Notes: "Among the Lampstands" (2019, QTR 1, Lesson 2)

by Tim Rumsey January 06, 2019

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Sabbath: Among the Lampstands

Ever since sin entered this earth, God’s character has been continually misrepresented by Satan and frequently misunderstood by human beings. Even those closest to God often struggle with questions related to God’s fairness, justice, and love. John may have struggled with such questions while on Patmos, and King David certainly did at times. In Psalm 73 David writes about his questions about why the wicked so often seem to prosper and the righteous so often seem to struggle in life (See Psalm 73:3-5,7,12,13). Understanding came for David when he studied the lessons of the sanctuary (verses 16,17).

In Revelation 1, Christ appears to John within a sanctuary context—walking among lampstands that represent the seven churches (Revelation 1:20). While these lampstands are not technically part of the sanctuary, the imagery certainly points to a “sanctuary” context, and as Revelation continues to unfold, it becomes clear that the sanctuary forms an important structural skeleton for a correct understanding and interpretation of Revelation. This makes sense, because the sanctuary reveals how and when sin is finally conquered, removed, and destroyed (see, for instance, John 1:29 and Leviticus 16:30). Indeed, God’s way of dealing with sin is revealed most fully in the sanctuary and it’s services (Psalm 77:13).

Sunday: On Patmos

In the first chapter of Revelation, a preview is given of the major issues connected with the final conflict between good and evil, and many of the major themes in the second half of the book are first mentioned in Revelation 1. The most important of these themes are outlined below, with passages indicated pointing to their initial reference in Revelation 1 and their developed significance later in the book.

  1. The sanctuary setting
    1. Jesus appears to John as High Priest (Revelation 1:12,13)
    2. The final events unfold after John looks into heaven’s Most Holy Place (Revelation 11:19)
  2. Persecution
    1. John exiled for the Word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:9)
    2. Remnant persecuted for the same (Revelation 12:17)
  3. The remnant
    1. John the last living disciple receives a vision of heaven
    2. The remnant of the woman’s seed inherits heaven (Revelation 12:17)
  4. The Sabbath
    1. John receives the vision on the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10)
    2. The mark of the beast and the Sabbath form the test of loyalty in the final conflict (Revelation 13-14)
  5. Christ and Antichrist
    1. Jesus presents Himself to John as the One Who lived, died, and rose again (Revelation 1:18)
    2. The antichrist (beast) power imitates Christ’s death and resurrection (Revelation 13:3)
  6. Sharing the vision and prophecy
    1. John commissioned to share what he sees and put it in a book (Revelation 1:11)
    2. Remnant church commissioned to “prophecy again” (Revelation 10:10,11)
  7. View of the Glorified Christ
    1. John sees Christ glorified (Revelation 1:13-16)
    2. Saints will see glorified Christ at the second coming (Revelation 19:11-16)
  8. Death defeated
    1. Jesus presented as the One with power over death (Revelation 1:18)
    2. Righteous dead raised at the second coming; death destroyed (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17; 1 Corinthians 15:54)

Monday: On the Lord’s Day

The seventh-day Sabbath is a memorial of God’s creative work (Exodus 20:8-11) and also represents His power to save from the slavery of sin (Exodus 31:13; Deuteronomy 5:15; Ezekiel 20:12), and Hebrews 4 reveals that the Sabbath points to spiritual rest in Christ (Hebrews 4:1,2,4,9-11). Revelation reveals two groups of people at the very end of time—those that receive the mark of the beast and “have no rest” (Revelation 14:11) and those that remain faithful to God and ultimately “rest from their labours” (Revelation 14:13). The distinction between these two groups is highlighted in Revelation 14:12—those that find spiritual rest in Christ “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”

Tuesday: John’s Vision of Christ on Patmos

Jesus appears to John as the High Priest of heaven’s temple (Revelation 1:13-16). He is with His churches through the Holy Spirit (compare Zechariah 4:1-6). The priest’s duty in the Old Testament encompassed far more than caring for the sanctuary and offering sacrifices. It also included teaching the law of God and teaching the people (through demonstration) the difference between what is sacred and what is common (Lev. 10:10,11). Christ’s work as High Priest today includes this same purpose—to help us make a difference between common and sacred in our lives, in our families, and in our churches.

Wednesday: Christ’s Messages for Then and Now

The letters to the seven churches may be applied in three ways:

  1. Historical – the letters were circulated among seven literal churches in Asia Minor
  2. Prophetic – The seven churches represent seven phases in the Christian church between John’s day and the second coming.
  3. Universal or personal – Each letter contains a message that may be applied personally and is applicable for everyone.

Thursday: Message to the Church in Ephesus

Ephesus was the principal city of Asia Minor and housed a splendid temple to the pagan goddess Diana, or Artemis. This temple was one of the wonders of the ancient world. The church in Ephesus was founded by Aquila and Priscilla, Apollos, and Paul. Paul had warned the Ephesians that false teachers would come into their ranks (Acts 20:29,30; Ephesians 5:6,7), a warning that Revelation 2:2 indicates was correct.

The Nicolaitans were a sect that Irenaeus says considered it a “matter of indifference to practice adultery, and to eat things sacrificed to idols” (God Cares, 99). In light of this attitude, Christ’s statement in Matthew 7:21 that those who do the will God will enter heaven certainly applies to the spiritual challenges facing the Ephesian church.

Friday: Christ’s Counsel to Ephesus

Christ counsels the church in Ephesus to do three things: remember where they have fallen from, repent, and do the “first works.” This counsel is applicable to God’s church today too.

  1. Remember from where we have fallen. God, speaking through E.G. White, gave this church the same counsel.

In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.630 {CCh 359.4}

  1. Repent. What is true repentance?

Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart, there will be no real change in the life. {SC 23.2}

There are many who fail to understand the true nature of repentance. Multitudes sorrow that they have sinned and even make an outward reformation because they fear that their wrongdoing will bring suffering upon themselves. But this is not repentance in the Bible sense. They lament the suffering rather than the sin. Such was the grief of Esau when he saw that the birthright was lost to him forever. Balaam, terrified by the angel standing in his pathway with drawn sword, acknowledged his guilt lest he should lose his life; but there was no genuine repentance for sin, no conversion of purpose, no abhorrence of evil. Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, exclaimed, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” Matthew 27:4. {SC 23.3}

  1. Do the first works. What are the “first works” that God has given to the SDA church?

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}

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