Friday, December 4, 2015

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 6, 2015

Over 90,000 readers worldwide

(Keeping the Sabbath as a response to GOD’s holiness)
(Exodus 20:8-11 & 31:12-18)

  “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your GOD. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day HE rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy” (Exodus 20:8-11 – NLT).

   The fourth commandment of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), which is stated above, was put into place by GOD as a way of providing a solemn day of worship to HIMSELF as creator of the world we live in. Man was to schedule his work in six-day increments, and on the seventh day, he is commanded by GOD to rest from his weekly labors. However, this was not to be a day of lazing around in inactivity, but rather, it was to be a day of spiritual enrichment and refreshment, through paying homage to GOD, by way of religious observances, study, and praise. And to show how serious GOD is toward this commandment, HE placed a death sentence on any one who violated it.
    The “Sabbath Day” was also to be holy, or “set apart” from all other days as a reminder of how the Israelites were forced to work seven days while in slavery in Egypt, and over time, became disinterested in giving honor to GOD on any day of the week whatsoever. They, for the most part, were tired, and were being compelled and brainwashed by their oppressors to forget their GOD, the real GOD, and instead, began showing respect, reverence, and worship for the false gods of Egypt.   
    In the present “Church Age” most denominations observe the Sabbath on Sunday because of JESUS’ resurrection (New Testament), which occurred on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). However, Seventh Day Adventist for example still base their Sabbath on Saturday, which is based on GOD’s creating of the universe in six days, and then resting on the seventh day (Old Testament). Both perspectives are OK, and fall within the parameters of being obedient to GOD’s fourth command.
    The fourth commandment is the only one that is not repeated verbatim in the New Testament, even though the apostles themselves established Sunday, the first day of the week, as Sabbath of the Christian Church, and their day for worship services and observances. However, the idea of having six days of work and one day of rest was introduced by GOD HIMSELF following the creation (Genesis 2:2-3), and all mankind is commanded to refrain from working on the seventh day here in Exodus 20.
    Throughout Old Testament Scripture man is also reminded by GOD to respect the observance of the Sabbath Day law. The name “Sabbath” derives its origins from the Hebrew root word “shabath” (shaw-bath) which means “rest”. However, it not only suggests physical rest, but also an “inner rest” that restores man’s spirit by contemplating and meditating on the LORD and HIS goodness.
    In Exodus 31:12-18 we are reminded by GOD again to keep the Sabbath Day command, as the Lord there gave these instructions to Moses: 

“Tell the people of Israel: Be careful to keep MY Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between ME and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I AM the Lord, WHO makes you holy. You must keep the Sabbath day, for it is a holy day for you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the Lord. Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death. The people of Israel must keep the Sabbath day by observing it from generation to generation. This is a covenant obligation for all time. It is a permanent sign of MY covenant with the people of Israel. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day HE stopped working and was refreshed” (NLT).
    When the Lord finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, written by the finger of GOD. The Sabbath is a celebration and a reminder of Israel’s pledge of allegiance to GOD, and that GOD is Israel’s only GOD.
    And finally, there are three acts of GOD that are associated with the Sabbath;

·         Creation: The creation story.
·         Redemption: The Sabbath is a symbol of GOD’s covenant relationship with Israel that is rooted in HIS miraculous delivery of Israel from slavery in Egypt.
·         Covenant Ties: The Sabbath is a reminder of the bond between GOD and Israel which is in the law that was miraculously delivered the people through Moses.

Observing the Sabbath will always stand as an expression of our love and obedience to GOD. Today, because of our greed, bad financial decisions, envy of our neighbor, etc., it is one of most disrespected commands of all the Decalogue. Sin and irresponsibility in our lives causes us to have to work a tremendous amount of overtime to keep up with the unnecessary financial burden we put on ourselves to satisfy our greed, and to keep up with the Joneses.
    GOD established the Sabbath for us to stop our daily routine and recognize HIM as the source of all of our blessings and strength. The Sabbath Day concept precedes the origins of the Jews, and therefore, must be respected by anyone, Jew or Gentile, who chooses to worship and follow the GOD, WHO created all things. And so, to ignore the Sabbath amounts to ignoring GOD HIMSELF, WHO created the Sabbath, both, for HIM, and for the good of all mankind.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

No comments: