Lesson 12:Sabbath and Redemption in Creation
September 11 - 17
Sabbath and Redemption in Creation
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Exod. 31:12, 13; 20:11; Gen. 2:2, 3.
MEMORY TEXT: "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth-to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people saying with a loud voice, 'Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water' " (Revelation 14:6, 7, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: Since the Fall, the Sabbath has taken on a new meaning for humanity. While it remains a memorial to God's original Creation, it now also represents a part of the plan of redemption. On the Sabbath we rest from our works and draw closer to the God who saves us.
ENTERING INTO GOD'S REST. Among the many teachings of the Bible that are important to Seventh-day Adventists, two have particularly generated much study and discussion: justification and sanctification. They are integral to our understanding of salvation; and they play a part in the new role that the Sabbath has assumed since the Fall. Justification has to do with the fact that Jesus' death has fully paid for our sins and provided us with eternal salvation. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime. It deals with God's gracious imparting of His Holy Spirit to dwell within us and continuously transform us more and more into His image.
How did God commemorate the completion of six days of creative activity? (Gen. 2:2, 3).
As Richard Davidson in his book A Love Song for the Sabbath has pointed out, God did not construct an elaborate shrine in some location as a memorial of His created work. Rather than a physical palace, God constructed a "palace in time."(Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1988), p. 27.
What are the three steps God took in constructing His "palace in time"? See Gen. 2:3, 4. What does it mean to "rest" on the Sabbath? Exod. 20:11.
1. __________________ 2. ____________________ 3. ________________
Scripture says God "does not grow faint or grow weary" (Isa. 40:28, RSV). Why then would He rest? The answer is given in Exodus 20:8-11, which suggests that God's rest was to set a pattern for us. Davidson directs our attention to the Hebrew words for rest in Exodus 20:11 and 31:17. The words are different, suggesting the author's attempt to give a broader understanding of rest. In 20:11 the word is nuach, which conveys the idea of tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose. In 31:17 the word is naphash, which suggests the idea of taking on new life, breathing freely, and being refreshed. Combined, these words for rest suggest much more than just a physical rest. Rather, they point toward a rejuvenation and refreshing that come from intimate fellowship with God. Adapted from Davidson, pp. 27, 28.
We know that the Sabbath day is holy. But what makes it so? It is important to realize that the Sabbath does not become holy because we "keep" it. As Abraham Heschel puts it, "Even when men forsake the Sabbath, its holiness remains."The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1951), p. 82. It is holy because God has made it so. The essence of its holiness is God's presence. Although He is present with us all week, the Sabbath is the day that God Himself has set aside for special fellowship with us.
|On the Sabbath God gives us many blessings but, most important, He gives us Himself. Have you experienced God giving Himself to you on the Sabbath? Explain. How have you responded in giving yourself to Him?|
How did the Fall affect the Sabbath relationship that God desires to have with His children? Isa. 59:2; Exod. 31:13; 33:19-23.
Because of the barrier of sin, God could no longer meet with humanity face to face on the Sabbath. The holiness of God is a consuming fire to sin, making it impossible for us to meet directly with our Creator.
What does God call His gift of the Sabbath? What special purpose does it serve in our relationship with Him? Exod. 31:12, 13; Ezek. 20:12, 20.
As a result of humanity's separation from God, our need for the Sabbath is greater than ever. "More than ever man needed a special time to fellowship with God and meditate upon His character and works. Though as sinners human beings could not endure the glory of open encounter with their Creator, God still called for them to come and meet with Him on the Sabbath."Davidson, p. 33.
As Ellen White explains it, "The Sabbath is a sign of Christ's power to make us holy."-The Desire of Ages, p. 288.
In what ways can the Sabbath "re-create" us and "make us holy"? Heb. 4:9-11.
"The Sabbath thus bears witness both to the creative and to the sanctifying power of God, and its observance is an acknowledgment of faith in His power to create and to re-create, or sanctify, individual lives. Moreover, "the 'rest' that remains (v. 9) is obviously the 'rest' into which the believing Christian of v. 10 enters. The word 'for' of v. 10 makes v. 10 contingent upon, and a conclusion drawn from, V. 9."The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, pp. 420, 423. That is, it is a rest from the works of sin and any attempt to earn salvation. This understanding of Hebrews 4:9 is supported by Ellen White who noted that the "rest" in this verse referred to the "rest of faith."Thoughts From the Mount of Blessings, p. 1.
|"By communing with God, we actually partake of His holiness ... and in that intimate relationship [we] become changed more and more into His likeness."Davidson, p. 89. What Sabbath activities can help you experience God's power to re-create and sanctify you?|
What will ultimately happen to us when we spend that special time with our Creator and Redeemer? 1 John 3:2; 4:17.
The separation from God that sin initially brought upon the human race will be reversed. In this life our sins prevent us from direct communion with our God. However, the time is coming when through God's grace that separation will be no more. For we will once again be able to see His face and commune with Him directly. The process that enables this glorious experience begins here and now through our daily communion with Him, especially when we experience His presence on the Sabbath.
What happens when the Spirit of God enters into our heart? Ezek. 11:19, 20; Ps. 51:10-12.
"When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. ... The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God."The Desire of Ages, p. 173.
In your own words describe what it truly means to experience the "presence of God." In what ways can we authentically experience the "presence of God" on the Sabbath in a way that will be a blessing to ourselves and others? Isa. 56:1-7; 58:13, 14.
Our tendency is to emphasize the turning away from our own pleasure (or business) on the Sabbath and we fail to grasp the importance of calling the Sabbath a "delight" (Isa. 58:13). The Hebrew word oneg can be translated "exquisite delight"-a word used elsewhere in the Old Testament only in connection with enjoying the pleasures of royalty. The fact that God has set up "royal" opportunities for intimate fellowship with us indicates how much He loves us and how important such communion is for our restoration. Only by beholding Him and delighting ourselves in His presence can we be transformed into His loving and loyal children and be prepared to see Him when He comes again.
|When it comes to your "royal" appointment with God on the Sabbath, do you focus more on your "duty" or more on your "delight" in fellowship with Him? Why?|
What role does the Sabbath and the doctrine of Creation play just before Jesus' return? Rev. 14:6, 7.
Satan, of course, is determined to do anything he can to disrupt our fellowship with our Creator and Redeemer. In modern times, one of his most effective means has been to cast doubt, not only on God's claim to be our Creator but even on whether God exists! No wonder, then, that in the first angel's message of Revelation 14, the world receives a special message to "Fear God and give glory to Him" and to "worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water" (NKJV). That this message is especially for our time is made clear in the text itself: "for the hour of His judgment has come" (verse 7). Seventh-day Adventists have understood this "hour of judgment" as a reference to the investigative judgment, which precedes Christ's second coming. It commenced on October 22, 1844, referred to in Daniel 8:14 as the "cleansing of the sanctuary."
Apparently when the Lord revealed to John this prophecy of Revelation 14, He knew that it was especially important to remind the world just prior to His second coming to "worship the Creator." Many Seventh-day Adventist scholars have found it to be more than a coincidence that at the very time the warning of the first angel was to be issued to the world, Darwin completed the expansion of his work on The Origin of Species. This work would offer the world an alternate explanation for the origin of life (see The Great Controversy, pp. 436-438).
What would have happened if humanity had kept the Sabbath as the Lord had intended?
"Had the Sabbath been universally kept, man's thoughts and affections would have been led to the Creator as the object of reverence and worship, and there would never have been an idolater, an atheist, or an infidel."The Great Controversy, p. 438.
Once Satan casts doubt on the idea that God is our Creator, or worse, doubt that He even exists, the essential connection with God (which the Sabbath provides) is destroyed, and we are left alone and hopeless in our sinful state.
|In these unsettling last days, how has the biblical teaching of the Sabbath helped you withstand Satan's subtle deceptions about Christ your Creator and Redeemer?|
What are some ways in which Satan attempts to break the believer's connection with God? 1 Tim. 6:20.
"To many, scientific research has become a curse. ... Many accept mere theories and speculations as scientific facts, and they think that God's word is to be tested by the teachings of 'science falsely so called.' 1 Timothy 6:20. The Creator and His works are beyond their comprehension; and because they cannot explain these by natural laws, Bible history is regarded as unreliable. Those who doubt the reliability of the records of the Old and New Testaments too often go a step further and doubt the existence of God and attribute infinite power to nature. Having let go their anchor, they are left to beat about upon the rocks of infidelity."The Great Controversy, p. 522.
What is the ultimate purpose of Satan's distracting deceptions, and how do we resist them? 1 Pet. 5:6-10.
"Satan well knows that all whom he can lead to neglect prayer and the searching of the Scriptures, will be overcome by his attacks. Therefore he invents every possible device to engross the mind."The Great Controversy, p. 519.
What is our best safeguard? Ps. 119:10, 11; James 4:7.
"Satan is well aware that the weakest soul who abides in Christ is more than a match for the hosts of darkness, and that, should he reveal himself openly, he would be met and resisted. ... Only in humble reliance upon God, and obedience to all His commandments, can we be secure.
"No man is safe for a day or an hour without prayer. Especially should we entreat the Lord for wisdom to understand His word. ... We should study the Bible with humility of heart, never losing sight of our dependence upon God."The Great Controversy, p. 530.
This is a remarkable and powerful statement to help in our spiritual warfare, for it contains all the ingredients of that special fellowship with our Creator and our Redeemer. Prayer, feeding on His Word, humble dependence upon Him, and obedience-all may be summed up in what it means to abide in Christ.
FURTHER STUDY: Read the following passages on the relationship of the Sabbath to nature: Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 47; The Desire of Ages, pp. 281, 282; Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 136, 137.
"Since the Sabbath is the memorial of creative power, it is the day above all others when we should acquaint ourselves with God through His works. In the minds of the children the very thought of the Sabbath should be bound up with the beauty of natural things. Happy is the family who can go to the place of worship on the Sabbath as Jesus and His disciples went to the synagogue-across the fields, along the shores of the lake, or through the groves. Happy the father and mother ... who can gather under the green trees, in the fresh, pure air, to study the word and to sing the praise of the Father above."Education, p. 251.
"We behold the image of God reflected, as in a mirror, in the works of nature and in His dealings with men; but then we shall see Him face to face, without a dimming veil between. We shall stand in His presence and behold the glory of His countenance."The Great Controversy, p. 677.
SUMMARY: One important purpose of the Sabbath since the Fall is to provide special fellowship with our Creator by which He makes us holy. Satan is especially determined to prevent people from participating in this communion, hence his attacks on the Sabbath, which reminds us that God is our Creator and Redeemer.
Passang Tsering (pah-song TSEH-ring) is a soft-spoken, 23-year-old student at Spicer Memorial College in Pune, India. He is one of several students from Tibet, "the roof of the world." Tibet lies north of India on the world's highest plateau.
Passang's mother died when he was quite young; his father raised cattle and farmed a small plot of land to feed his eight children.
When communists overran Tibet, Passang's father watched as soldiers mistreated the people. The family had never been rich, but now they were poor beyond imagination. He urged Passang and his two youngest daughters to flee to India.
The three young people followed secret routes through Nepal to India. They knew that if the soldiers caught them, they would be severely punished and imprisoned for trying to escape. The fortunate refugees rejoiced when they reached the Indian border. Passang fought tears as he said, "I have not seen my father since we left Tibet."
Passang completed his secondary education in a Tibetan children's village in northern India. He was given the choice of two schools to attend. He knew little about either school, but he remembers something told him to choose Spicer Memorial College.
The Adventist lifestyle at Spicer attracted Passang and other young Tibetan Buddhists studying there. Soon he will finish his studies and graduate. But he will take more than a degree in geography with him from Spicer. "I have learned to feel the presence of the Infinite [God) everywhere I go," he says.
His heart aches for the plight of his family who remain in Tibet. "Sometimes I feel as if I am alone in this world. It is hard to see others return to their homes during vacations, for we have no homes on this earth." But Passang has learned that he is not truly alone; he has a Brother, a Friend, who will never leave him and who has promised him a home forever.
His eyes fill with tears as he recalls his escape from Tibet. He dreams of returning to his homeland and teaching his people about God. "I believe God wants me to introduce my Saviour to my people," says Passang. He knows that if he returns to Tibet, he may never be able to leave. "God has made a difference in my life, I must share that knowledge with others and work to hasten His coming."
Manohar Karnard is an instructor at Spicer Memorial College in Pune, India.
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