Bible Study Guides – The Jewish Church in Christ’s day; a return to captivity

July 25, 2010 – July 31, 2010

Key Text

“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.


As a result of renewed apostasy, what did the professed church in Christ’s day look like? How was the situation of the church in Christ’s day comparable to the church during the time of the Babylonian captivity? What were the contrasts?

Here the story gets even more complicated. The Jewish leaders in Christ’s time seemed to understand, at least by way of terminology, that the purpose of God’s church was to bear children—and that’s exactly what they claimed to be, the children of the true church. This is what they claimed when they said, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone.” It may seem simple in hindsight to see that they missed the most obvious spiritual applications of the seed bearing church, but it was missed nonetheless. In reality, and contrary to the claims of its leaders, the professed church of the Jewish nation in Christ’s day had actually returned to a Babylonian type captivity—a captivity that contrasted physically and paralleled spiritually the ancient Babylonian captivity.

The Jewish church had become spiritually bankrupt—in aggregate an old wine bottle such as Jesus referred to in Luke 5:37–39. A new church arose alongside the decaying edifice of the Jewish church before anyone, either founders of the new or guardians of the old, fully understood what was happening! Let’s proceed to highlight a few of these details.

“The Pharisees opposed the teachings of Jesus with all their force, and Jesus turned from the recognized religious leaders to find in others new bottles for the new wine. In the untutored fisherman, in the publican at the market-place, in the woman of Samaria, in the common people who heard him gladly, he found his new bottles for the new wine. …

“God’s people must go on from light to a greater light, or they will become, as did the Pharisees, unwilling to receive additional light. They will find themselves in the condition represented by withered, dried-up bottles. In their religious faith they will be unmovable, inflexible, like the withered fig tree dried up by the roots. …

“The lessons which Jesus taught in the parables should be carefully studied; they contain instruction for his people in these last days … Christ, the consolation of Israel, had come unto his own, but his own received him not. He must find new bottles to contain his new wine.” The Signs of the Times, September 19, 1892.

1 What did the Jewish church look like in the time of Christ? How did the experience of the Jewish church in Christ’s day parallel the experience of the Babylonian captivity? In what ways was the experience in contrast to the Babylonian captivity?

Review and Discuss:

The captor nation now in question was Rome. (It is interesting to note in this context that Peter later was to refer to the capital, Rome, as “Babylon.” I Peter 5:13.)

The nation/church of Israel was in near complete captivity to Rome—its civil and spiritual leaders, vassals to Rome, as Zedechiah and his immediate predecessors had been to Nebuchadnezzar. Yet instead of reducing the church to rubble, the captors had helped to beautify and embellish the temple. (Despite outward beautification, the church, as in the time of Jeremiah, was desolate—destitute of the Spirit of Christ. Matthew 23:38.) The temple church had become a “den of thieves.”

Once again, God’s people were in complete denial about the fact that they were in bondage! Note the claim made by one faction of the leaders of the professed church to Christ: “They [the Pharisees] answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?” John 8:33.

There now seemed to be many pastors (priests), but yet there were no shepherds! “… Jesus … was moved with compassion for them [multitudes], because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.” Mark 6:34.

Unlike the previous Babylonian captivity, there were now schools for religious instruction associated with the churches—yet not in any of them was there found a place fit for proper instruction! “In the days of Christ the town or city that did not provide for the religious instruction of the young was regarded as under the curse of God. Yet … tradition had in a great degree supplanted the Scriptures. … The principles of the law were obscured.” The Desire of Ages, 69.

As in Jeremiah’s time, a false trust was placed in the professed church—in the ordinances and buildings that had been dedicated by and to God. The forms of religion continued despite the deep divisions of a conservative and liberal class.

The forms of this church carried on, largely uninterrupted clear past the zenith of the early Christian church. The Jewish temple-church soldiered on after the gospel had gone to every person in the world (Colossians 1:23)! It continued on after the key leaders of the early Christian church; Stephen, James, Peter and Paul all had been martyred for their faith.

2 Did Christ also profess to be the head of the church? Was it the same church described above? See Matthew 16:18; John 10:1–9, 11, 16; Matthew 23:32–39; John 15:1, 5, 7, 8; John 8: 34–36.


Christ also professed to be the leader of the true church. It consisted largely of outcasts, but anyone and all were invited to join: foreigner or Pharisee; fisherman or lawyer; man, woman, or child. Here are some of the claims of Christ regarding this: “on this rock [Christ] I will build my church” and “I am the door. … I am the Good Shepherd … other sheep I have … there will be one flock and one Shepherd … my sheep hear my voice.” Christ explained captivity and the church’s purpose of bearing fruit and bearing children in terms like these:

“I am the true vine … you are the branches … if you abide in Me, and my Words abide in you … you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples” and “you must be born again” and “whoever commits sin is a slave … a slave does not abide in the house forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

3 What did the prospects for this new church look like in Christ’s day? What was their experience?

Review and Discuss:

Christ’s own people reject Him (Luke 4:16–30).

The glory Christ brought to the temple was unrecognized.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while, I will once more shake the heavens, and the earth, the sea, and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. … ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house.’ ” Haggai 2:6, 7, 9.

An apparent early victory by the Sea of Galilee is followed by a massive shaking among Christ’s followers! Nearly all forsake Him (John 6:60–68).

“Christ sifted His followers again and again, until at one time there remained only eleven and a few faithful women to lay the foundation of the Christian church. There are those who will stand back when burdens are to be borne; but when the church is all aglow, they catch the enthusiasm, sing and shout, and become rapturous; but watch them. When the fervor is gone, only a few faithful Calebs will come to the front and display unwavering principle. These are salt that retains the savor. It is when the work moves hard that the churches develop the true helpers. These will not be talking of self, vindicating self, but will lose their identity in Jesus Christ.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 130.

Christ’s disciples are nearly completely confused about which church they belong to (Matthew 17:24–27; Matthew 16:6–12).

Christ, at the last left by all, treads the winepress of God’s wrath—alone (Isaiah 59:14–17)!

Peter, a key disciple, publically disavows connection with Christ and His church.

On the cross, seemingly a failed traitor of the church, Jesus cries out: “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46.

With unspeakable sorrow and bitterness, Christ’s disciples see an end to all they understood to be of Christ’s church (Luke 24:21).

4 Do the above descriptions of the Jewish church and Christ’s church complete the story?

Christ predicted the above situation, and the reversals that came, and so had the prophets before Him. Notice here again how Jesus is consistent with the Old Testament imagery of the purpose of God’s church when He tells His disciples, “A woman when she is in labor has sorrow, because her hour has come: but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for the joy. … Therefore you now have sorrow: but … your heart will rejoice.” John 16:21, 22.

5 Although unrecognized by nearly all, what was the true situation of the Jewish church?

Review and Discuss:

Unrecognized, Christ comes a last time, seeking fruit from Israel (Mark 11:11–22).

Unrecognized, probation closes on the Jewish nation-church (Matthew 23:32–39).

Unrecognized, spiritual bondage is at last followed by physical bondage and destruction.

Unrecognized, a new church of spiritual Jews was born to replace the old.

6 And what was the position of the Church that Christ was raising?

Review and Discuss:

Christ declared that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18). The work of Christ prior to and on the cross of Calvary had indeed prepared the new church for victory in the midst of defeat! At the very close of Christ’s agony, Ellen White writes:

“Well, then, might the angels rejoice as they looked upon the Saviour’s cross; for though they did not then understand all, they knew that the destruction of sin and Satan was forever made certain, that the redemption of man was assured, and that the universe was made eternally secure. Christ Himself fully comprehended the results of the sacrifice made upon Calvary. To all these He looked forward when upon the cross He cried out, ‘It is finished’ [John 19:30].” The Desire of Ages, 764.

With Christ’s victory in Gethsemane, at trial, and on Calvary, the church was prepared to fulfill the purposes for which she was ordained:

Bearing the fruit of Spiritual rebirth, at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Bearing the fruit of offspring (converts) on the day of Pentecost.

Representing the name of God to the world (Christian).

The promised triumphs of the church by Old Testament prophets were indeed fulfilled. But no one, not even the disciples, recognized the omens of coming victory. In parallel, the promised decimation of the church by Old Testament prophets was also fulfilled, first spiritually and then physically. Very few of God’s originally called and professed people had any part of the triumph, while most experienced the fulfillment of prophecies of destruction! God’s new Christian church had triumphed, had been born, unrecognized as such by the Jewish nation, from a gathering of all nations. (Note: Even this triumph, though, could have been more complete, had Jewish nationalism among the disciples been seen for what it was earlier, and completely put away (Galatians 4:19–31; Ephesians 2:10–22; Acts 9, 10; Romans 9, 10, 11). Christ looked forward to this birth of a new church when:

In these strangers (the Greeks who came to the temple) He (Christ) saw the pledge of a great harvest, when the partition wall between Jew and Gentile should be broken down, and all nations, tongues, and peoples should hear the message of salvation. The anticipation of this, the consummation of His hopes, is expressed in the words, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.” John 12:23. The gathering in of the Gentiles was to follow His approaching death.

The new church was indeed formed by a combination of Jew and Gentile. Praise the Lord for the power of the gospel to make the true Christian church from: Jew (Paul) and Gentile (the Ethiopian eunuch); former Pharisees (Simon): former harlots (Mary), Roman centurions (Cornelius), and former zealots (Simon).

Reader, an understanding of what is really happening in the above parallel mingling of triumph-tragedy for the professed Jewish church and tragedy-triumph of the Christian church is critical to an understanding of Old Testament prophecy. The Old Testament prophecies themselves are, on a large scale, a grand-parallel mingling of stunning triumph in the face of disaster and monumental defeat in the face of misplaced confidence. This history of the church in Christ’s time gives us the tools to understand how these seemingly contradictory prophecies can be fulfilled simultaneously.

Studies prepared by John T. Grosboll PE. 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 reached at

Bible Study Guides – After the Captivity, A Church and a Wall to Rebuild

July 18, 2010 – July 24, 2010

Key Text

“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.


It might seem odd to introduce any Sabbath school lesson by asking what a monetary system, a hydro-electric dam, a jet engine, or fiber-optic network have in common. But they do in fact each carry a feature that is illustrative of a key requirement in God’s last day church. They are products of collective intelligence.

There are millions of very talented, intelligent and industrious people in our world, but no single person knows in full how to design and manage a major infrastructure project, build a jet plane or computer, or manage a monetary system. Nor can one person simply assign a specified amount of physical and mental energy to be expended by a group of people working separately and accomplish any of these projects. All of these projects require collective intelligence. It is collective intelligence and action of human agents that produces the large scale progress in the secular world.

But what of God’s church? If the world we live in were managed the same way that our gospel work has been, we would all be tool-poor, barterers, and hunter-gatherers the world over! The children of darkness are indeed wiser in their generation than the children of light on this point (Luke 16:8, 9). Are there functions that God has assigned to His church that require collective action? Are you taking collective action?

Our lesson today is about the rebuilding of the temple church and the city walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. We will see that collective action was one of the important requirements to the completion of these projects. This lesson covers the events covered by Prophets and Kings, chapters 45–58.

1 Once Babylon had fallen, and it was time to leave, who opened the way for the rebuilding? Isaiah 45:1–4; Daniel 10:13, 20, 21.


After a mighty spiritual struggle (recorded in Daniel 10), the civil government opened the way for the captive Jewish church to return to Jerusalem and rebuild. See Prophets and Kings, 572.

2 Was the call out successful, in terms of numbers? Ezra 2:64; 8:15.


“The king and his princes had done more than their part in opening the way for the return. They had provided abundant means, but where were the men? The sons of Levi failed at a time when the influence of a decision to accompany their brethren would have led others to follow their example. Their strange indifference is a sad revelation of the attitude of the Israelites in Babylon toward God’s purpose for His people.” Prophets and Kings, 614.

Apply It:

For the majority of Jews who, having integrated themselves so completely in Babylonian society, decided to remain; was the Babylonian captivity over after 70 years? While choosing to remain fully integrated with Babylonian (and then Persian) society, were they in a position to recognize their state?

3 What key decisions characterized successful rebuilding of the church?

Review and Discuss:

God’s people refuse union with foreigners (God’s enemies) in the building (Ezra 4:2, 3).

Working together “as one man”—working with collective intelligence (Ezra 3:1–8).

Listening to the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (Ezra 5:1, 2).

Fasting, prayer, and spiritual preparation (Ezra 7, 8).

4 Several years later, what key decisions characterized successful rebuilding of Jerusalem’s city wall?

Review and Discuss:

Working together “as one man”—working with collective intelligence (Nehemiah 3; 8:1).

Fasting, prayer, and spiritual preparation (Nehemiah 1:4).

God’s people refuse to again be deterred by foreigners (God’s enemies) in the building (Nehemiah 2:20; chapter 4; chapter 7).

5 What are characteristic features of collective intelligence and action?

Apply It:

More than one person is necessary, but not sufficient.

More than one group of people is necessary, but not sufficient.

Knowledgeable and strong people are necessary, but not sufficient.

Knowledgeable, strong people working on the same project are necessary, but not sufficient.

Knowledgeable, strong groups of people working together; and under the Divine leadership and human leadership is necessary, and with the Holy Spirit, is sufficient.

Note that we cannot work collectively on building God’s church, while we work exclusively from the waste places of the earth. We cannot effectively work together while all of us move to the mountainous regions. In Nehemiah’s time, ALL parts of the wall needed workers. God needs people today working together on different parts of the wall and from many places. God needs families, not satisfied simply to realize the dangers of raising a family in the city, but to devise plans for reaching other families in the cities. God needs builders on the wall to work in cities, in towns, and in the remote areas. He needs workers in the mountains, in the plains, and the coastal areas. See Testimonies, vol. 8, 119; vol. 7, 34–36; Evangelism, 384–428.

6 What decisions characterized near failure during rebuilding of the church?

Review and Discuss:

A failure to act quickly! See Prophets and Kings, 572.

Union with foreigners in marriage (Ezra 9; 10).

Complacency, personal property before God’s church (Haggai 1).

Failures of priests (pastors) (Ezra 3:12).

7 What decisions characterized near failure during, and after, rebuilding of the wall?

Review and Discuss:

Taking financial advantage of the poor (Nehemiah 5).

Union with foreigners in marriage (Nehemiah 13).

Putting personal property before God’s church (Nehemiah 13:4–9).

Failures of priests (pastors) (Nehemiah 13).

Failure to collect tithes and offerings for the ministers (Nehemiah 13).

Relaxing Sabbath standards (Nehemiah 13).

8 Was the spiritual construction of God’s temple and the city wall, the purpose of His church, ever completed by the Jewish nation?

NO—The nation did not give birth to the character of Christ, or to the offspring of converts! Christ Himself became the ultimate fulfillment of Birth to the church—He was literally given to them—and to us! (Revelation 12:5.)

9 What applications to church and wall rebuilding do we have today? Has the work of rebuilding the church been completed? Has the church completed rebuilding the wall?

Review and Discuss:

Church: Ephesians 2:19–22

Wall: Isaiah 58:12, 13

Apply It:

Review Haggai, chapter 1.

“The expression, ‘This people say,’ is significant. … Pleas for delay are a dishonor to God. … in a communication through his prophet, he [the Lord] referred to them not as ‘my people,’ but as ‘this people.’ ” The Review and Herald, December 5, 1907. Ellen White says that, “This history will be repeated.” [Emphasis supplied.]

How, in practice, might this same experience be repeated?

This is the message of the prophet Haggai: God’s people could have no success while the church was not complete, and they were not trying to do anything about it! God said that because of their slackness, they would continue to fail to receive rain and fail to produce fruit.

In Haggai’s time, God’s people had been called to return to re-build the temple. It was also their privilege to build their own homes, and cultivate their fields. But they had made their personal building and planting a greater priority than building the temple, and were severely rebuked for this. Their crops were cursed. We even find that God temporarily disowned them for this neglect. Today, I fear that many have placed the importance of preparing their property and gardens for the time of trouble ahead of plans to finish building the temple. This is not to say that this preparation is unimportant, but simply to say that we must understand the relative importance of these activities.

10 Is there a need for collective intelligence in God’s church today?

Apply It:

God has appointed both individual and collective will to humans, and both are important. As a starting point, you may compare and contrast collective and individual will to action within Joshua 24:15. You may see examples of the importance of individual action in Daniel 6; I Kings 22:9–14, and Isaiah 40:3. You may see examples of the importance of collective action in John 20:23; Acts 6:1–7, and I Corinthians 12:9–18. As Historic SDAs, we have long exercised our muscle of individual will and action, while our muscle of collective will, intelligence, and action has nigh atrophied. In Heaven, the collective will to action is critical to success in the Great Controversy! What about our collective action?

God, in His infinite wisdom, has given to His church collective tasks in evangelism and education that simply cannot be met exclusively by exercising our talents individually! There are parts of our individual characters that simply cannot be properly developed unless we are at least attempting to work collectively. Unfortunately, many of us have been assuming otherwise.

Let’s be straightforward: the need for true gospel workers, health workers and teachers is not being adequately supplied by any portion of the corporate entity of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. But among historic SDAs, the situation of supplying trained workers is even worse, and no one among us is in a position to exercise collective action with the General Conference, which has shown an eagerness to attempt to control through the court system.

However large this problem may seem, we must at minimum not ignore it, or pretend that because it takes the action of many, we are in no position to make an attempt to rectify it. You can see this is about much more than pooling our money. You will find out, as you continue in this lesson series, that God will use the heathen to fill this vacuum if nothing else is done.

Could it be time to consider more than theoretical future solutions; could it be time to consider pragmatic ones? This author believes that it is past time to ask some very difficult questions; questions such as: If someone felt called to the gospel ministry (the gospel ministry as laid out in Testimonies to Ministers, for example), what real employment options do they have? Would you want to be in their shoes? Are you in their shoes? (Remember, God will call 11th hour workers from secular employment to gospel employment.) What would it take to train and hire workers? Would the Historic SDA church nearest me need to be better organized? Could I help? Would it take more than one local church to get the job done? Would I be prepared to recognize and act collectively with 11th hour workers from other churches? Would it take things like an identity, plans, goals, boards, and bank accounts? Am I an amicable enough person so that others could get along with me well enough to prosecute a plan of action?

I know the preceding paragraph may read like heresy to some. But we’re halfway there, and that halfway position will not long be stable. There exist Historic SDA churches. There are groups of Historic SDA churches working together in various places in the world. There are Historic SDA teachers, and medical professionals. And all of these exist because people believe that the gospel message drives and defines the identity of the remnant, and not the other way around (Revelation 14:12)! Today we are either half wrong, and need to close shop on these activities, or we’re half right, and need to “Strengthen the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees.” Isaiah 35:3.

You may be tempted to say that the thought of working on a large scale is preposterous given our current situation and the shortness of time. You may ask, “Should we really expect to launch some large, potentially bureaucratic edifice for training and employing workers when God has said that He will complete His work through surprisingly simple means?” These are fair questions. Consider these questions: 1st, Are the dangers of bureaucracy paramount when there exists no organization? 2nd, Even though God has said He will finish His work in simple ways that will astound us, do you think that He will sanction our part in that work if we simply excuse ourselves from attempting to act collectively, because it’s messy, hard to do, and takes time?

11 Is there risk when you choose to engage in collective action?

Apply It:

The good news for us is that Christ has already guaranteed the outcome of the war; there is zero risk that He will lose the great controversy. But there is very real risk in each battle of the great controversy, risk that souls will be lost. When you undertake a project by yourself, you are individually to a large degree in control of the risk of failure. When you engage in collective intelligence and action, you as an individual are in a much smaller way in control of the risk of failure.

Collective action requires the individuals to give of themselves at the risk of each other’s good will. There is no way to make money through investment, without putting money at risk of loss—at least temporary loss. And when we invest our talents for Christ, we may indeed realize temporary loss and may not in this life realize the gain of our investment. But our risk in these endeavors pales to the very real risk that God made to save you and me, the risk of the loss of His own Son!

Studies prepared by John T. Grosboll PE. 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 reached at

Bible Study Guides – The Babylonian Captivity: An Outline of the Scope and Characteristics

July 11, 2010 – July 17, 2010

Key Text

“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.


At first consideration many Bible students of experience may well imagine a lesson on what constituted the Babylonian captivity to be a fairly straightforward exercise. But instead it turns out to be a rather complicated story involving a wide variety of differing experiences and perceptions. This lesson provides an outline summary of this involved story.

1 How does the Bible summarize the variety and the scope of the captivity? Jeremiah 15:1–10.

Apply It:

God, through the prophet Jeremiah, here reiterates the reasons for the captivity, and reveals the vast extent and sorrow of the captivity in all its forms. Everyone in God’s professed church was to experience the impact of the decimating Babylonian captivity in some way! Death, sword, starvation, and captivity!

2 Were God’s people warned of the coming captivity? II Chronicles 36:14–21.

3 What events constituted the Babylonian captivity for church members, prophets and pastors?

Review and Discuss:

100% of God’s people were directly affected (II Chronicles 36:17; II Kings 25:11).

God’s professed people were scattered (Jeremiah 10:21; 23:1, 2).

The shepherds (priests) were lost (Jeremiah 10:21; 23:1, 2; Lamentations 2:10).

The most sacred symbol, the Ark of the Testament, was removed (II Chronicles 36:18).

Many of God’s professed people put to the test in Babylon (II Chronicles 36:20).

The faithful persecuted by the state, united with and goaded by false religion (Daniel 3).

Various combinations of physical and spiritual bondage in different locales.

The Word of God (prophets) again became rare (Lamentations 2:20).

4 What events constituted the Babylonian captivity for the church infrastructure: schools, church, and church headquarters?

Review and Discuss:

The capital city of the church (Jerusalem) was destroyed (II Chronicles 36:19).

The schools that provided religious education were destroyed.

The real property of the church (temple) was destroyed (II Chronicles 36:19).

5 What was the scope of the Babylonian captivity experience for those taken to Babylon?

Review and Discuss:

A staged captivity; Babylon made three trips to Jerusalem.

Captives physically in Babylon, but spiritually free (examples: Ezekiel and Daniel).

Captives physically and spiritually in Babylon (example: Zedekiah; see II Kings 24:17–25:10).

A generation born in captivity becomes so integrated with Babylon that they do not recognize God’s plan in the repeated calls to leave Babylon and rebuild God’s church (examples: Mordecai’s ancestors and many of the priests; see Esther and Ezra 8:15).

A few born in captivity see God’s plan in the call to return (example: Zerubbabel; see Ezra 2:2).

6 What was the scope of the Babylonian captivity experience for the remnant who remained in Judea?

Review and Discuss:

A remnant in Judea, under the yoke of Babylon physically and spiritually (example: Ishmael; see Jeremiah 41:1–10).

A remnant in Judea, under Babylon physically only (example: the prophet Jeremiah; see Jeremiah 39:11, 12).

A remnant, unwilling to admit the yoke, trusting in temple and false messages (Jeremiah 42).

A remnant, unwilling to admit the yoke, seeking freedom in Egypt (Jeremiah 43, 44).

7 When did the Babylonian captivity start?

Apply It:

Note that the captivity and destruction of Jerusalem was not a single point in time. It came in stages over several years. So when did it start? Did God’s professed people recognize the doom of captivity when it commenced? Here’s an outline of the captivity and destruction of Jerusalem:

1st—605 B.C., King Jehoiakim (Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah taken prisoners).

2nd—597 B.C., King Jehoichin (the temple looted; Ezekiel taken prisoner).

3rd—586 B.C., King Zedekiah (city destroyed).

The captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, greatest of the neo-Babylonian kings, came in three stages over a 19-year period. The 70-year captivity started in 605 B.C. God never intended the captivity to be as severe as it became! Even though the captivity itself could not at this time be averted (it had been assured since the reigns of Hezekiah and Manasseh), Kings Jehoichin and Zedekiah had opportunity to avert the destruction of the temple and the city by obedience to the word of God through Jeremiah. But Zedechiah’s fear of the leadership in God’s professed church prompted his continued rebellion (see for example, Jeremiah 38:14–26).

8 Did Israel understand and acknowledge the state of their captivity?

This is an astounding question to consider! Why would it not be obvious? Who has ever been subject to captivity, not recognized it—and even argued with those who declared it to be so?

But amazingly the answer is an emphatic NO!

There was a very large argument (even extending internationally) about whether or not Judah (and the surrounding nations) were even in the captivity pronounced by Jeremiah! Imagine, being in captivity or on the cusp of it, and denying it! You may read this extended story in Jeremiah 24–29. There was a near complete denial and rebellion by God’s people against the facts, nature, and extent of the captivity. Due to this, it became much more extreme in nature than it need have been.

Subsequent to the latter stages of Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Judah, the remnant left in Judea sought freedom from Babylon by fleeing back to Egypt. But Egypt, along with the other surrounding nations, had also—by God’s direction—been placed under the yoke of Babylon. It is as if one prisoner were to seek a break-out to freedom by entering another’s prison cell! The rebellion against, and denial of the captivity was indeed widespread—even to the point of kidnapping Jeremiah. In this we see that all of God’s professed people were partakers of the effects of captivity. See Jeremiah 40–44.

Apply It:

If modern Israel were to ignore prophecy and history; if they continued with the same sins by which ancient Israel secured their own destruction, would it be possible for them to pass as unrecognized the omens and commencement of their captivity?

9 How did Jeremiah summarize the dreadful situation of God’s professed people at this time? Lamentations, chapters 1 and 2.

“How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! … Her children have gone into captivity … [Zion] has seen the nations enter her sanctuary, those whom you commanded not to enter … the Lord … has abandoned His sanctuary … the Law is no more … Your prophets have seen for you false … visions; they have not uncovered your iniquity, to bring back your captives … Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord.” See Lamentations 1. [Emphasis supplied.]

Apply It:

Note the loss of the church’s purpose of marriage and child rearing as revealed in these words of Jeremiah.

10 By way of comparison, note that in prophetic reference, Babylon itself, which claims to be married to Christ, will experience widowhood and the loss of children in one day! Isaiah 47:5–9; Revelation 18:7, 8.

11 Was there anyone to recognize the sorrow and join with Jeremiah in weeping? What will God’s true people be doing when they recognize a disastrous crisis is upon them? Lamentations 1:12; 2:11, 18, 19; Ezekiel 9:4–10.

Apply It:

If God’s modern day people were to fall into a state of disgrace, because of their sins, what should be the responsibility of those seeking to remain faithful? In the Ezekiel reference, what is the outcome for those who are not distraught over the rebellion among God’s professed people?

Studies prepared by John T. Grosboll PE. 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 reached at


Bible Study Guides – Why Did the Babylonian Captivity Happen to God’s Professed People?

July 4, 2010 – July 10, 2010

Key Text

“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.


“… because of their failure to fulfill his purpose, he permitted them to be humbled by an idolatrous nation.” The Youth’s Instructor, May 14, 1903.

In general it may be said that the Babylonian captivity of Judah came about because they did not as a nation-church fulfill the purposes of God as outlined in the first lesson. That means that they did not fulfill God’s purpose for them by bearing the fruit of transformed characters and becoming a refuge for converts. The short quote above illustrates this fact. With this one short phrase, the whole of the title question to this lesson may be answered—from start to finish! But the extensive history of the causes and nature of the captivity in both the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy invite any serious student to a much more thorough examination.

Rather than simply leave us a general summary, God outlines in history very specific reasons why the captivity happened. He tells us in detail why God’s ancient church was not able to fulfill His purpose of fruit bearing. Several key specific reasons are outlined in the questions below. As we study these, we should keep this question at the forefront of our minds: If this history were to be repeated by God’s professed people today, would the results of captivity again be realized also?


The focus of this study is largely devoted to the reasons for the captivity of Judah. The near parallel reasons for the captivity and destruction of the northern tribes of Israel are starkly summarized in II Kings 17:13–23.

1 What were the foundational actions that led to the captivity? Ezra 9:14; Judges 2:2, 3.

Review and Discuss:

“In his study of the causes that led to the Babylonish captivity, Ezra had learned that the terrible apostasy of Israel was largely traceable to their mingling with the surrounding nations. Had they obeyed God’s command to keep separate from the heathen, they would have been spared many sad and humiliating experiences.” The Review and Herald, February 20, 1908. [Emphasis supplied.]

“Should we … join … with the people of these abominations? Would you not be angry until … there was no remnant or escaping?”

“And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land … their gods shall be a snare unto you.”

Apply It:

Ezra sought through prayer and study to understand the reason why God’s work on earth had been so humbled through captivity and desolation. Should not modern Israel, if faced with humiliating circumstances, seek to understand the cause? As a counterpoint, note the striking words of Isaiah 22:9–14! Do you have something to be concerned about in God’s cause today?

2 What Lack was a precursor to captivity? Isaiah 5:13; Jeremiah 8:7; Hosea 4:6.

Review and Discuss:

“… my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge.”

“My people know not the judgment of the Lord.”

“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.”

3 This vacuum of knowledge was the result of what actions that further sealed the certainty of the captivity? II Chronicles 13:15, 16; Jeremiah 26:5, 6; Zechariah 7:12–14; Jeremiah 7:12–14; II Kings 17:13.

Review and Discuss:

“… the Lord … sent warnings to them by His messengers … because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers … despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.”

“… refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord … sent through the former prophets … great wrath came … I scattered them … among all nations.”

“… heed … the prophets … (but you have not) … then I will make this house … a curse.”

Apply It:

The actions of God’s professed people in rejecting the true prophets were both active and passive in nature. But the results of each on the nation were the same. It is easy to see the active rejection in words like scoffed and mocked—and in the stories of the persecutions of Jeremiah, Micaiah, and others. But there is a clear emphasis in these verses on the passive rejection of the prophets. God’s professed people despised His words through refusing to hear the law and the words.

It is very important to understand this in application; to understand what the rejection of these prophets means, and what it does not mean. Note that it does NOT mean that God’s professed people physically destroyed the words of the prophets (although at times they tried). It does NOT mean that they ceased completely to publish the words of these prophets, or were (at least in the long-run) careless to retain the accuracy of the words of the prophets. Indeed, the Dead Sea scrolls are a strong testimony to the fact that there were, centuries later, Jews who were still very rigorous to preserve the text of the prophets with rigorous accuracy. The words of the prophets were passively rejected when they were ignored!

Have God’s professed people ignored and acted counter to any express commands given by God through a prophet? If so, state at least one explicit example.

4 What role did the leadership in the Jewish church play in the captivity? Jeremiah 23:1; 6:13–15; 8:8–11; Isaiah 56:9–12; Ezekiel 34:8; Jeremiah 10:21; 50:6.

Review and Discuss:

“Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!”

“… the pen of the scribes is vain. The wise men are ashamed … they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them? … For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”

“… beasts of the field, come to devour. … His watchmen are blind … they are shepherds who cannot understand: they all look to their own way. … They get drunk.”

“My people have been lost. … Their shepherds have led them astray.”

“… My flock became prey … because … shepherds … did not feed my flock.”

“The shepherds are senseless and do not inquire of the Lord; so … all their flock is scattered.”

Apply It:

Note the repetition in the references from Jeremiah chapter 6 and Jeremiah chapter 8! When the prophet repeats himself, we should be doubly assured of the importance and accuracy of the information (for example, Genesis 41:32). Can you identify modern shepherds who lead their flocks astray? Can you identify any modern scribes who pen messages of peace, while God’s professed remnant church dives more deeply into apostasy? By what standards do you make these judgments?

5 Generally, what actions by the nation as a whole led to the captivity? Lamentations 1:5.

Review and Discuss:

“… the Lord has afflicted her [Zion] because of the multitude of her transgressions: her children have gone into captivity.” Lamentations 1:5.

“If you do not obey the voice of the Lord … the Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies.” Deuteronomy 28:15, 25.

6 Were there specific sins that God identified as resulting in captivity and destruction for His professed people? Jeremiah 11:10–17; II Kings 22:17.

Review and Discuss:

“… they have gone after other gods … therefore … I will surely bring calamity. … For the Lord … has pronounced doom against you, for the evil … in offering incense to Baal.”

“Because they have … provoked me to anger by all the idols … my anger will burn against this place.”

7 Are there any other specific sins which resulted in the captivity of God’s people? Ezekiel 22:8–15; Jeremiah 17:27.

Review and Discuss:

“You have … profaned my Sabbaths. … I will scatter you among the nations.”

“If you will not … hallow the Sabbath. … fire … shall devour … Jerusalem.”

8 If today there existed anywhere in the world a church, any church—formally organized or not—who professed to be a part of God’s church and yet largely:

Mingled with the world

Were deficient in the knowledge of God’s Word

Ignored the gift of prophecy

Were guilty of idolatry

Lightly regarded the Sabbath

Had pastors, leaders, and authors leading as blind guides

Would it be reasonable to expect that this church today, in spite of this well-known past history, would escape the experience of captivity? Or would the captivity experience be even more certain because of this history?

Apply It:

“That which made them [the Israelites] denominational, was the observance of God’s commandments.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 39.

“Should we again break thy commandments, and join … with the people of these abominations? Would you not be angry until … there was no remnant or escaping?” Ezra 9:14.

“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.

This last question is not fully answered with this lesson. The conclusions should be more fully developed in the proceeding lessons.

Studies prepared by John T. Grosboll PE. 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 reached at

Bible Study Guides – God’s Purpose for His Church

June 27, 2010 – July 3, 2010

Babylonian Captivity, Escape and Rebuilding God’s Church

A Study for Modern Israel

Ancient Israel’s Capture and Release—A Rebuilding and a Church

God’s Purpose for His Church

Key Text

“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.


In an attempt to arrest our attention to the critical purpose of His church, God, through inspiration, uses many kinds of descriptive language, illustrations, and symbols to capture the subject. Scriptures are replete with language that should continually inspire us to search for a deeper understanding of the subject.

Because of this profuse variety of description, there is no one single proper way to illustrate the church’s mission. Yet, there are common themes of illustration that are carried from prophet to prophet. This lesson encapsulates one important set of related themes by which the mission of God’s church may be summarized—and explored in rich veins of study.

Whether or not you, the student, are already familiar with the purpose of God’s church, this study is pivotal to the whole series, because the terminology used will be employed by the Bible writers to subsequently explain an outline of church history—stretching to the present and near future situation of God’s people. As we study, we will see that the tapestry woven by the prophets combines the experiences of both God’s professed and true followers.

Let’s begin our study of the purposes of God’s church through the descriptions of name, refuge, fruit, and children:

1 What purpose of God’s church is outlined in the following verses? Deuteronomy 28:10; 1 Kings 9:3; II Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 14:9; 15:16.

Review and Discuss:

“… all peoples … shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord.”

“I have heard the prayer … consecrated this temple … putting my name there forever.”

“My people who are called by my name.”

“… we are called by your name.”

Apply It:

The above verses are illustrations of God’s purpose to give identity to the church. Whose name was to be associated with the church?

2 What purpose of God’s church is outlined in the following verses? Isaiah 56:3–8; II Chronicles 6:32, 33; Isaiah 4:6; Esther 8:17; Ruth 1:16.

Review and Discuss:

“Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will surely exclude me from His people.’ … to them I will give within My temple … a name better than sons … an everlasting name. … And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord. … I will bring to My holy mountain. … My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Lord who gathers the outcasts of Israel declares, I will gather still others to them.” Isaiah 56:3–8.

“… the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel … when he comes and prays toward this temple; then hear from heaven … so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name … and may know that this house I have built bears Your Name.” II Chronicles 6:32, 33.

“And there will be a tabernacle … for a place of refuge.” Isaiah 4:6.

“… many of the people of the land [Persians] became Jews.” Esther 8:17.

“… your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” Ruth 1:16.

Apply It:

These verses are illustrations of God’s purpose to hold His church as a place for refuge for all who, in the midst of a revolted world, might seek asylum in God’s kingdom. Notice also that God’s Name is interwoven with the church’s mission as a refuge!

3 The 3rd related purpose for God’s church is both broad and deep. In describing it, Bible writers frequently resort to two sets of metaphors. The language of the metaphors should be examined very closely, because the Bible develops much information from them. The purpose of God’s church, stated without metaphor is:

To glorify God by producing spiritual returns on God’s investment.

This investment return relationship is described most prominently by two metaphorical descriptions. Identify them in the verses below:

a) Metaphor #1: Trees (or vines) 4 Psalm 1:1–3; Isaiah 5:1–7; Isaiah 27:6; 61:3; Jeremiah 17:7, 8; Mark 11:12–14; Romans 11:16–18.

God invests in _____ (or _____) expecting a yield of _____________

b) Metaphor #2: Marriage Isaiah 54:5, 6; Isaiah 66:7, 8; Jeremiah 3:14; Ezekiel 16:7–14.

God invests in _______expecting a yield of ________

Apply It:

(1) This last metaphor was made most striking by God’s direction to the prophet Hosea to actually live out the metaphor of God’s investment in marriage to the church by his (Hosea’s) marriage to Gomer. See Hosea, chapters 1:2, 3 and 3:1–5.

(2) Compare the living parable recorded there with what was written a few years later in Jeremiah 3:1–4, 7, 8, 14, and 20. Ellen White declares that Jeremiah 3 has a special application for those who claim to be modern Israel:

“Please read the third chapter [of Jeremiah]. This chapter is a lesson for modern Israel.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1154. [Emphasis supplied.]

(3) As an aid to further study and cross-referencing, note that children are also more generally referred to as descendants, fruit, or seed in other portions of Scriptures. See for example: Genesis 3:15; 17:7, 8; Romans 1:3; Hebrews 11:11; Revelation 12:17.

4 What do the trees or woman in the marriage relationship represent in these parallel metaphors?

a) Trees: Isaiah 61:3; Psalm 1:1–3; Jeremiah 17:7, 8.

Apply It:

(1) To see specific examples of trees as a representation of the nation-church in Christ’s day, study Matthew 3:10 and Mark 11:12–14—and associated Spirit of Prophecy comments in The Fruitless Fig Tree (Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, chapter 45).

(2) By viewing in detail the nature of the illustration of vines (or trees) in the Bible, we can also see that the proper relationship of the branches in the orchard or vineyard to the stock is also used to represent the relationship of Christ to the individual disciple. See John 15:1–5 and Romans 11:16–18 as prime examples. These lessons focus rather on the macroscopic biblical description of the collection of fruit bearing branches, the trees and vineyard, as God’s people—His church.

  1. b) Woman: Ezekiel 16:3, 8; Jeremiah 6:2; Ephesians 5:25–32; Ezekiel 23:1–4.

5 What do the fruit or children represent in these parallel metaphors?

There is more to this question than may immediately come to mind. One might say, for example, that fruit is clearly a representation of character, referring to Paul’s fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, 23; and this would be correct. Another might say that the term children clearly represents converts to the faith, referencing for example the apostle John’s endearing address, “my little Children” (1 John 2:1); and this would also be correct.

But the symbols of bearing fruit and children (or giving birth) are even more interesting in that each of these symbols, considered alone, are the weaving together of these two products. The spiritual returns that the prophets illustrate as fruit or children can best be defined to be the intertwining products of character and converts.

Review and Discuss:

Fruit as Character: “Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them, For they shall eat the fruit of their doings.” Isaiah 3:10. See also Matthew 7:20 and 12:33.

Fruit as Converts: “I will make you … fruitful … make nations of you … I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants.” Genesis 17:6, 7. (Note who Abraham’s descendants are: John 8:39; Galatians 3:7.)

Rebirth as Character: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will … cause you to walk in My statutes.” Ezekiel 36:26, 27. See also related Ellen G. White comments on this verse; The Desire of Ages, 174.

“… unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3.

Children and Seed as Converts: “… when he [Jacob] sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, They will hallow My name … and fear the God of Israel. These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, And … will learn doctrine.” Isaiah 29:22–24.

“The Gentiles shall come. … They gather together. … Your sons shall come from afar, And your daughters are carried on the arm.” Isaiah 60:3, 4.

“… in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 4:15.

“Converts from heathenism to the faith of Israel were often compared to children just born.” The Desire of Ages, 171.

Apply It:

What other Bible examples can you find that describe children and fruit as character and/or converts?

6 In describing the purpose of the church, how does the apostle Paul succinctly cross-link these images of invested marriage and returned fruit bearing, character and converts, together in the following illustrations:

“… you [woman] … be married to [Jesus] … that we should bear fruit to God.” Romans 7:4. [Emphasis supplied.]

“My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.” Galatians 4:19. [Emphasis supplied.]

Apply It:

Also notice the Spirit of Prophecy describe the intertwining nature of fruit bearing as character and converts:

“… [Christ’s] great purpose” is “growth and fruit bearing … conforming His servants … to the image of Christ … to cause them to bear fruit abundantly … to become true … missionaries.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 186.

7 Can the purpose of Jesus to form His character in His people and to have them bring converts to His kingdom effectively be separated? Luke 8:38–40. Compare Luke 22:32 and Acts 4:20.

Apply It:

The counterexample is also interesting to note. In a general sense, it may be said that an absence of Christ-likeness bankrupts the ability of the church to win converts. The Bible student will find that the church’s growth in character (or lack thereof) is directly correlated with the growth in true converts. See Acts 2–13 for an example of growth in character and converts, and The Great Controversy, chapter 3, as an example of a decline in both.

8 Today, what does the overall health of God’s orchard (or marriage) look like to you? How is this personal to you? How do you view your spiritual health, as a tree in God’s church? Are you bearing fruit through both character and witness? Are you married to Christ? Colossians 1:27–29.

Read the first chapter in The Act of the Apostles, or the introduction to Prophets and Kings: The Vineyard of the Lord, and note how the subject of the purpose for God’s church is addressed. Below are ellipsed quotes from the reading in The Acts of the Apostles, 9-15, highlighting the terminology we have just studied:

Apply It:

“The church is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. … ‘Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.’ Isaiah 56:7. ‘And I will raise up for them a plant of renown. … Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are My people. …’ Ezekiel 34:26, 29–31. … The church is God’s fortress, His city of refuge, which He holds in a revolted world. … From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth. … From age to age, through successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within its borders. … It is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts. … Wonderful is the work which the Lord designs to accomplish through His church, that His name may be glorified. A picture of this work is given in Ezekiel’s vision of the river of healing: ‘These waters issue out … and by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose … it shall bring forth new fruit.’ Ezekiel 47:8–12. … From the beginning God has wrought through His people to bring blessing to the world. … God chose Israel to reveal His character to men. … Of Israel God declared: ‘I had planted thee a noble vine.’ Jeremiah 2:21.” [Emphasis supplied.]

Studies prepared by John T. Grosboll PE. 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 reached at

Recipe – Scalloped Potatoes


4 cups thinly sliced raw potatoes

1 ½ to 2 tsp. salt (to taste)

½ cup raw cashews

1 rounded tsp. onion powder

2 cups water (hot)

Place sliced potatoes in an oiled 9” x 9” baking dish. Blend remaining ingredients until smooth and pour over the potatoes. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 1 to 1 ½ hours. It is very easy to double the recipe for a 9” x 13” dish. (Provided by Judy Hallingstad. Thank you , Judy!)

Food – Temperance in Our Life

A good definition of temperance is, “True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful and to use judiciously that which is healthful.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 562. In this definition we find a direct contradiction to the philosophy of the world which says, If it feels good do it, if it tastes good eat it, and if you want it, get it. Unfortunately, this philosophy has led the world into sin and rebellion, ruining lives all around us. This philosophy becomes a way of life and habits of sin become so ingrained into who we are that at times we do not see any way to break them.

The first step in changing an intemperate habit, whether it be overeating, smoking, alcohol, drugs, sexual sins, or any other host of sinful habits, is to come to God just as you are, admitting that you are helpless to change in your own power. Only God can change the sinful heart. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” Jeremiah 13:23. Although God can miraculously take away a bad habit, He prefers to give us the victory in His time.

The next step is to make a firm decision to change with the help of God. This involves a decision of the will and acting on that decision to starve the habit by avoiding situations that feed it. If the habit is one of tobacco usage, for example, starve the habit by eliminating all cigarettes from your home, car, purse, etc., and resist buying another cigarette. Then avoid, as much as possible, situations in which there would be a strong temptation to smoke. This will starve the bad habit.

Then, begin to develop new and better habits. When the urge to smoke hits, have a backup plan to resist the temptation. Send a quick prayer to the Lord for power to resist the devil and then go for a brisk walk. This will soon develop into a new habit. When this is done repeatedly changes are actually made in the brain. Activities are facilitated by chemicals moving between the nerve endings in the brain, and when an activity is repeated over and over, small grooves are formed between the nerve endings, thus creating a pathway for the chemicals. The more these activities are repeated, the easier it is for the chemicals and electrical activity to move within these grooves and a habit is formed in the brain. As old habits are resisted and new ones are developed, they become second nature. In this way we can actually cooperate with the Lord by developing new habits through repetition of good activities.

In I Corinthians 9:25 it says, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”

Examine the areas in your life that need change and ask for God’s help to change those bad habits and live a temperate life.


Nature – Chia

Chia is an annual wildflower in the mint family of the genus Salvia. There are two species of Chia, one occurring in the southwestern U.S. from California and Utah south to northwest Mexico and the other occurring in southern Mexico and Guatemala. Chia grows in sunny, dry open areas of plains, foothill woodlands, chaparral and sage scrub communities, and other arid environments where it prefers sandy to loamy soils that are near neutral in pH. It is one of the so-called fire following species, as it increases in abundance after a fire. The plant is thin and tall, up to 3 feet, with a cluster of blue flowers at the top of the stems. Flowers are small and tubular, surrounded by several bracts (specialized leaves). Chia is drought and salt tolerant.

The tiny, brownish, often mottled seeds of Chia are a valuable source of nutrients, protein and oil and are the highest known source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Chia was grown by the Indian tribes of Mexico and the southwestern U.S. for their seeds which were ground into flour and used to make biscuits, cakes and a mush called pinole. The seeds were also eaten roasted and had a pleasant nutlike flavor. Chia was a major crop in Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C. and was still cultivated well into the 16th century A.D. Chia seed was valued so much by these tribes that it was used as a currency. Known as the running food, its use as a high energy endurance food has been recorded as far back as the ancient Aztecs. Aztec warriors were said to have subsisted on the Chia seed during their conquests. Native American tribes of the southwest took Chia seeds on journeys where a few seeds kept in the mouth and periodically chewed, would keep up their strength. One tablespoon of seeds was said to be enough to provide 24 hours worth of energy. Indians running from the Colorado River to the California coast to trade turquoise for seashells would bring only Chia seed for their nourishment.

Chia seed was also used for its extensive hydration properties. Containing a mucilaginous substance, due to soluble fibers, Chia seeds expand considerably into a gelatinous volume when moistened. Chia seed has the ability to absorb twelve times its weight in water. If you mix a spoonful of Chia in a glass of water and leave it 30 minutes, it will become an almost solid mass of gelatin. The Indians would soak the ground seeds in water to make a refreshing beverage that was said to have high thirst-quenching properties and was also used in this way to make alkaline desert water palatable.

Just as the ancient Indians relied on Chia seeds for energy and endurance for their travels and conquests, so we Christians are to rely on Christ for power and endurance to overcome our daily trials. “The great desire in this age of the world is for more power. I want more grace, more love, [a] more deep and earnest living experience. The Christian who hides in Jesus will have power without measure awaiting his draught upon it. Living faith unlocks heaven’s storehouse and brings the power, the endurance, the love so essential for the Christian soldier.” The Upward Look, 154. “Satan brings all his powers to the assault in the last, close conflict, and the endurance of the follower of Christ is taxed to the utmost. At times it seems that he must yield. But a word of prayer to the Lord Jesus goes like an arrow to the throne of God, and angels of God are sent to the field of battle. The tide is turned.” In Heavenly Places, 297.

David Arbour writes from his home in De Queen, Arkansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at:

Children’s Story – The Window

Two young men who were both seriously ill occupied the same hospital room.

Jack’s bed was next to the room’s only window. For one hour each day he was allowed to sit up in his bed to drain the fluids from his lungs. The other man, Jim, whose bed was across the room, had to spend all of his time lying flat on his back.

The two young men became very good friends in a short time and they talked for hours on end about their families, their homes, their jobs, holidays they had and their involvement in activities around their homes and in the community. They were both so thankful to have somebody to talk with and each day they prayed together for God to help them through the pain of each day and to have joy in their hearts.

Each afternoon while Jack was sitting up in his bed knowing that his friend could not get up and needing to hear something about the outside world, he passed the time describing to his roommate the things he saw as he looked out of his window. Jim looked forward to those one-hour periods each day as his friend shared with him, and his world opened up and was given life by all the activity and color of the outside world.

The window overlooked a park that surrounded a lake that sparkled in the sunshine. Ducks and swans swam on the water undisturbed by the children who laughed and played while sailing their model boats. Grand old trees graced the landscape where young men and women walked arm in arm amid the many colorful flowers and shrubs. In the distance could be seen a fine view of the city skyline. As Jack described what he saw in great detail, Jim would just close his eyes and in his imagination view the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon Jack described a parade passing by and although Jim could not hear the band, he could see it vividly in his mind.

Then one day an unexpected thought entered Jim’s head. Why should Jack have the privilege of seeing everything while I am stuck in this bed seeing nothing? It just didn’t seem fair. At first Jim was ashamed of such a thought of jealousy, but as the days passed his envy grew into resentment and very soon he became very bitter. He began to brood about it and was unable to sleep peacefully. The constant thought that he should be the one by that window controlled his life, making him miserable, and he no longer enjoyed Jack sharing with him the things that he saw. Late one night, as Jim lay staring at the ceiling feeling very sorry for himself, he thought he heard a commotion from the other bed where Jack was but did not pay any attention. The following morning Jack was taken to another location. Jim now saw an opportunity for himself and was glad that the bed beside the window was now vacant. As soon as Jack’s belongings were removed Jim asked if he could have that bed. Once the switch had been made and the nurse had done all she could to make him comfortable, he was left alone.

He was so excited, because now he would see everything Jack saw for himself. Slowly, painfully, and after much struggling, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look. Finally, after all this time he would have the joy of seeing everything himself. He strained and slowly turned to look out the window and all he saw was a blank wall.

Oh, what a letdown! He suddenly realized that all those things that Jack had shared with him to make him happy were the joyful things in Jack’s own heart. He never saw that blank wall. Jim felt so sad now about his attitude of jealousy which had affected the friendship he had before Jack had left.

Both men were very ill and in dealing with that, Jack had decided to always think on the positive things. He knew that true happiness does not depend upon circumstances, but the condition of the heart.

What a lesson that Jim finally learned! Now he really missed his old buddy and the insights of Jack’s heart that had always lightened their situation. Unfortunately, sometimes we do not appreciate what we have until it is gone.

God tells us that, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8.

If we regularly put positive, encouraging and uplifting thoughts into our minds and bite our lips before we begin to grumble or complain, we will have much happiness to share with others.

Health – The Apricot

Apricots are beautifully colored orange fruits full of beta carotene and fiber that are one of the first signs of summer.

This fruit was long thought to have originated in Armenia—note the Latin name—but now is known to have originated in China, the Himalayas, and other parts of temperate Asia. The people of Hunza who live in the Himalayas, with their very limited diet, rely a great deal on dried apricots and edible apricot kernels. These people are world renowned for their unusual longevity. Apricot trees are cultivated all around the world, mostly for their fruit but also for their kernels, which are edible in several varieties.

Apricots are very delicate during their brief season, so most of the time they are eaten dried. The fruit is dried easily and retains nutrients well, including goodly amounts of vitamins A and B2, niacin, magnesium, potassium, sodium and iron.

The kernel of the apricot is the part that most interests herbalists and cosmetic manufacturers. Oil, called Persic Oil, is pressed from the kernels for use in cosmetic preparations and is similar to Oil of Almonds, though not as expensive, and is very softening to the skin, being a smooth, light, richly emollient oil. It can be purchased in health food stores and used for making homemade cosmetic preparations.

Of the most interest to herbalists, however, is the use of apricot kernels to provide a cancer drug called Laetrile which is now available only in Mexico because of restrictions in the United States. It is distributed worldwide, and there are many reports of success in treating cancer with it. Laetrile is said to have antitumor properties and is claimed to be effective in preventing as well as treating cancer. As early as A.D. 502, apricot seeds were used to treat tumors, and in the 17th century, apricot oil was used in England against tumors and ulcers.

Laetrile is present in the seeds of various fruits, such as almonds, cherries and plums, but is most abundant in certain varieties of apricots. Laetrile consists of amygdalin, the bitter-tasting factor in the seeds, chemically known as mandelic nitrile beta-gluruconide, a cyanogenic glycoside. This means that the seeds contain cyanide. The theory goes that small amounts given over a long period will accumulate in cancer tissue and prevent oxygen from reaching the unhealthy tissue. Since cancer tissue is said to have greater beta-glucosidase activity, it cannot detoxify the cyanide in Laetrile very easily. Cyanide is extremely toxic to human beings, and can cause death by asphyxiation even in very small doses, so taking a concentrated extract such as Laetrile even if from a natural substance like apricot seeds seems unwise. Many natural practitioners recommend eating apricot kernels from tree varieties that produce edible kernels as a cancer preventative. This seems to be a safer course than taking the extract, which is reported to have caused hydrocyanic acid poisoning, with symptoms of severe headaches, stupor, convulsions, collapse and respiratory paralysis.

In Chinese medicine, apricot fruits are thought to relate to the heart and are therefore utilized in heart disease. The kernels are crushed and combined with licorice and ginger to act as a cough medicine and expectorant. They are also used particularly as an asthma remedy. The crushed kernels are taken as a remedy for tumors, as we suggest above. Apricot flowers are considered a tonic women’s remedy, used to help in fertility.

The Japanese folk remedy bainiku-ekisu (concentrated Japanese apricot juice) has been used for the treatment of gastritis (stomach inflammation) and enteritis (bowel inflammation) since ancient times, and has recently been studied as a bacteriostatic (stops the growth/reproduction of bacteria) agent.

Apricot kernels are used to treat asthma in various localities around the world; research shows that chemicals in the kernels possess the anti-asthma activity.

In Turkey and Iraq, the oil is pressed and used to soften skin. The seeds are used in various countries against parasites, taken as a vermifuge.

If you are growing apricot trees, select varieties that are suitable for your area. For those in northern areas with short growing seasons, imported varieties from China or the Himalayas can produce well. Do not grow oats near apricots; the root excretions inhibit the growth of young apricot trees.

Right now 97% of the commercial apricot crop is grown in California. Only about 21% of those grown commercially are sold as fresh fruit. The majority are canned, dried or frozen.

For the best flavor, eat tree-ripened fruit. These are rarely available in stores, even those close to the orchard. The next best thing to a well matured apricot is one that is orange-yellow in color, and plump and juicy. Immature apricots never attain the right sweetness or flavor. There are far too many immature apricots on the market. They are greenish-yellow; the flesh is firm with a sour taste. Avoid green and shriveled apricots.

More Benefits of Apricot

Apricots may be eaten raw in a soft diet. Ripe apricots are especially good for very young children and for older people. This fruit is quite laxative, and rates high in alkalinity. Apricots also contain cobalt, which is necessary in the treatment of anemic conditions.

Apricots may be pureed for children who are just beginning to eat solid foods. Blend some apricots for a wonderful desert. They make good afternoon and evening snacks.

The sugar content in dried apricots is six times higher than that of the fresh fruit. Therefore, persons with diabetic conditions must be careful not to eat too many dried apricots. On the other hand, because of its sugar content it is good when an energy boost is needed.

Dried fruit should be put in cold water and brought to a boil the night before, or permitted to soak all night, before eating. Bringing the water to a boil kills any germ life that may be on the fruit. Sweeten only with honey, maple syrup, or natural sugars.