Author Topic: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 4--1st Quarter 2016--Conflict and Crisis: The Judges  (Read 5810 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Wally

  • Moderator
  • Posts: 5440
  • Romans 8:35, 38, 39
 Lesson 4 *January 16-22




Conflict and Crisis: The Judges



Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week's Study: Judges 4:1-24, Judges 6:1-40, Judges 14:1-20, Heb. 11:32, 1 Sam. 2:12-25, 8:1-7.

Memory Text: "And Hannah prayed and said: 'My heart rejoices in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation'" (1 Samuel 2:1, NKJV).

The time of the Judges was a chaotic period in sacred history. God's people did evil in the sight of the Lord, the Lord "sold" them into the hands of an oppressor, the people cried out to the Lord, and the Lord raised up a deliverer who brought peace to the land. That is, until the same sad cycle started again.

Deborah, one of Israel's judges, was remarkable for the confidence that she inspired in the men around her. She and Jael are heroines while the men needed encouraging because of their timidity and lack of faith. A recurring subtheme in the great controversy is also seen in the story of Gideon, when God's people face impossible odds.

Samson was one of the last of the judges. After him the nation descended into anarchy and hopelessness. He was the reluctant hero, one who was more interested in chasing women than in following God, a parallel to his countrymen who were more interested in worshiping idols than in serving the Lord.

Samuel brings hope to the nation. Under him a new leadership structure with kings was established, and one of his last acts was to anoint the future King David.

Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, January 23.

Sunday January 17

Deborah

The story of Deborah adds interesting details to the great- controversy theme. Here we see the people of God suffering oppression and facing impossible odds. This parallels what we observed in Revelation 12:1-17, with the incredibly unfair contest between a seven-headed dragon and a newborn baby (see Tuesday's study, Lesson 1).

The main characters in this story include Jabin, king of Canaan; Sisera, his army chief; and Deborah, a prophetess and a judge (one who settled civil disputes between opposing parties) who had a very unusual degree of authority and influence for a woman of that time.

Read Judges 4:1-24. In what ways do we see the great-controversy theme expressed here? In the end, who alone brought victory to Israel, despite their unworthiness?

The heroine of the story is Heber's wife, Jael, who is not afraid to identify with God's people and who played a crucial role in the defeat of God's enemies. Judging her actions from our perspective today isn't easy. The last thing we should do, though, is use her deeds to justify deception and violence in order to achieve our ends, no matter how right those ends might be.

In the discussions leading up to the conflict, Deborah assures Barak that the battle will be God's (an echo of the great controversy, for sure). Two verbs are used to describe how God would do this (Judg. 4:7). He will "draw" Sisera (the word suggests catching fish in a net) to the River Kishon, where He will "deliver" him into Barak's hand. Deborah's song of thanksgiving (Judges 5:1-31) reveals some of the details. Sisera's chariots became bogged down in the narrow passes near the River Kishon because of heavy rain. The heavens and the clouds "pour" and the mountains "gush" water (Judges 5:4-5, NKJV), producing a flash flood that sweeps away many enemy soldiers (Judges 5:21), and Israel is delivered.

Think of the confidence these men of war had in Deborah. While on one level that was good (obviously), why must we always be careful in how much confidence we put in anyone?

Monday January 18

Gideon

Read Judges 6:1. What is happening here? See Judges 6:10.

After Deborah, the land enjoyed peace for the next 40 years, but soon they were back in the hands of oppressors. This time it was the Midianites, who, with their allies, would enter Israel and destroy all the newly planted crops and steal the livestock (Judg. 6:3-5). Israel became greatly impoverished and cried out to the Lord (Judg. 6:6-7). They realized that their fashionable gods were of no use now.

Read Judges 6:12-16. What did the Angel of the LORD say to Gideon, and what was Gideon's reaction? Shouldn't he have known why they were facing what they were? See Judges 6:7-10.

Despite Gideon's complaint, which was unwarranted (they were disobedient; that's why they were oppressed), God was ready to deliver, again, but this time through Gideon. How interesting that God would call Gideon a "mighty man of valor," even though Gideon viewed himself as something else entirely: "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house" (Judg. 6:15, NKJV). No question, a crucial component of Gideon's strength was his own sense of unimportance and weakness.

Notice, too, what Gideon had asked of the Lord, in Judges 6:36-40. That is, aware of the odds against them and his own weakness, he sought for special assurance of God's presence. Thus, we have here a man who fully realized his utter dependence upon the Lord. We can read in Judges 7:1-25 about Gideon's amazing success against the oppressors of his people and God's deliverance of Israel.

Why did the Lord choose to use fallen humans in the course of this deliverance? That is, could He have not Himself called "more than twelve legions of angels" (Matt. 26:53) to do what was needed for Israel at that time? What role do we, as fallen human beings, have in both the great controversy and the spreading of the gospel?
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

  • Moderator
  • Posts: 5440
  • Romans 8:35, 38, 39
Tuesday January 19

Samson

The battle lines between good and evil are blurred in the story of Samson. His life starts in impressive fashion with an announcement from the Angel of the LORD that he is to be a Nazarite from birth. The Angel instructs Samson's parents how to prepare for their special baby. The mother is told not to drink alcohol or to eat forbidden food (Judg. 13:4, 13-14; see also Leviticus 11:1-47). God, indeed, had special plans for Samson; unfortunately, things didn't work out as well as they could have.

"Just as he was entering upon manhood, the time when he must execute his divine mission-the time above all others when he should have been true to God-Samson connected himself with the enemies of Israel. He did not ask whether he could better glorify God when united with the object of his choice, or whether he was placing himself in a position where he could not fulfill the purpose to be accomplished by his life. To all who seek first to honor Him, God has promised wisdom; but there is no promise to those who are bent upon self-pleasing."-Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 563.

Read Judges 14:1-4. How is it possible that God used Samson's weakness for women as "an occasion to move against the Philistines?" Judges 14:4, NKJV.

Samson "moved" against the Philistines in a number of ways, each in angry response to personal slights. First he killed 30 men and took their clothes back to his wedding feast to pay a debt (Judg. 14:19). Then he destroyed their crops when his wife was given to his best man (Judg. 14:20, 15:1-5). Then Samson killed many in revenge for the Philistines killing his wife and her father (Judg. 15:6-8). When the Philistines tried to avenge that action (Judg. 15:9-10), he killed 1,000 with a donkey's jawbone (Judg. 15:14-15). Finally he pulled down their temple and killed 3,000 for blinding him (Judg. 16:21, 28, 30).

Talk about a flawed hero. There seems to be very little from Samson that we should seek to emulate, even though he is listed in Hebrews 11:32 with some pretty exalted figures. Obviously, there's more to this story than meets the eye. Think about what God could have done with Samson. What about ourselves? How much more could we do were we living up to our potential?

Wednesday January 20

Ruth

Rather than talking about vast enemy armies that threaten God's people, the story of Ruth speaks about something smaller: a family almost dying out but, instead, being revived. While it includes two larger themes-God's creation being destroyed and His people being under threat-Ruth also tells of the great controversy on a personal level, where it is, in reality, always being waged.

It is no surprise that the land of Judah suffered a famine during the time of the judges (Ruth 1:1, Deut. 28:48, 32:24; see also Judg. 17:6, 21:25). This was a sign that the people of the covenant had forsaken God. Sin and rebellion had reduced the land flowing with milk and honey to a barren dust bowl but, in the book of Ruth, God "visited" the land and put life back into it, "giving them bread" again (Ruth 1:6).

When Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two young sons first went to Moab, they did so because they wanted a future. The land of the enemy gave temporary relief but, with her husband and two sons dead, Naomi finally decided to go back home.

Read Ruth 1:8, 16-17. What is the significance of Ruth wanting to go with Naomi?

Ruth was from an enemy nation that had on many occasions tried to destroy Israel, but she chose to identify with God's people and worship their God. In addition, she found favor in the eyes of her adopted homeland, not just by Boaz (Ruth 2:10) but also by the people who knew of her (Ruth 2:11). Boaz was confident that she also found favor in God's eyes (Ruth 2:12), and taking his admiration for her a step further, he agreed to marry her (Ruth 3:10-11).

However, there was a closer relative than Boaz who had first claim to the land of the dead man if he married Ruth. The nearer relative was not interested in another wife, however, because it complicated his financial plans (Ruth 4:6). At this point the assembly of witnesses blessed Ruth, likening her to the great women of Israel's history (Ruth 4:11-12), which was fulfilled when she became a forebearer of the Messiah (Ruth 4:13-17; Matt. 1:5-6).

Talk about a living-happily-ever-after story. Unfortunately, there aren't too many of those in the Bible. Of course, there are not too many outside of the Bible either. Here, too, though, we can see how, despite the ebb and flow of life, God's will, in the end, shall prevail; and that's good news for all who love and trust Him.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

  • Moderator
  • Posts: 5440
  • Romans 8:35, 38, 39
Thursday January 21

Samuel

What does the beginning of the book of Samuel have to do with the great controversy? There is no obvious threat to the created order, and there are no vast armies at the border. The attack of evil is more subtle but no less real.

Read 1 Samuel 2:12-25. How do we see the reality of good versus evil revealed in these sad verses?

"But although he [Eli] had been appointed to govern the people, he did not rule his own household. Eli was an indulgent father. Loving peace and ease, he did not exercise his authority to correct the evil habits and passions of his children. Rather than contend with them or punish them, he would submit to their will and give them their own way."-Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 575.

In contrast to them, we see a small boy dressed as a priest (1 Sam. 2:18-19), who, like Jesus, "grew in stature, and in favor both with the LORD and men" (1 Sam. 2:26, NKJV; Luke 2:52). This Samuel, of course, went on to become a powerful and faithful leader in Israel. "And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD" (1 Sam. 3:20, ESV).

This does not mean, however, that everything went well. The nation faced war with the Philistines, and the two sons of Eli were killed; the Philistines captured the ark of God, and 98-year-old Eli died when he heard the news (1 Sam. 4:14-18).

Unfortunately, Samuel was to face the same problem that Eli did: sons who didn't follow in his footsteps of faithfulness and fidelity (1 Sam. 8:1-7).

Samuel marked a transition point in the history of God's people. He was the last of the judges and was a key figure in the developing great controversy. His stable influence guided the people at a critical time. It's a pity his sons did not follow in his steps, but God is not dependent on human dynasties. As a result of their apostasy, the elders demanded a king-not the best move, as centuries of later history would reveal.

No matter our home life, good or bad, we are responsible for whom we serve in the great controversy. Whatever mistakes you may have made, why must you always remember that today, now, is never too late to make it right with the Lord? Tomorrow might be too late, but not today.

Friday January 22

Further Thought: The Bible is known for not glossing over human sin, human evil. If it did, how could it, and portray accurately the state of humanity? An especially sharp depiction of human evil is found in 1 Samuel 2:12-25, when the sons of Eli are presented in contrast to the young Samuel. 1 Samuel 2:12 reads, "The sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD." Notice, first, the contrast: lineage played an important role in biblical life, and in this one line "the sons of Eli" are now, instead, "the sons of Belial." Belial is a rich word, used in a number of forms and contexts, almost always negative. In fact, it is related to the Hebrew bl and bli, which mean "no" or "not" or "without." Belial itself means "worthless," "useless," and in other places is used in the same way as it was in regard to Eli's sons; that is, other men were called "sons of Belial" (2 Chron. 13:7, 1 Kings 21:13). In Proverbs 6:12, it is equated with the wicked. (In other ancient near eastern literature, Belial is seen as another name for Satan himself.) In almost every use in the Bible, it appears as a negative. As human beings, created in the image of God, they were created for a purpose and to have meaning; and yet, according to the Bible, these men were all but worthless, "sons of worthlessness." What a tragic waste of life. We are either for the Lord, doing something of meaning and purpose for Him, or we are, in the end, worthless. That makes sense, too, considering that our whole existence and purpose for life comes only from Him.
Discussion Questions:

    The Bible makes it clear: there is no middle ground in the great controversy: we are either on one side or the other, Christ's or Satan's. Yet, life as we know it doesn't always unfold with such clear and stark contrasts, does it? Sometimes we aren't sure just what is the right decision or what is the wrong one; even with moral situations, as well. It's not always easy to determine what to do. What are some ways we can seek guidance to help us to make right choices when, at times, it's not so easy to know just what the "right" choice is?

    In what ways have people whom you have looked up to somehow disappointed you? At the same time, in what ways have you perhaps disappointed those who once looked up to you? What have you learned from these incidents about faith, trust, grace, and human frailty?

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40357
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online

Sabbath Afternoon


Read for This Week's Study: Judges 4:1-24, Judges 6:1-40, Judges 14:1-20, Heb. 11:32, 1 Sam. 2:12-25, 8:1-7.

Memory Text: "And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation." 1 Samuel 2:1

The time of the Judges was a chaotic period in sacred history. God's people did evil in the sight of the Lord, the Lord "sold" them into the hands of an oppressor, the people cried out to the Lord, and the Lord raised up a deliverer who brought peace to the land. That is, until the same sad cycle started again.

Deborah, one of Israel's judges, was remarkable for the confidence that she inspired in the men around her. She and Jael are heroines while the men needed encouraging because of their timidity and lack of faith. A recurring subtheme in the great controversy is also seen in the story of Gideon, when God's people face impossible odds.

Samson was one of the last of the judges. After him the nation descended into anarchy and hopelessness. He was the reluctant hero, one who was more interested in chasing women than in following God, a parallel to his countrymen who were more interested in worshiping idols than in serving the Lord.

Samuel brings hope to the nation. Under him a new leadership structure with kings was established, and one of his last acts was to anoint the future King David.

Yes, a new leadership under kings was established, but it was not for their good.  There was no reason for the nation to have hope when they moved from having God for their King to having a man rule over them. Have we learned from their mistake in rejecting God as the Ruler of our lives?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40357
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
Sunday January 17

Deborah

The story of Deborah adds interesting details to the great- controversy theme. Here we see the people of God suffering oppression and facing impossible odds. This parallels what we observed in Revelation 12:1-17, with the incredibly unfair contest between a seven-headed dragon and a newborn baby (see Tuesday's study, Lesson 1).

The main characters in this story include Jabin, king of Canaan; Sisera, his army chief; and Deborah, a prophetess and a judge (one who settled civil disputes between opposing parties) who had a very unusual degree of authority and influence for a woman of that time.

Read Judges 4:1-24.

4:1   And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead. 
 4:2   And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host [was] Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles. 
 4:3   And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel. 
 4:4   And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. 
 4:5   And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. 
 4:6   And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, [saying], Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? 
 4:7   And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand. 
 4:8   And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, [then] I will not go. 
 4:9   And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh. 
 4:10   And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him. 
 4:11   Now Heber the Kenite, [which was] of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which [is] by Kedesh. 
 4:12   And they showed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor. 
 4:13   And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, [even] nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that [were] with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon. 
 4:14   And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this [is] the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him. 
 4:15   And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all [his] chariots, and all [his] host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off [his] chariot, and fled away on his feet. 
 4:16   But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; [and] there was not a man left. 
 4:17   Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for [there was] peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. 
 4:18   And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle. 
 4:19   And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him. 
 4:20   Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No. 
 4:21   Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. 
 4:22   And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will show thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her [tent], behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail [was] in his temples. 
 4:23   So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel. 
 4:24   And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan. 


In what ways do we see the great-controversy theme expressed here? In the end, who alone brought victory to Israel, despite their unworthiness?

The heroine of the story is Heber's wife, Jael, who is not afraid to identify with God's people and who played a crucial role in the defeat of God's enemies. Judging her actions from our perspective today isn't easy. The last thing we should do, though, is use her deeds to justify deception and violence in order to achieve our ends, no matter how right those ends might be.

In the discussions leading up to the conflict, Deborah assures Barak that the battle will be God's (an echo of the great controversy, for sure). Two verbs are used to describe how God would do this (Judg. 4:7). He will "draw" Sisera (the word suggests catching fish in a net) to the River Kishon, where He will "deliver" him into Barak's hand. Deborah's song of thanksgiving (Judges 5:1-31) reveals some of the details.

 5:1   Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying, 
 5:2   Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves. 
 5:3   Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, [even] I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing [praise] to the LORD God of Israel. 
 5:4   LORD, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water. 
 5:5   The mountains melted from before the LORD, [even] that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel. 
 5:6   In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways. 
 5:7   [The inhabitants of] the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel. 
 5:8   They chose new gods; then [was] war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel? 
 5:9   My heart [is] toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD. 
 5:10   Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way. 
 5:11   [They that are delivered] from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, [even] the righteous acts [toward the inhabitants] of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates. 
 5:12   Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam. 
 5:13   Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty. 
 5:14   Out of Ephraim [was there] a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer. 
 5:15   And the princes of Issachar [were] with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley. For the divisions of Reuben [there were] great thoughts of heart. 
 5:16   Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben [there were] great searchings of heart. 
 5:17   Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches. 
 5:18   Zebulun and Naphtali [were] a people [that] jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field. 
 5:19   The kings came [and] fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money. 
 5:20   They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. 
 5:21   The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength. 
 5:22   Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the prancings, the prancings of their mighty ones. 
 5:23   Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty. 
 5:24   Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent. 
 5:25   He asked water, [and] she gave [him] milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish. 
 5:26   She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen's hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples. 
 5:27   At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead. 
 5:28   The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot [so] long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots? 
 5:29   Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself, 
 5:30   Have they not sped? have they [not] divided the prey; to every man a damsel [or] two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, [meet] for the necks of [them that take] the spoil? 
 5:31   So let all thine enemies perish, O LORD: but [let] them that love him [be] as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years. 
 


 Sisera's chariots became bogged down in the narrow passes near the River Kishon because of heavy rain.  "The heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water" (Judges 5:4-5)."The river of Kishon swept them away" (Judges 5:21), and Israel is delivered.

Think of the confidence these men of war had in Deborah. While on one level that was good (obviously), why must we always be careful in how much confidence we put in anyone?

Well...if they had confidence in a woman leader, that would show how far the men had fallen from grace. They appear to be cowards more than men. But, rather than putting their faith in a woman, maybe Barak placed his faith in God. She was a prophet of God. I am not sure how much confidence Barak had in God's prophet since he refused to go alone. It seems he was a little concerned and demanded she go with him.

God made a mockery of the men who had apostatized and were being judged by a woman. He not only gave them a woman to judge them, but sent a woman to deliver them from the King of Canaan. "As for my people, children [are] their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40357
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
Monday January 18

Gideon

Read Judges 6:1.

And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. 

What is happening here? See Judges 6:10.

And I said unto you, I [am] the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice. 

After Deborah, the land enjoyed peace for the next 40 years, but soon they were back in the hands of oppressors. This time it was the Midianites, who, with their allies, would enter Israel and destroy all the newly planted crops and steal the livestock (Judg. 6:3-5). Israel became greatly impoverished and cried out to the Lord (Judg. 6:6-7). They realized that their fashionable gods were of no use now.

Read Judges 6:12-16.

 6:12   And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD [is] with thee, thou mighty man of valour. 
 6:13   And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where [be] all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. 
 6:14   And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? 
 6:15   And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family [is] poor in Manasseh, and I [am] the least in my father's house. 
 6:16   And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. 


What did the Angel of the LORD say to Gideon, and what was Gideon's reaction? Shouldn't he have known why they were facing what they were? See Judges 6:7-10.

 6:7   And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites, 
 6:8   That the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; 
 6:9   And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land; 
 6:10   And I said unto you, I [am] the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice. 


Despite Gideon's complaint, which was unwarranted (they were disobedient; that's why they were oppressed), God was ready to deliver, again, but this time through Gideon. How interesting that God would call Gideon a "mighty man of valor," even though Gideon viewed himself as something else entirely: "Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family [is] poor in Manasseh, and I [am] the least in my father's house." Judg. 6:15. No question, a crucial component of Gideon's strength was his own sense of unimportance and weakness.

Notice, too, what Gideon had asked of the Lord, in Judges 6:36-40. That is, aware of the odds against them and his own weakness, he sought for special assurance of God's presence. Thus, we have here a man who fully realized his utter dependence upon the Lord. We can read in Judges 7:1-25 about Gideon's amazing success against the oppressors of his people and God's deliverance of Israel.

Why did the Lord choose to use fallen humans in the course of this deliverance? That is, could He have not Himself called "more than twelve legions of angels" (Matt. 26:53) to do what was needed for Israel at that time? What role do we, as fallen human beings, have in both the great controversy and the spreading of the gospel?

It is important to understand our role in both the proclamation of the gospel and how God wants to use us in the battle between good and evil. In Sunday's lesson we did not comment on the lesson's statement about how God used a woman to deceive and kill the enemy of God and man. "The last thing we should do, though, is use her deeds to justify deception and violence in order to achieve our ends, no matter how right those ends might be." I think in the context of the questions just asked in today's lesson, we need to also address that statement.

Just today in another topic I addressed the pope's statement threatening anyone who would speak against his church. In the United States there is protection from such threats. But, I was careful to not include violence against those using violence. In other words there are times when as in the example before us in today's lesson, God has called on His people to use violence against those who are evil and using violence themselves. Has God changed? God does not change. Ought there be protection against ISIS?  Can they be won over by negotiation and peaceful means? I am not suggesting we gather up arms and go to Syria to battle ISIS. I am talking about principle that appears to be wrong in regards to what was said in yesterday's lesson. Our God does not err.

God would have murderers put to death, but the governments in many countries can no longer be trusted to not put to death innocents who are accused, but not guilty. So, it is just the principle I am attempting to make clear, not what we must do today in our battle against crime.  We have a work to do. It is to spread the gospel, not to overcome the Roman armies.



Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40357
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
Tuesday January 19

Samson


The battle lines between good and evil are blurred in the story of Samson. His life starts in impressive fashion with an announcement from the Angel of the LORD that he is to be a Nazarite from birth. The Angel instructs Samson's parents how to prepare for their special baby. The mother is told not to drink alcohol or to eat forbidden food (Judg. 13:4, 13-14; see also Leviticus 11:1-47). God, indeed, had special plans for Samson; unfortunately, things didn't work out as well as they could have.

"Just as he was entering upon manhood, the time when he must execute his divine mission-the time above all others when he should have been true to God-Samson connected himself with the enemies of Israel. He did not ask whether he could better glorify God when united with the object of his choice, or whether he was placing himself in a position where he could not fulfill the purpose to be accomplished by his life. To all who seek first to honor Him, God has promised wisdom; but there is no promise to those who are bent upon self-pleasing."-Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 563.

Read Judges 14:1-4.

 14:1   And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. 
 14:2   And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. 
 14:3   Then his father and his mother said unto him, [Is there] never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. 
 14:4   But his father and his mother knew not that it [was] of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel. 


How is it possible that God used Samson's weakness for women as an occasion to move against the Philistines?

God often turns evil to good. The Bible also says God hardened Pharaoh's heart. But, God does not do evil, neither does he make a man choose evil. Both Pharaoh  and Sampson chose to do evil. Another example of such a thing is the evil done by Joseph's brothers. God did not lead them to sell Joseph,  but God turned their evil deed to good. One last example is the rise of Islam. God used Islam and its horrendous evil practices of torture to block the expansion of the papacy and to allow the growth of the Protestant Reformation.

Samson "moved" against the Philistines in a number of ways, each in angry response to personal slights. First he killed 30 men and took their clothes back to his wedding feast to pay a debt (Judg. 14:19). Then he destroyed their crops when his wife was given to his best man (Judg. 14:20, 15:1-5). Then Samson killed many in revenge for the Philistines killing his wife and her father (Judg. 15:6-8). When the Philistines tried to avenge that action (Judg. 15:9-10), he killed 1,000 with a donkey's jawbone (Judg. 15:14-15). Finally he pulled down their temple and killed 3,000 for blinding him (Judg. 16:21, 28, 30).

Talk about a flawed hero. There seems to be very little from Samson that we should seek to emulate, even though he is listed in Hebrews 11:32 with some pretty exalted figures. Obviously, there's more to this story than meets the eye. Think about what God could have done with Samson. What about ourselves? How much more could we do were we living up to our potential?

That is not a good lesson to draw from Sampson's life. Many of the "we" are not in the same boat as was Sampson.  It may be that the "we" sin as did Sampson, but few of the "we" are going to be listed with the Hebrews 11 men and women. It is not a matter of doing more for God. Laodiceans don't do anything for God. And, unless converted, they will be lost. Many in this condition have never been converted, they were buried alive by many who themselves were buried alive. There is a great deception regarding what it means to be "born again".

It is true that some Laodiceans were converted and it is true that some of them will turn and give their hearts to Christ again. The Laodicean message found in Revelation, chapter three will accomplish its work. There will be revival and reformation in the church.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40357
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
Wednesday January 20

Ruth


Rather than talking about vast enemy armies that threaten God's people, the story of Ruth speaks about something smaller: a family almost dying out but, instead, being revived. While it includes two larger themes-God's creation being destroyed and His people being under threat-Ruth also tells of the great controversy on a personal level, where it is, in reality, always being waged.

It is no surprise that the land of Judah suffered a famine during the time of the judges (Ruth 1:1, Deut. 28:48, 32:24; see also Judg. 17:6, 21:25). This was a sign that the people of the covenant had forsaken God. Sin and rebellion had reduced the land flowing with milk and honey to a barren dust bowl but, in the book of Ruth, God "visited" the land and put life back into it, "giving them bread" again (Ruth 1:6).

When Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two young sons first went to Moab, they did so because they wanted a future. The land of the enemy gave temporary relief but, with her husband and two sons dead, Naomi finally decided to go back home.

Read Ruth 1:8, 16-17.

1:8   And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. 
 1:16   And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, [or] to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people [shall be] my people, and thy God my God: 
 1:17   Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, [if ought] but death part thee and me.


What is the significance of Ruth wanting to go with Naomi?

Not just go with Naomi, but to serve her God. She must have come to know the God of heaven through Naomi to trust that much.


Ruth was from an enemy nation that had on many occasions tried to destroy Israel, but she chose to identify with God's people and worship their God. In addition, she found favor in the eyes of her adopted homeland, not just by Boaz (Ruth 2:10) but also by the people who knew of her (Ruth 2:11). Boaz was confident that she also found favor in God's eyes (Ruth 2:12), and taking his admiration for her a step further, he agreed to marry her (Ruth 3:10-11).

However, there was a closer relative than Boaz who had first claim to the land of the dead man if he married Ruth. The nearer relative was not interested in another wife, however, because it complicated his financial plans (Ruth 4:6). At this point the assembly of witnesses blessed Ruth, likening her to the great women of Israel's history (Ruth 4:11-12), which was fulfilled when she became a forebearer of the Messiah (Ruth 4:13-17; Matt. 1:5-6).


 4:1   Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down. 
 4:2   And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down. 
 4:3   And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which [was] our brother Elimelech's: 
 4:4   And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy [it] before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem [it], redeem [it]: but if thou wilt not redeem [it, then] tell me, that I may know: for [there is] none to redeem [it] beside thee; and I [am] after thee. And he said, I will redeem [it]. 
 4:5   Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy [it] also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance. 
 4:6   And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem [it] for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem [it]. 
 4:7   Now this [was the manner] in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave [it] to his neighbour: and this [was] a testimony in Israel. 
 4:8   Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy [it] for thee. So he drew off his shoe. 
 4:9   And Boaz said unto the elders, and [unto] all the people, Ye [are] witnesses this day, that I have bought all that [was] Elimelech's, and all that [was] Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi. 
 4:10   Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye [are] witnesses this day. 
 4:11   And all the people that [were] in the gate, and the elders, said, [We are] witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem: 
 4:12   And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman. 
 4:13   So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. 
 4:14   And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed [be] the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. 
 4:15   And he shall be unto thee a restorer of [thy] life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath borne him. 
 4:16   And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. 
 4:17   And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he [is] the father of Jesse, the father of David. 
 4:18   Now these [are] the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, 
 4:19   And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, 
 4:20   And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, 
 4:21   And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, 
 4:22   And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David. 


Talk about a living-happily-ever-after story. Unfortunately, there aren't too many of those in the Bible. Of course, there are not too many outside of the Bible either. Here, too, though, we can see how, despite the ebb and flow of life, God's will, in the end, shall prevail; and that's good news for all who love and trust Him.

God's will shall prevail. Amen! "Happily ever after" is not the Christian experience until we receive glorified bodies and leave this wicked sinful world. All we need do is read of the experiences of others and recall what we have been through after being converted. We glory in our tribulation because as we abide in Christ, we know the trials work for our good and God's glory. This is the experience we can expect and one that we rejoice in. God gives us grace no matter what we experience as we cling to Christ. Even Ruth suffered greatly. In these last days we are especially blessed to suffer for Christ's sake.  "God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as coworkers with Him. Not Enoch, who was translated to heaven, not Elijah, who ascended in a chariot of fire, was greater or more honored than John the Baptist, who perished alone in the dungeon. "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake" (Philippians 1:29). And of all the gifts that Heaven can bestow upon men, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the most weighty trust and the highest honor."  CC 278.

Amen!
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40357
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
Notice Elijah and Enoch were spoken of in comparison to John the Baptist who lost his life after being imprisoned in a dungeon. We don't read about Enoch's trials, but we surely do know about Elijah's.  And, in this our day, as Jesus is preparing a people to live through the time of trouble such as never was, do you think these faithful will be exposed to such great trials without first having developed a character that has some patience and experience in such things? God loves us and is preparing us for what lies ahead.

Yes, there is a "happily-ever-after story", after we see Jesus coming in the clouds of glory. What a story that will be!! In the meantime, we can peace that passes all understanding and joy in knowing we are serving a God who gave all for us while we were yet sinners! Consider this:

     The story of Bethlehem is an exhaustless theme. In it is hidden "the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God." Romans 11:33. We marvel at the Saviour's sacrifice in exchanging the throne of heaven for the manger, and the companionship of adoring angels for the beasts of the stall. Human pride and self-sufficiency stand rebuked in His presence. Yet this was but the beginning of His wonderful condescension. It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man's nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life. 
     Satan in heaven had hated Christ for His position in the courts of God. He hated Him the more when he himself was dethroned. He hated Him who pledged Himself to redeem a race of sinners. Yet into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life's peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss. 
     The heart of the human father yearns over his son. He looks into the face of his little child, and trembles at the thought of life's peril. He longs to shield his dear one from Satan's power, to hold him back from temptation and conflict. To meet a bitterer conflict and a more fearful risk, God gave His only-begotten Son, that the path of life might be made sure for our little ones. "Herein is love." Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth!
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40357
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
Thursday January 21

Samuel


What does the beginning of the book of Samuel have to do with the great controversy? There is no obvious threat to the created order, and there are no vast armies at the border. The attack of evil is more subtle but no less real.

Read 1 Samuel 2:12-25.

 2:12   Now the sons of Eli [were] sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. 
 2:13   And the priests' custom with the people [was, that], when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; 
 2:14   And he struck [it] into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh, unto all the Israelites that came thither. 
 2:15   Also before they burnt the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. 
 2:16   And [if] any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and [then] take [as much] as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, [Nay]; but thou shalt give [it me] now: and if not, I will take [it] by force. 
 2:17   Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD. 
 2:18   But Samuel ministered before the LORD, [being] a child, girded with a linen ephod. 
 2:19   Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought [it] to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 
 2:20   And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home. 
 2:21   And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD. 
 2:22   Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 
 2:23   And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. 
 2:24   Nay, my sons; for [it is] no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD's people to transgress. 
 2:25   If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall entreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.
 

How do we see the reality of good versus evil revealed in these sad verses?

"But although he [Eli] had been appointed to govern the people, he did not rule his own household. Eli was an indulgent father. Loving peace and ease, he did not exercise his authority to correct the evil habits and passions of his children. Rather than contend with them or punish them, he would submit to their will and give them their own way."-Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 575.

In contrast to them, we see a small boy dressed as a priest (1 Sam. 2:18-19), who, like Jesus, "grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men." (1 Sam. 2:26; Luke 2:52). This Samuel, of course, went on to become a powerful and faithful leader in Israel. "And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel [was] established [to be] a prophet of the LORD." (1 Sam. 3:20).

This does not mean, however, that everything went well. The nation faced war with the Philistines, and the two sons of Eli were killed; the Philistines captured the ark of God, and 98-year-old Eli died when he heard the news (1 Sam. 4:14-18).

Unfortunately, Samuel was to face the same problem that Eli did: sons who didn't follow in his footsteps of faithfulness and fidelity (1 Sam. 8:1-7).

 8:1   And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. 
 8:2   Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: [they were] judges in Beersheba. 
 8:3   And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. 
 8:4   Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 
 8:5   And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 
 8:6   But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. 
 8:7   And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. 


Samuel marked a transition point in the history of God's people. He was the last of the judges and was a key figure in the developing great controversy. His stable influence guided the people at a critical time. It's a pity his sons did not follow in his steps, but God is not dependent on human dynasties. As a result of their apostasy, the elders demanded a king-not the best move, as centuries of later history would reveal.

They did not have to wait to find out it was a bad choice. God spoke through Samuel and told them it was a bad choice and what would happen. In the world today, some have not learned the lesson either. America was a good example of the blessings that come when men are free to elect representatives for leaders. But, even today, being free from kings and popes is not enough to keep from being enslaved. Once a Protestant nation, America is fast losing her personal freedoms.

Here is what God said through Samuel about having a king:


 8:11   And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint [them] for himself, for his chariots, and [to be] his horsemen; and [some] shall run before his chariots. 
 8:12   And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and [will set them] to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. 
 8:13   And he will take your daughters [to be] confectionaries, and [to be] cooks, and [to be] bakers. 
 8:14   And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, [even] the best [of them], and give [them] to his servants. 
 8:15   And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. 
 8:16   And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put [them] to his work. 
 8:17   He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. 
 8:18   And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. 
 8:19   Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; 
 8:20   That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.


How is it today, any different? The prophet gives counsel and the church goes against it.   :(  Ought not the Sabbath Schools discuss the prophet's counsel and the church's rejection? If not, why not? What are we, dumb sheep who follow on blindly? Jesus did say we are "miserable, poor, wretched, blind, and naked."  Is that true? Or will you reject His Words also?


No matter our home life, good or bad, we are responsible for whom we serve in the great controversy. Whatever mistakes you may have made, why must you always remember that today, now, is never too late to make it right with the Lord? Tomorrow might be too late, but not today.

Amen.  How is it that if today we can repent and be converted, that tomorrow may be too late? Is that Biblical? What could change in one day?


Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40357
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online

Friday January 22


Further Thought: The Bible is known for not glossing over human sin, human evil. If it did, how could it, and portray accurately the state of humanity?

"The state of humanity."  What is the state of humanity? Do we believe in "holy flesh"? No. Do we believe man comes into this world with a fallen nature? Yes. Then  what is the state of humanity? It is an interesting and important subject. Has Satan taken advantage of this topic that he might deceive and destroy? He certainly has. It is why we take time to exam this more closely that souls may be saved. Before examining the lives of Eli's sons, let us place ourselves on solid ground.

The state of humanity before the fall was holiness, holy flesh. Adam was created in the image of God holy. When he sinned, he was no longer holy, he was sinful and separated from God. Before sin, he did what was right because it was right. It was not hard, God's Spirit was in his heart and His flesh was not in opposition to his mind. When he fell, his flesh gained the ascendancy, and being separated from God he no longer had power to control his fallen flesh with his mind. The lower powers of the flesh, appetites and passions took control. He was aligned with Satan and sin at was at "enmity" with God.

"Enmity" needs to be understood as we consider the "state of humanity". Our natural or carnal state is at enmity with God. Let's look at a couple of uses of the word in the Bible to help us understand what enmity is.  From James 4:4. "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." How's that for defining the word? "Enmity with God" is to be "the enemy of God."

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines enmity as  hatred; hostility; unfriendly disposition; a state of opposition; hostility. This is the state of man before he breaths one breath. Can this state be changed? Can God recreate man in His image? It is not easy. I was easy for God to speak holiness into Adam when He created Him, but God cannot speak holiness into fallen humans. But, man can be changed. The problem is God will not remove our free will. We must choose to be changed into His image. And, even then, God will not change our fallen flesh until we are either translated or at the second coming of Jesus. We will retain our fallen nature, but we may be transformed in nature. How can this be? Jesus had two natures. He was God and man. The Bible says He came in the "likeness of sinful flesh".  We do not need to understand all that is involved in what this means, it was a miracle that God could be both God and man. He never sinned, even as a baby. He was holy even in our fallen nature. The angel in speaking to Mary said"that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Luke 1:35.

We too, may possess two natures. If we become partakers of God's divine nature, being reconciled with God at conversion, we then are given enmity with Satan and sin and are no longer carnal and at enmity with Satan. Yes, we still have fallen evil flesh, but God through the Holy Spirit takes possession of the mind and heart. "The mind of Christ" has power to control the sinful fallen flesh. We are recreated in His image and are justified and sanctified and the "old man" is dead. This is a new state of humanity possessing two natures, but the higher powers of the mind being under the control of God keep the flesh under control. Man does not sin a known sin in this state. The Apostle Paul understood "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." 1 Corinthians 9:27. What is impossible in our fallen state separated from God is made possible when the Holy Spirit enters the heart of man. If we will allow Christ to rule in our lives, He will write His law upon our hearts. This is the fulfillment of the promise made which is known as the "everlasting covenant" made with man immediately after Adam fell from grace. Here it is, first given in the hearing of Adam when in the garden; "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel." Genesis 3:15.

There is that important word "enmity". Adam had no enmity towards Satan and sin, but God promised He would give, in this case Eve and her children a hatred for sin and Satan. This promise is a conditional promise based on our choosing to surrender our will to the will of God. That cannot happen until we love God with all the heart, and all of our strength. In order to do this we must know Him who gave all for us while we were yet sinners and at enmity with God.

Now, we are prepared to look at the state of two men who refused to learn of Christ and who yielded to their sinful nature for many years. They passed the point of being able to choose to follow Christ and their state of humanity was hardened against God. Their enmity towards God grew stronger and stronger until they passed the point of no return.


An especially sharp depiction of human evil is found in 1 Samuel 2:12-25, when the sons of Eli are presented in contrast to the young Samuel. 1 Samuel 2:12 reads, "The sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD." Notice, first, the contrast: lineage played an important role in biblical life, and in this one line "the sons of Eli" are now, instead, "the sons of Belial." Belial is a rich word, used in a number of forms and contexts, almost always negative. In fact, it is related to the Hebrew bl and bli, which mean "no" or "not" or "without." Belial itself means "worthless," "useless," and in other places is used in the same way as it was in regard to Eli's sons; that is, other men were called "sons of Belial" (2 Chron. 13:7, 1 Kings 21:13). In Proverbs 6:12, it is equated with the wicked. (In other ancient near eastern literature, Belial is seen as another name for Satan himself.) In almost every use in the Bible, it appears as a negative. As human beings, created in the image of God, they were created for a purpose and to have meaning; and yet, according to the Bible, these men were all but worthless, "sons of worthlessness." What a tragic waste of life. We are either for the Lord, doing something of meaning and purpose for Him, or we are, in the end, worthless. That makes sense, too, considering that our whole existence and purpose for life comes only from Him.

Yes, the state of those who have passed the point of no return is worthless. And, Hitler was more than worthless, he was essence of evil. But, man has great value. What is the soul of man worth? The value of man cannot be computed. It is past our ability to arrive at a value. The value of man is the price paid for our redemption. How can we value the life of suffering and death Christ endured for our sake? Can we place a value on the pain and suffering of our heavenly Father when He watched His innocent Son suffer at the hands of Satan, evil angels, and man? What value do we place on the risk taken by God in allowing Christ to come to this world a helpless babe subject to the weakness of humanity to fight the battle of life as we must fight it at the risk of failure and eternal loss? Yes, you are of great value!

And, Jesus sees what you can become. Listen to this, God has great hopes for you and this world: "And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I [am] the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes." Ezekiel 36:23. You and I are to be His witnesses, sanctified so that others will know there is a God in heaven! Impossible? For fallen humans who see very little in themselves and are not in the habit of seeing such things in the world or in the church, yes it appears impossible. But, all things are possible with God. And, He has promised to give all a hatred for sin and Satan IF we will come to Jesus just as we are.


Discussion Questions:

    The Bible makes it clear: there is no middle ground in the great controversy: we are either on one side or the other, Christ's or Satan's.

We had better understand this. We are either filled with His Spirit or we are not. If we do not love God with the whole heart, then we are no His. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Romans 8:9.  And, if we are indeed born again of His Spirit, we shall manifest the fruits of His Spirit, all of them, not one will be missing.


Yet, life as we know it doesn't always unfold with such clear and stark contrasts, does it?

Well....there is a stark and clear contrast between those who love and serve God with the whole heart, and those who are at enmity with God because they have not yielded to His love. "In setting aside the claims of the law of God, the church has lost sight of the blessings of the gospel. Bible conversion and sanctification,--a radical change of heart and transformation of character,--is the great need of the churches of today. Revivals in which men become members of the church without real conviction of sin, without repentance, and without acknowledging the claims of the law of God, are a cause of weakness to the church, and an occasion of stumbling to the world."  4SP 306.

Sometimes we aren't sure just what is the right decision or what is the wrong one; even with moral situations, as well. It's not always easy to determine what to do. What are some ways we can seek guidance to help us to make right choices when, at times, it's not so easy to know just what the "right" choice is?

Yes, God does provide resources that we might know what is right. But, that is not really the issue in the church today. We need to understand what it means to be a Christian that we might have power to do what is right. And, spiritual things are spiritually discerned. We are told if we will do what is right, then we will know what is right. "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or [whether] I speak of myself." John 7:17. First, we must know what we must do in order to have a new heart. We must behold Him who gave all for us.


    In what ways have people whom you have looked up to somehow disappointed you? At the same time, in what ways have you perhaps disappointed those who once looked up to you? What have you learned from these incidents about faith, trust, grace, and human frailty?

We shall often be disappointed by man, but we shall never be disappointed by Christ. He will always do what is best for us, even if we do not understand it. We can count on Him who has already proved His love for us.

Speaking of human frailty and the influence man has on other men, consider the life and death of God's servant Moses. The Bible says that Moses was faithful in all the house of the Lord. But, one day Moses allowed his mind to wander away from Christ. Being separated from the source of power and holiness, Moses took the glory to himself when he said "hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?" After all of those years, Moses sinned. He misrepresented all that he had taught. As a representative of Christ and the truth, God took his life so others could not say, "even Moses sinned". Have you ever heard false teachers pointing to Moses in an effort to excuse sin? It is not done, and that is why Moses' life was taken from him even though his repentance was quick and deep.

Let us learn from Moses' sin. Let us not look to man or become discouraged by man, but to Christ. And by beholding Him we shall be changed into His image (character). Then, the Lord will have His witnesses in this conflict and crisis that will one day soon end. Let the heathen see the power of grace to transform sinners into saints and then they will know there is a God in heaven.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 40357
  • A glorious sunset teaches of trust and faith.....
    • The Remnant Online
If you are blessed by studying the Sabbath School lesson with us, pass our address on to someone else who is seeking truth. The gospel message will go rapidly from one to another and then the end will come. Have a blessed Sabbath dear brothers and sisters! And pray for our brethren who are being persecuted already. They are many.

   Before He ascended on high, He said to His disciples: "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." God's message was not confined to any certain locality of the earth, nor was it to be given by a certain class of workers. As the Spirit of the Lord should move upon human agents, they were to respond, "Here am I; send me." The message was to be preached in all the world for a witness, and then the end should come.   
     The Lord is coming with power and great glory, and what will he say of the church to which he has given great light and precious privileges, but who have hidden their talents in the earth? O that those who are crowding together in cities and towns would not be content simply to receive, but would give the bread of life to hungry souls! 
     The people of God should carefully study the words of Christ concerning these last days. Why is it that the people of God do not read and understand the specifications concerning the dangers that will surely come? Why is it that they rush on blindfolded, receiving messages that are not true? With prophetic eye Christ looked down the stream of time to the very end of earth's history, and marked out with prophetic pencil the very things that would take place in these last days. He lifted the danger-signal, and declared: "There shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." 
     "And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."   
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.