Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sabbath School Insights No. 12, Qtr 1-06

Special Insights No. 12

First Quarter 2006 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Families in the Family of God”

(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)

“Turning Hearts in the End Time”



Our Lesson for this Sabbath is fascinating! This great Lesson is about the special message that is on God’s agenda for our immediate future.


Just as the Jews in the days of John the Baptist were all excited about the coming of their long-awaited Messiah, so we today are awaiting the coming of our long-awaited “Elijah” who will minister reconciliation of alienated hearts, and prepare people to meet Jesus when He returns.


In 6000 long years of human history only two people have escaped death and been translated—Enoch (before the flood of Noah) and Elijah. Why has God chosen to send us Elijah “before the great and terrible day of the Lord” rather than Enoch? The reason is clear: Elijah had to meet the terrible national apostasy of Baal-worship; and Ellen White tells us that again Baal-worship has become a great problem in the “remnant church,” the church of Laodicea. Just as ancient Israel did not recognize what had happened in their very midst, so we today may have not been aware of the Baal-worship that has invaded our ranks.


As a consequence of “our” rejecting “in a great degree” and “in a great measure” the glorious “beginning” of the Loud Cry of Revelation 18:1-4 (cf. Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 234, 235; 1896), the Lord’s messenger was given the view of Baal-worship entering in among us:


“The prejudices and opinions that prevailed at Minneapolis [1888] are not dead by any means; the seeds sown there in some hearts are ready to spring into life and bear a like harvest. The tops have been cut down, but the roots have never been eradicated, and they still bear their unholy fruit to poison the judgment, pervert the perceptions, and blind the understanding of those with whom you connect, in regard to the message and the messengers..... With many the cry of the heart has been, ‘We will not have this man [Jesus] to reign over us.’ Baal, Baal, is the choice. The religion of many among us will be the religion of apostate Israel, because they love their own way, and forsake the way of the Lord. The true religion, the only religion of the Bible, that teaches forgiveness only through the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour, that advocates righteousness by the faith of the Son of God, has been slighted, spoken against, ridiculed, and rejected” (Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 467, 468; 1890).


Since Elijah had to meet this same crisis in the days of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, it’s understandable that God will “send” him to help us in our crisis.


But please note: as our excellent Lesson makes clear, the coming Elijah will not specialize in chopping off the heads of the modern “prophets of Baal.” In the great “shaking” so soon to take place, they will “rise up against the straight testimony” and will leave on their own initiative. No need to replay a modern “Brook Kishon” (cf. 1 Kings 18:40). Elijah’s message will be one of “turning hearts,” that is, reconciliation of alienated hearts. And reconciliation is “atonement” that makes two alienated hearts to be one again. It’s the central message of this great antitypical Day of Atonement.


First of all must come reconciliation with God Himself. Our natural state of heart is “enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7). A ministry of atonement will be the message of “Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1, 2). Therefore it follows that Elijah’s message to the church and to the world will be what Christ accomplished on His cross. The world will be “lightened” with the glory of that final truth. Elijah’s message will be Revelation 18:1-4, and every one who will be “shaken” out because of unrepented Baal-worship will be replaced by honest multitudes who will crowd in as they respond to the call from heaven. The last paragraph of the chapter entitled “The Final Warning” in The Great Controversy describes the wonders of this message.


Just as Elijah differentiated between the true religion of ancient Israel and the clever counterfeit of the surrounding nations (Baal-worship), so our coming Elijah will differentiate between the pure true message of justification by faith that “the Lord in His great mercy sent” us in 1888 and that of the popular churches of Babylon today. To superficial minds, Babylon’s “justification by faith” looks the same but it is vastly different. The new “Elijah” may already be working today.


This Quarter’s Lessons have been excellent. The Lord has not been asleep; neither should we be asleep! The time has come for far less time to be spent in the amusements of this world and in seeking its wealth and luxuries. Beg the Lord earnestly to give you a “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matt. 5:6). It’s a sin not to be hungry! (Why? There’s a personal choice involved somewhere, a choice to reject the Holy Spirit.)


Now comes a new Quarter of lessons that directs our minds to the foundation truths that separated us from the popular churches (“the rock whence we were hewn,” Isa. 51:1). May the Lord give us all that hunger that will motivate us to study clearly what these truths are, to mark our Bibles, and let Him create in our inmost souls those “rivers of living water” that will make us a refreshment to all we shall meet from now until the coming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven.


But please don’t discard this Quarter’s Lesson book! It is a permanent volume for our libraries; it will be timeless. It may be (and I believe that it is) an evidence that “Elijah” has already begun his final work of “turning hearts.”

Robert J. Wieland


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