Weekly Insights about the Quarterly Lessons from the 1888 Message Study Committee.
Friday, September 30, 2016
1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #1 October 1, 2016
Fourth Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons "The End" October 1, 2016
Have you ever read a book by first reading the last chapter to find out how it ends? This is how the lessons for this quarter begins. In this last quarter of the year we open our study of Job by beginning at the end. It is in the last part of the book we learn that God ended the captivity of Job by restoring his terrible losses of family and of health, thus condemning the retribution theology of the friends of Job.
Another item we need to take into consideration is this: the book of Job reveals the continuing great controversy between Christ and Satan. Every human being on planet earth is caught in this conflict through no choice of their own. With Job the good news is that the end of Job reveals Christ in charge, is triumphant and that His people's captivity will be forever ended. Restoration will be complete. Everyone at some time in life (or several times) finds him/herself suffering because of this great conflict brought on by the enemy of God and man. These sufferings include among others the death of a loved one, a hurtful divorce, loss of employment, emotional and spiritual turmoil or a painful sickness without a cure. Truly, the book of Job addresses the afflictions of humanity.
Paul wrote to the Romans 8:22-23 saying that all of creation groans. 22 "We know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body."
Throughout his book, Job addressed the issues of grief and sorrow and misery under the extreme pressures of his intense sufferings emotionally and spiritually as well as physically. Even so he exercised faith in God as recorded in chapter 14:14-17, 14"If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes. 15You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands. 16For now You number my steps, but do not watch over my sin. 17My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and You cover my iniquity."
Under the reproach of his friends, even with children turning from him, Job knew that His Redeemer was/is alive and that he will one day see Him with his own eyes (Job 19:25-27). This is a picture of the "faith of Jesus" in the "patience of Job" (James 5:11, KJV). The faith of Jesus is believing not only in the absence of our feelings but against them! This, then, is the last picture we see of God's people just before Jesus returns to the atmosphere of earth: "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus…. Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle" (Revelation 14:12, 14).
So, in the end of time each of God's people will declare with full assurance of faith in Christ alone, as did Job in his affliction, "You number my steps, but do not watch over my sin. My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and You cover my iniquity" (Job 14:16-17). This is justification by faith in Christ alone. Job understood this. And God's people will understand and experience justification by faith – the third angel's message. The end product of justification by faith (the righteousness of Christ) is "peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever" (Isaiah 32:17; Romans 5:1).
In the end, God condemned the retribution theology of Job's "friends" (Job 42:2-6). This theology remains to this day. This theology teaches that God brings retribution on those who do evil and good to those who do good. At the end of the book God validated the faith of Job against Satan's charges made in the beginning. God vindicated Job and in doing so vindicated His own case brought against Him by Satan in the beginning of the book. The ending good news for Job is for us also – we too will have exceedingly good news when our captivity is brought to a halt by the second coming of the One who suffers with us in all our afflictions.
Today we may learn in our suffering experiences: "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" (DA 528). This was the experience of Job as depicted in the end of the book as we begin our study for this quarter.
"To all who are willing and obedient, to all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of the greatest discouragement and difficulty is the time when divine help is nearest. When the path of duty is obstructed by difficulties the most formidable, when it seems that the soul must give up in despair, the glory hidden behind the cloud that has darkened the way shines forth in all its brightness.
"Those who press on in the path of duty will look back with joy and thankfulness upon the darkest part of the way, where trials and difficulties seemed like a heavy cloud to hide every ray of God's sunshine. The Lord conceals himself from us in the cloudy pillar, as from ancient Israel. His ways are past finding out. Yet all that he makes known of himself, all that he can reveal to the most elevated mind, only convinces us of an infinity beyond, of wisdom, purity, and love. (ST, October 21, 1880).
A great lesson for us today is James is found in James 5:11 – "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."
With this in mind, next week, let's begin at the beginning – the beginning of Job. ~Jerry Finneman