2nd Quarter: The Promise: God’s Everlasting Covenant
Lesson 9 : Covenant Sign
Tuesday: Covenant Sign
Text: [[Exo 31:16,17]] BSB
The Israelites must observe the Sabbath, celebrating it as a lasting covenant for the generations to come. It is a sign between Me and the Israelites forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’”
The Sabbath was a great memorial for Israel for several reasons. Before Sinai, God used the Sabbath (which they knew already) as a test of their obedience and faithfulness. Their failure left them with a great lesson of how particular God is about his laws. From Sinai and beyond, the Sabbath became the covenant sign between God and Israel. Remember that at Sinai, God made a covenant with Israel to be their God. Also, it was through the covenant that He promised redemption.
In the Bible, the Sabbath as a “sign” functioned as an outward mark or object or condition intended to convey a distinctive message. Nothing in the sign itself particularly linked it to the covenant. The Sabbath was a covenant sign “between me and you throughout your generations” (Exod. 31:13). In Ezekiel, He reminded them that *the Sabbath was a sign that He was their God, and that He sanctifies them* (20:12,20). These 2 relations were established within the covenant. Notice that the Sabbath wasn’t the covenant, it was a sign – an expression of who/what God is to them.
Israel saw in the Sabbath a foretaste of salvation in the Messiah. Because we understand redemption as coming only from grace, and because we understand the covenant to be a covenant of grace, the link between the Sabbath, redemption, and the covenant is made clear (see Deut. 5:13–15). Thus, contrary to common opinion, the Sabbath is a sign of God’s saving grace; it’s not a sign of salvation by works. The Sabbath isn’t kept to be saved, it’s kept as a sign that we have salvation only through God’s grace. This message must be evident in our Sabbath observance.
How do you understand what it means to “rest” on the Sabbath? How do you rest on the Sabbath? What do you do differently on that day that makes it a “sign”? Could someone who knows you look at your life and see that the Sabbath really is a special day for you?