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(The Sabbath Day Becomes A Sign)

September 17, 2017


SCRIPTURE: Exodus 31:12-18


KEY VERSES: 13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.


14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. (Exodus 31:13-14)


INTRODUCTION: There is something in this chapter that is of profound interest and is important to see. It has to do with the Sabbath day. It is something that many people pass over. The Sabbath day was given to man right after creation, and it was observed universally.


When we come to the Mosaic system, we find that God made it one of the Ten Commandments for the children of Israel. At this time God makes it quite clear that the Sabbath is ONLY for the children of Israel.


I. A SIGN AND A WARNING. (Exodus 31:12-15)


A. The Sabbath Was A God Given Sign.


(Exodus 31:12-13) And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.


The Sabbath was given specifically to Israel. I do not believe it was ever given to the church. When someone asks me, “When was the Sabbath day changed?” I always reply that it never was changed. The Sabbath was done away with, as far as the church is concerned.


The Church is not under the Sabbath day which is Saturday. Christians do not observe Saturday -- Jesus was dead that day and we are not serving a dead Christ. On the first day of the week (Sunday) Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The church from the very beginning met on the first day of the week.


Sunday is when the church was born; the day of Pentecost was on the day after the Sabbath. The Sabbath was first given to the entire human race but man turned away from God, and God gave the Sabbath exclusively to Israel.


B. The Sabbath Had A Penalty For Violating The Sabbath.


(Exodus 31:14) Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.


I would like to ask the people who claim to keep the Sabbath if they keep it all the time. And are those of their number who do not keep the Sabbath all the time put to death as the law requires?


INSIGHT: There was a penalty to be paid if the Sabbath was not observed correctly. “That soul shall be cut off from among his people” means that they will be put to death.


C. The Sabbath Was Strictly Observed By The Old Testament Jews.


(Exodus 31:15) Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.


INSIGHT: The Law Of The Sabbath provided six days for labor and one day for rest.


1. The Sabbath day was not A time for labor.


If a man was found gathering sticks on the Sabbath day, he was stoned to death in Israel. There is a time to labor for the Lord and a time to rest, and both are a part of His plan for His people (Mark 6:31).


INSIGHT: The Jews were allowed to help animals in distress ( for example, “The ox was in the ditch.”). They could help people who were sick or needed medical treatment or other real emergencies.)


2. The Sabbath day was not to be violated.


In Exodus 31:1-11 two men (Bezaleel and Aholiab) were constructing the holy tabernacle, but they were instructed to be careful not to violate the Sabbath. The Sabbath was not given to the Gentile nations but only to Israel as a sign of their special relationship to the Lord.


3. The Sabbath day was not for the Church.


As we have noted before, the Sabbath commandment is nowhere given to the church, for the church honors the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, the day of His resurrection from the dead. The Sabbath belonged to the old creation (Exodus 31:17), but the Lord’s Day belongs to the new creation (the Church).


INSIGHT: Misconceptions about the Sabbath day are common. Here are some facts according to the Bible.


·        The first Sabbath observance was after Israel's exodus from Egypt, at the time God began to feed them with manna (Exodus 16:22-30).


·        The Sabbath was made known at Mt. Sinai when the law of Moses was given (Nehemiah 9:13-14).


·        The Sabbath was a memorial of God's deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage (Deuteronomy 5:15).


·        The Sabbath was a sign to Israel of God's covenant with them (Exodus 31:12-17).


·        The Sabbath was the seventh day of the week, Saturday (Exodus 20:9). That day was chosen because in it God rested from His creation (verse 10). NO BIBLE PASSAGE EVER REFERS TO SUNDAY AS THE SABBATH!


·        One kept the Sabbath by ceasing secular work (Exodus 34:21). Jesus taught that the sabbath law did not preclude humanitarian activities or medical services (Luke 13:15; John 7:23).


·        Death was the God-given penalty for not keeping the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14-15).


·        -Keeping the Sabbath was part of the Law that Christ took away. Christians are no more obligated to keep the Sabbath than the other Old Testament festivals or its food and drink regulations (Colossians 2:14-17).




(Exodus 31:16-17) Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.


INSIGHT: This passage expressly says that the children of Israel, NOT the church, were to keep the Sabbath. The Israelites are an earthly people belonging to the first creation.


The church is a new creation and it was given a new day to observe which is Sunday (the first day of the week).


A. Why did God mention the Sabbath Day In Exodus 31?


Why did God mention the Sabbath in Exodus 31:12-18? Perhaps God wanted to remind His people (the Jews) that even the building of the sacred tabernacle was not a reason for breaking the Sabbath law.


They needed a day of rest, and since the Sabbath was a sign between God and the Jews, they needed to honor Him. God wants us to be balanced: work, rest, worship.


B. How Were The Ten Commandments Witten?


(Exodus 31:18) And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.


Let’s look at Luke 11:20 where Jesus is speaking, “But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.”


This suggests that “the finger of God” in Exodus 31:18 signifies the Holy Spirit, who wrote the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). The Holy Spirit now writes it on the hearts of those who trust Christ and worship Him (2 Corinthians 3:1ff.).


Take A Day To Rest
By Dennis J. DeHaan


And [Jesus] said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. – Mark 2:27


·        [In the Ten Commandments] an important part of the fourth commandment is God’s instruction to work (Exodus 20:9), a point often missed.


Legitimate work glorifies God and has eternal significance (Ephesians 6:5-8) if done in balance with appropriate rest. That’s the underlying truth of [the fourth] commandment.


·        Effective and God-honoring labor is impossible without rest.


That’s why God ordained a rhythm of work and rest based on His actions during the 7 days of creation (Exodus 31:17). When we tamper with this pattern, we get in trouble. During the French Revolution when the 7-day week was lengthened to a 10-day week, even the horses got sick. Without renewal, the body breaks down.


·        But there’s a deeper spiritual significance to observing a day of rest.


While we must avoid all legalistic attitudes and practices regarding it (Romans 14:5-6), we need a regular time to reflect on our relationship with God -- a rest not merely for physical renewal but for spiritual renewal. We must ponder what Christ has done for us on the cross and experience the rest that comes by trusting completely in His finished work (Hebrews 3-4).


·        Do we need to take a new look at this old commandment about God’s rest day?


When we take time for fun and play,
For rest along life’s busy way,
And when we pause to kneel and pray —
We’ll be renewed from day to day.
– Dennis J. DeHaan


 -- Adapted from Dennis J. DeHaan, Our Daily Bread, September 14, 1994




·        Christians may refrain from work one day a week if they wish.


Spiritual disciplines like that can be helpful to a person’s spiritual growth, but they can also become obstacles, if people begin to think that these particular practices make them better than others. And these practices can become spiritually dangerous, if people think that everyone else ought to measure up to the way they worship God.


Christians should not place themselves "under the law" (Galatians 3:25) as if the laws of Moses still had authority over them.


·        Jesus criticized people who taught requirements that God did not have: "And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers." (Luke 11:46).


When we teach requirements, we need to be very careful.


·        The Sabbath has nothing to do with salvation, and nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


It was never part of the message of the New Testament church. The message is always one of liberty, never one of restrictions on a particular day of the week.


God accepts us because of Jesus Christ, not because of anything that we do. It is by grace, not works. We are to trust in Christ for our salvation.


THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “Resting in Christ is the Christian’s Sabbath.”


* * *


REFERENCES: References used in these Bible studies are the King James Bible (KJV), The Moody Bible Commentary, Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, Dr. Alan Carr’s The Sermon Notebook ( www.sermonnotebook.org ), With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.



E-Mail: Ronald Purkey


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