Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Day of the Lord

Second Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
The Day of the Lord (Zephaniah)
For the week of June 1, 2013
The Day of the Lord
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, performing a unique work on each of the six days to bring about a perfect, “very good” creation. The creation week was crowned with a day where Adam and Eve could rest in God’s perfect work.
When sin was introduced to humanity by Satan, its three-fold menace (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - 1 Jn 2:16) brought sorrow and toil, not only to man, but to God. Neither God nor the earth has ever truly enjoyed a Sabbath rest since then (cf Jn 5:17).
It takes time and work for God to humble the king of pride (cf Job 41-42), but He Himself is humble and patient, so we can be secure that soon the promised restoration will occur. Then both He and we will enjoy a millennium of Sabbaths.
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day [is] as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 1 Pt 3:8
Both Zephaniah and Nahum call attention to Nineveh, the great city of Assyria, which represents those of the world who identify with the king of pride and his self-exalting nature. God used Assyria, which embodied the sin problem, to punish His people and to divest them of their strange infatuation with the world, which (like Ninevah) will soon be given to complete destruction.
Surely their messages are even more relevant today. We are Adventists - we believe that the judgment is now and that Jesus is coming very soon!
The great day of the LORD is near;
It is near and hastens quickly. Zephaniah 1:14
We are called to be the messengers, not only of the coming destruction, but of the mercy and love of God in providing in Christ all that is needed to survive the coming maelstrom.
How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who proclaims peace,
Who brings glad tidings of good things,
Who proclaims salvation,
Who says to Zion,
“Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7
15 Behold, on the mountains
The feet of him who brings good tidings,
Who proclaims peace! Nahum 1:15
What are these good tidings?
     “The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.”  (TM 91-92, emphasis supplied)
“I call upon all who have united in a course of action that is wrong in principle to make a decided reformation, and forever after walk humbly with God.” (TM 131)
If there is a lesson in Zephaniah and Nahum, it is that we must personally be divested of the world to survive the coming devastation. Have we seen and felt enough of the punishment that sin brings to turn irrevocably to the One who will “quiet us with His love” and “rejoice over us with singing?”  If we will humble ourselves, confessing that He is everything we need, and asking the Lord to dwell and walk in us, then we will be ready. Now is the day of preparation for the great Sabbath rest coming soon in the millennium.
God has promised that He will complete the work He has started in us, and then through us complete the work to bring this great week of time to its Sabbath conclusion.
The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness
And speak no lies,
Nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth;
For they shall feed their flocks and lie down,
And no one shall make them afraid.”
Behold, at that time
I will deal with all who afflict you;
I will save the lame,
And gather those who were driven out;
I will appoint them for praise and fame
In every land where they were put to shame.
At that time I will bring you back,
Even at the time I gather you;
For I will give you fame and praise
Among all the peoples of the earth,
When I return your captives before your eyes,”
Says the LORD. Zephaniah 3:13,19,20.
This desolation of the earth is further confirmed by the teaching concerning the sabbatic year of the old dispensation. It is stated in 2 Chron. 36:21 that, by the people's being carried captive to Babylon, the land was left desolate, that she might enjoy her sabbaths. And the land lay desolate for seventy years, "until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths; for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfill three-score and ten years." That is, Israel for four hundred and ninety years had failed to observe the sabbatic year in giving the whole land the rest that God had provided for it in that year, and now they have to go into captivity, and the land must lie desolate, until all the Sabbaths of which they had robbed the land in those four hundred and ninety years, which made seventy years, should be made up.
And in this all men are taught definitely by the word of the Lord that since the whole earth has been obliged to pass along for six thousand years without any rest at all, it having been robbed of all the sabbatical years in this whole time,—until the curse has "devoured the earth," and it is "utterly broken down" (see Isa. 24:4-6, 19, 20),—the whole earth—must lie desolate one thousand years, to make up the sabbaths of which the earth has been robbed in these six thousand years under the weight of the curse that has been heaped upon it by the sins of men.
Accordingly Isaiah says: "The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word." Isa. 24:3. And Zephaniah says, "I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord. . . . Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God; for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests [Rev. 19:17, 18]. . . . The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord; the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness: . . . the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land." Zeph. 1:2-18. January 16, 1900 ATJ, ARSH 40-41.

-Todd Guthrie