Lesson Info:

Lesson 11 Fall Quarter
Lesson Text:  Exodus 31:12-18
Golden Text:  Exodus 31:13

Listen to Today’s Lesson


Our lesson this week takes another look at obedience to the instructions for the Lord.  Our lesson this week will cause us to take another look at Sabbath; a topic we discussed earlier this quarter when we took a look at the Ten Commandments and a topic we discussed in our lesson about the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Sabbath Law

Every time I teach about the Sabbath, there are a few things I feel is required for me to make mention of.  The reason why I feel required to mention what I am about to mention is because there was, and still are, many misconceptions about Sabbath.

Firstly, Sabbath, we must understand, was never given to the church; it was given directly to the children of Israel to observe as we will see, again, in our lesson this week.  Now, some denominations within the Christian faith, will observe Sabbath but, again, it was never given directly to the Church.  The reason being is that Sabbath was essentially done away with through Christ and the giving of the Holy Spirit.

Sabbath, if you are unaware, is observed on the last day of the week – a Saturday.  For the church, we observe Sunday and some will say that Sabbath switched days but it never truly switched days.  The church observes Sunday as its holy day because on Saturday, Jesus had not been resurrected from the grave.  The day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles, was the first day of week which became the day the church observes as being holy.

The second point is a point that we are going to make in our lesson this week, and it boils down to labor on the day of Sabbath.  This is a topic that we have discussed quite a bit in recent weeks as we have talked about Sabbath quite a bit in recent weeks.  So, we will essentially be rehashing some of those points in our lesson this week.

Strict keeping of the Sabbath

Our lesson opens with God instructing Moses to speak to the children of Israel (v.12).  Moses was to tell the children of Israel to keep God’s Sabbaths as a sign between Him and Israel for all of their generations. (v.13).

+The reason all generations were to keep the Sabbaths, the Lord said, was so that they would know that He is the Lord and that He sanctifies (sets apart) them.  As it was for the holy feasts, the keeping of the Sabbath was both a way to honor the Lord and a way to train up children to know God as well.

This same idea holds true when it comes to our church services; through our worship services we honor the Lord through teaching, preaching, and praising God.  As a child, church was where I learned about the Lord through Sunday school, bible study, the choir singing, and the sermon preached.  Church services have been and still are a great place of fellowship for worshiping and growing in faith in the Lord.

Now, the children of Israel were supposed to be very strict when it came to keeping the Sabbath.  We will see the strict instructions for keeping the Sabbath as the day was to be holy to the children of Israel.  God instructed that those who profaned the day were to be put to death (v.14).  To profane:  to treat with abuse, irreverence, or contempt.

Honoring the Sabbath

So, when we say that something is holy, we are saying that it is divine and should be treated as being worthy to be exalted (glorified).  Surely, the children of Israel would recognize that the Lord was divine and worthy of being glorified.  The one who would think otherwise would be one to treat the Lord with irreverence, just as Cain did.  Cain, we will remember, gave an offering that did not please the Lord – it was profane (Gen. 4:3,5-7).

So, those who chose to treat Sabbath with irreverence were to be put to death.  Treating the Sabbath with any kind of dishonor was a death wish!  Even more to the strict keeping of Sabbath, God instructed that those who did any work on that day were to be ‘cut off’ from among the people (v.14).

The subject of working on the Sabbath has been one that we have discussed quite a bit in recent weeks.  The strictness of the day proved to be even more strict in the next verse where we will see that whoever did any work on the Sabbath was to surely be put to death (v.15).  This verse right here is the one that became a great point of discussion during the days of Jesus.

As I have referenced before, the Pharisees accused Jesus and the disciples of profaning the Sabbath by working on it.  For example, on one Sabbath, Jesus healed a man with a withered hand (Matt. 12:9-14; Luke 6:6-11).  The Pharisees asked Jesus whether or not it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath as they desired to be able to accuse Him of breaking the Law.

What was Jesus’ response to their question?  Jesus asked them a question in response, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?”  They remained silent with no response to His question because the answer was that they would help that one sheep.  To their silence, Jesus took the man’s withered hand and healed Him; they left the area in anger as they plotted more against Him.

On another occasion, Jesus and the disciples made their way through a grain field and as they went through the fields, some of the disciples plucked some grain to eat (Matt. 12:1-8).  The Pharisees accused the disciples of breaking the law of the Sabbath by plucking grains from the field.  To this, Jesus spoke of how David, when he was hungry, entered into the house of God and ate showbread which was not lawful for him to eat.  Jesus also spoke about how the priests, through their work in the temple. Profaned the Sabbath but were considered blameless.

So, work could be done on the Sabbath if it was work that honored the Lord or seemingly had to be done for health reasons.  Any other kind of labor that was not in service of the Lord or for one’s health, was the kind of labor that was frowned upon; it was the kind of labor that could lead to one being put to death.

Now, some try to carry the idea of no work being done on Sabbath over to Sundays.  Again, considering that we are not under Sabbath law, the idea of not working on Sabbath comes down to one’s own personal beliefs – there’s no law against it.  Personally, Sunday is probably my most busiest day of the year!

From teaching Sunday School, to preaching a sermon, to editing the sermon video, and then typing out the commentary for the next Sunday School lesson – I’m busy on Sundays!  Carry yourselves as you desire on Sundays; treat it with the honor that you desire to treat it with.

Between God and the children of Israel

Our lesson begins to close out with the Lord saying that the children of Israel were to keep the Sabbath, again, throughout their generations as a perpetual (everlasting) covenant (v.16).  A covenant is a promise and this promise was to be an everlasting promise, and if you notice, this promise was between God and the children of Israel.

Scripture specifically states that the everlasting covenant was a sign between God and the children of Israel forever (v.17).  Again, this is to point out that the Sabbath law is not for the church.  We live under grace as Christ was given to us; we worship the Lord anytime and any day we wish.

As Paul said in his letter to the Romans, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.  He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it (Rom. 12:5-6).”So, you and I should live our lives in a manner where we honor the Lord.  Again, our command from Christ is to love the Lord with our whole heart (Matt. 22:36-37).”  We must be genuine in our faith.


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