Bible Study Guides – The Sabbath in the Wilderness

October 15, 2006 – October 21, 2006

Key Text

“Be still, and know that I [am] God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 336–340; Testimonies, vol. 4, 248–252.


“God designed to teach the people that they must approach Him with reverence and awe, and in His own appointed manner. He cannot accept partial obedience.” Conflict and Courage, 100.

“A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he [is] God: [it is] he [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves; [we are] his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name. For the Lord [is] good; his mercy [is] everlasting; and his truth [endureth] to all generations.” Psalm 100.

1 When Israel was taken captive in Egypt, what happened to Sabbath observance? Genesis 15:13, 14; Exodus 1:13, 14.

note: “The Sabbath institution, which originated in Eden, is as old as the world itself. It was observed by all the patriarchs, from creation down. During the bondage in Egypt, the Israelites were forced by their taskmasters to violate the Sabbath, and to a great extent they lost the knowledge of its sacredness. When the law was proclaimed at Sinai the very first words of the fourth commandment were, ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy’ [Exodus 20:8]—showing that the Sabbath was not then instituted; we are pointed back for its origin to creation. In order to obliterate God from the minds of men, Satan aimed to tear down this great memorial. If men could be led to forget their Creator, they would make no effort to resist the power of evil, and Satan would be sure of his prey.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 336.

2 Why did God deliver Israel from Egyptian captivity? Psalm 105:43–45.

note: “When the law was given at Sinai, the Sabbath was placed in the midst of moral precepts, in the very bosom of the decalogue. But the Sabbath institution was not then made known for the first time. The fourth commandment places its origin at creation. The Creator’s rest-day was hallowed by Adam in holy Eden, and by men of God throughout the patriarchal ages. During Israel’s long bondage in Egypt, under taskmasters that knew not God, they could not keep the Sabbath; therefore the Lord brought them out where they could remember his holy day.” The Signs of the Times, February 28, 1884.

“Those who are offering prayers to the God of heaven and earth will not refuse to be obedient to the plainest precept of the law. They will listen to the voice of Christ, and will ‘remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,’ [Exodus 20:8] as the day on which the Creator of the heavens and the earth rested from all the work which he had done. They will not turn away from the holy commandment, and accept a spurious sabbath instead of the holy, sanctified day that God instituted in Eden as a memorial of his creative power. The Sabbath was given to man as a sign that was to show to whom the allegiance of the people was given.” Ibid., March 12, 1894.

3 How did God impress upon the newly delivered Israelites the importance of the Sabbath? Exodus 16:14, 15, 22–26.

note: “A threefold miracle was wrought in honor of the Sabbath, even before the law was given on Sinai. A double quantity of manna fell on the sixth day, none upon the Sabbath, and the portion needed for the Sabbath was preserved sweet and pure, when if any were kept over at any other time, it became unfit for food. Here is conclusive evidence that the Sabbath was instituted at creation, when the foundations of the earth were laid, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. And its sacredness remains unchanged, and will so remain even to the close of time. From the creation, every precept of the divine law has been obligatory on man, and has been observed by those who fear the Lord. The doctrine that God’s law has been abolished is one of Satan’s devices to compass the ruin of the race.” The Signs of the Times, February 28, 1884.

4 How did God view those who disregarded any of His commandments? Exodus 16:27, 28; 35:2; Hebrews 3:15–19.

note: “God will not pass over any transgression of His law more lightly now than in the day when He pronounced judgment against Adam. The Saviour of the world raises His voice in protest against those who regard the divine commandments with carelessness and indifference. Said He: ‘Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, He shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.’ [Matthew 5:19.] The teaching of our lives is wholly for or against the truth. If your works seem to justify the transgressor in his sin, if your influence makes light of breaking the commandments of God, then you are not only guilty yourself, but you are to a certain extent responsible for the consequent errors of others.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 248.

5 How did God present the law to Israel? Exodus 19:11–25.

note: “On the morning of the third day, as the eyes of all the people were turned toward the mount, its summit was covered with a thick cloud, which grew more black and dense, sweeping downward until the entire mountain was wrapped in darkness and awful mystery. Then a sound as of a trumpet was heard, summoning the people to meet with God; and Moses led them forth to the base of the mountain. From the thick darkness flashed vivid lightnings, while peals of thunder echoed and re-echoed among the surrounding heights. ‘And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.’ ‘The glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount’ in the sight of the assembled multitude. And ‘the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder.’ [Exodus 19:18; 24:17; 19:19.] So terrible were the tokens of Jehovah’s presence that the hosts of Israel shook with fear, and fell upon their faces before the Lord. Even Moses exclaimed, ‘I exceedingly fear and quake.’ Hebrews 12:21.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 304.

6 Why did God present such a display? Deuteronomy 4:24.

note: “God purposed to make the occasion of speaking His law a scene of awful grandeur, in keeping with its exalted character. The people were to be impressed that everything connected with the service of God must be regarded with the greatest reverence.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 303.

“The law was not spoken at this time exclusively for the benefit of the Hebrews. God honored them by making them the guardians and keepers of His law, but it was to be held as a sacred trust for the whole world. The precepts of the Decalogue are adapted to all mankind, and they were given for the instruction and government of all. Ten precepts, brief, comprehensive, and authoritative, cover the duty of man to God and to his fellow man; and all based upon the great fundamental principle of love.” Ibid., 305.

7 What word did God use to express the importance of the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments? Exodus 20:8.

note: “In the law given from Sinai, God recognized the week, and the facts upon which it is based. After giving the command, ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,’ and specifying what shall be done on the six days, and what shall not be done on the seventh, He states the reason for thus observing the week, by pointing back to His own example: ‘For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.’ Exodus 20:8–11. This reason appears beautiful and forcible when we understand the days of creation to be literal. The first six days of each week are given to man for labor, because God employed the same period of the first week in the work of creation. On the seventh day man is to refrain from labor, in commemoration of the Creator’s rest.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 111.

8 Why did God tell us to “remember”? Psalm 46:10; Mark 4:18, 19.

note: “ ‘Remember’ is placed at the very first of the Fourth Commandment. Parents, you need to remember the Sabbath day yourselves to keep it holy. And if you do this, you are giving the proper instruction to your children; they will reverence God’s holy day. . . . Christian education is needed in your homes. All through the week keep the Lord’s holy Sabbath in view, for that day is to be devoted to the service of God. It is a day when the hands are to rest from worldly employment, when the soul’s needs are to receive especial attention.” Child Guidance, 527.

“At the very beginning of the fourth commandment the Lord said: ‘Remember.’ He knew that amid the multitude of cares and perplexities man would be tempted to excuse himself from meeting the full requirement of the law, or would forget its sacred importance. Therefore He said: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’ Exodus 20:8.

“All through the week we are to have the Sabbath in mind and be making preparation to keep it according to the commandment.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 353.

9 What admonition was connected with the declaration of the Ten Commandments? Deuteronomy 11:22, 23.

note: “Obedience to God would preserve harmony between man and man and between man and his Maker, and would cause Israel to be regarded as a wise and understanding people. And in the path of obedience alone was there safety for them either as individuals or as a nation; for nothing but obedience would secure the divine favor, and insure to them happiness and prosperity in the land to which they were going. God had plainly stated this to them. If they did not keep his commandments, he would not—he could not—fulfill the rich promises which were given them on condition of obedience.” The Signs of the Times, May 13, 1886.

10 Are we under the same obligation as Israel as it relates to the Ten Commandments? 1 John 5:2, 3.

note: “God’s blessing was never withheld from his obedient people. The wrath of God was brought upon the Jews by their disobedience of his law. Many persons contrast the freedom found in Christ with what they regard as the severe requirements of the law of God. Their words and example say to the world, Christ is so lenient and forgiving that we need not be particular to keep to the strict letter of the law. They slide away from their allegiance in a loose reckless manner, doing the works of Satan, while professing to love the Lord. Yet Jesus positively declared in his last conversation with his disciples, that those who love him will keep his commandments. In the Old Testament entire obedience is required in order to secure blessings, and entire obedience is also required in the New Testament as the conditions of receiving the approval of God. Obedience of the divine requirements is the demonstration of our faith, and the test of our love and discipleship. Professing theories, and observing forms will not answer the requirements of God. The vital principle of love is kept active through obedience. ‘Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ [Matthew 5:20.]” The Signs of the Times, January 17, 1878.

Personal Review

No Excuse—“ To leave them without excuse, the Lord Himself condescended to come down upon Sinai, enshrouded in glory and surrounded by His angels, and in a most sublime and awful manner made known His law of Ten Commandments. He did not trust them to be taught by anyone, not even His angels, but spoke His law with an audible voice in the hearing of all the people. He did not, even then, trust them to the short memory of a people who were prone to forget His requirements, but wrote them with His own holy finger upon tables of stone. He would remove from them all possibility of mingling with His holy precepts any tradition, or of confusing His requirements with the practices of men.” The Story of Redemption, 148.

A Condition for Salvation—“God has laid down the conditions of salvation. He requires that men keep his commandments as obedient children. The Holy Scriptures are full of lessons showing that God is satisfied with no partial obedience. He does not leave men to rely on their human judgment, and select that portion of his law which they choose to obey. They are required to have correct views of duty. They are not at liberty to accept what ignorant, sinful, feeble man may suggest, believe, or urge upon them; but they must take God’s word, and walk in accordance with his revealed will.” The Signs of the Times, July 24, 1884.

“God designed to teach the people that they must approach Him with reverence and awe, and in His own appointed manner. He cannot accept partial obedience. It was not enough that in this solemn season of worship nearly everything was done as He had directed. . . . Let no one deceive himself with the belief that a part of God’s commandments are nonessential, or that He will accept a substitute for that which He has required.” Conflict and Courage, 100. [Author’s italics.]

Reprinted with permission, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia, 2003.