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