purpose for the creation.

The Sabbath points not only to creation, an important theme of worship, but also to redemption. Deuteronomy 5:15 tells us, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day” (NIV).

God called Abraham out of Ur and led him to Canaan and promised to give that land to him. God led through the drought that Abraham experienced which caused him to go to Egypt. Then He led them out of Egypt by means of the plagues, the Passover, and the Exodus, and He established them in Canaan as a new nation at the crossroads of the world where they were expected to tell the gospel to all who came through their area. That should be plenty of evidence for us that God can not only create out of nothing but also He can restore even damaged goods.

 

Remember Your Sanctifier – In Exodus 31:13, The Good News Bible says, “Keep the Sabbath, my day of rest, because it is a sign between you and me for all time to come, to show that I, the Lord, have made you my own people.”

Question: What is the meaning of this verse?   The Hebrew word translated sign means “mark” or “evidence.” The Sabbath day is the mark God gave His people to identify them as His own. To sanctify is “to set apart for holy service,” or more basically, “to make holy.” God’s purpose for Israel from the start was to set it apart from other peoples by giving it His laws and His statutes.  Several points stand out in this passage:

1) The Sabbath is a sign of who the true God is.  The true God is the Creator.
2) The Sabbath is a sign of God’s people.
3) The Sabbath(s) belongs to God (verse 13). He designed the time as holy, not Moses or      any other man.
4) The Sabbath sanctifies.  It sets apart the man who keeps it by showing him to be distinct from the rest of the culture.
5) Sabbath-breaking incurs the death penalty.
6) The Sabbath is a perpetual covenant.

7) The Sabbath covenant is separate and distinct from the Old Covenant given at Mt. Sinai.  Not only did the events in this passage take place 40 days after the proposal and acceptance of the Old Covenant, but God re-revealed the Sabbath to the children of Israel (because they were in Egypt for so long they had forgotten it) right after they left Egypt and days before they arrived at Mt. Sinai.

The lesson of the manna, which demonstrated the difference in the days of the week (Exodus16), happened before the rest of the law was given via the Old Covenant.  Even though the Old Covenant—that specific agreement—has passed away, that does not mean that the eternal code of conduct on which the agreement was based has passed away.  Notice that idolatry and adultery are both still sin (and nobody considers those laws to be “Jewish”).

Question: What is the relationship between holy and sacred/sanctify?

To be holy or to be sanctified means to become one of God’s special people. This is much more than just being forgiven. Eventually, it will mean complete freedom from sin. As we read in Paul’s letter 2 Corinthians 5:17, we are to be joined to Christ and become new creatures.

 

Resting in Redemption The purpose of the Sabbath was for rest and worship. The Pharisees had made such an issue about law and legalism that the Sabbath was no longer about rest and worship. We should follow the guidelines of the Sabbath. We should observe a day of worship and rest. Jesus is the one who is worthy of worship and the one who grants the rest.

Hebrews 4:9-11 says, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” God is, He was, and will always be our Creator, Sanctifier, and Redeemer. Shouldn’t we look forward to a future of Sabbaths that will be marvelous times of spiritual rest and celebration? Sabbath keeps us, rather than we keep Sabbath – remember God’s rest – a day of salvation, lifting of the curse. So have joy in worship!

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