Thursday, December 29, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #14 December 31, 2016


DECEMBER 31, 2016
During a Sabbath School lesson discussion earlier this quarter, a guest sat quietly, listening. Unfamiliar with the Bible she held in her hands, someone directed her to the book of Job. Silently, she read. She never spoke during the class, but afterwards at potluck she shared a remarkable testimony:
"I am a Buddhist. For thirty years I have struggled to understand why bad things happen. In Buddhism, we believe in karma. If you do something bad, something bad will happen to you. Today I learned that sometimes bad things happen not because I did wrong, but because it is a test. Karma instills fear. We live in fear. But now I can see there is a bigger reason why things sometimes go wrong. We are being tested. I feel so free and happy to have discovered this truth!"
She said the Sabbath School lesson answered many questions she has had for years. She expressed a desire to study the Bible and continue attending the Seventh-day Adventist church.
God is working all around the world to prepare hearts for His soon coming. We have in our hands a message that casts out fear and will lighten the earth with God's glory: the revelation of His character of love.
The story of Job explains the behind the scenes controversy waging between Christ and Satan. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He intimated that God had shown partiality to Job: "Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side?" Job 1:10.
Once the question was asked, the seed of doubt was planted. Did Job worship God out of love or for reward?. There was only one way to find out. The blessings would be removed. Affliction must come. Job would be tried by fire.
For nearly 4,000 years, the story of Job has served to encourage believers in all ages who have suffered loss and persecution. There are larger issues at stake than what we can see, and in each case the charges of Satan must be met and defeated for the eternal security of the universe.
Before Satan had brought charges against Job, he had made allegations against God and the character of Christ. These imputations could not be dismissed with a simple explanation. Christ would come to this world and humble Himself even to the death of the cross, becoming part of the human race forever -- thus making an eternal sacrifice that we but dimly comprehend. All this was necessary that Satan's accusations might be silenced and that sin might not rise up a second time.
We are still in the crossfire of Satan's arrows. There are times when we experience bad outcomes because of poor choices we have made. But there are other times when bad things happen because we are in the midst of a raging war between good and evil.
The search for an answer to why bad things happen is nothing new:
"And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they're worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.' " Luke 13:2-5
We are living in the time just before Jesus' second return. We are about to behold catastrophes on a scale of which this world has never seen.  "The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude." 9T, p. 11
It is imperative that we remember Jesus' admonition: "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
As we see these events taking place, we should heed Christ's admonition.
Lot's wife perished by looking back to her home in Sodom. Those bitten by poisonous snakes in the wilderness were  to look at the cross and live. Repentance is the continual turning away from sin and towards Christ. Despite the tragedies that came upon Job, he was able to testify with assurance: "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another." Job 19:25-27.
In many ways Job is a type of the last generation that will live on earth. It will be their custom to minister to the poor and needy. Unselfish love will characterize their lives. They will intercede for the souls in spiritual danger around them. Suddenly, unexpectedly, every earthly support will be removed. Calamities will strike: Fire, flood, wind, sickness, financial loss, death. Friends will fail us. It will feel as though God has forsaken us.
Under circumstances such as these, Job looked steadfastly to Jesus in faith. He looked beyond the darkness, pain, and affliction of this world and was sustained by a Power outside himself.
We are told: "It is impossible to give any idea of the experience of the people of God who shall be alive upon the earth when celestial glory and a repetition of the persecutions of the past are blended. They will walk in the light proceeding from the throne of God. By means of the angels there will be constant communication between heaven and earth." Maranatha, p. 206.
"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand. . . . My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful." James 5:7, 8, 10, 11.
Notice here that patience is an attribute that Job developed under the severest test. And of those people who live in the final days of earth's history it is said, "Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14:12. The patience here referred to will likewise be cultivated in earth's darkest hour. Notwithstanding these trials, the salvation of souls will be uppermost in the minds of those whose eyes are fixed on Jesus. "Through many dangers, toils, and snares" they -- dare I say we? -- will carry the message forward to the ends of the earth. "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:14.
"Those who have held the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end will be wide-awake during the time that the third angel's message is proclaimed with great power. During the loud cry, the church, aided by the providential interpositions of her exalted Lord, will diffuse the knowledge of salvation so abundantly that light will be communicated to every city and town. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of salvation. So abundantly will the renewing Spirit of God have crowned with success the intensely active agencies, that the light of present truth will be seen flashing everywhere.
"There is to be, at this period, a series of events which will reveal that God is Master of the situation. The truth will be proclaimed in clear, unmistakable language. As a people, we must prepare the way of the Lord, under the overruling guidance of the Holy Spirit. The gospel is to be given in its purity. The stream of living water is to deepen and widen in its course. In all fields, nigh and afar off, men will be called from the plow and from the more common commercial business vocations that largely occupy the mind, and will be educated in connection with men of experience. As they learn to labor effectively, they will proclaim the truth with power. Through most wonderful workings of divine providence, mountains of difficulties will be removed, and cast into the sea. The message that means so much to the dwellers upon the earth will be heard and understood. Men will know what is truth. Onward, and still onward the work will advance, until the whole earth shall have been warned. And then shall the end come."
Maranatha, p. 219.

~Patti Guthrie

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Friday, December 09, 2016



DECEMBER 10, 2016

"Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: 'Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.  Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Tell Me, if you have understanding.'"  Job 38:1-4.

I don't know if you've ever read this passage and thought, "Uh oh, Job and his friends are in for it now!  They've been saying bad things about God for 35 chapters and now He's pretty upset and He's going to give them a piece of His mind."  The basic theology that Job and his friends shared was that God does things to people based primarily on their good or bad behavior.  If you do bad things, God imposes penalties and punishments on you but if you do good things, God will send blessings to you.

Their theology was fairly similar; the primary difference was in their assessment of Job himself.  Job looked at his life and felt there was nothing in his life that would have caused him to deserve these imposed penalties from God, while his three friends felt that Job must be hiding some sin from them or from himself, that if he would only recognize and acknowledge it, then he would understand why God was imposing punishment on him.

While there are multiple misperceptions about God in Job and his three friends understanding, let's address the most fundamental one.  The fundamental premise that they were all working from is the idea that God is a micromanager who controls all the things that happen in our lives by imposed penalties and punishments for bad deeds, and sending "imposed" blessings for good behavior.  "God is in control" is understood to mean that every detail that we experience every day is part of God's scripted plan for our lives.  If good things happen – it's all part of God's plan.  If bad things happen – it's all part of God's plan.  Some have called this "determinism" or "blue print theology".

Cause-effect understandings, and design laws that have inherent consequences - rather than imposed blessings/punishments - are poorly discerned and not appreciated.  Job and his three friends, and most religious and secular thinking today, is governed by this same type of thinking.  In religion there is some variation of a micro-managing controlling deity, in secular thinking there is "fate" or "luck".  But these are all ways of missing the reality of how God has designed the universe to operate.

Job wasn't the object of a punishment from God for misbehavior.  Behind the scenes, there was the free-will exercise of Satan's choices, to bring suffering on Job, and for God to allow it.  Now, "why" God allowed Job to experience suffering, and "why" Satan acted as he did, is a separate question, but God was not controlling all the details and outcomes and circumstances as Job and his three friends assumed – based on their faulty "God is a micro-manager" theology.

In the end of Job, we don't have God getting "fed up" and responding to Job and his friends in an angry, "how dare you puny humans question Me" attitude.  Don't impose the tone of voice that we so often have when someone questions us on to God's voice.  Too often we read the words of God in the Bible, and impose a tone of voice on Him that is foreign to His nature and character.

God wants Job to understand the great issues in the great controversy.  And so God patiently and carefully asks Job a series of questions, which are wisely constructed to lead Job to an understanding of the origin and motives for creation and the source of suffering in the universe.  God identifies "leviathan" as "king over all the children of pride".  God is not angrily telling Job, "don't question me; you're a puny human with no power and I'm the powerful Creator of the whole universe from quark to galaxy!!"  No, what God was doing, was patiently and tenderly, asking Job a series of questions to help Job learn and understand "how things are" in this universe.

How do I know what God's tone of voice was?  Because in Job 42, Job says he repented of his former misperceptions of God – and the ONLY thing that causes repentance – is the goodness of God (Rom.2:4).  The goodness of God leads to repentance.  So in Job 38-41, God is revealing His goodness to Job.  God is revealing that He is a God of freedom and choice, a God of well-designed cause-effect laws, a God who isn't a micro-manager.

This is the God that the 1888 message is communicating.  A God of much more abounding grace and love, Who gives freedom and abides by understandable laws is the God of the 1888 message.  A God Whose goodness is what leads us to repentance – not a fear of punishment or hope of reward.

Notice the words that E.J. Waggoner used to clarify the passage for our study today and see if it is not truly a precious message!

"When God "answered Job out of the whirlwind," He began at the beginning, saying: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding." Job 38:1. The same question could be asked of every man who lives, or who has ever lived, and not one of them could say a word.

Everything else in the whole creation was made before man was. Man was the last of all. When he came into being, he found everything complete; and every man that has ever been born has found everything waiting for him when he arrived.

Why this arrangement? Evidently so that no man could have any chance to lay claim to share with God the honor of creation. It is a fact that no man can create. This needs no argument. Men work, and effect changes in form and appearance of many things; but no man ever yet added the slightest particle of matter to the substance of the earth or to anything that exists; and no man ever can do it. Yet such is the conceit and self-assertion of the human mind that if God had performed any new act of creation after man came into being, man would surely claim that he himself had done it. 

Even as it is, men are very prone to exalt themselves above God. The only thing that will keep them-us-from doing this in some form or degree is to remember "who is the beginning." We are wont to pride ourselves not a little upon the fact that man was made last-"the crown of creation;" it may serve to abate that pride if we think that God made man last because there was no use for him before; there was nothing that he could do, he would have been hopelessly in the way of the progress of creation, and what is more, he would not have been able to maintain himself. God had to provide all things first, so that man, the most helpless of grated things, might be able to live.

If all men had but kept in mind this simple truth, and had remembered that in Christ, Who is the Beginning, "were all things created," and "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together," there would never have been a pope, great or small. "Seekest thou great things for thyself; seek them not," says the Lord. Let us rather be content to remain children, keeping close to the Beginning. "In all thy ways acknowledge Him," as the Beginning, "and He shall direct my paths." What He begins He will carry too successful completion." {June 30, 1898 EJW, PTUK}

"In the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth chapters of the Book of Job the Creator Himself recounts the wonders of created nature, which He has made and demands of Job a definite answer as to his knowledge of them.

It is a long and searching examination-a half a hundred questions at least-and Job fails utterly, he cannot answer one. But Job understood his failure, and said, "What shall I answer Thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer; yes, twice; but I will proceed no further."

But, again, from out the whirlwind, the Lord speaks to Job, and questions him further, until at length, overcome with the grandeur of the view of Almighty power and omnipotent wisdom presented to him, Job breaks forth:

"I know that Thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from Thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of Thee, and declare Thou unto me. I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now Mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repentant in dust and ashes."

Job acknowledges that his previous knowledge of God had been by hearsay, but now he saw and knew Him and the wonder of His works. In his previous ignorance, knowing God only by hearsay,-by criticism and commentary, as it were,-he had uttered many things that he understood not, and had attempted things too wonderful for him, which he knew not.

Now, however, he had determined to accept the word of hearsay no longer, but to go to God direct for knowledge and wisdom: "Hear I beseech Thee, and I will speak: I will demand of Thee, and declare Thou unto me." Then the Lord heard Job, accepted him fully, and blessed him." {April 29, 1897 EJW, PTUK}

~Robert Hunsaker
Raul Diaz

Friday, December 02, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #10 December 3, 2016


DECEMBER 3, 2016

Then I said, "I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name."
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones;
I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.  Jeremiah 20:9
In the story of Job, Elihu remains for many an enigmatic figure. For one thing, God does not include Elihu in His reproof of Job's friends (Job 42:7-9), nor of Job himself (42:1-6).  Further, both Job and his three friends are brought to repentance, but Elihu's repentance is not explicitly mentioned.
It may be tempting therefore to more or less ignore the message of Elihu, or at least be unsure how it fits in the story of Job, other than perhaps the rant of a novice theologian before God finally appears to clean things up.
But I believe that if we look carefully at the story, we can see the gospel in the book of Job, and especially in the words of Elihu. His message is strategically placed in the book of Job. It is no coincidence that he speaks after the arguments of Job and his friends are exhausted to the point of silence, and right before God speaks.
Elihu, which means "He is my God," or "the God of him," is very much the Elijah, "Jehovah is God," of the story. Like John the Baptist, he is calling his friends to behold God for who He is as revealed in Christ, and to begin to see things from the heavenly perspective. In a sense he is calling for a paradigm shift, a complete reframing of the conversation to that point. He is the 1888 messenger of his day.
Like Jeremiah, Elihu is wrought up to the point where he has to say something. He can't hold back - the stakes are too high to remain silent. The impasse must be broken.
Job, who "was righteous in his own eyes," who "justified himself rather than God," needed the divine eyesalve. So did his friends, who had no answer or explanation for Job, yet had condemned him.
We might place ourselves squarely in the middle of this story, for is not the world suffering interminably? Do we as Seventh-day Adventists believe we have been doing all the right things for God, like Job, and yet our human suffering goes on? Or like his friends of counsel, do we point to others in the church who we condemn for the wrong theodicy? Once "they" get it right, we can go home.
Elihu was young, yet was burning to deliver the "fresh message" to Job and his friends. The wisdom of this message is in the power of the Holy Spirit, the "breath of the Almighty." (32:8)
The message is impartial, and unflattering to self righteousness. (32:21,22)
Elihu places himself as Job's representative, compassionately identifying with him in solidarity as one who is also made of clay. (33:6,7) As such, we might see him "corporately repenting" with Job. He introduces the thought that what God is dealing with in this world is saving man from death-dealing pride (33:17) The source of that pride God Himself later reveals as the summation of the problem as "king over all the children of pride." (42:34) In this coming alongside Job, Elihu becomes a type of Christ, to whom he is pointing as the "messenger for him, one among a thousand, to show man His [God's] uprightness," so He can be "gracious to him," and "deliver him from going down to the Pit." Christ Himself is the ransom who experienced that second death experience on behalf of all men and whose righteousness alone must be revealed as the definitive solution to the sin problem (33:23,24). See Romans 3:21-26.
Even as God is rescuing us from sin, and viewing us in Christ as He viewed Job, as "blameless and upright," (1:8, 2:3) He is calling us to a deeper repentance, based on His revelation of how deep rooted the sin problem is in our shared, corporate humanity. Job did feel he had righteousness, and called it his own. (27:6) He was stuck in the paradigm of looking at the problem from man's perspective. This distorted his view of the controversy, and he called God, rather than Satan, his Accuser. (29:35) He had confessed his sins, and trusted in that for his justification. He had the wrong emphasis we sometimes get when we read 1 John 1:9 - on his own action, rather than the justice and mercy of God.
Elihu's message was to lay the glory of man, including Job's glory,  in the dust. Indeed, if God simply stopped supporting human life through His Spirit, all men would immediately return to dust. (34:14,15) Look at the sin problem through God's eyes!
This problem is not something that a just and merciful God can solve with a snap of His fingers. The wicked must be given a chance to reveal their final choice. (34:21-30) Nor does He necessarily work on our terms or timetable. (33:31-33)
Sin is inherently destructive, so there is profit in avoiding it, even if we suffer or feel there is no apparent immediate benefit. (35:3) But neither our sins nor our best works accomplish anything in moving the loving heart of God. (35:6-8) He remains the same. He has given all for us.
God's salvation is universal in its scope, for He is always working for the salvation of all mankind (36:5-12), and thus He allows the "hypocrites in heart" time to "store up wrath," (36:13). We have much to learn, and much to unlearn, in our understanding of God. (36:22) Eventually the latter rain message of His goodness, like a powerful lightning and thunder storm, will break upon the entire world. (36:27-37:24)   In the face of this revelation, those who are wicked will grow more so, but the wise will understand what is happening. (Daniel 12:10)
It appears in the last of Job 36, and the majority of Job 37, that Elihu is witnessing an actual storm, a metaphor and revelation of God's great power revealed in the plan of salvation. Notice the many references to rain and light. In fact we see God speaking "out of the whirlwind" beginning in Job 38. Like they did through Elihu, His words break forth directly from Him as a torrent of powerful truth, as He "takes the reins in His own hands," giving the answer in the person of Christ, for prior to the baptism of Christ we are told that "He had before communicated with humanity through Christ." (DA 116) Christ, the Messenger of the Covenant, the one whose faith would rescue mankind from the Pit by going into it Himself, was speaking to Job.
Do we see a storm gathering today? Even in the cataclysm of earth's final hour God's love is to be revealed in His mercy and justice. Eventually, as in the story of Job, God's ultimate purpose of love and blessing will be accomplished. Let us prepare for the storm by anchoring in the Rock, Jesus Christ, who is "the Lord our Righteousness." Like Job, let us be called by Elihu to the Faith of Jesus. And let us be those who proclaim by our very name and identity, "'Elihu - This is our God', we have waited for Him, for He is the one who has saved and will save us."
Ellen G. White -
    "No finite mind can fully comprehend the character or the works of the Infinite One. We cannot by searching find out God. To minds the strongest and most highly cultured, as well as to the weakest and most ignorant, that holy Being must remain clothed in mystery. But though 'clouds and darkness are round about Him: righteousness and judgment are the foundation of His throne.' Psalm 97:2, R.V. We can so far comprehend His dealing with us as to discern boundless mercy united to infinite power. We can understand as much of His purposes as we are capable of comprehending; beyond this we may still trust the hand that is omnipotent, the heart that is full of love."  (Ed 169.1)
     "He that ruleth in the heavens is the one who sees the end from the beginning--the one before whom the mysteries of the past and the future are alike outspread, and who, beyond the woe and darkness and ruin that sin has wrought, beholds the accomplishment of His own purposes of love and blessing. Though 'clouds and darkness are round about Him: righteousness and judgment are the foundation of His throne.' Psalm 97:2, R.V. And this the inhabitants of the universe, both loyal and disloyal, will one day understand. 'His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.'" Deuteronomy 32:4.  (PP 43.1)
     "This is the day of the Lord's preparation. He says: 'Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.' The great work from which the mind should not be diverted, is the consideration of our safety in the sight of God. The storm is coming, relentless in its fury. Are we prepared to meet it? Are our feet on the Rock of Ages? Are we one with Christ, as he is one with the Father?"  (RH, December 27, 1898, par. 14)
E. J. Waggoner -
"'Does the Lord require me to give this up? Can I not be saved if I do not?'"
"Have you not often heard such questions? Perhaps you yourself have had similar thoughts. There is among many people a feeling that God is exacting; that He requires too much of us, and that He ought to be satisfied with less. Indeed, if people would analyse their thoughts they would find an idea that God is really benefiting Himself at their expense.
"That this idea is actually held, is shown by the words of Elihu to Job: 'Thou saidst, My righteousness is more than God's? For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee? and, What profit shall I have, if I be cleansed from my sin? I will answer thee, and thy companions with thee. Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds which are higher than thou. If thou sinnest, what doest thou against Him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto Him? If thou be righteous, what givest thou Him? or what receiveth He of thine hand? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man.' Job xxxv.
"This thought, often unexpressed and half-unconscious, is nothing else than the reverberation of the subtle temptation by which the serpent caused the fall of Eve. With a contemptuous sarcasm he asked the question, 'Has God really said that ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?' and then followed up this insinuations against God's justice by boldly saying that there was no harm in eating from the forbidden tree: 'for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof ye shall be as gods.' Thus He made her believe that it was unjust for God to require her to abstain from eating the fruit of that  tree; that she was really been abused; and that God was profiting by their abstinence. 
"What now is the real truth in the case. Just this: that whenever we give up anything in obedience to God, we profit greatly at His expense. We talk about sacrifice, and what it costs us, foolishly forgetful of the fact that it is the Lord who has made the sacrifice, and the only real one that ever has been or can be made. Do you know what it costs the Lord every time you give up an evil habit?-Nothing less than His life. You think it will cost you your life, or at least all that life is worth, to give up that darling practice, yet in doing so you will find life in such rich measure and so full of joy as you never knew before, but it cost Christ's heart's blood to enable you to do it. Ah, never again let the shadow of the thought enter your mind, that God is causing huge inconvenience to gratify Himself. He is, on the contrary, giving you happiness that the cost of His own life.
"In this lies our strength, and the assurance that nothing is impossible to us. God is really asking us to receive something, instead of to give up. He asks us to receive His life, in which there is no shade of evil, and which is the very essence and fulness of light, and joy, and peace in order that we may be delivered from that which is to us darkness, sorrow, misery, and death. And the fact that our deliverance from the bondage of evil habits costs the Lord His life, is the assurance of deliverance; for His life has proved victorious over every temptation. Then instead of murmuring about what we are required to give up, let us give thanks to God for His unspeakable gift.
"'What shall I render unto the lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.'" Ps. cxvi. 12, 13.  (November 7, 1901 EJW, PTUK 709,710)

~Todd Guthrie

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #9 November 26, 2016


NOVEMBER 26, 2016
In this week's lesson, Job's response to his 3 friends continues, and in Job 13:15 we see that despite everything that has occurred, Job's hope in his God and his Redeemer remains unshakeable: "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him".  Though Job may question his own existence he does not question God's justice or His character.  He does not understand the cosmic conflict that is taking place which the whole universe is watching with great interest because Satan is indeed questioning God's character, His righteousness and His unconditional agape love for the whole human race including Job.
So in the face of Job's suffering, where does Job's hope come from and why does he still have it when his friends and even his wife are not only not supporting him but even condemning him?  We might well learn from Job since his source of hope is our source of hope as we face trials and tribulations in our lives, particularly in these final days of Earth's history as we face "great distress, unequalled since the beginning of the world until now" Matt. 24:21.
A.T. Jones' article on Christ and the Resurrection (ATJ,BEST.1892), gives us insight on Job's hope as we realize that it is the same hope that Daniel, Moses, and all the prophets and apostles had in the resurrection and the coming of the Lord:
"Therefore it is plainly proved that the hope which God has set before us in Christ and His blessed gospel, is the hope of the resurrection from the dead unto everlasting life and eternal glory. And as this resurrection all depends upon the glorious appearing of our Saviour, therefore the second coming of our Saviour is inseparably connected with this, the Christian's "blessed hope." Thus saith the Lord, "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Titus 2:11-13. {December 1, 1892 ATJ, BEST 356.2}
This is that for which Job looked. He says, "All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come." Job 14:14. This change is at the resurrection; for Paul says, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump." 1 Cor. 15:51, 52. Again says Job, "If I wait, the grave is mine house; I have made my bed in the darkness. . . . And where is now my hope?" Chap. 17:13-15. Here it is: "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold and not a stranger. My reins within me are consumed with earnest desire for that day." Chap. 19:25-27, margin. {December 1, 1892 ATJ, BEST 356.3}
Time and space would fail us to quote the words of this hope, expressed by David, and Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and Daniel, and Hosea, and Micah, and all the prophets and apostles. We can only cite again the words that this is the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers, unto which promise we instantly serving God day and night hope to come. Why should it be thought a thing incredible that God should raise the dead? The righteous dead shall live again at the coming of the Lord, and therefore we look at anxiously wait for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus. Like faithful Job, our reins within us are consumed with earnest desire for that glorious day. And as He assures us, "Surely I come quickly," our hearts reply, "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." {December 1, 1892 ATJ, BEST 356.4}
Similarly, E.J. Waggoner wrote on The Hope of the Promise (PTUK, 1890), where we see that Paul's hope was the same as that of Abraham and Job who found comfort in the fact that his Redeemer lived and should stand in the latter day upon the earth and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed:
"Now put these facts with Paul's statement that he stood and was judged for the hope of the promise made of God to the fathers, and it is as plain as language can make it that the promise to the fathers that through Christ they should have a resurrection from the dead, and should by that means enter upon their inheritance. Paul looked forward to the fulfillment of the promise with as ardent hope and as steadfast faith as did Abraham, and it was this that he had in mind when he said that, "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Titus 2:12, 13. {February 27, 1890 EJW, PTUK 74.2}
This has been the hope of the church in all ages. But in the midst of his deep affliction, the patriarch Job found comfort in the knowledge that his Redeemer lived and should stand in the latter day upon the earth, and that although worms might devour his body, nevertheless in his flesh he should see God. Job 19:23-27. Again, after speaking of the certainty of death and decay, he asked, "If a man die, shall he live again?" and at once answered his own question, saying, "All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee; thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands." Job 14:14, 15. What this change will be, and when it will take place, we are told by the apostle Paul in the following language: "Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. . . . Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 1 Cor. 15:51-55. {February 27, 1890 EJW, PTUK 74.3}
Job's hope and that of the Old Testament patriarchs was based on an unshakeable faith in their Redeemer.  Through the sanctuary services, the ten commandments and the old testament scriptures, they knew in whom they believed and could look forward to Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for them as Savior of the world.  Christ used these same scriptures as well to show the apostles the depth of His (and the Father's) infinite agape love and sacrifice for them and for the world. Jesus was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world!
As we dwell on and appreciate this sacrifice providing a free gift of salvation for all, our belief changes hearts and through Christ and in Christ we have a righteousness by faith - with both His righteousness and His faith being part of and a result of that free gift.  Thus, it is neither our righteousness nor our faith that we can depend on but, in Christ, we can be covered with His robe of righteousness and rely on the faith of Jesus. 
The most precious message brought to us by Waggoner and Jones was needed to refocus God's last day people on these fundamental truths from scripture representing as EGW says (TM92-98) the everlasting gospel and the third angel's message in verity which is to be proclaimed to the world with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.
With our hearts and minds on Christ and Him crucified along with the new light this message has for God's last day people, we will at last be unified in truth and the Groom will be able to take His bride home.
~John and Monica Campbell

Friday, November 18, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #8 November 19, 2016

NOVEMBER 19, 2016

Our lesson for this week does not provide an answer to the question of suffering, but begins to look beyond it. Job, in chapter 9, felt there was no mediator between himself and God (9:33). In his prayer to God recorded in chapter 10, Job begins to formulate his complaint to God. Thinking that God brought on his severe suffering, Job wondered why He treated him so terribly? (10:1-7). Job began to think that God created him only to condemn him (10:8–17). Job asks if God's plan was to destroy him even as his body was being formed in his mother's womb. He thought it would have been better to never have been born (10:18–22). If Job was created only to be condemned, in his opinion, it would be better to have died at birth.

Job did not realize the devil was bringing all the troubles. Nor did Job realize that God had put His trust in him. He did not realize that to him had "been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29); and that "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12).
The innocent do suffer. The "Innocent Blood" – the title of our lesson this week is about the "innocent life" of the believer, for the life is in the blood (Genesis 9:4). Examples of this include the trials and sufferings of the innocent Waldenses. Men, woman and children were hunted down, persecuted, and murdered in the Piedmont valleys of Northern Italy during the 12th to the 16thcenturies, a.d. Those persecutions were planned in the councils of hell by the devil in cooperation with his persecuting henchmen. This was done to counter and to eliminate the Waldensian's faith in God. Their stories of faith and perseverance provide an inspiration for those times when you and I feel persecuted as they and Job were hounded and oppressed. The martyrdom of the Waldensians was their victory. They are forever delivered from suffering. And they will be resurrected to eternal peace and comfort very soon.

Job's life was innocent. He was a righteous man. God Himself announced Job's righteous life to Satan when he pushed himself into the council of God. (see Job 1:8). There was, and is, only one kind of true righteousness on earth and that is a faith righteousness. That faith is the faith of Jesus which believes not only in the absence of feelings but against them. This is the faith Job had. He did not understand why he was going through those severe trials. The trials wore him down. And in his afflictions he asked God why? And so did Jesus.

Jesus "suffered shame for us that we might not suffer everlasting shame and contempt. He suffered on the cross, that mercy might be granted to fallen man. God's justice is preserved, and guilty man is pardoned. Jesus dies that the sinner might live. Shame is borne by the Son of the Highest for the sake of poor sinners, that they might be ransomed and crowned with eternal glory" (RH August 2, 1881).

As Jesus hung by Roman nails on a Roman tree of execution, He felt totally excluded and banned from the fellowship and presence of God. He screamed "Why?"! In this cry from the depths of His being, Jesus sounded more like a wounded wild beast than as a man. On that fearful Passover day at 3:00 in the afternoon – the time of the corporate evening sacrifice – Jesus asked God, "Why have you forsaken Me?" In this utterance His agonizing feelings are expressed. But we need to remember that His faith spoke first and it spoke twice as He said, "My God, My God." (Mark 15:34). Then His feelings spoke once, "Why have you forsaken me?" The faith of Jesus was eternally triumphant. He believed not only in the absence of his feelings, but against them. This is the faith that He gives to us. This is the faith His people will be known for in the days just before Jesus comes to deliver them. (See Revelation 14:12, 14).

This is the faith God gave to Job. Like Jesus, Job didn't deserve what was happening to him and he asked why? His complaints were bitter. We realize Job didn't deserve what he was going through. He didn't know that he was being afflicted by the devil. And he didn't know God trusted him with one of His greatest of gifts. This gift is the gift of suffering for Christ's sake. Notice this thought from the pen of inspiration: "Of all the gifts that Heaven can bestow upon men, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the most weighty trust and the highest honor" (Desire of Ages, 224). This and the following thought is encouragement for you and for me as we go through severe trials as did Job:
"To all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of greatest discouragement is the time when divine help is nearest. They will look back with thankfulness upon the darkest part of their way. 'The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly,' 2 Peter 2:9. From every temptation and every trial He will bring them forth with firmer faith and a richer experience" (Desire of Ages, 528).

Peter, in writing to the churches in Asia Minor, reminded them (and us) that when tried by "the fiery trial" to not think it strange for this to happen. He wrote, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you" (1 Peter 4:12). This counsel is for us today as we go through trials and temptations and as we learn of extremely wicked and cruel acts against innocent persons occurring in the world today. It will not be long until this is over. The last battle soon will be fought and won by Jesus when He comes back to claim His own.

Earlier in his letter Peter wrote,"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6-7, KJV).

In closing, we have read the end and the beginning of the story of Job. His faith in God remained intact. And God's trust in Job was vindicated before the universe in this battle of the ongoing cosmic conflict. Job came through the battle bruised and wounded, but victorious. You too, like Job, may be assaulted and battered. But you will come from the battle victorious through the faith of Jesus given to you through God's promises. This is the victory that overcomes the world, the devil and our fallen nature, even "our faith" (1John 5:4; see also 1 John 2:13; 4:4; John 16:33). When Jesus returns we will sing the never ending doxology: "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow."

~Jerry Finneman

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Friday, November 11, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #7 November 12, 2016


NOVEMBER 12, 2016

Poor Job. His friends were not much of an encouragement to him. They thought that his suffering was a punishment from God for his sins. Perhaps their "counsel" to Job could be considered as not much more than a "kick in the guts when he was already down". Job's three friends did not have a true comprehension of the charcter of God, as evidenced in what He said to them twice, as if to emphasize the point to us today, "Ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right" (Job 42:7-8).
"The same error for which God had reproved the friends of Job was repeated by the Jews... It was generally believed by the Jews that sin is punished in this life. Every affliction was regarded as the penalty of some wrongdoing, either of the sufferer himself or of his parents. It is true that all suffering results from the transgression of God's law, but this truth had become perverted. Satan, the author of sin and all its results, had led men to look upon disease and death as proceeding from God,—as punishment arbitrarily inflicted on account of sin. Hence one upon whom some great affliction or calamity had fallen had the additional burden of being regarded as a great sinner... God had given a lesson designed to prevent this. The history of Job had shown that suffering is inflicted by Satan, and is overruled by God for purposes of mercy. But Israel did not understand the lesson" (The Desire of Ages, page 471).
And many people today have not understood the lesson either. When something bad happens to them, they think that God is punishing them for their disobedience. But God is not a harsh, vengeful judge, waiting to punish us for our sins. Our Father in heaven is "ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness" (Nehemiah 9:17). He says, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?" (Ezekiel 33:11). His thoughts toward us are "thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end" (Jeremiah 29:11).
This week's lesson deals specifically with the subject of "Divine Retribution". Apart from seeking to understand the mystery of the cause of the sufferings we experience in general, this is the one subject that is probably considered the most confusing.
The judgments of God are rarely understood for what they really are. There is a Scripture that defines them for us: "The Lord is known by the judgment which He executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands" (Psalm 9:16). Paul declares: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7). David says the wicked "made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate" (Psalms 7:15-16). When God "executes judgment", He simply steps back and permits the natural consequences of our actions to take their course.
Ellen White further clarifies this: "God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; but He leaves the rejectors of His mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown. Every ray of light rejected, every warning despised or unheeded, every passion indulged, every transgression of the law of God, is a seed sown which yields its unfailing harvest. The Spirit of God, persistently resisted, is at last withdrawn from the sinner, and then there is left no power to control the evil passions of the soul, and no protection from the malice and enmity of Satan" (The Great Controversy, page 36).
It is true that the Scriptures speak of the "wrath of God". But His wrath is not like ours. It is "grief". For when Jesus would have healed the man with the shriveled hand on the Sabbath, He "looked round about Him with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts" (Mark 3:5). When the vials of God's wrath are poured out, and the seven last plagues will afflict this world, the temple in heaven will be "filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power" and no man is able to enter it until the plagues have ceased (Revelation 15:8). This scene is reminiscent of the dedication of the temple of Solomon when "the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God" (2 Chronicles 5:14).
The "glory of the Lord" is described in Exodus chapter 34. It is His character. God proclaimed His name before Moses: "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin..." (Exodus 34:6-7). And God's character of mercy and graciousness and love is known by the manner in which He executes the judgment. In these judgments, the pain of God's heart is revealed, for "He doth not afflict willingly" (Lamentations 3:33), but He has to step back and let man reap the consequences of his own actions. This will be a time of intense heart anguish to Him. He will look upon this world and weep, just as Jesus wept as He looked upon Jersualem: "O Jersualem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under wings, and ye would not!"
But God can by "no means clear the guilty" and must visit "the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and the fourth generation" (Exodus 34:7). This is extremely painful to Him, for it is a life that has been purchased by the infinite sacrifice of His only begotten Son. He loves them with an "everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3). Therefore, the temple of God is filled with smoke that the terrible and intensely painful grief of our loving, heavenly Father may be hidden.
We worship a God of fair justice, and true love, yet there is a mystery that many would wish to have solved. If God "does not stand towards the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression" then why do we see the angel of God flying over Egypt, slaying all the firstborn? And why do we read that "the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred and eighty five thousand men? And many other examples? How do we understand or explain this?
First, we must acknowledge, that even to God Himself, it is a "strange" thing. "For the Lord shall rise up as in Mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do his work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act" (Isaiah 28:21).
"To our merciful God the act of punishment is a strange act… While He does not delight in vengeance, He will execute judgment upon the transgressors of His law. He is forced to do this to preserve the inhabitants of the earth from utter depravity and ruin. In order to save some, He must cut off those who have become hardened in sin." (Patriarchs and Prophets, page 628.)
Note the word: "forced". He is pushed into a corner to do something that He would very much rather not do. In order to "preserve the inhabitants of the earth" from total ruin, He has no choice but to intervene.
When writing about the punishment inflicted against the idolaters who danced around the golden calf at Sinai, Ellen White provides us with an insight into the "strange act" of divine retribution. She says, "Though God had granted the prayer of Moses in sparing Israel from destruction, their apostasy was to be signally punished. The lawlessness and insubordination into which Aaron had permitted them to fall, if not speedily crushed, would run riot in wickedness, and would involve the nation in irretrievable ruin" (Ibid, page 324). 
But not just the nation. She continues: "Only those were cut off who persisted in rebellion.... It was necessary that this sin should be punished, as a testimony to surrounding nations of God's displeasure against idolatry... Unless punishment had been speedily visited upon transgression... the earth would have become as corrupt as in the days of Noah. Had these transgressors been spared, evils would have followed, greater than resulted from sparing the life of Cain. It was the mercy of God that thousands should suffer, to prevent the necessity of visiting judgments upon millions. In order to save the many, He must punish the few... And it was no less a mercy to the sinners themselves that they should be cut short in their evil course." (Ibid, page 325.)
Here we see that God understands the power of example. "None of us liveth to himself" (Romans 14:7). "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man" (Proverbs 27:19). Not only justice demanded the destruction of the idolaters, but also love. Love for the rest of the nation. Love for those who were not yet hardened in sin and had not yet closed their hearts to the promptings of the Spirit of God. Love for the world, for had He not executed judgment then and there, through their example and influence "the earth would have become as corrupt as in the days of Noah."
God is merciful and compassionate to those who are ignorant or weak in regard to sin. By executing judgment upon those who had already hardened their hearts, he was giving the rest of the nation an opportunity to see the wickedness of their actions, and that they might make an intelligent choice in their own lives and be more firmly resolved to overcome sin.
But more than just executing judgment as an example of the consequences of sin, where God sees it is necessary, He will intervene in judgment to prevent an individual stealing from another individual the opportunity to make an intelligent decision. This judgment will generally be executed by God permitting them to meet the consequences of their actions. Very rarely will He intervene and execute judgment by His own hand. And He will only do this if the sinner has become hardened and established in their rebellion, and grieved away His Spirit.
God has no pleasure in suffering and death. Because He loves us so much, and wants each one of us to have every advantage possible to choose Him and His ways, He will do something that He doesn't want to do, and this is why it is called a "strange act" – because He considers it strange Himself. He will take a life, so that we might have a better opportunity for eternal life. But the life that He takes has already made its decision. He is simply taking back that which was His, and that had been rejected.
God is love, albeit we will never fully understand the ways of His love while we are on this earth, or even in all eternity. As Zophar correctly said to Job, "Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea (Job 11:7-9). When it comes to the particular subject of divine retribution, perhaps it would be best if we just trust that God knows what He is doing, and say with Job, "Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not" (Job 42:3).
~Camron and Heladia Schofield

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #6 November 5, 2016


NOVEMBER 5, 2016

"As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come" Proverbs 26:2. We may not understand why, but this text tells us bad things don't just happen without a reason. In this week's lesson, Job's friend Eliphaz struggles to make sense of Job's experience based on what he knows.
Job suffered incredible losses, not only of his possessions and his children, but of his health. He didn't understand what was happening nor why, and neither did his friends.
Have you ever experienced significant loss? Have you ever felt forsaken by God? Have you ever wished you had never been born? Have your friends ever suggested that perhaps it was because of some sin or poor choice on your part that bad things happened? Job experienced all these things. He didn't have the benefit of reading the book that now bears his name. He, "the greatest of all the men of the East," (Job 1:3) was reduced to almost nothing.
If you were Job's comforter, what would you have said? What do you say to people who experience profound loss? What have people said to you in times of trial and crisis?
Eliphaz came to comfort Job, but he himself struggled to reconcile what he knew to be true: "Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same," Job 4:8, 9, with what he assumed, that: "by the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of His anger they are consumed."

He also struggled with who he knew Job to be: "Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees" Job 4:4, in seeming contrast to what was happening to him: "But now it comes upon you, and you are weary; It touches you, and you are troubled" Job 4:5.
What neither of them knew was that this unfolding drama was "a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men" 1 Corinthians 4:9.
Momentous were the issues at stake. As Satan dared to challenge Job's motivation of faithfulness before God and the assembled representatives of distant worlds, his questions might well have caused others to wonder, too. Why did Job serve God? Was it because God had favored him? The assertion, once raised, could not be answered by a mere verbal explanation. For the security of His government and the universe, God must permit Job to be tested.
Have you ever wondered why so much of the book of Job contains the thoughts and questions of Job's friends? I think part of the reason for this may be because these friends, Eliphaz included, put into words the thoughts and questions held in abeyance by the onlooking universe. The great controversy was still in relative infancy. Following closely behind the entrance of sin into our world was the painful experience of suffering -- physical, emotional, relational, spiritual. The same angels who "sang together" when "all the sons of God shouted for joy" at the creation of our world were now filled with grief as they witnessed sin's degradation of the human race, the animals, and the earth. There was much still to understand.
Written by Moses during his 40-year sojourn in the Arabian desert of Midian, the book of Job is more than the story of human loss and suffering. It opens a window into the heart of God and "the suffering that sin has caused our Creator."
"Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ's agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God" Education, 263.

Jesus loves us each individually, as though we were His only child. There is no heartache we experience, no tear that is shed, but that Jesus feels the pain. He knows us better than anyone, and when we hurt, He hurts. Job wasn't the only one suffering through all those losses. "In all their affliction, he was afflicted" (Is. 63:9). As the second Adam and Father of the human race, Jesus  fully experienced the sufferings of Job as his own. And these were but the foreshadowing of the cross. Watch closely for the parallels:
Eliphaz: "Call out now; Is there anyone who will answer you? And to which of the holy ones will you turn?" Job 5:1.
The chief priests: "He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God' " Matt. 27:43.

Eliphaz: "For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble spring from the ground" Job 5:6.

Isaiah: "In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old" Isaiah 63:9.

Eliphaz: "Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. For He bruises, but he binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole" Job 5:17, 18.
Isaiah: "Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed" Isaiah 53:4, 5.
Job's confidence in God proved unshakable under the severest stress, even though he couldn't explain why he had been struck with tragedy: "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong" Job 1:21, 22.
When an unlooked for crisis challenges our faith and human friends fail us, there is One who is faithful. He understands, and we can trust that He will see us through. For "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28.
Not until the judgment will the purposes of God be made plain. Our unanswered questions in this life will be resolved. Someday in heaven we will have the opportunity to sit down with Job and talk to him personally. Perhaps Eliphaz will be there, too. We can ask them more about their experience and how this tragedy deepened their confidence in God.
More than that, as the years of eternity roll, we will more fully come to understand just how closely Jesus has identified with us -- not only in our sufferings in this life -- but in His humanity. Forever joined to the human race, He will ever bear the marks of His suffering in His hands and forehead, mute reminders of the price He paid to save us -- at any cost to Himself and to the Father.
~Patti Guthrie

Friday, October 28, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #5 October 29, 2016

Fourth Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Curse the Day"

October 29, 2016
One week ago we were walking along a road in Mexico City and we stopped to look and see what was causing a strange sound coming out from a highway underpass beneath us when suddenly there was a huge explosion and the whole ground shook. Instinctly, we began to move hastily away from where we were standing in case the ground beneath us collapsed. Presently, one of the political parties in Mexico has devised a new way of protesting – they are setting off firecrackers in the underpasses and tunnels. As to why they chose this method, we don't know, but it seems extremely immature, and possibly quite dangerous, even for themselves.
As we moved away from the place we had been standing, we turned and looked back. There was an older lady lying on the road with blood pouring out from a  huge gash in the side of her head. We ran to her and with the help of others, moved her off the road and into the shade where Heladia held a thick wad of toilet paper against the wound until the ambulance arrived twenty minutes later. When the explosion went off, she had panicked and began to run away but she tripped on the pavement, fell, and smashed her head on the side of the road.
As Heladia sat with her to stem the flow of blood and to comfort her, the lady told her that in previous years she has had major complications with her spine, and she is afraid her fall might have just caused more problems. She also said that she suffers from hypertension and that she is afraid of people and going out into society. And now here she was, lying on the ground, covered with blood, and with a dozen police officers and a large crowd of people gathered around her. She rarely ever leaves her home because of her fears, but that morning she had got her courage up to open that gate and to go outside into the world. And this is what the world gave her.
Life is not fair. We did not choose to be born into it. We did not choose for Adam to sin. He was the one that brought sin into this world. Not us. And now we have to live with the consequences. But is there anything to gain from pointing the finger, or shall we just learn to live with our situation?
However, this is not easy to do, unless we understand the great controversy that has been happening between good and evil for the last six thousand years or so. Only then can we know the meaning of life, and have the answer to our multitude of questions that begin with the word, "Why...?"
Fortunately, we have the Scriptures and the blessed writings of Ellen White to show us what is actually happening behind the things which we can only see and feel with our senses. But Job did not have this advantage. He did not know that Satan had walked into the presence of God, indignant at Job's trust in God and his obedience to Him and demanded an opportunity to test his faithfulness. Can you imagine Job's confusion when, in one day, everything that had made his life worth living was taken away from him! And then he is afflicted with terrible boils and all he has left is the pile of ashes in which he sits. And to top it all off, his greatest support on this earth abandons him. "Curse God and die", his wife says - a strong suggestion that he has lost her too, for the time being. What a miserable experience!
Not understanding the reality of the situation, and the spritual warfare that was being fought over him, is it any wonder that Job cried out, "Let the day perish wherein I was born!" Who can blame him for speaking in such bitterness of soul? Can you? Can I? How many of us, when life has taken an unexpected turn for the worst, have felt just this same way that Job was feeling? How many of us have ever thought that just maybe it was best that we were never born? And yet, we know the great controversy... We knowwhat is going on behind the scenes...
When things don't work out right, and people ask me what went wrong, I tend to give one answer - "I was born"... I hid in my mother's womb for an extra four weeks past the due date because I did not want to come out into this world. But I was born, and life has had lots of nasty surprises for me, as it has for all of us. I have my fleeting moments of regret, then I grit my teeth and say, "Well, here I am now. I can't change anything. Let's see why God permitted me to be born." And I give my life into His hands.
Looking back, we can see perfectly why God permitted Job to be born. How much encouragement do we get from his experience today! I mean, seriously, could any of us ever lose as much as he lost, and so quickly? And yet, "in all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly" (Job 1:22). If God's grace was sufficient for him, then it will be more than sufficient for us.
The remarkable thing is that although Job didn't undertsand why he was going through his suuffering, he still held onto the hand of God. Today, we can understand our experience, yet it is a huge struggle for us also not to give in to despondency. Many times, that despondency may seem to have a moment's victory, and then we condemn ourselves for it. And so, let's contemplate something really important for a moment.
Job chapter 3 is one seriously bitter chapter, full of loathing of his life and his very existence. But God never rebuked him for his lamentation. Consider Jeremiah, who also bitterly lamented his birth, but with far greater violence. He said the same thing as Job, "Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad. And let that man be as the cities which the LORD overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide; Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me. Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?" (Jeremiah 20:14-18). And yet there is no word spoken in condemnation of Jeremiah either.
While the great prophet Elijah did not lament his birth, he also wished that he could have escaped from this world, with all its sorrow and suffering. "He requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." (1 Kings 19:4). God did not meet him with rebuke, but with tender pity.
We should not think for one second that God does not know how unfair things are that we were born into this world of suffering. It was definitely not part of His plan. He did not choose this for us either. But for the sake of the stability of the universe, He cannot just click His fingers and make things better. He must permit the great controversy to play out so that we might have our eyes opened as to who Satan really is and that he is the cause of our sufferings, not God. The whole universe must understand that God really is love, even though there appears to be so much suffering. It is not God's fault. It is Satan's. And God wants us to learn this so that we will stop giving him and sin our affections, so that when God destroys them both, we will not be destroyed with them.
Other lessons this quarter will deal with the all-sufficiency of God's grace in the trial. But what we must take away from this one is that God understands our suffering and confusion, and He will not condemn us if we, for a moment, regret our existence. He understands. We must believe this. It is only when we cherish these thoughts, or act on it, that we bring ourselves under condemnation.
The greatest proof of the fact that God understands is found in the experience of His Son. Alonzo Jones tells us in the 1895 General Conference Bulletins that Psalm 22 is the "Crucifixion Psalm", - it is the experience of Jesus as He hung upon the cross. Indeed it is, for when He was in the upper room after His resurrection He said to His disciples, "And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me" (Luke 24:44).
In Psalm 22 we see what Christ´s internal experience is. We can read His thoughts. We know this chapter is talking about Jesus because in verses 16-18 He describes His external experience: "For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." And it becomes abundanly clear that the whole chapter is about Him when we read the very first verse: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?"
Knowing that this chapter is speaking of Jesus, we can more fully appreciate verse 6, where He says: "But I am a worm, and no man". Yes, This is Jesus speaking. We are getting a look into how He was feeling as He hung upon the cross, with our sins laid upon Him. He feels like a worm. Have you ever felt like that? As though you wished you could just crawl away and hide from everything? Especially when you see the mistakes that you have made with your life? Here is Jesus, feeling the guilt of your sins, feeling as though He was the one that committed them, the one that made all the mistakes in your life, and He feels like He wants to just crawl away and hide too.
But this worm isn't just any worm. It is referring to the larvae of flies – the maggots that we see devouring the corpses of roadkill. Under the burden of our sins, this is how Jesus is feeling – like the worst person ever.
Yes. Jesus, and our Father through Jesus, understands exactly how we feel when we bitterly lament our existence. No, Jesus did not cherish this feeling, neither did He express it out loud, but here in chapter 22 we see Him facing the same challenges that we face. Did He choose for sin to enter into this world? Did He choose for its consequences to bring so much pain and sorrow into this life? No. But He did choose to be born. Why? So that He can understand why we choose not to be born. And, believe me, He really does understand. And then, understanding why we feel that way, He can bring us hope. Hope that God has permitted things for a reason, and that some day we will actually be grateful for our experiences even though we may not understand them now. It is when times are darkest that the smallest ray of light seems so much brighter. It is when surrounded by prickly thorns that the rose is most beautiful and its scent most wonderful. And so it is that when life is the hardest that we feel the soft, tender and caring touch of God...
But while we are on this exciting and sometimes crazy adventure of discovering the love of God, let us not forget that the greatest men that have ever lived, those who have testified so powerfully of the love of God, have also struggled with the darkest of all feelings. It was in those dark times that they learned the love of which they testified. Let us not become discouraged because we became discouraged. Many times we do that – we think we have committed a terrible sin because of the negative feelings that sweep over us. Never believe for one moment that God condemns you for it. Rejoice and be happy that He understands. Get up and keep trusting Him. Be like Jesus. Even though you might feel that you are the worst person ever, and that your whole life may appear to be a waste, submit your life into His hands. They are waiting to accept you, just as you are. And He will show you why...
~ Camron & Heladia Schofield