Friday, December 25, 2015

“Lessons From Jeremiah”

"Lessons From Jeremiah"
For the week of December 26, 2015

Last week's lesson began with the suggestion that one could summarize a good portion of the book of Jeremiah as an example of the limits of grace.  While it is true that we cannot experience the full benefit of grace if we refuse to accept it, perhaps a better summary of Jeremiah's message is the extent of God's grace.  Chapters 40 through 44 of Jeremiah describes the establishment of Gedeliah as the governor of Judah under Babylonian rule, his subsequent assassination, the promise of the people to obey the Lord and their subsequent about face when the word of the Lord from the prophet does not agree with their desire.  It is noticeable that, even in his punishment of Israel, God was merciful in taking measures to discipline them without utterly destroying the nation if they would submit to the correction resulting from long years of rebellion and idolatry.

This week's lesson points out principles applicable to God's people in every generation, specifically faithfulness to God and obedience to His commandments.  No one enjoys chastisement and correction, but contrition and humility of heart must constantly be cultivated to receive and comply with the message of the "True Witness."  Until the end of time there will be the need of revival and reformation among God's people.  Such revival and reformation is a result of being reminded of God's goodness in contrast to and in spite of our unfaithfulness. 

A most important insight referenced is the Adventist understanding of the Bible in the context of the great controversy theme.  The central issue was, is, and always has been the character of God.  It is easy for us to think that the plan of salvation revolves around us, but such a subjective perspective misses the larger issue of what led to the entrance of sin and the ongoing drama of the ages.  The question for every human being to decide is, "What is God really like?" In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve voted for the enemy's depiction of God.  The break in the relationship between God and man revolved around the issue of whether God could be trusted and, ever since the fall, God has continually sought in multiple ways, by the revelation of His character of love and compassion, to re-establish the relationship lost in the Garden of Eden.

The ultimate expression of God's love and trustworthiness came at the Cross.  A wonderful quote from Great Controversy reads, "That the Maker of all worlds, the Arbiter of all destinies, should lay aside His glory and humiliate Himself from love to man will ever excite the wonder and adoration of the universe."

You might say God is in a catch twenty-two in the sense that He along will all the heavenly intelligences are working tirelessly to present to our understanding the length and depth and breadth and height of the love of God to inspire our trust and confidence in Him and yet because of the effects of sin and our darkened understanding, we are limited in our perception of the great and grand reality of the plan of salvation.

A further conundrum is that the perversity of human nature leads us to take God's kindness for weakness and because of His love and grace we do not realize the depths of degradation from which we have been spared because of Christ's sacrifice.

Great Controversy page 651 reads, "In this life we can only begin to understand the wonderful theme of redemption. With our finite comprehension we may consider most earnestly the shame and the glory, the life and the death, the justice and the mercy, that meet in the Cross; yet with the utmost stretch of our mental powers we fail to grasp its full significance. The length and the breadth, the depth and the height, of redeeming love are but dimly comprehended. The plan of redemption will not be fully understood, even when the ransomed see as they are seen and know as they are known; but through the eternal ages new truth will continually unfold to the wondering and delighted mind. Though the griefs and pains and temptations of earth are ended and the cause removed, the people of God will ever have a distinct, intelligent knowledge of what their salvation has cost."

Jeremiah must have sensed the divine dilemma, seeing how the messages he brought to Israel - warning of the consequences of their repeated rebellion, idolatry would ultimately lead to destruction, and that their alliances with other nations would be productive of no good - only resulted in greater persecution for himself.  Jeremiah recognized God's love in the warnings that were repeatedly sent, in spite of the fact that they were disregarded.  While God knew that Jeremiah's messages would be rejected, Jeremiah did not.  In the process, God is saving the messenger as much as he is saving those to whom the message is sent. Such is the message of the book of Jonah as well.  While Jeremiah was faithful, he was also human and did not refrain from expressing the lament of his heart for the anguish that came with fulfilling his divine office.

Tim Keller suggests the entire Bible is about marriage in that it begins with the union of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 and ends with a wedding in Revelation 19 between Christ and the church.  Much of the story in between is of the unfaithfulness of God's people to the marriage covenant.  Interestingly enough, the word adultery appears in the book of Jeremiah more than any other book of the Bible.  However on just about every occasion when the word adultery appears in Jeremiah, it is not referring to infidelity between husband and wife but describes the spiritual adultery of God's people in departing from Him and serving other gods.

The lesson points out that in the book of Jeremiah, the Lord was seeking to get people away from the cold dead rituals that came to dominate their faith.  Even today, religious rituals serve to quiet the conscience and appease the unregenerate, providing a salve and sense of morality and propriety while avoiding the stark reality and undeniable assessment of our true spiritual condition.  God is too kind and merciful to be less than honest with us.  He will provide no band-aid for cancer and is obligated to be truthful that we may avail ourselves of the only remedy of a desperate condition.  Revelation chapter 3 assesses Laodicea as "poor, blind, wretched, miserable and naked."  

It is essential that we dispense with every form of religion that passes as a means of remembering God which is in reality a method of forgetting God.

In Jeremiah 7:9-10 the question is asked, "Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?" The lesson author calls this a classic example of "cheap grace".  It is indicative of a false gospel which is pervasive, if only at a subconscious level, providing perpetual pardon for sin but no power over sin.  Heart religion is rooted in an understanding of the cost and expensiveness of grace.

Numerous verses of scripture address Israel and Judah in a corporate sense.  Many appear as terms of endearment even as God warns through His prophet. Yet the point is made that salvation is personal and "not a corporate issue." Would that we could see and emphasize the aspects of salvation that are corporate and be so inspired to respond individually.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 2 Cor 5:19

For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.  1 Tim 4:10

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Cor 15:22

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  Romans 5:18

No doubt, what Christ does in us is individual and subjective; but what Christ has done for us is universal and objective. God gave His only begotten Son because He loved the world. Jesus' suffering was on behalf of every man or woman born into the world.  His mission to earth was to be the Savior of the world and "in Him we live and move and have our being" Acts 17:28.

~Mike Duncan

Raul Diaz

Thursday, December 17, 2015

“Back to Egypt”

Insight #12 December 19, 2015

Fourth Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

"Back to Egypt"

For the week of December 19, 2015

Let's say a child is born with a fatal congenital disease for which there is no cure.  Because he was born with it, the condition is not his fault. Therefore, the fact that he has the disease and will die from it cannot be held against him.  Let's also say that years later a cure is discovered and the child, now a man, can receive the medicine for free.  He still, however, has to choose to take the medicine.  If he takes it, he will be cured, and, therefore, live longer.  And if he does not choose to take the medicine, he will continue with the disease and eventually die.  Can he still blame his parents for the disease and dying from it?  No.  After his rejection of the medicine, he can only blame himself.  There is no cure for rejecting the treatment.
In Numbers 21: 5 - 9, we read that the people of Israel murmured against God, and, therefore, God allowed the serpents to bite them. God had given the people manna.  But, they did not appreciate this food of the angels; instead, becoming bored with it, they despised it. So the Lord allowed the venomous snakes to slither into the camp and bite the people. As long as they had been filled with faith he was able to protect them from the designs of the evil one. But as the people murmured against God, their rebellious attitude ripened, and so did their disrespect of Moses and God. Consequently, God had to remove his hand of protection at his people's insistence, and they were bitten. Everywhere could be heard the cries of the stricken ones.  Almost all of the households were touched, and the numbers of the dead mounted. As the people were suffering and dying, many longed for relief. At last, realizing the connection between the snakes and their Sin, they requested Moses to pray for deliverance.  God did answer, and he told Moses to build a brazen serpent, put it on a pole, and have the bitten ones look and live. Those who heeded looked and were healed.
In God's providence, He did not get rid of the serpents, and neither did he prevent them from attacking the people. Instead, he encouraged the people to exercise faith. The issue was: would they believe that in looking at the brazen serpent, they would live?
The brazen serpent was placed high on a pole for all of the people in the camp to see.  But, only those who looked when bitten would be delivered. Did any of the people deserve the cure? No, not one person in the camp deserved deliverance (Romans 3:10 – 12). But God, in His love and mercy not only allowed the people to have what they insisted on, the distance they desired of him as demonstrated by their murmuring and complaining, which brought the snakes, He even provided them with the cure. This gesture toward them displayed not only God's mercy by not giving them what they deserved, but it manifested his grace by giving them the power to overcome their unbelief. Furthermore, if they took him at his word, it energized them physically to overcome the effects of the poison.
Now, just because God gave this opportunity or gift to all, did not mean that God spared all bitten by snakes from the effects of the poison. He wanted to, but those who chose not to believe, just would not look; and not looking, meant certain death. Unfortunately, there was no grace for this. There was no remedy for rejecting the solution. And the same applies today -- those who dismiss the grace that can save them, will find that there is no grace for rejecting the grace. Grace, as we see, has limits.
The lesson's author states something similar regarding the Jews in Jeremiah's time.  Generations later they had not learned their lesson. Our Lesson states:
"This week's lesson brings us toward the end of the saga of Jeremiah the prophet. However, this is not a "…and they lived happily ever after" ending. In a sense, one could summarize this week's study, and even a good portion of the book of Jeremiah, by saying that what we see here is an example of the limits of grace. That is, grace will not save those who utterly refuse to accept it. No matter how much the Lord spoke to them, sending them salvation, protection, redemption, peace, and prosperity, all but a tiny and faithful remnant scorned and rebuffed God's gift.  …Even after everything Jeremiah warned about came to pass, the people still clung to their sins and paganism and rebellion, openly defying the Prophet to his face and scorning the Word of the Lord to them.
How we need to be careful ourselves. Grace is grace because it's favor and power given to the undeserving, yes; but it's not forced on anyone. All must be willing to receive it for themselves.
Just as grace is a gift to all, but only useful to those who receive it; grace does not cover all Sin.  Some may get the impression from Romans 5:20 through 6:2 that grace covers all sin. But that is not the case, for the passage says,

"Moreover, the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom 5:20, 21). "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Rom 6:1, 2).

Those who are of the belief that the more they sin, the more grace abounds - if they continue in that path - forget that eventually they will commit the unpardonable Sin.  Jesus speaks of this in Matthew 12:31, 32--

"Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come" (Mathew 12:32, 32).

The sin spoken of in the verse is the final rejection of God's wooing to you.
Blasphemy is committed at the point where the heart has barricaded its door against the Holy Spirit's invitation to intimacy with God, and repentance is steadfastly refused. Christ died to save us from our Sin, but grace beaten back for the last time will not abound, at the sinners' insistence. Thus, the rejected grace can not save. Oh, it's so important to trust willingly and heed the promptings of God's Spirit, for he would not have us die, for the cure has already been provided.

~Raul Diaz 

Raul Diaz

Thursday, December 10, 2015

“The Covenant”

Fourth Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"The Covenant"
For the week of December 12, 2015
I approach this topic with incredible humility, as I recognize that the topic is a very serious one, one which involves the entirety of Scripture, and one which has a great deal of confusion in the minds and writings of many people. I agree completely with the first premise stated in the lesson, that there is only one basic covenant, the Everlasting Covenant, the covenant of grace.  God has restated, and deepened His revelation of His covenant throughout human history, in order to meet the needs of His people in different times and settings.
The Covenant is in its essence a promise, a promise of the salvation from every aspect of the sin problem that God will bring to fallen humanity, and has brought in the Second Adam, or Christ, a gift to be received by true living faith.  The Old Covenant was initiated by the people at Mt. Sinai, established on their promise to obey God's Commandments.  While God wants us in our minds, as Daniel did in Daniel 1, to choose not to defile themselves, that decision of the will was based on believing God's promises to empower and enable Him to do God's will, not a human promise to attempt obedience. In Jeremiah 11, we see what I would consider to be the "New Covenant" response, which is to say to God's expressed will, "So let it be", or "Amen."  Man cannot keep their promises to obey God, and to try is to lead to slavery to spiritual discouragement, and thus to failures.  We are to believe God's promises to us, and to "work out" what He has first accomplished and "worked within."  We do not "work FOR" our salvation; we "work OUT" what God has already accomplished, promised, and then gives to us to receive in a true Biblical faith relationship, a faith which works by love. 
God makes a promise to us in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hebrews, etc. to give us a new heart, a new spirit, to cause us to walk in His statues, to write His laws in our heart, after we have seen, appreciated, and responded to the truth that Jesus has tasted death for every man, that He has legally justified the human race through His substitutionary, representative sacrifice and perfect life, so that we respond in love to that unspeakable gift with a faith in all His promises to us.  God wants to dwell in our hearts, rather to merely dwell amongst us.  He wants to have us unite our hearts with His, and to "It is not I, but Christ, who dwells in me."  The faith that works by love in "righteousness by faith" is a heart appreciation of God's covenant promise to the individual believer today, and always.  To make promises to God reveals a spiritual pride, idolatry, and arrogance that prevents the experience and righteousness that God so desires us to have.  He wants us fully surrendered to, and dependent upon His righteousness, His miracle, His recreation, His spiritual work that we cannot do for ourselves, and to so trust Him with our lives that we are at peace, even as we experience the sanctifying work of the Spirit, which sometimes cuts across our pride and self reliance.
Steps to Christ, p. 47.  "...the knowledge of our broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens our confidence in our own sincerity and causes us to feel that God cannot accept us."  This engenders us to bondage.  We are to listen to God's voice, and cherish His promise to us, resulting in us having an abundant experience of grace and knowing that we are a special treasure to God. 
God's covenant with Abraham was fundamental to the entire course of human history.  This is why Paul refers to it in Romans 4, appealing to the Jewish reader to understand the correct understanding of believing God's promise to do as he has promised, instead of working for the reward.  This was built on the Covenant with Noah, and unconditional covenant of love to never again destroy the earth, sealed with the visible sign of the rainbow.  God gives a message of love to the world as to what He wants to do, and will do, to help, protect, or deliver us from the results of sin.  Some quote James 2 to state that Abraham was justified by His works.  The point of the passage and the entirety of scripture is that a true Biblical faith, involving both an intellectual understanding and heartfelt appreciation for the cost and love revealed at Calvary always produces good works and obedience, for love is the fulfilling of the law.  Galatians 5:6 defines it as a faith WHICH WORKS by love. 
Hebrews 4:2 is clear on the source of the failure at Mt. Sinai.  Paul is also clear on this point in Galatians 4.  The OT people had the same Gospel preached to them that we have, but they did not mix it by faith.  They approached the call of God with a flesh response to produce through human effort that which only God can do as a miracle of His grace.  We are called to receive by faith and surrender the divine power which both forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  I John 1:9.  Hebrews 10:19-22 tells us that through faith, we can enter the Most Holy Place with boldness to receive the benefits of Christ's entire Gospel work which deals with every aspect of the sin problem. 

Some claim that the OT is righteousness by works, and the NT is righteousness by faith.  That is false.  I John 3:7 points out that the true experience of righteousness by faith is not only being forgiven and covered by the Robe of Christ's righteousness, but also produces a life of actual "doing righteousness", for it is the miracle of Christ living out His life in us.  The OT people were not saved by works.  They were to mix the gospel with faith, they were to understand the lesson of Passover, the sacrificial system, the righteousness of faith of Abraham. 

1Ch 16:15 Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;
1Ch 16:16 Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac;
1Ch 16:17 And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant,

This passage shows us that all the covenants are the same, a reflection and development of the Everlasting Covenant.  The covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the "same" as the Everlasting Covenant with Israel.  Unfortunately, as can be seen in some of the passages discussing the "Old" Covenant, the Bible calls it "old" because it was a flesh response on the part of Israel, not a covenant of works given by God.  Thus, the discussions on the law are negative when in the context of justification by keeping the law, which is an impossibility and an insult to God
Gal 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
The "New Covenant" experience could be experienced in the "Old" testament.  That is why Jeremiah 31, as well as Ezekiel 36, called to the OT people to experience the heart conversion promised by the miracle of God's grace.  We see this expressed in Psalm 40:8.
Psa 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
The New Covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ.  It is an experience called the Everlasting Covenant which was always God's method and will for the sin problem.  In essence, there is an pre and post cross phase to the Everlasting Covenant.  They looked forward to it in faith, we look back to it in faith.  There is only one way, and always has been one way of salvation, that of righteousness by faith, a true living faith that works by love.
~Pastor Tom Cusack 

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

“The Destruction of Jerusalem”

Fourth Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"The Destruction of Jerusalem"
For the week of December 5, 2015

     The wise man Solomon, returning to God after his long apostasy, said in Eccl 1:9, that there is nothing new under the sun.  In our Sabbath School Insights this week, A.T.Jones looks over the conditions in Judah and Jerusalem in the years and days preceding its destruction, and shows how those same conditions exist in the world today.  And that the only resource for deliverance from the influences of the world and from the destruction that the world is bringing on itself, is via faith in the power of God to change our hearts.  Without the power of God which is accessed by the faith of Jesus, our natural hearts will sweep us into the same suicidal path that the world is on.  Pay close attention to Jones' second paragraph.
     The 1888 message was the news that Jeremiah was preaching to Zedekiah and all the other kings of Judah, and it is the same message that we need today, and that God reintroduced to us over 125 years ago.  God has plans for each one of us individually, and for us corporately as a church.  "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."  Jer.29:11.  May we believe this promise, this revelation of God's heart, and cooperate as He attempts to work out His peaceful thoughts towards us.
     "FORMALISM being so confirmed upon both king and people in the days of Jehoiakim king of Judah, it was inevitable that every kind of evil practice would abound. {January 18, 1898 ATJ, ARSH 44.1}
     There is no power in forms to correct the life. There is no power in forms to hold men back from the evil that is in human nature. Nothing but the power of God can do this; and the power of God can come to men and abide in men only by a living, personal faith. It is this alone that can purify the heart and reform the life: the life can be reformed only by beginning and ending with the heart, out of which "are the issues of life." Purify the fountain, and the issuing streams will inevitably be pure; for "no fountain can yield both salt water and fresh." Also when the heart is purified and the life endued with power, by the living faith of Christ, grace is given to all the forms of religion, and the Lord is honored and glorified in the worship so offered.
     The essential iniquity of the lives of king and people in the days of Jehoiakim may be noted under several heads. Along with the general wickedness of murder, adultery, theft, false witness, and all the accompaniments of idolatry, there was,—  

     1. Oppression and injustice: "O house of David, thus saith the Lord; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings." Jer. 21:12. "Thus saith the Lord; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor; and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place." Jer. 22:3. "Execute judgment between a man and his neighbor; . . . oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, . . . then will I cause you to dwell in this place." Jer. 7:5-7.

     2. Oppressing and defrauding the laborer in his wages, while they in their wealth reveled in luxury: "Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbor's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; that saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is ceiled with cedar, and painted with vermilion." Jer. 22:13, 14.

     3. Neglect of the poor: "Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him? He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the Lord. But thine eyes and thing heart are not but for thy covetousness." Verses 15-17.   
    4. Disregard of the Sabbath: "Thus saith the Lord; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. . . . And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently harken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work therein; then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain forever. . . . But if ye will not harken unto me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched." Jer. 17:21-27.

      5. The worship of the sun: In Ezekiel 8 is recorded what he saw in Jerusalem, even in the very presence of the holy temple, as he was taken there in vision from the place of his captivity.
First he saw "the image of jealousy" in the very entry of the gates of the altar.
Next he saw, in one of the chambers of the court of the temple, "every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about," with "seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel," every one with a censer in his hand, offering incense.
Next he saw, "at the door of the gate of the Lord's house, which was toward the north," "women weeping for Tammuz."
After all this the Lord said to him: "Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun toward the east." Eze. 8:15, 16.
     6. Rejection of all the word of the Lord in counsel and warning: King Jehoiakim himself, with his princes and counselors, persecuted a prophet of the Lord till, to escape their murderous hands, he fled into Egypt. But the king sent even to Egypt, and had him brought back, and then murdered him. They also persecuted Jeremiah, and threatened him with death. A testimony which the Lord gave by the hand of Jeremiah was read to the great assembly in the presence of the temple. The king commanded that it be brought and read to him. "Now the king sat in the winter house in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth." Jer. 36:22, 23.

     Because of all these things, the Lord likened Jerusalem to Sodom, declaring that she and Sodom were sisters, and said: "As I live saith the Lord God, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters. Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good." Jer. 16:48-50.
     Because of all this, Ezekiel saw, in the vision, a man with a writer's inkhorn by his side, passing throughout the city, setting a mark upon the foreheads of the men who were sighing and crying for all the abominations that were done there. Six men followed this man, with slaughter-weapons in their hands, "slaying utterly" all to whom they came, but were to "come not near any man upon whom was the mark." Eze. 9:1-7.
     Now all these things have their parallel in the last days. Formalism in religion abounds (2 Tim. 3:1-4); general wickedness prevails (Matt. 24:12; 2 Tim. 3:2-4, 13); oppression, injustice, defrauding the laborer in his wages to increase the overloaded coffers of the rich, who revel in luxury, are all practised (James 5:1-8); there is neglect of the poor to such an extent that God is obliged to turn his attention especially to them (Luke 14:21-23); the Sabbath is disregarded (Isa. 56:1, 2; 58:13, 14); the sun—in the Sunday—is honored (Dan. 7:25; Rev. 14:9-12); the word of God in counsel and warning concerning all the evil and the impending destruction, is rejected (2 Peter 3:3-7, 10-14; Matt. 24:37-39),—so that again, looking upon it all, God is compelled to liken it also to Sodom, and the last days of the world to the last days of Sodom: "Likewise also as it was in the days of Lord, . . . even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." "The same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed."
     And because of all this, while destruction is impending, the holy prophet of Patmos saw in vision the heavenly messenger passing through the world, and setting the royal seal—the heavenly mark—upon the servants of God,—that are done in the land (Rev. 7:2, 3),—and after him the passengers of judgment, slaying utterly all upon whom is not found the mark. Rev. 14:9, 10; 15:1; 16:1-21.
Thus, again and overwhelmingly, is it demonstrated that the wickedness of Judah, which led to their captivity, to the destruction of the city and temple, and to the desolation of the land, is a perfect representation of the wickedness of the world in the last days, which leads to the everlasting captivity of the people and the desolation of the earth. And that situation of old is used by the Lord as an object-lesson of counsel and warning to the people of the world in the last days.
     Thus the history of the times of Daniel is present truth to-day; and the divine principles of the book of Daniel are given to save the people from the wickedness that cursed Judah and Jerusalem to destruction and desolation. "Whoso readeth, let him understand." {January 18, 1898 ATJ, ARSH 45.14}

~Bob Hunsaker

Monday, November 23, 2015

“Jeremiah's Yoke”

Fourth Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Jeremiah's Yoke"
For the week of November 28, 2015
To grasp as we ought the witness Jeremiah gave in his day, we need to recognize the parallel of his time (the first destruction of Jerusalem) to that of Jesus' day (just prior to the Jerusalem's second fall). Also vital is the parallel between Daniel (who grew up under Jeremiah's prophetic ministry) with his witness in Babylon, enduring its fall, and our day, during the end-time Babylon, with the messages we are commissioned to give about its fall. In fact, the final message of mercy to the world, which unites "the commandments of God" with "the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12) results in the "whole earth" being "lightened with his glory" of "the law and the gospel going hand in hand" (Revelation 18:1; Ellen White, The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 166, 217).
In our lesson this week, we note some apparently strange instructions God gave Jeremiah regarding his family and social life, in his witness. Considering further, we find some similarities between Jeremiah's, Daniel's, and Jesus' family bonds. Without dealing at length with these, we should note that there are three bonds God created us for, intended for security, unity, and intense joy, all the result of unselfish love. They are the main setting in which the final message to Babylon of our day will be given, as a witness. The order in which these bonds usually occur are:
1. Parent-child;   2. Sibling;   3. Husband-wife
Only Adam and Eve started with number three, having been created mature adults. But we must note that these bonds reflect primarily the connection that God Himself has with us. For after all, the first and great commandment is not, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31). That is the second. The first is:
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and    with all thy soul, and with all thy might." (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5; Mark 12:29, 30)
So while these bonds would appear simply to define at the closest level the relations to our fellow "neighbour" creatures, we actually find God affirming His primary of relationship to us in each of these three bonds.
1. Parent-child:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6; see also Galatians 4:6)
2. Sibling:
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brotherand sister, and mother. (Matthew 12:50; see also John 20:17)
3. Husband-wife:
For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. (Isaiah 54:5; see also Jeremiah 3:20; 31:32)
Again, it is through these bonds in particular that the final message will be given, manifesting the endurance of unselfish love in the face of every one of them being broken or deviled with self.
It is that very dynamic that was behind God's instructions to Jeremiah, both telling him not to marry, and to avoid scenes of social joy and grief that both form and express these bonds. The path of selfish living Judah had been walking led to such devastating results that Jeremiah was to demonstrate the absence of the usual bonds in his human interactions, to show the impending doom of living for self. At the same time, Jeremiah was intensely bonded to God in the primary relationships, and that enabled him to endure both the absence of usual social bonds, and the intense antagonism his message aroused in many who heard it. We can safely conclude that a remnant minority understood and accepted the deeper message, including Daniel's parents.
The false security of attempting to maintain social bonds while living selfishly is what drove the message of the prophet Hananiah. He would deny the accumulating consequences of iniquity, both of his generation, and of his fathers' generations, which led inevitably to judgment. (See Leviticus 26:40-42). This is the very same thing Jesus predicted for our times of judgment.
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:38, 39).
As the leaders in Jeremiah's day were attempting to hold things together on a national scale, without any sense of needing to repent (to say nothing of ever deepening repentance; see Jeremiah 8:5, 6; Ellen White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 561), Jeremiah's message of coming judgment, due to that very sense of "everything is okay" and "we must stand strong against our enemies," would have made it appear that he was an enemy of the state. But its doom was certain, and his God-given role was to appeal for a humility and repentance that would make the coming punishment redemptive and actually less intense. Jeremiah's message was intended to produce people like Daniel. All other messages were rooted in denial, though wrapped in "pride of state" and the hubris that accompanies such. They would actually prevent the very preparation that was necessary, and cause the ruin of many who wanted to believe the worst would not come.
The deception of the evil one is always to deny the consequences of living for self. He begins this deception by saying that all live for self (Ellen White, Education, p. 154), and he continues by denying every one of the consequences of living for self, saying they will not happen (like dying; Genesis 3:4), or that they are the result of other causes (such as God). All false prophets are thus in his service. (See Jeremiah 7:3-8; 14:14; 28:15.)
We are in a war between supernatural, mystical forces. The genuine Spirit of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1; Revelation 19:10) is arrayed against the spirits of devils involved with seduction and deception (Matthew 24:11, 24; 1 Timothy 4:1; 1 John 4:1). The grace of God is given in such times to discern the genuine, which always promotes the worship of the Creator (Romans 1:25), and calls for repentance (Romans 2:4) and denial of self (Luke 9:23).
The yoke of bondage from living for self (the curse that Moses warned of) was what Jeremiah was instructed to wear, in symbolic form, and to give this also as a gift to the leaders of the surrounding nations. The sentence was irrevocable (see 2 Chronicles 24:18-28), as a yoke of iron is unbreakable compared to a wooden one. So the end-time sentence against Babylon is certain.
Only in submitting to the yoke of unselfish love would one find freedom and rest (Matthew 11:28-30), whether in times of national peace or national apostasy and judgment. Daniel revealed the correct attitude, and in turn was also given the genuine Spirit of prophecy, with messages not just for the Babylon of his day, but especially for our day, in the closing days of the fourth kingdom (code named in Revelation "Babylon").
We must not forget that it was Jeremiah who wrote twice, in his days of judgment and destruction, the following prophecies about "that good thing" that God had "promised"--namely, "I will cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land." (33:14; 15; compare 23:5).
In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (23:6)
The second time he repeated the same with some variations:
In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness. (33:16)

Did you catch it? The husband-wife bond is seen in these two verses, for both "he shall be called" and "she shall be called" by the same name! (See Revelation 19:7.) The security of that bond, which nothing, not even death, can sever, we can present to all, as a preparation for the coming judgment. It is in that light that the following words were written on the heels of Minneapolis. I have inserted in brackets some personal observations.
The end [of Babylon] is near! We have not a moment to lose! Light is to shine forth from God's people in clear, distinct rays, bringing Jesus before the churches and before the world. Our work is not to be restricted to those who already know the truth; our field is the world [which will be lightened with His glory]. The instrumentalities to be used are those souls who gladly receive the light of truth which God communicates to them. [Those best can give what they have been given, for they recognize their own need, and how it has been met in Jesus, and see how others will benefit as well.] These are God's agencies for communicating the knowledge of truth to the world. If through the grace of Christ his people will become new bottles, he will fill them with the new wine. [If anyone does not submit to this on-going renewal, it will be impossible for him to retain the new light, and his light will grow dim and go out.] God will give additional light, and old truths will be recovered, and replaced in the frame-work of truth; and wherever the laborers go, they will triumph. [The victory of unselfish love is assured, because nothing can overcome giving; the more its enemies take, the more love can give, until even one's life is given. And that is the final victory.] As Christ's ambassadors, they are to search the Scriptures, to seek for the truths that have been hidden beneath the rubbish of error. [The truths and the rubbish span from doctrine to lifestyle.] And every ray of light received is to be communicated to others. One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up every other,--Christ our righteousness. [All "additional light," "every ray of light" will be seen in the light of "one interest," "one subject." "Christ our righteousness"--"the Lord our righteousness" will shine a bright light on every topic, revealing what reflects His glory and what does not. Thus the narrow path of life will be discerned, on which we can follow Jesus through the final storm of judgment.] (Ellen White, Review and Herald, December 23, 1890 paragraph 19; brackets inserted by current author)

~ Fred Bischoff

Friday, November 20, 2015

“Josiah's Reform”

Insight #8 November 21, 2015
Fourth Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Josiah's Reform"
For the week of November 21, 2015
Our lesson this week opens to us the truth of God's heart, that we make choices that honor and please Him, and that respond to His Good News of Salvation obtained for all mankind with a heart belief that results in receptivity to the entirety of the gift, including the work of the Holy Spirit bringing to us the righteousness of Christ in our daily lives, which is the ultimate hope of God, that mankind is restored back to the image of God.
2 Kings 23:25  "And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him."
The memory text for the week shows that one of the kings of Israel, using free will, chose to do what "was right in the sight of the Lord."  God warns us of the dangers of making wrong choices, as well as the possibility to repent from wrong choices and reenter back into right relationship with Him.  When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience.  Desire of Ages, p 668.  God wants us to see in His redemptive act for an undeserving race the love that surpasses all, and "love because He first loved us." John 14:15.  "If you love me, keep my commandments."  God draws us to Him in everlasting love and kindness (Jeremiah 31:3) and leads us, if we do not resist, to the cross to see the incredible unconditional love demonstrated there for all, and urges us to fall in love with Jesus.  In the parable of the Eleventh Hour Worker, we learn that God will accept and forgive anyone, at any stage of their life, if they would respond to His love. 
The Reigns of Manasseh and Amon of course is revelatory of times in the history of Israel in which great apostasy and evil occurred.  The Good News is that King Manasseh, after being taken captivity to Babylon, was led by the Holy Spirit to repent of his great evils and to see and restore the damage done.  The damage was greater than he had realized, and his son Amon practiced horrible idolatry after taking the throne.  Romans 1 is clear that those who do not give glory to God will be given up to idolatry in many forms; for the goodness of God leads to repentance, and salvation has appeared to all men, and if we resist that love, our hearts and minds will be hardened in sin. 

The warnings about the judgment to come in relation to enemies from the north were intended, conditionally, to bring about Israel's response of repentance.  Jeremiah 18:1-10 reveals the conditionality of God's promises and warnings, and if we turn from our sin, He will turn from the judgment He would otherwise do.  God only does what is necessary. 
2 Kings 22:1  "Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath."
2 Kings 22:2  "And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left."
A true Christian does right, because it is right, because right doing is pleasing to God.  John 17:3 says that salvation is to know God, and in the NT period, Jesus Christ whom He has sent.  Josiah had an experience which led Him to know God to the point of utmost loyalty and faithfulness.  Josiah of course worked to restore the Temple.  We may see, symbolically, that true leaders restore what the Temple represents, the Character of God and the Gospel. We are called as well, in these last days, to restore the Gospel to the truth of its Universal Justification of all mankind, a gift to be received by the act of believing in God and Christ, which will result in a heart transformation, for Justification, receive ultimately by faith in the heart of the individual, produces obedience to God and His law. 
Phil 2:5 "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Phil 2:6 "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Phil 2:7 "But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Phil 2:8 "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
True revival and reformation results from recognizing the love of the Creator for those involved in the fall, and the love and obedience shown to bring about redemption for mankind.  We need leaders who will call us out of Laodicea, who will have the spiritual discernment to understand the true Gospel, and will call for others to respond to that high calling in Christ Jesus.
True reformation produces a consistency of life and behavior.  God's Gospel is linked to the Heavenly Sanctuary, in which He will write His law on the heart of every human being who is receptive through faith to the gift God has for us.  The people were warned that their senses had been so long dulled by sin that they actually needed the judgment to help ensure they never went back to the horrible idolatry and rebellion demonstrated in their worship and lives.  But even in Captivity, they would be forgiven and used by God if they were responsive to His love and leadership.  God had not withdrawn opportunities for repentance and reformation.  Josiah sought to renew their covenant relationship with God, and thus He read to them God's Law, and took action to remove the idolatrous items that had become intertwined with their worship.  The whole nation celebrated Passover, a type of "corporate repentance" and renewal to the covenant and the atoning substitutionary sacrifice it represented. 
We have examples from the times in which we live as to how low human beings can go, such as the Holocaust, the Counter Reformation, racism, and many other equally troubling examples.  It is God's desire that we both know that we are sinners; that His grace extends to all, that He is actively seeking and drawing us to Him, to accept the gift of His righteousness, obtained in the union of divinity with our fallen humanity, and to experience the intercessory and expiatory work of Christ as our High priest. 
May we all, leaders or common people, seek to have the heart of Josiah, or even the repentance heart of Manasseh. There is place in Heaven for all.

~ Pastor Thomas Cusack

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

“The Crisis Continues”

Fourth Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"The Crisis Continues"
For the week of November 14, 2015

In Jeremiah Chapter 9 we find the prophet  weeping. "Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night, for the slain daughter of my people!" verse 1. The reason for the weeping is given in verses 5,6 and 13: "They have taught their tongue to speak lies", they "weary themselves to commit iniquity", their "habitation is in the midst of deceit" and "through deceit they refuse to know Me", says the Lord. In the Insight a few weeks ago, we learned that the Hebrew word translated in English as deceit, means "to seize someone by the heel, to betray, to supplant." Supplant means to take the place of. Synonyms would be to replace or supersede. These definitions are helpful as we look at verses 13 and 14 of Jeremiah 9 which tells us that God's people had "forsaken My law which I had set before them", "have not obeyed My voice" and have "walked according to the imagination of their own heart…after the Baal's." This could be summarized as the Baal's have supplanted My laws and My voice. Chapter 10 plainly states the depth of idolatry into which Israel and Judah had sunk to the point that they had to be reminded that these gods did not create, but the God of heaven had. Additonally the "know" in verse 6 of Chapter 9 is not just a casual knowing but the intimate relational knowing that is achieved in the marriage relationship. It is not intellectual ability or informational knowledge but an intimate knowing of the highest relational quality. Verse 6 says that through deceit, supplanting, betrayal, they don't just not know Him but they refuse to know Him. For these reasons we find Jeremiah weeping. Weeping for the transgression of God's people.

The weeping of Jeremiah here can be seen as the weeping of God for His people then and now. There are at least 2 reasons God weeps. 

First Jeremiah Chapter 3:6-10 and verse 14 gives us a hint as to God's relationship to His people and His pain over "My people." Israel had gone upon every high mountain and every green tree and there played the harlot. After everything she had done God loved her still and pursued her, asking her to return to Him but she would not. Hear the language of the intimate relationship of marriage in verses 8 & 14. "Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce." "Return O backsliding children…for I am married to you." This is the broken heart of God supplanted, replaced in the heart and mind of His wife! God views His people in marital terms. 

"not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord." Jeremiah 31:32

"I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice, In loving-kindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the Lord." Hosea 2:19,20

When God sees His people He sees His wife, and as she rejects Him, refuses to return and supplants Him with idols and refuses to know Him, His heart is broken, He weeps. But how can we in the 21st century relate to these kinds of texts about idolatry , which breaks the heart of God? Two quotes from the pen of inspiration:

"The apostle's words of warning to the Corinthian church are applicable to all time and are especially adapted to our day.By idolatry he meant not only the worship of idols, but self-serving, love of ease, the gratification of appetite and passion.A mere profession of faith in Christ, a boastful knowledge of the truth, does not make a man a Christian. A religion that seeks only to gratify the eye, the ear, and the taste, or that sanctions self-indulgence, is not the religion of Christ." AA317. Ellen White described that it was when the children of Israel sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play, that they threw off the fear of God and made the golden calf. 

"I was pointed back to ancient Israel. But two of the adults of the vast army that left Egypt entered the land of Canaan. Their dead bodies were strewn in the wilderness because of their transgressions. Modern Israel are in greater danger of forgetting God and being led into idolatry than were His ancient people. Many idols are worshiped, even by professed Sabbathkeepers. God especially charged His ancient people to guard against idolatry, for if they should be led away from serving the living God, His curse would rest upon them, while if they would love Him with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might, He would abundantly bless them in basket and in store, and would remove sickness from the midst of them. A blessing or a curse is now before the people of God—a blessing if they come out from the world and are separate, and walk in the path of humble obedience; and a curse if they unite with the idolatrous, who trample upon the high claims of heaven. The sins and iniquities of rebellious Israel are recorded and the picture presented before us as a warning that if we imitate their example of transgression and depart from God we shall fall as surely as did they. "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." 1T 609.

These quotes are compelling and worthy of much thought and meditation as to how the sections highlighted above apply. First of all then God weeps because of the rebellion and idolatry of His people.

The second reason Jesus weeps is found in the 2 episodes recorded in Scripture- John 11:35 with the death of Lazarus and Luke 20:11 when Jesus weeps over Jerusalem after the triumphal entry. Again Ellen White's comments are helpful.

Speaking of Lazarus she writes, "It was not only because of the scene before Him that Christ wept. The weight of the grief of ages was upon Him. He saw the terrible effects of the transgression of God's law. He saw that in the history of the world, beginning with the death of Abel, the conflict between good and evil had been unceasing. Looking down the years to come, He saw the suffering and sorrow, tears and death that were to be the lot of men. His heart was pierced with the pain of the human family of all ages and in all lands. The woes of the sinful race were heavy upon His soul, and the fountain of His tears was broken up as He longed to relieve all their distress." 

 Then speaking of Jerusalem she writes this in DA 575 and 576:
"Jesus gazes upon the scene, and the vast multitude hush their shouts, spellbound by the sudden vision of beauty. All eyes turn upon the Saviour, expecting to see in His countenance the admiration they themselves feel. But instead of this they behold a cloud of sorrow. They are surprised and disappointed to see His eyes fill with tears, and His body rock to and fro like a tree before the tempest, while a wail of anguish bursts from His quivering lips, as if from the depths of a broken heart. What a sight was this for angels to behold! their loved Commander in an agony of tears!... In the midst of a scene of rejoicing, where all were paying Him homage, Israel's King was in tears; not silent tears of gladness, but tears and groans of insuppressible agony….The tears of Jesus were not in anticipation of His own suffering. Just before Him was Gethsemane, where soon the horror of a great darkness would overshadow Him. The sheepgate also was in sight, through which for centuries the beasts for sacrificial offerings had been led. This gate was soon to open for Him, the great Antitype, toward whose sacrifice for the sins of the world all these offerings had pointed. Near by was Calvary, the scene of His approaching agony. Yet it was not because of these reminders of His cruel death that the Redeemer wept and groaned in anguish of spirit. His was no selfish sorrow. The thought of His own agony did not intimidate that noble, self-sacrificing soul. It was the sight of Jerusalem that pierced the heart of Jesus—Jerusalem that had rejected the Son of God and scorned His love, that refused to be convinced by His mighty miracles, and was about to take His life. He saw what she was in her guilt of rejecting her Redeemer, and what she might have been had she accepted Him who alone could heal her wound. He had come to save her; how could He give her up?"

Jeremiah's weeping is for the same reasons that God the Father and God the Son weep. Jesus weeps because He has been a husband to His people and they have scorned His love. He weeps because the result of scorning Him would cause suffering and sorrow and pain to the human family. He weeps because we have rejected the world's Redeemer who alone can heal our wounds and it pains His heart to give us up! 

Jeremiah says that might and riches are nothing to glory in, but knowing and understanding God. "Thus says the Lord: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the Lord." Jesus Himself says, that "this is eternal life that they may know You the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." What is it we are to know? After all, Jesus said that it is eternal life. And how does it change us? When Moses asked this question of God, He showed Him His glory, which was His character comprised of both His justice an His mercy (see Exodus 34: 6,7). There is no greater place that the ability to know is manifested more clearly than on the cross of Calvary where as Friday's lesson points out the sundering of the Divine powers pierces the hardness or our hearts. The lesson highlights that in the cry of Jesus, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" is the clearest and most powerful expression of that "sundering", of what it cost the Godhead to save us. 

The beautiful message given to our church in 1888 is the remedy for our backsliding and as it is received into our hearts it will transform us and the corporate church.

"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. 

Several verses are helpful as we unpack this quote above: Rom 1:16,17, I Cor 1:18,22-31, 2 Cor 5:18-21 and Romans 5:6,8,10 and 20.

On page 97 of TM we find this sobering thought:

"I have no smooth message to bear to those who have been so long as false guideposts, pointing the wrong way. If you reject Christ's delegated messengers, you reject Christ."

Jeremiah 26:1-6 is a call to repentance and gives us many texts to review and contemplate: Acts 17:30, Ez 14:6 and 2 Chron6:37-39.

In humility let us pray not only for the angel of the church of the Laodiceans but also for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Amen!

Lyndi Schwartz