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Rest in Christ
Sabbath School Lesson Begins
Bible Study Guide - 3rd Quarter 2021

Rest in Christ

Rest for the Restless

The flight had been uneventful until the moment the captain announced from the flight deck that the plane would have to cross a major storm. “Please tighten your seat belts. We will be in for quite a ride,” the voice from the cockpit said in ending the announcement.

Soon after, the plane began to shake violently as it fought its way through the storm. Overhead bins opened; people sat tense in their seats. After a particularly violent shudder of the plane, someone shrieked in the back of the plane. Images of a wing breaking off and the plane careening to the earth flashed through a few minds. All passengers looked tense and fearful. All, except a little girl seated in the front row of economy. She was busy drawing a picture on the open tray table before her. Now and again she would look out the small window at a particularly impressive lightning strike, but then she would calmly resume her drawing.

After what seemed half an eternity, the plane finally landed at its destination. Passengers cheered and clapped, so grateful and relieved to be back on the ground. The little girl had packed her bag and was waiting for people to leave the plane when one of the travelers asked her if she hadn’t been afraid. How could she be that calm during such a major storm and with the plane shaking so much?

“I wasn’t scared,” the little girl said to the surprised man. “My dad is the pilot, and I knew he was taking me home.”

Restlessness and fear often go hand in hand. Living in a world that keeps most people busy 24/7 can result in restlessness and fear in our lives. Who doesn’t, at times, struggle with fear, with worry, with dread of what the future holds? The past is done, the present is now, but the future is full of questions, and in this unstable world the answers might not be what we want to hear. We wonder if we will be able to make a looming deadline, to cover the next rent or school payment, to make our struggling marriages survive another storm. We wonder if God can continue to love us, even though we “disappoint” Him again and again.

In this quarter, we will tackle some of those fears head on. Rest in Christ is not just a title for a study guide or a captivating logo of an evangelistic campaign or camp meeting. Resting in Christ is the key to the promise of the type of life that Jesus promises to His followers: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, NKJV).

As the authors worked on this study guide, they suddenly realized the all-pervasiveness of the concept of rest in the texture of biblical theology. Rest connects to salvation, to grace, to creation, to the Sabbath, to our understanding of the state of the dead, to the soon coming of Jesus — and to so much more.

When Jesus invited us to come and find rest in Him (Matt. 11:28), He addressed not only His disciples or the early Christian church. He saw future generations of sin-sick, weary, worn-out, struggling human beings who needed access to the source of rest. As you study the weekly lessons during this quarter, remember to come, and rest in Him. After all, our heavenly Father is in control and is ready to bring us home safely.

Chantal and Gerald Klingbeil enjoy a cross-cultural marriage and working as a team. Chantal, an associate director of the Ellen G. White Estate, hails from South Africa, while Gerald, an associate editor of Adventist Review Ministries and research professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Andrews University, was born and raised in Germany.

Lesson 1 June 26-July 2

Living in a 24/7 Society

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Gen. 2:1-3, Jer. 45:1-5, Exod. 20:11, 2 Sam. 7:12, Mark 6:30-32, Gen. 4:1-17.

Memory Text: “My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Ps. 84:2, NKJV).

Tick, tock; tick, tock; tick, tock. The clock ticked steadily and mercilessly. Only two hours before Sabbath would begin. Mary sighed as she surveyed the small apartment. The kids’ toys were still lying all around the living room; the kitchen was a mess; Sarah, their youngest, lay in bed with a fever; and tomorrow she had agreed to serve as a greeter in their church, which meant that they had to leave home 30 minutes before the normal time. I wish I could find some quietness tomorrow, Mary thought wistfully.

At the same time, on the other side of town, Josh, Mary’s husband, was standing in line to pay for their weekly groceries. Traffic had again been a nightmare. The checkout lines were long. Everyone seemed to do their shopping right at this moment. I need some rest, I can’t go on like this, Josh groaned inwardly. There must be more to this life.

Our lives are governed by rush hours, work hours, medical appointments, virtual conversations, shopping, and school functions. Whether we use public transport, ride a small scooter, or steer a minivan to ferry around our families, the drumbeat of constant engagement with the world around us threatens to drown out what’s really important.

How do we find rest amid so much hustle and bustle?

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, July 3.

Sunday ↥         June 27

Worn and Weary

Read Genesis 2:1-3. Why would God create a rest day before anyone was even tired?

Even before humanity would dash off on our self-imposed stressful lives, God established a marker, a living way to jog our memory. This day would be a time to stop and deliberately enjoy life; a day to be and not to do, a day to especially celebrate the gift of grass, air, wildlife, water, people, and, most of all, the Creator of every good gift.

This was no one-time invitation that expired with the exile from Eden. God wanted to make sure that the invitation could stand the test of time, and so right from the beginning He knit the Sabbath rest into the very fabric of time. There would always be the invitation, again and again, to a restful celebration of Creation every seventh day.

One would think that with all our labor-saving devices that we should be less physically tired than people were two hundred years ago. But, actually, rest seems to be in short supply even today. Even the moments when we aren’t working are spent in frantic activity. It always seems that we are somehow behind; no matter how much we manage to get done, there is always more to do.

Research shows, too, that we are getting less sleep, and many people are highly dependent on caffeine to keep going. Though we have faster cell phones, faster computers, faster internet connections, we still never seem to have enough time.

What do the following texts teach about why our having rest is important? Mark 6:31, Psalm 4:8, Exodus 23:12, Deuteronomy 5:14, and Matthew 11:28.

The God who created us knew that we would need physical rest. He built cycles into time — night, and Sabbath — to offer us a chance of physical rest. Acknowledging Jesus as the Lord of our lives also involves taking seriously our responsibility to make time to rest. After all, the Sabbath commandment isn’t merely a suggestion. It is a commandment!

What about your own harried existence? What can you do to better experience, both physically and spiritually, the rest that God wants us to have?

Monday ↥         June 28

Running on Empty

Lack of sleep and exhaustion due to physical overexertion are real problems. More troubling, however, is when we feel that we are running on “emotional empty.” And, of course, when lack of sleep is added to emotional trials, we can become painfully discouraged.

Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe, must have felt like that often during the last turbulent years of Jerusalem, prior to the chaos, suffering, and havoc that would follow the city’s destruction by the Babylonians.

Read Jeremiah 45:1-5. Write a quick diagnosis of Baruch’s emotional health.

Can you imagine what it would feel like if God would send a custom-made message to you personally? Baruch received a message straight from God’s throne room (Jer. 45:2). We are told that this happened “in the fourth year of Jehoiakim of Judah,” about 605 or 604 B.C. Jeremiah 45:3 represents a good summary of how people feel when they are running on empty.

From all that we know from Scripture about this period, it’s clear that Baruch’s complaints were not superficial wails. He had good reasons to feel discouraged and emotionally worn out. A lot of bad things were happening, and more were to come.

How does God respond to Baruch’s aches and pains? Read Jeremiah 45:4, 5.

God’s response to Baruch’s real pain reminds us of the fact that God’s despair and pain must have been exponentially so much bigger than Baruch’s. He had built Jerusalem; He was about to tear it down; He had planted Israel as a vineyard (Isa. 5:1-7); He was about to uproot it and carry it into exile. This was not what the Lord had wanted for His people, but it had to come because of their rebellion against Him.

But there was light at the end of the tunnel for Baruch. God would preserve Baruch’s life — even in the midst of destruction, exile, and loss.

Read again the words of God directed to Baruch. What general message can we take from them for ourselves? That is, what does it say about God ultimately being there for us, regardless of our situation?

Tuesday ↥         June 29

Defining Rest in the Old Testament

Certainly, we all need rest, which is why it’s a theme found all through the Bible. Though God created us for activity, that activity is to be punctuated by rest.

The Hebrew Old Testament, for instance, includes a number of terms denoting rest. The description of God’s resting on the newly created seventh day in Genesis 2:2, 3 uses the verb shabbat, “to cease work, to rest, to take a holiday,” which is the verbal form of the noun “Sabbath.” The same verb is used in Exodus 5:5 in a causative form and translated as “making someone rest” from their work. Angry pharaoh accuses Moses of “making them rest” from their labor.

The reference to God’s resting activity on the seventh-day Sabbath in the fourth commandment is expressed by the Hebrew verbal form nuakh (Exod. 20:11, Deut. 5:14). The verb is translated as “rest” in Job 3:13 or, more figuratively, “settled,” referencing the ark of the covenant in Numbers 10:36. Second Kings 2:15 notes that Elijah’s spirit “rested” on Elisha.

Another important verbal form is shaqat, “be at rest, grant relief, be quiet.” It is used in Joshua 11:23, where it describes the rest of the land from war after Joshua’s initial conquest. The term often appears to indicate “peace” in the books of Joshua and Judges.

The verb raga‘ is also used to indicate rest. In the warnings against disobedience in Deuteronomy, God tells Israel that they won’t find rest in exile (Deut. 28:65). The same verb appears also in a causative form in Jeremiah 50:34, describing the Lord’s ability to provide rest.

Read Deuteronomy 31:16 and 2 Samuel 7:12. What kind of rest is being talked about here?

Both verses use an idiomatic expression from the verb shakab, which literally means “to lie down, sleep.” In God’s covenant with David, God promises the future king of Israel that “when your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you” (2 Sam. 7:12, NKJV).

The long (and here incomplete) list of different Hebrew verbs denoting rest helps us to understand that the theological concept of rest is not connected to one or two particular words. We rest individually and collectively. Rest affects us physically, socially, and emotionally and is not limited to the Sabbath alone.

Death is certainly an enemy and will one day be abolished. And however much we mourn and miss our dead, why is it comforting to know that, at least for now, they are at rest?

Wednesday ↥         June 30

Rest in the New Testament

A verbal form for rest often found in the New Testament is anapauo, “rest, relax, refresh.” It is used in one of Jesus’ most famous statements on rest, Matthew 11:28: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (NKJV). It can refer to physical rest (Matt. 26:45). In the final greetings to the Corinthians, Paul expresses his joy over the arrival of friends who refreshed his spirit (1 Cor. 16:18).

Another verb used to indicate rest is hesychazo. It describes the Sabbath rest of the disciples as Jesus rested in the grave (Luke 23:56). But it’s also used to describe living a quiet life (1 Thess. 4:11) and can indicate that someone has no objections and, thus, keeps quiet (Acts 11:18).

When the Epistle to the Hebrews, in Hebrews 4:4, describes God’s creation rest on the seventh day, it uses the Greek verb katapauo, “cause to cease, bring to rest, rest,” echoing the use of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Intriguingly, most of the uses of this verb in the New Testament occur in Hebrews 4.

Read Mark 6:30-32. Why did Jesus tell His disciples to come aside and rest, considering the many mission opportunities they currently had? Look at the larger context of Mark 6 as you think about this question.

“Come aside by yourselves … and rest a while” (Mark 6:31, NKJV) is not framed as an invitation. It’s expressed in the form of an imperative, which is an order or a command. Jesus is concerned about His disciples and their physical and emotional well-being. They had just returned from an extensive mission trip on which Jesus had sent them two by two (Mark 6:7). Mark 6:30 describes their excited return. Their hearts must have been full. They wanted to share their victories and their failures with Jesus; yet, Jesus stops it all by first calling them to rest. Mark includes an explanatory note: “For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31, NKJV). Being overwhelmed and too busy in God’s business is a genuine challenge for the disciples, as well. Jesus reminds us that we need to guard our health and emotional well-being by planning in seasons of rest.

What are ways of helping and relieving your local church pastor or elder or anyone you know who could be burned out from doing the Lord’s work? What could you do to express your appreciation and help this person find rest?

Thursday ↥         July 1

A Restless Wanderer

Read Genesis 4:1-12. What made Cain “a restless wanderer” (Gen. 4:12, NIV) on the earth?

The biblical text does not explicitly state why God respected Abel and his offering but did not “respect” Cain and his offering (Gen. 4:4, 5). But we know why. “Cain came before God with murmuring and infidelity in his heart in regard to the promised sacrifice and the necessity of the sacrificial offerings. His gift expressed no penitence for sin. He felt, as many now feel, that it would be an acknowledgment of weakness to follow the exact plan marked out by God, of trusting his salvation wholly to the atonement of the promised Saviour. He chose the course of self-dependence. He would come in his own merits.” — Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 72.

When God said that Cain would be “a restless wanderer” on the earth, it wasn’t that God made him that way; rather, that is what happened as the result of his sinful actions and disobedience. Not finding rest in God, Cain discovered that he couldn’t find it any other way, at least not true rest.

The Hebrew word translated as “respected” (Gen. 4:4, NKJV) could also be rendered “looked closely, considered carefully.” The focus of God’s careful and close-up look is not so much the offering but more the attitude of the offeror. God’s rejection of Cain’s fruit offering is not an arbitrary reaction of a capricious God. Rather, it describes the process of carefully considering and weighing the character, attitudes, and motivations of the one bringing the offering. It is a good example of an investigative judgment.

Read Genesis 4:13-17 and describe Cain’s reaction to God’s judgment.

When we try to run away from God’s presence, we become restless. We try to fill the yearning for divine grace with things, human relationships, or overly busy lives. Cain started to build a dynasty and a city. Both are great achievements and speak of determination and energy, but if it’s a godless dynasty and a rebellious city, it will ultimately amount to nothing.

Even if we end up suffering the consequences of our sins as we usually do, how can we learn to accept the forgiveness for them offered us through the cross?

Friday ↥         July 2

Further Thought: “In the estimation of the rabbis it was the sum of religion to be always in a bustle of activity. They depended upon some outward performance to show their superior piety. Thus they separated their souls from God, and built themselves up in self-sufficiency. The same dangers still exist. As activity increases and men become successful in doing any work for God, there is danger of trusting to human plans and methods. There is a tendency to pray less, and to have less faith. Like the disciples, we are in danger of losing sight of our dependence on God, and seeking to make a savior of our activity. We need to look constantly to Jesus, realizing that it is His power which does the work. While we are to labor earnestly for the salvation of the lost, we must also take time for meditation, for prayer, and for the study of the word of God. Only the work accomplished with much prayer, and sanctified by the merit of Christ, will in the end prove to have been efficient for good.” — Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 362.

Discussion Questions:

  1. The constant pressure of being on top of things, being available (physically or virtually) all the time, and trying to live up to ideals that are neither realistic nor God-given can make people sick — emotionally, physically, and spiritually. How can your church become a welcoming place for worn-out, tired people yearning for rest?
  2. Is it possible that we are too busy, even doing good things for God? Think about the story of Jesus and His disciples in Mark 6:30-32 and discuss its applications in your Sabbath School group.
  3. In 1899, a speed record had been broken. Someone had actually gone 39.24 miles per hour in a car — and lived to tell about it! Today, of course, cars go much faster than that. And the speed of the processors in our cell phones are much faster than the fastest large computers of a generation ago. And air travel is faster than it used to be, and is getting even faster. The point is that almost everything we do today is done faster than it was in the past, and yet, what? We still feel hurried and without enough rest. What should that tell us about basic human nature and why God would have made rest so important that it is one of His commandments?
  4. Dwell more on the idea that even in Eden, before sin, the Sabbath rest had been instituted. Besides the interesting theological implication of this truth, what should this tell us about how rest was needed even in a sinless, perfect world?

Inside Story~  ↥        

Flipflops and Fights

By Andrew McChesney

Everything seemed strange to 6-year-old Danay when he arrived in the United States with his father, mother, and six older siblings. Cars filled the streets of their new hometown. Danay hadn’t seen many cars in the refugee camp in Thailand where his family had lived after fleeing violence in their native Myanmar. Before the family had lived in a bamboo home without air conditioning and running water, and Danay had bathed in a river. Now everything was in the house. Danay thanked God for the new home.

Danay arrived at public school wearing flipflops, and the teacher immediately sent him home. The staff member who drove him home told his mother how to find the shoe store. But neither of his parents could drive or speak English, so a relative took him to the store to buy his first pair of shoes.

Danay returned to school the next day, but it was a difficult year. Some children treated refugees unkindly, and one of his brothers got into fights.

Then a Seventh-day Adventist befriended the family and helped Danay transfer to a church school for second grade. Scholarship fund from a Thirteenth Sabbath Offering helped cover his tuition. Danay was happy to be in the church school with kind and friendly classmates. He had heard about God from his Christian parents at home, but now he was reading the Bible for himself at school. He wanted to learn more and, as he grew older, he joined various Bible study groups.

His faith came to the test when he was 12. One day, his father collapsed outside the house after working in the garden. No one knew how to call the ambulance, so family members lifted him into a car and rushed him to the hospital. Danay was devastated. That night he tossed and turned. He prayed like never before. “God, please help my Dad to recover,” he said. “If he does recover, I will get baptized and devote myself to you.”

Three days later, he saw his father in the hospital. The once-strong man looked pale and frail. The physician said he had suffered a stroke. Danay continued to pray. Weeks passed, and his father slowly improved. When he came home, Danay made good on his promise to God. He was baptized.

His father died of cancer five years later, but Danay, 17, is glad that he gave his heart to Jesus. “After getting baptized, I began to read the Bible more, pray more, and talk to God more,” he said. “ The more I did these things, the happier I felt. God is always watching, and He is always going to be there for me. I always feel thankful.”

A 2011 Thirteenth Sabbath Offering helped refugee children like Danay receive study in Adventist schools in the North American Division. Part of this quarter’s offering will again help refugee children obtain an Adventist education in North America. Thank you for planning a generous offering.

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