Special Insights No. 13
Fourth Quarter 2006
“Beginnings and Belongings”
(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)
“The End of the Beginning”
Seldom does a 13-week series of Sabbath School Lessons offer such spiritual nourishment as the study of the first book of the Bible, Genesis. The closer the world church is to the reality of the second coming of Jesus, the more precious are these high-light lessons from Genesis:
(1) The truth of Creation vis-à-vis the loud cry message that lightens the earth with glory (chapters 1, 2). E. J. Waggoner offered a thoughtful comment: “An intelligent contemplation of God’s creation gives us a true conception of His power; for His eternal power and Godhead are understood by the things which He has made. ... It is faith that gives victory; therefore, since faith comes by learning the power of God, from His word and from the things that He has made, we gain the victory, to triumph through the works of His hands. The Sabbath, therefore, which is the memorial of creation, is, if properly observed, a source of the Christian’s greatest reinforcement in battle” (Christ and His Righteousness, pp. 36, 37; 1890 ed.). We have long known that the message of Revelation 18 will be God’s people presenting “the Sabbath more fully” (Early Writings, pp. 33, 85). Obviously, that is what God intended the 1888 message to accomplish for us. (As an extra bonus for the church today, this “more full” view of the Sabbath would also clear up the widespread confusion about the Godhead that threatens church unity. There is nothing but good news before the world church today as we ponder our divisiveness.)
(2) Abraham and the powerful lesson on the new covenant (chs. 12-22). The truths that shine so brightly in Genesis are the underpinning of Paul’s Romans and Galatians. God made seven magnificent promises to him and did not ask for any promise from him in return. All God wanted was for Abraham to receive, to believe, those promises; Jesus said he “rejoiced to see My day, and was glad” (John 8:56). The means that he understood, and his heart was moved, by the agape that was revealed on Christ’s cross.
The problems of the old covenant have distressed many because the 1888 truths of the new covenant have not been clearly appreciated. Waggoner’s The Glad Tidings and The Everlasting Covenant have lifted many burdens from the hearts of those who have discovered them.
(1) The full life story of Jacob has been like holding a mirror up to our souls—we see ourselves in him. We have all been “Jacobs,” and preparing to lighten the earth with the glory of the final message will involve our metamorphosing into “Israels.” Each of us has our “night of wrestling.” Many of us have been greatly encouraged by our study of Jacob’s life and final victory. The story has a permanent and growing interest for everyone. It enriched this quarter’s study.
(2) The story of Joseph has been a special blessing from heaven. In many ways, he was a type of Christ. Again, we have seen ourselves in the ten brothers in their attitudes toward him; but again the story records the “overcoming” of almost all of them, reminding us that God’s dealings with us are always positive, that He might save us (the fact that not all the ten overcame is a sharp warning also to us!).
The 1888 message encourages us to “live” in the book of Genesis. The gospel was as full and complete in the time of Abraham as it will ever be, because Paul said that “God ... preached the gospel unto Abraham” (Gal. 3:8) and when God “preaches the gospel” let’s all be sure that He does a good job!
These stories stir the very deepest levels of our souls; we learn to pray as we have never prayed before. We “graduate” into Psalm 130: “out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord, ... If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” Like Jacob wrestling in the darkness, we almost give up! And then we are more deeply humbled to realize what comes next: “But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared” (vss. 1-4, KJV).
Welcome to Jacob’s night of wrestling! It’s on the agenda of all who will remain faithful and true to the end. Although you “limp” as did Jacob forever after until the Lord comes and heals you, you will never be so at peace with God and with everyone else.
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