September 1, 2013 – September 7, 2013
“Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.” Genesis 49:27.
Study Help: Judges, chapters 19–21; Testimonies, vol. 4, 200–205.
“Whatever may be man’s besetting sin, whatever bitter or baleful passions struggle for the mastery, he may conquer, if he will watch and war against them in the name and strength of Israel’s Helper.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1017.
1 ORPHANED AND CODDLED
- Explain the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jacob and Rachel’s second son. Genesis 35:16–19.
- What evidence do we have of the tender regard of Jacob toward this motherless boy? Genesis 42:36–38. Explain what may easily happen when one child in a family is especially favored or coddled.
Note: “In many families the seeds of vanity and selfishness are sown in the hearts of the children almost during babyhood. Their cunning little sayings and doings are commented upon and praised in their presence, and repeated with exaggerations to others. The little ones take note of this and swell with self-importance; they presume to interrupt conversations, and become forward and impudent. Flattery and indulgence foster their vanity and willfulness, until the youngest not unfrequently rules the whole family, father and mother included.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 200, 201.
2 MAJOR CHARACTER FLAWS
- With what illustration did Jacob depict the nature of Benjamin? Genesis 49:27. What warning should we take from the words of Jacob?
Note: “Children who are allowed to have their own way are not happy. The unsubdued heart has not within itself the elements of rest and contentment. The mind and heart must be disciplined and brought under proper restraint in order for the character to harmonize with the wise laws that govern our being. Restlessness and discontent are the fruits of indulgence and selfishness. The soil of the heart, like that of a garden, will produce weeds and brambles unless the seeds of precious flowers are planted there and receive care and cultivation. As in visible nature, so is it with the human soul.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 202, 203.
“If such persons have families of their own, they become arbitrary rulers at home and display there the selfish and unreasonable disposition they are forced to partially conceal from the outside world. Their dependents feel to the utmost all the faults of their early training. Why will parents educate their children in such a manner that they will be at war with those who are brought in contact with them?
“Their religious experience is molded by the education received in childhood. The sad trials, which prove so dangerous to the prosperity of a church, and which cause the unbelieving to stumble and turn away with doubt and dissatisfaction, usually arise from an unsubdued and rebellious spirit, the offspring of parental indulgence in early youth. How many lives are wrecked, how many crimes are committed, under the influence of a quick-rising passion that might have been checked in childhood, when the mind was impressible, when the heart was easily influenced for right, and was subject to a fond mother’s will. Inefficient training of children lies at the foundation of a vast amount of moral wretchedness.” Ibid., 202.
- Relate one experience which reveals the cruelty and arrogant belligerence found in the posterity of Benjamin. Judges 20:4, 5, 12–14, 23, 46.
- What did the men of Israel feel compelled to vow regarding the Benjamites, and why only did they relent? Judges 21:1–4, 13–15.
3 MEEKNESS PREFERABLE TO TALENT
- Describe the natural talent of skillful precision possessed by some members of the tribe of Benjamin. Judges 20:15, 16; I Chronicles 8:40; 12:1, 2.
- What should talented persons realize, especially in these last days? I Samuel 2:3; I Corinthians 8:1, last part, 3; I John 4:20, 21.
Note: “It is a dangerous age for any man who has talents which can be of value in the work of God; for Satan is constantly plying his temptations upon such a person, ever trying to fill him with pride and ambition; and when God would use him, in nine cases out of ten he becomes independent, self-sufficient, and feels capable of standing alone.” Counsels on Health, 367.
“If those who are now riding upon the wave of popularity do not become giddy, it will be a miracle of mercy. If they lean to their own wisdom, as so many thus situated have done, their wisdom will prove to be foolishness. But while they shall give themselves unselfishly to the work of God, never swerving in the least from principle, the Lord will throw about them the everlasting arm and will prove to them a mighty helper. ‘Them that honor Me, I will honor’ (I Samuel 2:30).” Testimonies, vol. 4, 538.
“There is in the natural heart a tendency to be exalted or puffed up if success attends the efforts put forth. But self-exaltation can find no place in the work of God. Whatever your intelligence, however earnestly and zealously you may labor, unless you put away your own tendencies to pride, and submit to be guided by the Spirit of God, you will be on losing ground.
“Spiritual death in the soul is evidenced by spiritual pride and a crippled experience; those who have such an experience seldom make straight paths for their feet. If pride is nourished, the very qualities of the mind which grace, if received, would make a blessing, become contaminated. The very victories which would have been a savor of life unto life, if the glory had been given to God, become tarnished by self-glory. These may seem to be little things, unworthy of notice, but the seed thus scattered brings forth a sure harvest. It is these little sins, so common that they are often unnoticed, that Satan uses in his service.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1080.
4 TWO SAULS
- How did the decisions and actions of Saul the king—a Benjamite—lead to spiritual degeneracy? I Samuel 9:17, 21; 10:1, 9; 15:16–23, 28; 18:11. Explain how God’s attempts to arrest his downward course and help him overcome apply also in our day.
Note: “There are many whom He [God] has called to positions in His work for the same reason that He called Saul—because they are little in their own sight, because they have a humble and teachable spirit. In His providence He places them where they may learn of Him. To all who will receive instruction He will impart grace and wisdom. It is His purpose to bring them into so close connection with Himself that Satan shall have no opportunity to pervert their judgment or overpower their conscience. He will reveal to them their defects of character, and bestow upon all who seek His aid, strength to correct their errors. … The children of God should cultivate a keen sensitiveness to sin. Here, as well as elsewhere, we should not despise the day of small things. It is one of Satan’s most successful devices, to lead men to the commission of little sins, to blind the mind to the danger of little indulgences, little digressions from the plainly stated requirements of God. Many who would shrink with horror from some great transgression, are led to look upon sin in little matters as of trifling consequence. But these little sins eat out the life of godliness in the soul. The feet which enter upon a path diverging from the right way are tending toward the broad road that ends in death. When once a retrograde movement begins, no one can tell where it may end. …
“We must learn to distrust self and to rely wholly upon God for guidance and support, for a knowledge of His will, and for strength to perform it.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1017.
- How was the character of Saul, a Benjamite of the New Testament era, miraculously transformed? Acts 8:3; 9:1–6. Relate the personal testimony of Saul (who was later called Paul) concerning his change of heart. Philippians 3:4–7.
Note: “By beholding the matchless love of Christ, the selfish heart will be melted and subdued.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 394.
5 A MESSAGE OF HOPE
- With what words did Moses prophesy that there would be a decided change in the character of many Benjamites? Deuteronomy 33:12. Give an example of how the presence of a Benjamite brought safety to God’s people in Persia. Esther 2:5; 3:13; 4:1–3; 8:7, 8, 15–17.
Note: “Mordecai was given the position of honor formerly occupied by Haman. He ‘was next unto King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren’ (Esther 10:3); and he sought to promote the welfare of Israel.” Prophets and Kings, 602.
- How do we know that 12,000 last-day spiritual Benjamites are to be total overcomers? Revelation 7:8, last part. Due to the character transformation of this remnant, what glorious sight adds poignant symbolism on the earth made new? Isaiah 65:25.
Note: “There are those who listen to the truth, and are convinced that they have been living in opposition to Christ. They are condemned, and they repent of their transgressions. Relying upon the merits of Christ, exercising true faith in Him, they receive pardon for sin. As they cease to do evil and learn to do well, they grow in grace and in the knowledge of God. They see that they must sacrifice in order to separate from the world; and, after counting the cost, they look upon all as loss if they may but win Christ. They have enlisted in Christ’s army. The warfare is before them, and they enter it bravely and cheerfully, fighting against their natural inclinations and selfish desires, bringing the will into subjection to the will of Christ. Daily they seek the Lord for grace to obey Him, and they are strengthened and helped. This is true conversion.” Messages to Young People, 73, 74.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 What point should fond parents and teachers carefully consider?
2 Explain how one’s early childhood can affect future generations.
3 Cite the inherent risks that accompany extraordinary talent.
4 Describe God’s process in strengthening men to overcome.
5 What is true conversion?
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