Lesson 3: September 17, 2017

Sabbath Observance: Exodus 31:12-18

Teaching Strategy: Discuss what the commandment to keep the sabbath (vs. 13a-14b) means for Christians today. How is it relevant? How can contemporary Christians keep the sabbath holy? What might keeping the sabbath mean for those whose responsibilities do not allow them to “take Sunday off.”


The Bible contains many references to the sabbath, including God’s commandment to keep the sabbath holy, explanations of what it means to keep the Sabbath and the consequences of not doing so, stories about how Jesus re-interpreted the commandment for the religious leaders of his time, and admonitions from Paul against a legalistic understanding of sabbath observance.

However it is understood, it is clear that keeping the sabbath is a part of keeping God’s covenant and following Christ. But what does it mean today?

In the news this week are follow-up stories about Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, contemporaneous stories about Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and Florida, and remembrances of the destruction that occurred on September 11, 2001. All of these stories remind us of the important role of “first responders” who are always on call to assist others, often at significant risk to themselves.

But it is not only emergency workers who have responsibilities “24/7.” Far too many people are working overtime (whether juggling two or more jobs to make ends meet or holding down one job with seemingly endless demands). They may not be able to attend worship on Sunday or otherwise slow down for rest and renewal.

What, then, does it mean to keep the sabbath today? How can the church help believers to find ways to set aside holy time for rest and renewal of their spirits as well as their bodies? How does the church make it harder – and how can the church change in order to enable believers to keep the sabbath holy?

Fall 2017 Theme: Covenants with God

Unifying Principle: Multitasking, complex job responsibilities, and diverse family structures and commitments may make persons feel overwhelmed. How can one find relief from the tedious and mundane? God commanded Moses and the Israelites to rest on the sabbath and keep it holy as a sign of their reverence to God who created the earth in six days and who rested and was refreshed on the seventh day.

Posted on: September 12, 2017, by : Sharon Harris-Ewing