March 1, 2009 – March 7, 2009
“Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” Isaiah 60:2.
Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 6, 23–30; Ibid., vol. 7, 9–24.
“[The prophet Isaiah] saw the bearers of the glad tidings of salvation going to the ends of the earth, to every kindred and people.” Prophets and Kings, 374.
1 What encouraging prophecy was revealed to Isaiah, and how was it fulfilled? Isaiah 9:1, 2; Matthew 4:16.
Note: “The prophet was permitted to look down the centuries to the time of the advent of the promised Messiah. At first he beheld only ‘trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish.’ Isaiah 8:22. Many who were longing for the light of truth were being led astray by false teachers into the bewildering mazes of philosophy and spiritism; others were placing their trust in a form of godliness, but were not bringing true holiness into the life practice. The outlook seemed hopeless; but soon the scene changed, and before the eyes of the prophet was spread a wondrous vision.” Prophets and Kings, 373.
2 What glorious hope is offered to the literal descendants of Abraham and to all earnest seekers after God? Isaiah 11:9, 10.
Note: “Among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, He sees men and women who are praying for light and knowledge. Their souls are unsatisfied: long have they fed on ashes. See Isaiah 44:20. The enemy of all righteousness has turned them aside, and they grope as blind men. But they are honest in heart and desire to learn a better way. Although in the depths of heathenism, with no knowledge of the written law of God nor of His Son Jesus, they have revealed in manifold ways the working of a divine power on mind and character.
“At times those who have no knowledge of God aside from that which they have received under the operations of divine grace have been kind to His servants, protecting them at the risk of their own lives. The Holy Spirit is implanting the grace of Christ in the heart of many a noble seeker after truth, quickening his sympathies contrary to his nature, contrary to his former education.” Prophets and Kings, 376, 377.
3 What assurances from Isaiah 54 can we claim today, and on what conditions? Isaiah 54:4, 5, 13, 17; I John 3:22; 2:4–7.
Note: “All the fifty-fourth chapter of Isaiah is applicable to the people of God, and every specification of the prophecy will be fulfilled. The Lord will not forsake His people in their time of trial. … Are these words of comfort spoken to those who are making void the law of God? No, no, the promise is for those who amid general apostasy, keep the commandments of God, and lift up the moral standard before the eyes of the world who have forsaken the ordinance, and broken the everlasting covenant.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1148.
4 In what sense do the promises of Isaiah 54 also involve responsibilities? Isaiah 54:2; 57:14.
Note: “Earnest effort is to be put forth to counterwork the influences that have kept back the message for this time. A solemn work is to be done in a short space of time.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1148.
“God’s people have a mighty work before them, a work that must continually rise to greater prominence. Our efforts in missionary lines must become far more extensive. A more decided work than has been done must be done prior to the second appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. God’s people are not to cease their labors until they shall encircle the world. …
“New territories are to be worked by men inspired by the Holy Spirit. New churches must be established, new congregations organized. At this time there should be representatives of present truth in every city and in the remote parts of the earth. The whole earth is to be illuminated with the glory of God’s truth. The light is to shine to all lands and all peoples. And it is from those who have received the light that it is to shine forth. The daystar has risen upon us, and we are to flash its light upon the pathway of those in darkness.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 23, 24.
“Where there are one or two men struggling to carry forward the different branches of the cause, there should be hundreds at work.” Ibid., 26.
“The home missionary work will be farther advanced in every way when a more liberal, self-denying, self-sacrificing spirit is manifested for the prosperity of foreign missions; for the prosperity of the home work depends largely, under God, upon the reflex influence of the evangelical work done in countries afar off. It is in working actively to supply the necessities of the cause of God that we bring our souls in touch with the Source of all power.” Ibid., 27.
5 What prophecy is soon to be fulfilled and how? Isaiah 44:4, 5.
Note: “Our watchword is to be: Onward, ever onward. The angels of God will go before us to prepare the way. Our burden for the ‘regions beyond’ can never be laid down until the whole earth shall be lightened with the glory of the Lord.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 29.
6 What does God declare regarding the new souls who accept the present truth? Isaiah 56:2–8. How does this concept apply today?
Note: “Many of these converts from heathenism would wish to unite themselves fully with the Israelites. … None of these were to say, ‘The Lord hath utterly separated me from His people’ (Isaiah 56:3), for the word of God through His prophet to those who should yield themselves to Him and observe His law was that they should thenceforth be numbered among spiritual Israel—His church on earth.” Prophets and Kings, 372.
7 How is God’s power to be manifested even in the lives of some of the seemingly most hopeless cases? Isaiah 49:22–25.
Note: “Heaven’s plan of salvation is broad enough to embrace the whole world. God longs to breathe into prostrate humanity the breath of life. And He will not permit any soul to be disappointed who is sincere in his longing for something higher and nobler than anything the world can offer. Constantly He is sending His angels to those who, while surrounded by circumstances the most discouraging, pray in faith for some power higher than themselves to take possession of them and bring deliverance and peace. In various ways God will reveal Himself to them and will place them in touch with providences that will establish their confidence in the One who has given Himself a ransom for all, ‘that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.’ Psalm 78:7.” Prophets and Kings, 377, 378.
8 What call of God is to involve every one of us? Isaiah 60:1–3.
Note: “The missionary spirit needs to be revived in our churches. Every member of the church should study how to help forward the work of God, both in home missions and in foreign countries. Scarcely a thousandth part of the work is being done that ought to be done in missionary fields. God calls upon His workers to annex new territory for Him. There are rich fields of toil waiting for the faithful worker. And ministering angels will co-operate with every member of the church who will labor unselfishly for the Master.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 29.
9 In the grand task before us, how does God take into account the wide variety of resources entrusted to us? Isaiah 6:8; II Corinthians 5:14, 15.
Note: “An American businessman who was an earnest Christian, in conversation with a fellow worker remarked that he himself worked for Christ twenty-four hours of the day. ‘In all my business relations,’ he said, ‘I try to represent my Master. As I have opportunity, I try to win others to Him. All day I am working for Christ. And at night, while I sleep, I have a man working for Him in China.’
“In explanation he added: ‘In my youth I determined to go as a missionary to the heathen. But on the death of my father I had to take up his business in order to provide for the family. Now, instead of going myself, I support a missionary. In such a town of such a province of China, my worker is stationed. And so, even while I sleep, I am, through my representative, still working for Christ.’
“Why should not the members of a church or of several small churches unite to sustain a missionary in foreign fields? If they will deny themselves of selfish indulgences, dispense with needless and hurtful things, they can do this. Brethren and sisters, will you not help in this work? I beseech you to do something for Christ, and to do it now. Through the teacher whom your money shall sustain in the field, souls may be saved from ruin to shine as stars in the Redeemer’s crown.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 29, 30.
10 What thoughts should ever resound in our heart? John 4:34–36.
Note: “Have you so deep an appreciation of the sacrifice made on Calvary that you are willing to make every other interest subordinate to the work of saving souls?” Testimonies, vol. 7, 10.
“There is a picture representing a bullock standing between a plow and an altar, with the inscription, ‘Ready for either,’ ready to toil in the furrow or to be offered on the altar of sacrifice. This is the position of the true child of God—willing to go where duty calls, to deny self, to sacrifice for the Redeemer’s cause.” The Ministry of Healing, 502.
“It was not alone upon the hills of Judea, not among the lowly shepherds only, that angels found the watchers for Messiah’s coming. In the land of the heathen also were those that looked for Him; they were wise men, rich and noble, the philosophers of the East. Students of nature, the Magi had seen God in His handiwork. From the Hebrew Scriptures they had learned of the Star to arise out of Jacob, and with eager desire they awaited His coming, who should be not only the ‘Consolation of Israel,’ but a ‘Light to lighten the Gentiles,’ and ‘for salvation unto the ends of the earth.’ Luke 2:25, 32; Acts 13:47. They were seekers for light, and light from the throne of God illumined the path for their feet. While the priests and rabbis of Jerusalem, the appointed guardians and expounders of the truth, were shrouded in darkness, the Heaven-sent star guided these Gentile strangers to the birthplace of the newborn King.
“It is ‘unto them that look for Him’ that Christ is to ‘appear the second time without sin unto salvation.’ Hebrews 9:28. Like the tidings of the Saviour’s birth, the message of the second advent was not committed to the religious leaders of the people. They had failed to preserve their connection with God, and had refused light from heaven; therefore they were not of the number described by the apostle Paul: ‘But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.’ I Thessalonians 5:4, 5.
“The watchmen upon the walls of Zion should have been the first to catch the tidings of the Saviour’s advent, the first to lift their voices to proclaim Him near, the first to warn the people to prepare for His coming. But they were at ease, dreaming of peace and safety, while the people were asleep in their sins. Jesus saw His church, like the barren fig tree, covered with pretentious leaves, yet destitute of precious fruit. There was a boastful observance of the forms of religion, while the spirit of true humility, penitence, and faith—which alone could render the service acceptable to God—was lacking. Instead of the graces of the Spirit there were manifested pride, formalism, vainglory, selfishness, oppression. A backsliding church closed their eyes to the signs of the times. God did not forsake them, or suffer His faithfulness to fail; but they departed from Him, and separated themselves from His love. As they refused to comply with the conditions, His promises were not fulfilled to them.
“Such is the sure result of neglect to appreciate and improve the light and privileges which God bestows. Unless the church will follow on in His opening providence, accepting every ray of light, performing every duty which may be revealed, religion will inevitably degenerate into the observance of forms, and the spirit of vital godliness will disappear. This truth has been repeatedly illustrated in the history of the church. God requires of His people works of faith and obedience corresponding to the blessings and privileges bestowed. Obedience requires a sacrifice and involves a cross; and this is why so many of the professed followers of Christ refused to receive the light from heaven, and, like the Jews of old, knew not the time of their visitation. Luke 19:44. Because of their pride and unbelief the Lord passed them by and revealed His truth to those who, like the shepherds of Bethlehem and the Eastern Magi, had given heed to all the light they had received.” The Great Controversy, 315, 316.