Recent studies suggest that Seventh-day Adventists in the United States live between 5 and 7 years longer than the average American. Usually, the credit is given to Adventism”s stress on healthy dietary habits. How much credit should instead go to the health benefits of Sabbath keeping?
1. At various times in our history, Seventh-day Adventists have been encouraged to be Sabbath-keepers and not Saturday-keepers. What does this mean?
2. (Exodus 20:8-11; Deut 5:12-15) Often we turn to Exodus 20 to read the Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy 5, however, also contains the Ten Commandments.
A. Compare the Sabbath commandment in both books. What are the differences between the two?
B. At least a part of the Sabbath involves commemorating earlier events in history. What does Sabbath-keeping commemorate in Exodus 20:11? How about in Deuteronomy 5:15? Is there a difference between the two, or are they both commemorating the same thing?
C. How about today? Is the Sabbath more about remembering creation, or remembering deliverance? Could there be other legitimate reasons for remembering the Sabbath?
D. Both Exodus and Deuteronomy refer to the effect Sabbath-keeping will have on others. Is it possible to be so concerned about our own, personal, individual rest that we forget the call to provide rest for others on Sabbath? How might we observe the Sabbath today so that others may rest, as we do?
3. (Exo 16:21-30; Mark 2:27-28) What exactly does Jesus mean when he says the Sabbath was made for man? Does this mean Sabbath is a gift to us, to do with as we please? Others would say that the Sabbath is a test to see if we will obey what God has decreed. How have you related to Sabbath-as a test of obedience, a sign of loyalty, or as a gift to be enjoyed? Can the Sabbath be all of these?
4. The Bible consistently upholds the Seventh-day Sabbath as a special, holy day. However, there are relatively few, specific rules about how to keep the Sabbath, and some of those that are included we would tend to disregard today. (For example, I know of no SDA church that has stoned a man for picking up wood on Sabbath [see Num 15:32-36].) So, what exactly CAN a person do on the Sabbath? Should the church officials produce a list of what is and is not appropriate so that people around the world can know how to keep the Sabbath?
5. (Mat 12:1-14) What do we learn about Sabbath-keeping from Jesus? Was Jesus a Sabbath-breaker? How would Sabbath-keeping change for you, if, instead of focusing on what not to do on Sabbath, you fully applied Jesus” words, “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath”?