September 8, 2013 – September 14, 2013
“Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” Hosea 4:17.
Study Help: Christ’s Object Lessons, 212–218; Testimonies, vol. 4, 89–94.
“If your nature is not transformed, if you are not refined and elevated by the sanctifying truth for these last days, you will be found unworthy of a place among the pure and holy angels.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 258.
1 INCORPORATED INTO ISRAEL
- What did Joseph do when he heard about the illness of his aged father? Genesis 48:1, 2. How did Jacob describe to Joseph his blessed experience with the Lord? Genesis 48:3, 4.
- What did Jacob declare concerning Ephraim and Manasseh? Genesis 48:5. How did he depict their future? Genesis 48:9, 13–20.
Note: “The sons of Joseph were to be formally instated among the children of Israel. Joseph, coming for a last interview with his father, brought with him Ephraim and Manasseh. These youths were connected, through their mother, with the highest order of the Egyptian priesthood; and the position of their father opened to them the avenues to wealth and distinction, should they choose to connect themselves with the Egyptians. It was Joseph’s desire, however, that they should unite with their own people. He manifested his faith in the covenant promise, in behalf of his sons renouncing all the honors that the court of Egypt offered, for a place among the despised shepherd tribes, to whom had been entrusted the oracles of God. …
“[Genesis 48:5 quoted.] They were to be adopted as his [Jacob’s] own, and to become the heads of separate tribes. Thus one of the birthright privileges, which Reuben had forfeited, was to fall to Joseph—a double portion in Israel.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 234.
2 EPHRAIM GIVEN PREEMINENCE
- What did Moses predict about the predominance of the tribe of Ephraim? Deuteronomy 33:17, last part.
- How do we know that mere numbers have never indicated spiritual prosperity either among the Ephraimites or among God’s people in general? Hosea 9:11–13.
Note: “Those to whom the message of truth is spoken seldom ask, ‘Is it true?’ but, ‘By whom is it advocated?’ Multitudes estimate it by the numbers who accept it; and the question is still asked, ‘Have any of the learned men or religious leaders believed?’ Men are no more favorable to real godliness now than in the days of Christ. They are just as intently seeking earthly good, to the neglect of eternal riches; and it is not an argument against the truth, that large numbers are not ready to accept it, or that it is not received by the world’s great men, or even by the religious leaders.” The Desire of Ages, 459, 460.
“Not in our learning, not in our position, not in our numbers or entrusted talents, not in the will of man, is to be found the secret of success. Feeling our inefficiency we are to contemplate Christ, and through Him who is the strength of all strength, the thought of all thought, the willing and obedient will gain victory after victory.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 404.
- How and when did envy on the part of the Ephraimites almost cause a war? Judges 7:24, 25; 8:1–3.
- What evidences do we have that God wanted the tribe of Ephraim to change their nature? Jeremiah 31:20; Isaiah 11:13. How are we warned against the danger of cherishing envy and jealousy?
Note: “Never can the love of Jesus be received and shed abroad in the heart until envious feelings, hatred, jealousies, and evil surmisings are put away. …
“God considers more with how much love we work, than the amount we do.” Sons and Daughters of God, 49.
3 A FATAL CHARACTERISTIC
- How did the petty jealousy of Jeroboam, a member of the tribe of Ephraim, spoil a chance for reformation among the Israelites and lead to further spiritual decay? I Kings 11:29–38; 12:25–33.
Note: “Jeroboam, the former servant of Solomon, was in a position to bring about wise reforms in both civil and religious affairs. Under the rulership of Solomon he had shown aptitude and sound judgment; and the knowledge he had gained during years of faithful service fitted him to rule with discretion. But Jeroboam failed to make God his trust.
“Jeroboam’s greatest fear was that at some future time the hearts of his subjects might be won over by the ruler occupying the throne of David. …
“So strong was Jeroboam’s desire to keep the ten tribes away from Jerusalem that he lost sight of the fundamental weakness of his plan. He failed to take into consideration the great peril to which he was exposing the Israelites by setting before them the idolatrous symbol of the deity with which their ancestors had been so familiar during the centuries of Egyptian bondage.” Prophets and Kings, 99, 100.
- How does God consider envy? Job 5:2; Proverbs 27:4; 14:30.
Note: “Envy is not merely a perverseness of temper, but a distemper, which disorders all the faculties. It began with Satan. He desired to be first in heaven, and because he could not have all the power and glory he sought, he rebelled against the government of God. He envied our first parents and tempted them to sin and thus ruined them and all the human race.
“The envious man shuts his eyes to the good qualities and noble deeds of others. He is always ready to disparage and misrepresent that which is excellent. Men often confess and forsake other faults, but there is little to be hoped for from the envious man. Since to envy a person is to admit that he is a superior, pride will not permit any concession. If an attempt be made to convince the envious person of his sin, he becomes even more bitter against the object of his passion, and too often he remains incurable. …
“He seeks to be thought best and greatest, not by putting forth heroic, self-denying efforts to reach the goal of excellence himself, but by standing where he is and diminishing the merit due to the efforts of others.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 56.
4 ETERNAL LOSS
- How does the Lord depict the persistent mingling of Ephraim with heathenism? Hosea 7:8–16.
- Describe His pleadings in behalf of apostate Ephraim. Hosea 11:3–9, 12, first part.
Note: “[Hosea 7:9 quoted.] …
“Some of the leaders in Israel felt keenly their loss of prestige and wished that this might be regained. But instead of turning away from those practices which had brought weakness to the kingdom, they continued in iniquity, flattering themselves that when occasion arose, they would attain to the political power they desired by allying themselves with the heathen.” Prophets and Kings, 280.
- Why is the tribe of Ephraim not included among the names of the 144,000 sealed saints? Psalm 78:9–11; Hosea 8:9, 11–13; 4:17. How does God work in behalf of nominal believers who exhibit the character of the Ephraimites?
Note: “God calls upon you, Brother G, to repent and be converted, and become as a little child. Unless the truth has a sanctifying influence upon your life to mold your character, you will fail of an inheritance in the kingdom of God. … Brother G, you were raised up in answer to prayer, and God gave you a new lease of life; but you have let jealousy and envy into your soul, and have greatly displeased Him. He designed to bring you where you would develop character, where you would see and correct your defects.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 91, 92.
“It is all that Brother C can do, in the weakness of his nature, to guard his own soul and close every avenue whereby Satan can gain access to insinuate doubts in regard to others. He is in great danger of losing his soul by failing to perfect Christian character during probationary time. He is slow to follow Christ. His senses seem to be clouded and almost paralyzed so that he does not place a proper estimate upon sacred things. He may even now correct his errors and overcome his defects, if he will work in the strength of God.” [Author’s italics.] Ibid., 39, 40.
5 A WARNING TO US
- What solemn warning is given especially for these last days? Isaiah 2:10–12, 17–22. How may each of us be in danger of following in the footsteps of Ephraim? Luke 16:13; 13:6–9.
Note: “The warning sounds down along the line to us in this generation. Are you, O careless heart, a fruitless tree in the Lord’s vineyard? Shall the words of doom erelong be spoken of you? How long have you received His gifts? How long has He watched and waited for a return of love? Planted in His vineyard, under the watchful care of the gardener, what privileges are yours! How often has the tender gospel message thrilled your heart! You have taken the name of Christ, you are outwardly a member of the church which is His body, and yet you are conscious of no living connection with the great heart of love. The tide of His life does not flow through you. The sweet graces of His character, ‘the fruits of the Spirit,’ are not seen in your life. …
“Yet in His great mercy God has not cut you down. He does not look coldly upon you. He does not turn away with indifference, or leave you to destruction. Looking upon you He cries, as He cried so many centuries ago concerning Israel, ‘How shall I give thee up, Ephraim’ (Hosea 11:8)?” Christ’s Object Lessons, 216–218.
- What hope does God extend to souls who, by His grace, overcome the sins of idolatry and envy? James 4:4–7; Titus 3:3–7.
Note: “Make thorough work with your own soul, to right every wrong there, and make every effort to master self, lest you miss heaven. This you cannot afford to do. For Christ’s sake, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 93, 94.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 In what way were Ephraim and Manasseh offered a special chance?
2 How do we know that God’s favor depends not upon large numbers?
3 To what did Jeroboam’s envy lead?
4 Explain why envy is such a serious problem.
5 Describe the only process of hope for the spiritual Ephraimites today.
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