September 19, 2010 – September 25, 2010
“Each of the ancient prophets spoke less for their own time than for ours. … Their prophesying is in force for us. … Daniel, Isaiah, and Ezekiel … spoke of things that … reached down to the future, and to what should occur in these last days.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 338, 419, 420.
The lesson in the previous week and this lesson are a study in polar contrasting experiences and outcomes. The outcomes are impossible to anticipate solely through the lens of human experience. They are easily unanticipated when tradition is the standard for prophetic interpretation. The student should carefully note in these lessons that modern Israel has, as Israel did in the time of Christ, been preparing for a tragic surprise by misinterpreting and misapplying promises of victory for the church. Are you ready for a surprise?
1 What does Babylon say just before her captivity and destruction?
“… ‘I shall be a lady forever,’ … ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, nor shall I know the loss of children;’ but these two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day: the loss of children, and widowhood. They shall come upon you in their fullness because of the multitude of your sorceries.” Isaiah 47:7–9. [Compare with the 6th plague.] [Emphasis supplied.]
“For she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Therefore her plagues will come in one day.” Revelation 18:7, 8.
2 Does Babylon also go through any birth pains at the end?
“The king of Babylon has heard the report about them [his enemies]. … Anguish has taken hold of him, pangs as of a woman in childbirth.” Jeremiah 50:43.
“Beautiful in elevation … is Mount Zion. … God is … her refuge … the kings assembled. … They saw it, and … marveled; they were troubled. … Fear took hold of them there, and pain, as of a woman in childbirth.” Psalm 48:2–6.
“Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this … they will writhe like a woman in labor.” Isaiah 13:6-–8.
“Sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.” I Thessalonians 5:3.
3 How is it that we find Zion so crowded, when only a tiny remnant survived the decimation of the church?
Note how Isaiah shows that the remnant will be wondering this too!
“Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who has begotten these for me, since I have lost my children and am desolate, a captive, and wandering to and fro? And who has brought these up? There I was, left alone; but these, where were they?’ ” Isaiah 49:21.
“You will divide … inheritance for yourselves, and for the strangers who sojourn among you and who bear children among you. They shall be to you as native-born … they shall have an inheritance with … Israel.” Ezekiel 47:22.
“I was found by those who did not seek Me … but to Israel he says: ‘All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient … people.’ … But you are those who forsake the Lord. … You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen.” Romans 10:20, 21, quoting from Isaiah; Isaiah 65:11, 15.
“I will call them My people, who were not My people … in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There they will be called the sons of the living God.” Romans 9:25, 26.
“I will signal for them and gather them in. Surely I will redeem them; they will be as numerous as before. Though I scatter them among the peoples, yet in distant lands they will remember Me. They and their children will survive, and they will return. I will bring them back from Egypt, and gather them from Assyria [Babylon]. … And there will not be room enough for them.” Zechariah 10:8–10.
“Enlarge the place of your tent.” Isaiah 54:2.
“In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.’ “… The Lord will thresh … and you will be gathered one by one, O you children of Israel. … They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria … who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” Isaiah 19:24; 27:12.
“I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from the east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 8:10-–12.
“And the foreigners who convert to the Lord, … all who keep the Sabbath … I will bring them to … My house of prayer. … For My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. [This is] the declaration of the Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel: ‘I will gather to them still others besides those already gathered.’ ” Isaiah 56:6–8.
4 How are we shown that the final work will happen quickly?
“I, the Lord, will hasten it in its time.” Isaiah 60:22.
“For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children.” Isaiah 66:8.
“For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth.” Romans 9:28. (Paul quoting from Isaiah 10 and Isaiah 28).
“For yet a very little while and the indignation will cease, as will My anger in their [Babylon’s] destruction.” Isaiah 10:25. [Emphasis supplied.]
“The last great conflict will be short, but terrible.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 419.
5 How are we shown that there will be a complete role reversal between Zion and Babylon?
“For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. The strangers will be joined with them. … They will take them captive whose captives they were, and rule over their oppressors. It shall come to pass in the day the Lord gives you rest from … the hard bondage … that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say: ‘How the oppressor has ceased! … He who ruled … is persecuted, … indeed the cypress trees rejoice over you, and the cedars of Lebanon,’ saying, ‘Since you were cut down, no woodsman has come up against us.’ ” Isaiah 14:1–4, 6, -8.
6 Who completes the work of rebuilding the church and the wall?
“The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls.” Isaiah 60:10.
“Those who mourn in Zion … may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. … And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.” Isaiah 61:3–-5.
“Even those who are far away shall come and build the temple of the Lord.” Zechariah 6:15.
“Now … you are no longer … foreigners, but … members of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19.
“The day for building your walls will come … In that day people will come to you from Assyria … from Egypt to the Euphrates.” Micah 7:11, 12.
Anciently, God’s people explicitly refused to allow foreigners to help rebuild the church (see Ezra 4:1-3). The wall was also rebuilt without the aid of foreigners. Thus, the prophecies that foreigners would be part of the rebuilding, instead of being dual application prophecies, point exclusively to the work of repairing God’s church and law at the end of time.
In this context, it could be noted that the captor nation of God’s professed people, Babylon, are referred to in many Scriptures as foreigners. The foreigners who return to help rebuild God’s church can be understood then as coming out of Babylon. This fits with Revelation 18:1-4.
7 Will these foreigners who complete the work of rebuilding God’s church be recognized as part of Israel by those who claim to be modern Israel?
“Doubtless You are our Father, though … Israel does not acknowledge us. … Our adversaries have trodden down Your sanctuary. … I was found by those who did not seek Me … a nation that was not called by My name. … I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah an heir … the Lord God will … call His servants by another name.” Isaiah 63: 16, 18; -65:1, 9, 15. [Emphasis supplied.]
“But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: ‘I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation.’ … But Isaiah is very bold and says: ‘I was found by those who did not seek Me.’ … But to Israel he says: ‘All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’ ” Romans 10:19–-21.
“There are many souls to come out of the ranks of the world, out of the churches—even the Catholic church—whose zeal will far exceed that of those who have stood in rank and file to proclaim the truth heretofore. … These [eleventh-hour workers] will see the battle coming and will give the trumpet a certain sound. … They will come to the front, gird themselves with the whole armor of God … maintain the cause of religious liberty.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 386, 387.
“If His people will not follow in His way, the Lord will employ heathen princes to do His will.” Notebook Leaflets, vol. 1, 62.
Notice that, since foreigners were specifically not allowed to build the temple in Zechariah’s time, or the wall in Nehemiah’s time, the prophecies of foreigners rebuilding cannot refer to the ancient story. Also note that, while foreigners aptly applied to Adventists at the commencement of their work, it does not apply to Adventists in the Ellen G. White quote from Notebook Leaflets. Also, notice that Isaiah predicts that these foreigners will not be properly recognized for who they are by modern Israel.
8 Referencing quotes under the above question, is it possible to expect that modern Israel may have little to do with completing the work of rebuilding God’s last day church and wall?
9 Beyond an inability to recognize these foreigners who are newly joined to Israel, does the Bible predict that modern Israel (in name only) will fight and attempt to deceive the remnant?
What a question to consider! Yet, note once again that this is what happened to the church that Christ formed—the new Israel. It was persecuted by the Jewish church—the old Israel.
In the following quote, especially note the following:
Within the last half of Isaiah 8, we have a classic example of twin prophesies of destruction and success mingled and contrasted in parallel, for two groups of people.
To help pick up on this parallel contrasting, note the transition of pronouns, and follow the antecedents of they and them throughout this quote. Who in the quote is imbibing of spiritualism? Who is inviting whom to partake in spiritualism?
“… the Lord spoke … with a strong hand … that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying … He [the Lord of Hosts] will be … a rock of offense to both houses of Israel, as a trap … to Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble; they shall fall and be … taken. [Note: start of contrast.] Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait on the Lord, who hides His face from Jacob. … Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel … [End of Contrast]. And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums.’ … To the law and to the testimony! If they speak not according to this word … there is no light in them … They will [be] hungry … enraged … driven into darkness.” Isaiah 8:11, 13–-22. [Emphasis supplied.]
10 Armed with the themes and terminology that we have been studying, what applications can you make to the following language of the apostle Paul?
“For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written:
‘Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.’
“Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? ‘Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.’ So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.” Galatians 4:24, 27–31, (quoting from Isaiah 54).
Have you seen ample evidence that those who claim to be modern Israel, whatever they may choose to be called, have not fulfilled God’s great purposes for His church? Have you seen clearly that God will use foreigners to complete his work? The SDA church was raised up as a group of foreigners to finish the work when Protestants rejected the first angel’s message. Ellen White has told us that this will be repeated if God’s people will not fulfill His purpose for the church. And have we not seen that our situation today, however we may wish to term it, bears many of the hallmark characteristics of the Babylonian captivities—and that wall and temple building work remains, in conjunction with anticipated fruit from God’s church? We read the following:
“But let God’s people remember that only as they believe and work out the principles of the gospel can He make them [fulfill His purpose]. … If those who profess to believe in Christ as their Saviour reach only the low standard of worldly measurement, the church fails to bear the rich harvest that God expects. ‘Found wanting’ [Daniel 5:27] is written upon her record.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 14.
Studies prepared by John T. Grosboll, P.E. John T. is a mechanical engineer living near Vancouver, Washington. His secular employment includes several years of experience in primary metals and transportation-related industries. He, along with his wife, Teresa, is actively involved in the work of the Historic Message Church in Portland, Oregon. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com.