2017-09-13 / Religion

Keep the sabbath day holy

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 31:12-18; Isaiah 56:1-8

The Laws given by our Heavenly Father — the creator of the universe — are established for the benefit of our spiritually lost human race. It is easy for sinful mankind to see these laws as restrictions to the selfish desires that are controlled by our inborn sin nature. The words declared by the prophet are eternal— “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (future).” Jeremiah 29:11.

At the time of the creation of life on our planet — as we know it — we are told that “on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:2, 3.

When the freed children of Israel left the land of Egypt, they were led to Mount Sinai. At that location, they set up a camp at the base of this mountain. This is the place of the giving of the Ten Commandments — along with many other laws. These Ten Commandments were — and are — the moral laws that were to guide the lives of this Chosen Nation. Of this group of laws, eight were “thou shalt not.” Law Number Four declared, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:9. An explanation was given for the origin of this law. The Hebrew word, “remember,” means “to mark, to mention, to call to mind.”

The word, “sabbath,” is first used in Scripture at the time of the giving of manna in the wilderness. The rules for gathering this supernatural food were explicit. “And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man, and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord, bake that which ye will bake today, and see the that which ye will see the, and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.” Exodus 16:22, 23

While Moses was 40 days in the mount — receiving the second copy of the laws — he was given instructions for the people regarding details for the application of these laws to their daily lives. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou 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 doth sanctify you. 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.” Exodus 31:12-14. The sabbath, itself, became a covenant for the nation — “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” Exodus 31:16.

History is not clear regarding the exact time when the Jews began to consider the day known as Saturday to be the sabbath. At some point, scholars began to assume that the original word, sabbath, came from the numerical system — seven. However, the meaning is tied to the cessation of activity. As one studies the New Testament, the Greek word used to translate this term, again, carries the thought of cessation of work.

As Jehovah continued to give specific instruction to Moses, He said of the sabbath, “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever, for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” Exodus 31:17. Following this teaching, the record tells us, “And he (God) gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” Exodus 31:18.

At some point the religious leaders began to develop “fence laws” to prevent people from breaking the original commandments. During the time between the Testaments, these “fence laws” took on the authority of the original divine declarations. This attitude was the basis of many disputes between Jesus Christ of Nazareth and the religious leaders of his day.

The curse that is associated with breaking of the sabbath did not end the divine declarations regarding this time of rest. During a very difficult time in the history of the nation of Judah, God gave words of assurance to the faithful members of that group. “Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice, for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it, that (1) keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and (2) keepeth his hand from doing evil.” Isaiah 56:1, 2. At that time, not many people were showing any personal regard for the divine directives. The individual acceptance or rejection of these commands does not change the eternal plan.

When Jesus Christ came into the world, He declared, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets, I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17. He told His critics, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath, Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” Mark 2:27, 28. These detractors had much to say regarding the healings that were performed on the sabbath. Their criticism did not change the plan nor the purpose of our Heavenly Father.

Have you accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life? If not, please do so today. John 3:16.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: jctjet@aol.com.

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