Apply: 400 years is a long time to be under oppression, yet God predicted it and delivered them just as He said He would. What hope does this give you when going through your own oppression?
Share: Your friend asks, “If God knew Abram’s seed were going to become slaves, why didn’t He just stop it from happening?” What do you tell your friend?
Study: What two things does the Sabbath rest commemorate, and how are they related?
Apply: How should keeping the Sabbath help us understand our complete dependence upon God, not only for existence but for salvation?
Share: Your friend tells you her pastor said that we have rest in Jesus now, so we no longer need the weekly Sabbath? How do you answer your friend? See also, If Jesus is our Rest do we Still Need a Weekly Sabbath? Remember also that Jesus has always been our rest. Just like a country does not destroy its flag which is symbolizes the country, we do not destroy the weekly Sabbath that symbolizes the rest we have in Jesus.
Study: Why was Israel unable to enter into the promised rest?
Apply: In what ways can you help build the faith of fellow believers? How can you make sure that you never say or do anything that could weaken another’s faith?
Share: A classmate points out that in Hebrews 3:19 it says the could not enter because of unbelief, but in Hebrews 4:11 it says they failed because of disobedience? Your classmate asks if there is a discrepancy here? How do you reconcile the two? See James 2:14-26 and John 16:9.
Study: What is the meaning of entering rest “today” in connection with keeping the Sabbath?
Apply: How can we enter into His rest even now? That is, how can we, by faith, rest in the assurance of the salvation that we have in Christ, and not in ourselves?
Share: Do you know someone overcome with the cares and burdens of this life? How can you help them find rest today?
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
PS: If you are using these lessons in class or group Bible study and have any ideas for improvement please comment or message me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. Thank you!
I was listening to a preacher on the radio talking about the Sabbath. He explained that the weekly Sabbath pointed us to the rest we have in Christ, so we no longer need the weekly Sabbath because we now have Jesus. He sounded sincere, and I really appreciated Him pointing people to Jesus and resting their faith in Him, since the grace of Jesus is the only way to be saved.
Photo by William Earnhardt
As a matter of fact the Sabbath is a sign that we are resting our faith in Jesus’ grace and not our works. God explicitly set aside that day as a sign of His covenant with His people – a sign that He sanctifies His people, in contrast to attempted sanctification by works. That’s why I find it ironic when people accuse me of trying to get to heaven by my own works by keeping the Sabbath.
The radio preacher was correct that the Sabbath pointed us to the rest we have in Christ. However, he apparently did not realize that the Sabbath is also a sign of God’s New Covenant in which He promises to write His law within our hearts:
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:33
Do you see that the New Covenant is the Lord’s promise to sanctify us? A promise to write His law in our hearts, so we would serve Him from the heart? And that’s exactly the meaning of sanctification of which the Sabbath is a sign. Sanctification means to make holy, and God wants to make us holy by writing His law in our hearts.
Some other things we need to consider:
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.
And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. Genesis 2:1-3 NKJV
While the feast days and ceremonial Sabbaths, such as the Passover, were not instituted until sin came into the world, we have the weekly Sabbath made holy (sanctified) before there was sin and the need of a Savior. Paul says in Colossians 2:16-17 that the ceremonial feast Sabbaths were done away with at the cross. 2. Some people say we should still keep the feast days. They don’t seem to realize that we are literally living in what the feast days symbolized! We no longer need a ceremonial Passover because Jesus dying on the cross was the real Passover to which all the other Passovers pointed. We no longer keep the ceremonial Day of Atonement because, beginning in 1844 we are living in the real Day of Atonement. So those feast days that point us to the cross are done away with, but the Bible nowhere indicates that the weekly Sabbath was a “shadow of things to come.” The weekly Sabbath was there before our need of the cross, and the Bible tells us that it will still be there after the cross.
While Paul tells us the ceremonial Sabbaths were done away at the cross, He continued observing the weekly Sabbath.
And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. Acts 18:4 NKJV
The weekly Sabbath was not a Jewish custom. He met with the Greeks also.
Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, Acts 17:2 NKJV
I have heard people argue that the only reason Paul was at the synagogue on Sabbath was because that’s the only day he could meet the Jews there to talk about Jesus. However, we just saw in Acts 18:4 that in the New Testament, Greeks were worshiping on Sabbath as well, and Paul was persuading them all about Jesus as they continued keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. In Acts 17:2 we see Sabbath keeping was still Paul’s own custom even after accepting Jesus.
The Sabbath was not just made for the Jews. The gentiles were keeping the Sabbath as well. Jesus Himself said that the Sabbath was made for mankind, which included Jews and Gentiles alike.
The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Mark 2:27 NKJV
Nowhere does Jesus or anyone else in the Bible say the weekly Sabbath was made for Jews. Jesus says it was made for mankind. Not only was the Sabbath made for everyone, it will be kept by everyone even in the new earth.
And it shall come to pass That from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord. Isaiah 66:23 NKJV
The weekly Sabbath was instituted before sin and remains after the cross. The Sabbath was given to all “flesh” and “mankind.” “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”-Hebrews 4:11.
Will you enter into the Sabbath rest that remains since the creation of the world? Will you keep God’s holy day as an outward sign of your inward faith in Christ as both your Creator and Redeemer? Let us remember that only sanctified people can really keep a sanctified day. So let us enter into that rest by letting Jesus be Lord in our lives.
See Exodus 31:13, Ezekiel 20:12, 20 For more details see “THE SABBATH IN COLOSSIANS 2″ by Andy Nash. He references Ron DuPreez’s book, Judging the Sabbath: Discovering What Can’t Be Found in Colossians 2:16, which you can buy at Amazon.com. The book is particularly valuable in solving the question of whether or not faithful Sabbath keepers should also keep the feasts today. And here’s an article by Ron Dupreez: “No “rest” for the “Sabbath” of Colossians 2:16: A structural-syntactical- semantic study.”
While I was in Cradle Roll Sabbath School, before I could even read, I was mesmerized by a picture in my Bible of Jesus dying on the cross. I would study it in church as the preacher preached. As I took in the entire scene, one thought kept reverberating in my heart, Jesus died for me. One night when I was seven I put my Bible away to fall asleep. As I lay there contemplating that picture, the Holy Spirit was painting that very scene on my heart. That night I decided to give my heart to Jesus and be baptized because Jesus died for me.
This is the Bible and picture I would always love to look at as a child.
Over time the world and even people in the church have pressured me to compromise my faith and convictions. When they demand my loyalty to them, I remember that night when I gave my heart to Jesus. I remember the people pressuring me to compromise did not die for me. Jesus died for me. I must be loyal to Him. I gave my heart to Jesus. I did not give it to people in the world or in the church.
Way too many times over the years I have compromised my faith without any pressure from anyone else at all. Again my mind goes back to the picture of the cross that the Holy Spirit painted on my heart on that night so long ago. I don’t give up. Jesus died for me. I ask His forgiveness which He so freely offers me. I know I am forgiven because Jesus died for me.
I have completed many more trips around the sun since my Cradle Roll days and baptism when I was seven. Still, one theme still grips my heart and mesmerizes my soul. Jesus died for me. As time passes the Holy Spirit continues painting even more details into that picture of the cross. As I continue studying Scripture, the details become increasingly more vivid on my heart, making the scene more real, more wonderful and more awe-ful. While many want to attach specific theological labels to the cross, I find the picture of the cross the Holy Spirit is painting on my heart much too grand and vivid to fall under any one label. Many camps of thought are not so much wrong in what they teach as in what they fail to teach. One camp of thought does not necessarily have to replace the other. I believe we get the big picture of the cross when we put all the camps of thought together and just throw away the labels. After all, I did not fall in love with a theological label. I fell in love with Jesus because Jesus died for me.
The first time I heard the Gospel presentation I was taught that when I chose to knowingly break God’s law that was counted as sin according to 1 John 3:4. Sin is punishable by death, according to Romans 6:23. But John 3:16 tells me God gave His Son to die the death I deserve so I can have the eternal life He deserves. As I continue studying I find another definition for sin besides 1 John 3:4. In John 16:9 Jesus also defines unbelief as sin. Through my study I see that Jesus died not so much because humankind took a piece of fruit they were told not to, but because in taking that fruit they showed they did not trust God or really believe in His love. Therefore God became a man and went to the cross to die and prove that He loves us so we can believe in His love. Therefore Jesus heals us from the sin of unbelief. The atonement appeases an angry race instead of an angry God.
So which is it? Did Jesus die because humankind sinned by breaking the law which is punishable by death? Or did Jesus die because humankind stopped believing in God’s love and by dying on the cross Jesus reconciled us by convincing us He loves us? Both! Interestingly John records both definitions of sin-in 1 John 3:4 the sin of breaking the law, and in John 16:9 the sin of unbelief. John understood that Jesus died for sin by every definition.
I have heard that Jesus took on human nature so He could give us an example of human obedience. I have heard that Jesus took human nature because He had to die as a man. So which is it? Both!
The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Romans 8:3-4 NLT
There is not a law in this universe that will allow someone to die for someone else. I can’t go to a murder trial and offer to die for the defendant so that he can go free. They won’t allow that. God can’t allow it either. So what was God’s solution? Jesus took my human body to the cross and died not just for me but as me. Not only is my sanctification dependent on the humanity of Jesus, my justification is dependent on it as well.
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:14-17 NLT
Jesus had to become us and die as us. This is why Paul describes Jesus dying as us as well as dying for us. Where we all sinned when we were in Adam we have now all lived a righteous life in Christ.
Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Romans 5:18 NLT
Also as I sinned in Adam I have now been crucified with Christ. Take a look at how these verses describe us dying with Jesus and not just Jesus dying for me.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NLT
Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:3-7 NLT
Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.2 Corinthians 5:14 NLT
Where I sinned in Adam I have now been crucified with Christ. He took my flesh to the cross and crucified it. That is my justification. The good news is it does not stop there. Jesus also took on humanity and died so we can be sanctified and have victorious lives. Consider how these passages describe the victory Christ gives us by taking on humanity. Lets go back to where we began at Hebrews 2.
Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested. Hebrews 2:18 NLT
He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 1 Peter 2:24
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT
The atonement was not only possible because of Jesus’ complete humanity but also because of his complete divinity.
The broken law of God demanded the life of the sinner. In all the universe there was but one who could, in behalf of man, satisfy its claims. Since the divine law is as sacred as God Himself, only one equal with God could make atonement for its transgression. None but Christ could redeem fallen man from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with Heaven. Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin—sin so offensive to a holy God that it must separate the Father and His Son. Christ would reach to the depths of misery to rescue the ruined race. –Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, Page 63.
Did Jesus make an atonement as fully man or fully God? Both. Did Jesus die to free us from the power of sin or the penalty of sin? Both. Did Jesus die because of the sin of breaking God’s law or the sin of unbelief? Both. I have learned so much more about the cross since my early childhood days. But I am still not in any one theological camp or label. When I am tempted I look at the picture of the cross the Holy Spirit has painted on my heart. His love empowers me to overcome as I remember Jesus died for me. When I make stupid decisions and fall into sin I look to the cross and know I can find forgiveness because Jesus died for me. I am reconciled to God and can believe in His love because Jesus died for me. God made an atonement for my sin and transgression of the law when Jesus died for me.
Many years since my Cradle Roll days, I have experienced hundreds of victories – victories I never imagined possible. But before you pat me on the back, I confess that I have also suffered a multitude of defeats that I never would have imagined possible when I first gave my heart to Jesus at the tender age of seven. Sin has brought me lower than I ever comprehended possible, and Jesus has raised me higher than I ever comprehended possible. I have found theological theories and labels get me nowhere. When I need forgiveness or power to overcome, I do what I have been doing since Cradle Roll. I look at the cross and remember, Jesus died for me.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Study: What did God promise He would do for His people in the “latter days?”
Apply: Look at all the promises God fulfilled in the past. How should this help us to trust Him for the promises not yet fulfilled?
Share: Years ago when I was doing door to door work as a literature evangelist, I met a woman who told me, “Jesus never did anything for me!” I was surprised. How would have responded to this woman? Hint: See Genesis 12:3, Romans 5:18-19, Hebrews 2:9.
Read Together:Hebrews 1:1-5. Define the main idea of this passage.
Study: What are some of the things that this passage teaches us about Jesus?
Apply: Why is it important to know that Jesus is greater than the angels?
Share: While studying with a protestant family about the spirit of prophecy, the wife told me, “In Hebrews 1:1-2 it says God used to speak to us by prophets but now speaks to us by His Son. This means God no longer uses prophets. He just uses His Son.” How would you have responded to this comment? Hint: See 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11-13.
Just as 1 John 4:8 does not tell us that God has love but rather is love, so Jesus does not say that He was given life, but rather that He is life.
In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 530.
While Hebrews 2:1-18 explains the complete humanity of the Son of God, Hebrews 1:1-14 explains the complete divinity of the Son of God. While Jesus is God the Son, who never originated but always existed as far back as eternity goes, Ty Gibson suggests in His book, The Sonship of Christ, that while He was always God the Son, that the term “Son of God’ explains His humanity more than His divinity. For example, Adam was the first one who was called the son of God.
Abel was born before his father only because his father was never born! Adam was created to be the son of God and to be the representative for this earth. Job 1:6 talks about when the “sons of God” came to present themselves before God. Adam was to be this earth’s representative as the son of God for this earth. However we read where Satan shows up at this meeting, as Adam surrendered this right to Satan when he sinned. So here we see Adam was the son of God and there are other sons of God representing their worlds. By the way Hebrews 1:2 mentions that Christ made the worlds. The word “worlds” refers to inhabited planets, while uninhabited planets are simply called planets. In Job 1:6 the sons of God came from these other worlds.
So in John 3:16 Where it says, “only begotten Son” or “one and only son” it is not referring to God the son ever being born. Neither is it saying that there are not other sons of God, because we have just seen that there are. So what does it mean by “one and only son?” Hebrews 11 gives us a clue.
Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, Hebrews 11:17 NLT
Wait a minute? Was Isaac Abraham’s only son? No! So why is this saying that Isaac was Abraham’s only son?
The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. Galatians 4:22-23 NLT
Isaac was called Abraham’s only son because Isaac was the promised son. Now we know why John 3:16 says He gave His only begotten or one and only son. It is not insinuating that God the Son was ever created or given life by the Father. Christ had life that came from being God Himself. His life was original, unborrowed and underived. The term “Only begotten” or “one and only Son” means that Jesus Christ is the promised son to redeem mankind and take the right that Adam surrendered in being the representative of the world.
Adam was the original son of God, who because of sin surrendered the right to represent this world before God. Meanwhile Satan claimed that right and in Job 1:6-11 accused the inhabitants of the earth. But Jesus, the promised One, lived a perfect life and died our death on the cross, and has now won the right to represent us before the Father. Instead of accusing us He is representing and defending us!
He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. Hebrews 9:24 NLT
Since Jesus Christ is the promised Son to replace Adam as our representative, not only is He representing us and defending us, saving and redeeming us, but we are also already seated in heaven with Him!
For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6 NLT
Study: What does this tell us about Jesus’ human nature?
See Desire of Ages, Page 48. “It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life.”
Share: Your friend says Jesus still does not know what its like to be tempted as a human, because while taking on human flesh He was still born of the Holy Spirit. What do you say to your friend? Hint: John 3:3, Ephesians 3:19-21, 2 Peter 1:4.
Read TogetherHebrews 5:1-4. Define the main idea of this passage.
Study: What did the High Priest do?
Apply: How is every believer a priest?
Share: A relative asks you if Jesus is our High Priest, why do we need earthly priests or pastors? How do you answer your relative?
As I plan for 2022, I realize God does not need me to dream and make plans as much as He just needs me to surrender my dreams and submit to His plans. I need to allow God to take my life in 2022 and do whatever He pleases with me, in order to prepare the way for His kingdom. For Elijah, that meant being taken up into heaven in a flaming chariot. For John the Baptist that meant being beheaded and dying alone in prison. I need to give God permission in 2022 to use me like Elijah or John the Baptist – whichever way will bring Him the most glory. John the Baptist was just as precious to Jesus as was Elijah. God did not favor Elijah in the flaming chariot any more than He favored John the Baptist when he was beheaded. They were both just as precious to God, and both were just as successful in bringing glory to God.
Some of us wish for a better lot in life in 2022 than we had in recent years. Some of us wish for better jobs and positions. Some of us are unhappy where we are, but that does not mean that God is using us any less. A young friend of mine at church recently got her first job. A few weeks later I asked her how her job was going, and she told me she was going to quit because her boss aggravated her. I told her no matter where she worked for the rest of her life, she will most likely always have a boss that aggravates her, so she should just get used to it. She is not alone. Many have ambitious hopes for 2022 and dream of some kind of a promotion. However, worthwhile promotions don’t come from our selfish ambitions.
True promotion comes from God.
For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. Psalms 75:6-7 KJV
I believe the book, Ministry of Healing has some wise counsel for us regarding our life work.
Many are dissatisfied with their lifework. It may be that their surroundings are uncongenial; their time is occupied with commonplace work, when they think themselves capable of higher responsibilities; often their efforts seem to them to be unappreciated or fruitless; their future is uncertain. Let us remember that while the work we have to do may not be our choice, it is to be accepted as God’s choice for us. Whether pleasing or unpleasing, we are to do the duty that lies nearest. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Ecclesiastes 9:10. If the Lord desires us to bear a message to Nineveh, it will not be as pleasing to Him for us to go to Joppa or to Capernaum. He has reasons for sending us to the place toward which our feet have been directed. At that very place there may be someone in need of the help we can give. He who sent Philip to the Ethiopian councilor, Peter to the Roman centurion, and the little Israelitish maiden to the help of Naaman, the Syrian captain, sends men and women and youth today as His representatives to those in need of divine help and guidance. -Ellen White, Ministry of Healing, pages 472-473.
A son of a friend of mine was pitching in the minor leagues, and he, along with the rest of us, had dreams of him pitching in the World Series one day. I was hoping to see him pitch in a world series game here at Tropicana Field, either for or against the Tampa Bay Rays. He made it to Triple A, but before making it to the majors, an injury set him back and he had to retire from baseball without ever fulfilling his ambition to pitch in the majors. After baseball he became a police officer. Sadly, one night he was called to the scene of a suicide. The family was very distraught. The friend’s son spoke words of hope and comfort to them. Later the family wrote a thank-you letter to the police department thanking the officer for being there for them and bringing them hope and comfort in their darkest hour. When my friend told me about the letter her son received, I told her that was worth more than a hundred world series championship rings.
It was not John the Baptist’s dream to be beheaded in prison, but he prepared the way for God’s kingdom more than anyone else could.
It was not the ambition of a young maiden to be a slave in a foreign country, but it was there that she led Naaman to God.
It was my friend’s son’s ambition to pitch in the major leagues, but it was while working as a police officer that he helped a family when they needed help the most. He could not have helped them like that while celebrating a world series victory on the baseball diamond.
Are you willing to surrender your ambitions and submit your life to God in 2022? Are you willing to let him use you in 2022 any which way that will glorify Him? Whether it’s like Elijah in a flaming chariot or John the Baptist dying alone in prison?
But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Mark 10:42-45