A Corrupt Priesthood

July 21 – 27, 2024

Key Text

“Neither our kings nor our princes, our priests nor our fathers, have kept Your law, nor heeded Your commandments and Your testimonies, with which You testified against them.” Nehemiah 9:34

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 575–580

Introduction

“The example of those who minister in holy things should be such as to impress the people with reverence for God and with fear to offend Him. When men, standing ‘in Christ’s stead’ (2 Corinthians 5:20) to speak to the people God’s message of mercy and reconciliation, use their sacred calling as a cloak for selfish or sensual gratification, they make themselves the most effective agents of Satan. Like Hophni and Phinehas, they cause men to ‘abhor the offering of the Lord.’ ” Patriarchs and Prophets, 580

Sunday

1 THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL IN THE PROMISED LAND

1.a. Where did the Israelites set up their temporary headquarters after crossing the Jordan? Joshua 4:19; 5:10; 10:6

Note: “A short distance from Jordan the Hebrews made their first encampment in Canaan. Here Joshua ‘circumcised the children of Israel;’ ‘and the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover A form of godliness will not save any.’ ” Patriarchs and Prophets, 485

1.b. Where was the tabernacle set up after the Israelites had settled in the land of Canaan? Joshua 18:1

Note: “Heretofore Gilgal had been the headquarters of the nation and the seat of the tabernacle. But now the tabernacle was to be removed to the place chosen for its permanent location. This was Shiloh, a little town in the lot of Ephraim. It was near the center of the land, and was easy of access to all the tribes.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 514

Monday

2 A STATE OF ANARCHY

2.a. Describe Israel’s apostasy, starting with the priesthood, toward the end of the period of the Judges. See 1 Samuel 2:12, 17, 22. What effect did the high priest’s mild rebuke have on his sons? 1 Samuel 2:23–25.

Note: “The people stood in awe of the priests [Hophni and Phinehas], and submitted to their unlawful claims, robbing themselves of their rightful share of the offering. Thus, appetite, selfishness, and avarice triumphed, exerting their evil influence upon the people at the very time when every heart should have been directed in penitence and faith to the great Sacrifice which was to take away the sins of the world. These things had a telling influence upon the people, and they were fast losing all sense of the sacredness of the sacrificial offerings, and of the importance of attending upon the services of the sanctuary.

“The recreant priests added licentiousness to the dark catalogue of their crimes; yet they still polluted by their presence the tabernacle of the Lord, and, laden with sin, dared to come into the presence of a holy God. As the men of Israel witnessed the corrupt course of the priests, they thought it safer for their families not to come up to the appointed place of worship. Many went from Shiloh with their peace disturbed, their indignation aroused, until they at last determined to offer their sacrifices themselves, concluding that this would be fully as acceptable to God, as to sanction in any manner the abominations practiced in the sanctuary.” The Signs of the Times, December 1, 1881

2.b. What message did God send to Eli the high priest, how was the message regarded? 1 Samuel 2:27–29, 34, 35

Note: “Eli did not manifest the fruits of true repentance. He confessed his guilt, but failed to renounce the sin. Year after year the Lord delayed His threatened judgments. Much might have been done in those years to redeem the failures of the past, but the aged priest took no effective measures to correct the evils that were polluting the sanctuary of the Lord and leading thousands in Israel to ruin. The forbearance of God caused Hophni and Phinehas to harden their hearts and to become still bolder in transgression. The messages of warning and reproof to his house were made known by Eli to the whole nation. … But the warnings were disregarded by the people, as they had been by the priests.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 582

Tuesday

3 ELI HELD RESPONSIBLE

3.a. Through whom and how did God warn Eli the second time? See 1 Samuel 3:2-18

Note: “Eli was priest and judge in Israel. He held the highest and most responsible positions among the people of God. As a man divinely chosen for the sacred duties of the priesthood, and set over the land as the highest judicial authority, he was looked up to as an example, and he wielded a great influence over the tribes of Israel. But although he had been appointed to govern the people, he did not rule his own household. Eli was an indulgent father. Loving peace and ease, he did not exercise his authority to correct the evil habits and passions of his children. Rather than contend with them or punish them, he would submit to their will and give them their own way. Instead of regarding the education of his sons as one of the most important of his responsibilities, he treated the matter as of little consequence.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 575

3.b. Describe the differences between Eli and Abraham with regard to parental responsibility. Genesis 18:19 and 1 Samuel 2:30

Note: “Eli allowed his children to control him. The father became subject to the children. The curse of transgression was apparent in the corruption and evil that marked the course of his sons. They had no proper appreciation of the character of God or of the sacredness of His law. His service was to them a common thing. From childhood they had been accustomed to the sanctuary and its service; but instead of becoming more reverent, they had lost all sense of its holiness and significance.” Patriarchs and Prophets 575, 576

“In what striking contrast do the cases of Eli and Abraham stand! The example of one is given that parents may shun a similar course; the example of the other is given for parents to imitate. The characteristics of each stand out sharp and distinct. Each was doing a work the result of which would not only be seen in his own life, but would reach down to future generations, to his children, and to his children’s children. The influence that a person exerts in his own family is that which testifies of the genuineness of his religious experience.” The Review and Herald, May 4, 1886

Wednesday

4 A LESSON FOR TODAY

4.a. What will a wise father do if he loves his children? Proverbs 3:11, 12; 22:15. How will a son prove whether he is wise or foolish? Proverbs 10:1, 8; 13:1; 15:5, 20

Note: “Those who follow their own inclination, in blind affection for their children, indulging them in the gratification of their selfish desires, and do not bring to bear the authority of God to rebuke sin and correct evil, make it manifest that they are honoring their wicked children more than they honor God. They are more anxious to shield their reputation than to glorify God; more desirous to please their children than to please the Lord. …

“Those who have too little courage to reprove wrong, or who through indolence or lack of interest make no earnest effort to purify the family or the church of God, are held accountable for the evil that may result from their neglect of duty. We are just as responsible for evils that we might have checked in others by exercise of parental or pastoral authority as if the acts had been our own.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 578

4.b. How does the Bible emphasize the importance of receiving correction? Hebrews 12:5–8. How can we help those who are spiritually lame? Hebrews 12:13; Galatians 6:1

Note: “Many appear to be steadfast in the truth, firm, decided on every point of our faith; yet there is a great lack in them—the tenderness and love which marked the character of the great Pattern. If a brother errs from the truth, if he falls into temptation, they make no effort to restore him in meekness, considering themselves lest they also be tempted. They seem to regard it as their special work to climb upon the judgment seat and condemn and disfellowship. They do not obey God’s word, which says, ‘Ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness.’ The spirit of this passage is altogether too rare in our churches. It is the lack of it that shuts out the Spirit of God from the heart, from the home, from the church. Shall we not henceforth practice the Bible plan of restoring erring ones in the spirit of meekness? Shall we not have the spirit of Jesus, and work as He worked? …

“Treat with respect and deference even your most bitter enemies, who would injure you if they could.” The Review and Herald, December 16, 1884

Thursday

5 ISRAEL DEFEATED AND THE ARK TAKEN

5.a. What did the Israelites do when they were defeated by the Philistines?  1Samuel 4:1-4. What was the outcome? See 1 Samuel 5:1, 2 and 1 Samuel 4:10,11

Note: “The greater the knowledge of God’s will, the greater the sin of those who disregard it.

“The most terrifying calamity that could occur had befallen Israel. The ark of God had been captured and was in the possession of the enemy. The glory had indeed departed from Israel when the symbol of the abiding presence and power of Jehovah was removed from the midst of them.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 584

5.b. When a messenger came running to bring the sad news to Eli, how did the high priest and the people in Shiloh react? See 1 Samuel 4:12-18 

Note: “The thought that his [Eli’s] sin had thus dishonored God and caused Him to withdraw His presence from Israel was more than he could bear; his strength was gone, he fell, ‘and his neck brake, and he died.’ ” Patriarchs and Prophets, 585

5.c. How was that dreadful experience brought before the Israelites repeatedly, and for what purpose? Psalm 78:56–61; Jeremiah 7:12, 14

Note: “They [the children of men] refused to listen to the voice of God in His created works, and in the warnings, counsels, and reproofs of His word, and thus He was forced to speak to them through judgments.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 588

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1     Where did the Israelites establish their headquarters in the promised land, and to what place did they later move the sanctuary?

2     Describe the situation in Israel in the days of Eli the priest.

3     Why did God hold Eli responsible?

4     How does the Bible distinguish a right education from a wrong one?

5     What did God want to teach Israel through the tragic Shiloh event?

Copyright 2010, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

The Presence of God with His People

July 14 – 20, 2024

Key Text

“I will walk among you, and be your God, and you shall be My people.” Leviticus 26:12

Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 23, 24

Introduction

“By their apostasy the Israelites forfeited the blessing of the divine Presence, and for the time rendered impossible the erection of a sanctuary for God among them. But after they were again taken into favor with Heaven, the great leader proceeded to execute the divine command.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 343

Sunday

1 THE LOCATION OF THE TENT

1.a. The tabernacle, which stood in a court surrounded by a fence, was set up in the midst of the camp. Numbers 2:17. Why “in the midst”? Where was the presence of God manifested during the wilderness pilgrimage of His people? Leviticus 26:12; Deuteronomy 23:14

1.b.  Where is the presence of the Lord manifested today? Matthew 18:20; Ephesians 2:20–22

 

Note: “Through all their weary wandering in the desert, the symbol of His [God’s] presence was with them [His people]. So Christ set up His tabernacle in the midst of our human encampment. He pitched His tent by the side of the tents of men, that He might dwell among us, and make us familiar with His divine character and life.” The Desire of Ages, 23

“Wherever His word is obeyed with a sincere heart, there Christ abides. Not only is He present in the assemblies of the church, but wherever disciples, however few, meet in His name, there also He will be.” Ibid., 442

Monday

2 THE CONDITIONALITY OF GOD’S PROMISES

2.a. On what condition did God promise to be with His people in the past? See Exodus 19:5, 6 and 2 Chronicles 15:2

 

Note: “Either Israel must cease to be the people of God, or the principle upon which the monarchy was founded must be maintained, and the nation must be governed by a divine power. If Israel would be wholly the Lord’s, if the will of the human and earthly were held in subjection to the will of God, He would continue to be the Ruler of Israel. So long as the king and the people would conduct themselves as subordinate to God, so long He could be their defense. But in Israel no monarchy could prosper that did not in all things acknowledge the supreme authority of God. …

“We do not know what great interests may be at stake in the proving of God. There is no safety except in strict obedience to the word of God. All His promises are made upon condition of faith and obedience, and a failure to comply with His commands cuts off the fulfillment to us of the rich provisions of the Scriptures. We should not follow impulse, nor rely on the judgment of men; we should look to the revealed will of God and walk according to His definite commandment, no matter what circumstances may surround us. God will take care of the results; by faithfulness to His word we may in time of trial prove before men and angels that the Lord can trust us in difficult places to carry out His will, honor His name, and bless His people.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 621, 622

2.b. On what condition is Christ’s promise in Matthew 28:20 applicable today? See 2 Corinthians 6:16-18

 

Note: “It should be remembered that the promises and threatenings of God are alike conditional.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 67

“God’s promises are conditional. In order to make it possible for Him to bless us, we must do our part. We cannot expect that all His blessings will come to us naturally, if we fold our hands in inactivity. We are to be laborers together with God. It is our privilege and duty to labor for souls ready to perish.” Peter’s Counsel to Parents, 25

Tuesday

3 THE PILLAR OF CLOUD AND THE PILLAR OF FIRE

3.a. How did God show His presence with His people during their pilgrimage through the desert? Exodus 13:21, 22

 

Note: “Christ was the Leader of the children of Israel in their wilderness wanderings.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 287

“ ‘And the Lord went before them [the Israelites] by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.’ Says the psalmist, ‘He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.’ Psalm 105:39. See also 1 Corinthians 10:1, 2. The standard of their invisible Leader was ever with them. By day the cloud directed their journeyings or spread as a canopy above the host. It served as a protection from the burning heat, and by its coolness and moisture afforded grateful refreshment in the parched, thirsty desert. By night it became a pillar of fire, illuminating their encampment and constantly assuring them of the divine presence.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 282

3.b. How is this pillar of cloud and of fire also designed to be a comfort to God’s people in the last days? Isaiah 4:5, 6, margin

 

Note: “In one of the most beautiful and comforting passages of Isaiah’s prophecy, reference is made to the pillar of cloud and of fire to represent God’s care for His people in the great final struggle with the powers of evil: ‘The Lord will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for above all the glory shall be a covering. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.’ ” Patriarchs and Prophets, 283

3.c. Before the existence of the tabernacle, how did Christ speak to His servants? Give examples. Exodus 15:22–26; 19:9, 16

 

Note: “Christ had been the guide and teacher of ancient Israel, and He taught them that health is the reward of obedience to the laws of God. The Great Physician who healed the sick in Palestine had spoken to His people from the pillar of cloud, telling them what they must do, and what God would do for them.” The Desire of Ages, 824

Wednesday

4 LIGHT SHINING ALONG OUR PATH

4.a. In what sense are the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire moving before us today? See John 8:12 and 2 Corinthians 4:3–6

 

Note: “God has permitted light from His throne to shine all along the path of life. A pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night, is moving before us as before ancient Israel. It is the privilege of Christian parents today, as it was the privilege of God’s people of old, to bring their children with them to the Promised Land.” Child Guidance, 565

4.b.        Why will we be without excuse if we miss Heaven? John 1:4, 5, 10–12

 

Note: “Every soul has a heaven to win and a hell to shun. And the angelic agencies are all ready to come to the help of the tried and tempted soul. He, the Son of the infinite God, endured the test and trial in our behalf. The cross of Calvary stands vividly before every soul. When the cases of all are judged, and they [the lost] are delivered to suffer for their contempt for God and their disregard of His honor in their disobedience, not one will have an excuse, not one will need to have perished. It was left to their own choice who should be their prince, Christ or Satan. All the help Christ received, every man may receive in the great trial.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 96

4.c. How can we walk in the light of God’s presence? Hebrews 10:16–22

 

Note: “Our heavenly Father waits to bestow upon us the fullness of His blessing. It is our privilege to drink largely at the fountain of boundless love. What a wonder it is that we pray so little! … The children of earth, who need so much the help that God only can give, seem satisfied to walk without the light of His Spirit, the companionship of His presence.

“The darkness of the evil one encloses those who neglect to pray. The whispered temptations of the enemy entice them to sin; and it is all because they do not make use of the privileges that God has given them in the divine appointment of prayer. Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray, when prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence?” Steps to Christ, 94, 95

Thursday

5 THE VOICE OF GOD

5.a. What admonition did God address to the Israelites in the interest of their prosperity? Exodus 23:20–22

 

Note: “True reverence is revealed by obedience. God has commanded nothing that is unessential, and there is no other way of manifesting reverence so pleasing to Him as by obedience to that which He has spoken.” My Life Today, 284

5.b.        How does God speak to us today? Isaiah 30:21. How do the “ears” of our enlightened conscience hear His voice? John 16:13; Revelation 3:20; Hebrews 3:7, 8

 

Note: “Every warning, reproof, and entreaty in the word of God or through His messengers is a knock at the door of the heart. It is the voice of Jesus asking for entrance.” The Desire of Ages, 489, 490

“There are thousands upon thousands, millions upon millions, who are now making their decision for eternal life or eternal death.” Testimonies, Vol. 6, 406

“Few believe with heart and soul that we have a hell to shun and a heaven to win.” The Desire of Ages, 636

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1     Where and through whom do the Father and Son dwell on earth today?

2     What is the condition Jesus requires before He will dwell in us?

3     How did Christ make Himself visibly available to Israel in the desert?

4     How is God a pillar of cloud and of fire to us today?

5     Do you really believe you have “a heaven to win and a hell to shun”?

Copyright 2010, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Communication Between Heaven and Earth

July 7 – 13, 2024

Key Text

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” Hebrews 1:1, 2, first part

Study Help: The Story of Redemption, 48–51

Introduction

“After his [Adam’s] transgression, God would communicate to man through Christ and angels.” The Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 1, 53

Sunday

1 COMMUNICATION THROUGH CHRIST (examples)

1.a. How did Christ preach to “spirits in prison,” who were “dead” in sin (Isaiah 42:7 and Ephesians 2:1)? See 1 Peter 4:6 and 1 Peter 3:18–20

1.b. Who was the Messenger that spoke with Abraham after the other two heavenly messengers departed for Sodom? Genesis 18:2, 13, 17, 32, 33

 

 Note: “Two of the heavenly messengers departed, leaving Abraham alone with Him whom he now knew to be the Son of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 139

1.c. With whom did Jacob wrestle until he received the needed blessing in assurance of sins forgiven? Genesis 32:24–30

 

Note: “The struggle continued until near the break of day, when the stranger placed his finger upon Jacob’s thigh, and he was crippled instantly. The patriarch now discerned the character of his antagonist. He knew that he had been in conflict with a heavenly messenger, and this was why his almost superhuman effort had not gained the victory. It was Christ, ‘the Angel of the covenant,’ who had revealed Himself to Jacob.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 197

Monday

2 COMMUNICATION THROUGH CHRIST (more examples)

2.a. How did Christ reveal Himself to Moses? Exodus 3:1–6; Hebrews 11:24–27

 

Note: “Moses was full of confidence in God because he had appropriating faith. … He saw and acknowledged God in every detail of his life and felt that he was under the eye of the All-seeing One.” Testimonies, Vol. 5, 651, 65

2.b.  How did Christ reveal Himself to Joshua and Gideon? Joshua 5:13–15; Judges 6:19–24

2.c. How did Christ reveal Himself to Saul, later called Paul? Acts 9:1–6

 

Note: “In the glorious Being who stood before him, he [Saul] saw the Crucified One.” The Acts of the Apostles, 115

2.d.  How is Christ revealed to us today? John 5:39; 17:17

 

Note: “Jesus has enjoined upon all to search the Scriptures. Let the ingenious inquirer, and the one who would know for himself what is truth, exert his mental powers to search out the truth as it is in Jesus. Any neglect here is at the peril of the soul. We must know individually the prescribed conditions of entering into eternal life. We must know what is the voice of God, that we may live by every word that proceeds out of His mouth. We cannot allow these questions to be settled for us by another’s mind, or another’s judgment. We must search the Scriptures carefully with a heart open to the reception of light and the evidences of truth. We cannot trust the salvation of our souls to ministers, to idle traditions, to human authorities, or to pretensions. We must know for ourselves what God has said. We are laborers together with God, and we want to know, and must know, what conditions are resting upon those who are to be heirs of salvation, or we shall die in our sins. It is not to be our study as to what may be the opinion of men, or of popular faith, or what the Fathers have said. We cannot trust to the voice of the multitude, but we want to know what is the voice of God, what is His revealed will. He has left us His own statements, and we must search for the truth as for hidden treasures.” The Review and Herald, March 8, 1887

Tuesday

3 COMMUNICATION THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT

3.a. What evidence shows that God has communicated with His servants through the Holy Spirit? Acts 13:2; 15:28; 16:7; 21:4

 

Note: “By the plan of redemption, however, a way has been opened whereby the inhabitants of the earth may still have connection with heaven. God has communicated with men by His Spirit, and divine light has been imparted to the world by revelations to His chosen servants.” The Great Controversy (1888), p. v.

3.b.  Narrate the vision in which the apostle Peter saw a sheet filled with four-footed beasts. Who spoke to him on that occasion? Acts 10:11–15, 19, 28; 11:7–12

 

Note: “He [Peter] recounted his vision, in which God had presented before him a sheet filled with all manner of four-footed beasts.” The Acts of the Apostles, 193

3.c. Through whom has God given revelations to His servants, the prophets? See 2 Peter 1:21 and Hebrews 1:1

3.d. What is essential in order to have an effective understanding of the word of God? See Proverbs 1:23; John 7:17 and 1 Corinthians 14:15

 

Note: “God’s Spirit has illuminated every page of Holy Writ. … The Holy Spirit, shining upon the sacred page, will open our understanding, that we may know what is truth.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 112

“We receive Christ through His word, and the Holy Spirit is given to open the word of God to our understanding, and bring home its truths to our hearts. We are to pray day by day that as we read His word, God will send His Spirit to reveal to us the truth that will strengthen our souls for the day’s need.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 112, 113

“The words of inspiration, pondered in the heart, will be as streams flowing from the river of the water of life. Our Saviour prayed that the minds of the disciples might be opened to understand the Scriptures. And whenever we study the Bible with a prayerful heart, the Holy Spirit is near to open to us the meaning of the words we read.” Our High Calling, 205

Wednesday

4 COMMUNICATION THROUGH ANGELS

4.a. Give examples of heavenly angels communicating with human beings.

From the Old Testament: Genesis 16:7–11; 19:1; and 1 Kings 19:5–7

From the New Testament: Luke 1:11–13, 28–30; Matthew 28:5; Acts 12:7–11

 

Note: “Angels are sent on missions of mercy to the children of God. … Holy angels have, in all ages, ministered to God’s people.” The Great Controversy, 512

“Not until the providences of God are seen in the light of eternity shall we understand what we owe to the care and interposition of His angels. Celestial beings have taken an active part in the affairs of men. They have appeared in garments that shone as the lightning; they have come as men, in the garb of wayfarers. They have accepted the hospitalities of human homes; they have acted as guides to benighted travelers. They have thwarted the spoiler’s purpose and turned aside the stroke of the destroyer.

“Though the rulers of this world know it not, yet often in their councils angels have been spokesmen. Human eyes have looked upon them. Human ears have listened to their appeals. In the council hall and the court of justice, heavenly messengers have pleaded the cause of the persecuted and oppressed. They have defeated purposes and arrested evils that would have brought wrong and suffering to God’s children.” Education, 304, 305

4.b. What are we told about the ministry of God’s angels? Hebrews 1:13, 14; 13:2

 

Note: “[In the school of the hereafter] every redeemed one will understand the ministry of angels in his own life. The angel who was his guardian from his earliest moment; the angel who watched his steps, and covered his head in the day of peril; the angel who was with him in the valley of the shadow of death, who marked his resting place, who was the first to greet him in the resurrection morning—what will it be to hold converse with him, and to learn the history of divine interposition in the individual life, of heavenly cooperation in every work for humanity!” Education, 305

Thursday

5 COMMUNICATION THROUGH THE SANCTUARY

5.a. How did God often make known His will through the Urim (meaning “lights”) and Thummim (meaning “perfection” or “completeness”)? Exodus 28:30; Deuteronomy 33:8

 

Note: “At the right and left of the breastplate were two large stones of great brilliancy. These were known as the Urim and Thummim. By them the will of God was made known through the high priest. When questions were brought for decision before the Lord, a halo of light encircling the precious stone at the right was a token of the divine consent or approval, while a cloud shadowing the stone at the left was an evidence of denial or disapprobation.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 351

5.b.        Where, how, and when was the voice of God often heard speaking to the high priest? Exodus 25:22; 29:42, 43; Leviticus 1:1; Numbers 12:5

 

Note: “When the high priest entered within the most holy, once a year, and ministered before the ark in the awful presence of God, he inquired, and God often answered him with an audible voice. When the Lord did not answer by a voice, He let the sacred beams of light and glory rest upon the cherubim upon the right of the ark, in approbation, or favor. If their requests were refused, a cloud rested upon the cherubim at the left.” The Story of Redemption, 184

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1     Give examples of how God spoke with the patriarchs.

2     Give examples of how God spoke with the prophets.

3     What is a more common way to “hear” God?

4     What role have the angels had in God’s communication with us?

5     How did God communicate anciently with His people through the sanctuary?

Copyright 2010, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

The Gospel Before the Cross

Light For Today From the Sanctuary Service

June 30 – July 6, 2024

Key Text

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16, first part

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 366–371

Introduction

“Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses understood the gospel. They looked for salvation through man’s Substitute and Surety.” That I May Know Him, 102

Sunday

1 IN THE DAYS OF OUR FIRST PARENTS

1.a. What fact proves that Abel had the gospel? Genesis 4:4; Hebrews 11:4

Note: “Abel grasped the great principles of redemption. He saw himself a sinner, and he saw sin and its penalty, death, standing between his soul and communion with God. He brought the slain victim, the sacrificed life, thus acknowledging the claims of the law that had been transgressed. Through the shed blood he looked to the future sacrifice, Christ dying on the cross of Calvary.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 72

1.b.        When each father was the priest of his household, how was the knowledge of the gospel preserved? Give examples. Genesis 8:20; 12:8; 35:6, 7

Note: “The sins of the people were transferred in figure to the officiating priest, who was a mediator for the people. The priest could not himself become an offering for sin, and make an atonement with his life, for he was also a sinner. Therefore, instead of suffering death himself, he killed a lamb without blemish; the penalty of sin was transferred to the innocent beast, which thus became his immediate substitute, and typified the perfect offering of Jesus Christ.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 230

Monday

2 IN THE DAYS OF THE PATRIARCHS

2.a. How well did Abraham understand the gospel? Galatians 3:8, 16

Note: “Christ was as much man’s Redeemer in the beginning of the world as He is today. Before He clothed His divinity with humanity and came to our world, the gospel message was given by Adam, Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, and Noah. Abraham in Canaan and Lot in Sodom bore the message, and from generation to generation faithful messengers proclaimed the Coming One.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 126

2.b.        How was Abraham accounted righteous before God? Romans 4:1–3; 3:20; Galatians 3:6, 11

Note: “If man cannot, by any of his good works, merit salvation, then it must be wholly of grace, received by man as a sinner because he receives and believes in Jesus. It is wholly a free gift.” Faith and Works, 20

2.c. How can a sinner be accounted righteous today? Ephesians 2:8, 9; Galatians 2:16, 21; 5:6

Note: “By faith he [the sinner] can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner’s account. Christ’s righteousness is accepted in place of man’s failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. This is how faith is accounted righteousness.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 367

“There is no such contrast as is often claimed to exist between the Old and the New Testament, the law of God and the gospel of Christ, the requirements of the Jewish and those of the Christian dispensation. Every soul saved in the former dispensation was saved by Christ as verily as we are saved by Him today.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, 1061

“There is hope for us only as we come under the Abrahamic covenant, which is the covenant of grace by faith in Christ Jesus. The gospel preached to Abraham, through which he had hope, was the same gospel that is preached to us today, through which we have hope. Abraham looked unto Jesus, who is also the Author and the Finisher of our faith” Ibid., 1077

Tuesday

3 MIXING OUR HEARING WITH FAITH

3.a. Although the gospel was preached to Israel, why did it not profit them? How is this a lesson for us? Romans 9:30–32; Hebrews 4:2

Note: “Our hearing of the word must be mixed with faith in order for that which we hear to be of any profit to us. We must hear in faith.

“We need, O so much, the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. We are warned not to act carelessly, indifferently, independently of God, but to act in humility of mind, that the preaching of the word may bring us profit.” The Southern Watchman, March 1, 1904

“Satan will put everything possible in operation to divert the mind, and occupy it with erring thoughts; but if your hearts are cleansed from all defilement, the word you hear will be mixed with faith.” The Youth’s Instructor, September 1, 1898

3.b.        What was the consequence of Israel’s unbelief in the gospel? Hebrews 3:18, 19

Note: “God did not design that His people, Israel, should wander forty years in the wilderness. He promised to lead them directly to the land of Canaan and establish them there a holy, healthy, happy people. But those to whom it was first preached, went not in ‘because of unbelief.’ Their hearts were filled with murmuring, rebellion, and hatred, and He could not fulfill His covenant with them.

“For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. … It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord’s professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years.” Evangelism, 696

3.c. What is the cure for this problem of unbelief? Romans 6:8–13; 1 John 1:7

Note: “For Christ’s sake, let those that live in the last days of this world’s history walk in the light.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 20, 3, 4

Wednesday

4 A SELF-RIGHTEOUS REJECTION OF CHRIST

4.a. How was the Israelites’ unbelief revealed in their actions? Hebrews 3:8–10; Psalm 78:5–11; Acts 7:53

4.b. How did the Jews try, in vain, to obtain righteousness? Why did they fail? Romans 9:31, 32; 10:3; John 15:5

Note: “While the law is holy, the Jews could not attain righteousness by their own efforts to keep the law.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 54

“They [the Jews] were satisfied with a legal religion, and it was impossible for them to give to others the living truths of heaven. They thought their own righteousness all-sufficient, and did not desire that a new element should be brought into their religion. The good will of God to men they did not accept as something apart from themselves, but connected it with their own merit because of their good works. The faith that works by love and purifies the soul could find no place for union with the religion of the Pharisees, made up of ceremonies and the injunctions of men.” The Acts of the Apostles, 15

4.c. What attitude of Paul can help us in this regard? Philippians 3:4–10

Note: “We shall not have our own righteousness, it is worthless. It is of no use to go about to establish our own righteousness, for we have none to establish.

“We are not to cheapen the work by centering our thoughts upon ourselves. Think just as little upon yourself as possible. Think evil of no man. Christ’s followers must walk in the light of His glorious example, and at whatever cost or labor or suffering, must maintain the purity of the soul and spirit through the grace of Christ, yielding complete allegiance to the reformatory doctrines of the gospel of Christ, without mingling self with the work. Keep self subdued, and keep Jesus ever lifted up, and push the triumphs of the cross of Christ.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 969

“A form of godliness will not save any. All must have a deep and living experience. This alone will save them in the time of trouble.” Testimonies, Vol. 1, 125

Thursday

5 THE ERRONEOUS SO-CALLED LAWLESS GOSPEL

5.a. How did Jesus warn His followers against a modern-day deception? Matthew 5:17–20; 7:21–23; 15:3, 7–9

Note: “Sinners will never enter the abode of bliss. The commandment breaker, and all who unite with him in teaching that it makes no difference whether men break or observe the divine law, will by the universe of heaven be called least among the human agencies. For not only have they been disloyal themselves, but they have taught others to break the law of God. Christ pronounces judgment upon those who claim to have a knowledge of the law, but who, by precept and example, lead souls into confusion and darkness.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, 1085

5.b.How did the apostle Paul show the difference between the disobedient Jews and the obedient Gentile converts? Romans 2:13–24; 3:31; 8:1–4, 7

Note: “Faith is essential in order [to keep] the law of God; for ‘without faith it is impossible to please Him.’ And ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’ Hebrews 11:6; Romans 14:23.” The Great Controversy, 436

“The gospel of good news was not to be interpreted as allowing men to live in continued rebellion against God by transgressing His just and holy law.” The Review and Herald, September 21, 1886

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1     How was the gospel preached before Abraham?

2     What made Abraham righteous?

3     Why did the Jews have to wander forty years in the wilderness instead of being led directly to Canaan?

4     With what did the Jews replace salvation?

5     What is the opposite modern doctrine that is offered in place of salvation?

 

Copyright 2010, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Recipe – Potato Patties

Gluten – No Grain, No Pain

Gluten is a naturally-occurring protein found in wheat and certain other cereal grains (barley, rye, and triticale). This protein gives grain-based foods their soft, chewy texture. There is nothing inherently unhealthy about gluten. In bread, for example, this protein forms an elastic network that allows the dough to stretch and trap gas, which then allows the bread to rise and retain moisture. Because of these properties, gluten is often added to processed grain-based foods (pasta, cookies, meat substitutes, soy sauce, salad dressings, gravies thickened with flour, and bouillon).

Protease is a digestive enzyme in the human body that breaks down the food we consume. However, it can’t completely break down gluten. The undigested gluten makes its way into the small intestines, and for most people, that’s no problem. But there is a small percentage (less than 1%) of people in whom this undigested gluten triggers a severe autoimmune response or other unpleasant symptoms.

Some people who do not have celiac disease but may have a sensitive gut, after eating foods containing gluten, may experience bloating, diarrhea, headaches, and skin rashes. This could actually be a reaction to poorly digested carbohydrates, not just gluten.

Celiac disease is a long-term autoimmune disorder caused by an immune reaction to eating gluten. The disease damages the lining of the small intestine, causing diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating, and anemia, if gluten is not removed from the diet. This prevents the small intestine from absorbing nutrients (malabsorption), negatively impacting the growth and development in children.

The best way to control celiac disease is to follow a strict gluten-free diet, but there are also other treatments available that can help manage the condition.

Sources: healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-gluten#gluten-free-labeling; hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/what-is-gluten-and-what-does-it-do; mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/symptoms-causes

Recipe – Potato Patties

Ingredients

1 c. brown rice, cooked

½ c. onion, diced

½ c. celery, minced

2 c. raw potato, shredded

½ c. Brazil nuts, chopped

2 Tbs. ground flax seeds

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 Tbs. yeast flakes

2 Tbs. Braggs aminos

1 Tbs. onion powder

1 Tbs. McKay’s beef flavor

Process

Cook rice according to directions. Sauté onion and celery until tender. Combine with rest of ingredients; shape into patties. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, flip and bake for additional 10 minutes.

Jesus Saves to the Uttermost

Our ongoing study of the mystery of godliness as outlined in Hebrews 2:14–18 has introduced us to one of the most profound mysteries of the Christian religion. We have seen that the children described as “partakers of flesh and blood” are those whom Christ is not ashamed to call His brethren, those He has sanctified through His word, which is represented by His flesh and blood (John 6). He has made us His brethren. As our merciful and faithful High Priest, He is making “reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Because He suffered being tempted as we are tempted, He is able to help us.

Sanctification is a key element in these verses. Jesus partook of the same flesh and blood when His mother taught Him the very words that He had spoken to Moses. This sheds light on what Jesus meant when He said, “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” John 17:19. Jesus gained knowledge as every child may gain knowledge. As the children are partakers of His word, they’re adopted into the family of God. Having the same Father as Christ, we are called Christ’s children of one Father, Christ’s brothers and sisters.

You and I are not born sons of God; we are born sons of Adam, and therefore have the fallen nature Adam acquired when he sinned. We must understand that there is only One who is the Son of God. For us to be sons and daughters of God, it must be by adoption. “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4:4–7

“A complete offering has been made; for ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son’—not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father’s person, and in all the brightness of His majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” The Signs of the Times, May 30, 1895

To summarize our review:

  1. The law is the only correct standard of sanctification.
  2. Christ was the embodiment of the law of God.
  3. He began life with a sanctified will.
  4. Daily He died to His divinity while living the life of humanity on this Earth. In other words, a) In His humanity, Jesus was still God; b) In His humanity, He retained His divine power; but c) He never used His divine power to relieve His own human needs, wants, or sufferings. This was the very point on which the devil tried to tempt Him.
  5. True sanctification is a progressive work that goes on in the heart of an individual who dies daily to self in obedience to God’s law.

Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63. The eating of Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood means to spiritually consume His word, but if we do not spiritually eat His flesh and drink His blood, then we will have no spiritual life. As His children spiritually partake of His flesh and blood, there is also a physical, literal meaning, and that is what we will study now.

Jesus Christ took literal flesh and blood, the same literal flesh and blood as His sanctified brethren, and suffered being tempted. “Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.’ ” Hebrews 10:5

“We should consider the fact that to Christ our nature was a robe of humiliation and suffering. He humbled Himself to become a man, so that a body should be found, a Lamb without blemish should be provided as a sinless offering, that God might be just and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” The Signs of the Times, June 18, 1896

“He humbled Himself and took mortality upon Him. As a member of the human family He was mortal, but as a God He was the fountain of life to the world.” The Review and Herald, July 5, 1887

So Jesus took upon Himself the mortal body of man so that He could suffer a most cruel and humiliating death for every man.

The apostle John testifies, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. Look carefully at this verse. The first part of the verse is referring to the physical nature of Christ–His flesh, His body. The second part of the verse is addressing His mental and spiritual nature–His glory, His character.

Ellen White links John 1:14 to the wilderness sanctuary, the same sanctuary that God commanded them to build in Exodus 25:8. She typically quotes from the King James Version when linking these two verses. But in The Desire of Ages, she quotes from the Revised Version. It is a fact that Ellen White quotes from the Revised Version many times.

“God commanded Moses for Israel, ‘Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them’ (Exodus 25:8), and He abode in the sanctuary, in the midst of His people. Through all their weary wandering in the desert, the symbol of His presence was with them. So Christ set up His tabernacle in the midst of our human encampment. He pitched His tent by the side of the tents of men, that He might dwell among us, and make us familiar with His divine character and life. ‘The Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of the Only Begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth.’ John 1:14, R. V., margin.” The Desire of Ages, 23, 24

“The doctrine of the incarnation of Christ in human flesh is a mystery, ‘even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations.’ It is the great and profound mystery of godliness. ‘The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.’ Christ took upon Himself human nature, a nature inferior to His heavenly nature.” Lift Him Up, 74

The sanctuary of the Old Testament was a symbol of the humanity, the human nature, of Christ. There was a difference between the tent of the sanctuary and the tents of the children of Israel. Understanding this difference sheds much light on the difference between His humanity—the tabernacle of the only begotten Son of God—and the tents of men. When Jesus tabernacled among us His tent was full of grace and we beheld His glory. How was His grace and glory represented in the sanctuary that God commanded Moses to build? “In the tabernacle and the temple His glory dwelt in the holy shekinah above the mercy seat.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 288. His glory dwelt in the holy shekinah above the mercy seat in the most holy place of the sanctuary.

The glory of God is His character. So what does the holy shekinah represent? “The shekinah, the visible emblem of God’s presence, dwelt between the cherubim, and out of the perfection of beauty God shined.” Christ Triumphant, 154. The holy shekinah, located above the mercy seat, was the visible representation of God’s presence. What does the mercy seat represent? “He longs to see gratitude welling up in our hearts because we have access to the mercy seat, the throne of grace, because our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, because we may cast all our care on Him who cares for us.” Australasian Union Conference Record, June 1, 1900

God’s glory represented by the shekinah rested upon the mercy seat, the representation of His throne of grace.

“In the temple in heaven, the dwelling place of God, His throne is established in righteousness and judgment. In the most holy place is His law, the great rule of right by which all mankind are tested.” The Great Controversy, 415. Here Mrs. White is speaking of the temple in heaven—the pattern followed by Moses in building the earthly sanctuary. Notice two important points regarding the temple in heaven:

  1. The place where God dwells is called His throne.
  2. In this place, His law is kept and is called the most holy place.

There is a connection between the shekinah and the humanity of Christ.

“The shekinah had departed from the sanctuary, but in the Child of Bethlehem was veiled the glory before which angels bow.” The Desire of Ages, 52. The shekinah glory represented the glory of God’s presence that was veiled in Jesus.

“Christ was about to visit our world, and to become incarnate [in the flesh]. He says, ‘A body hast Thou prepared Me.’ Had He appeared with the glory that was His with the Father before the world was, we could not have endured the light of His presence. That we might behold it and not be destroyed, the manifestation of His glory was shrouded. His divinity was veiled with humanity.” Ibid., 23

The veil with which Christ’s glory was veiled was so good that most people did not know who He was. You can see that very clearly in the Bible. “His divinity was veiled with humanity—the invisible glory in the visible human form.” Ibid.

The invisible glory of God was contained and veiled in the human form of Jesus Christ. “… God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:19, first part

The glory of God is also spoken of as His divinity. “The glory of God is His character, and it is manifested to us in Christ.” Sabbath-School Worker, July 1, 1894

“The law of God is a transcript of His character; it portrays the nature of God. As in Christ we behold the brightness of His glory, the express image of His person, so also in the law the attributes of the Father are unfolded.” The Signs of the Times, December 30, 1889

“He [Christ] was the embodiment of the law of God, which is the transcript of His character.” Ibid., November 15, 1899Let’s summarize what we’ve just studied:

  1. The glory of God is His character.
  2. The law of God is a transcript of His character.
  3. Christ was the embodiment of the law.
  4. The holy shekinah represented the glory, that is, the divine character of Christ.
  5. His human nature veiled the shekinah glory that was in the most holy place.
  6. All of this represented the throne of His heart. Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do Your will, O my God. And, Your law is within my heart.”

“He had not taken on Him even the nature of the angels.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 16, 182. Why do the apostle Paul and Mrs. White both tell us that Jesus did not take the nature of angels? “Angels are in nature superior to men.” The Great Controversy, 511. The psalmist says that man was made a little lower than the angels. “He had not taken on Him even the nature of the angels, but humanity, perfectly identical with our own nature, except without the taint of sin. A human body, a human mind, with all the peculiar properties, He was bone, brain, and muscle. A man of our flesh.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 16, 182. Notice that in this context Inspiration uses the word flesh in relation to the physical nature of man. It mentions bone, brain, and muscle, but it is not talking about the carnal mind of man. He was a “man of our flesh, He was compassed with the weakness of humanity.” Ibid. The word compassed means “surrounded.” He was surrounded by the weakness of humanity.

What were the weaknesses with which He was surrounded? “The circumstances of His life were of that character that He was exposed to all the inconveniences that belong to men, not in wealth [the foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man does not have where to lay His head Matthew 8:20], not in ease [Jesus traveled everywhere on foot], but in poverty [He at times was hungry with not enough to eat] and want and humiliation. He breathed the very air man must breathe. He trod our earth as man. He had reason, conscience, memory, will, and affections of the human soul which was united with His divine nature.” Ibid. Jesus suffered with the same weaknesses of humanity that we do—the inconveniences of poverty, want, and humiliation.

“Christ did not make-believe take human nature; He did verily [certainly] take it. He did in reality possess human nature. ‘As the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same.’ He was the son of Mary; He was of the seed of David according to human descent. He is declared to be a man, even the Man Christ Jesus. ‘This One,’ writes Paul, ‘was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house.’ ” The Review and Herald, April 5, 1906

So Jesus did not pretend to be human. He did, in fact, take upon Himself our human nature. He had a real human body with all its peculiar properties. He was a man of our flesh. The word flesh in this context is referring to the physical nature of man, including a body with the senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste—bone of our bone, muscle, and sinew. But He also possessed a human mind with the attendant ability to reason, a conscience, memory, human affections, and a human will.

“We have reason, conscience, memory, will, affections—all the attributes a human being can possess.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 130. These attributes are all powers of the mind. Concerning Jesus, Mrs. White said, “He employed the human faculties, for only [by] adopting these could He be comprehended by humanity.” The Review and Herald, June 25, 1895

The word faculty has three definitions according to the dictionary:

  1. the power of the mind or intellect which enables a person to receive, revive, or modify perceptions. It includes the faculty of seeing, hearing, imagining, and remembering. The faculties may be called the powers or capacities of the mind.
  2. the power to do anything; in other words, ability.
  3. the power to perform any action—natural, vital, or animal.

So a faculty is the power to do something, be it of the body or the mind, and Jesus employed both the human body and the mind. “Only humanity could reach humanity. He lived out the character of God through the human body which God had prepared for Him. He blessed the world by living out in human flesh the life of God.” Ibid.

God wants to live out the divine character in our flesh. And once we understand that then we will be very close to understanding the plan of salvation and why Jesus came to this world. “He blessed the world by living out in human flesh the life of God, thus showing that He had the power to unite humanity to divinity.” Ibid.

“Christ became one flesh with us, in order that we might become one spirit with Him.” The Desire of Ages, 388. If we want to be part of God’s kingdom, then we must have a personal relationship with Christ, His Spirit must be dwelling in our hearts, and our sinful, selfish nature must be replaced with Christ’s perfect nature—the joining of the divine with the human.

Jesus lived out the thoughts and feelings of God in human flesh. He lived so that man could see the character of God expressed in human flesh. “The body is a most important medium through which the mind and the soul are developed for the upbuilding of character.” Prophets and Kings, 488. Jesus has the power to unite divinity with humanity, and this was the purpose of His life. “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” John 17:19

Jesus stands ready to complete this work in every person who is willing to be sanctified. But a person might say that there is no way that they can overcome or live the Christian life. Again and again, he might say, “I can’t. I just can’t.” And this person would be right, except that Jesus says that He will sanctify anyone who comes to Him. No matter how much trouble you may have in your life or how bad you feel you may be, Jesus is stronger than all of that. He says, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” Not even you. Not even me. He will save us, if we will just let Him.

Remember the story of the rich, young ruler? Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Matthew 19:21. What did the young man do? He turned and walked away. To His disciples, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Verses 23, 24

The disciples were shocked. “Who then can be saved?” they asked. If you are discouraged, in trouble, if you think you cannot be saved, or that you have so many problems in your life that you just don’t know how you will ever get through or over or around them, remember Jesus’ reply to the disciples’ question: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Verse 26

Don’t let the devil tell you that you cannot be saved, that you are too sinful, that you’ve done too many terrible things, or that you are not capable, because it doesn’t matter how bad your past may be, what sins you have committed, or how weak you are; Jesus can change all of that. He came to this world to make a way to offer you forgiveness and take away the guilt from your life, but more than that, He came to unite Himself with you, and then, through His power and grace, nothing will be impossible for you.

Friend, don’t let Satan discourage you. You can be saved. You can be in the kingdom of heaven. You have an all-powerful Mediator who promises, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6:37. United together with Jesus there is no such thing as defeat. Jesus will save you. Surrender today to Him who is able to save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). Let the miracle begin in your life right now.

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at 316-788-5559.

The Mighty Microbiome

The topic covered in this article was not even discussed when I first went to college—decades ago—and little was known about it. The study of what is now known as the human microbiome can be traced as far back as the work of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1623-1723). Intense interest resurged in 2007 with the Human Microbiome Project. Most of the research has occurred in the last 17 years, but has become more popular in the last 10 years.

So what is the human microbiome?

The complex scientific definition – Human microbiome, the full array of microorganisms (the microbiota) that live on and in humans and, more specifically, the collection of microbial genomes that contribute to the broader genetic portrait, or metagenome, of a human. The genomes that constitute the human microbiome represent a remarkably diverse array of microorganisms that includes bacteria, archaea (primitive single-celled organisms), fungi, and even some protozoans and nonliving viruses.

A less complex definition – the full complement of microbes and their genes and genomes in or on the human body.

The simple definition – a bustling community of microbes within your body that significantly influences your overall wellbeing.

Bacteria are by far the most numerous members of the human microbiome—estimated at between 75 trillion and 200 trillion individual organisms—while the entire human body consists of about 50 trillion to 100 trillion body cells. The sheer microbial abundance suggests that the human body is in fact a “supraorganism,” a collection of human and microbial cells and genes and thus a blend of human and microbial traits.

Did You Know? Over half of the cells in your body are not even human cells. If collected together and weighed, the non-human cells would weigh over four pounds.

These microbial cells, microbiota, are found on the body and in body orifices with the largest number being in the nose and nasal passages, in the mouth, the gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract and the genital areas. The area that contains the largest amount of microbiota is the intestinal area, especially the large intestine. Five hundred to 1,000 different species of bacteria live in the intestine, totaling at least 38 trillion cells. These gut bacteria are also known as the gut flora. It has been said by some that if you are going to focus on one aspect of health, work on gut health.

Scientists are only just beginning to understand what these microbes do, how they function, and how they can be manipulated to benefit human health. Research on the human microbiome has benefited tremendously from other recent advances in microbiology, not the least of which is a growing recognition that the vast microbial diversity exists.

So why is the human microbiome so important? It interacts with almost every body system. In fact, the gut microbiome has been called the “second brain” because it interacts so closely with our brain, brain chemistry, and its many functions.

The microbiome is very active in the metabolism of our food. Chronic and infectious disease risks are also affected by our microbiome. The gut also is intimately connected to our immune system with about 70% to 80% of the immune system being in the gut. We also know that our microbiome has effects on our mood and behavior. Digestion, sleep, and cardiovascular health are also closely linked to the microbiome, emphasizing its importance in maintaining a healthy, living human. The microbiome can potentially prevent or help fight some forms of cancer, and may help prevent or treat some forms of dementia.

Therefore, prioritizing the well-being of our microbiome is a crucial step toward achieving overall health and vitality, and will be the subject of a future article.

Sources: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK154100; britannica.com/science/human-microbiome#Overview

Redback Spider

I’m not exactly sure why I’m writing about spiders since I really don’t care for them, but I was intrigued when I read a recent story about a couple who bought a box of grapes at a grocery store on the border between Queensland and New South Wales, and brought a little something extra home.

The redback spider, a cousin of the black widow (hence its oft-used moniker, “the Australian black widow”), is one of the deadliest spiders in the world. Only the females are deadly, but they prefer to remain in their funnel-shaped webs. The bite of a male redback generally is only painful at the site of the bite. As deadly as the female redback can be, there hasn’t been a reported death from the species since 1979, thanks to an effective anti-venom introduced to Australia in 1956. Most redback spider bites occur during the summer months, when the arachnid is most active. The Australian Museum reports that approximately 250 serious bites requiring anti-venom treatment occur each year.

DID YOU KNOW? Dogs have a greater resistance to their venom, but cats, horses, Guinea pigs, and camels will most likely require anti-venom.

The body of an adult female redback is less than a half inch long. Her legs are slender, but the two front legs are longer than the other six. Her abdomen is round, deep black with a red longitudinal stripe on the upper surface and the familiar red hourglass on the underside. Juvenile females may also have white markings on the abdomen. They have two venom glands, one attached to each of its chelicerae (fangs).

The body of an adult male redback is significantly smaller than the female, measuring around a quarter of an inch long or a bit longer. He is light brown and has white markings on the upper side of his abdomen and a pale hourglass on the underside.

Redbacks prefer a drier habitat found in trash cans or sheds, outhouses, or under rocks, logs, tree hollows, and shrubs. They eat bigger spiders, like the trapdoor spider, crickets (the only reason I might like spiders), small lizards, and even an occasional snake.

The redback is nocturnal. Females stay concealed during the day, and then come out to spin their webs during the night. They usually remain in the same location for most of their adult life. Their webs are an irregular-looking tangle of fine but strong silk, and while the threads may seem random, they are strategically placed to support and entrap prey. The rear portion of the web forms a funnel-like retreat where she spends a lot of her time and where she leaves the egg sac.

Once alerted to some hapless creature’s frantic efforts to free itself from the web, the female redback approaches and sprays its dinner with a liquid glutinous silk to immobilize it. Once her meal is secure, she bites it multiple times on the head, body, and leg joints—liquefying its innards. She then wraps it in silk and takes it to her retreat at the rear of the web where she feeds on it over time.

Female redbacks live two to three years, while the males only live six to seven months. Neither can tolerate temperatures from below freezing to 104°F, but they need temperatures from 59°F to 77°F for a couple of months in order to breed.

Spiderlings live with their mom in her web for several days, then they catch a ride on the wind to establish a home of their own. They follow the light and climb out of the tunnel retreat to a high point like on rocks or logs. By extending their abdomens high into the air, they produce a droplet of silk which is drawn out into a long gossamer thread, and when long enough, the wind catches it and carries the spider away. This is known as ballooning or kiting. Soon the thread will catch on an object, and this is where, after falling to the ground, the spiderling will establish its own web.

BUT DID YOU KNOW? As spiderlings, they also eat each other.

Redbacks are widespread across Australia, but are also found in Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Japan, England, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran.

Sources: wikipedia.org/wiki/Redback_spider; newsweek.com/extremely-deadly-spider-found-box-grapes-grocery-store

Why Have You Chosen Me?

Among the many songs that I have in my music library and love to play on the piano, Why Have You Chosen Me? is one of the finest. It feels like a song that comes from the heart of one who knows exactly what they are: a sinner. The question, “Why have You chosen me out of millions your child to be?” is asked with a certain amount of incredulity because for the questioner, the answer seems to be beyond understanding. And yet, the answer to this question is very simple. “Because I love you.” This question could be asked by every human being who is, or ever has, living and lived on the earth from the beginning of time, and the answer would be the same for every one of them, “Because I love you.”

God created mankind because He wanted children to love and for them to love Him in return. To His newly-created children, Adam and Eve, He gave everything that would delight the eye, and overwhelm the senses. Fragrances that we cannot even comprehend today, filled the air in Eden. Imagine how much we love to walk barefoot in the grass here, and how much more pleasing it will be to walk barefoot upon the sloping landscapes of the new earth. Think of the tastes that God’s children experienced from the food He provided. And in Eden, there was nothing but love. Hatred, selfishness, anger, sorrow, sadness, discouragement, loss none of these had a place there, and soon, very soon, they will be gone forever.

Friend, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, just come. It doesn’t matter what you’ve said, felt, or imagined, just come. Surrender, and let the Lord make you again into His image. Only then can you live, by His grace and mercy, a life of perfect obedience to His will.

“The Lord wants you to stand in His strength. He wants you to open the windows of the soul heavenward and close them earthward. He wants to reveal His salvation.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 13, 205, 206

“The Lord is our strength. It is safe for us not to build up self, but to let the Lord work His will in and by and through us.”  Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers (1923), 250

 

Why have You chosen me

Out of millions Your child to be?

You know all the wrong I have done.

O, how could You pardon me,

Forgive my iniquity

To save me, give Jesus Your son.

 

I am amazed to know

That a God so great could love me so.

He’s willing and wanting to bless.

His grace is so wonderful,

His mercy so bountiful,

I can’t understand it, I confess.

 

But Lord, help me be

What You want me to be.

Your word I will strive to obey

My life I now give, for You I will live,

And walk by Your side all the way.

by Rodger Strader

“Let the Lord take His way and do His work with me, so that I am refined and purified; and that is all I desire.” Atlantic Union Gleaner, March 17, 1915

Clouds

Have you ever spent a warm, sunny day laying in the grass, looking up at the sky and the clouds? Have you ever seen a cloud shaped like a dog or a bear or an angel? Have you really given much thought to clouds?

Earlier this year, I told the children’s story during church one Sabbath morning. I made my own cloud—a cumulonimbus storm cloud. I used a bubble umbrella for the base, and then added webbing, a layer of batting, and a layer of polyester fiber fill. I sprayed the fiber fill with dark and light gray paint and completed it all with tiny flashing lights throughout the fiber fill to represent lightning. Blue beads hung from inside the umbrella by fishing line represented raindrops. And I made a flash of lightning from bright yellow cardstock to finish it off. Our sound techs played the sound of thunder and falling rain overhead as I jogged to the front of the church. I am told it was quite a spectacle.

I spent a few minutes naming some of the different, most common types of clouds, and that led into the real subject of my presentation.

The Bible talks about clouds. Here are a few examples.

After the flood, God said, “I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.” Genesis 9:13

After God’s fiery display on Mt. Carmel, Elijah prayed for rain. “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea! … the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain.” 1 Kings 18:44, first part, 45, first part

Lucifer wanted to be as exalted as Jesus. He said in his heart, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:14

The Lord led the children of Israel through the desert with pillars of cloud and fire. “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way … .” Exodus 13:21, first part

After His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus returned to heaven. “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” Acts 1:9

But there is a magnificent event that is soon—very soon—to come that involves clouds.

“Behold, He [Jesus] is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him … .” Revelation 1:7, first part

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” Mark 13:26

“Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them [the resurrected] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air … .” 1 Thessalonians 4:17

Yes, friends, Jesus is coming soon. And it will be with a shout, the blast of the heavenly trumpet, clouds and fire, majesty and glory and all the host of heaven. Jesus is coming to take His people home at last.

“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13, 14

Lord, we long to see You coming in the clouds of glory. Make us ready to meet You.