September 15, 2013 – September 21, 2013
“They [the sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh] cried to God in the battle, and He was entreated of them; because they put their trust in Him.” 1 Chronicles 5:20.
Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 2, 263–268; Christ’s Object Lessons, 296–299, 305, 306.
“The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness.” Steps to Christ, 43.
1 PRIZING THE SPIRITUAL ASPECT
- What blessing did Jacob pronounce upon Ephraim and Manasseh? Genesis 48:14–16. How can both young and old obtain similar blessings today?
Note: “You should feel an earnest desire for the Holy Spirit and should pray earnestly to obtain it. You cannot expect the blessing of God without seeking for it. If you used the means within your reach you would experience a growth in grace and would rise to a higher life.
“It is not natural for you to love spiritual things; but you can acquire that love by exercising your mind, the strength of your being, in that direction.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 263.
- How did some from the tribe of Manasseh respond to calls for reformation on various occasions? Judges 6:11–15, 25–29; II Chronicles 15:1, 2, 8, 9; 30:1, 10,11. What can we learn from these events?
Note: “We all need to draw near to God. He will draw near to those who approach Him in humility, filled with a holy awe for His sacred majesty, and standing before Him separate from the world.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1136.
2 SEIZE THE CHANCE
- How is our opportunity to be among the 144,000 spiritual Israelites similar to the privilege extended to the sons of Joseph to become direct sons of Israel? Romans 11:13, 17, 19–21.
- What should be our attitude regarding this opportunity? Romans 11:18, 22–25.
Note: “Some feel their need of the atonement, and with the recognition of this need, and the desire for a change of heart, a struggle begins. To renounce their own will, perhaps their chosen objects of affection or pursuit, requires an effort, at which many hesitate and falter and turn back. Yet this battle must be fought by every heart that is truly converted. We must war against temptations without and within. We must gain the victory over self, crucify the affections and lusts; and then begins the union of the soul with Christ. As the dry and apparently lifeless branch is grafted into the living tree, so may we become living branches of the True Vine.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 47.
- Realizing that the tribe of Dan was cut off for indulging in backbiting, envy, and jealousy—and Ephraim ultimately rejected the chance to step in—what should each of us consider? Hosea 4:6; Revelation 3:11, 16.
Note: “The words of God to ancient Israel have a solemn warning to the church and its leaders today. Of Israel the Lord said, ‘I have written to him the great things of My law; but they were counted as a strange thing’ (Hosea 8:12). …
“Shall the warnings from God be passed by unheeded? Shall the opportunities for service be unimproved? Shall the world’s scorn, the pride of reason, conformity to human customs and traditions, hold the professed followers of Christ from service to Him? Will they reject God’s word as the Jewish leaders rejected Christ? The result of Israel’s sin is before us. Will the church of today take warning?” Christ’s Object Lessons, 306.
3 THE MEANING OF ISRAEL
- By the weakness of his human nature, Jacob had been a supplanter and a liar. Nonetheless, what was his determination with regard to the things of God? Genesis 32:24–26.
Note: “[Proverbs 26:2; Isaiah 3:10, 11; Jeremiah 6:19 quoted.]
“Terrible is this truth, and deeply should it be impressed. Every deed reacts upon the doer. Never a human being but may recognize, in the evils that curse his life, fruitage of his own sowing. Yet even thus we are not without hope.
“To gain the birthright that was his already by God’s promise, Jacob resorted to fraud, and he reaped the harvest in his brother’s hatred. Through twenty years of exile he was himself wronged and defrauded, and was at last forced to find safety in flight; and he reaped a second harvest, as the evils of his own character were seen to crop out in his sons—all but too true a picture of the retributions of human life. …
“Jacob in his distress was not overwhelmed. He had repented, he had endeavored to atone for the wrong to his brother. And when threatened with death through the wrath of Esau, he sought help from God.” Education, 146, 147.
- Why was Jacob’s name changed to Israel? Genesis 32:27–29; Hosea 12:2–6.
Note: “The error that had led to Jacob’s sin in obtaining the birthright by fraud was now clearly set before him. He had not trusted God’s promises, but had sought by his own efforts to bring about that which God would have accomplished in His own time and way. As an evidence that he had been forgiven, his name was changed from one that was a reminder of his sin, to one that commemorated his victory. ‘Thy name,’ said the Angel, ‘shall be called no more Jacob [the supplanter], but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed’ (Genesis 32:28).” Patriarchs and Prophets, 197, 198.
“In the power of His [God’s] might the forgiven one [Jacob] stood up, no longer the supplanter, but a prince with God. He had gained not merely deliverance from his outraged brother, but deliverance from himself. The power of evil in his own nature was broken; his character was transformed.” Education, 147.
4 AN INEVITABLE CHARACTERISTIC
- What does the Lord emphasize about seeking the kingdom of God with firm determination? Matthew 6:33; 11:12.
Note: “With the great truth we have been privileged to receive, we should, and under the Holy Spirit’s power we could, become living channels of light. We could then approach the mercy seat; and seeing the bow of promise, kneel with contrite hearts, and seek the kingdom of heaven with a spiritual violence that would bring its own reward. We would take it by force, as did Jacob. Then our message would be the power of God unto salvation.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1089.
“The characters we form here will decide our eternal destiny. What kind of material are we using in our character building? We must guard well every point, seeking to gain that purity which will make our lives harmonize with the saving truth we profess to believe. Our part is to put away sin, to seek with determination for perfection of character. As we thus work, God co-operates with us, fitting us for a place in His kingdom.” The Review and Herald, June 11, 1901.
- How did the apostle Paul exemplify perseverance in spiritual matters? Philippians 3:7–14.
Note: “God calls upon you to no longer dally with the tempter, but to cleanse yourself from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit, perfecting holiness in His fear. You need to work fast to remove the defects from your character. You are in God’s workshop. If you will submit to the process of hewing and squaring and planing, that the rough edges may be removed, the knots and uneven surface smoothed and fitted by the planing knife of God, you will be fitted by His grace for the heavenly building. But if you cling to self, and are not willing to endure the trying process of fitting for the heavenly building, you will have no place in that structure which will come together without the sound of ax or hammer.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 258.
“The battle is yours. No one can fight it for you. Others can pray for you, but the work must be wholly your own.” Ibid.
5 AN INESTIMABLE TREASURE
- What truths should we realize about the indescribable glory of Heaven? Matthew 13:44–46; I Corinthians 2:9.
Note: “At the day of judgment there comes to the lost a full realization of the meaning of the sacrifice made on Calvary. They see what they have lost by refusing to be loyal. They think of the high, pure association it was their privilege to gain. But it is too late. The last call has been made.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 16.
- What can we learn from the way in which, on a difficult occasion, the hand of God was extended toward Manasseh? 1 Chronicles 5:18–20. What is the good news for the spiritual members of this tribe? Revelation 7:6, last part.
Note: “Heaven will be cheap enough, if we obtain it through suffering. We must deny self all along the way, die to self daily, let Jesus alone appear, and keep His glory continually in view. I saw that those who of late have embraced the truth would have to know what it is to suffer for Christ’s sake, that they would have trials to pass through that would be keen and cutting, in order that they may be purified and fitted through suffering to receive the seal of the living God, pass through the time of trouble, see the King in His beauty, and dwell in the presence of God and of pure, holy angels.
“As I saw what we must be in order to inherit glory, and then saw how much Jesus had suffered to obtain for us so rich an inheritance, I prayed that we might be baptized into Christ’s sufferings, that we might not shrink at trials, but bear them with patience and joy, knowing what Jesus had suffered that we through His poverty and sufferings might be made rich.” Early Writings, 67.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 How can we obtain spiritual blessings from God?
2 What should be our attitude as branches grafted into God’s olive tree?
3 Explain the spiritual significance of the term “Israel.”
4 What do Matthew 6:33 and 11:12 mean for each of us today?
5 Name some point which deeply impresses your mind about the value of the Christian’s goal.
Copyright © 2007 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.