May 5, 2001 – May 11, 2001
“I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.” Isaiah 42:6.
STUDY HELP: Prophets and Kings, 367–372.
“They (Israelites) rendered outward service to God as the means of attaining to national greatness. They did not become the light of the world, but shut themselves away from the world in order to escape temptation to idolatry. In the instruction given through Moses, God had placed restrictions upon their association with idolaters; but this teaching had been misinterpreted. It was intended to prevent them from conforming to the practices of the heathen. But it was used to build up a wall of separation between Israel and all other nations. The Jews looked upon Jerusalem as their heaven, and they were actually jealous lest the Lord should show mercy to the Gentiles.” The Desire of Ages, 28, 29.
“A Light to the Gentiles”
What was God’s purpose in selecting Israel as His people? Isaiah 60:1–6; Isaiah 49:6.
NOTE: “It was in order that the Israelites might be a blessing to the nations, and that God’s name might be made known ‘throughout all the earth’ (Exodus 9:16), that they were delivered from Egyptian bondage. If obedient to His requirements, they were to be placed far in advance of other peoples in wisdom and understanding; but this supremacy was to be reached and maintained only in order that through them the purpose of God for ‘all nations of the earth’ might be fulfilled.” Prophets and Kings, 368, 369.
What made it impossible for Israel to fulfill God’s purpose? Jeremiah 3:6–8. Compare Revelation 18:1–4.
NOTE: “When I study the Scriptures, I am alarmed for the Israel of God in these last days. They are exhorted to flee from idolatry. I fear that they are asleep and so conformed to the world that it would be difficult to discern between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not. The distance is widening between Christ and His people, and lessening between them and the world. The marks of distinction between Christ’s professed people and the world have almost disappeared. Like ancient Israel, they follow after the abominations of the nations around them.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 277.
“Rising Up Early”
By what means did God seek to bring His people back to Himself? Jeremiah 7:23–26.
NOTE: “Jerusalem had been honored of God above all the earth. The Lord had ‘chosen Zion,’ He had ‘desired it for His habitation.’ Psalm 132:13. There, for ages, holy prophets had uttered their messages of warning. There priests had waved their censers, and the cloud of incense, with the prayers of the worshipers, had ascended before God. There daily the blood of slain lambs had been offered, pointing forward to the Lamb of God. There Jehovah had revealed His presence in the cloud of glory above the mercy seat. There rested the base of that mystic ladder connecting earth with heaven (Genesis 28:12; John 1:51)—that ladder upon which angels of God descended and ascended, and which opened to the world the way into the holiest of all. Had Israel as a nation preserved her allegiance to Heaven, Jerusalem would have stood forever, the elect of God. Jeremiah 17:21–25. But the history of that favored people was a record of backsliding and rebellion. They had resisted Heaven’s grace, abused their privileges, and slighted their opportunities.” The Great Controversy, 19.
What was Israel’s response to the prophets God sent to her? Matthew 21:33–36; Matthew 23:29–35.
NOTE: “Grievously had the children of Israel ‘sinned against the Lord their God, . . . and wrought wicked things.’ ‘They would not hear, but . . . rejected His statutes, and His covenant that He made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He testified against them.’ It was because they had ‘left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal,’ and refused steadfastly to repent, that the Lord ‘afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight,’ in harmony with the plain warnings He had sent them ‘by all His servants the prophets.’” Prophets and Kings, 291.
“Because Ye Have Not Heard My words”
Because of their failure to fulfil His purpose, what did God allow to happen to His people? Amos 7:16, 17; Jeremiah 25:8–11.
NOTE: “The Lord graciously revealed Himself. He spread before Israel the things that were for the welfare of the nation. ‘I have written to him the great things of My law,’ He declared through Hosea, ‘but they were counted as a strange thing.’ ‘I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.’ Hosea 8:12; 11:3. Tenderly had the Lord dwelt with them, instructing them by His prophets line upon line, precept upon precept. Had Israel heeded the messages of the prophets, they would have been spared the humiliation that followed. It was because they had persisted in turning aside from His law that God was compelled to let them go into captivity. ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,’ was His message to them through Hosea. ‘Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee: . . . seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God.’ Hosea 4:6.” Prophets and Kings, 296, 297.
How did Daniel acknowledge the reason for the captivity? Daniel 9:5, 6.
NOTE: “The prophet Daniel was an example of true sanctification. His long life was filled up with noble service for his Master. He was a man ‘greatly beloved’ (Daniel 10:11) of Heaven. Yet instead of claiming to be pure and holy, this honored prophet identified himself with the really sinful of Israel as he pleaded before God in behalf of his people: ‘We do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousness, but for Thy great mercies.’ ‘We have sinned, we have done wickedly.’ He declares: ‘I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people.’” The Great Controversy, 470.
Whom especially did the Lord hold accountable for His people’s apostasy? Ezekiel 34:7–10.
NOTE: “The shepherds who lead the sheep in false paths will hear the charge made against them, ‘It was you who made light of truth. It was you who told us that God’s law was abrogated, that it was a yoke of bondage. . . . The blood of our souls is upon your priestly garments. . . . Now will you pay the ransom for my soul? . . . What shall we do who listened to your garbling of the Scriptures and your turning into a lie the truth which if obeyed would have saved us?’ When Christ comes to take vengeance on those who have educated and trained the people to trample on God’s Sabbath, to tear down His memorial, and tread down with their feet the feed of His pastures, lamentations will be in vain. Those who trusted in the false shepherds had the word of God to search for themselves, and they find that God will judge every man who has had the truth and turned from the light because it involved self-denial and the cross. Rocks and mountains cannot screen them from the indignation of Him that sitteth on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.” Maranatha, 290.
“As a Shepherd Seeketh Out His Flock”
What was God’s purpose in permitting the captivity of His people? Jeremiah 24:1–10.
NOTE: “Among the children of Israel who were carried captive to Babylon at the beginning of the seventy years’ captivity were Christian patriots, men who were as true as steel to principle, who would not be corrupted by selfishness, but who would honor God at the loss of all things. In the land of their captivity these men were to carry out God’s purpose by giving to heathen nations the blessings that come through a knowledge of Jehovah. They were to be His representatives. Never were they to compromise with idolaters; their faith and their name as worshipers of the living God they were to bear as a high honor. And this they did. In prosperity and adversity they honored God, and God honored them.” Prophets and Kings, 479.
What promise did the Lord make concerning those who would return from the captivity? Jeremiah 31:10, 31–33.
NOTE: “Humbled in the sight of the nations, those who once had been recognized as favored of Heaven above all other peoples of the earth were to learn in exile the lesson of obedience so necessary for their future happiness. Until they had learned this lesson, God could not do for them all that He desired to do. ‘I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished,’ He declared in explanation of His purpose to chastise them for their spiritual good. Jeremiah 30:11. Yet those who had been the object of His tender love were not forever set aside; before all the nations of earth He would demonstrate His plan to bring victory out of apparent defeat, to save rather than to destroy. To the prophet was given the message: [Jeremiah 31:10–14, 23–25, 31–34 quoted].” Prophets and Kings, 475.
“Seventy Weeks are Determined upon Thy People”
What period of probationary time did the Lord allocate to Israel? Daniel 9:24.
NOTE: “God gives nations a certain time of probation. He sends light and evidence, that, if received, will save them, but if refused as the Jews refused light, indignation and punishment will fall upon them. If men refuse to be benefited, and choose darkness rather than light, they will reap the results of their choice. ‘Behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.’ The professed Christian world is advancing, as did the Jewish nation, from one degree of sinfulness to a greater degree, refusing warning after warning, and rejecting a Thus saith the Lord, while crediting the fables of men. The Lord God will soon arise in His wrath, and pour out His judgments upon those who are repeating the sins of the inhabitants of the Noachic world. Those whose hearts are fully set in them to do evil, as were the hearts of the inhabitants of Sodom, will like them be destroyed. The fact that God had long forbearance, patience and mercy, the fact that His judgments have been long delayed, will not make the punishment any less severe when it does come.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1143, 1144.
How did Jesus prophesy the end of Israel’s probation? Matthew 21:43. Compare Matthew 23:37, 38.
NOTE: “Christ came to save Jerusalem with her children; but Pharisaical pride, hypocrisy, jealousy, and malice had prevented Him from accomplishing His purpose. Jesus knew the terrible retribution which would be visited upon the doomed city. He saw Jerusalem encompassed with armies, the besieged inhabitants driven to starvation and death, mothers feeding upon the dead bodies of their own children, and both parents and children snatching the last morsel of food from one another, natural affection being destroyed by the gnawing pangs of hunger. He saw that the stubbornness of the Jews, as evinced in their rejection of His salvation, would also lead them to refuse submission to the invading armies. He beheld Calvary, on which He was to be lifted up, set with crosses as thickly as forest trees. He saw the wretched inhabitants suffering torture on the rack and by crucifixion, the beautiful palaces destroyed, the temple in ruins, and of its massive walls not one stone left upon another, while the city was ploughed like a field. Well might the Saviour weep in agony in view of that fearful scene.” The Desire of Ages, 577.
“Lo, We Turn unto the Gentiles”
What events signalled the end of the probation of the Jewish people? Acts 7:57–59; Acts 9:1–6, 15; Acts 11:5–9, 15–17.
NOTE: “Then, said the angel, ‘He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seven years].’ For seven years after the Saviour entered on His ministry, the gospel was to be preached especially to the Jews; for three and a half years by Christ Himself; and afterward by the apostles. ‘In the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.’ Daniel 9:27. In the spring of A.D. 31, Christ the true sacrifice was offered on Calvary. Then the veil of the temple was rent in twain, showing that the sacredness and significance of the sacrificial service had departed. The time had come for the earthly sacrifice and oblation to cease. The one week—seven years—ended in A. D. 34. Then by the stoning of Stephen the Jews finally sealed their rejection of the gospel; the disciples who were scattered abroad by persecution ‘went everywhere preaching the word’ (Acts 8:4); and shortly after, Saul the persecutor was converted, and became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.” The Desire of Ages, 233.
What lesson may we learn from God’s rejection of the Jews as His chosen people? Romans 11:18–22.
NOTE: “The branches represent the believers in Jesus Christ. Those who truly believe, will do the same works that He did. They are united to Christ by the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. As the branch is nourished by the sap which flows from the parent stock, so the believer in Christ is sustained by the life of Christ. The branches represent the very youngest of the followers of Christ, as the branch includes all the tiny tendrils that belong to it. Jesus is our center. He is the parent stock that bears the branches. In Him our eternal life is centered. The words that He has spoken unto us are spirit and life, and those who feed upon His word, and are doers of His word, represent Him in character. His patience, meekness, humility, and love pervade their hearts.” Review and Herald, January 14, 1896.