Health Nugget – Destination: Eternity

Our support systems are failing. Through greed and needless ignorance we ourselves have done much of the damage. Those who persist in harming God’s creation have an account to settle with the Designer/Creator. “I will destroy them that destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18).

As marvelous as this earth is, with its numerous life-supporting systems, the human being with his ability to love, to reason, to invent and to reproduce after his kind, is the Creator’s masterpiece—the ultimate evidence for a higher intelligent Being. Anyone who persists in abusing, misusing or harming the ultimate evidence of His creative power will not only suffer the present consequences of increased disease and perhaps premature death, but also must give an accounting to his Creator.

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17).

Inherent in our life-by-design are the eight principles of proper care for this marvelous creation. To intelligently care for our bodies, we must understand how they are constructed and how they function. We must have an understanding of anatomy and physiology. We must also have an understanding of the support systems of our being and how best we can utilize them in their present, less than ideal, condition.

If we are to get out of this earth alive, each one of us, to a greater or lesser extent, must make a new start. We recognize that we have not always taken the best possible care of this amazing life that we have been intrusted with. Someone has placed the life-support systems for mankind in the form of the acronym NEW START—Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunlight, Temperance, Air, Rest, and Trust in Divine Power. Undoubtedly, we all need a new start.

There is definite evidence that if we will relate properly to these eight support systems, we will have a marked improvement in health and function of our bodies. It is well documented that two thirds of all deaths in America are due to causes which we know how to prevent. (“Closing the Gap,” JAMA, September 13, 1985.) The types of illnesses from which people suffer and die are determined largely by how they live hour by hour and day by day. Improper use of life-support systems are presently the major cause of disease and premature death.

Unhealthful living habits are rampant among earth’s inhabitants. When attempts to change are made, we discover that chronic thought patterns and physical habits are much more difficult to change than we believed. Many times we are confronted with the fact that we would rather continue in our misuse of nature’s resources and suffer the consequences than to make the struggle to change. This rebellion and arrogancy against that which is for our own good is known as sin. Because of sin, with its senseless disregard for the operating instructions for human life, mankind has been placed on the endangered species list of the universe.

When malfunction first occurred on this world, it was only because of emergency back-up systems that all was not instantaneously lost. These emergency measures have continued to keep this planet and the human race alive to this day, but they can be continued only until all have had the opportunity to choose knowledgeably as to whether they desire to remain in sinful rebellion or not. Those who choose to live in harmony with the Creator’s design standards are forgiven of the past. They are also given the power thereafter to cease their senseless rebellion.

Yes, the good news is that the Divine-Rescue plan for Planet Earth provides power to change the physical and spiritual health-destroying habits from which we suffer. No life on board need be lost. All that is required is a recognition of our hopeless state, a repentance for our past, a request for that transforming power, and a total surrender to God’s enabling power on a moment-by-moment basis.

Let’s face it. This planet is out of control. In spite of our own ingenuity and inventiveness, modern science cannot remove the selfishness from our own stubborn hearts. Man’s own selfish motives result in famine and pestilence stalking the earth. Social and political strife continue unabated. As a result of monetary greed, mankind continues to strip the earth of its vegetation, and to pollute his own water, air, and food supplies. The answer is not more technical ability. The problems demand a change of heart—a new birth—and that is available only through Heaven’s rescue plan of salvation.

Those who escape from this earth with their lives will be destined for eternity. Once mankind’s life is brought into harmony with his life-support systems, he can be safely reinstated into the original plan for the human race.

Those who are rescued and restored will be placed in an earth made new with its original support systems. Humanity will once again have access to the river and the tree of life. With stubborn rebellion thoroughly removed from mankind’s heart, malfunction will never rise again.

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” “And he [the angel] shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 21:3–5, 1; 22:1, 2).

Ellen White, in The Great Controversy, 677, 678, has penned it thus:

“All the treasures of the universe will be open to the study of God’s redeemed. Unfettered by mortality, they wing their tireless flight to worlds afar—worlds that thrilled with sorrow at the spectacle of human woe and rang with songs of gladness at the tidings of a ransomed soul. With unutterable delight the children of earth enter into the joy and the wisdom of unfallen beings. They share the treasures of knowledge and understanding gained through ages upon ages in contemplation of God’s handiwork. With undimmed vision they gaze upon the glory of creation—suns and stars and systems, all in their appointed order circling the throne of Deity. Upon all things, from the least to the greatest, the Creator’s name is written, and in all are the riches of His power displayed.

“And the years of eternity, as they roll, will bring richer and still more glorious revelations of God and of Christ. As knowledge is progressive, so will love, reverence, and happiness increase. The more men learn of God, the greater will be their admiration of His character. As Jesus opens before them the riches of redemption and the amazing achievements in the great controversy with Satan, the hearts of the ransomed thrill with more fervent devotion, and with more rapturous joy they sweep the harps of gold; and ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of voices unite to swell the mighty chorus of praise.

“ ‘And every creature which is in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever’ (Revelation 5:13).

“The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.”

Friend, let me assure you, this is not science fiction. This account is fact and not fancy. The destiny of those rescued from this crippled earth is perfect life throughout eternity. You and I, with our friends and loved ones, can be there. Yes, we must be there!

Health for Today, Vernon Sparks, M.D., No. 3, ©1991, 28, 29.

Vernon Sparks served as a guest lecturer at Life Abundant Missionary Institute, Eatonville, Washington.

“Over the years, my primary interests have shifted from physical health to spiritual health. Both areas are extremely important; however, of the two, the latter is primary. In the spiritual area, my interest is focused on the natural-to-fallen-man tendency to not measure up in experience to the spiritual knowledge available. My desire is to make available publications and truths that tend to be neglected, forgotten, or misunderstood.”

Dr. Sparks received his M.D. degree from Loma Linda University in 1962 and served in various capacities within the Seventh-day Adventist health system for many years. Since retiring in 1997, his work has focused on making available historic Adventist publications that have long been out of print.

Bible Study Guides – Lessons from Book of Joshua – God Directs the Conquest

February 23 – February 29, 2020

Key Text

“As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses” (Joshua 11:15).

Study Help:  Patriarchs and Prophets, 510, 511.


“The Lord promised Joshua that He would be with him as He had been with Moses, and He would make Canaan an easy conquest to him, provided he would be faithful to observe all His commandments.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 156, 157.



  • What happened to southern Canaan soon after the victory at Beth-horon? Joshua 10:40–43.

Note: “The victory at Beth-horon was speedily followed by the conquest of southern Canaan.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 510.

  • What did the kings of northern Palestine do when they heard of the success obtained by the Hebrew nation? Joshua 11:1–5.

Note: “The tribes of northern Palestine, terrified by the success which had attended the armies of Israel, now entered into a league against them. At the head of this confederacy was Jabin, king of Hazor, a territory to the west of Lake Merom. ‘And they went out, they and all their hosts with them’ (Joshua 11:4). This army was much larger than any that the Israelites had before encountered in Canaan.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 510.



  • What should we observe from the way the Lord encouraged Joshua and again intervened for His faithful people? Joshua 11:6–8. What can we learn from this?

Note: “Near Lake Merom he [Joshua] fell upon the camp of the allies and utterly routed their forces.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 510.

“God will do marvelous things for those who trust in Him. It is because His professed people trust so much to their own wisdom, and do not give the Lord an opportunity to reveal His power in their behalf, that they have no more strength. He will help His believing children in every emergency if they will place their entire confidence in Him and implicitly obey Him.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 163.

“The faith of the consecrated worker is to stand every test brought to bear upon it. God is able and willing to bestow upon His servants all the strength they need and to give them the wisdom that their varied necessities demand. He will more than fulfill the highest expectations of those who put their trust in Him.” The Acts of the Apostles, 242.

  • What was done with the horses and chariots of the conquered army? Why? Joshua 11:9; Psalm 20:7–9.

Note: “The chariots and horses that had been the pride and boast of the Canaanites were not to be appropriated by Israel. At the command of God the chariots were burned, and the horses lamed, and thus rendered unfit for use in battle. The Israelites were not to put their trust in chariots or horses, but ‘in the name of the Lord their God’ (Psalm 20:7).” Patriarchs and Prophets, 510.

  • Unlike at Jericho, what was Israel to do with the doomed cities, livestock, and spoil? How faithful were they in following God’s directions? Joshua 11:10–14.

Note: “One by one the cities were taken, and Hazor, the stronghold of the confederacy, was burned.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 510.



  • What summarizes Joshua’s procedure in the conquest of Canaan? Joshua 11:18, 19.

Note: “The war was continued for several years, but its close found Joshua master of Canaan.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 510, 511.

  • When the Lord had promised to rid Canaan of all the wicked nations that dwelt therein, what plan had He put before the Israelites? Against what danger had He cautioned them? Deuteronomy 7:21, 22.
  • Despite all the bloodshed in these conquests, what was the Almighty’s goal for the overall benefit of humanity? Deuteronomy 7:23–26. What reveals that God also called for a pause in this violent task? Joshua 11:23.

Note: “That which corrupts the body tends to corrupt the soul. It unfits the user for communion with God, unfits him for high and holy service.

“In the Promised Land the discipline begun in the wilderness was continued under circumstances favorable to the formation of right habits. The people were not crowded together in cities, but each family had its own landed possession, ensuring to all the health-giving blessings of a natural, unperverted life.” The Ministry of Healing, 280.

“Though the power of the Canaanites had been broken, they had not been fully dispossessed. On the west the Philistines still held a fertile plain along the seacoast, while north of them was the territory of the Sidonians. Lebanon also was in the possession of the latter people; and to the south, toward Egypt, the land was still occupied by the enemies of Israel.

“Joshua was not, however, to continue the war.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 511.



  • Who had fixed the borders of the land in advance? To whom had the division of the land been entrusted? Numbers 34:1, 2, 13, 17, 18.

Note: “There was another work for the great leader to perform before he should relinquish the command of Israel. The whole land, both the parts already conquered and that which was yet unsubdued, was to be apportioned among the tribes. And it was the duty of each tribe to fully subdue its own inheritance. If the people should prove faithful to God, He would drive out their enemies from before them; and He promised to give them still greater possessions if they would but be true to His covenant.

“To Joshua, with Eleazar the high priest, and the heads of the tribes, the distribution of the land was committed, the location of each tribe being determined by lot. Moses himself had fixed the bounds of the country as it was to be divided among the tribes when they should come in possession of Canaan, and had appointed a prince from each tribe to attend to the distribution.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 511.

  • How was the location of each tribe to be determined, and what rule was to be followed respecting the size of each one? Numbers 26:54–56.
  • What inheritance did the Levites receive? Numbers 18:20, 21; 35:1–3, 7, 8.

Note: “The appointed ministers of the sanctuary, the Levites received no landed inheritance; they dwelt together in cities set apart for their use, and received their support from the tithes and the gifts and offerings devoted to God’s service. They were the teachers of the people, guests at all their festivities, and everywhere honored as servants and representatives of God. To the whole nation was given the command: ‘Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.’ ‘Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance’ (Deuteronomy 12:19; 10:9.)” Education, 148, 149.



  • What claim did the children of Joseph make because of their numbers, and how did Joshua respond? Joshua 14:4, 5; 17:14–18.

Note: “In consideration of their superior numbers, these tribes [Ephraim and Manasseh] demanded a double portion of territory. The lot designated for them was the richest in the land, including the fertile plain of Sharon; but many of the principal towns in the valley were still in possession of the Canaanites, and the tribes shrank from the toil and danger of conquering their possessions, and desired an additional portion in territory already subdued. The tribe of Ephraim was one of the largest in Israel, as well as the one to which Joshua himself belonged, and its members naturally regarded themselves as entitled to special consideration. ‘Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit,’ they said, ‘seeing I am a great people’ (Joshua 17:14)? But no departure from strict justice could be won from the inflexible leader.

“His answer was, ‘If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if Mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee’ (verse 15).

“Their reply showed the real cause of complaint. They lacked faith and courage to drive out the Canaanites. …

“Being a great people, as they claimed, they were fully able to make their own way, as did their brethren. With the help of God they need not fear the chariots of iron.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 513, 514.



1     What should give us courage when faced with a foe bigger than we have ever experienced?

2    What “chariots and horses” might I be leaning on too heavily in my life?

3    Although God told Joshua to conquer Canaan, why did He give a pause?

4    What was promised to each tribe if they would be true to the covenant?

5    How was the spirit of Joshua different from those among his tribe?

 © 2019, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Bible Study Guides – Lessons from Book of Joshua – Helping the Gibeonites

February 16 – February 22, 2020

Key Text

“This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them” (Joshua 9:20).

Study Help: The Signs of the Times, February 7, 1884.


“In the midst of the land a numerous people—the Gibeonites—renounced their heathenism and united with Israel, sharing in the blessings of the covenant.” Prophets and Kings, 369.



  • What did the men of Gibeon do in seeing Israel’s victories? Joshua 9:3–6.

Note: “[At Gilgal, the Israelites] were soon after visited by a strange deputation, who desired to enter into treaty with them. The ambassadors represented that they had come from a distant country, and this seemed to be confirmed by their appearance. Their clothing was old and worn, their sandals were patched, their provisions moldy, and the skins that served them for wine bottles were rent and bound up, as if hastily repaired on the journey.

“In their far-off home—professedly beyond the limits of Palestine—their fellow countrymen, they said, had heard of the wonders which God had wrought for His people, and had sent them to make a league with Israel.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 505.

  • Relate the encounter and what Israel should have known. Joshua 9:7–13.

Note: “The Hebrews had been specially warned against entering into any league with the idolaters of Canaan, and a doubt as to the truth of the strangers’ words arose in the minds of the leaders.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 505.



  • What mistake did Joshua and the leaders make with regard to the Gibeonites? Why did they fail? Joshua 9:14, 15.
  • How did the Israelites react upon seeing they had been deceived? Why were they right in sparing the Gibeonites? Joshua 9:16–20.

Note: “Great was the indignation of the Israelites as they learned the deception that had been practiced upon them. … ‘All the congregation murmured against the princes;’ but the latter refused to break the treaty, though secured by fraud, because they had ‘sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel.’ ‘And the children of Israel smote them not’ (Joshua 9:18). The Gibeonites had pledged themselves to renounce idolatry, and accept the worship of Jehovah; and the preservation of their lives was not a violation of God’s command to destroy the idolatrous Canaanites. Hence the Hebrews had not by their oath pledged themselves to commit sin. And though the oath had been secured by deception, it was not to be disregarded.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 506.

  • What do we need to realize about the importance of integrity in keeping our word once we have given it? Proverbs 12:22; Psalm 15:1, 4, last part.

 Note: “The obligation to which one’s word is pledged—if it do not bind him to perform a wrong act—should be held sacred. No consideration of gain, of revenge, or of self-interest can in any way affect the inviolability of an oath or pledge.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 506.

“If in any matter you make a statement as to what you will do, and afterward find that you have favored others to your own loss, do not vary a hairsbreadth from principle. Carry out your agreement. By seeking to change your plans you would show that you could not be depended on. And should you draw back in little transactions, you would draw back in larger ones. Under such circumstances some are tempted to deceive, saying, I was not understood. My words have been taken to mean more than I intended. The fact is, they meant just what they said, but lost the good impulse, and then wanted to draw back.” Child Guidance, 154.



  • Because the Gibeonites had resorted to trickery, what became their destiny in life? Joshua 9:21–23. How does this show the impact that the God of Israel had made on the surrounding nations?

Note: “The Gibeonites were permitted to live, but were attached as bondmen to the sanctuary, to perform all menial services. …

“Gibeon … ‘was a great city, as one of the royal cities,’ ‘and all the men thereof were mighty’ (Joshua 10:2). It is a striking evidence of the terror with which the Israelites had inspired the inhabitants of Canaan, that the people of such a city should have resorted to so humiliating an expedient to save their lives.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 506.

  • How did the Gibeonites respond to the verdict? Joshua 9:24–27.

Note: “[Joshua 9:27 quoted.] These conditions they [the Gibeonites] gratefully accepted, conscious that they had been at fault, and glad to purchase life on any terms.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 506.

  • What evidence shows that the Gibeonites would have been blessed if they had been honest, telling the whole truth instead of practicing deception? Exodus 12:48, 49; Leviticus 19:33, 34.

Note: “God had made provision that all who would renounce heathenism, and connect themselves with Israel, should share the blessings of the covenant. …

“It was no light humiliation to those citizens of a ‘royal city,’ ‘all the men whereof were mighty’ (Joshua 10:2), to be made hewers of wood and drawers of water throughout their generations. But they had adopted the garb of poverty for the purpose of deception, and it was fastened upon them as a badge of perpetual servitude. Thus through all their generations their servile condition would testify to God’s hatred of falsehood.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 507.



  • What did the five kings of the Amorites do when they discovered that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel? Joshua 10:1–5.

Note: “The submission of Gibeon to the Israelites filled the kings of Canaan with dismay. Steps were at once taken for revenge upon those who had made peace with the invaders. … Their movements were rapid.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 507.

  • When the Gibeonites saw their danger, what message did they send to Joshua, and what actions did he take as a result? Joshua 10:6–9.

Note: “[Joshua 10:6 quoted.] The danger threatened not the people of Gibeon alone, but also Israel. This city commanded the passes to central and southern Palestine, and it must be held if the country was to be conquered.

“Joshua prepared to go at once to the relief of Gibeon. The inhabitants of the besieged city had feared that he would reject their appeal, because of the fraud which they had practiced; but since they had submitted to the control of Israel, and had accepted the worship of God, he felt himself under obligation to protect them. He did not this time move without divine counsel, and the Lord encouraged him in the undertaking. …

“By marching all night he brought his forces before Gibeon in the morning. Scarcely had the confederate princes mustered their armies about the city when Joshua was upon them.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 507, 508.

  • What revealed the amazing power of Israel’s God in behalf of those whom He defends? Joshua 10:10, 11.

Note: “The immense host fled before Joshua up the mountain pass to Beth-horon; and having gained the height, they rushed down the precipitous descent upon the other side. Here a fierce hailstorm burst upon them.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 508.



  • What amazing request did God grant to His faithful servant, Joshua, to the honor and glory of the Creator? Joshua 10:12–14. Why did He do this?

Note: “Joshua, looking down from the ridge above, saw that the day would be too short for the accomplishment of his work. If not fully routed, their enemies would again rally, and renew the struggle. [Joshua 10:12, 13 quoted.]” Patriarchs and Prophets, 508.

“The Spirit of God inspired Joshua’s prayer, that evidence might again be given of the power of Israel’s God. Hence the request did not show presumption on the part of the great leader. Joshua had received the promise that God would surely overthrow these enemies of Israel, yet he put forth as earnest effort as though success depended upon the armies of Israel alone. He did all that human energy could do, and then he cried in faith for divine aid. The secret of success is the union of divine power with human effort. Those who achieve the greatest results are those who rely most implicitly upon the Almighty Arm. The man who commanded, ‘Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalona’ (Joshua 10:12, last part), is the man who for hours lay prostrate upon the earth in prayer in the camp of Gilgal. The men of prayer are the men of power.

“This mighty miracle testifies that the creation is under the control of the Creator.” Ibid., 509.

  • What did God again do that shows that He is in control of nature? Isaiah 38:7, 8. What will He do in the future? Job 38:22, 23; Revelation 16:17, 21.



1     Have I ever been deceived? If so, how might I have avoided it?

2    Why did Israel remain true to the tricksters who had deceived them?

3    In the story of the Gibeonites, what evidence shows that lying does not pay?

4    Why did God prosper Israel in the battle against the Amorites?

5    What will happen in the future that will show that God controls the elements of nature?

Bible Study Guides – Lessons from Book of Joshua – The Blessings and the Curses

February 9 – February 15, 2020

Key Text

“There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them” (Joshua 8:35).

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 499–504.


“Only as a reverence for God’s Holy Word was cherished in the hearts of the people, could they hope to fulfill the divine purpose.” Prophets and Kings, 465, 466.



  • What choice did the Lord set before His people at the border of the promised land, and what can we learn from this? Deuteronomy 11:26–28.

Note: “Obedience is required; and unless you obey you will stand on worse than neutral ground. Unless you are favored with the blessing of God you have His curse. He requires you to be willing and obedient, and says that you shall eat the good of the land. A bitter curse is pronounced on those who come not to the help of the Lord.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 166.

  • What two mountains were selected for the pronouncement of the blessings and curses? Deuteronomy 11:29. How were the tribes of Israel divided for this sacred duty? Deuteronomy 27:11–13.

Note: “Ebal and Gerizim, upon opposite sides of the valley, nearly approach each other, their lower spurs seeming to form a natural pulpit, every word spoken on one being distinctly audible on the other, while the mountainsides, receding, afford space for a vast assemblage.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 500.



  • What command regarding Mount Ebal had been given through Moses, to be performed when the people would pass over Jordan? Deuteronomy 27:2–8.
  • What else was to be done for the purpose of fixing the law in the minds of the people? Deuteronomy 6:6–9; 31:19–22.

Note: “In the days of the wilderness wandering the Lord had made abundant provision for His children to keep in remembrance the words of His law. After the settlement in Canaan the divine precepts were to be repeated daily in every home; they were to be written plainly upon the doorposts and gates, and spread upon memorial tablets. They were to be set to music and chanted by young and old. Priests were to teach these holy precepts in public assemblies, and the rulers of the land were to make them their daily study. ‘Meditate therein day and night,’ the Lord commanded Joshua concerning the book of the law, ‘that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success’ (Joshua 1:8).” Prophets and Kings, 464, 465.

  • What benefit do we, too, gain from memorizing God’s law and meditating on the promises and warnings found in His Word? Psalm 119:11.

Note: “Several times each day precious, golden moments should be consecrated to prayer and the study of the Scriptures, if it is only to commit a text to memory, that spiritual life may exist in the soul. …

“The mind must be restrained and not allowed to wander. It should be trained to dwell upon the scriptures; even whole chapters may be committed to memory, to be repeated when Satan comes with his temptations. Even while you are walking on the streets, you may read a passage and meditate upon it, thus fixing it in your mind, and God will flash the knowledge obtained into the memory at the very time when it is needed.” The West Michigan Herald, October 26, 1904.



  • How did Joshua carry out the instructions that had been given through Moses with regard to Mount Ebal? Joshua 8:30–32.

Note: “According to the directions given by Moses, a monument of great stones was erected upon Mount Ebal. Upon these stones, previously prepared by a covering of plaster, the law was inscribed—not only the ten precepts spoken from Sinai and engraved on the tables of stone, but the laws communicated to Moses, and by him written in a book. Beside this monument was built an altar of unhewn stone, upon which sacrifices were offered unto the Lord. The fact that the altar was set up on Mount Ebal, the mountain upon which the curse was put, was significant, denoting that because of their transgressions of God’s law, Israel had justly incurred His wrath, and that it would be at once visited, but for the atonement of Christ, represented by the altar of sacrifice.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 500.

  • How did Joshua station the leaders and people for that grand ceremony, and what is significant about the way the stranger was welcomed? Joshua 8:33.

Note: “Six of the tribes—all descended from Leah and Rachel—were stationed upon Mount Gerizim; while those that descended from the handmaids, together with Reuben and Zebulun, took their position on Ebal, the priests with the ark occupying the valley between them.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 500.

“Let those who believe the word of the Lord read the instruction contained in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. There they will learn what kind of education was given to the families of Israel. While God’s chosen people were to stand forth distinct and holy, separate from the nations that knew Him not, they were to treat the stranger kindly. He was not to be looked down upon because he was not of Israel. The Israelites were to love the stranger because Christ died as verily to save him as He did to save Israel. At their feasts of thanksgiving, when they recounted the mercies of God, the stranger was to be made welcome.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 273, 274.



  • What was the climax of the Mount Ebal ceremony? Joshua 8:34.

Note: “Silence was proclaimed by the sound of the signal trumpet; and then in the deep stillness, and in the presence of this vast assembly, Joshua, standing beside the sacred ark, read the blessings that were to follow obedience to God’s law. All the tribes on Gerizim responded by an Amen.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 500.

  • Why was it appropriate for the congregation to say “Amen”? Psalm 106:48. Why is it often appropriate for us to say “Amen” too?

Note: “When the word of the Lord was spoken to the Hebrews anciently, the command was: ‘And let all the people say, Amen’ (Psalm 106:48). When the ark of the covenant was brought into the city of David, and a psalm of joy and triumph was chanted, ‘all the people said, Amen, and praised the Lord’ (1 Chronicles 16:36). This fervent response was an evidence that they understood the word spoken and joined in the worship of God.

“There is too much formality in our religious services. The Lord would have His ministers who preach the word energized by His Holy Spirit; and the people who hear should not sit in drowsy indifference, or stare vacantly about, making no responses to what is said. The impression that is thus given to the unbeliever is anything but favorable for the religion of Christ. These dull, careless professed Christians are not destitute of ambition and zeal when engaged in worldly business; but things of eternal importance do not move them deeply. The voice of God through His messengers may be a pleasant song; but its sacred warnings, reproofs, and encouragements are all unheeded. The spirit of the world has paralyzed them. The truths of God’s word are spoken to leaden ears and hard, unimpressible hearts. There should be wide-awake, active churches to encourage and uphold the ministers of Christ and to aid them in the work of saving souls. Where the church is walking in the light, there will ever be cheerful, hearty responses and words of joyful praise.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 318.



  • What else was included in the ceremony of blessings and cursings? Joshua 8:35. What was to be repeated on a regular basis? Deuteronomy 31:10–13.

Note: “[Following the reading of the blessings, Joshua] then read the curses, and the tribes on Ebal in like manner gave their assent, thousands upon thousands of voices uniting as the voice of one man in the solemn response. Following this came the reading of the law of God, together with the statutes and judgments that had been delivered to them by Moses.

“Israel had received the law directly from the mouth of God at Sinai; and its sacred precepts, written by His own hand, were still preserved in the ark. Now it had been again written where all could read it. All had the privilege of seeing for themselves the conditions of the covenant under which they were to hold possession of Canaan. All were to signify their acceptance of the terms of the covenant and give their assent to the blessings or curses for its observance or neglect. The law was not only written upon the memorial stones, but was read by Joshua himself in the hearing of all Israel. It had not been many weeks since Moses gave the whole book of Deuteronomy in discourses to the people, yet now Joshua read the law again.

“Not alone the men of Israel, but ‘all the women and the little ones’ (Joshua 8:35) listened to the reading of the law; for it was important that they also should know and do their duty.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 500–503.

  • Name some of the blessings and cursings. Deuteronomy 28:1–13; 27:14–26.



1     How are the blessings and curses given to ancient Israel relevant today?

2    How has memorizing and meditating upon Scripture benefited me at times?

3    Why was the stranger together with the leaders and people on the mount?

4    In what ways can I be more supportive of the task of my local minister?

5    Why is it important that all learn their duty to God from a young age?

Bible Study Guides – Lessons from Book of Joshua – The Achan Syndrone

February 2 – February 8, 2020

Key Text

“Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 493–498; Testimonies, vol. 4, 489–495.


“The acquisition of property becomes a mania with some.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 490.



  • When Achan finally admitted his guilt after being identified by God as the culprit in Israel, what action did Joshua take? Joshua 7:22, 23.
  • Why was it so important that such sins be disclosed? Proverbs 26:2.

Note: “Achan understood well the reserve made and that the treasures of gold and silver which he coveted were the Lord’s.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 269.

“Achan’s sin brought disaster upon the whole nation. For one man’s sin the displeasure of God will rest upon His church till the transgression is searched out and put away. The influence most to be feared by the church is not that of open opposers, infidels, and blasphemers, but of inconsistent professors of Christ. These are the ones that keep back the blessing of the God of Israel and bring weakness upon His people.

“When the church is in difficulty, when coldness and spiritual declension exist, giving occasion for the enemies of God to triumph, then, instead of folding their hands and lamenting their unhappy state, let its members inquire if there is not an Achan in the camp. With humiliation and searching of heart, let each seek to discover the hidden sins that shut out God’s presence.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 497.



  • What did God direct the people to do with Achan? Joshua 7:24, 25. Why is his fate a warning for us living so near the close of probation?

Note: “When a crisis finally comes … and God speaks in behalf of His people, those who have sinned, those who have been a cloud of darkness and who have stood directly in the way of God’s working for His people, may become alarmed at the length they have gone in murmuring and in bringing discouragement upon the cause; and, like Achan, becoming terrified, they may acknowledge that they have sinned. But their confessions are too late and are not of the right kind to benefit themselves, although they may relieve the cause of God. Such do not make their confessions because of a conviction of their true state and a sense of how displeasing their course has been to God.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 271.

“There are many in this day that would designate Achan’s sin as of little consequence, and would excuse his guilt; but it is because they have no realization of the character of sin and its consequences, no sense of the holiness of God and of His requirements. The statement is often heard that God is not particular whether or not we give diligent heed to His word, whether or not we obey all the commandments of His holy law; but the record of His dealing with Achan should be a warning to us. He will in no wise clear the guilty.” The Review and Herald, March 20, 1888.

  • How and why was Achan’s fate to be kept in memory? Joshua 7:26. What should this tell us?

Note: “Have you considered why it was that all who were connected with Achan were also subjects of the punishment of God? It was because they had not been trained and educated according to the directions given them in the great standard of the law of God. Achan’s parents had educated their son in such a way that he felt free to disobey the Word of the Lord, the principles inculcated in his life led him to deal with his children in such a way that they also were corrupted. Mind acts and reacts upon mind, and the punishment which included the relations of Achan with himself, reveals the fact that all were involved in the transgression.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 998.



  • What had enticed Achan to sin? James 1:13–15.

Note: “Achan’s covetousness was excited by the sight of that costly robe of Shinar; even when it had brought him face to face with death he called it ‘a goodly Babylonish garment’ (Joshua 7:21). One sin had led to another, and he appropriated the gold and silver devoted to the treasury of the Lord—he robbed God of the first fruits of the land of Canaan.

“The deadly sin that led to Achan’s ruin had its root in covetousness, of all sins one of the most common and the most lightly regarded. While other offenses meet with detection and punishment, how rarely does the violation of the tenth commandment so much as call forth censure. The enormity of this sin, and its terrible results, are the lessons of Achan’s history.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 496. [Emphasis author’s.]

  • Why does the Christian not have an excuse for covetousness? Hebrews 13:5.

Note: “Covetousness is an evil of gradual development. Achan had cherished greed of gain until it became a habit, binding him in fetters well-nigh impossible to break. While fostering this evil, he would have been filled with horror at the thought of bringing disaster upon Israel; but his perceptions were deadened by sin, and when temptation came, he fell an easy prey.

“Are not similar sins still committed, in the face of warnings as solemn and explicit? We are as directly forbidden to indulge covetousness as was Achan to appropriate the spoils of Jericho. …

“Everywhere its slimy track is seen. It creates discontent and dissension in families; it excites envy and hatred in the poor against the rich; it prompts the grinding oppression of the rich toward the poor. And this evil exists not in the world alone, but in the church. How common even here to find selfishness, avarice, overreaching, neglect of charities, and robbery of God ‘in tithes and offerings’ (Malachi 3:8). Among church members ‘in good and regular standing’ there are, alas! many Achans.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 496, 497.



  • What warnings echo down to us against coveting anything that is not ours? Luke 12:15; 1John 2:15–17. How does this sin hinder God’s work?

 Note: “It is this increasing devotion to money getting, the selfishness which the desire for gain begets, that removes the favor of God from the church and deadens its spirituality. When the head and hands are constantly occupied with planning and toiling for the accumulation of riches, the claims of God and humanity are forgotten.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 82.

“Instead of giving all for Christ many have taken the golden wedge and a goodly Babylonish garment and hid them in the camp. If the presence of one Achan was sufficient to weaken the whole camp of Israel, can we be surprised at the little success which attends our efforts when every church and almost every family has its Achan?” Ibid., vol. 5, 157.

  • What other sins which can relate to covetousness does God especially hate? Proverbs 6:16–19.

Note: “Various sins that are cherished and practiced by professed Christians bring the frown of God upon the church. In the day when the Ledger of Heaven shall be opened, the Judge will not in words express to man his guilt, but will cast one penetrating, convicting glance, and every deed, every transaction of life, will be vividly impressed upon the memory of the wrongdoer. The person will not, as in Joshua’s day, need to be hunted out from tribe to family, but his own lips will confess his shame, his selfishness, covetousness, dishonesty, dissembling, and fraud. His sins, hidden from the knowledge of man, will then be proclaimed, as it were, upon the housetop.

“The influence most to be feared by the church is not that of open opposers, infidels, and blasphemers, but of inconsistent professors of Christ. These are the ones who keep back the blessing of the God of Israel and bring weakness upon the church, a reproach that is not easily wiped away.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 493.

“His [God’s] Spirit is grieved by the pride, extravagance, dishonesty, and overreaching which are indulged by some professing godliness. All these things bring the frown of God upon His people.”  Ibid., 491.



  • What understanding can help us to place God and our fellowman before our natural desire for worldly gain? Proverbs 15:3; Colossians 3:1–3.

Note: “The custom of overreaching in trade, which exists in the world, is no example for Christians. They should not deviate from perfect integrity, even in small matters. To sell an article for more than it is worth, taking advantage of the ignorance of purchasers, is fraud. Unlawful gains, petty tricks of trade, exaggeration, competition, underselling a brother who is seeking to pursue an honest business—these things are corrupting the purity of the church, and are ruinous to her spirituality.

“The business world does not lie outside the limits of God’s government. Christianity is not to be merely paraded on the Sabbath and displayed in the sanctuary; it is for every day in the week and for every place. Its claims must be recognized and obeyed in the workshop, at home, and in business transactions with brethren and with the world.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 494.

“The first Christian church had not the privileges and opportunities we have. They were a poor people, but they felt the power of the truth. The object before them was sufficient to lead them to invest all. They felt that the salvation or the loss of a world depended upon their instrumentality. They cast in their all and held themselves in readiness to go or come at the Lord’s bidding.

“We profess to be governed by the same principles, to be influenced by the same spirit. … Let us individually go to work to stimulate others by our example of disinterested benevolence.” Ibid., vol. 5, 156, 157.



1     What most hinders the blessing of God and weakens His people?

2    How might I be influencing the youth the way Achan did his children?

3    How can I avoid indulging in the beginning roots of covetousness?

4    What danger especially lurks whenever we buy or sell something used?

5    How am I to escape the common snare of coveting worldly gain?

Bible Study Guides – Lessons from Book of Joshua – Agony at Ai

January 26 – February 1, 2020

Key Text

“Israel hath sinned. … Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies” (Joshua 7:11, 12).

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 3, 263–272.


“Thousands were slain upon the field of battle because God would not bless and prosper a people among whom there was even one sinner, one who had transgressed His word.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 239.



  • After Jericho fell, of what hidden danger was Joshua unaware? Joshua 7:1. Meanwhile, what steps followed in the conquest of Canaan? Joshua 7:2, 3.

Note: “Soon after the fall of Jericho, Joshua determined to attack Ai, a small town among the ravines a few miles to the west of the Jordan Valley. Spies sent to this place brought back the report that the inhabitants were but few, and that only a small force would be needed to overthrow it.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 493.

  • Based on the report of the spies, how many soldiers were sent to attack Ai? Joshua 7:4, first part. What mistakes were made at this time?

 Note: “The great victory that God had gained for them had made the Israelites self-confident. Because He had promised them the land of Canaan they felt secure, and failed to realize that divine help alone could give them success. Even Joshua laid his plans for the conquest of Ai without seeking counsel from God.

“The Israelites had begun to exalt their own strength and to look with contempt upon their foes. An easy victory was expected.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 493.



  • What unpleasant surprise shocked the Israelites at Ai? Joshua 7:4, 5.

Note: “These [Israel’s 3,000 soldiers] rushed to the attack without the assurance that God would be with them. They advanced nearly to the gate of the city, only to encounter the most determined resistance. Panic-stricken at the numbers and thorough preparation of their enemies, they fled in confusion down the steep descent. … Though the loss was small as to numbers—but thirty-six men being slain—the defeat was disheartening to the whole congregation. … This was the first time they had met the Canaanites in actual battle, and if put to flight before the defenders of this little town, what would be the result in the greater conflicts before them?” Patriarchs and Prophets, 494.

  • How did Joshua react to the tragedy? Joshua 7:6–9. What was wrong with his reaction?

Note: “Joshua manifested a true zeal for the honor of God, yet his petitions were mingled with doubt and unbelief. The thought that God had brought His people over the Jordan to deliver them up to the power of the heathen was a sinful one, unworthy of a leader of Israel. Joshua’s feelings of despondency and distrust were inexcusable in view of the mighty miracles which God had wrought for the deliverance of His people, and the repeated promise that He would be with them.” The Signs of the Times, April 21, 1881.

“It is a sin in any church not to search for the cause of their darkness and of the afflictions which have been in the midst of them. The church in —– cannot be a living, prosperous church until they are more awake to the wrongs among them, which hinder the blessing of God from coming upon them.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 520.

“Let the churches who claim to believe the truth, who are advocating the law of God, keep that law and depart from all iniquity. Let the individual members of the church resist the temptations to practice evils and indulge in sin. Let the church commence the work of purification before God by repentance, humiliation, deep heart searching, for we are in the antitypical day of atonement—solemn hour fraught with eternal results.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 378.



  • How did God graciously respond when Joshua prayed, protesting over the humiliating defeat of the Israelite army at Ai? Joshua 7:10–12.

Note: “Our merciful God did not visit His servant [Joshua] with wrath because of this error [of despondency and distrust]. He graciously accepted the humiliation and prayers of Joshua, and at the same time gently rebuked his unbelief, and then revealed to him the cause of their defeat.” The Signs of the Times, April 21, 1881.

  • What are we to learn from this crisis? 1Corinthians 10:1–5, 11, 12.

 Note: “[Joshua 7:10–12 quoted.]

“I have been shown that God here illustrates how He regards sin among those who profess to be His commandment-keeping people. Those whom He has specially honored with witnessing the remarkable exhibitions of His power, as did ancient Israel, and who will even then venture to disregard His express directions, will be subjects of His wrath. He would teach His people that disobedience and sin are exceedingly offensive to Him and are not to be lightly regarded. He shows us that when His people are found in sin they should at once take decided measures to put that sin from them, that His frown may not rest upon them all. But if the sins of the people are passed over by those in responsible positions, His frown will be upon them, and the people of God, as a body, will be held responsible for those sins. In His dealings with His people in the past the Lord shows the necessity of purifying the church from wrongs. One sinner may diffuse darkness that will exclude the light of God from the entire congregation. When the people realize that darkness is settling upon them, and they do not know the cause, they should seek God earnestly, in great humility and self-abasement, until the wrongs which grieve His Spirit are searched out and put away. …

“If wrongs are apparent among His people, and if the servants of God pass on indifferent to them, they virtually sustain and justify the sinner, and are alike guilty and will just as surely receive the displeasure of God; for they will be made responsible for the sins of the guilty.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 265, 266.



  • What action did God direct Joshua to take in the crisis that had caused weakness and defeat at Ai? Joshua 7:13–15. What can we learn from this?

Note: “[Some] may witness wrongs, but they do not feel as did Joshua and humble themselves because the danger of souls is felt by them.

“The true people of God, who have the spirit of the work of the Lord and the salvation of souls at heart, will ever view sin in its real, sinful character. They will always be on the side of faithful and plain dealing with sins which easily beset the people of God. Especially in the closing work for the church, in the sealing time of the one hundred and forty-four thousand who are to stand without fault before the throne of God, will they feel most deeply the wrongs of God’s professed people. …

“Who are standing in the counsel of God at this time? Is it those who virtually excuse wrongs among the professed people of God and who murmur in their hearts, if not openly, against those who would reprove sin? Is it those who take their stand against them and sympathize with those who commit wrong? No, indeed! Unless they repent, and leave the work of Satan in oppressing those who have the burden of the work and in holding up the hands of sinners in Zion, they will never receive the mark of God’s sealing approval.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 266, 267.

“If the leaders of the church neglect to diligently search out the sins which bring the displeasure of God upon the body, they become responsible for these sins.” Ibid., 269.

  • How did Joshua obediently proceed? Joshua 7:16–18.

Note: “Instruction was given to Joshua for the discovery and punishment of the criminal. The lot was to be employed for the detection of the guilty. The sinner was not directly pointed out, the matter being left in doubt for a time, that the people might feel their responsibility for the sins existing among them, and thus be led to searching of heart and humiliation before God. …

“Achan the son of Carmi, of the tribe of Judah, was pointed out by the finger of God as the troubler of Israel.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 494, 495.



  • What did Joshua tactfully ask Achan to do, and what was Achan’s response? Joshua 7:19–21. How does God regard indifference in times of crisis? Zephaniah 1:12.

Note: “There are many who do not have the discretion of Joshua and who have no special duty to search out wrongs and to deal promptly with the sins existing among them. Let not such … stand in the way of those who have this duty to do. …

“The manner of Achan’s confession was similar to the confessions that some among us have made and will make. They hide their wrongs and refuse to make a voluntary confession until God searches them out, and then they acknowledge their sins. A few persons pass on in a course of wrong until they become hardened. They may even know that the church is burdened. … Yet their consciences do not condemn them. They will not relieve the church by humbling their proud, rebellious hearts before God and putting away their wrongs. God’s displeasure is upon His people, and He will not manifest His power in the midst of them while sins exist among them and are fostered by those in responsible positions.

“Those who work in the fear of God to rid the church of hindrances and to correct grievous wrongs, that the people of God may see the necessity of abhorring sin and may prosper in purity, and that the name of God may be glorified, will ever meet with resisting influences from the unconsecrated.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 270, 271.

“The church as a whole is in a degree responsible for the wrongs of its individual members because they countenance the evil in not lifting up their voice against it.” Ibid., vol. 4, 491.



1     What factors caused the Israelites to be defeated at Ai?

2    What showed faith and what showed doubt in Joshua’s prayer to God?

3    Explain the duty of the remnant church that seriously prepares for Christ’s second coming.

4    What leadership qualities in Joshua chapter 7 would I be well to develop?

5    Why must I avoid hindering the vital task of expelling sin from the camp?

Recipe – Simple Pasta Salad


4 cups (approx.) small pasta, cooked

2 cups red or kidney beans, cooked

10 cherry tomatoes (approx.), chopped

1 red or green bell pepper, chopped

1 can olives, sliced


Combine all and add Italian dressing and a little salsa. Stir and serve.

Food – Red Beans Take the Cake

Different beans affect our bodies in different ways. That is why we need a variety. Everybody knows that beans are a great source of protein but many forget about the other added benefits of beans. Look at the quote from Jonny Bowden, Ph.D.

“[Red beans] are loaded with antioxidants. The USDA’s [United States Department of Agriculture] ranking of foods by antioxidant capacity lists small dried red beans as having the highest antioxidant capacity per serving size of any food tested; in fact, of the four top-scoring foods, three were beans (red beans, red kidney beans, and pinto beans). Many bean varieties have a lot of folic acid (especially adzukis, black-eyed peas, lentils and pinto beans), which have serious benefits for the heart; there’s also magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium and—especially in red kidney beans—an important enzyme-enhancing mineral called molybdenum.

“Beans are also a good source of protein, typically containing 15 g per cup. And unlike most commercial animal protein sources, they don’t come with any steroids, hormones, or antibiotics.” The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, pg. 84, Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.

Recipe – Simple Pasta Salad


4 cups (approx.) small pasta, cooked

2 cups red or kidney beans, cooked

10 cherry tomatoes (approx.), chopped

1 red or green bell pepper, chopped

1 can olives, sliced


Combine all and add Italian dressing and a little salsa. Stir and serve.

Life Sketches – Courageous Journey

Have you ever been anxious while on a journey wondering whether or not you would reach your destination and what would happen when you arrived? These kinds of problems also happened to Bible characters.

In Acts 20 and 21 the Bible records the last journey that the apostle Paul made to Jerusalem. It took a long time, with several ships making several stops, and involving several meetings. Acts 21 gives the following record of the journey after the ship set sail. It says, “We came to Cos, the following day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. And finding a ship sailing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. When we had sighted Cyprus, we passed it on the left, sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload her cargo. And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem” (verses 1, last part–4).

One of the interesting things we find when we study the history of the apostolic church during the first century is that in those days, the church had not yet apostatized. The church was pure, and as a result, throughout the world it had the ministration, guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. In Colossians the first chapter, Paul talks about the spread of the gospel and he says that the gospel has been preached to every creature under heaven (verse 23) and that was in just 20 or 30 years, an example of what can happen when the Holy Spirit is guiding the church.

The time came when by departing from the truth of the Bible and by imitating heathen rites and customs, the church lost the spirit and power of God. The church no longer had the gift of prophecy. However, in the first century, the church was guided by the Holy Spirit and when Paul visited this place, the disciples told him through the Spirit that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

The Bible says, “When we had come to the end of those days, we departed and went on our way; and they all accompanied us, with wives and children, till we were out of the city. And we knelt down on the shore and prayed. When we had taken our leave of one another, we boarded the ship, and they returned home. And when we had finished our voyage from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, greeted the brethren, and stayed with them one day. On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. Now this man [that is, Philip] had four virgin daughters who prophesied” (Acts 21:5–9).

There were many evangelists, prophets, and apostles in the early apostolic church. Philip was the first one who had been able to break away from Jewish customs to go and preach the gospel to the Gentiles, not treating them as though the truth of the gospel was only for the Jewish people. He went down to Samaria and through his preaching, a multitude of the Samaritans had become Christians. Paul and Philip had a lot in common. They both ministered and preached to the Gentiles.

While Paul was visiting with Philip during the last days of freedom that he would enjoy for a long time, they were visited by another prophet. It says, “As we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, “So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles” ’ ” (verses 10, 11).

Now this was a fearsome prophecy, not just that Paul would be bound by the Jews, but that he was going to suffer the horrors of a Roman imprisonment. Agabus told Paul that he would be delivered to the Gentiles, indicating that he was to be turned over to the Roman authorities. “Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, ‘What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, ‘The will of the Lord be done’ ” (verses 12–14).

Paul had been warned many times that if he went to Jerusalem, the Jews would deliver him to the Romans and he would suffer Roman imprisonment. Why was it that the apostle Paul felt, in spite of all these perils and dangers, that he had to go to Jerusalem? He wanted to heal a schism, a division in the Christian church that has never been totally healed, even to the present day. It was a division that occurred between Jews and Gentiles over certain theological teachings. There were Jews who had become Christians and had held on to certain Jewish customs and had therefore opposed the apostle Paul in teaching the Gentiles that they no longer needed to observe the ritual laws of the Jews. The Judaizing Christians also had gone all over the world stirring up division and trouble in every church that Paul had raised up.

Paul desperately wanted to try and heal this schism that had developed between the groups of Christians. He believed that the Jewish rites and ceremonies pointed forward to the Messiah and since the Messiah had come, and fulfilled them there was no more need of animal sacrifices or observance of feast days.

Not only were many of the Christians still practicing these rites and ceremonies, but even were some of the apostles and elders. Because of his teaching on this subject, Paul was known by many Christians all over the world at that time as a teacher of dangerous doctrines. He was the focal point of attack himself, but he desired to bring healing between the different churches. One of the things he did, since many of the Jewish Christians were in poverty as a result of accepting Christianity, he had gone to the different Gentile churches and persuaded them to give money to help the poor Jews in Judea. When he came on this last journey, he had a large sum of money for their support. He also brought with him representatives from the principle churches in the world to give these offerings to the Jewish Christians. He was willing to take any kind of danger necessary to try and heal this schism.

This is why he said he was ready to die, if that was what it would take for the churches to have unity. When they saw that he could not be persuaded otherwise, they said, “the will of the Lord be done.” The Bible continues, “After those days we packed and went up to Jerusalem. Also some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them a certain Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to lodge. And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present” (verses 15–18).

Here he is, meeting with the elders to present to them the large sum of money that he has raised from the Gentile churches to help the poor Jewish Christians. Paul knows well that if he goes down to Jerusalem he will be captured, bound, and delivered to the Romans. Since his conversion, his visits to Jerusalem had always been accompanied with anxiety. As he was in the city, he would look at the synagogue where he used to worship and at the apartment of the high priest where he had received his commission to go to Damascus. This was the very spot where he himself had debated with Stephen and approved his martyrdom. He would recollect his former life, especially this time, his last journey to Jerusalem, and as he thought about what had happened to Stephen at his own consent, he wondered, “Will I meet the same fate as Stephen met here on this journey?”

He had never walked the streets of Jerusalem with as sad a heart as this time, because he knew he would find few friends and many enemies. In the crowds that were there for the feast, there were thousands of people, who, if you even mentioned his name, would be excited to madness and fury. This was the city which had been the murderer of the prophets, that had rejected and crucified the Son of God, and over which there now hung threatenings of divine wrath. As the apostle Paul remembered how bitter his own prejudice had been against the followers of Christ, he felt the deepest pity for his deluded countrymen, yet he had little hope he would be able to benefit them, because they had the same blind wrath which had once burned in his own heart, and which was now telling with untold power upon the hearts of a whole nation against him.

The apostle Paul could not count upon even the sympathy and the support of his own brethren in the Christian faith. The unconverted Jews had so closely followed upon his track and had not been slow to circulate the most unfavorable reports at Jerusalem, and these reports concerning Paul and his work, communicated both personally and by letter, had affected even the apostles and elders in the Christian church. Some had received these reports as true, making no attempt to contradict them or manifest any desire to harmonize with him.

But yet, in the midst of all these discouragements, the apostle was not in despair, because he was trusting that the same voice he had heard on the Damascus road that had spoken to his own heart would speak to the hearts of his countrymen. Have you ever wondered why that voice doesn’t speak more to men today? Friend, that voice is trying to speak today, but many people are so busy and the noise in their life is so loud that they don’t hear the still small voice speaking in the conscience.

Read the story of Elijah. God does not usually speak to people in a whirlwind, or a fire, or an earthquake. His usual method of speaking to mankind is through what is called “the still small voice,” the voice of the Holy Spirit in the conscience. Is your life so loud and is there so much noise in your life that you don’t have any time to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to your conscience?

The next day after he arrived at Jerusalem, Paul had a meeting with the elders. It says, “On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry” (verses 18, 19). The apostle related how that in the worldwide center of heathenism, Ephesus, the Holy Spirit had used him to raise up a very large church. He also told about his experiences with the churches in Galatia, in what we call Turkey today. He told about his experiences with raising up the church in Corinth. He had to tell certain disagreeable things that Judaizing teachers had done to the churches in Galatia and Corinth which had caused him to write some very severe letters to these churches. He told them in detail what had been done, and when they found out, they could not help but see that the signet of God was upon his ministry, and that the Holy Spirit had worked through him in a marvelous way to raise up Christian churches and convert people from heathenism to the gospel all over the world.

“When they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law’ ” (verse 20). Now when the apostle Paul made known to the elders in Jerusalem all of these churches and Gentile believers he had raised up, and they presented the gifts, which was much more than they had anticipated, this was the golden opportunity for the apostles, the elders, and the leaders to confess that they had been prejudiced, and that they should lay their prejudices aside and acknowledge the work of the apostle Paul as being of God. But, instead of confessing their own errors and their own prejudices, and acknowledging that God had been at work in the ministry of the apostle Paul, they threw the burden wholly back upon Paul to solve the problem between the Jews and the Gentiles.

In fact, they actually asked the apostle Paul to do something that would be conceding that he had gone too far in his teaching the Gentile Christians that they did not need to do anything about observing the ceremonial law. Notice the council that they gave. It says, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law [the ceremonial law of Jewish rites and ceremonies]; but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law [that is, the ceremonial law]. But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality” (verses 20–25).

They hoped that if the apostle Paul would make this concession, it would solve the problem. They were saying that if a Jew becomes a Christian, he should still keep all of the Jewish rites and ceremonies. But if a Gentile becomes a Christian, then it is not necessary. This is directly contrary to what the apostle Paul taught. Read the book of Romans. Read the book of first Corinthians. Read the book of Galatians. Not only was it directly contrary to what Paul taught but it was directly contrary to what they themselves had agreed to at the Jerusalem council (see Acts 15). Yet, the apostle Paul conceded, and this is very difficult today for some people to understand. Why would Paul make this concession, which was so contrary to what he had written and taught wherever he went? He wanted desperately to solve the division, to bring harmony among the Christians all over the world so there would not be this continual division and strife between the Gentile and Jewish Christians.

However, Paul conceded more than he should have, for this concession was not in harmony with his teachings. It was not in harmony with the firm integrity that had been manifested in the past in his character. We have to remember that his advisors were not infallible, and though some of these men wrote parts of Scripture under the Spirit of God, yet when not under its direct influence, they sometimes erred. It should be remembered that on one occasion, the apostle Paul withstood Peter to his face in public, because Peter was acting a double part. Because Paul had such a great desire to be in harmony with his brethren, so much tenderness of heart toward the weak in faith, and so much reverence for the apostles who had been with Christ while He had been on the earth, so much reverence for James, the brother of the Lord, and so much a desire to be all things to all men, it is less surprising then, that he deviated from his normal strict integrity to try to conciliate and placate his Jewish brethren and bring harmony into the church.

Unfortunately, this decision on his part did not solve the problem at all but hastened his own capture and imprisonment. Dear friend, whether you’re an apostle, or church leader, whoever you are, it never pays to deviate from strict integrity, even when pressed with anxiety on a courageous journey.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Health – Nature’s Substitute for Penicillin

When one thinks about penicillin, the words infection, disease and doctors’ offices usually come to mind. But if you have a natural mind, one of the first things that come to mind is garlic. Raw garlic has many wonderful health properties. It is not eaten readily because we do not want to offend the people around us with its lingering strong odor. But when you do not feel well and want to avoid sharing germs with others, that is an especially good time to pull out the garlic.  As you read the following you will understand why it is called Russian penicillin.

Stinky Fresh crushed garlic

Garlic has a potent history. According to the NYU (New York University) Langone Medical Center:

From Roman antiquity through World War I, garlic poultices were used to prevent wound infections. The famous microbiologist Louis Pasteur performed some of the original work showing that garlic could kill bacteria. In 1916, the British government issued a general plea for the public to supply it with garlic in order to meet wartime needs. Garlic was called Russian penicillin during World War II because, after running out of antibiotics, the Russian government turned to this ancient treatment for its soldiers.

Fresh crushed garlic is the star of nature’s antibiotic, and the “fresh” part here is very important. Minced garlic in a jar will not do. When fresh garlic is crushed, a chemical reaction that causes sulfenic acid is set off. But sulfenic acid is unstable and breaks down steadily into another unstable compound called allicin, which has a strong antibiotic property. Let the fresh minced or crushed garlic sit for about 15 minutes before using it in order to build up a greater amount of allicin (which is what we want here).

Spicy Cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper is a very powerful spice that, like garlic, has been used for its health benefits throughout history.

According to Dr. Patrick Quillin, author of The Healing Power of Cayenne Pepper, he says,

“Cayenne pepper has been prized for thousands of years for its healing power. Folklore from around the world recounts amazing results using cayenne pepper in simple healing and in baffling health problems. But cayenne pepper is not just a healer from ancient history. Recent clinical studies have been conducted on many of the old-time health applications for this miracle herb. Again and again, the therapeutic value of cayenne pepper has been medically validated.”

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations states that cayenne pepper fights infection and inflammation, and the University of Maryland Medical Center has reported that the capsaicin in cayenne peppers may offer an effective treatment for ear infections.

Sweet Raw honey

While, I really do just try to put raw honey in absolutely everything I make, it has a real purpose here. First of all, it makes the garlic and cayenne go down easier, but most importantly, raw honey boosts immune function, and has strong anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.

In Jethro Kloss’s book, Back to Eden, (1982), page 216, he says, “Red pepper is one of the most wonderful herb medicines we have. We do wonderful things with it that we are not able to do with any other known herb. It should never be classed with black pepper, vinegar, or mustard. These are irritating, while red pepper is very soothing. While red pepper smarts a little, it can be put in an open wound either in a fresh wound or an old ulcer, and it is very healing instead of irritating; but black pepper, mustard, and vinegar are irritating to an open wound and do not heal. Red Pepper is one of the most stimulating herbs known to man with no harm or reaction.”

I am very thankful for the little things which God has provided for us in times of illness.

How does this work exactly?

  • Combine 1 crushed garlic clove (that has been sitting out for 15 minutes) with one teaspoon raw honey and ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Take about ¼ of the mixture into your mouth and swallow it down with a sip of warm tea or water. Do this until the mixture is gone.
  • As you would with a prescribed antibiotic, you should do this 2-3 times daily and continue for a day or two after the symptoms disappear.
  • Of course, seek medical attention if your symptoms are not alleviated.