Facing Opposition (2019, Quarter 4, Lesson 4)

by admin admin October 19, 2019

Facing Opposition (2019, Quarter 4, Lesson 4)

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Sabbath (October 19): Facing Opposition

Ever since sin entered this work, God’s work in this world has been opposed by Satan and those under his influence. In this week’s lesson we will study the opposition that the remnant of Israel faced as they rebuilt Jerusalem and temple, and look for lessons that apply to us today.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Genesis 3:15. Should we be surprised when God’s work faces opposition? (No. Rather, we should see it as an evidence that we are being used by God and are now considered a threat by Satan to his kingdom and power here on earth.) What cause for hope in the face of opposition is found in this verse? (God has promised that He will be victorious over Satan and those that oppose the work of God.)

  • Read Matthew 10:24,25. What did Jesus say about what we as His disciples should expect when we work for Him? (Since the world opposed Christ, it will oppose those who work for Him as well.) What reason does Jesus give for rejoicing even during opposition? (We can be like our Master when we suffer for God’s kingdom.) In what ways have you found Christ’s promise to be of comfort or help in your life? (Answers will vary.)

  • Read Ezra 5:5. What cause for hope and courage in our work for God is found in this verse? (God’s eye, or protection and guidance, is on those that work for Him.)

Sunday (October 20): Opposition Begins

Much of the opposition to the rebuilding of Jerusalem came from the Samaritans, descendants of people that the king of Assyria had moved into the northern kingdom of Israel after he conquered it. In today’s lesson we will look more closely at their origin and the reason why they were so opposed to the Jews and their work in Jerusalem.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read 2 Kings 17:24. Where did many of the Samaritan people originally come from? (Babylon and other lands.)

  • Read 2 Kings 17:25-27. What apparently good step did the king of Assyria take regarding the religious situation in Samaria? (He brought a priest from Israel back to teach the new inhabitants the “manner of the god of the land.”)

  • Read 2 Kings 17:29,32,33. What kind of religion ended up forming in Samaria? Was it pure religion? (It was a mixed religion, combining the worship of God with idolatry.)

  • Read 2 Kings 17:34. What was God’s verdict on the end result of this mixed religion? (The Samaritans “fear[ed] not the Lord” and did not follow God’s commandments.) What lessons should we learn from this? (Answers will vary.)

Monday (October 21): Prophets Encourage

We often think of the gift of prophecy as being primarily focused on predicting future events. However, the Bible reveals additional important purposes for prophecy. In today’s lesson we will look at how the prophetic gift encouraged and strengthened the Jews to continue their rebuilding of Jerusalem.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read 1 Corinthians 14:3. What are some important purposes for the gift of prophecy in addition to predicting future events? (Prophets provide edification, exhortation, and comfort. In fact, these may be regarded as the primary purpose of prophecy.)

  • Read Ezra 4:4,5. What situation had developed in Jerusalem and Judah that called for the influence of the prophetic gift? (The enemies of the Jews had opposed the rebuilding of Jerusalem so that it eventually stopped.)

  • Read Ezra 5:1,2. How did God respond to this emergency, and what was the response? (He sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people, and the rebuilding began.)

  • Read Haggai 1:4,5,8,13. What three elements of the prophetic message motivated the Jews to resume their building of the temple? (Conviction of sin, divine counsel, and the promise of God’s presence.)

  • Read John 16:7,8,13. In what ways does the prophetic message of Haggai parallel the work and purpose of the Holy Spirit? (Answers will vary.)

Tuesday (October 22): Work Stoppage

In today’s lesson we will take a look at some specific charges that the enemies of God’s people brought against the Jews, resulting in the cessation of the rebuilding efforts in Jerusalem. What lessons should God’s people today learn from this unfortunate history?

Discussion Questions

  • Read Ezra 4:12,13. What charge did the Jews’ enemies bring against them? (Planning rebellion and insurrection against the king of Persia.)

  • Read Ezra 4:19. Did the king find evidence that this had been a problem before in Jerusalem? (Yes.) In what ways had the Jews’ earlier actions now made life more difficult for them at this critical point in their history? (The record of their earlier rebellion was now used against them.)

  • Read statement and discuss the warning that we should take from it:

The time will come when unguarded expressions of a denunciatory character, that have been carelessly spoken or written by our brethren, will be used by our enemies to condemn us. These will not be used merely to condemn those who made the statements, but will be charged upon the whole body of Adventists. Our accusers will say that on such and such a day one of our responsible men said thus and so against the administration of the laws of this government. Many will be astonished to see how many things have been cherished and remembered that will give point to the arguments of our adversaries. Many will be surprised to hear their own words strained into a meaning that they did not intend them to have. Then let our workers be careful to speak guardedly at all times and under all circumstances. Let all beware lest by reckless expressions they bring on a time of trouble before the great crisis which is to try men’s souls. {CW 69.1}

  • Read Romans 12:18. In what ways should this verse give guidance to God’s people today? (Answers will vary.)

Wednesday (October 23): Nehemiah Takes Action (444 B.C.)

One of the things that stands out about Nehemiah’s character is that he was a man of action. His zeal, energy, and readiness to advance God’s work still stands today as a worthy model of emulation by all who profess to serve the Lord.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Nehemiah 4:13,14. What did Nehemiah do in a time of national emergency? (He called on the Jews to be brave and prepare to fight for their families, friends, and city.)

  • Read Nehemiah 4:19,20. In spite of his energetic preparations, where did Nehemiah ultimately place his trust? (In God.) In what ways should his balanced approach to “faith and works” be emulated in our own families and churches today? (Answers will vary.) Can you share an experience in your life that demonstrates the effectiveness of Nehemiah’s approach to solving problems? (Answers will vary.)

  • Read the statement below and discuss what it might mean for us personally, for your family, and for your church:

We as a people have not accomplished the work which God has committed to us. We are not ready for the issue to which the enforcement of the Sunday law will bring us. It is our duty, as we see the signs of approaching peril, to arouse to action. Let none sit in calm expectation of the evil, comforting themselves with the belief that this work must go on because prophecy has foretold it, and that the Lord will shelter his people. We are not doing the will of God if we sit in quietude, doing nothing to preserve liberty of conscience. Fervent, effectual prayer should be ascending to heaven that this calamity may be deferred until we can accomplish the work which has so long been neglected. Let there be more earnest prayer; and then let us work in harmony with our prayers.—Testimonies for the Church 5:713, 714. {ChS 162.1}

Thursday (October 24): Doing a “Great Work”

One thing about Nehemiah—he knew the significance of his job and was not afraid to communicate that to others. In today’s study we will look at how Nehemiah replied to his enemies who sought to belittle and denigrate the work that God had given him.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Nehemiah 6:3. How did Nehemiah respond when his enemies challenged him and requested that he stop working in order to meet with them? (He told them that he had a “great work” to do and could not stop it in order to talk with them.)

  • Read the following statement from Ellen White regarding the mission and message of Seventh-day Adventists, and discuss how Nehemiah’s example of undivided devotion to his work is important for us today:

In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention. {9T 19.1}

  • In what ways do the three angels’ messages define the “great work” given to God’s people today? (These messages restore the sanctuary truths that reveal God’s plan of salvation, and they reveal how to stand by faith in the time of judgment. Moreover, they reveal the worldwide scope and magnitude of these messages.)

Friday (October 25): Heathen Plots

While the ancient Jews faced many enemies, the Bible says that God’s people today will be targeted with the wrath of the dragon (Revelation 12:17). In this final lesson of the week, we will take a look at some of the ways in which Satan is seeking to attack every faithful person and family today.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Ephesians 6:10-12. What kind of war are God’s people engaged in today? (A spiritual war with Satan and demonic powers fighting against us.) Why is it important to recognize and remember who the real enemy is? (Knowing who your enemy is can help alert you to specific dangers that you may face.)

  • Read the dream below of Ellen White in which she heard the devil’s strategy against Sabbath keepers, and discuss its implications for today:

As the people of God approach the perils of the last days, Satan holds earnest consultation with his angels as to the most successful plan of overthrowing their faith. He sees that the popular churches are already lulled to sleep by his deceptive power. By pleasing sophistry and lying wonders he can continue to hold them under his control. Therefore he directs his angels to lay their snares especially for those who are looking for the second advent of Christ and endeavoring to keep all the commandments of God. {TM 472.1}

Says the great deceiver: “We must watch those who are calling the attention of the people to the Sabbath of Jehovah; they will lead many to see the claims of the law of God; and the same light which reveals the true Sabbath reveals also the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and shows that the last work for man’s salvation is now going forward. Hold the minds of the people in darkness till that work is ended, and we shall secure the world and the church also. {TM 472.2}

“The Sabbath is the great question which is to decide the destiny of souls. We must exalt the sabbath of our creating. We have caused it to be accepted by both worldlings and church members; now the church must be led to unite with the world in its support. We must work by signs and wonders to blind their eyes to the truth, and lead them to lay aside reason and the fear of God and follow custom and tradition. {TM 472.3}

“I will influence popular ministers to turn the attention of their hearers from the commandments of God. That which the Scriptures declare to be a perfect law of liberty shall be represented as a yoke of bondage. The people accept their minister’s explanations of Scripture and do not investigate for themselves. Therefore, by working through the ministers, I can control the people according to my will. {TM 472.4}

“But our principal concern is to silence this sect of Sabbath keepers. We must excite popular indignation against them. We will enlist great men and worldly-wise men upon our side, and induce those in authority to carry out our purposes. Then the sabbath which I have set up shall be enforced by laws the most severe and exacting. Those who disregard them shall be driven out from the cities and villages, and made to suffer hunger and privation. When once we have the power, we will show what we can do with those who will not swerve from their allegiance to God. We led the Romish church to inflict imprisonment, torture, and death upon those who refused to yield to her decrees; and now that we are bringing the Protestant churches and the world into harmony with this right arm of our strength, we will finally have a law to exterminate all who will not submit to our authority. When death shall be made the penalty of violating our sabbath, then many who are now ranked with commandment keepers will come over to our side. {TM 473.1}

“But before proceeding to these extreme measures, we must exert all our wisdom and subtlety to deceive and ensnare those who honor the true Sabbath. We can separate many from Christ by worldliness, lust, and pride. They may think themselves safe because they believe the truth, but indulgence of appetite or the lower passions, which will confuse judgment and destroy discrimination, will cause their fall. {TM 473.2}

“Go, make the possessors of lands and money drunk with the cares of this life. Present the world before them in its most attractive light, that they may lay up their treasure here and fix their affections upon earthly things. We must do our utmost to prevent those who labor in God’s cause from obtaining means to use against us. Keep the money in our own ranks. The more means they obtain, the more they will injure our kingdom by taking from us our subjects. Make them care more for money than for the upbuilding of Christ’s kingdom and the spread of the truths we hate, and we need not fear their influence; for we know that every selfish, covetous person will fall under our power, and will finally be separated from God’s people. {TM 473.3}

“Through those that have a form of godliness but know not the power, we can gain many who would otherwise do us harm. Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God will be our most effective helpers. Those of this class who are apt and intelligent will serve as decoys to draw others into our snares. Many will not fear their influence, because they profess the same faith. We will thus lead them to conclude that the requirements of Christ are less strict than they once believed, and that by conformity to the world they would exert a greater influence with worldlings. Thus they will separate from Christ; then they will have no strength to resist our power, and erelong they will be ready to ridicule their former zeal and devotion. {TM 474.1}

“Until the great decisive blow shall be struck, our efforts against commandment keepers must be untiring. We must be present at all their gatherings. In their large meetings especially our cause will suffer much, and we must exercise great vigilance, and employ all our seductive arts to prevent souls from hearing the truth and becoming impressed by it. {TM 474.2}

“I will have upon the ground, as my agents, men holding false doctrines mingled with just enough truth to deceive souls. I will also have unbelieving ones present who will express doubts in regard to the Lord’s messages of warning to His church. Should the people read and believe these admonitions, we could have little hope of overcoming them. But if we can divert their attention from these warnings, they will remain ignorant of our power and cunning, and we shall secure them in our ranks at last. God will not permit His words to be slighted with impunity. If we can keep souls deceived for a time, God’s mercy will be withdrawn, and He will give them up to our full control. {TM 475.1}

“We must cause distraction and division. We must destroy their anxiety for their own souls, and lead them to criticize, to judge, and to accuse and condemn one another, and to cherish selfishness and enmity. For these sins, God banished us from His presence; and all who follow our example will meet a similar fate.” {TM 475.2}

 

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