Wednesday, April 06, 2011

“From Exalted to Cast Down”

Second Quarter 2011 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“From Exalted to Cast Down”
For the week of April 3 - 9, 2011
On Tuesday’s page in the Adult Bible Study Guide we find the following quote: “As we’ll see throughout this quarter, garments can reveal a great deal about our station and posi­tion.” Adam and Eve, Lucifer/Satan, Joseph, David, Angels, Daniel, the pure woman who represents God’s church, the whore of Revelation, the rich man, Lazarus (the poor beggar), Jesus – the list of Bible characters whose clothing reflected their heart choices is long and varied.
Jesus owned the most exalted “station” in the universe. He “was with God,” and He “was God” (John 1:1, 2). Yet the “position” which He chose while here on earth was that of a servant.  
Consider how His clothing reflected His character. His robe was made of durable fabric of good quality – woven throughout, and of one piece. It was plain and unadorned. Anyone who looked at the Man who was the Christ could not see with the natural eye anything other than a poor laborer. There was nothing at all in Christ’s appearance to call attention away from “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit” which is “of great price” in God’s eyes, according to 1 Peter 3:4.
The Man who wore such a garment was here on earth for one reason, and one reason only. He would show human beings what the Father was like. He would “do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29). He “came not to do [His] own will, but the will of the Father” who had sent Him (John 5:30). This garment belonged to the Son of God who “was surrendered to the Father's will, and dependent upon His power.  So utterly was Christ emptied of self that He made no plans for Himself. He accepted God's plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans” (Ellen White, Desire of Ages, page 208). The passage goes on to say, “So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will” (Ibid).
The Bible writers used clothing to help us to discern “the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). We can know something of the inner qualities of the biblical characters just from what we read of their outer garments.
Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked according to Jeremiah 17:9.  God has given us, in the clothes we love to wear, a way to find out something of what is in our own hearts. It would be well for each of us to ask ourselves whether our choices in the clothing department reveal that our hearts are so consumed with the love of Jesus that we, like Him, would wear only that which draws all eyes to Him, or if we are interested in drawing attention to ourselves. If the mirror shows us that we have a problem in this area, the solution is found, not in burning our wardrobe and going about in sackcloth and ashes, but in looking to Jesus until our hearts burn within us, and our sole desire is to honor Him. “Cleanse the fountain, and the streams will be pure. If the heart is right, your words, your dress, your acts, will all be right” (Ellen White, Testimonies, Volume. 1, p. 158). If our life purpose is the same as Christ’s life purpose, then our clothing choices will demonstrate that fact.
Consider Esther. She was placed by God in the court of the Babylonian empire for a purpose. She was to lead the heart of the king into submission to the will of God with regard to the interests of the Jews.  Esther’s heart is revealed in her choice of clothing. She required nothing but what “the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed” (Esther 2:15). It is further noted that “Esther obtained favor in the sight of all them that looked upon her” (Ibid).  
Esther did not confer with her own preferences. She trusted her looks and her future to the one whom God had chosen as her guardian. Those who truly trust God will not confer with their own preferences about anything. They will trust the preferences of the Keeper of our hearts – the One in whom dwelt “all the fullness of the godhead, bodily” (Colossians 2:9).
“The most dangerous flesh and blood that one can confer with is one's own. It is not enough to be independent of others; in matters of truth one needs to be independent of one's self.  ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.’ Proverbs 3:5. ‘He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool’ (Proverbs 28:26).  
“A pope is one who presumes to occupy the place in counsel which rightfully belongs to God alone. The man who makes himself pope, by following his own counsel, is just as bad as the man who dictates to another, and is more likely to be led astray than is the man who follows some pope other than himself.  If one is to follow a pope at all, it would be more consistent to accept the pope of Rome, because he has had more experience in popery than any other.  But none is necessary, since we have the Word of God. When God speaks, the part of wisdom is to obey at once, without taking counsel even of one's own heart. The Lord's name is ‘Counselor’ (Isaiah 9:6), and He is "wonderful in counsel."  Hear Him! "He will be our Guide forevermore" (E. J. Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, Page 45).
We live in the time of the end. We are either a part of the pure church which is clothed with the Sun of Righteousness, or we are going to be a part of the woman of Revelation 17:4. It is vital that our character and our clothing should be chosen, not by our preferences, but by the will of the Father, whose choices on our behalf are those that we would make if we “could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose that we are fulfilling as co-workers with Him” (Ellen White, Ministry of Healing, page 479).