To understand the meaning of the Sabbath and when the Sabbath is to be observed.
Read or summarize the following:
In the Fourth of God’s 10 Commandments, He tells us about a very special day called the Sabbath. God gives us six days to complete all our work and then gives us the seventh day to rest from our regular work and to spend extra time with Him, with our family, and with our church family! God set the example for us by working six days on creation and then resting on the seventh day.
Exodus 20:8-11 – God gives the Fourth Commandment at Mount Sinai.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work; you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor you cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”
Genesis 2:1-3 – God shows us that He rested on the seventh day after His work was done. God set the seventh day apart from first six days of the week. He “sanctified” it, which means He set it apart as a special day with a special purpose.
“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.”
"The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath."
Mark 2:27 – God made the Sabbath for us! It is a gift to benefit us and to give us what we need. Think about all the great things we get to do because of the Sabbath—resting from schoolwork, spending extra time with family, enjoying special Sabbath meals, playing outside, going to church and learning about God, hanging out with our friends at church, and more!
“And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’”
Leviticus 23:103 – The Sabbath is one of God’s holy days. These are “feasts of the LORD” or God’s feasts. The Sabbath and other holy days were not made for just one group of people but for everyone! They are God’s special days that He gives as a gift to us! When God tells us that it is a “holy convocation,” that means that we are to gather together and attend church services with other people who want to do what God says.
“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.”’”
These are "feasts of the LORD" or God's feasts.
Isaiah 58:13-14 – These verses tell us that the Sabbath should be a day that looks different from others. It is a day not to do our regular routines but to do special activities that are not a part of the other six days. But the Sabbath is not about “don’t do this” or “don’t to that.” The Sabbath is about how God loves us so much that He gives us a day to take a break from our daily work. He created us, and He knows exactly what we need! When we find fun and meaningful ways to honor God on this seventh day (“call the Sabbath a delight”), God will bless us (“cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth”). Remember, this is also a day that God gives us to spend extra time with our family, including Him!
“If you turn your foot away from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
There are many ideas for making the Sabbath a special day with your children. Just a few ideas include:
- Going on Sabbath hikes.
- Enjoying special dinner or brunch with family or guests.
- Having a family game night.
- Putting on a play of a Bible story.
- Planning a hymn sing-a-long.
- Going on a picnic.
- Visiting an elderly member of the Church.
- Making encouraging cards for others.
- Baking a special dessert together.
- Reading Bible stories or having family Bible study.
During the Sabbath, have you or your children take a photo of something that has made the Sabbath extra special that day. It does not always have to be something “big” but could be something as simple as sitting down together and reading a Bible story. Then have your children write or type up a description of the activity. Print the photo, and put the photo and description, as well as any other decorations, on a piece of scrapbook paper to add to your Sabbath Scrapbook. Your children will be able to compile a book of special Sabbath memories that they can share with their own children one day!
Scrapbook and scrapbook paper
Photo printer paper and printer (or get pictures developed or use an instant camera)
Scrapbook stickers and accessories
Pen or marker
Sabbath Countdown Flip Chart
Download this helpful activity to count down to the Sabbath each week with your family!
Below are some examples of discussion starters to help your children understand more deeply the meaning of the Fourth Commandment and how to apply it in their own lives today.
Question: Why did God set apart the seventh day of the week?
Hint: Have your children think about all the things that need to get done during the week—schoolwork, homework, sports practice, music practice, chores around the house, etc. Ask your children how they feel at the end of a busy day or busy week. God knows we have very busy lives with many things to get done. So He gives us a day to take a break from doing all those daily tasks. God wants us to look forward to the Sabbath as a day to rest, to focus on creation, to spend more time with family, to draw closer to God, and to learn more about Him and His plan for us. These are some of the most important things in our lives, and by setting apart the Sabbath, God is giving us the time to focus on them.
Question: Why don’t we go to church on Sunday instead?
Hint: In the Bible, God tells us that the seventh day is the Sabbath. Sunday is the first day of the week, and Saturday is the seventh. God set aside only the seventh day and made it special, not the first day or any other day we choose. Some people go to church on Sunday because a long time ago a leader in another church decided to change the day people go to church. God never changed the Sabbath, a human being changed it. We follow what God says to do in His Word, the Bible, and that is why we do not go to church on Sunday.
Question: Is it really that important not to do any work on the Sabbath? What about going to friend’s birthday party on Saturday? That isn’t work, is it?
Hint: Have your children imagine that there was a special event planned, perhaps a trip to go to a special place that they really want to see. They set the day aside, and it was going to be a special day for them and family or friends to spend together. But then no one showed up. What if this happened every time they planned a special day? How would that make them feel?
God set aside a special day for us to spend extra time with Him, our families, and our church family. It is a special time to learn more about God and to rest from the normal activities of life. Attending a birthday party is not necessarily work, but it is also not time spent focusing on God and the special time He has given us. God really wants to spend time with us! It would be like telling God that something else was more important than what He planned. We have six whole days for other activities. It is not always easy to make that choice, but just remember how much God loves us and wants us to be in His family for all of eternity!
Question: How can you make the Sabbath special?
Hint: Have your children think back on some of their favorite Sabbath activities. Remind your children that the Sabbath is a delight when we spend time with God, with family, and with church family. Ask your children how they could include those people (or God!) in some of their favorite activities or a new Sabbath activity. For example, maybe your children say they love to have a special Sabbath dinner. Ask your children whom they might like to invite from church to share a Sabbath dinner together. Then have your children create an invitation for dinner to give to that person or family. The possibilities for special Sabbath activities are endless!
The Israelites, Manna, and an Important Lesson
See the following lesson for further discussion on the importance of the Sabbath!
The Fourth Commandment encourages us to think back on creation. The following Bible story from Life, Hope & Truth summarizes the story of creation, including the Sabbath day.
Further Your Study
The Third Commandment in our 10 Commandment series teaches us not to misuse God's name. Read More >
What are some of your favorite things about the Sabbath? Get your family talking about the Sabbath with these guided discussion questions. Read More >