Friday, August 31, 2007

The Jobs: Living With Losses

A temptation to focus primarily on how this couple dealt with terrible loss causes us to miss the real subject of Job. Specifically, we overlook God’s response to Job’s suffering (chapters 38-41), which reveals Job’s deep heart-felt spiritual needs that his suffering exposes. By facing those issues we find a wonderful example of God’s love, and the joy that comes from knowing Him. To identify Job’s deep yearnings we will:

1. Examine his opening speech (Job 3) and what he really wants from God.
2. Look at what Job’s friends offer him in his suffering, and will look at what
3. God has to say to Job after He has observed everything.
4. Then we will see how Job’s wife’s single comment affected her husband.
5. Finally, we will compare what Job has learned and how that knowledge can cure the Laodicean stalemate of our own hearts.

Job is a man with integrity who shuns evil. Even when he loses everything, he does not blame God. In Job’s opening speech, he wants to die, to reverse creation and turn out the lights (3:1-10; note the “Let there be”... Sound familiar?) His reason? To be at rest (see 3:13-19).

It is imperative to see why he wants rest. Note 3:25: “What I fear comes upon me, what I dread befalls me.” He has always feared that this calamity would happen, and lived his life with this unsettling fear, even though he had taken all the precautions he knew (see 1:5), has held to his integrity. Why have his fears come true?

Job’s friends point out that God is perfect so that no one can sin and get away with it. Job is experiencing the just rewards of sin, and what is needed for relief is for him to acknowledge it. Their “comforting words” show that their knowledge of God is shallow; it has come too easy, their words are mere clich├ęs (for examples see 11:7-9). These men know God as a stereotyped wrathful God, all-powerful, quick to see sin and hold the sinner directly accountable.

Job responds by saying that the friends are not addressing the issues (e.g., 9:1-13). He wants to have his day in court with God because it seems He is misusing His power. God can tear down mountains, penetrate all secrets, so why is He not answering Job’s questions? The friends are appalled at this seeming arrogance. Who would presume to challenge God? (Or their ideas of God!) This exchange continues until God enters the discussion.

God truly does answer Job. One can see this when the themes of Job’s opening speech (chapter 3) are compared with those in God’s speech in Job 38-41. Job wants to turn the lights out to get rest, God asks Job if he grasps what it takes to turn the universe’s lights on? Point after point, God takes the metaphors of Job’s lament and places them in the most amazing picture of a world that is exquisitely conceived and unbelievably maintained. Everything God reveals shows an infinite creation that overwhelms Job’s idea of God’s power and knowledge. Job’s understanding of God’s creative and redemptive work is immature.

The issue is not about a God who is the ultimate combatant, overpowering all challengers and ruling the universe with strength. It is about God’s imposing order on chaos. He sets limits in a world ravished with sin. God tells Job how He draws boundaries for those things that have power to destroy. Power is not bad but there are evil forces at work in the world. God is holding them in check; nothing can stand up to Him. Life is far more involved that just Job’s situation.

To Job this is a new revelation. He thought he knew enough to anticipate God acting in harmony with his expectations. Little did he realize that he had too small a view of God, thus his frustration. Yet, his faith clung to the belief that God would do something to resolve his predicament. And in all this Job did not lose his integrity.

The lessons in Job are needed when the church is expecting Christ to come and deal with the sin problem. Why we suffer is not the most important issue, although God is very aware of our pain and hurt. We simply are not clear on what it takes to redeem us from sin. Job learned that lesson.

The Sabbath School lesson for Sunday refers to an article by Ellen G. White that states that the books of Job and Genesis were written by Moses after he left Egypt to escape his crime of killing the Egyptian.* The article clearly explains how Moses was God’s man, yet in need of insights only God could give. It would seem that Moses could not be prepared for God’s calling without understanding the story of Job! Note:

1. 1. Moses had become in every sense a great man (sounds like he is ready for translation).
2. God does not see as man sees. The traits he still needed to learn leave us questioning if Moses was good at all!
3. Later the article lists what Moses needed to unlearn. (We might wonder how God could ever call Moses a great man.)
4. God takes Moses to learn and unlearn lessons—in the wilderness where he can observe God in His natural elements! Just like Job 38-41. “Every child of God will have a similar experience.” “It would have seemed ... as if God had forgotten him, as if his ability and experience were to be lost to the world.” (Now we can understand a little more about Job’s wife and his “friends.”)

Satan counted on Job to embarrass God in His faith in Job. Satan lost because Job, despite his weaknesses and ignorance, saw God in faith and refused to give up until God resolved the problem.

This is the fact that we as a church must learn about God’s amazing grace. This is the kind of message that resembles the latter rain that we so often pray for. This is the message of faith that Waggoner and Jones caught a glimpse of, a message that will cleanse the heart temple. No wonder Ellen White was so excited when she heard it in 1888. And what we miss most is the amazing love and grace of God as our Lord and Savior is presented in the 1888 message. —Robert Van Ornam



* Signs of the Times, Feb. 19, 1880, Download the Article


If you would like a copy, sent via e-mail, of Robert J. Wieland’s “Seven Memorable Marriages in the Bible,” please request it from: sabbathschool@1888message.org. Or, download the PDF document here.



(Note: A series of CDs on these lessons recorded by this Robert J. Wieland is available from the office of the 1888 Message Study Committee: 269-473-1888.) Listen to the audio recording for Lesson 9 now in MP3 format. TO stream online or suscribe to podcast go to http://www.pluggd.com/audio/channels/wolf_s_oath_audio

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Elkanah and Hannah: Fulfilling a Vow

It would seem at first that the story of Hannah and Elkanah is just one more tale about a barren woman, for we have encountered barren women before in this quarter’s studies: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and the wife of Manoah. Then, too, this is a situation of a polygamous marriage which automatically sets the stage for trouble. But Hannah’s story is unique for several reasons.

The first three verses of this week’s lesson give us an accounting of all the characters (except Samuel) that will appear in the narrative through chapter three. Elkanah’s genealogy carries us back to his great-great-grandfather to show us that he is a Levite assigned to the tribe of Ephraim (1 Chron. 6:16-34). Next we’re told that this Levite had two wives, a permissible option, but one which God discouraged. Hannah is obviously the first wife since she is mentioned first. Infertility may cue us as to why Elkanah took a second wife. And the narrative also informs us that Elkanah is a devout worshiper of Jehovah.

After setting the stage, the author speeds on into the actual story where we’re told that there is serious friction between the two wives, which comes to a boil each year when the family makes their annual pilgrimage to Shiloh to worship before the Lord. From the narrative we discover that, like other barren women we’ve studied about, Hannah is the husband’s favorite wife. The fact that he shows his favoritism at this feast does nothing to assuage Hannah’s pain, and in actuality, may increase the taunts from Peninnah.

We are not told which festival the family attended each year, but from the narrative we gather that the offering brought by Elkanah is a thank or peace offering because he received back a portion of the meat to share with his family at the feast (Lev. 7:1-38). Elkanah’s attempt to console his beloved wife indicates that he really does not understand the depth of her pain and grief. He has children by Peninnah; Hannah not only has no children but must bear the curse of the community, viewed as a woman upon whom God has turned His back.

As the meal progressed, Peninnah’s taunts increase to the point where Hannah can endure no more and she is driven from the table in tears. She takes her pain to the only source of comfort—the Lord of Hosts. Fleeing the scene of pain, she runs to the tabernacle where she falls down before the presence of the Lord and prays an earnest petition for relief. In her desperation she decided to make a vow to God. She will bargain with Him: if He will give her a son, then she will dedicate that son back to Him as a lifelong Nazarite. Interestingly, God made no response to her vow. We cannot assume that Eli speaks for God since Eli had no idea what Hannah had just asked of the Lord, so his prayer of blessing was spoken blindly. He spoke using his authority as high priest, but he had no idea what he was signing off on.

Knowing that people would make rash vows, God provided means by which these vows could be redeemed, and even provided that a wife’s vow could be overturned by her husband (see Leviticus 27 and Numbers 30). However, later when Hannah finally informs her husband of what she has done, he does nothing to challenge her decision (1:22-23).

Another significant point to this story is that Elkanah and Hannah were contemporaries of Samson. They lived “next door” to the tribe of Dan and were well aware of Samson’s exploits against the Philistines. In the biblical narrative we find the counsel concerning the Nazarite (Num. 6:1-12), but until Samson the record is blank regarding anyone taking such a responsibility upon themselves. In the case of Samson it was God-preordained. Now, in the same historical timeframe, we find a barren mother who is willing to dedicate her longed-for son to God. She knows her son will be a Levite by inheritance, now she promises to make him a life-long defender of Jehovah. Samson had failed in keeping his Nazarite vow, but he did begin the war against the Philistines that would come to a head during the lifetime of Samuel.

So in this lesson during a time when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” we find at least one family who are still dedicated to the true God of Israel. Elkanah’s family is a direct contrast even to the high priest’s family. When Eli witnessed Hannah’s anguished prayer, he accused of her being drunk, a woman of wickedness (“daughter of Belial”). It was not only his physical eyesight that failed him. He had lost his spiritual eyesight also in that he could not distinguish between a true worshiper and his own sons’ wickedness (cf. 2:12).

Though Eli does not apologize for his gross misjudgment of Hannah’s character, he bids her to go in peace, praying that God would give her the desires of her heart. Unwittingly, through this blessing Eli passed judgment upon himself and his family. Within three years, a “man of God” came to Eli and prophesied of his downfall (2:27-36). A “faithful priest” would be raised right in Eli’s own household. Eli and his sons were an enacted parable of the fall of Israel. Due to their continued apostasy and spiritual blindness, they would cry for a king to rule over them so they could be like heathen nations around them. National apostasy leads to national ruin.

God never abandons His church, but raises from within it men with a message of correction. He always sends His message of redemption and call for repentance through specially selected men—“teachers of righteousness” (see A. T. Jones, 1893 General Conference Bulletin, sermon # 11; pp. 243-246; pagination of original text). Samuel was such a man. So were A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner. Their message of Christ and His righteousness was sent by God to correct the legalism that had clouded the spiritual eyesight of God’s remnant church’s leadership. Due to resentment and preconceived opinions, this message was “in great measure” kept away from the church and the world. The “light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted.”(Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 234-235).

God’s voice is speaking to His remnant church now through the Faithful Witness (Rev. 3:14-22). When that voice is heeded, then we can sing a song of triumph as Hannah did. Though feeble in her barrenness, Hannah girded on her faith, took hold of the promise of God and overcame her enemies. God is a God of justice. Even when all seems out of control and a lost cause, He has power to turn things upside down. In her song of triumph, Hannah draws the attention of the people to the covenant-keeping God who has power to deliver on His promise of redemption from slavery to sin. He has power to give that rest which is a fulfillment of the inheritance promised to all mankind (see The Everlasting Covenant, pp. 283-295; Glad Tidings 2002 edition).

—Ann Walper


If you would like a copy, sent via e-mail, of Robert J. Wieland’s “Seven Memorable Marriages in the Bible,” please request it from: sabbathschool@1888message.org. Or, download the PDF document here.



(Note: A series of CDs on these lessons recorded by this Robert J. Wieland is available from the office of the 1888 Message Study Committee: 269-473-1888.) Listen to the audio recording for Lesson 8 now in MP3 format. To listen as an podcast click here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Boaz and Ruth: Firm Foundations

Your servant frankly confesses how he dreaded last week’s lesson on Samson. It was like a foray into darkness; he was just about everything a man should not be. Except ... he chose to repent in his last hours. So, Samson: you had something good, after all, to teach us. And you made it into Hebrews 11, God’s honor page of heroes (vs. 32)!

But now with Ruth and Boaz, again we’re back in the same era of Judges—darkness. Yet we come upon a most beautiful and thrilling example of Christlike love in the two of them with Naomi. The darker the swamp the lily grows in, the brighter is its white.

And fortunately, both “stars” exhibit a mature, self-denying, humble character. Who gets the credit? Only the Lord Jesus, “the Savior of the world.” But thank God, both Ruth and Boaz come onto our stage clothed in His righteousness.

But strict obedience to every little detail of Moses’ holy laws for Israel gets shelved in the story. He had decreed that Moabites should be excluded from fellowship in Israel; “even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD forever” (Deut. 23:3; cf. Neh. 13:2). Some legalistic-minded soul should have opposed granting Ruth a visa! But the love of Christ triumphed over “the letter of the law.” The lady who could have been barred, turns out to become an ancestor of Christ!

There are two outstanding “insights” in this “Ruth story,” that permeate the 1888 message of Christ’s righteousness:

1. The truest, most successful soul-winning “evangelism” will occur when the message of that “other angel” of Revelation 18:1-4 lightens the earth with glory. But Naomi, in our love story, appears on the surface to reverse every “law” of soul-winning as we know it.

She keeps telling Ruth and Orpah, “Don’t come with me to ‘my church,’ that is, to Israel, the land of God’s true people! Go back, go back to your pagan beginnings!” On the other hand, we try every method we can to induce people, “Come with us, join our church! Come! Don’t go back to Babylon!’”

Naomi’s quiet, unselfish, loving life is drawing both of these pagan girls in spite of her words, and both have started on the journey with her to Israel. That is the purest, truest “evangelism! No psychological tricks or inducements; only truth in love.

When the earth is lightened with the glory of the message that “began” in 1888, the honest will surmount every obstacle to press in and find fellowship with those who hold the “third angel’s message in verity.” This of course will be a change from our “evangelism” of so long; why the difference? Ellen White explains:

“I heard those clothed with the armor [of Christ’s righteousness] speak forth the truth with great power. It had effect. Many had been bound; some wives by their husbands, and some children by their parents. The honest who had been prevented from hearing the truth now eagerly laid hold upon it. All fear of their relatives was gone, and the truth alone was exalted to them. They had been hungering and thirsting for truth; it was dearer and more precious than life. I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, It is the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the loud cry of the third angel’” (Early Writings, p. 271).

2. The “redeemer” who can redeem Naomi’s (and now Ruth’s) property has to be the “nearest of kin” (cf. 2:20; 3:9; 4:1). This idea inspired the 1888 “messengers.”

“Man has lost his inheritance and is himself also in bondage. And as he himself cannot redeem himself nor his inheritance, the right of redemption falls to the nearest of kin who is able. And Jesus Christ is the only one in all the universe who is able.

“He must ... be not only near of kin, but the nearest of kin. ...Therefore ... He Himself took part of flesh and blood in very substance like ours, and so became our nearest of kin” (A. T. Jones, The Consecrated Way, chapter 4).

“Boaz could not come in as redeemer until it was found that the one who was nearer than he could not perform this office of redeemer. The redeemer must be not only one who was near of kin, but he must be the nearest among those that were near. ... This is the story also in the second chapter of Hebrews [vss. 14-18]” (Jones, Sermon #14, 1893 General Conference Bulletin).

The vast proportion of Christians, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, think of Christ as Someone who belongs in stained glass windows in cathedrals. The popular “dogma of the Immaculate Conception” denies Scripture; it says that the Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother experienced a miraculous breaking of the genetic code that links all humans by our common DNA to the fallen, sinful nature of our fallen Adam, so that Mary was never tempted sexually, and neither was her Son, Jesus. There, with one stroke, we are denied the only Redeemer who can save us from sin and prepare a people who learn to “follow the Lamb wherever He goes,” and stand “without fault before the throne of God.” That is said of them only because it is true of them, thanks to their Redeemer, “nearest of kin.”

—Robert J. Wieland

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If you would like a copy, sent via e-mail, of Robert J. Wieland’s “Seven Memorable Marriages in the Bible,” please request it from: sabbathschool@1888message.org. Or, download the PDF document here.

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(Note: A series of CDs on these lessons recorded by this Robert J. Wieland is available from the office of the 1888 Message Study Committee: 269-473-1888.) Listen to the audio recording for Lesson 7 now in MP3 format. To recieve as a podcast, click here.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Samson and his Women: The Folly of Passion

Samson is one of the most tragic figures in the Bible. Consider his story. He was called of God from before conception, and raised by dedicated parents who understood the divine purpose of their son’s life. When he reached maturity and should have been actively accomplishing his God-given task, he made a U-turn and spent the rest of his life in self-absorption, wasting his potential on the sins of the flesh.

Samson was a contemporary of the high priest Eli, and therefore of Samuel. The narrative of Judges is not a chronological recitation of history, but a compilation of significant events after the death of Joshua and before the calling of Saul as king. There is overlap in the actual lives of the judges whose deeds are related in this book. The compiler selected from all the events that had taken place during this period, choosing the ones that suited his narrative purpose. The last five chapters (two stories) of the Book of Judges are really an appendix and belong to a time earlier in the narrative. By selecting the stories and organizing them as he did, the compiler indicates the general downward trend in the spiritual condition of Israel, and so ends his narrative with the summary epitaph—“everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

All Scripture is given for our education in the things of God. When we read of the failures of God’s people, He intends for us to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them. We’re to learn the corollary lessons that reliance upon self leads to bondage and destruction, and that our only hope is in total dependence upon Christ for deliverance from sin.

Reading the entire story of Samson we are struck with the parallels to God’s remnant church.

1. Samson was called by God even before conception.
The Advent movement is the result of the 2300 year prophecy; we were called by God long before our “conception” in the minds of men.

2. From his birth Samson was separated, set apart for a special work.
On the cusp of eternity the Advent movement was separated from all the other churches to declare the special message of the third angel of Revelation: Christ and His righteousness.

3. Samson was to follow a Nazarite lifestyle.
Nazarite simplicity can be compared to the day of atonement fasting and “affliction of soul”; it is a denial of self and a dedication to an eminently more important event taking place.

4. Even with all the evidence that he was called of God to do His bidding, Samson turned around and focused on self.
Legalism that afflicted the church derailed us from following our high calling; we became absorbed in debating the finer points of the law, until we were “as dry as the hills of Gilboa without dew or rain” (The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 557). The symbolism of dew and rain must not be lost. When this was written in 1890 we desperately needed the Latter Rain which the Lord attempted to send two years earlier at Minneapolis.

5. It was a short fall for Samson once he averted his eyes from God to self; he repeatedly sold himself to foreign women.
The bride of Christ has shirked her Husband’s claim on her and sought alliances with “foreign” theologies, attempting to incorporate into the unique message of Adventism evangelical teachings on the nature of Christ, justification, the sanctuary, and God’s covenant promise of redemption.

6. Lust finally conquered Samson when he fell in love with the temptress, Delilah.
Samson’s physical strength was not in his uncut hair, but in his acknowledgment of God’s power working through him. By attributing his strength to himself, he lost the vital connection to God’s power. Enslaved by the enemies of God, the Philistines symbolically put out his eyes.

By drinking from broken cisterns we have lost our spiritual discernment. The diagnosis from the True Witness is “thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17). An apt description of Samson in the Philistine dungeon.

7. God was long-suffering with Samson, never leaving him even when he was committing adultery (both marital and spiritual). You can be sure that the Holy Spirit was there with him in that dungeon, wooing him to return to his first love, to the zealousness which characterized his original dedication to God.
Neither will the Lord abandon His remnant church; there is no “8th church” in Revelation 3, and no logic to the idea of returning to a previous church. The True Witness is patiently pleading: “buy of Me gold tried in the fire [His faith], that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment [His robe of righteousness] that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve [spiritual discernment], that thou mayest see” (Rev. 3:18; see also Isa. 55:1-13; 60:1-3).

8. Finally repentant, Samson gave his life (it was not a suicide) for the task God called him to do. The work Samson accomplished in the end was greater than all the work he’d done in his whole life, and it was done rapidly.
Laodicea will yet repent and believe “the most precious message” of Christ and His righteousness sent to us through A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner in 1888. Then, through renunciation of self, a total focus on God and the vindication of His character, and through the Latter Rain power of the Holy Spirit, we will be enabled to complete our prophetic assignment. The fourth angel in Revelation 18:4 will sound when we direct the eyes of the world to the charms of Christ’s matchless love, to His divine merits, to the priceless gift of His own righteousness, and to justification through faith in His promise to deliver from sin (see Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 91-92).

As Samson eventually learned, the final work is all about Christ, while the glory of man is laid in the dust.

—Ann Walper

If you would like a copy, sent via e-mail, of Robert J. Wieland’s “Seven Memorable Marriages in the Bible,” please request it from: sabbathschool@1888message.org. Or, download the PDF document here.

(Note: A series of CDs on these lessons recorded by this Robert J. Wieland is available from the office of the 1888 Message Study Committee: 269-473-1888.) Listen to the audio recording for Lesson 6 now in MP3 format. To receive as a pod-cast click here or subscribe to this feed. )

Read Special Insights 7

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Moses and Zipporah: Relating With Relations

How does one write about one of the most intimate friends of God, of whom God said “Not so with My servant Moses ... I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings ...” (Num. 12:7, 8)? How does one write about the only one that the Bible says God buried (Deut. 34:6), and at the end of his life God would say, “but since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face (34:10). Clearly the Lord, the covenant-keeping God, loved Moses and “spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (33:11). What a privilege to study Moses, Zipporah, and her father Jethro. Here’s a story replete with the message presented in 1888.

Moses was a man preserved from birth by God and called to His service. He was a man full of compassion and truly touched by the oppression of his fellow Israelites. A man likely not slow to anger, which resulted in a need to flee to Midian where during 40 years he became “Moses the man of God,” friend of God with a burning desire to see the covenant promises of God fulfilled (see Psalm 90). While there he married Zipporah (a believer in the true God), daughter of Jethro whom the Bible implies worshipped other gods. God heard the groanings of his people Israel and “remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob ... and looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them” (Ex. 2:24, 25).

Moses was keeping the flock one day and had a divine appointment with the Angel of the Lord, Yahweh, who appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. The bush not being consumed by the fire was of interest to Moses, and he turned aside to see this spectacle. God noticed and called to him from the bush and asked him to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground! What a call! God said to him, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (3:6). The God of the covenant was calling Moses to action. God relates His plans for His people and immediately we see why Moses became such an intimate friend of God, a man of whom God would say, “since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” Moses says to God, OK, after I tell your people all the things You told me “and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” (vs. 13).

Amazing! God gives him the answer and Moses says, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you’” (4:1). The chapter proceeds with God giving Moses tangible evidences of His power, and then Moses says, “Send someone else” (vs. 13)! But God knew the heart of Moses and saw there a man of faith who He would speak to “face to face, as a man speaks to a friend.” The life of Moses will be marked by these tremendous conversations with God. What 1888 concepts can we see in the life of Moses and his relatives? Here are just a few.

1. The Cross of Christ is not merely provisional but effective for the whole world. Moses married Zipporah a Midianite, likely an Ethiopian. Ellen G. White tells us she was a worshipper of the true God (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 383). Numbers12:1 says, “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.” Mrs. White says that jealousy sparked the dispute (ibid., p. 384). Galatians 3:8 says, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’” Paul goes on to describe the curse of God and concludes, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus” (vss.13, 14). “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free ...” (vs. 28).
2. The Everlasting Covenant. Three incidents are significant. First, Moses’ sons had not been circumcised, and after God called Moses He “sought to kill him” (Ex. 4:24). Zipporah, recognizing the reason immediately, got a sharp stone “and cut off the foreskin of her son.” Second, Numbers10:29-32 relates a story of Moses inviting Hobab, Jethro’s son, to go with them to the promised land, thus inviting him, a Gentile, to share in the promised blessing to Israel. The third incident brings the first two together and occurs in Exodus 6:2-8 where God repeats the everlasting covenant to Moses and asks him to tell it to the Israelites. We notice first of all that the covenant always from the beginning was God’s one-sided promise to accomplish all for His people. So in Genesis 17, circumcision became the sign of the covenant, a cutting away of dependence on the flesh and living by the word of God only. Zipporah understood that Moses’ mission would depend not on his might or power, but only on God’s faithfulness and His Spirit, so she courageously performed the rite of circumcision. We also see a promise of four things in the covenant in Exodus 6 as in all other covenants—sanctification, reconciliation, evangelism (a heart to spread the gospel to others), and justification (compare with Jer. 31:31-34 and Heb, 8:10-12). When we appreciate the great and precious promises of God and the good news of the gospel we cannot keep silent. We will tell our friends, family, neighbors, and the world as Moses told Hobab. “Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord ... even them I will bring to My holy mountain ... their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Isa. 56:6, 7; see also Rom. 11:11-19).
3. The Faith of Jesus. After God delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage, Jethro brought Moses’ family to be reunited with him in the wilderness. “Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them on the way, and how the Lord had delivered them” (Ex. 18:8). Jethro rejoiced at the news and said, “Blessed be the Lord ... now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods ...” (18:9-11). The record says that Jethro “took a burnt offering and sacrifices to God.” Following the sacrifice Jethro gave Moses divinely inspired advice. This episode has much to say about the message for the last days.

In 1888 a message was given to this church that was to bring God’s people into unity:

“The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elder’s Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour ... It presented justification through faith in the Surety: it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ ...” (Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 91, 92).

”The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth” (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 363). “Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel’s message, and I have answered, ‘It is the third angel’s message in verity’” (Review and Herald, April 1,1890).

“Justification from the faith,” “the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer.” We are justified by the faith of Jesus. This fact is born out in much of Paul’s writings. The proclamation of the gospel message of the faith of Jesus, the sin-pardoning Redeemer, calls forth from us an answering faith. The faith of Jesus looked not on the present reality (while we were sinners, ungodly, enemies, etc.), but saw in wretched mankind what might become by redeeming love, a pearl of great price, and He emptied Himself for us. Faith sees the things that are, not as though they were but as they might become. When we receive justification by the faith of Jesus we extend this same faith to others. Moses treated his father-in-law with the “as though” principle (Rom. 4:17) and his father-in-law responded and sacrificed to the creator God. The gospel of justification from the faith lived out in the life of the believer will lighten this earth with the glory of the third angel. Moses summarizes the truth of the gospel brought to light and life in 1888 that tells us that God is agape. He has been in pursuit of mankind since creation, has extended the everlasting covenant to us, and has justified mankind from the faith of Jesus that enabled Him to step down and take upon Himself a nature that was not His by native right, become the sin-pardoning Redeemer, join Himself to humanity, and die the death of the cross. He asks us to respond with a faith that extends that same attitude to others.

Moses never lost sight of the God he came to know intimately. A God he could talk to face to face, a God he reminded on more than one occasion that the Egyptians and the nations were still out there and that killing His people was not a good idea. He reminded God that He was a God abounding in “hesed”—the covenant term par excellence. Hesed is steadfast covenant love, best said in the hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go”! That’s God’s hesed. “But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” Praise God!

—Lyndi Schwartz

If you would like a copy, sent via e-mail, of Robert J. Wieland’s “Seven Memorable Messages in the Bible,” please request it from: sabbathschool@1888message.org. Or, download the PDF document here.

(Note: A series of CDs on these lessons recorded by this Robert J. Wieland is available from the office of the 1888 Message Study Committee: 269-473-1888.) Listen to the audio recording for Lesson 5 now in MP3 format. To listen as pod-cast click here. Or subscribe to this feed. )