July 12, 2009 – July 18, 2009
“Behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, [were] about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun toward the east.” Ezekiel 8:16.
Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 9, 232–244; Prophets and Kings, 178–189; 448, 449.
“Men have honored Satan’s principles above the principles that rule in the heavens. They have accepted the spurious sabbath, which Satan has exalted as the sign of his authority.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 352.
1 What vision was Ezekiel given to behold? Ezekiel 8:1–5. Why is “jealousy” mentioned in the context of God’s house of worship? Exodus 20:1–6.
Note: “The close and sacred relation of God to His people is represented under the figure of marriage. Idolatry being spiritual adultery, the displeasure of God against it is fitly called jealousy.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 306.
“Our God is a jealous God, and he requires that we worship Him in spirit and in truth, and in the beauty of holiness.” The Signs of the Times, October 15, 1885.
2 In what sense do professed Christians provoke “godly jealousy” today? II Corinthians 11:2–4. How can we be secure against the deceptions of Satan? II Corinthians 13:5; John 14:6; I John 5:12.
Note: “We need an abiding Christ. We need to eat His word. He is the Bread of Life. The revealed word is our photograph of Christ. The world can only be expelled from the soul by filling the soul with Christ. Just as the life of the body is produced by the temporal food eaten, so the life of the soul is produced by the spiritual food eaten. He who would have spiritual life and vigor must eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God.” Bible Training School, March 1, 1903.
3 How was God’s holy sanctuary being desecrated? Ezekiel 8:6–11. How does man degrade himself through idolatry? Romans 1:22–27.
Note: “How can man be elevated by adoring what is no higher than himself and may be symbolized by his own handiwork? If men could become so blinded to the power, the majesty, and the glory of the infinite God as to represent Him by a graven image, or even by a beast or reptile; if they could so forget their own divine relationship, formed in the image of their Maker as to bow down to these revolting and senseless objects—then the way was open for foul license; the evil passions of the heart would be unrestrained, and Satan would have full sway.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 335.
4 What self-deception did the ancients of the house of Israel reveal as they became bold in sin? Ezekiel 8:12. How may we be in danger of deceiving ourselves? Isaiah 29:13–15.
Note: “The Lord has shown us His way; shall we walk in it? or shall we, finite and erring as we are, walk in our own counsel, and practice the principles which He has warned us against?” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 382.
5 What was the next step in the downward spiral of defilement in God’s sanctuary? Ezekiel 8:13, 14. How does this process of apostasy stand as a warning to us? II Chronicles 36:14.
Note: “No outward shrine may be visible; there may be no image for the eye to rest upon; yet thousands are following after the gods of this world—after riches, fame, pleasure, and the pleasing fables that permit man to follow the inclinations of the unregenerate heart. Multitudes have a wrong conception of God and His attributes, and are as truly serving a false god as were the worshipers of Baal. Many even of those who claim to be Christians have allied themselves with influences that are unalterably opposed to God and His truth. Thus they are led to turn away from the divine and to exalt the human.” Prophets and Kings, 177, 178.
6 What was the most serious offense shown to Ezekiel? Ezekiel 8:15, 16. Today, how has most of Christendom been deceived into adopting a form of sun worship? Daniel 7:25.
Note: “Satan, working through unconsecrated leaders of the church, tampered with the fourth commandment … and essayed to set aside the ancient Sabbath, the day which God had blessed and sanctified (Genesis 2:2, 3), and in its stead to exalt the festival observed by the heathen as ‘the venerable day of the sun.’ ” The Great Controversy, 52.
“Through the setting up of a false sabbath, the enemy thought to change times and laws. But has he really succeeded in changing God’s law? The words of the thirty-first chapter of Exodus are the answer. He who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, has declared of the seventh-day Sabbath: ‘It is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations.’ ‘It is a sign… forever.’ Exodus 31:13, 17. The changed signpost is pointing the wrong way, but God has not changed. He is still the mighty God of Israel.” Prophets and Kings, 184, 185.
7 How did Christ condemn the practice of putting tradition above the Word of God? Matthew 15:9, 13. What should all Christians realize about the Lord’s Sabbath? Mark 2:27, 28; Luke 23:56.
Note: “Christ rested in the tomb on the Sabbath day, and when holy beings of both heaven and earth were astir on the morning of the first day of the week, He rose from the grave to renew His work of teaching His disciples. But this fact does not consecrate the first day of the week, and make it a Sabbath.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1113.
“Protestants now urge that the resurrection of Christ on Sunday made it the Christian Sabbath. But Scripture evidence is lacking. No such honor was given to the day by Christ or His apostles. The observance of Sunday as a Christian institution had its origin in that ‘mystery of lawlessness’ (11 Thessalonians 2:7, R.V.) which, even in Paul’s day, had begun its work.” The Great Controversy, 54.
8 As sincere Christian believers become aware of the facts regarding the unauthorized Sabbath/Sunday change, what does the Lord require of them? Acts 17:30.
Note: “The day of the sun, Sunday, was a day devoted to the most vile of the heathen worship, for it was celebrated in connection with sun-worship. This Sunday-sabbath has been accepted by many who know it to be the foundling of heathenism, which has been cherished and nourished by the Church of Rome, and by her clothed in the garments of sanctity. But while many are now aware of its origin, there are true Christians in every church who do not know the origin of the Sunday-sabbath, and believe that they are keeping the day which God sanctified and blest. This is true of worshipers even in the Catholic Church; and while this ignorance and integrity remain, God accepts of their sincerity; but when light shall fall upon their pathway, God requires them to come into harmony with His law, and to observe the Sabbath of his appointing.” The Signs of the Times, November 19, 1894.
9 How did God respond to the false worship in Ezekiel’s day? Ezekiel 8:17, 18. In our day, how will God’s people be pressured to conform to false worship? Revelation 13:11–17.
Note: “The enforcement of Sundaykeeping on the part of Protestant churches is an enforcement of the worship of the papacy—of the beast. Those who, understanding the claims of the fourth commandment, choose to observe the false instead of the true Sabbath are thereby paying homage to that power by which alone it is commanded. But in the very act of enforcing a religious duty by secular power, the churches would themselves form an image to the beast.” The Great Controversy, 448, 449.
“Those who yield the truth of heavenly origin and accept the Sunday sabbath, will receive the mark of the beast.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 976.
10 As believers in God’s word, what is our present duty? Mark 13:34–37.
Note: “It is our duty, as we see the signs of approaching peril, to arouse to action. Let none sit in calm expectation of the evil, comforting themselves with the belief that this work must go on because prophecy has foretold it, and that the Lord will shelter His people. We are not doing the will of God if we sit in quietude, doing nothing to preserve liberty of conscience. Fervent, effectual prayer should be ascending to heaven that this calamity may be deferred until we can accomplish the work which has so long been neglected.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 713, 714.
“Those who would not receive the mark of the beast and his image when the decree goes forth, must have decision now to say, Nay, we will not regard the institution of the beast.” Early Writings, 67. [Emphasis in original.]
“ ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ Exodus 20:3. … It is not alone in denying the existence of God or in bowing down to idols of wood and stone that this first commandment is broken. By many who profess to be followers of Christ, its principles are infringed, but the Lord of heaven does not acknowledge those as His children who are cherishing in their hearts anything that takes the place which God alone should hold. With many the gratification of appetite holds sway, while with others dress and love of the world are given the first place in the heart. …
“God has given us many things in this life upon which to bestow our affections, but when we carry to excess that which in itself is lawful we become idolaters. … Anything that separates our affections from God and lessens our interest in eternal things is an idol. Those who use the precious time given them by God—time that has been purchased at an infinite cost—in embellishing their homes for display, in following the fashions and customs of the world, are not only robbing their own souls of spiritual food, but are failing to give God His due. The time thus spent in the gratification of selfish desires might be employed in obtaining a knowledge of the Word of God, in cultivating our talents, that we might render intelligent service to our Creator. … God will not share a divided heart. If the world absorbs our attention, He cannot reign supreme. If this diminishes our devotion for God, it is idolatry in His eyes. …
“ ‘God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24). When our hearts are tuned to praise our Maker, not only in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs but also in our lives, we shall live in communion with Heaven. … There will be gratitude in the heart and in the home, in private as well as in public devotion. This constitutes the true worship of God.” That I May Know Him, 322.
“The religion that comes from God is the only religion that will lead to God. In order to serve Him aright, we must be born of the divine Spirit. This will purify the heart and renew the mind, giving us a new capacity for knowing and loving God. It will give us a willing obedience to all His requirements. This is true worship. It is the fruit of the working of the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit every sincere prayer is indited, and such prayer is acceptable to God. Wherever a soul reaches out after God, there the Spirit’s working is manifest, and God will reveal Himself to that soul. For such worshipers He is seeking. He waits to receive them and to make them His sons and daughters.” My Life Today, 46.
©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.