Week Two Handout for Advent Sabbath Study
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This week our theme is “A Tale of Two Systems: Pharaoh’s & Yahweh’s.” In order to understand the gift nature of the Sabbath command, we must first understand the context into which God offered it.
Read the following passage in order to understand what the Hebrew people’s lives were like BEFORE the covenant on Mt. Sinai: Exodus 5:1-21.
Questions to ask of this passage:
- What are Pharaoh’s chief concerns and goals here?
- How would you describe Pharaoh’s leadership style and personality?
- What are the effects of Pharaoh’s system and style on the Hebrews?
- Do any remnants of Pharaoh’s style and system linger in America today?
Read pages 22-24 of the Brueggemann material below, starting at Part II on the middle of 22 and ending where Part III begins on 24.
Questions to ask of the Brueggemann passage:
- How does all this remembering of Pharaoh and Egypt prepare the Hebrews for the commandments in general and the Sabbath commandment in particular?
- How does all of this context help us better understand both the covenant being offered on Sinai AND the God who was offering it?
Reread Exodus 20:8-11. What is different about reading it this time, in light of Exodus 5:1-20 and in light of Brueggemann pgs 22-24?
Read Brueggeman 24-33, taking notes on what strikes you as most important and significant in these pages. Highlight specific passages you’d like to discuss at our next group meeting.
Writing Prompts to Reflect on in your Journal:
- How are you feeling about and understanding the Sabbath command now?
- How has examining the historical context of the commandment changed your understanding of the Sabbath and the God who offers it to us?
- Thinking about Pharaoh’s approach to the economy and work, what aspects of our lives and our culture today seem more in line with Pharaoh’s ways than God’s? Be specific.