Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sabbath: A Gift From Eden

First Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Sabbath: A Gift From Eden”
For the week of Mar. 16, 2013
Sabbath: A Gift From Eden
           The theme of the everlasting gospel that will soon lighten the earth with the glory of God is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It was the cornerstone of the loud cry message that had already begun by the early 1890's, and though the pause button was pushed more than a century ago, we have every reason to believe that it will yet go to the world as fire through the stubble.
           In the proclamation of this message we are told that the Sabbath will be proclaimed more fully. I believe this is the case because the Sabbath will be linked to the preaching of the cross of Christ.
           In keeping with that belief, we examine this week's lesson on the Sabbath and creation in light of the cross. 
           "Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?' 
           "Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, 'This Man is calling for Elijah!'
           "Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink.
           "The rest said, 'Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.'
           "And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after his resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, 'Truly this was the Son of God!'" Matthew 27:45-54
           In the Jewish tabernacle service, the sixth hour of the day (high noon) was when a second lamb was brought out and tied to the altar. At dawn the first lamb had been brought out, tied to the altar and sacrificed in the third hour. The second lamb was sacrificed at the ninth hour (3 o'clock in the afternoon), the time when Jesus fulfilled this type in dying on the cross. 
           The sacrifice of the second lamb typified Christ's death on the cross. 
           Turning to the book of Revelation, we learn that Christ was the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" Revelation 13:8. And 1 Peter 1:20 says, "He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you."
           The first lamb points back to the commitment Christ made to save man at any cost to Himself from the very dawn of creation--even before the foundation, or creation, of our world.
           On the sixth day of creation week, Jesus breathed into Adam the breath of life. In so doing, Jesus gave His life to Adam. At the cross, Christ breathed His last breath, once again infusing the human race with the life that we had lost in Adam. 
           The first-ever Sabbath of creation was characterized with fellowship between Adam and his Maker. Christ's work as Creator was ended, and "He rested on the seventh day from all His work which he had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made" Genesis 2:2,3.
           At the ninth hour on the cross Christ bowed his head and rested again -- this time from His work of saving mankind. The work of redemption was complete. Christ had plumbed the very depths of sin. He had been shut up in the bottomless pit with no escape. No one but Christ has ever entered into this death, and none but the devil and his angels need ever experience it, because on the cross Christ tasted death "for everyone" Heb. 2:9.
           The Sabbath of Creation celebrates Christ's completed work as Creator. The Sabbath of the Cross reveals Christ's completed work as Redeemer.
           On an interstate highway not far from our home, the state is constructing a new bridge. I've been watching construction of this bridge for a couple of years. Starting at the river bank, huge concrete pylons are put in place, and foot by foot, the new bridge is being built.
           The Sabbath is the bridge that spans the history of the world from Eden lost to Eden restored. 
           Every seventh day another Sabbath is anchored in time, bringing us one week closer to the culmination of the great controversy and the day in which we, "according to His promise, look for a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" 2 Pet. 3:13. 
           Over-arching this bridge of time is the cross of Christ, a Sabbath milepost in time. The promise of a coming Savior brought hope to the hearts of sin-burdened souls from Adam to Anna and Simeon. And the story of Jesus' triumph over Satan at the cross gives assurance that He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it. Jesus will come again.
           When Christ died on the cross, the foundations of the earth which had been set in place during creation week were shaken. Graves were opened, and at Christ's resurrection an untold number of saints came forth from their graves, the first fruits of Christ's victory over sin and death. These saints, some short and some giant in stature, proclaimed to an astonished world the good news of salvation. While the disciples of Jesus were sorrowing, these missionaries were telling that Jesus had risen. Death could not hold Him in the grave! He had won the victory!
           The Bible tells us of a millennial Sabbath to come. On the eve of the first Sabbath which concluded creation, God introduced Adam to his bride. The first marriage was consummated. During the Preparation Day before His second advent, Christ receives His bride, his church. 
           For 6,000 years the earth, which should have been resting every Sabbath, has been worked. On the cross Christ triumphantly proclaimed: "It is finished!" 
           On the eve of this millennial Sabbath, that proclamation is sounded again: "A loud voice is heard from heaven, saying, 'It is done!'" In the beginning our first parents--perfect in every way--failed an easy test. In the end God's people--ravaged by six thousand years of sin--will pass the most difficult test any human save Christ on the cross has ever had to bear. This final test will involve loyalty to God's seventh day Sabbath in the face of a universal death decree. 
           "And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings: and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth" Rev. 16:17, 18. 
           As before, this earthquake releases the righteous dead from their graves; Jesus comes again in the clouds of heaven to rescue His bride from the clutches of Satan. He will not be permitted to carry out his death decree. And "in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord" Lev. 25:4.
           All of heaven has been working for 6,000 years to save man. When Christ comes, the work of saving souls will be complete, and we will enter into that Sabbath rest with our Maker, even as our first parents entered into His rest on the first-ever Sabbath of creation week.
           "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His" Heb. 4:9, 10.         
           The weekly Sabbath is an opportunity for us to acknowledge that "the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture" Ps. 100:2, 3.  We are the one lost sheep that was found. This psalm reveals God's plan for the sheep of His pasture: When Jesus comes a second time, all who are in the graves will hear His voice and will come forth. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. 
           Our journey to heaven will last seven days, and somehow -- I can only conjecture -- it may be that we will arrive at the heavenly gates on the Preparation Day and all the angelic host will be there to welcome us as we "enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise" Ps. 100:4 to celebrate our first Sabbath with our Maker, our Redeemer, and our Husband, in heaven.
           What a day of rejoicing that will be! I want to be there on that happy day, don't you?
-Patti Guthrie