Wednesday, June 26, 2013

“Lest We Forget (Malachi)”

Insights #13 June 29, 2013


Second Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Lest We Forget (Malachi)
For the week of June 29, 2013
Lest We Forget (Malachi)
The secret of the LORD [is] with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. Ps. 25:14 NKJV
Malachi 4:6 contains the last recorded call to receive the gift of repentance (“turning”) in the Old Testament prior to the coming of the Messiah. Malachi carries a special weight, much like the book of Revelation, with its special message to Laodicea (Rev 3:14-21). Both Malachi and Revelation are illuminated by the rest of scripture, and especially by the book of Daniel.
Ever since the fall of man, God has been calling all back to an intimate communion with Him - one founded in reverent appreciation of His covenant promise to restore all things through His own ultimate sacrifice.
The Messenger of the covenant in Malachi 3 is the Prince of the covenant of Daniel 9 - Christ Himself. In Daniel 9:24 we see the surety of the fulfillment of the everlasting covenant:
"Seventy weeks [fn] are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of [fn] sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.”
Just as in Daniel 8 and 9 we see both the mareh vision of Christ the Messenger of the covenant and the chazown vision of the end-time judgment and final desolation (9:27), so in Malachi we have the delight and healing found in Christ (3:1, 4:2) as well the desolation that  comes with rejection of His healing rays of righteousness (4:1,3,6). The curse of Malachi 4:6 is a determined, ultimate desolation, much like the final desolation of Daniel 9:27.
What are the entanglements of God’s people in Malachi’s day that were placing them at risk of being caught up in the coming destruction? What are the similarities to us in our Laodicean churches today?

  • Irreverence in worship, defiled sacrifices (1:6-8)
  • Sneering at the food and fruit of God’s table (the Word) as boring (1:12-13)
  • Corrupt teaching of the law and the covenant with ideas foreign to the gospel (2:7-12)
  • Emotion-based worship as a cover for immorality and treachery (2:13-16)
  • Blurring the lines between right and wrong with a permissive gospel (2:17)
  • Spiritualism, adultery, lying, exploiting the weak and denying the gospel to others (3:5)
  • Withholding tithe (3:8-9)
  • Idolizing the proud/wicked (3:15)
The remedy for them and for us?

  • Let the Messenger into the soul temple to do His work of purification (3:1-4)
  • Tithe faithfully in belief that all we are and have are already God’s(3:10-12)
  • Believe and share that God values us and will complete His work (3:16-17)
  • Reverence the character of God and accept His healing righteousness (4:2)
  • Keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (4:2,4)
  • Repent of our hardness of heart (4:6)
The prayer of Daniel (9:4-19) is a good template for the ground we need to cover in our repentance as a people. Perhaps if we enter in to the “secret place of the Most High” (Ps 91:1) we will be be “found written in the book.” Dan (12:1)
May God show us His covenant today.

                                                                                                                   -- Todd Guthrie
From EGW:
   As the end approaches, the testimonies of God's servants will become more decided and more powerful, flashing the light of truth upon the systems of error and oppression that have so long held the supremacy. The Lord has sent us messages for this time, that will establish Christianity upon an eternal basis; and all who believe the present truth, must stand, not in their own wisdom, but in God's wisdom, and raise up the foundations of many generations; and they will be registered in the books of heaven as "repairers of the breach," the "restorer of paths to dwell in." In face of the bitterest opposition, we are to maintain the truth because it is truth. God is at work upon human minds; it is not man alone that is working. The great illuminating power is from Christ; the brightness of his example is to be kept before the people in every discourse. His love is the glory of the rainbow encircling the throne on high.
     The Lord has said, "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. . . . And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you, and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh." In the rainbow above the throne is an everlasting testimony that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Whenever the law is presented before the people, let the teacher of the truth point to the throne arched with the rainbow of promise, the righteousness of Christ. The glory of the law is Christ; he came to magnify the law, and to make it honorable. Make it appear distinct that mercy and peace have met together in Christ, and righteousness and truth have embraced each other. When you look to his throne, offering up your penitence, praise, and thanksgiving that you may perfect Christian character, and represent Christ to the world, you abide in Christ, and Christ abides in you; you have the peace that passes all understanding. We need continually to meditate upon Christ's attractive loveliness. We must direct minds to Jesus, fasten them upon him. In every discourse dwell upon the divine attributes.  (1888 Materials p. 1079)
From EJW:
Whoever reads the book of Malachi entirely through will see that while it is addressed to all Israel, the priests are especially singled out. The people had departed from the Lord, but it was the priests that had led the way. "The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts." Mal. ii. 7, 8. A great responsibility rests upon religious teachers and leaders. Apostasy begins at the head, rather than at the foot. It is the elders that draw away disciples after them. Acts xx. 28-30. If the people are going astray, be sure that the priests are still farther astray. Christ said that He sanctified Himself, in order that His followers mighty be truly sanctified. John xvii. 19. That is the true way, but it is seldom done. All reforms among the people have to be carried out in spite of the leaders of the people. The people are ready to follow the light, but they are hindered by the teachers of the law, who take away the key of knowledge, and will not enter in themselves, nor allow others to do so. If a religious teacher or one in authority in the church is not far ahead of the people, leading them along, then he is far behind them, dragging them back. (November 30, 1899 EJW, PTUK 758)
And from ATJ:
One provision of that everlasting covenant is. "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts." And that provision will not be accomplished in its fullness until, by the Third Angel's Message, men are brought to the actual keeping of "the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus;" so that the Lord, looking down from heaven upon them, can say, in perfect truth: "Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
Another provision of that covenant is: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." Heb. 8:11. Although we are now living in the times of the new covenant as really as was Abraham, yet neither the world nor we have attained to that point where it is not necessary any more for any man to teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, Know the Lord. And this part of the everlasting covenant will not be met in its fullness until, through the blessing and power of God in the Third Angel's Message, the mystery of God shall have been finished. Col. 1:26, 27; Rev. 19:7. (March 13, 1900 ATJ, ARSH 169)
In the new covenant it is God who is the worker. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Phil. 2:13. It is "through the blood of the everlasting covenant," that "the God of peace" makes "you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ." who is the "surety" of this "better testament." Heb. 13:20, 21; 7:22.
The only way in which the people come into this covenant is passively: they must submit themselves unto the righteousness of God. Rom. 10:3. They "yield" themselves unto God and their "members as instruments of righteousness unto God." Rom. 6:13.
Thus, whoever is partaker of this covenant in any way whatever, is partaker of it wholly by the promise of God; and so becomes, "as Isaac was," a child of promise. (July 24, 1900 ATJ, ARSH 473)

Monday, June 17, 2013

“Heaven's Best Gift (Zechariah)”

Second Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Heaven's Best Gift (Zechariah)
For the week of June 22, 2013
            Nestled in the unlikely book of minor prophet Zechariah are prophecies of far-reaching significance.
             During the mid 1990's to early 2000's, it was our privilege to host a gospel-focused Monday night Bible study in our home. Of those in attendance from week to week during those years, none were more faithful than Elder Donald and Mrs. Garnet Short, whom we came to know affectionately as Grandpa and Grandma Short. Elder Short was one of the modern day "1888 pioneers" who faithfully wrote, spoke and preached about the most precious message of 1888 which he had come to know and to love. We were blessed to live near the Shorts, and we came to treasure the rich gospel insights of this retired elder-missionary.
            Elder Short often quoted the passages found in our lesson study for this week, particularly those beginning in Zechariah 12:10 through Zechariah 13:7.
            "And I will pour on the house of David [the leadership of the church] and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem [the church at large] the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn" Zechariah 12:10
            "In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness." Zechariah 13:1.
            "And one will say to him, 'What are these wounds between your arms?' Then he will answer, 'Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." Zechariah 13:6.
            The purpose of the 1888 message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted, crucified Savior. These passages foretell the day when the Bride of Christ beholds the suffering which our sins have brought to the heart of God. 
             In his the Postlogue of his book Then Shall the Sanctuary Be Cleansed, Short writes, "The travail and the distress, the heartbreak and anguish that this generation has caused the Divine Bridegroom, must be understood by the bride before the divine Suitor can be sure she really wants Him and is sincere about getting married. She will have to sense that her insult to the Heavenly Lover is the supreme sin of all time. This will bring to her consciousness the terrible truth that her last sin is greater than her first sin at the cross.
            "The repentance of the ages is yet future, awaiting the bride's understanding and conviction. It is this repentance that will make the atonement effective to the sin-plagued heart of humanity.
            "It is not enough to flagellate ourselves with the sentiment that it was our personal sins that crucified Jesus. Sorrow emanating from such emotion is at best only typical, only a shadow. Sympathy for His suffering can hide an unconscious inward glee that He was the one to suffer and we escaped.
            "Those who understand the promise, 'then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,' will understand its implementation, and forsaking all others accept the Bridegroom for eternity. The despair and anguish of their convictions provide the heat that purifies the gold and seals the betrothal.
            "It is then that we overcome even as he also overcame. The cross will have done its work for all eternity."
            Our dear Elder Short is now resting in his grave, joining the millions who have gone before who "having a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise." Hebrews 11:39.
            The promise remains. The earth will be one day be lightened with the glory of God. "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him [of seeing us saved] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" Hebrews 12:1,2.

                        -Patti Guthrie

Friday, June 14, 2013

1888 Message National Conference

1888 Message National Conference

July 9-13, 2013

Washington Adventist University

Takoma Park, MD

Theme:  Grace Invasion

Each room is $36/night/double occupancy no linen.
 $5.00 is a onetime fee per person. Linen includes: 1-pillow, top and bottom sheet, towel and face cloth.(blankets and pillows are limited).
A list (in MSExcel) of those individuals who plan to come 2 weeks prior to arrival. List should include: full name, gender, single or double occupancy needed, arrival and departure date, and linen needs.
Payment can be made by cash, check, or credit card upon arrival.
Food: Washington Adventist Hospital - Phone: 301-891-5010.

EMAIL to make room reservations.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

“Visions of Hope (Zechariah)”

Second Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Visions of Hope (Zechariah)
For the week of June 15, 2013
Burning Oil

There is a Comic Book entitled the Fantastic Four which has a fictional character by the name of ‘the Human Torch’. As his name suggests, the Human Torch is able to engulf his entire body in flames, and not be consumed.  In other words, he is a living torch. Although we are not fictional characters, but are made of real flesh and blood, this fictional character visually represents an image of what the Lord wishes His people were spiritually—hot (Revelation 3:15). This image also represents the text from Matthew 5:14a, which says we are the light of the world. However, can we be engulfed by fiery flames and not be consumed?

Is there anything in the physical world that can be engulfed in flames, give out light and not be consumed?  The answer is yes; because we know for a fact that Moses in the wilderness encountered the flaming bush which was not consumed. Also notable in scripture, is the case of the three Hebrew worthies who were thrown in the fiery furnace and were not consumed; as well as the Prophet Elijah himself who was carried into heaven, in a flaming chariot of fire. These examples demonstrate that although God is a consuming fire, He does not desire to incinerate man.

Fire provides light and warmth, and during the Hebrews’ sojourn in the wilderness, God used the wall of fire to provide these necessities for them. Had the Children of Israel remembered and recounted their history of God’s loving provisions, in addition to His care and protection, they would have been kept from idolatry. But, longing to be like the surrounding nations, they did not heed the warnings and reproofs of the prophets. Thus, through the example of their hard hearted leaders, they were led deeper and deeper into apostasy, until at last they went into a 70 year captivity.

God in His mercy did not destroy the Israelites during their protracted and fiery captivity. And although there had seemed no end in sight to the trial in which they felt they’d be consumed, at last, they were purged of their idolatrous ways. God had only used the heat of their trial to remove their dross. 

Many years before, the prophet Isaiah had declared that the Lord would cleanse His people from their iniquities "by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning." The word of the Lord to Israel was, "I will turn My hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin." Isaiah 4:4; 1:25.

Under, Ezra and Nehemiah the Israelites were once again to be reestablished as a nation. A remnant of Israel, they had begun to build, but their hands were weakened. Again, the command to rebuild came from the Lord, this time under Haggai and Zechariah. They were to build again the city walls which were in disrepair, as well as its temple. To encourage them at this time, the Lord gave Zechariah a series of visions which he faithfully relayed to the people. In one of the visions, Joshua the High Priest was shown as clothed in filthy garments representing the sinfulness of himself and his people. Accused by Satan night and day, the repentant High Priest was rescued by the Lord, as a ‘brand plucked out of the fire’ (Zechariah 3:1-5). This vision makes it plain that both Joshua and the people were almost consumed by their fiery trial after having returned from the captivity. To sin, wherever found, "our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). They had however, repented, and the change of clothing was given to Joshua in place of his own garments of self-righteousness. The clean and white garments represent the loving, righteous character of Christ proffered upon Joshua as well as upon the people. In all who submit to His power, the Spirit of God will consume sin. But if men cling to sin, they become identified with it. Then the glory of God, which destroys sin, must destroy them. (DA 107)

In Zechariah chapter 4, another vision is recorded. This time the prophet is awakened from sleep, and asked to identify what he sees. This vision alluded to the holy place in the sanctuary, and concerned the two olive trees which stand before God. These trees were represented as emptying the golden oil out of themselves through golden tubes into the bowl of the candlestick.  It is from this that the lamps of the sanctuary were fed, that they may give a bright, continuous light. From the holy ones that stand in God's presence His Spirit is imparted to the human instrumentalities that are consecrated to His service. (PK 594.1: COL 408.1) Filled with the Holy Spirit, the human instrumentalities are aflame; they are hot, but not consumed.

During the time of Christ, John the Baptist had been sent to herald the way to the kingdom of God. Once again, the people had gone into servitude, this time to the Romans; and their beloved temple, upon which the greatest light had ever shone in the person of Christ Himself, was soon to be destroyed. Of John, Jesus said, “He was a burning and a shining light:…” He gave witness to Christ. A burning and a shining light, and yet John was not consumed.  And Jesus Himself was a shining light, sent to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:79).

It could be said that each of these persons mentioned, Moses, Elijah, the three Hebrew worthies, Isaiah, Nehemiah, John the Baptist and even Jesus Christ were human torches. They were aflame with the loving character of God, which they willingly gave witness to. Filled with the Spirit of God, they did the works which the Father had ordained for them to do. The Holy Spirit came upon them and with flame retardant garments, clothed them because they were not resistant; and the Father did the works through them.

Spiritually, we too are to be human torches, lighting the way to the kingdom, manifesting the mighty work of God in transforming our characters to reflect His own. My prayer is that as shining lights, may others see the good work of God in us, the face of Jesus, and glorify our Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

-Raul Diaz

Thursday, June 06, 2013

“First Things First! (Haggai)”

Second Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“First Things First! (Haggai)”
For the week of June 8, 2013
     Haggai preached three messages to the returning Jewish remnant from their Babylonian captivity. The time of the three messages corresponds with our months of August, October and December. His first message was in regard to their hands; the second, to their hearts; and the third, to their heads.
The August Message (1:1-15). This was directed to the people’s hands. God said, build the Temple (1:2, 4–11). The people’s complacency is recorded in verse 2. “This people says, ‘The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.’ ” But the Lord pointed out two things (1) The people’s materialism (1:4,5). They were living in luxurious homes while the Temple lay in ruins. (2) The people’s misery (1:6, 9–11). They planted much, but harvested little. Attempting many things, they failed in everything.
     Nevertheless, God reassured them that if they would build the Temple, He would bless them abundantly. (1:7,8). He spoke through three of His servants: one from public life,
Zerubbabel (Judah’s governor), one from the church, Joshua (Judah’s high priest), and the third, Haggai (Judah’s prophet). (1:1, 3, 12–15).
The October Message (2:1-9). This message was directed to the people’s hearts. There was both weeping and rejoicing at the second Temple’s dedication. Some of the older men remembered the glories of the first temple (Solomon’s) wept as they compared the second building with the first one. In light of this, Haggai attempts to encourage everyone as he speaks of the coming of the Messiah (verse 7).
     The prophet tells them to take courage because God’s presence among them is far more important than the size and glory of any earthly Temple. Although the outward splendor and glory of Solomon’s temple was greater than the one built after the captivity, this second one would be far more glorious than the first. “‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts” (2:9). This was to be because Jesus, “The Desire of All Nations” would come and fill this second temple with the presence of heaven (2:7).
The December Message (2:10-23). This final message was directed to the people’s heads. It involved thinking, pondering and reasoning. There were facts Haggai wanted the people to think about, especially Judah’s contamination (2:10–19). He reminded them of past problems, giving them concrete examples (2:10–17).
     The questions were designed to get the people to think. The first question had to do with the person who carried a holy offering. If that person brushed his garment against an object, will the object become holy? The priests pondered and said, “No.” This is because holiness cannot pass to other things or even to other people. Holiness is embodied in Christ. It cannot be separated from Him. The only way holiness comes to us is by receiving Him by faith.
     The second question through Haggai is: “If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?” The priests answered, “It shall be unclean” (verse 13).
     God was illustrating the spiritual condition of His people. They did not believe. They were unrepentant. They were dead in sin; so everything they did was contaminated. They were unclean because of the deadness of their hearts and minds (verse 14). Haggai applied this principle to the people. He told them that their sinful ways contaminated their consecrated offerings to God, resulting in crop failures, famine, and all the rest of the calamities that befell them. (verses 14-17). The lesson for all time is this: work and worship do not sanctify sinning, but sinning always contaminates work and worship.
     The good report is that head, heart and hands responded to God’s call through Haggai. The people repented, believed and began building with their hands. And so, from the laying of the foundation of the temple, God promised to abundantly bless them (2:18,19).
     The last promise of the book is to Zerubbabel. God honored him in this life, but there was something even more for him. He was given the assurance of life eternal (2:20-23). We too can have this assurance here and now.
     Let’s return to the October message, especially the part regarding “The Desire of All Nations” who was to come and who would fill this second temple with the presence of heaven (2:7). That heavenly presence is the very righteousness of God, for salvation, and  comes to the fallen race through the faith of Jesus (Rom 3:22, KJV), the Desire of All Nations. But before Christ came the first time, God would shake the nations according to Hag 2:7. And before the coming of Christ, the second time, there will be another shaking as pointed out by Joel 3:16; Heb 12:26-28; and Rev 6:14. The approaching shaking of the world will be much more violent; it will affect both the heaven and the earth in all their parts, the sea and the solid ground, as well as the nations. The condition of the visible creation and the whole world of nations will be altered.
      However, at His second coming, Jesus will still be “the Desire of All Nations,” but because of the desire for, and the cultivation of, sin by the lost, the desire for heaven’s righteousness will be destroyed in the hearts of the lost. They will despise and hate the “the Desire of All Nations,” who is the Desire of All Ages, before He comes to claim His own.
     The message of Christ’s righteousness that will be despised and hated is the message that came to us in Minneapolis in 1888. Just as people did not like the second temple that was built in Haggai’s day; just as Herod despised the Desire of Nations and attempted to kill Him when Jesus was born into the human family; so the lost at the end of days will make war against Christ and His faithful followers (Rev 17:14). But the lost will lose that war. The cause of the lost will be traced to their unremitting resistance to the Holy Spirit as He brings to them “the Desire of All Nations.”
I want to end this study by quoting from the Preface of The Desire of Ages:
    In the hearts of all mankind, of whatever race or station in life, there are inexpressible longings for something they do not now possess. This longing is implanted in the very constitution of man by a merciful God, that man may not be satisfied with his present conditions or attainments, whether bad or good or better. God desires that the human shall seek the best, and find it to the eternal blessing of his soul.
    Satan, by wily scheme and craft, has perverted these longings of the human heart. He makes men believe that this desire may be satisfied by pleasure, by wealth, by ease, by fame, by power; but those who have been thus deceived by him (and they number myriads) fin all these things pall upon the sense, leaving the soul as barren and unsatisfied as before.
    It is God’s design that this longing of the human heart should lead to the one who alone is able to satisfy it. The desire is of him that it may lead to him, the fullness and fulfillment of that desire. That fullness is found in Jesus the Christ, the Son of the eternal God. “For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fullness dwell;” “for in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” And it is also true that “in him ye are made full” with respect to every desire divinely implanted and normally followed.
    Haggai calls him “the Desire of All Nations,” and we may well call him “the Desire of All Ages,” even as he is “the King of Ages.”
    It is the purpose of this book to set forth Jesus as the one in whom every longing may be satisfied. There is many a “life of Christ” written, excellent books, large funds of information, elaborate essays on chronology and contemporaneous history, customs, and events, with much of the teaching and many glimpses of the many-sided life of Jesus of Nazareth. Yet it may be truly said, “the half has never been told.”….
    [E]ven as by the attraction of his own goodness of character Jesus drew disciples unto himself, and by his personal presence, by his sympathetic touch and feelings in all their infirmities and needs, and by his constant association, transformed their characters from the earthly to the heavenly, from the selfish to the sacrificing, from small hearted ignorance and prejudice to large hearted knowledge and profound love for souls of all nations and races, even so it is the purpose of this book so to present the blessed Redeemer as to help the reader to come to him face to face, heart to heart, and find in him, even as did the disciples of old, Jesus the mighty one, who saves “to the uttermost,” and transforms to his own divine image all those who come unto God by him. Yet how impossible it is to reveal his life! It is like attempting to put upon canvas the living rainbow; into characters of black and white the sweetest music.
    In the following pages the author, a woman of large and deep and long experience in the things of God, has set forth new beauties from the life of Jesus. She has brought many new gems from the precious casket. She opens before the reader undreamed-of riches from this infinite house. New and glorious light flashes forth from many a familiar passage. The depth of which the reader supposed he had long before fathomed. To state it in brief, Jesus Christ is revealed as the fullness of the Godhead, the infinitely merciful Saviour of sinners, the Sun of Righteousness, the merciful high priest, the healer of all human maladies and disease, the tender, compassionate friend, the constant, ever-present and helpful companion, the prince of peace, the coming king, the Everlasting Father, the culmination and fruition of the desires and hopes of all ages.
Is Jesus the Desire of your heart?

-Jerry Finneman