Sabbath School Lesson for December 12-18, 2020

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The Sabbath contributes to our education about God by being a time to…

  • be astonished at His beautiful, creative handiwork in the natural world (Sunday)
  • rediscover what God can do and has done for us in the past (Monday)
  • examine our priorities in life (Tuesday)
  • find our spiritual balance and trust in Christ’s righteousness (Wednesday)
  • foster community as a means of getting closer to God (Thursday)


Our work, as we learned last week, is an important educational tool given to us for learning about God. But, providing an opportunity for rest from our labor is just as important.

The Sabbath, a designated time for rest, guarantees that those benefits we get from work lead to understanding and improving our relationship with our Maker. The blessing of the Sabbath is far more than the physical rest it offers us. When kept properly, it deepens our knowledge and faith in God.

Memory Text: “And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.’ “ Mark 2:27, 28 NKJV

This verse tells us that there is a connection between man and God. Calling Himself the Son of Man is appropriate here, because Jesus was human, as well as divine. He desires to get to know us, and the Sabbath hours are a bridge that makes a close relationship possible. God wants to be more than an acquaintance, He wants to be our best Friend.

Both God and man benefit from this closeness, as we’ll see from our study this week. Our education is missing something meaningful without the Sabbath, a  “timely” gift from God since the beginning.

Sunday: Time to Be Astonished

There are actually two harmonious creation stories told in Genesis:

  1. Chapter 1 is an account from God’s perspective, expressing His supreme delight in creating our planet in six glorious stages. From it we learn of God’s imaginative, powerful ability to speak this world into existence.
  2. Chapter 2 focuses on the sixth day, allowing us to see it from our perspective. The events there center on relationships. We are told to love and care for God’s bountiful creation.

Not surprisingly, the Sabbath is found in the very middle of these two accounts (Genesis 2:1-3). On that day, God and man are allowed the closest communication possible.

What that encounter must have been like before Adam and Eve sinned, we can only imagine. Walking and talking with God in person had to have been a thrilling experience. One we will share again in the earth made new, when sin no longer separates us from Him.

Bible Verses to Consider:

Genesis 1

  • Why do you think we are given this creation account that focuses so much on God’s creative handiwork?

Genesis 2:1-3

  • How is the Sabbath a bridge for us and God? Besides linking these two chapters, how does it connect us to God?

Genesis 2:4-25

  • What additional information do we get from Genesis 2?
  • Why is our relationship with God, as experienced on the seventh day, so helpful in helping us get through the rest of the week?

Monday: Time for Rediscovery

One of the ways God provided for the Israelites’ material needs as they traveled through the wilderness on their way to Canaan was by a mysterious substance found on the ground every morning. This substance was called manna, or “bread from heaven”.

They were told to gather twice as much manna on Friday, the sixth day of the week, and miraculously it kept over the Sabbath. This weekly reminder expressed God’s desire for them to rediscover the importance of their special time with God. They had lost touch with keeping the Sabbath after so many years in Egyptian slavery.

The experience of receiving manna, described in Exodus 16:14-29, can help us develop a deeper understanding of the Sabbath and what God’s character is like.

The Sabbath is designed for us to rediscover our identity and our need for a closer walk with God. We need it as much now, as they did in Moses’ time.

Bible Verses to Consider:

Exodus 16:16-17

  • What was God teaching the Israelites by specifying how much manna they would gather?

Exodus 16:22, 23, 28, 29 and Numbers 11:8

  • How much work was involved in making bread from the manna that had fallen on the ground?
  • How was being able to bake it on the sixth day important for their ability to keep the Sabbath?

Tuesday: Time for Learning Priorities

It was easy to see the times when Israel wandered away from God. It usually affected their Sabbath keeping. Often, the Sabbath was totally neglected. Work was carried on, regardless of God’s directive to pause their work and focus on Him. Or its emphasis was so centered on the physical aspects of worship rather than the spiritual, that they failed to connect with God in any real, meaningful way, even when they were attempting to keep the day holy.

Isaiah 58 points out the kind of worship and fasting that is pleasing to God. It is not focused on self, but on the wonderful, loving character of God. It manifests itself in works of kindness to those around us–“to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out” (Isaiah 58:7).

Seeing the needs of others and fulfilling them brings us closer to God more than anything else. By helping people, we show that we are doing more than “going through the motions” of worship, but that we actually value what God has done for us.

The Sabbath can become a “delight” and “honorable”, as Isaiah describes it (Isaiah 58:13), when we sincerely worship Him in our hearts and become committed to His cause, not ours.

Bible Verses to Consider:

Isaiah 58:3, 4

  • What was wrong with the way the Hebrews were fasting?

Isaiah 58:6, 7

  • What kind of “fast” does God prefer from His people?
  • How do works of kindness glorify God and bring us closer to Him?

Isaiah 58:10, 11

  • What does God promise to do when we do His works, rather than our own?

Wednesday: Time for Finding Balance

The Jews of Jesus’ time were quite unbalanced when it came to the law, especially the fourth commandment about the Sabbath. The rules they imposed on how people should keep the Sabbath became more important than why they kept the Sabbath.

As a matter of fact, the rules were so overreaching that most of the people forgot the purpose of the Sabbath entirely. It was hard enough learning all those rules. No time was left for learning about God, which was the reason the Sabbath commandment was given in the first place.

Matthew 12 and Luke 13 contain stories about how Jesus thought we should keep the Sabbath. Of course, He was criticized by the scribes and Pharisees for His behavior, but Jesus didn’t let that stop Him from doing good on His holy day. His refusal to abide by all their petty regulations tells us a lot about the character of God.

Truly, the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath, as Jesus told those who questioned His Sabbath keeping. God always has our good in mind. His practice of healing and blessing others on the Sabbath must not be forgotten, but rather, it should be imitated.

Bible Verses to Consider:

Matthew 12:1, 2, 5-8 and Psalm 51:16, 17

  • Why do you think Jesus saw no harm in how the disciples fed themselves on the Sabbath that day?
  • How does this story point to the authority of Jesus–something His critics had totally overlooked?
  • What kind of sacrifice is pleasing to God?

Luke 13:14-16 and Mark 2:27

  • What are some acceptable ways that we can lighten someone’s burden on the Sabbath?
  • How does doing good on the Sabbath bring us closer to God?
  • In what two ways can we find ourselves being unbalanced in our behavior and attitudes concerning the law?
  • How do you find yourself keeping the law–as too strict or too lenient? How do others see you, and why is that important?

Thursday: A Time for Community

As we read the book of Acts, we find that Christians met regularly in various places, learning from each other about Christ and His resurrection. The Sabbath provided the perfect opportunity to share the gospel in the synagogue, in their homes, or even out in nature (by a riverside–Acts 16:13).

They met, not just for prayer, but for preaching, teaching, and praising God through personal testimonies and singing. These communities of believers used the Sabbath to become closer to each other and to God.

We can’t overestimate the value of these community gatherings in establishing God’s Christian church as we find it today. The Sabbath School class, the worship service, and even shared meals later in the day, all add to the educational blessings that are meant for God’s followers–especially on Sabbath, His holy day.

Although many are missing the traditional bonds of Christian fellowship during the current pandemic that is raging across the world, God mercifully has allowed technology to fill in some of the gaps and keep our church families together in new and creative ways.

We can still be connected, and should be looking for every way possible to safely keep in touch with members who are missing the companionship of their Christian brothers and sisters.

Bible Verses to Consider:

Acts 11:26, 13:14-16, 16:13, 14, 18:4

  • Why is the Sabbath such a distinct opportunity for learning about God?
  • Why are community gatherings important to the church?
  • How can we continue gathering safely, even in times of peril or persecution?

Friday: Conclusion

The Sabbath may be the one critical piece needed for us to be fully educated as followers of God. It is a sign of Christ’s power to make us holy. All who through Christ desire to become part of spiritual Israel should pay attention to its significance.

Here’s how one author explained it…

“No other institution which was committed to the Jews tended so fully to distinguish them from surrounding nations as did the Sabbath. God designed that its observance should designate them as His worshipers. It was a token of their separation from idolatry, and their connection with the true God. But in order to keep the Sabbath holy, men must themselves be holy. Through faith they must become partakers of the righteousness of Christ. When the command was given to Israel, ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,’ the Lord said also to them, ‘Ye shall be holy men unto Me.’ Exodus 20:8; 22:31. Only thus could the Sabbath distinguish Israel as the worshipers of God.” ~Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages”, p. 283

It makes total sense that in order to come into God’s holy presence on the holy Sabbath day, we must not have UNCOVERED  sin in our lives. What an educational opportunity we are missing by not observing the Sabbath and identifying ourselves with God’s people!

Next Week: Sabbath: Heaven, Education, and Eternal Learning

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