1. ORIGIN OF SABBATH OBSERVANCE
a. When did God institute the Sabbath? Genesis 2:1–3.
“In Eden, God set up the memorial of His work of creation, in placing His blessing upon the seventh day. The Sabbath was committed to Adam, the father and representative of the whole human family. . . . The institution was wholly commemorative, and given to all mankind. There was nothing in it shadowy or of restricted application to any people.
“God saw that a Sabbath was essential for man, even in Paradise. He needed to lay aside his own interests and pursuits for one day of the seven, that he might more fully contemplate the works of God and meditate upon His power and goodness.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 48.
b. How was the Sabbath confirmed prior to the giving of the law at Sinai? Exodus 16:22–30. What is the Sabbath to bring to mind? Exodus 20:8–11.
“In the circumstances connected with the giving of the manna, we have conclusive evidence that the Sabbath was not instituted, as many claim, when the law was given at Sinai. Before the Israelites came to Sinai they understood the Sabbath to be obligatory upon them.”—Ibid., p. 296.
2. THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS
a. What was the purpose of Jesus in relation to the law of God? Psalm 40:8; Isaiah 42:21; Matthew 5:17–19.
b. How did Jesus rebuke the Jews for not keeping God’s moral law of Ten Commandments? Matthew 15:3–6; Luke 10:26; John 7:19.
“In the precepts of His holy law, God has given a perfect rule of life; and He has declared that until the close of time this law, unchanged in a single jot or tittle, is to maintain its claim upon human beings. Christ came to magnify the law and make it honorable. He showed that it is based upon the broad foundation of love to God and love to man, and that obedience to its precepts comprises the whole duty of man. In His own life He gave an example of obedience to the law of God. In the Sermon on the Mount He showed how its requirements extend beyond the outward acts and take cognizance of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 505.
c. Give examples showing how Christ’s teachings restored the true meaning of God’s law. Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, 28, 31, 32; 19:17–19; Luke 16:17, 18. He also restored the Sabbath to its original position in the plan of God for humanity. Give examples. Matthew 12:10–12; 24:20; Mark 2:27.
“The Jewish leaders accomplished the will of Satan by surrounding God’s rest day with burdensome requirements. In the days of Christ the Sabbath had become so perverted that its observance reflected the character of selfish and arbitrary men rather than the character of the loving heavenly Father. The rabbis virtually represented God as giving laws which it was impossible for men to obey. They led the people to look upon God as a tyrant, and to think that the observance of the Sabbath, as He required it, made men hard-hearted and cruel. It was the work of Christ to clear away these misconceptions. Although the rabbis followed Him with merciless hostility, He did not even appear to conform to their requirements, but went straight forward, keeping the Sabbath according to the law of God.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 284.
“By sweeping away the senseless restrictions of the Jews, Christ honored the Sabbath, while those who complained of Him were dishonoring God’s holy day.”—Ibid., p. 287.
3. FOLLOWING CHRIST’S EXAMPLE
a. How were the scribes and Pharisees watching Jesus in an attempt to find something with which to accuse Him? Luke 6:7. What were they actually able to do? John 8:46. When Jesus was brought to court, of what Sabbath violation did the Jews accuse Him? Matthew 26:59–61.
“For thirty years [Christ] lived the life of a perfect man, meeting the highest standard of perfection.”—Selected Messages, vol. 3, p. 136.
“Those who hold that Christ abolished the law teach that He broke the Sabbath and justified His disciples in doing the same. Thus they are really taking the same ground as did the caviling Jews. In this they contradict the testimony of Christ Himself, who declared, ‘I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love’ (John 15:10). Neither the Saviour nor His followers broke the law of the Sabbath. Christ was a living representative of the law. No violation of its holy precepts was found in His life. Looking upon a nation of witnesses who were seeking occasion to condemn Him, He could say unchallenged, ‘Which of you convicteth Me of sin?’ (John 8:46, RV).” —The Desire of Ages, p. 287.
b. What lesson did Jesus leave for His disciples concerning proper Sabbathkeeping? Luke 23:52–56. What is every follower of Christ called upon to do? John 15:10; 1 John 2:6.
“By [Christ’s] suffering and resistance He made plain to man that perfection of character can be obtained and maintained by humanity.”—The Youth’s Instructor, December 28, 1899.
“The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness. As the Son of man was perfect in His life, so His followers are to be perfect in their life. Jesus was in all things made like unto His brethren. He became flesh, even as we are. He was hungry and thirsty and weary. He was sustained by food and refreshed by sleep. He shared the lot of man; yet He was the blameless Son of God. He was God in the flesh. His character is to be ours.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 311.
“All righteous attributes of character dwell in God as a perfect, harmonious whole. Everyone who receives Christ as his personal Saviour is privileged to possess these attributes. This is the science of holiness.”—Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 276.
4. THE SABBATH IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
a. What was the custom of Paul and the early Christians with regard to the Sabbath? Acts 13:42, 44; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4.
b. Where and on which day of the week did the early Christians receive religious instruction? Matthew 23:1–3; Acts 15:21. Ananias was an early church leader, and a strict Sabbathkeeper. What did the Jews say of him? Acts 22:12.
c. What additional evidence in a prophecy given by Jesus shows that Christians would still be observing the seventh day-Sabbath forty years after the crucifixion? Matthew 24:15–20.
“Christ not only honored the Sabbath throughout His life upon the earth, but He provided that its sacred claims should be remembered and honored after His death and resurrection. When warning His disciples of the destruction of Jerusalem, which did not take place until forty years after His ascension, He said, ‘But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day; for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time’ (Matthew 24:20). In accordance with His instruction, the followers of Christ were enabled to depart from the besieged city and escape to the mountains, not taking their flight either in the winter nor upon the Sabbath day.”—The Signs of the Times, November 12, 1894.
d. How serious a matter has God designed the Sabbath to be for His followers in every generation? Exodus 31:13, 16, 17.
“No deeper wound could be inflicted on God than to ignore His holy day, and place in its stead a spurious sabbath that bears no mark of sanctity. God gave the Sabbath to the world to be set apart for His name’s glory. . . .
“And who are Israel? The Holy Spirit by the apostle Paul declares, ‘If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed’ (Galatians 3:29). Upon all who through Christ become a part of the true Israel, the observance of the Sabbath is enjoined.”—Ibid., November 22, 1899.
5. A WORK OF SABBATH REFORM
a. What instructions should we bear in mind to ensure correct Sabbathkeeping? Isaiah 58:12, 13.
“God requires that His holy day be as sacredly observed now as in the time of Israel. The command given to the Hebrews should be regarded by all Christians as an injunction from Jehovah to them. 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.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 296.
“When the Sabbath commences, we should place a guard upon ourselves, upon our acts and our words, lest we rob God by appropriating to our own use that time which is strictly the Lord’s. We should not do ourselves, nor suffer our children to do, any manner of our own work for a livelihood, or anything which could have been done on the six working days. Friday is the day of preparation. Time can then be devoted to making the necessary preparation for the Sabbath and to thinking and conversing about it. Nothing which will in the sight of Heaven be regarded as a violation of the holy Sabbath should be left unsaid or undone, to be said or done upon the Sabbath. God requires not only that we refrain from physical labor upon the Sabbath, but that the mind be disciplined to dwell upon sacred themes. The fourth commandment is virtually transgressed by conversing upon worldly things or by engaging in light and trifling conversation. Talking upon anything or everything which may come into the mind is speaking our own words.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 702, 703.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
a. What evidence shows that the Sabbath existed before Sinai?
b. What was Jesus’ attitude toward the law of God and the Sabbath?
c. In the trial of Jesus, why wasn’t He accused of Sabbathbreaking?
d. When the new covenant had already been confirmed by the death of Christ (Galatians 3:15; Hebrews 9:16, 17), what was the understanding of the disciples regarding Sabbathkeeping?
e. What evidence proves that Isaiah 58:12, 13 refers to the Christian era? (Compare Isaiah 58:12, 13 with 61:1–4.)