Repetition and renewal, covenant and consequences provide avenues for God’s ways to become our ways as well.
Read the Student Lesson as well as the Teacher's Guide. This will provide everything you need to teach the Youth Sabbath School lesson.
This childhood game of dropping a cluster of colorful sticks on the table and then picking them up one at a time without moving any other stick takes a steady hand and some strategy. Eventually it becomes too difficult and another stick is moved because of its connection to the stick you try to retrieve. When an unintended stick moves, you lose your turn to the next person. The individual who ends up with the most sticks wins.
There are multiple spiritual analogies with this game. Our lesson this week shows connections between law and love, as well as the connection between various laws.
There are other versions of this game, such as Kerplunk or Jenga, or the highly physical Twister. If you have a large group, divide them into smaller groups to play simultaneously. You could also do large scale version of pick-up sticks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYgLhDedV_Y or create your own version of Kerplunk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZ16GMVBsm4
They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but what if it’s only worth a few words? Rebus puzzles are pictures/artwork that represent a word or phrase. Solving a Rebus puzzle requires thinking in certain ways. You can find all sorts of these online or in books. Click on the button below and you’ll have 10 Rebus puzzles at your disposal.
You can make this a team competition by giving one side five or 10 seconds to get the correct answer and then giving it to the other side. Alternate who goes first. The purpose of this opening activity is to help people think in more than one way. That is important with the topic of “Law and Love Revisited” because reconciling those concepts can be a challenge.
As we consider “Law and Love Revisited,” be careful that you keep those concepts together. When people carelessly mention how easily they break God’s law, we would do better to see that as diminishing or destroying love. This is true for God’s love and laws, as well as the love and laws/rules we have in relationships with friends and family.
This is a short video and an idea to help you create your own video on this week’s topic, plus a few follow-up questions to spark discussion afterwards.
Create a video clip that taps into this week’s topic of “Law and Love Revisited.” Read the Scripture passage, the overview of the lesson, and the lesson itself to prepare your creativity for a video to spark thoughtful discussion. Ask someone in advance to create follow-up questions based on these video clips.
Hear what a child psychologist says about how to get kids to listen. As you watch this video, ask yourself if this applies to teens or just to children. Ask yourself how this relates to your relationship with God.
These are more approaches to the same topic featured in the Teacher’s Guide, but just a different way of looking at it. Expect activities to illustrate the topic followed by some questions.
BIBLE STUDY OPTIONS
BASED ON DEUTERONOMY 4:1-14, 32-40; 6:1-25
In the past few weeks our Sabbath School topics have moved from the Israelites’ freedom from slavery in Egypt, to the Red Sea crossing, to Mount Sinai and beyond. We have discussed the 12 spies that went into Canaan and the people’s surprising preference to return to Egypt rather than enter the Promised Land. God told them that because of their lack of faith they would return to the wilderness until the older generation died. Then their children, whom they claimed would die if they entered Canaan, would be the ones to enter Canaan. The Israelites spent a total of 40 years wandering in the wilderness.
Before Moses’s death, he gave the Israelites a remix of the laws God had given on Mount Sinai. The majority of the Israelites at this time had not even been born when that happened. The Mount Sinai experience was something they only heard about secondhand.
When we memorize the names of the books of the Bible, we start with Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Today we’re looking at the early chapters in Deuteronomy. The name of this book is a compound word in Greek: deuteros = second and nomos = law. So Deuteronomy is the second giving of God’s law. We could call it the Mount Sinai Remix, or “Law and Love Remix.”
By the time we get to Deuteronomy 4, Moses is preparing the people to understand the importance of God’s law. The first 14 verses can be divided into three paragraphs. Take one of these three paragraphs and summarize it into one sentence. We’re going to do this with several rounds of passages from Deuteronomy chapters 4 and 6. Here’s the first set of three.
If you have three people in your Youth Sabbath School, give paragraph one to each. If you have a different number, adjust accordingly. If you have a large group of 10+, have groups read their paragraph and discuss it before someone summarizes it. You can have the teens look up these verses on their own or download and print the handouts below.
Later in the same chapter you can find more on why it’s important to follow God’s laws. Does this seem like love, or something else?
You can have the youth look up these verses on their own, or you can hand them out. They are page 2 of the previous downloadable handout, paragraphs 4, 5, and 6 for Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 35-36, and 37-40.
How quickly can you put together a jigsaw puzzle? Some people can do this very quickly while others need more time. But perhaps the bigger difference would be your age! If we did a puzzle with someone from Beginner Roll Sabbath School, they would probably just put the puzzle pieces in their mouths rather than assembling them into a pre-determined picture. Those in Kindergarten Sabbath School would do better, but probably not nearly as well as you. Those in Junior Sabbath School can be pretty competitive. You might need to use a puzzle with more pieces. Kids are able to complete more complex tasks as they mature.
Give the teens a 24-piece puzzle. If you have two of these, time two different volunteers or two different groups. Then switch puzzles and time them again. If you have just one puzzle, time the volunteer assembling it. If you want to make it more difficult, don’t let them see the picture they are trying to assemble. If you want to make it even more difficult, keep the puzzle pieces turned over so they have to assemble them only by shape—not by the picture or design.
Next, try a more complicated puzzle—one with 50 or 100 pieces. This will obviously take more time and skill. You have the same options of having just one volunteer do the puzzle, or a group. You can choose to not let them see the picture they are assembling, or be able to see it. And you can keep the puzzle pieces turned over so they have to assemble them only by shape.
If you want to really push the envelope (and take more time), try a 250-300-piece puzzle. And once again, you have options for how they could do it.
Earlier in the lesson we looked at a few paragraphs in Deuteronomy 4. We’re now going to do the same with Deuteronomy 6. The emphasis has shifted to instructing parents/guardians how to pass along these important rules to their children. This is the passage many parents turn to for passing on their faith to their children as well as how to be a good parent/guardian.
The remaining portion of Deuteronomy 6 has three more paragraphs (Deuteronomy 6:10-13, 14-19, and 20-25) that complete our remix of law and love. Consider your paragraph, discuss it if you’re in a group, and summarize it before responding to the questions for the entire Youth Sabbath School.
As the first generation died off in the wilderness over the 40 years of wandering, Moses brought the next generation to the border of the Promised Land. Most of these Israelites weren’t even born when God spoke his law to his people from Mount Sinai. It was time for the next generation to get a remix of God’s law of love, which was termed “Law and Love Revisited” for this lesson. We looked at Deuteronomy chapters 4 and 6 for an overview. The missing chapter (5) contains the 10 commandments (as found in Exodus 20).
Today’s lesson, “Law and Love Remix,” challenges us to consider God’s laws as God’s love directions in a new way and a new time. With the puzzles we put together we noted that sometimes one piece doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, yet it’s an important part of the overall picture. It’s possible that some of God’s laws seem like unrelated pieces until we see the overall picture.
Ask four people about one of God’s laws that didn’t make sense to them at one time in their life, but maybe it makes sense now (or maybe it still doesn’t make sense). Check with someone who is a senior citizen, someone who is about the age of your parents/guardians, someone who is close to your age, and someone 4-5 years younger than you. In your short dialogue, see how this relates to your own understanding of God’s laws of love.
BASED ON DEUTERONOMY 5:1-21
Move the participants to the front of the room and ask them to stand on an imaginary line from one side wall to the other. Point to one wall and label it as “Thou shalt.” Point to the opposite wall and label it as “Thou shalt not.” Then ask the participants to move along the imaginary line between these two extremes based on the following statement:
When you think of God’s commandments, how do they come across to you: Thou shalt or thou shalt not, or somewhere between those two extremes?
Give your participants time to move to the spot of their choice along the continuum, and then to respond verbally once each person has selected their space. It’s okay if this takes a little bit of time because you want them to give it some thought. Draw out their comments rather than pushing your own as the teacher.
Here are some tidbits that may come out in the discussion: When you think of the 10 commandments, most of them are “Thou shalt not” statements. Literally, eight of the 10 begin with, “Thou shalt not . . .” with only two of them stated positively. Those are the fourth commandment to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. . .” and the fifth commandment to “Honor your father and mother. . .”
Some people think of the two broad commands to love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) as a positive summary of the 10 commandments. And some will collapse those two into a single word: love.
But there are plenty of additional laws. The book of Deuteronomy (which literally means “the second giving of the law”) has 34 chapters of laws.
In the story of Creation you can find God made a statement/law with both positive and negative statements. You can find it in Genesis 2:16-17 when God told Adam, “You can eat any fruit in the garden [positive] except [negative] from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Notice the contrast of “any” and “except” and how there was only one exception. For many people, as soon as they hear the exception, that’s the only thing they want. It’s often disappointing when they get it, especially if their goal was simply to disobey an authority figure rather than enjoy whatever it was.
God could have said, “You can eat cherries, apples, bananas, plums, apricots, peaches, kiwis, pineapples, oranges, mangoes, pomegranates, pears, grapefruits, dates, tangerines, nectarines, papaya, passion fruit”—you get the idea. It’s often easier to just say, “Don’t _____” and identify one thing rather than stating in the positive, “Do _____ and _____ and _____ and _____ and _____ and _____ and _____.”
Our passage for study is Deuteronomy 5:1-21. This is another rendering of the 10 commandments. Of course, the book of Deuteronomy is the second giving of the law, so it includes those same 10 commandments we found in Exodus 20:1-17.
I have a handout of this passage so you can mark it up. (You can do this electronically as well.) I’d like for you to highlight all the positive statements and sentences in this passage. And then use a different color to highlight all the negative statements in this passage. You can find plenty of both.
Young children usually need for laws or rules to be spelled out in simple and specific ways. “Don’t hit your sister” and “eat your food” and “stop jumping on the bed” and “stay in your car seat.” Well-meaning parents/guardians sometimes provide lengthy explanations for the rules they use. But children typically just argue about the explanations rather than actually understanding them. Part of the reason is because their brains are still developing.
The human brain has two hemispheres. It’s usually not until the teen years that the two halves come together and make new connections that enable the brain to understand cause and effect and reasoning. This is when concepts and reasons start to make sense. Prior to this, it was a matter of memorizing all the rules. Now a young person can get along with fewer rules if they understand the concept and can apply that to multiple areas in life. Do you remember when you were able to start thinking in these new ways?
When an adult says, “Love this person,” such a command or suggestion may be too abstract for a child. Specific behaviors rather than concepts might need to be spelled out. For example, instead of the abstract concept of “love this person,” a specific behavior might be “let this person go first” or “stop hitting this person.” When a young child hears “love this person” they might only come up with the behavior “hug this person” unless someone spells it out for them. As children grow up, they have the capacity to memorize more and more details, so they might memorize 20-30 possible ways to “love this person” but might still prefer that someone tells them which one to do since they can’t come up with anything beyond the memorized behaviors. And that can easily miss the point of truly loving others.
What about you? Are you able to understand the connection between a command like “love this person” and the application of that command with specific behaviors? Are you able to come up with your own examples beyond what may have been memorized?
When we say God’s laws demonstrate his love, only those who can reason from cause to effect, or from principle to application, can come up with examples. Others will simply be able to memorize the statement, and will have to revisit this later in life when they are able to make connections of the abstract with the concrete.
Take a large bicycle wheel with lots of spokes. Invite youth to take hold of one part of the outer section of the wheel and see how the spokes go from there to the center of the wheel. Explain that the center hub of the wheel represents the principle of love and the spokes are like the many different ways people can take that one principle and live it out in different ways on different days and in different places with different people. For example, you love your parents/guardians, but you love them differently than a sibling or a friend. And that is different than loving pizza, summertime, or Sabbath School.
Go around the circle and ask each person to give a specific example of how to live out the core principle of love. Depending on the size of your group, you may need more than one wheel with spokes. You may also choose to go around the circle more than one time.
Repeat this activity with other core principles such as honesty, kindness, respect, joy, responsibility, courtesy, forgiveness, encouragement, etc.
We started with stating laws or rules in negative or positive ways. We have both from God. And God repeated his major rules, the 10 commandments, with his people about 40 years after making them clear from Mount Sinai. There was a completely new generation that needed these repeated. Sometimes it’s easier to say “No” to one thing than to take the time to say “Yes” to many other things. We also considered the need for brain development to the point of understanding principles and then the application of those principles to various specific situations. Until a person is able to do that, they need someone to spell it out for them or to memorize specific applications until they can figure out the relationship between principles/rules/laws and applications of those core principles.
Take the two-side sheet with “YES and NO” on one side and “Core Principles and Applications” on the other side. You may do this in Youth Sabbath School and then give another copy for the youth to take with them to put into practice during the week. They can also use it as a discussion starter with others, including siblings and/or parents/guardians.
The “YES and NO” side of the sheet deals with stating a law or rule in either positive or negative ways. Do this individually and then in a group.
“Core Principles and Applications” takes the bicycle wheel illustration and activity as a springboard for core principles and then multiple applications of those principles. It’s a major step to be able to figure this out. But it often takes God’s help to put the core principles into practice. Pray for both for this week.
BASED ON DEUTERONOMY 4:15-20; 5:12-16; EXODUS 20:8-11
When Moses gave the next generation of Israelites God’s law before they entered the Promised Land of Canaan, it shouldn’t surprise us that the 10 Commandments God spoke from Mount Sinai received special mention. Some people prefer Jesus’ summary of the law to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all you mind, and with all your strength” (Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31, and Luke 10:27). But Jesus was merely reciting Deuteronomy 6:4-5. It is this foundational statement that Moses told the adults to pass along to their children from generation to generation (see Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
When Seventh-day Adventists reference the “Sabbath commandment,” or fourth commandment, we usually go to Exodus 20:8-11 where God spoke these words from Mount Sinai shortly after rescuing the Israelites from centuries of Egyptian slavery. Rarely do we refer to the Deuteronomy 5 version that Moses passed along to the next generation about 40 years later. Perhaps it’s because the Mount Sinai version came from the voice of God and was written on stone tablets—perhaps that’s more authoritative in contrast to the Deuteronomy version that came from the mouth of Moses.
Look at the two passages side-by-side to note the similarities and the differences. You can make that comparison by reading the first one in Exodus 20:8-11 and then the second one in Deuteronomy 5:12-15. You can also print the Sabbath Commandments Compared handout.
The Exodus passage anchors the Sabbath to the creation of this earth. It’s like God wants to take up back to an Eden experience each week. Work isn’t bad. In fact, God set up the first humans to work six days each week. But the seventh day each week was for resting from work. We could ask ourselves what we stop and what we don’t stop today, and how that affects our relationship with God.
The Exodus rendering roots the Sabbath in something from the distant past—distant for both the Israelites and for us. The Deuteronomy passage roots the Sabbath in something more recent for the Israelites—their freedom from Egyptian bondage. While that was a long time ago for you, it wasn’t for the Israelites. It would be worthwhile for us to ask for a more recent experience of Sabbath in addition to the distant rooting in creation and freedom from slavery.
As a few people to volunteer for the next activity. Select a volunteer to be wrapped in toilet paper. Start around the ankles and wrap the person so they look a little bit like a mummy. Wrap the legs together (not separately), and be sure the arms are wrapped inside the body. Be careful around the face so you don’t cut off breathing—keep the mouth and nostrils free of any obstruction, as well as the eyes.
You may want to some of the questions now, or you can opt to do all the questions after the person has been set free by removing the toilet paper.
God began the Sabbath at creation. The fourth commandment anchors the Sabbath in the creation story. The Israelites had experienced Sabbath in the desert already through the manna experience. God told them to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). When Moses gave the laws to the next generation of Israelites before entering Canaan, he anchored the Sabbath commandment in freedom from slavery for God’s people. Both roots have meaning for us today. And since the Sabbath is a symbol, it has multiple meanings in addition to these two. We can benefit by learning from the past as well as personally experiencing Sabbath today.
The Sabbath commandment is a gift and also a command (yes, it is a commandment), which means it’s not optional. It’s common for Seventh-day Adventists to either make it a controlling day, or break free and do one’s own thing rather than God’s thing. To apply God’s gift of Sabbath to your life, spend this Sabbath afternoon laying out a tentative plan for how you will use the coming week to make the most of next Sabbath. Instead of collapsing into the Sabbath, make it the focal point of your week—your dedicated time with God.
Use the Weekly Cycle and Worship handout to start planning for the next six days of work and the Sabbath. It’s not a matter of doing your own thing for six days and then trying to figure out God’s thing on Sabbath. Every day is with Jesus. But, just like a date, putting together a plan gets you invested in what God has invested in you, and that’s when your relationship with God can grow.
This is a bonus just for the youth leader—a quick tip and an illustration to enhance your youth leadership. You may already know this idea, have learned it through trial and error, or just need a quick reminder.
Youth Sabbath School leaders and teachers share lots of information with the teens. Go beyond information by making it personal—share how this has affected you when you were the age of the youth. And include how this affects you right now—whether you’re a teen, a young adult, and adult, or even a senior citizen. Don’t expect a teen to face the same things a senior citizen does, but your openness can help them open up as well as learn from your positive and negative experiences during your lifetime. Remember to take everything back to you and Jesus, not just you.
Here are a few resources to add to your collection as a Youth Sabbath School leader.
Here’s a paraphrase of the classic Ellen White booklet Steps to Christ. This version puts it in today’s English and it’s formatted as a daily devotional for people of all ages. A two-page spread per day ends with a thought question prompt and a prayer starter. You can use this for personal devotions as well as for a small group discussion starter. Purchase in paperback https://www.adventsource.org/store/youth-ministries/leadership/connection-how-to-have-a-relationship-with-god-36147 or as an audio book https://www.adventsource.org/store/youth-ministries/leadership/connection-audio-book-36478
Instead of breaking everyone into separate age groups, what if the church sought to bring all ages together? The Global Resource Collective does this by acknowledging and working through seven natural age segments, but keeping the same focus so all are moving together. Find out more at https://boulder.church/global-resource-collective. An annual donation of $129 gives you access to an entire package of resources for your church.
One service of the Global Resource Collective (see above) is a Daily Walk Reflection with different versions of the same topic for various age groups. You can have this delivered via email each day. Sign up at https://boulder.church/global-resource-collective
If you’d prefer the daily devotional as a podcast, you subscribe through Apple iTunes https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/boulder-church-daily-walk-podcast/id1378772386 or Google Play https://play.google.com/music/listen#/ps/Ii7ddeutoeuflhv4hn6i4daklma