covenant study 09: the sabbath

The law said that the Sabbath Day is to be kept holy, and that on it no work is to be done. This was taken very seriously. The Pharisees and other teachers of the scriptures emphasized that to “carry a burden” was considered work. To avoid misunderstandings, they were very specific about what a burden was. A burden was food equal in weight to a dried fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one swallow, honey enough to put upon a wound, etc, etc, etc.

Thought Questions:

  1. With such strict restrictions on Sabbath observance, you can imagine the many hours people during Jesus’ time spent arguing about what a neighbor should or should not have done on the Sabbath day. In what ways are we stuck in similar legalistic ruts today? What are the dangers of being legalistic? Does this mean that we should dismiss church standards that are not completely biblical? Explain.
  2. Teaching is false if it produces a religion which consists solely or mainly in the observance of externals”—William Barclay. How is it easy to confuse religion with religious practices? What are the dangers of doing this? Is there a danger of the Seventh-day Adventist Church falling into such a trap? Explain.
  3. In the ancient days, there was probably no other group of people that was hated as much as the Jews. Their separatism, isolation, and contempt of others only gained them hostility. Their observance of the Sabbath gained them a reputation for laziness. From our observance of the Sabbath, does the world see us as law-abiders or as God-lovers? What is the difference?

Application Questions:

  1. If you could be a good Christian just by doing things like keeping the Sabbath, it would be a much easier religion than it really is. Consider your Sabbath-keeping practices. Does it focus on what you can and cannot do? Or does it focus on strengthening your relationship with your Savior?
  2. The new covenant is an agreement between God and you that is based on an existing intimate relationship. The Sabbath is quality time you spend with God. Obviously then, Sabbath-keeping has a direct relation to one’s covenant relationship. Keeping this in mind, how do you think we, as the remnant church, can restore the sanctity and joy of the Sabbath into both individual and corporate lifestyles?
  3. Using the Sabbath as the barometer, check to see if your religion is based on rituals or on a relationship. Study Jesus’ Sabbath activities. How did they reflect His relationship with His Father? What specific changes do you think you need to make in your Sabbath-keeping practices?
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