Discussion Questions on Exodus 20:8-11; 31:12-16

Some of you or some in your Bible class may or may not remember the Blue Laws that once prevailed in many towns in the United States and elsewhere. Blue Laws were: “Laws prohibiting certain activities, such as shopping, on a Sunday.” In my small town, only essential services and shops were open on Sunday; for example, the pharmacies took turns being open (only one each Sunday) as well as gasoline service stations (only one each Sunday). No retail businesses were open, but all of the restaurants were open. In my town, the Blue Laws were voluntary. Later, a shopping center came to our town and the shops were open seven days a week; whereas, the downtown shops continued to adhere to the Blue Laws. Many of the downtown shops were “Mom and Pop” shops, which enabled the owners to have one day a week off from work. Most owners worked Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday was a welcome day for worship and rest (and yes, even yard work).

What do you think about the benefits of Blue Laws, knowing that they will never be enacted nationwide? Can you think of any businesses that abide by a Blue Law? Why do they do so? How “successful” are they? How does their abiding by a Blue Law benefit their employees and their families? Would you recommend that a shop owner abide by a Blue Law? If so, why or why not?


  • I am the Sunday school teacher at my church and there is a confussion on how these commandments apply to us in this day and time, could anyone help me with this issue?
  • Thanks for your comment and question. You asked about how these commandments apply to us in this day and time. I cannot give a definitive and final answer, just some thoughts that have helped me over the years. Jesus offers us some guidelines. He came to fulfill the law and the prophets, which means He obeyed the law of God perfectly and made some laws obsolete by His sacrificial death.

    Many draw a distinction between ceremonial laws and the moral laws in the Old Testament; therefore, the ceremonial laws no longer apply and the indwelling Holy Spirit helps believers obey the moral laws. The moral laws of God, including the Ten Commandments, are expressions of the Law of Love for God and neighbor. When we read the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shows the type of obedience the moral law of God requires: heart obedience and not just external obedience.

    Jesus said the Sabbath law was made for our benefit; therefore, we should rest one day a week and worship the Lord — that is best for our human nature as created by God.

    In reflecting on the contemporary application of the laws of the Sabbath, some Christians close their business on Sundays so all of their employees can rest and worship on Sunday. Other Christians keep their businesses open because they have employees who will work on Sunday, thus enabling themselves to rest and worship on Sunday. Which approach seems best in the context of both the Old and New Testaments and in fulfilling the Law of Love?

    I try to understand the Old Testament laws that seem to apply to Israel only and the laws that seem to apply to everyone, then study the gospel of Jesus and the New Testament and pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in understanding and applying what I learn. No one can be saved by obedience to the law, but there is an obedience that flows from faith in Jesus Christ as guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Obeying God expresses our love for God and our decision to bring God happiness.

    There is much more that can be shared on this topic. I hope some other teachers and Bible students can add to what I have written here. I do think most of us will face this and similar questions in our classes and general conversation from time to time. 

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