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Sunday School Lesson – Sunday September 17, 2017 – Sabbath Observance

To follow along, visit your local Christian bookstore, and ask for the Bible Expositor and Illuminator

Time:  1445 B.C.  Place:  Mount Sinai

Golden Text:  “Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you” (Exodus 31:13).


The book of Exodus opens with the people of Israel having suffered as Egyptian slaves for centuries.  God heard their cries of distress and sent Moses to be their deliverer.  After witnessing ten devastating plagues on the Egyptians, Pharaoh finally lets the Israelites leave Egypt.  Encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai, Israel receives not only the Ten Commandments but also many other laws and regulations.  Soon after arriving at Mount Sinai, Moses ascended to the mountain.  There he talked with God and was given the Ten Commandments to instruct the Israelites, the people of God in how to worship and serve God.


Lesson Outline:  I.  Sabbath Regulation -Exodus 31:12-13

Exodus 31:12 – And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying.  A great deal of fine work God had ordered to be done about the tabernacle; the materials the people were to provide.  God nominates the persons that were to be employed.  Although this work was to be done, God gives a strict command for the sanctification of the Sabbath day.  The law of the Sabbath had been given them before any of law by the way of preparation.  It had been inserted into the body of the moral law, in the fourth commandment; it had been annexed to the judicial law.  Earlier in the book of Exodus the Lord had given what we call the Ten Commandments, one of those commandments related to the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week.

Exodus 31:13 – Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doeth sanctify you.  The Lord instructed Moses to speak unto the children of Israel informing them to keep His Sabbaths that they would be a sign between God and them throughout their generations. The law of the Sabbath, they were to keep it as a treasure, as a trust.  The reason of the Sabbaths; because God’s laws are not only backed by the highest authority but supported with the best reason.  The keeping of the Sabbath was not merely an outward action but the Sabbath was a sign of the covenant that God made with Moses.  Observing it was a weekly reminder that God had sanctified, or set apart the nation of Israel as His own people.  Just like the Israelites, God has set those who are true believers of Jesus Christ by submitting them to the written Word of God are the spiritual Jew (But he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God – Romans 2:29).  Believers are set apart, made holy, sanctified by God to be His people.  The Sabbath was meant to be observed by the Jewish nation continually.   The word “sanctify” is the term for making something holy, separating it for God’s use.  The point of God’s covenantal dealings is to create a people for Himself who learn and display His holy ways.  They belonged to Him and are to be devoted to His purposes.

Lesson Outline:  Sabbath Rejection – Exodus 31:14-16

Exodus 31:14 – Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.  The Lord reiterate “keep my Sabbath”, breaking the Sabbath was considered so serious that the death penalty would be given to those who broke the Sabbath.  The fact that a person rejected God’s Sabbath commandments was a reflection what was going on in their hearts.  Being in breach of the covenant relationship an Israelite was to have with the Lord was the reason for the command.  The Sabbath Day was a holy time for the Jewish nation, it was an important part of their relationship with God, therefore breaking it had severe consequences.  The sign of God ‘s Sabbath has a connection to sanctification and wasn’t to be a social gathering, it was a day of worship and rest from labor, it was a day to be different from any other day.

Exodus 31:15 – Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.  The Sabbath or day of rest was so important to God that He ordered that anyone who did any work on that day was to be put to death.  The Lord said that the observance of the Sabbath was a sign of the covenant between Him and the people of Israel.  They were to work six days but in the seventh day was a day of rest, holy to the Lord.

Exodus 31:16 – Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.  The Sabbath was to be observed as a “perpetual covenant” testifying that those who observed it was God’s covenant people.  The word “perpetual” means “everlasting”.  A Jew would defile or break the Sabbath commandment by working on it. Both the Jew and everyone in his household including the animals were not to work on the Sabbath; this covenant was for every generation of the Jewish nation forever.

Lesson Outline:  III.  Sabbath Rationale Exodus 31:17-18

Exodus 31:17 – It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.  The basis for working six days and resting one day is found in the Lord’s creation.” For in six days, the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. The Lord worked six days and rest on the seventh.  The word “refreshed” comes from the Hebrew word meaning to breathe. This doesn’t mean that God needed to rest, but He was placing forth an example of His creation should follow.  The Sabbath command was and still is an important part of Jewish life. It was a perpetual sign of the Mosaic covenant.  Sabbath observation is not a binding regulation for the new covenant, it is the only one of the Ten Commandments not repeated in the New Testament.

Exodus 31:18 – And he gave unto Moses, when he had made and end f communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.  After God finish communing with Moses on Mount Sinai, God gave Moses two tablets made of stone written with the hand of God.

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