Trials, Tribulations, and Lists (2019, Quarter 4, Lesson 9)

by admin admin November 23, 2019

Trials, Tribulations, and Lists (2019, Quarter 4, Lesson 9)

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Sabbath (November 23): God of Details

The Bible contains numerous detailed lists of people, animals, and objects. Examples include the many genealogies found in both the Old and New Testaments, the description of items that King Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:9-11), and the accounts of the construction of the wilderness sanctuary and Solomon’s temple (Exodus 25-40 and 1 Kings 5-6). While these lists reveal an invaluable treasure trove of historical facts, the Bible’s purpose in recording them goes much deeper—they reveal a God that is intimately concerned with the details in the life of His people and His church.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Isaiah 45:4. Not long ago we looked at this prophecy of King Cyrus and his role in freeing God’s captive people. What does this prophecy reveal about God’s purpose in raising up Cyrus to be king? (God led in the details of his earlier life, as well as the details of the conquest of Babylon, so that God’s purposes would be achieved.) What does this imply about God’s leading in the history, mission, message, and prophetic future of His church today? (He is seeking to lead His people today just as He has in the past.) What advantage should we have over Cyrus in accomplishing God’s will? (We have the privilege to be aware of God’s plan and purpose, and to intelligently cooperate with it.)

  • Read the following statements from Ellen White and discuss what they imply about the message, mission, and organization of God’s church 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. {Ev 119.3}

Some have been dissatisfied and have said: “I will not longer pay my tithe; for I have no confidence in the way things are managed at the heart of the work.” But will you rob God because you think the management of the work is not right? Make your complaint, plainly and openly, in the right spirit, to the proper ones. Send in your petitions for things to be adjusted and set in order; but do not withdraw from the work of God, and prove unfaithful, because others are not doing right. God’s reserved resources are to be used in no such haphazard way. The tithe is the Lord’s, and those who meddle with it will be punished with the loss of their heavenly treasure unless they repent. Let the work no longer be hedged up because the tithe has been diverted into various channels other than the one to which the Lord has said it should go. Provision is to be made for these other lines of work. They are to be sustained, but not from the tithe. God has not changed; the tithe is still to be used for the support of the ministry. The opening of new fields requires more ministerial efficiency than we now have, and there must be means in the treasury. {9T 249.4}

I have often been instructed by the Lord that no man’s judgment should be surrendered to the judgment of any other one man. Never should the mind of one man or the minds of a few men be regarded as sufficient in wisdom and power to control the work, and to say what plans should be followed. But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field, is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered. Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent maintenance of his position of independence, contrary to the decision of the general body .... God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference, shall have authority. The error that some are in danger of committing, is in giving to the mind and judgment of one man, or of a small group of men, the full measure of authority and influence that God has vested in His church, in the judgment and voice of the General Conference assembled to plan for the prosperity and advancement of His work.—Testimonies for the Church 9:260, 261. {ChL 1.8}

Sunday (November 24): The God of History

Throughout the Bible, we have many historical events that teach us more than just a simple story of the past. In reality, these historical facts give us a clear glimpse of who God is. By studying the Bible with humility and faith, we will always learn more about our loving God, and how the ultimate decisions in the fate of nations, kingdoms, and people have always been for the benefit of humanity and the plan of redemption. We should always remember that the lessons of the past are also pictures of the future, and by studying the Scriptures we receive the knowledge of God, which was, and is, and is to come. In today’s lesson we’ll look at the story of Daniel 5 and draw lessons about how amazing our God really is!

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Daniel 5:1-4. What lessons can we learn from the condition of king Belshazzar and his order to bring the consecrated golden cups to his feast? (A person who chooses to live for his own pleasure will only become bolder in rebellion and sin, growing in audacity and expressing defiance to the Lord.)

  • Read Daniel 5:5. Discuss why the Lord chose to write with His own finger the heavenly sentence to the king of Babylon. (Answers will vary.) Why is this story relevant to us today? (Answers will vary, but it should be noted that just as there was a complete disregard for the law of God when the end of the nation was near, today we see the same disregard for His law when the end of the word is near.)

  • Read Daniel 5:6-9. Why is the king so troubled by the writing, especially when he was apparently having a “great time” drinking and partying and praising the gods of his land? (No matter how far away from God one is, and how far in rebellion and sin we may get, the creature will recognize the Creator when the judgment is finished.)

  • Read Daniel 5:17-28. Discuss the response of Daniel to the king. What did Daniel say was the reason for the sentence against the king? (Belshazzar did not humble his heart before the Lord, but instead he lifted himself against God by going in direct rebellion against the knowledge of God that he had. He then finally defiled the sacred vessels of the Lord and chose to give worship to idols instead of what he knew to be truth.) What elements do we see from the story that give us a glimpse of how the investigative judgment is taking place? (Answers will vary.)

Monday (November 25): In Their Cities

Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 record in great detail the caravans of Jews that returned to Jerusalem and Judah following the captivity. In today’s lesson we will look at where, specifically, God led each family to live, why He did that, and what implications this has for God’s church today.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Ezra 2:1 and Nehemiah 7:73. Where did God place His people when He brought them back from the land of captivity? (He placed them “in their cities.”)

  • Read Joshua 18:9-10; 21:1-3. When Israel first entered and then possessed Canaan, how was it decided where they would live? From Whom did they first receive their cities? (God determined where they would live and gave each tribe their land and cities.) What significance do you see in the fact that, centuries after Joshua divided the land by God’s direction, God led the child of the captivity back to the same place He had initially given them? (Answers will vary. Like the Sabbath, when God blesses something and gives it to His people, He expects that blessing, and our appreciation of it, to endure.)

  • Read the statements below. What “inheritance” has God given to the Seventh-day Adventist church today? (The proclamation of the Three Angels’ Messages, the sanctuary message, etc.) What do the following statements reveal about the authenticity of new ideas or “Scriptural” teachings that contradict what God has already given us as a people? (We are to reject them as deceptions from Satan.)

The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God’s people upon the earth, [also] the first and second angels’ messages and the third, unfurling the banner on which was inscribed, “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God’s law. The nonimmortality of the wicked is an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing more that can come under the head of the old landmarks. All this cry about changing the old landmarks is all imaginary. {CW 30.2}

Now at the present time God designs a new and fresh impetus shall be given to His work. Satan sees this, and he is determined it shall be hindered. He knows that if he can deceive the people who claim to believe present truth, [and make them believe that] the work the Lord designs to do for His people is a removing of the old landmarks, something which they should, with most determined zeal, resist, then he exults over the deception he has led them to believe. The work for this time has certainly been a surprising work of various hindrances, owing to the false setting of matters before the minds of many of our people. That which is food to the churches is regarded as dangerous, and should not be given them. And this slight difference of ideas is allowed to unsettle the faith, to cause apostasy, to break up unity, to sow discord, all because they do not know what they are striving about themselves. Brethren, is it not best to be sensible? Heaven is looking upon us all, and what can they think of recent developments? While in this condition of things, building up barriers, we not only deprive ourselves of great light and precious advantages, but just now, when we so much need it, we place ourselves where light cannot be communicated from heaven that we ought to communicate to others.—Manuscript 13, 1889. {CW 31.1}

When the power of God testifies as to what is truth, that truth is to stand forever as the truth. No aftersuppositions, contrary to the light God has given are to be entertained. Men will arise with interpretations of Scripture which are to them truth, but which are not truth. The truth for this time, God has given us as a foundation for our faith. He Himself has taught us what is truth. One will arise, and still another, with new light which contradicts the light that God has given under the demonstration of His Holy Spirit. {CW 31.2}

We are not to receive the words of those who come with a message that contradicts the special points of our faith. They gather together a mass of Scripture, and pile it as proof around their asserted theories. This has been done over and over again during the past fifty years. And while the Scriptures are God’s word, and are to be respected, the application of them, if such application moves one pillar from the foundation that God has sustained these fifty years, is a great mistake. He who makes such an application knows not the wonderful demonstration of the Holy Spirit that gave power and force to the past messages that have come to the people of God.—Preach the Word, p. 5 (1905). {CW 32.2}

Tuesday (November 26): Where Are the Priests?

The Lord reminds us not to put our trust in men, because men can, and more often than not do, fail.  It is important then to keep in mind that sometimes those who are supposed to be the spiritual leaders of God’s church at times fail in their leadership and neglect their sacred duty. In today’s lesson we’ll look at the danger that leaders face in becoming complacent, and neglecting their responsibility, while at the same time we’ll look at the response of Ezra in regard to this serious issue and what he did when faced with the question, “Where are the priests?”   

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Ezra 8:15. Who was Ezra looking for among the people who were returning from exile to Jerusalem? (The sons of Levi, the priests). Why would Ezra, who was himself a priest and a scribe, be disappointed with the lack of other priests who apparently had failed to heed the call to return to Jerusalem? (Answers will vary.)

  • Read Ezra 8:16-17. What was the response and action of Ezra when he failed to find any other families of Levi? (He decided to send messengers who could speak to the Levites and request ministers for the temple.) Why did Ezra select specific men of understanding to be responsible in finding volunteer ministers to join those who were returning to Jerusalem? (Answers will vary. It is important to note that Ezra didn’t send just anyone as messengers; he sent men with discernment, with spiritual understanding and a spirit of willingness to sacrifice and leave all behind for the call of the Lord.)

  • Read Ezra 8:18. What was the result of this call for ministers of the Lord? (The Lord moved in the hearts of those willing to follow him, and although they were few, Ezra was glad to see some joining the cause of the Lord.) How did Ezra deal with those leaders who failed to follow the call? (He didn’t do anything or say anything, for he knew God would judge them.)

Wednesday (November 27): Humbled Before God

Centuries before Ezra and Nehemiah, God had explained through Moses the steps that would enable Him to turn back Israel’s curses of captivity and apostasy. The promises given to them, and the steps necessary for them to once again experience God’s full blessing, are no different than the counsel given to God’s church today.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Deuteronomy 30:1-3. What promise does God give in this passage? (That He will gather His people “from all the nations” where they have been taken captive.) What is the condition that must be met for the promise to be fulfilled? (Those in captivity must repent of their sins, turn to God, and obey His law.)

  • Read Revelation 18:4. In what ways is this end-time message from heaven similar to God’s promise in Deuteronomy 30:3? (God will gather His people at the end of time from “all the nations” of spiritual Babylon.) What is the condition for the fulfillment of Revelation 18:4? (The same as for God’s people in the Old Testament—repentance of sin, turning to God, and obedience to His Word.)

  • Read the following passage and discuss its implications for God’s people today:

Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a people for the Lord’s second coming. The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power he will make it appear that God’s special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudes will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world. {GC 464.1}

It is only as the law of God is restored to its rightful position that there can be a revival of primitive faith and godliness among His professed people. “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16. {GC 478.3}

  • Read Revelation 3:18-20. In what ways is this same counsel reflected in the message to the church of Laodicea? (The gold, white raiment, and eye salve represent faith, Christ’s righteousness, and spiritual discernment. These are, in a sense, progressive: Faith enables God to give us Christ’s righteousness, and this in turn will empower us to live with the spiritual discernment necessary for these times.)

Thursday (November 28): In the Holy City

In the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, leaving Babylon to go back to the land of Israel was seen as too large a sacrifice. To not only go back to Israel, but also decide to move to Jerusalem, was seen as an even worse decision. Why would anyone leave the prosperity of the new empire, and go back to a city in ruins, a city of poor people, with no land to farm, no worldly attractiveness, and no human prospect of financial growth? In today’s study we’ll draw lessons that may give us a reason to go in the opposite direction from the majority!

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Nehemiah 11:1, 2. Why was it necessary to cast lots in order to make people go to live in Jerusalem? (Verse 2 tells us that if there was a person who would willingly go to live in Jerusalem, the whole congregation would bless him, showing us that very few would actually choose to go. Therefore, it had to be forced by lots). Why was Jerusalem called the holy city? (Because of the temple, as the presence of God was there.) Could we see the same problem today -- the people of God not willing to be where God’s presence is? (It is very likely that most people are not setting their hearts where Jesus is, but instead choosing to go with what's popular and accepted by the world.)

  • In contrast to the concept in Ezra of living in the holy city, today’s cities are anything but holy. Read the following quote and discuss the dangers of living in large cities.

It is Satan's purpose to attract men and women to the cities, and to gain his object he invents every kind of novelty and amusement, every kind of excitement. And the cities of the earth today are becoming as were the cities before the Flood.

We should carry a continual burden as we see the fulfillment of the words of Christ, “As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:37. In the days before the Flood, every kind of amusement was invented to lead men and women to forgetfulness and sin. Today, in 1908, Satan is working with intensity, that the same conditions of evil shall prevail. And the earth is becoming corrupt. Religious liberty will be little respected by professing Christians, for many of them have no understanding of spiritual things.

We cannot fail to see that the end of the world is soon to come. Satan is working upon the minds of men and women, and many seem filled with a desire for amusement and excitement. As it was in the days of Noah, every kind of evil is on the increase. Divorce and marriage is the order of the time. At such a time as this, the people who are seeking to keep the commandments of God should look for retired places away from the cities. {CL 14} 

Friday (November 29): The Test of Discipleship

In a recent lesson we read the following statement from the book The Great Controversy: “It is only as the law of God is restored to its rightful position that there can be a revival of primitive faith and godliness among His professed people” (GC 478). We know that the “rightful position” of God’s law is in our minds and hearts (Hebrews 8:10), but what does this experience look like, practically speaking, in our lives?

Discussion Questions:

  • Read John 14:15; 1 John 2:3,4. According to these passages, what is the test of true discipleship? (Loving obedience to God’s Word.)

  • Read 2 Corinthians 5:17. What is the only way that true, loving obedience is possible? (This can happen in our lives only after we have been born again through the Holy Spirit.)

  • Read the following passages and discuss what they reveal about the results of a Spirit-filled life:

    • Galatians 5:22,23

    • Micah 6:8

    • 1 Peter 3:3,4

    • Matthew 6:31-33

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