Sabbath School Lesson for May 22-28, 2021

Teresa’s YouTube channel about the Lesson:

Overview for Lesson 9

To learn about the Sabbath as a covenant sign, we must find out…

  • when it started (Sunday and Monday)
  • why it started (Tuesday and Wednesday)
  • how it is to be kept (Thursday)

We’ve studied about the rainbow being a sign for Noah and his family after the Flood, to remind them that there would never be worldwide destruction by water again. And also the sign of circumcision for Abraham’s household, a reminder that there would be a Son of Promise born through Abraham’s bloodline. These were signs needed for a specific time and purpose.

This week, however, another sign is examined. This one is said to be a perpetual sign of the covenant. We will discover that this sign is everlasting and inclusive, reminding all people for all time that God is our Creator.

Memory Text: “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” Exodus 31:16

Linking the Sabbath with the covenant is an important concept. The purpose of the covenant is to enhance our relationship with God, and nothing has the power to bring us closer to God than resting with Him on the day He made holy.

The seventh day is said to be a sanctuary in time. A time when God’s presence can be felt more intensely than at any other time during the week. Just as the earthly sanctuary built in the wilderness was a special place for God’s presence, the Sabbath is a day for us to feel God’s presence in a special way too.

Our busy lives demand a rest time, and resting one day out of seven has proven to be most effective for mankind to achieve the purpose of getting enough physical rest, so we can work at our optimal level the other six days. Besides the physical rest, however, the spiritual benefits must not be overlooked. This quality time with God, when observed correctly, can be most uplifting and will result in a renewed mental, emotional, and spiritual outlook.

Sunday: Origins

The seventh day of rest is most often associated with Jewish people. They have been the ones keeping it, or attempting to keep it, especially since Sinai, when God re-introduced them to its sanctity. We can thankfully know which day is the seventh day by their observance on Saturday. Their meticulous Sabbath rest has been continuous throughout generations now.

However, careful reading of Scripture informs us that the holiness of the seventh day goes all the way back to Creation week. Genesis 2:1-3 says that God did three things after Creation was complete: He rested, He blessed and sanctified, or made that day holy.

Since the Messiah is intricately linked with Creation (John 1:1-3), the Sabbath is also a day for connecting with our Savior. It should be the high point of our week–a day for spending quality time with our Maker and our Redeemer. It’s a celebration of Creation and re-Creation.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Genesis 2:2, 3 and Exodus 20:11

  • What three actions were taken by God on the seventh day of Creation week?
  • Why is there more to resting on the Sabbath than just physical rest?

Mark 2:27

  • Who benefits from Sabbath rest, and why is that important to remember?
  • In what way might God be blessed by the Sabbath, as He rested on that day as well?

Monday: Sabbath Before Sinai

Exodus 16, the story of the manna in the wilderness, took place before the giving of the Ten Commandment Law on Mt. Sinai. But it was evident from the manna experience that God was intentional about their Sabbath-keeping.

Many of the multitude leaving Egypt had either lost the significance of the Sabbath, being forced to work seven days a week during slavery, or they were ignorant of Sabbath observance entirely, having no family ties with the Hebrew people. God knew they would need special instruction on an elementary level, and He gave it to them in a very concrete way through His gift to them of the manna.

In John 6:31-33, Jesus clarified the symbolic nature of the manna they received. He verified that it came from God, the One who gives us life. He even called Himself “the bread of life” in John 6:35.

So, the manna falling with a double portion on the sixth day, and not falling on the seventh, in addition to the preservation of the manna for the Sabbath only, was a stark illustration of their need for a special rest with God on the seventh day.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Exodus 16:23

  • Why were their instructions about the manna so particular?
  • How particular is God when it comes to our Sabbath observance today?

John 6:31-35

  • How is Jesus involved with the Sabbath commandment and their experience with manna?

Tuesday: Covenant Sign

The Sabbath is spoken of as a sign four times in the Bible–Exodus 31:13, 17 and Ezekiel 20:12, 20. A sign is an indicator or marker for something concrete and specific. God used the seventh day to mark His Creation, indicating that His followers are to rest with Him on that day.

Linking the Sabbath with His covenant brings symbolic meaning to the day. It is a time for us to rest from our own labors and see the grace of God more fully. This is what draws us closer to Him which is what the covenant is designed to do.

This gift of holy time gives us the opportunity to grow our spiritual relationship with our Creator and Savior. By not focusing on our own labors on that day, we can devote ourselves to seeing the works of God all around us. Whether that be in some beautiful natural surrounding (representing Creation), or in ministry to others as He touches hearts with His love and opens minds to divine truths (representing our re-Creation).

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Exodus 31:13, 17 and Ezekiel 20:12, 20

  • Why would we consider the Sabbath a sign, but not a symbol–even though it does have symbolic meaning?

Hebrews 4:1-4

  • What symbolism can you see in the Sabbath? What kind of rest does the Sabbath provide?

Wednesday: Sign of Sanctification

Exodus 31:13 reveals some interesting features of the Sabbath. It says that it is a sign between God and His people. And the reason for it is…

  1. that we may “know” Him, and
  2. that we may be sanctified through that knowledge

First of all, think about what it means to “know” God. The Bible uses this word to indicate knowledge on a very deep, intimate level. Married people are said to “know” each other, using the word in reference to one of our closest relationships on earth.

Many expressions are used in Scripture to show us what it is to “know” God. It means to “serve” Him (1 Chronicles 28:9), to “fear” Him (Isaiah 11:2), to “believe” Him (Isaiah 43:10), to “trust” and “seek” Him (Psalm 9:10), and to “call on His name” (Jeremiah 10:25).

The progressive knowledge we gain through keeping the Sabbath leads to our sanctification. By spending time with a holy God, His righteousness becomes evident in the renewed way we live our lives on the six days left for our own labors. We are transformed into a healthier image of God by the close association with Him made possible on the Sabbath.

The holy day spent with a holy God gradually makes us holy, making the Sabbath a sign of our sanctification.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Exodus 31:13

  • How does knowing God transform us?
  • How does the Sabbath contribute to our sanctification?

Leviticus 20:8 and Deuteronomy 7:6

  • What does it mean to be holy, and why is it important to God to have a people who are holy?

Thursday: Remembering the Sabbath

Hebrew literature often features the most important piece of information in the center of a passage. In the center of the Ten Commandments, we find the Sabbath injunction, making it a significant part of God’s Law.

Only two of these ten Commandments begin with something besides “Thou shalt not”. Honoring our parents, who in a sense gave us life, ideally leads to honoring God, our heavenly Parent. And remembering the Sabbath also should lead to more honor to our Creator, the one who brought our earth to life.

Telling us to “remember” naturally draws us to thinking about something in the past. In this case, the Creation of the world and our first parents, Adam and Eve. Telling us to keep it holy, however, also makes the Sabbath something we do now, in the present. And, naturally, our Sabbath observance speaks to our glorious future with the Lord in heaven, where, as Isaiah points out, “all flesh shall come to worship before” Him (Isaiah 66:23).

Whatever we can do on the Sabbath to strengthen our relationship with God will enhance our keeping this commandment. Refraining from our own work is the best way to focus on the work of God in creating and redeeming us. He is indeed the Creator of the universe and the Creator of our salvation.

Knowing that God’s saints are those who “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12) should encourage us to do all we can to make the holy Sabbath the most joyful day of the week.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Exodus 20:8 and Leviticus 26:2

  • Why is the Sabbath, in addition to the sanctuary, something that is holy? What makes it holy?

Deuteronomy 5:14

  • Why should others in the household be given permission and even encouraged to rest as well?

Genesis 18:19

  • What does it mean to “command” those in our family and households?
  • How can we, like God, protect freedom of choice and still encourage obedience?

Friday: Final Thoughts

The Sabbath served two purposes for Israel:

  1. It was a sign that they may know God, who sanctified them (Exodus 31:13).
  2. It was also given that other nations would know Him (Ezekiel 37:28).

The Sabbath was a sign, therefore of their knowledge and their sanctification. It was meant for their inward spiritual growth, but also for their outward witness to others. We are not only encouraged to forget our own worries and focus on God’s solution, but to think about the needs and problems of others and let God use us to be a solution for them. Jesus reminded us of this by supporting doing good on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:12).

When this is our intentional goal as we keep the Sabbath, we discover that the blessings we find during that holy time will flow over to the rest of the week. God’s presence must be encouraged every day, through prayer and Bible study. Just as manna fell every weekday, there are blessings for us any time we make time for God.

When this happens, we are more likely to find the Sabbath a delight, rather than a chore or burden (Isaiah 58:13, 14). It will be like icing on the cake.

Next Week: Sabbath: The New Covenant

To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to