In this final week of the quarter, we will look at some powerful Bible prophecies and stories that can give families hope and guidance even while living in a world full of sin. We’ll start today with Christ’s predication about end-time events, as recorded by Luke.
Read Luke 21:20-25. What are some of the things that will happen on earth leading up to the second coming? (Signs in the sun, moon, and stars; distress of nations, perplexity [connoting economic troubles], natural disasters, and war are some of the things Jesus mentions.) Do we see these things happening in the world today? (Yes!)
Read Luke 21:23. What special warning does Jesus give in this verse? (It seems that Jesus is giving a special warning to families that their experience during this time will be especially difficult.) What are some of the things that you and/or your family worry about today, perhaps in regards to your children, or just regarding the future in general? (Answers will vary.)
Read Luke 21:26. Jesus says that all of these things and concerns will cause people’s hearts to “fail them for fear.” What do you think this means? (Answers will vary. People will feel overwhelmed and helpless.) What clue is there in this verse about why people will feel so fearful? (They are “looking after those things which are coming on the earth.”)
Read Luke 21:28. Where should we be looking, and why? (We should “look up,” because our redemption will come from heaven.) What do you think it means for families to “look up” in today’s world? (Answers will vary.)
The Old Testament ends with a captivating yet somewhat cryptic prophecy in Malachi 4:5-6, in which God promises to send “Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Many have seen this prophecy as referring to the relationship between God and His people, while many parents have clung to this passage as a promise that their prodigal or estranged children will someday return home. In today’s lesson we will look at the experience of God’s people that will make this prophecy a reality.
Read Malachi 3:1,2. Where will the Messiah appear? (Malachi predicts that the Messiah will appear in “his temple.”)
Read Malachi 3:3. What will the Messiah do in the temple? (Refine and purify His people, and purge them of sin, “that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”) Is this a work that our families, our church, and we need to have done today? (Yes!)
Read Hebrews 12:1,2. Where should we be looking today? (We must be looking in faith toward Christ and His work for us in heaven’s sanctuary.) In what practical ways can families “look up” to Christ on a daily basis? (Answers will vary.)
The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God. Each must meet the great Judge face to face. How important, then, that every mind contemplate often the solemn scene when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, when, with Daniel, every individual must stand in his lot, at the end of the days” (GC 488).
Read Malachi 3:7-12. What else where the people in Malachi’s time to begin doing so that God could bless them? (Return a faithful tithe. If we want to experience God’s blessing and the revival that He wants to send, we must be prepared and willing to return to Him what in His. This includes an actual ten percent tithe, but indicates also a much deeper and broader spirit of sacrifice and selflessness that every sincere Christian should be continually cultivating.)
Read Malachi 3:16,18. What else were the people in Malachi’s time instructed to do? (Write all the ways God had led and blessed them in the past in a book of remembrance.) Do you think this is a good idea for us today? (Yes. We are prone to forget and take for granted God’s blessings in the past.) Why is this step of remembering what God has done for us in the past so important? (It builds faith in what He can and will do in the future.) What are some practical ways that parents can help children learn how to do this? (Answers will vary.)
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 (Counsels to the Church, 359).
Read Malachi 4:1,2. What promise is given to the people in Malachi’s time? (The Messiah would appear to them as the “Sun of righteousness.”) Why must God’s people recognize Jesus Christ as the source of their righteousness before God can work a mighty revival? (Otherwise we would take to ourselves the glory of what happens in that revival.)
Read Malachi 4:4. What final advice did Malachi give to the Jews of his time before sharing the prophecy of turned hearts? (He warned them to remember God’s law.) Why is this so important? (Without a spirit of loving obedience on our part, God cannot work true revival and reformation in us. Part of His work of revival, of course, is to bring us back to a place where we desire to lovingly obey Him.) What are some practical ways that parents can help children learn God’s law, and make it a part of their daily lives? (Answers will vary.)
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).
The story of the prophet Elijah is both inspiring and instructive to us today. In this lesson and the next one we will look at a couple of episodes from Elijah’s life.
Read 1 Kings 17:8-14. What great test is brought on the widow and her son? (Elijah asks her to feed him with the last of her food, and promises that if she does so, God will provide for her.) In what ways is God asking families today, and, more specifically, your family, to trust Him completely, like this woman did? (Answers will vary.)
Read Amos 8:11-12. The woman in Elijah’s story was called to the feed the prophet and keep him alive during a time of drought and famine. What similarities from her experience do you find echoed in this prophetic passage in Amos? (This passage in Amos predicts a time of spiritual drought and famine will come on God’s people. Like the woman in Elijah’s story, they will be called to keep the prophetic message alive and great risk and sacrifice to themselves.) Do you think we have reached that time? (Answers will vary.) What might God be calling your family to do in order to keep the prophetic messages alive that have been entrusted to God’s people today? (Answers will vary.)
Elijah’s victory over the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel signaled a great victory for God and true religion in the midst of a degraded and spiritually dangerous environment. In our lives today, when we so often feel overwhelmed by the forces of evil in our lives, we can take courage and advice from the lessons contained in this story.
Read 1 Kings 18:36. At what time of day did Elijah call the people to come near to him? (At the time of the evening sacrifice.)
Read Exodus 29:41-43,45. What had God promised that He would do for Israel in connection with the daily evening, and morning, sacrifices? (He would meet with them and dwell with them.) Morning and evening family worships might be seen as a modern-day equivalent of the morning and evening sacrifices. In what ways has your family experienced the fulfillment of God’s presence during family worship, or because of family worship? (Answers will vary.)
Read 1 Kings 18:30-32. What did Elijah have to do before the evening sacrifice could be offered? (Rebuild the altar, since it had long been broken down.) What are things that families may need to do today in order to “repair the altar” so that family worships can be effective? (Answers will vary.)
John the Baptist was the forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the New Testament identifies him and his message as the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy (Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; and Luke 7:27). Today we will look at a critical element of his message.
Read Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:3; and Luke 3:3,4. What was the first focus of John the Baptist’s message? (Repentance for sin.) Was this message well received by the people? (Some were convicted, but others, such as King Herod, didn’t take kindly to the prophet’s message.) How well do people accept the call to repent from sin today? (As in John’s day, some will respond, but many do not want to hear anything about sin, or consider the idea that something they are doing might not be acceptable to God.) In what ways can parents help their children learn and accept personally the need to repent of sin? (Answers will vary.)
Read John 1:29. What was the second focus of John’s message? (He revealed Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.) In what ways do the two parts of John’s message form a complete gospel? (Without an awareness of our sin we cannot recognize our need of a Savior, and without a Savior we are hopelessly lost in our sins.) In what ways can parents help their children recognize and accept Jesus as their personal Savior? (Answers will vary.)
The message and mission entrusted by heaven to God’s people in the last days is similar that given to John the Baptist. In today’s lesson we will look more deeply at what it means for us today to bear and to share this message.
Read Luke 1:13,14. How did John’s birth come about? (It was a miracle from heaven.) In what ways are the origins of the Advent Movement and Adventism similar to the birth of John? (Like John’s birth, this movement was predicted in prophecy and was announced by angelic messages [see Revelation 14:6-12].) What should this realization do for us as Seventh-day Adventists? (It should reaffirm our conviction that this movement is led by God and increase our love for Him and zeal to work for Him.)
Read Luke 1:15. What additional similarities do you find here between John the Baptist and Adventism? (John was called to live differently than the people around him, and so have we.)
Read Luke 1:16. What promise is given in this verse that also applies to us today? (God would save many people through John’s ministry, and He has promised to do the same through His church today.)
Read Luke 1:17. What final aspects of John’s message and mission in this verse should be reflected in our lives as Adventists? (Answers will vary. John’s ultimate purpose was to prepare people to meet the Lord, and that is also our mission today.)
In what ways can we as Adventist parents help our children understand and participate in this high calling that God has given to us? (Answers will vary.)
God’s people today are entrusted with a life-changing and life-saving message from heaven. Yet we must be willing to share this message in order for others to hear it. Consider this challenging statement: “Our message must be as direct as was that of John. He rebuked kings for their iniquity. Notwithstanding the peril his life was in, he never allowed truth to languish on his lips. Our work in this age must be as faithfully done” (Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1184).
Read the statement below and then discuss what it has meant, or what it should mean, for families today to truly live out this challenge, especially the last sentence.
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).
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