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