Tuesday, May 31, 2011

“The Prodigal’s New Clothes”

Second Quarter 2011 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“The Prodigal’s New Clothes”
For the week of May 29 – June 4, 2011
One day, a young man named Tony went out to the store to purchase an iPad, the average cost of which is approximately $500.  At the close of the transaction, Tony gained an iPad but had $500 less in his pocket.  Consequently, he will not be able to purchase other things with that $500, as the money is no longer his.  You see, in order to gain something of value, Tony had to incur a loss; to him, the gain of the iPad was worth the loss of the money.  If he thought the $500 was worth more than the iPad, he would have kept the money. 
Every day we make decisions based on what we think is of value.  So, we trade what we think is worth losing to gain what we think is more important.  A parent goes out to work and trades in time, skill and effort for money.  The time spent at work is time he cannot give to his spouse and children; with the money he receives, he purchases food, clothing, shelter and other necessities.  To gain money he loses time, to gain food and shelter he loses money.  The idea is: to gain, you must lose. And, in each choice we make, there are losses and gains.
The question is this:  will the gain be worth the loss?  Scripture says, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.  For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:25, 26).  What is the worth, or value of a soul? 
Jesus spoke many parables to teach us His Father’s values.  Let us look at the parable of the Prodigal Son from the perspective of what each character stood to lose or gain.  It should lead to a closer examination of our own values. We need to see if they are in alignment with God’s values.  
In the beginning of the story, the youngest son requests his inheritance so he can leave his father’s home to go out and live as he pleases.  With sadness, the father obliges (Luke 15: 11 – 14).  What did the youngest son hope to gain from his request? He wanted the resources to enjoy a perceived freedom from the restrictions of his father.  To him, this freedom was more valuable than his elder brother’s companionship, and even his father’s shelter and protection.  
Sadly, the younger son was unaware of his greatest loss. He did not understand and value His father’s love.  In contrast, the father not only lost his goods, he lost a son.  To him, the latter is the greater loss.  Now the elder brother sustained two losses -- he lost his brother and he lost a part of his inheritance.  What we discover later on in the parable is that from the elder brother’s perspective, his greatest loss was not his brother, but his inheritance.  
In the second part of the story the younger son loses everything, and finds an abominable job earning very little.  He decides to return home to beg his father for forgiveness. He is willing to work as his father’s employee.  As far as the younger son was concerned, he would gain food and shelter while his father would gain an employee.  However, when the father saw the younger son on the road approaching home, the father ran to his son and lovingly embraced him, promptly restoring his son to his old place in the family (Luke 15: 15-24).  The Father regained his son.  If there was a loss it did not matter because, the regaining of his son overshadowed it.  The younger son gained more than he anticipated. He received grace, mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation.  The greatest gain was experiencing his father’s love.
In the third part of the story, the eldest son reproaches the father for receiving his brother (Luke 15:25-31).  In his eyes, re-gaining a brother means losing more of the father’s inheritance.  To the eldest son, nothing matters more than his inheritance. It is more important than his brother.  As far as he was concerned, he stood to gain nothing by the return of his wayward sibling.  Sadly, the elder brother was unaware of his greatest loss:  that of not really experiencing his father’s love. 
Do we know our Heavenly Father’s love?  Maybe if we understood what He lost in order to gain us, we would better understand His love.  How much has the Father given for us? Our Father loved us so much that He was willing to pay far more than we were intrinsically worth.  Our Father stood to lose everything to gain us. 
When Adam and Eve sinned, the Father lost both this earth and His Son.  Because God so loved the world, He agreed in the councils of Heaven to allow Christ to come and save them if they sinned (John 3:16); thus, the Son was slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). The decision was made that Jesus would die eternally so we could live eternally with Him.  If He succeeded in His mission then the Father would regain that which was lost.   
However, if He should fail, the stakes would be higher -- all would be lost.  Either way, there would be a loss.  When Abraham demonstrated that he was willing to lose his son Isaac in order to gain Christ, the Lord swore by Himself that … “in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (cf. Genesis 22:15 – 18).
In swearing by Himself, the Lord placed Himself as a guarantor, and as surety.  He placed everything on the line.  If the plan failed, God would forfeit everything.  By this act of love, God demonstrated that He would rather die than to live without us.  The Lord places that much value in us. 
How much do we value such love?  If we esteem Christ, we will respond as Paul did in Philippians 3:7-10:
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the Excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death;
May we accept the principle of giving up all in order to gain the souls of others!

-- Raul Diaz

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

“A Brand Plucked From the Fire”

Second Quarter 2011 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“A Brand Plucked From the Fire”
For the week of May 22-28, 2011

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

What gives God the right and authority to forgive and cleanse His people of sin?  Is it their confession? Is it His faith and justice?  Or is it both? This week’s lesson answers these questions in the story of Joshua and the  Angel. Joshua represents all of humanity, rescued by God in Christ from certain destruction.

“Christ has taken the guilt of their sins upon His own soul.  He has snatched the race as a brand from the fire. By His human nature He is linked with man, while through His divine nature He is one with the infinite God.  Help is brought within the reach of perishing souls.  The adversary is rebuked” (Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons, page 169).

In His glorified humanity Christ provided everything needed to actually remove sin from the experience of those who will allow Him to do His work. Love of truth, and personal separation from sin is what God has in mind for all of humanity as they allow Him to put Christ’s righteousness on and in them.

It is vitally important to make the right choice about who puts the righteousness on.  If we attempt to put it on ourselves, then we really get on nothing but a filthy garment, no matter how good it may look to us. “But when Christ clothes us with His righteousness, it is not to be despised nor rejected....the taking away of the filthy garments is the same as causing the iniquity to pass from the person.  And so we find that when Christ covers us with the robe of His own righteousness, He does not furnish a cloak for sin but takes the sin away.  And this shows that the forgiveness of sins is something more than a mere form, something more than a mere entry in the books of record in heaven, to the effect that the sin has been canceled.  The forgiveness of sins is a reality; it is something tangible, something that vitally affects the individual . It actually clears him from guilt, and if he is cleared from guilt, is justified, made righteous, he has certainly undergone a radical change.  He is, indeed, another person, for he obtained this righteousness for the remission of sins, in Christ” (E. J. Waggoner, 1890 EJW, Christ and His Righteousness, pages 64-65).

Great comfort and assurance comes to God’s people through the authority that God has given to us in Christ.  By taking fallen, sinful humanity and conquering sin in that flesh, Jesus was “earning the right to become the advocate of men in the Father's presence” (Ellen White, Desire of Ages, page 744).  We now have the assurance that as soon as we see any impurity in our hearts, and confess it, God will immediately exercise His faithfulness and justice in our behalf. He will complete forgiveness experientially in us:

 Joshua represents the people of God.  Satan tries to bring reproach against those who are trying to serve and honor God.  He presents them in a questionable light, as those who are clothed with filthy garments.  God says, "Take away the filthy garments.  You have no right to put them upon them.  Take them away.  My people may have imperfections of character. They may fail in their endeavors, but if they repent, I will forgive them."  (Ellen White, General Conference Daily Bulletin, April 23, 1901).

This work is carried out by the Holy Spirit. “It is the Holy Spirit that reproves and convicts of sin; but He is at the same time the Comforter, and He convicts but to comfort.  Instead of sinking down in discouragement when we are reproved for our faults (and how quietly and tactfully the Lord reproves), we should take courage from the reproof, knowing that it is the way God takes to reveal to us the Christ who saves from sin.  In the conviction we find healing.  ‘For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life’ (Proverbs 7:23)” (E. J. Waggoner, August 2, Present Truth, Vol. 16, page 496).

The glorious news is that this work will come to completion in you and me, and all the people of God, to the extent we stop resisting the new garment. We must also stop trying to bring our own garment. “Says the Lord of hosts, ‘And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day’” (Zechariah 3:9).

This work of cleansing the sanctuary, is what heaven has been longing for ever since 1844. “As the people of God afflict their souls before Him, pleading for purity of heart, the command is given, ‘Take away the filthy garments,’ and the encouraging words are spoken, ‘Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment’ (Zechariah 3:4).  The spotless robe of Christ's righteousness is placed upon the tried, tempted, faithful children of God.  The despised remnant are clothed in glorious apparel, nevermore to be defiled by the corruptions of the world.  Their names are retained in the Lamb's book of life, enrolled among the faithful of all ages.  They have resisted the wiles of the deceiver; they have not been turned from their loyalty by the dragon's roar.  Now they are eternally secure from the tempter's devices.  Their sins are transferred to the originator of sin.  A "fair miter" is set upon their heads” (Ellen White, Prophets and Kings, page 591).

I don’t know about you, but I long for that eternal security inherent in the final application of Zechariah 3.  Shall we confess and pray for it together?
--Todd Guthrie

Thursday, May 19, 2011

“Garments of Splendor”

Second Quarter 2011 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Garments of Splendor”
For the week of May 15-21, 2011
“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10, NIV).
A symbol is an object which, through visual similarity or common agreement between users, represents something other than itself.  In other words, a symbol is something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or even accidental resemblance.  The most common group of symbols is the alphabet.  While each letter represents a sound or sounds, combined together, these letters and sounds make words, representing the thoughts of the speaker or writer.  Symbols are also used in mathematics and in music, and represent specific operations, elements, quantities, qualities, or relations.  The point is that symbols are utilized for varying reasons, sometimes to simplify a complex idea or formula, and other times to conceal meaning or to inform us to take a specific action. 
The Bible is full of symbols such as prophetic beasts, parables and garments.  While garments typically represent character, they may also represent function.  Our memory text likens garments to symbols of salvation and righteousness, referencing both bridal and priestly attire.  In fact, in the King James Version of the scriptures, the expression used for the “bridegroom adorns his head…” is “as a bridegroom decks himself.”   The verb translated “decks himself” comes from a Hebrew word that means to “do the work of a priest,”
God’s desire to make all of the children of Israel priests, and not just the Levites, is obvious in Exodus 19 and 20.  God says to Moses in Exodus 19: 4 – 6,
4Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.
 5Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
 6And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
God told Moses to prepare and sanctify the people so the Lord could “ordain” them as His priests.  But, as we see in chapter 20, they refused God’s gift.  We read in Exodus 20: 15 - 21,
18And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
 19And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
 20And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
 21And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
God desired to relate to the people as He related to Moses, face to face and heart to heart.  But the people were afraid that the thunder, lightning, and noise, meant that God would kill them, therefore they would not come close.  They told Moses, “Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”  Moses replied, “Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.”  But, they stood afar off.  In contrast, Moses drew near to God and was unharmed, twice climbing the mountain in the thick dark cloud.  Despite this evidence of God’s intention not to harm them, out of fear,the people kept their distance.  
Their rejection of God’s plan for them to be a “kingdom of priests and an holy nation,” led God to institute His contingency plan.  Since His people would not permit Him to establish Himself in their hearts, He would live among them instead (Exodus 25:8).  Thus, God ordered Moses to build the “portable” Sanctuary and establish the priesthood. This symbolic living parable became God’s method of teaching the people about Himself (Exodus 28:1–2).  But the Hebrews corrupted their understanding and by making literal what was symbolic, they effectively steeled themselves in their old covenant beliefs.  Thus, they used the Sanctuary system as a method of salvation, despite the fact that neither the Sanctuary nor the services had merit (Hebrews 10:4). 
Had the children of Israel, in reality the children of God, accepted His original plan, they would have delighted greatly in the Lord, and been found rejoicing in God.  Their garments or characters would have been splendorous and they would have been properly attired for the royal marriage of the Lamb. By allowing God to write His law in their hearts and minds, and dwell in them, they would have had such an intimacy with God as to be His priests, interceding for others, pleading for their salvation, as well as their growth in grace, truth and love.
What a pity they missed their high calling to be covered by God.  How is it with you?  Are you covered?  If you are reading this, chances are that it’s not yet too late.  He is willing, how about you?   
--Raul Diaz

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In the Shadow of His Wings

Second Quarter 2011 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Garments of Grace: Clothing Imagery in the Bible”
For the week of May 8-14, 2011
 In the Shadow of His Wings
This lesson could be described as “A Tale of Two Covers.” David is the primary character, and he reveals these two covers in his life.
On the one hand, David wrote the words, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Psalm 32:1). David understood the need for cover in relation to sin.
On the other hand, the lesson rightly says, “At the pinnacle of greatness, David faces his fiercest battle. The war isn’t waged on the bloody fields of Rabbah but over the six inches of mental turf that lies behind David’s frontal lobe. Satan chooses his “weapon” well. What Goliath with his monstrous lance failed to do to David, a bathing woman, seen from the king’s rooftop, does. . .One small stone and down falls a giant. One small glance and down falls a king. David did many things to “cover” his sin of adultery and avoid exposure.”
How would we understand the difference between the “cover” that David pursued after his sin with Bathsheba versus the “cover” that David pursued during his repentance? Are they both coverings for sin? Is the only difference the identity of the one doing the covering? Can we say that if we cover our sin it is a bad thing, but that if God covers up our sin then it is a good thing? Or, are we actually talking about two different “covers”? 
The two covers are totally different in origin, method, and purpose.
After his sin, David attempted to cover his guilt by having Uriah sleep with his wife. Failing to accomplish that, David had Uriah executed, albeit in a subtle manner. Like David, we try to cover our sin.  The cover-up originates from a fear of punishment or consequences. Covering up our sin always involves further deception. Self-preserving actions lead to further needs for covering up.
The origin of this fear, and the need for cover, goes all the way back to Eden. Adam and Eve believed the lies that Satan told them about God. Satan said that God was controlling and restrictive (Genesis 3:1). Satan said that God was deceptive and untrustworthy (Genesis 3:4). Satan finished by telling Eve that the reason that God was controlling, restrictive, deceptive, and untrustworthy, was that God was selfishly trying to keep His exalted and beautiful sphere of existence away from Adam and Eve.
When you believe that someone close to you, someone that you trusted, is deceptive, selfish, and controlling, the natural response is one of fear. And then, when you encounter that person (God), you will run for cover. Fear, shame and remorse will compel you to deal with your sin by shifting responsibility away from yourself to another. So Adam shifted responsibility to Eve, and Eve to God. For millennia we have continued to take cover by shifting responsibility for our sin to others or to God. Isaiah calls this a “refuge of lies” (Isaiah 28:15).  This refuge of lies is really a psychological mechanism of self-preservation. It’s a cover to prevent us from having to look at and deal with the guilt, and remorse, and shame that are inherently and naturally connected with sin.
But what is God’s cover for sin? Is it another “cover-up” where the sin is left intact, but merely covered up to continue to fester? “Blessed is he . . . whose sin is covered.” (Psalm 32:1). How is God’s covering for sin different than our covering of sin?
When we, like David, attempt to cover sin, the purpose is to hide, conceal, and obscure what we have done. God’s cover for sin involves a process of self-revelation; of exposure to the truth of what sin is and what sin does, so that we will experience a hatred for and fear of sin. This appropriate hatred and fear then replace our natural fear of God and enmity towards Him (Romans 5:10 & 8:7).  God’s cover for sin then becomes a protection from sin
Sin is the entity to be feared, not God. When we cover up our sin, it will continue to work its destructive consequences of guilt, shame, and fear.  When we come to God in repentance, the result isn’t a festering wound of sin, but a cleansing from sin, followed by a covering – or protection – from ongoing sin, guilt, and fear. That’s why David could plead, “Search me, O God, and know my heart” (Psalm 139:23). He desired healing from the effects of past sin, and then the covering of protection from future sin. No more did David want his sin “covered up.” He wanted it destroyed.
We have many ways of “covering up” our sin, which really are subtle ways of keeping our sin. Legalism is one way. We cover up a core of self-interest and self-preservation under a veneer of external conformity to a code of ethics and behavior. But the core sin problem of self-interest remains undisturbed. As we mentioned previously, we can also “cover” our sin by shifting the responsibility to God and others – “the devil made me do it,” “I was born this way,” or “if he hadn’t done that then I wouldn’t have done this.”
“The righteousness of Christ is not a cloak to cover unconfessed and unforsaken sin; it is a principle of life that transforms the character and controls the conduct.  Holiness is wholeness for God” (Ellen White, Desire of Ages, page 555-556). So often we want to deal with sin by having the righteousness of Christ cover our sin, rather than having the righteousness of Christ as an actual possession that blots sin out of our life. The righteousness of Christ is NOT a cover for unconfessed and unforsaken sin, but the righteousness of Christ is a principle of life that will “control our conduct.” A principle that will cover (protect) us from being entrapped again by sin.
God is not engaged in a universal cover up of sin. God is engaged in a universal elimination of sin. He seeks eternal protection for all of us – and the whole universe – from the destruction and devastation that come as the natural consequences of sin. May we be actively and fervently engaged in receiving “God’s cover” for sin. And may we never spread the erroneous idea that the righteousness of Christ is a covering up of sin, rather than a reclaiming from sin.
God is our friend. Sin is the enemy. Let’s spend our time and energy with our friend, not our enemy.
 --Bob Hunsaker

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

“Elijah’s and Elisha’s Mantle”

Second Quarter 2011 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Elijah’s and Elisha’s Mantle
For the week of May 1 - 7, 2011
 In Bible times a mantle was a loose sleeveless garment worn over other clothes. It is thought that it was probably made of sheepskin made into leather (see Eaton’s Bible Dictionary).  In giving his mantle to Elisha, Elijah symbolized the passing of the authority of prophetic leadership from himself to Elisha. The significance is that Elisha would be clothed with the Spirit of prophecy as the divinely appointed successor to Elijah. Elijah “threw” the mantle over Elisha when he called him to serve (1 Kings 19:19). Then, later, just as Elijah was taken to heaven, the mantle fell to the ground and Elisha took it as his own. He chose it as his own (2 Kings 2:13).
Elijah was now gone. Only his mantle remained. This mantle signified the power of God in the life of Elijah, who declared drought, who asked God to send fire from heaven while on Mt. Carmel, who caused nations to tremble with his messages, and who raised the dead. It was now taken up by Elisha who carried it back to the river Jordan and asked. “where is Elijah’s God (2 Kings 2:14)? Next he struck the water with this mantle just as Elijah had done previously (v. 8).
Let’s return to the earlier part of the narrative. As Elijah and Elisha walked and talked together, a fiery chariot from heaven swooped between them and took Elijah along in its terrific wind up into heaven (v.11). It was over in an instant. Elisha could but cry out in amazed tribute to his departed master (v.12). Elijah was gone. The era in which he lived ended; another began.
So, when Elisha smote the water with the cloak, he discovered that although Elijah was gone, the Lord was not, because the water separated before Elisha just as it had done when Elijah earlier smote it with his mantle. The sons of the prophets who witnessed this scene understood that the Spirit of God rested now upon Elisha in zeal and in great power.
Sunday’s lesson touches on what happened to Elijah after his confrontation with the prophets of Baal who had deceived and led God’s people astray into a false religion. Shortly after Elijah’s great triumph over those false prophets, he was threatened by a demon-possessed queen. Elijah, exhausted to the point of despondency and fear, ran for his life.
But notice God’s care for him in his deep depression. After his day-long run, Elijah sat under a tree and asked God to kill him (1 Kings 19:4) and then fell into a deep sleep. An angel sent from God watched over him with compassion. The cake the angel baked for Elijah was truly an angel-food cake (v. 6). After drinking the water provided for him, Elijah again fell into a deep sleep. When the prophet had gotten his much needed rest, the angel again aroused him from sleep and told him to eat, and then to journey on (v. 7,8).
Centuries earlier, another leader went into deep depression and asked God to kill him. His name? Moses. You can read about it in Numbers 11:11-15. It is significant that it was these two men – Moses and Elijah – who had experienced such terrible depression and despondency, were sent from heaven to comfort Jesus shortly before He experienced the terrible despondency and depression from the weight mankind’s guilt. 
Luke records Christ’s meeting with Moses and Elijah: “Then behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:30,31).  No doubt the struggle that Christ was to enter from Gethsemane to Calvary was discussed.
Matthew describes the deep depression that Jesus came under while in Gethsemane: “And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.  Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death’” (Matthew 26:37, 38).
Matthew chose strong words to communicate the extreme emotional distress Jesus experienced. Literally they translate: “deeply depressed.” Jesus’ own words expressed his emotional state: My soul is over-whelmed with sorrow to the point of death (v. 38, KJV). This is a description of depression so deep that Jesus despaired of life itself. He was on the verge of dying, so extreme was his emotional distress. All His power seems to be gone; He is crushed and beaten down. It is here He tastes “death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9). He has only one recourse: prayer to His Father. And while He was in the process of dying, at the last moment, an angel was sent from heaven to strengthen Him (Luke 22:42-44).  
There is a difference in the outcome of Jesus’ depression and that of Elijah. Jesus never gave up. His faith held.  Jesus believed not only in the absence of feelings, but against them.  This is “the faith of Jesus” by which we are justified (Galatians 2:16).  This is “the faith of Jesus” that His people will “keep” and cling to in earth’s closing scenes (Revelation 14:12).  Jesus was victorious even in deep depression and He gives to those who suffer depression encouragement to go on.  He knows all about their situation. He has experienced depression at its deepest level.  Not only will He comfort those in depression, He will bring them through triumphantly as they exercise faith in Him.  And those who suffer depression will have deeper insights into Christ’s depression and agony that He went through in Gethsemane and on Calvary.
Back to Elijah. After hiding in a cave on Mt Sinai, he finally heard the “still small voice” of God.  This is what a depressed person needs to hear. God led him out of his depression and took him to heaven without seeing death. Before God translated Elijah, He instructed him to anoint three men to take his place in order to finish the reformation began with him on Mt Carmel.  These three were a pagan king, a wild man, and a gentle prophet – Hazael, Jehu and Elisha (1 Kings 19:15-17).  All three worked to change Israel.  The two king’s (Hazael and Jehu) used methods of reform were never approved by God. The only methods approved by God were those used by the one on whom Elijah’s mantle was placed.
As to the other methods:  “Men are slow to learn the lesson that the spirit manifested by Jehu will never bind hearts together.  It is not safe for us to bind our interests with a Jehu religion; for this will result in bringing sadness of heart upon God's true workers.  God has not given to any of His servants the work of punishing those who will not heed His warnings and reproofs.  When the Holy Spirit is abiding in the heart, it will lead the human agent to see his own defects of character, to pity the weakness of others, to forgive as he wishes to be forgiven. He will be pitiful, courteous, Christlike” (Ellen White, Review and Herald, ). “[G]entleness is mightier far than a Jehu spirit” (Ibid, February 10, 1885).
The mantle Elisha put on represents the gentleness of Jesus – His righteousness.  As that mantle was made from a sheep’s skin, so Christ, “the Lamb of God” has a mantle of righteousness ready made in the loom of heaven.  This mantle was placed upon Jones and Waggoner in order to present the message of Christ and His righteousness.  And as you and I are called to service, by the Spirit of God, this mantle of righteousness is given to us to clothe us on the inside as well as outwardly.  This will prepare us to carry God’s message to the world.  We may not be called upon to be a prophet in the sense of Elijah and Elisha, nor as messengers like Jones and Waggoner, but we are called to deliver God’s word in our circle of influence as they did in theirs.
--Jerry Finneman