Our Forgiving God (2019, Quarter 4, Lesson 7)

by admin admin November 09, 2019

Our Forgiving God (2019, Quarter 4, Lesson 7)

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Sabbath (November 9): Our Forgiving God

On Thursday evening, December 18, 2015, 15-year-old Zaevion Dobson was relaxing with friends on the front porch of his home in Knoxville, Tennessee. The teenagers were looking forward to the Christmas holidays and the upcoming school break. None of them noticed the car with three strangers driving by until the men suddenly opened fire. As a spray of bullets descended on the group, Zaevion jumped on top of three girls, saving their lives. Sadly, Zaevion was shot and died, but his selfless act of courage provided a shield of protection and life for his friends. In this week’s lessons we will look at God’s forgiveness, a divine covering of our sins that was made possible by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. As we proceed through these lessons, it will be well for us to remember this statement from the book Education: “The central theme of the Bible, the theme about which every other in the whole book clusters, is the redemption plan, the restoration in the human soul of the image of God” (Education, 125).

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Romans 5:11 (KJV). What is the Bible’s central theme summarized in one word? (The word atonement was created in the sixteenth century when the Bible was translated into English. Atonement literally means “at-one-ment” with God. The Hebrew word for “atonement” is kaphar. As a verb, kaphar literally means “to cover,” and as a noun it signifies “a covering.”)

  • Read Psalm 85:2. What do we need to have covered? (Our sins must be covered. King David wrote, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” [Psalm 32:1]. Through the atonement God provides sinful man with forgiveness and cleansing.)

  • Read Genesis 6:14. In this passage the word translated as “pitch” in the KJV is the Hebrew word usually translated as “atonement.” What spiritual lesson might God have been trying to teach by instructing Noah to cover the ark on the outside and the inside with “the atonement”? (Our lives must be covered with the atoning blood of Jesus Christ on the outside, or our actions and words, and the inside, or our true character.)

  • Read the following statement and discuss the significance of the robe of light that covered Adam and Eve at their creation:

Adam and Eve after they had transgressed, “saw that they were naked.” The garment that had covered them, and represented the righteousness of Christ, departed when they sinned. The righteousness of Christ cannot cover the soul polluted with sin. {EA 150.6}

** For a Christ-centered look at lessons of the atonement set in place during Creation week, watch “The Covering” on our Youtube channel or online at www.PathwayToParadise.org. This video presentation is Part 2 of “The Shadow of His Wings,” a ten-part sermon series and free study guide set focused on lessons of the Most Holy Place.

Sunday (November 10): Fasting and Worship

After a period of feasting and rejoicing, Ezra led the Jews in a time of fasting and prayer, “with sackclothes, and earth upon them” (Nehemiah 9:1). As King Solomon wrote, “To everything there is a season” (Ecclesiastes 3:1), and this was the season for confession of sin. In today’s lesson we will look closely at the privilege of confession, and why God invites, but never forces, us to confess our sins.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Romans 10:10. What will true belief in God and in His goodness lead us to do? (Confess both His righteousness and our sinfulness with our mouths.) Is there anything significant about confessing “with the mouth” rather than say, perhaps, a silent prayer of confession? (Answers will vary. Silent praise of God could very well indicate a lack of true faith or appreciation in Him. Likewise, silent “confessions” would likely indicate less than total sorrow for sin.)

  • Read Proverbs 28:13. What does this verse reveal about unconfessed sin? (Confessing sins is our way of admitting guilt. Refusal to confess sin reveals that we are attempting to cover ourselves, rather than let God do this through His forgiveness.)

  • Read the following statements and discuss the elements of true confession revealed in them:

Those who have not humbled their souls before God in acknowledging their guilt, have not yet fulfilled the first condition of acceptance. If we have not experienced that repentance which is not to be repented of, and have not with true humiliation of soul and brokenness of spirit confessed our sins, abhorring our iniquity, we have never truly sought for the forgiveness of sin; and if we have never sought, we have never found the peace of God. The only reason why we do not have remission of sins that are past is that we are not willing to humble our hearts and comply with the conditions of the word of truth. Explicit instruction is given concerning this matter. Confession of sin, whether public or private, should be heartfelt and freely expressed. It is not to be urged from the sinner. It is not to be made in a flippant and careless way, or forced from those who have no realizing sense of the abhorrent character of sin. The confession that is the outpouring of the inmost soul finds its way to the God of infinite pity. The psalmist says, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18. {SC 37.4}

True confession is always of a specific character, and acknowledges particular sins. They may be of such a nature as to be brought before God only; they may be wrongs that should be confessed to individuals who have suffered injury through them; or they may be of a public character, and should then be as publicly confessed. But all confession should be definite and to the point, acknowledging the very sins of which you are guilty. {SC 38.1}

  • Read Psalm 34:18. What wonderful promise does God give when we truly confess our sins? (The Lord is close to those who confess their sins and saves them.)

Monday (November 11): Beginning of the Prayer

When Jesus instructed His disciples how to pray, He began the “Lord’s Prayer” with a focus on God’s name: “Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.” (Matthew 6:9). More than four hundred years earlier, Ezra began his prayer in the same way—by focusing on the name and character of God.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Nehemiah 9:5. What were the people called to do? (Stand up and bless God and His “glorious name.”) Considering that names in Hebrew culture often reflected a person’s character, what was likely the deeper intent of this call to praise God’s name? (This was a call to recognize, appreciate, and praise God’s character.)

  • Read Exodus 20:7. The third commandment warns us against taking God’s name in vain. How might this commandment be understood in relation to the fact that names can refer to character in the Bible? (Answers will vary.)

  • Read Nehemiah 9:6-8. How is God’s character portrayed in these verses? (He is the One that sustains or preserves His creation, and He knows His creation well enough to have selected and called Abram to follow Him in faith. God also condescends to make covenants, or promises, with His creatures, and to fulfill His purposes through them.)

Tuesday (November 12): Lessons from the Past

As Ezra continued leading the Jews in prayer, he began reviewing God’s leading of them in the past, and reviewing Israel’s response to God. Unfortunately, the history was a sad one, with Israel returning ingratitude and rebellion for God’s faithfulness. However, important lessons could still be learned from this history, and there was always the opportunity for a new start.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Nehemiah 9:9-15. What parts of Israel’s history did Ezra remind the people about in this part of the prayer? (Their miraculous Exodus from Egypt, passing through the Red Sea, God’s leading in the pillar of fire and cloud, the giving of the Ten Commandments, and the manna and water that God provided in the desert.) Why do you think Ezra focused on these particular stories from Israel’s past? There were, after all, hundreds of years of Israel’s history to choose from. (These events revealed in a continuous string of miracles God’s love and power for His people. If the people were to be reminded and convicted of God’s continuing care for them, this would be the part of their history best suited to encourage and strengthen them.)

  • Read Nehemiah 9:16-18. How had the Israelites responded to God’s protection and guidance of them? (They rebelled against Him and even worshipped a golden calf, claiming that this was the god that led them out of Egypt.)

  • Read Nehemiah 9:19-22. What did God do for Israel in response to their sin? (He did not forsake them, gave them His Spirit to instruct them, provided for their material and physical needs in the wilderness, and eventually brought them into possession of the land of Canaan.) What is the obvious lesson here? (God is faithful even when we are not.)

  • Read the following passages and discuss why it is so important for us to remember how God has guided us, individually and as a people, in the past:

“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 God 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. We are now a strong people, if we will put our trust in the Lord; for we are handling the mighty truths of the word of God. We have everything to be thankful for.”—The General Conference Bulletin, 1893, 24 (see Life Sketches, 196; Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 31). {3SM 162.3}

Wednesday (November 13): The Law and the Prophets

As the Jews prayed in Jerusalem, they confessed several specific sins that they and their ancestors had made—notably, their rejection of God’s law and the prophets. In today’s lesson we will look at the significance of these two blessings, not just for God’s people so long ago, but for us today.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Nehemiah 9:26. What two great sins are confessed in this verse? (Disobedience to God’s law and persecution of God’s prophets.) Are we as God’s people today at risk of committing the same sins? (This has always been a danger for God’s people, and more so now at the end of time when the dragon is so angry at the “remnant of the woman’s seed” [Revelation 12:17].)

  • Read 2 Chronicles 36:16. Historically, what was the result of this rejection of God’s law and the prophets? (God’s wrath arose against His people, and there was no remedy.) What warning should we take from this sad history? (Rejection of God’s law and His prophets today will result in the same catastrophe.)

  • Read Revelation 12:17. What two outstanding characteristics will God’s people have at the end of time? (They will “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus.” Revelation 19:10 states that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. God’s faithful saints at the end of time will treasure and value and follow the counsel given by the Holy Spirit through the prophets, and this counsel will lead them to loving obedience of God’s commandments.)

  • Read the following statements and discuss the warning that they present for us today:

Satan is ... constantly pressing in the spurious—to lead away from the truth. The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God’s remnant people in the true testimony.... {PM 360.4}

There will be a hatred kindled against the testimonies which is satanic. The workings of Satan will be to unsettle the faith of the churches in them, for this reason: Satan cannot have so clear a track to bring in his deceptions and bind up souls in his delusions if the warnings and reproofs and counsels of the Spirit of God are heeded.—Selected Messages 1:48. (See Testimonies for the Church 5:675, 676.) {PM 361.1}

Thursday (November 14): Praise and Petition

God has invited us to present our requests to Him, with the assurance that the prayer of faith will be answered (James 5:15). Ezra concluded his beautiful prayer with both praise and petition, confident that God would both hear and answer his request.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Nehemiah 9:32. What request does Ezra make here? (He asks that God will not be blind to the trouble facing His people at that time.) What does Ezra reveal about his faith in God’s character? (He addresses God as One that keeps His covenant and mercy to those that have rebelled against Him.) Is this a promise that you have ever claimed in your life? (Answers will vary.)

  • Read Nehemiah 9:33. What else does Ezra reveal about his faith and understanding of God? (He confesses that God is just in allowing all that has happened to His people. He also admits that God has done right, even though they have done wickedly.) How is acceptance of God’s righteous judgment tied to our faith in Him? How is it related to His ability to work for us and in us? (Answers will vary. The faith of Jesus Christ led Him to accept the Father’s will in His life, even when it meant His suffering and death. The height of Christian maturity is to be able to say as Jesus did, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.)

  • Read Romans 5:6-8. What great encouragement should we take from this passage about God’s willingness to bless and guide us today? (We may have made many mistakes just as ancient Israel did, and we may even rebel against God as they did, but there is still the assurance that God loves us. God has provided the pardon and the cure for sin even before we ask for forgiveness, so we can be confident that when we confess our sins, He will “forgive us our sins, and…cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Friday (November 15): Confession and the Garden of Eden

Hebrews 9:25 says that the Hebrews “delighted themselves” in God’s blessings and goodness. As the lesson notes, the verbal root is the same as the name Eden. Just as true confession enables God to bring us back more closely into His presence, the Garden of Eden was “heaven in miniature” (RH February 24, 1874, par. 8), a type of God’s home where He wanted humanity to dwell as well. In today’s lesson we will look at some of the similarities between the Garden of Eden and God’s throne in heaven.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read the following Bible passages and discuss the comparisons they reveal between the Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem:

    • Genesis 2:8,9 and Revelation 22:2 (The Tree of Life was at the center of each.)

    • Genesis 2:10a and Revelation 22:1. (A river flowed from the center of each.)

    • Genesis 2:10b-14 and Revelation 21:10. (The river in Eden split into four parts, which could happen only if Eden was situated on a hill or mountain. The New Jerusalem is also a “great and high mountain.”)

    • Genesis 2:16,17. (God’s law explained from the center of Eden in connection with the two trees, just as God’s law forms the foundation of His throne in heaven.)

  • For what reasons do you think God created Eden as a type of heaven? (Answers will vary.)

 

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