Lesson 7 November 9 - 15
The Sabbath and Health

Read For This Week's Study:  Matt. 12:8-14; Mark 1:21-27; Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-6.

Memory Text:  "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers" (3 John 2, NKJV).

Key Thought: The Sabbath contributes to our spiritual and physical health and enriches our family and church relationships.

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Sabbath Afternoon November 8

THE SABBATH MEMORIALIZES DIVINE HEALING.  In 1995, Florida Hospital was selected by the Disney Development Corporation to provide health-care services in their new city, Celebration, adjacent to Disney World in Orlando.  The city is to be a model healthy community.  During a planning session on the health facility, one of the architects asked, "Do Adventists have a biblical philosophy of health we could use in planning this facility?"  We concluded that our health principles are embedded in the environment of Eden.

The result was a report titled, "A Theme for Celebration Health," in which Dr. Ted Hamilton wrote:  "Created in the image of their Maker, men and women were designed for work and rest, fellowship and worship.  Adventists believe that optimum health is achieved today through celebration of these same fundamental life principles. "The new Florida Hospital at Celebration City has as its theme:  "The God who has the power to create all things also has the power and the desire to re-create, to heal, and to keep us well so that we may have abundant life."

The purpose of the Sabbath is to honor our Creator-Redeemer God, who provides spiritual and physical healing.

Sunday November 9
Ceasing From Work  (Gen. 2:1-3).

In the biblical account of the institution of the Sabbath, three elements are included in the description.  What is the first element?  Gen. 2:1, 2 (first part).

At the end of Creation week, God gave us a perfect example to follow.  And throughout history, the Sabbath has been God's gift for our spiritual enrichment.  But there are blessings beyond the spiritual that come to those who cease work as the sun sets on Friday afternoon.  Ceasing from work is an essential ingredient of good health.

Richard Exley suggests a reason:  "In our culture, work has become a god.  It is the pre-eminent factor in organizing human life and establishing personal identities.  It so dominates people's lives that there is little time for themselves or their families.  The Sabbath is God's answer.  It serves as a counterbalance, establishing the inalienable human right to rest.  It is designed to protect us from the dangers of physical exhaustion, psychological stress and the interpersonal alienation which result from idolization and over-identification with work."--Richard Exley, The Rhythm of Life (Tulsa, Okla.: Honor Books, 1987), p. 73.

The desire for more material comforts forces people to work excessively, which often results in sleep deficit, and too many people "are getting between 60 and 90 minutes less per night than they should for optimum health and performance."--Exley, p.11.

While not all cultures have yet gone this far in pursuit of material goods, the trend on all continents is clear.

The lack of rest especially impacts working mothers as they live lives of perpetual motion.  According to one author, sleep-deprived mothers talk about sleep the way a hungry person talks about food!  A Boston, Massachusetts study found that employed mothers average more than eighty hours of housework, child care, and employment per week.

For those in school, those at work, those rearing children, those in the military, those in retirement, those who are sick, and those who are well, our humanity links us all with a common need--the weekly Sabbath of rest to enrich our lives in every dimension.

If you live in a community that emphasizes the work ethic above the rest ethic, what principles does David offer?  Ps. 127:1, 2.

Ask yourself:  To what degree is my life driven by the desire for material comforts?  What steps can I take to prevent my family and myself from becoming victims of a cycle of "work and spend"?

Monday November 10
Elusive Rest (Josh. 1:13; Ps. 46:10).

What is the second element that describes the first Sabbath?  Gen. 2:2 (second part).

The first two elements noted in Genesis 2 should be two sides of one coin.  But that is not necessarily the way we experience it.  You can go home from work but take the workplace with you and fail to enter into rest.  The Sabbath is God's invitation both to quit work and to enter into rest.

Note how Hebrews 4:1-9 details the tragedy of Old Testament people who knew the gift of the Sabbath and the God of the Sabbath, but missed the goal of the Sabbath by failing to enter into His rest.

Without rest there can be fear.  The first result of sin in the hearts of Adam and Eve was fear.  They hid from God.  And fear continues to affect health negatively.

Stress is another recognized factor associated with physical and mental disorders.  In 1993, in a symposium of health futurists from around the world, participants predicted the diseases of the next decade.  They asserted that there would be a great increase in diseases of the immune system and behavioral-related diseases because of increased fear and the fracturing of families.  How reminiscent of the Bible's description of the end times!

Describe the effect on health of living in a fear-filled world.  What was Jesus' counsel to believers?  Luke 21:25, 26, 34.

Read Matthew 11:28, 29, and describe the ways in which your Sabbath keeping has involved Jesus' gift of rest.

How can we use the gift of the Sabbath to resolve the three major fears of life?

How may the Sabbath bring relief from stress problems?

Tuesday November 11
The Sabbath, Marriage, and Personal Health (Gen. 2:18-24).

What other institution dates back to Creation week?  Gen. 2:18-24.

The creation of the Sabbath and the creation of the institution of marriage were events closely linked in time.  On Friday of Creation Week, God formed Adam from clay and later Eve from Adam's side.  After a few fleeting hours filled with an escorted tour by Jesus of the garden home He had made for them, the sun set.  Thus, their first full day together was a Sabbath of rest, fellowship, and worship.

God later reiterated His desire to see the Sabbath and the family closely linked.  When it was the right time for Jesus to engrave in granite the great principles of life and righteousness and hand them to Moses at Sinai, our duty in our relationship with God and our duty in our relationship with human beings were placed together as commandments four and five.  But what about the health connection?

"Marriage, at least a good one, is good for health.  By the same token a troubled marriage or divorce may be physically harmful.  Married people live longer on an average than do those who are single.... In a study of more than 7,500 adults, epidemiologists, at Marade Davis ... found that single men between 45 and 54 are twice as likely to die in a period of ten years as were married men of the same age."--David Spiegel, M.D., Mind Body Medicine, p. 334.

How can Sabbath serve to strengthen our marriages and our families?  What answer to the question is implied in the Sabbath commandment?  Exod. 20:8-11.

One couple has found an interesting way to unite Sabbath and family life for the enrichment of their lives.  On Friday evening, they find a promise and commit it to memory as a source of strength for the coming week.  They choose the promise based on the challenges they expect to face during the week.  Throughout the Sabbath, they draw energy from the promise.  Then during the week, they write it each day at the top of their "To Do" lists.  Whenever the list is consulted, the verse continues to exert its power on their minds.  The most rewarding part of this helpful habit is that they daily discover that God can fulfill for them the promises of His Word.

Wednesday November 12
Sabbath and Sanctification (Exod. 31:13).

What is the relationship between the Sabbath and holiness?  Exod. 31:13.

True Sabbath observance fosters personal and communal holiness.  The Sabbath is a day for fellowship with God and with other believers.  As such, the Sabbath strengthens family life and church life.

This thought takes us back to the story of the Fall.  A symptom of sin was the erosion of the interpersonal relationship between Adam and Eve.  Blaming drove a wedge into the intimacy that they had once enjoyed.  Blaming God and blaming each other brought alienation and dissension.

At the close of the Last Supper, Jesus gave a new commandment.  According to that commandment, what is the greatest identifying sign of the remnant?  John 13:34, 35.

Sanctification (holiness) was the point of greatest contrast between Jesus' teaching and that of the Pharisees.  The Pharisees called themselves the "set-apart ones."  In their view, the farther you are from the sinful world, the closer you are to achieving holiness.  That is why they criticized Jesus for eating with sinners and accused Him of Sabbath breaking.  The Pharisees thought of themselves as the guardians of sanctity.  Sabbath was the day upon which they reigned supreme; their rules governed its observance.

In what practical ways can Sabbath serve to strengthen holiness in marriages, families, and the church?

"God has given such signs and symbols as the rainbow, circumcision, the Passover lamb, the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper, and baptism to help us conceptualize our relationship with Him.  Among these God-given symbols, the Sabbath occupies a unique place.  It is unique in its origin, as it is the first symbol of divine-human fellowship given to mankind.  It is unique in its survival because it has survived throughout history in spite of attempts to outlaw it.  It is unique in its function, because it serves as the symbol par excellence of the divine election and mission of God's people."  Samuele Bacchiocchi, These Times, June 1978, p. 10.

Thursday November 13
Removing the Thorns from the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6).

The benefits to be gained from entering into our Creator's rest are extolled by all those who prepare for and then experience genuine Sabbath observance.  Thus it is no surprise that after sin entered the world, one of Satan's most concerted attacks focused on the Sabbath.  If he could take this day of love and undermine it, he would be able to achieve in the spiritual realm what he had already achieved in the physical realm.  Just as a perfume-laden rose now carries thorns on its stem, Satan sought to place thorns on the stem of the Sabbath rose.  These "thorns" placed on the Sabbath came from well-meaning people who said they were acting to protect the sanctity of Sabbath.  But Jesus chose to challenge their approach to Sabbath keeping through healing miracles.

Before one Sabbath miracle, Jesus gave the reasons for His reformation of Sabbath keeping as practiced by the Pharisees.  Identify His two reasons.  Mark 2:27, 28.

The rules the Pharisees devised for Sabbath healing seemed to have the clearest logic.  They determined that if a person was in a life-threatening situation, it was appropriate to do the work of healing and save the life.  While they believed you could seek to prevent the loss of life, they opposed the promotion of healing.  In other words, if your hand or wrist were cut and bleeding, you could stop the bleeding, because it was a threat to life.  But you could not put salve on the wound to promote healing!

What is wrong with that logic, and why did Jesus choose to heal on the Sabbath?  Why did Jesus look on the Pharisees "with anger"?  (Mark 3:5, RSV).

Is healing "a necessary evil" in a world of sin?  Should we seek to limit Sabbath healing as far as possible, or is it consistent with good Sabbath observance?  Matt. 12:11, 12.

Jesus knew this was no small matter for the Pharisees and that it would be one of the primary reasons they would seek to kill Him.  Why did He choose to make Sabbath hearings such a confrontational issue?

Friday November 14

Further Study: What was involved in God's third act as He instituted the Sabbath?  Gen. 2:3.

"After resting upon the seventh day, God sanctified it, or set it apart, as a day of rest for man.  Following the example of the Creator, man was to rest upon this sacred day, that as he should look upon the heavens and the earth, he might reflect upon God's great work of creation; and that as he should behold the evidences of God's wisdom and goodness, his heart might be filled with love and reverence for his Maker." --Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 47.

God's original plan was that Sabbath observance should bring us together with Him and one another so that we might experience personal and community transformation.

We can think of the church as God's divinely appointed support group.  In recent years, the health benefits of social integration and support groups have been quantified.  In the Journal of Science a few years ago, James House observed that the relationship between social isolation and early death is as strong statistically as the relationship between dying and smoking or high levels of cholesterol.  From a statistical standpoint, the data suggests that it may be as important for your health to be socially integrated as it is to stop smoking or to reduce a high cholesterol level.


What is the purpose of Friday, the preparation day?

"The day before the Sabbath should be made a day of preparation, that everything may be in readiness for its sacred hours. In no case should our own business be allowed to encroach upon holy time.  God has directed that the sick and suffering be cared for; the labor required to make them comfortable is a work of mercy, and no violation of the Sabbath; but all unnecessary work should be avoided.  Many carelessly put off till the beginning of the Sabbath little things that might have been done on the day of preparation.  This should not be.  Work that is neglected until the beginning of the Sabbath should remain undone until it is past."--Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 296.

Summary:  God instituted the Sabbath by ceasing His work of Creation, resting, and setting this day apart for holy use.  As we follow His example, our spiritual, physical, and mental health are enhanced.  Our families and churches are enriched as unitedly we honor our Sovereign Creator.

A Soul-winning Team

Jeane Zachary

Ellen and John Lanes are a couple with a mission.  They use their individual skills and the gifts of hospitality to win others for Christ in the large city of Manado, on the East Indonesian island of Sulawesi (Celebes).

John is a bus driver in Manado.  As he guides his bus along his appointed route, he looks for ways to give his passengers more than just a safe ride to their destination.  He tries to guide them to a better life.  He serves many of the same customers several times a week, and John strikes up conversations, seeking to develop a friendship with them.

When a smoker boards his bus, John looks for ways to help the person see the danger of the habit.  He shares with his clients the latest scientific information regarding the health hazards of tobacco or alcohol.  As he tries to help those who have a problem with a harmful habit, he often can share his faith.  And if a person expresses an interest in spiritual things, John invites him or her to attend one of his Bible classes.

Ellen Lanes is a seamstress.  When a woman comes to her with sewing jobs, she sees more than a customer; she sees a friend.  Through repeated contacts with them, Ellen nurtures their friendship and invites them to attend one of her Bible-study groups.

The Lord has given John and Ellen Lanes the gifts of hospitality and teaching.  Every month they bring converts to the Lord.  Since John and Ellen began their outreach four years ago the Lord has given them 75 souls.

During The Quiet Hour's recent evangelistic thrust, 100 lay evangelists helped prepare interests for the evangelistic meetings, and more than 300 persons were brought to the Lord through this joint evangelistic effort.   Because persons brought to the Lord through group Bible studies are carefully nurtured, the dropout rate following baptism is very low.  This is the spirit of the work in East Indonesia.  It is little wonder that Manado has one of the highest per-capita Adventist memberships of any city in the world.

Jeane Zachary is a retired secretary.  She often accompanies and assists her husband, J. H. Zachary, international evangelism coordinator for The Quiet Hour, on major evangelistic efforts around the world.

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