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“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
“You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.14 You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. 16 Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. 17 It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’”
At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
(And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27- This verse is included in Mark’s account of the grain story.)
9 He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10 And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.”13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider:
1. Examine the two Exodus passages. What was the purpose of the Sabbath for humans? (15) What did God mean by “labor” and “work”? (9-10, 14-15) What was the penalty for breaking the Sabbath? (14-15) What two things was the Sabbath to remind Israel of? (11,17; 13) How would remembering these two things lead the people to worship and honor God? Which word do verses 8, 11, and 14 use to characterize the Sabbath day itself? How would having a holy day of rest and worship, a reminder of God as Creator and that Israel was specially set apart by God, be a witness to the one true God to the pagan nations surrounding Israel?
2. Study the Matthew and Luke passages. Jesus was frequently called on the carpet by the Pharisees for “working” on the Sabbath. Most of the Old Testament verses regarding the Sabbath don’t specify what constitutes “work,” but a few do. The Pharisees had made many additional and burdensome rules about what constituted “work”- you could only walk a certain number of steps, you couldn’t drag a chair across a dirt floor (it would create a furrow, and that was plowing), etc. Considering the verses linked above and the Exodus passages, was Jesus really “working” on the Sabbath in the Matthew and Luke passages? Whose rules was Jesus breaking- man’s or God’s? What did Jesus say it was lawful to do on the Sabbath? (Matt. 12:12)
3. Review the purposes of the Sabbath in question 1. What did Jesus mean when He said the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath? (Mark 2:27) How might this idea relate to overextending yourself with church activities? How busy are your Sundays?
4. In the Matthew and Luke passages, Jesus gives two examples of how the Pharisees care for their animals on the Sabbath. What are those examples? What message was He trying to get across to them? Would you say the Pharisees cared more for rule-keeping or people? How might Jesus’ “breaking” of the Sabbath in such a public way have been a threat to the Pharisees power and position?
5. What does the Colossians passage tell us about the Old Testament feasts and the Sabbath? (17) If Christ is the fulfillment of these foreshadowings, must Christians still observe the Jewish Sabbath?
6. Which day of the week was the Old Testament Sabbath? (Ex. 31:15) Why? (Ex. 20:11) Which day of the week do Christians worship on? Why? Compare and contrast the Sabbath pointing to God as Creator and Christians’ Sunday worship pointing to Christ as Savior.
7. What components should characterize Christian worship, according to the Acts and Hebrews passages? What can we glean from God’s Old Testament instructions about the Sabbath about things like rest, worship, and holiness that still apply to our Christian worship today?
What does “not neglecting to meet together” mean? Why does God say it is important that we regularly meet together? What is the heart attitude of a “non-neglector”?
a) I love my church family, worship, serving, and being taught God’s word. Why would I want to miss all that?
b) I like church. I’ll go if nothing more important pops up. I’m there about half the time.
c) Church is OK. I go when I wake up on time and feel like it. That’s about once a month or so.
d) You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian, so I don’t really need it. Maybe on Christmas and Easter, but that’s about it.
Which of these most closely matches your heart attitude about attending church? Is your attitude about faithful church attendance pleasing to God?
If you were to keep a calendar of your church attendance, what would it look like? Are you at church each week unless Providentially hindered (emergencies, illness, etc.)?
- If you know your attendance could be better in God’s eyes, repent and commit to being at church every week. What are some practical, proactive steps you could take (setting an earlier alarm, laying your clothes out Saturday night, etc.) to set yourself up for success?
- If you are already faithful in your church attendance, are there any areas of service at your church that you could fill?
- Are you faithful in your church attendance, and overextending yourself in serving? Consider the importance God placed on the Sabbath being a day of rest. Do you need to cut back on the number of church activities you’re committed to?