Insights from the Book of Isaiah (1) – Pride and Humility

November 19 – 25

Key Text

“Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 349–366.


“The pride of Assyria and its fall are to serve as an object lesson to the end of time.” Prophets and Kings, 366.



  • With what reasoning did Hezekiah encourage his people to face the Assyrians—and how had the words of Isaiah helped in this crisis? 2 Chronicles 32:7, 8, first part; Isaiah 12:6.

Note: “At the time of Hezekiah’s accession to the throne of Judah, the Assyrians had already carried captive a large number of the children of Israel from the northern kingdom; and a few years after he had begun to reign, and while he was still strengthening the defenses of Jerusalem, the Assyrians besieged and captured Samaria and scattered the ten tribes among the many provinces of the Assyrian realm. The borders of Judah were only a few miles distant, with Jerusalem less than fifty miles away; and the rich spoils to be found within the temple would tempt the enemy to return. But the king of Judah had determined to do his part in preparing to resist the enemy.” Prophets and Kings, 351.

  • Why could Hezekiah trust in God’s help? Isaiah 10:12, 24–27; 14:24–27. How did the people respond to his appeal? 2 Chronicles 32:8, last part.

Note: “Nothing more quickly inspires faith than the exercise of faith. The king of Judah had prepared for the coming storm; and now, confident that the prophecy against the Assyrians would be fulfilled, he stayed his soul upon God.” Prophets and Kings, 351.



  • When, to all appearances, the prospects seemed hopeless for Judah, how did the Assyrian officers make things even worse? Isaiah 36:13–20.

Note: “The long-expected crisis finally came. The forces of Assyria, advancing from triumph to triumph, appeared in Judea. Confident of victory, the leaders divided their forces into two armies, one of which was to meet the Egyptian army to the southward, while the other was to besiege Jerusalem.

“Judah’s only hope was now in God. All possible help from Egypt had been cut off, and no other nations were near to lend a friendly hand.

“The Assyrian officers, sure of the strength of their disciplined forces, arranged for a conference with the chief men of Judah, during which they insolently demanded the surrender of the city. This demand was accompanied by blasphemous revilings against the God of the Hebrews. Because of the weakness and apostasy of Israel and Judah, the name of God was no longer feared among the nations, but had become a subject for continual reproach.” Prophets and Kings, 352.

  • How did Judah respond to the taunts of the haughty Assyrians—and what does this experience remind us about attitude? Isaiah 36:21, 22; 37:1–4.

Note: “The same masterful mind that plotted against the faithful in ages past is still seeking to rid the earth of those who fear God and obey His law. … Persecuting rulers, ministers, and church members will conspire against them. With voice and pen, by boasts, threats, and ridicule, they will seek to overthrow their faith.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 450.

“When persons meet together for the investigation of points of faith concerning which there is a difference of opinion, the spirit which controls them will be manifested. Those who are standing in defense of truth should be calm and self-possessed. If they have the mind of Christ, they will be kind and courteous. They will not be betrayed into the use of harsh language. They will not regard themselves as infallible, nor look with contempt upon those who differ with them. They will not regard them as enemies, nor meet them with ridicule or jesting.” Gospel Workers (1892), 389.



  • At the peak of Judah’s crisis with Assyria, what message did God give to Hezekiah through Isaiah? 2 Kings 19:5–7. Why are these great historical experiences so important for us to contemplate?

Note: “God would have us recall His dealings with His people in the past to save them from their enemies. He has always chosen extremities, when there seemed no possible chance for deliverance from Satan’s workings, for the manifestation of His power. Man’s necessity is God’s opportunity.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 714.

“Not in freedom from trial, but in the midst of it, is Christian character developed. Exposure to rebuffs and opposition leads the follower of Christ to greater watchfulness and more earnest prayer to the mighty Helper. Severe trial endured by the grace of God develops patience, vigilance, fortitude, and a deep and abiding trust in God. It is the triumph of the Christian faith that it enables its followers to suffer and be strong; to submit, and thus to conquer; to be killed all the day long, and yet to live; to bear the cross, and thus to win the crown of glory.” The Acts of the Apostles, 467, 468.

“Those who are finally victorious will have seasons of terrible perplexity and trial in their religious life; but they must not cast away their confidence, for this is a part of their discipline in the school of Christ, and it is essential in order that all dross may be purged away.” Messages to Young People, 63.

  • During this crisis, what did Isaiah and Hezekiah do? 2 Chronicles 32:20; 2 Kings 19:14–19.

Note: “Hezekiah’s pleadings in behalf of Judah and of the honor of their Supreme Ruler were in harmony with the mind of God. Solomon, in his benediction at the dedication of the temple, had prayed the Lord to maintain ‘the cause of His people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require: that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else’ (1 Kings 8:59, 60). Especially was the Lord to show favor when, in times of war or of oppression by an army, the chief men of Israel should enter the house of prayer and plead for deliverance.” Prophets and Kings, 359.



  • What reassurance did the Lord send to the king and people of Ju­dah? 2 Kings 19:20–22, 28, 32–34. What should we learn from the way God supplied their needs, though their land was laid waste? Verse 29.

Note: “As were God’s people anciently, so we should be prepared to advance when the cloud rises and moves forward, and to halt when the cloud stops. We must adjust our movements to the guidance of God’s Spirit. In the place of following ways of our own devising, we are to co-operate with divinity. Thus we shall be enabled to keep pace with our Leader.

“In order to be a Christian, it is not necessary for a man to have great talents. The human agent may have no voice in legislative councils; he may not be permitted to deliberate in senates or vote in parliaments; yet he has access to God. The King of kings bends low to listen to the prayer coming from one who desires to do the Master’s will. An earnest prayer offered from a sincere, contrite heart is of more value in God’s sight than is eloquence of speech. God hears every prayer offered with the incense of faith. His weakest child may exert an influence in harmony with the councils of heaven. It is in answer to prayer that God revives His work.” The Review and Herald, June 23, 1903.

  • In what sense does the fate of Assyria present a general principle for every age? Isaiah 30:27, 28; Proverbs 11:17; 16:18.

Note: “With unerring accuracy the Infinite One still keeps account with the nations. While His mercy is tendered, with calls to repentance, this account remains open; but when the figures reach a certain amount which God has fixed, the ministry of His wrath begins. The account is closed. Divine patience ceases. Mercy no longer pleads in their behalf.” The Review and Herald, June 3, 1915.

“ ‘The pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart away’ (Zechariah 10:11). This is true not only of the nations that arrayed themselves against God in ancient times, but also of nations today who fail of fulfilling the divine purpose. In the day of final awards, when the righteous Judge of all the earth shall ‘sift the nations’ (Isaiah 30:28), and those that have kept the truth shall be permitted to enter the City of God, heaven’s arches will ring with the triumphant songs of the redeemed.” Prophets and Kings, 366.



  • What practical lessons should we derive from the experience in­volving Hezekiah, Isaiah, and the Assyrians? 1 Peter 5:5–7; Proverbs 16:18.

Note: “There are many ways in which God can punish, and punishment will surely follow wherever pride is indulged. … Let a man be lifted up by a sense of his own ability, and trust in his human strength, and he will surely be overcome by temptation. God will bring him down. He will teach him his utter weakness, that he may feel his need of divine aid.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 332, 333.

“We should humble ourselves daily before God, and not feel that our wisdom is perfect. We should take hold of the work with earnestness. We should not pray for God to humble us; for when God takes hold of us, He will humble us in a way that we would not enjoy. But we must day by day humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. We are to work out our own salvation with fear and with trembling. While it is God that works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure, we are to co-operate with Him while He works through us. We must guard against lifting up our souls in self-esteem. But you will say, How am I to know that Christ is in my heart? If, when you are criticized or corrected in your way, and things do not go just as you think they ought to go—if then you let your passion arise instead of bearing the correction and being patient and kind, Christ is not abiding in the heart.

“Christ placed such a value upon man that He gave His own life to redeem him; and He requires every power and faculty of our being to be in perfect subjection to Him. But we are not to esteem ourselves only in the light in which God esteemed us by the cross of Calvary. Let us not be afraid to show our humility by kindness, courteousness, and forbearance. Do not let self arise and think, It is I they are trying to hurt by their false reports.” The Review and Herald, July 12, 1887.



 1      How did Hezekiah rise to the occasion in the face of the Assyrian threat?

2      How should we respond to the “Sennacheribs” in our life?

3      In the crisis Judah faced, how did God honor His ancient covenant?

4      What can we learn from the way Assyria’s apparent prosperity melted?

5      Name a few litmus tests that reveal our individual level of humility.

Copyright © 2016 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Insights from the Book of Isaiah (1) – Hezekiah

November 12 – 18

Key Text

“Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor­inthians 10:12).

Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 331–348.


“Every day, our words and acts are making impressions upon those with whom we associate. How great the need that we set a watch upon our lips and guard carefully our steps!” Prophets and Kings, 348.



  • What did Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, realize when he became king of Judah? 2 Chronicles 29:1, 6–9. What were his first steps? 2 Chronicles 29:2–5, 10.

Note: “Hezekiah came to the throne determined to do all in his power to save Judah from the fate that was overtaking the northern kingdom. The messages of the prophets offered no encouragement to halfway measures. Only by most decided reformation could the threatened judgments be averted.

“In the crisis, Hezekiah proved to be a man of opportunity. No sooner had he ascended the throne than he began to plan and to execute. He first turned his attention to the restoration of the temple services, so long neglected.” Prophets and Kings, 331.

  • What appeal did God direct to Judah? Isaiah 31:6. How did the “goodly remnant” respond? Micah 7:7–9; 2 Chronicles 29:16–20, 27–31, 35, 36.

Note: “God had indeed prepared the hearts of the chief men of Judah to lead out in a decided reformatory movement, that the tide of apostasy might be stayed.” Prophets and Kings, 333.



  • What prophetic prayer, previously offered at the dedication of the temple, was fulfilled in the reformation of Hezekiah? 1 Kings 8:33, 34; 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Note: “[1 Kings 8:33, 34 quoted.] The seal of divine approval had been placed upon this prayer; for at its close fire had come down from heaven to consume the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord had filled the temple. (See 2 Chronicles 7:1.) And by night the Lord had appeared to Solomon to tell him that his prayer had been heard, and that mercy would be shown those who should worship there. …

“These promises met abundant fulfillment during the reformation under Hezekiah.” Prophets and Kings, 335.

  • Describe the success of Hezekiah’s reformation. 2 Chronicles 30:1, 9–13, 21–23, 26, 27.

Note: “The seven days usually allotted to the Passover feast passed all too quickly, and the worshipers determined to spend another seven days in learning more fully the way of the Lord. The teaching priests continued their work of instruction from the book of the law; daily the people assembled at the temple to offer their tribute of praise and thanksgiving; and as the great meeting drew to a close, it was evident that God had wrought marvelously in the conversion of backsliding Judah and in stemming the tide of idolatry which threatened to sweep all before it. The solemn warnings of the prophets had not been uttered in vain.” Prophets and Kings, 337, 338.

  • After the Passover, what further steps marked the genuineness of Hezekiah’s reformation? 2 Chronicles 31:1, 5, 6. How was his administration described? Verses 20, 21; 2 Kings 18:4–7.

Note: “The reign of Hezekiah was characterized by a series of remarkable providences which revealed to the surrounding nations that the God of Israel was with His people.” Prophets and Kings, 339.



  • What message came to Hezekiah when he was sick, and how was he shown mercy? 2 Kings 20:1–7. How did he express thanks? Isaiah 38:9–20.

Note: “Restored to his wonted strength, the king of Judah acknowledged in words of song the mercies of Jehovah, and vowed to spend his remaining days in willing service to the King of kings. His grateful recognition of God’s compassionate dealing with him is an inspiration to all who desire to spend their years to the glory of their Maker.” Prophets and Kings, 342.

  • Through what sign did God confirm His promise to Hezekiah, and what reaction did this spark in a faraway land? 2 Kings 20:8–12.

Note: “In the fertile valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates there dwelt an ancient race which, though at that time subject to Assyria, was destined to rule the world. Among its people were wise men who gave much attention to the study of astronomy; and when they noticed that the shadow on the sundial had been turned back ten degrees, they marveled greatly. Their king, Merodachbaladan, upon learning that this miracle had been wrought as a sign to the king of Judah that the God of heaven had granted him a new lease of life, sent ambassadors to Hezekiah to congratulate him on his recovery and to learn, if possible, more of the God who was able to perform so great a wonder.

“The visit of these messengers from the ruler of a far-away land gave Hezekiah an opportunity to extol the living God. How easy it would have been for him to tell them of God, the upholder of all created things, through whose favor his own life had been spared when all other hope had fled! What momentous transformations might have taken place had these seekers after truth from the plains of Chaldea been led to acknowledge the supreme sovereignty of the living God!” Prophets and Kings, 344.

  • What can we learn from the missionary opportunity God gave Hezekiah? Colossians 4:5; Revelation 3:18, last part.

 Note: “Eyes need to be anointed with the heavenly eyesalve to see and sense their opportunities.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 130.



  • What mistake tarnished Hezekiah’s good record? 2 Chronicles 32:25, 31; Isaiah 39:1–4.

Note: “Pride and vanity took possession of Hezekiah’s heart, and in self-exaltation he laid open to covetous eyes the treasures with which God had enriched His people. … [Isaiah 39:2 quoted.] Not to glorify God did he do this, but to exalt himself in the eyes of the foreign princes. He did not stop to consider that these men were representatives of a powerful nation that had not the fear nor the love of God in their hearts, and that it was imprudent to make them his confidants concerning the temporal riches of the nation.

“The visit of the ambassadors to Hezekiah was a test of his gratitude and devotion. … [2 Chronicles 32:31 quoted.] Had Hezekiah improved the opportunity given him to bear witness to the power, the goodness, the compassion, of the God of Israel, the report of the ambassadors would have been as light piercing darkness. But he magnified himself above the Lord of hosts. He ‘rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up’ (verse 25, first part).

“How disastrous the results which were to follow! To Isaiah it was revealed that the returning ambassadors were carrying with them a report of the riches they had seen, and that the king of Babylon and his counselors would plan to enrich their own country with the treasures of Jerusalem. Hezekiah had grievously sinned; ‘therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem’ (verse 25, last part).” Prophets and Kings, 344–346.

  • What news did Isaiah need to tell Hezekiah—and how did the king show repentance for his imprudence? Isaiah 39:5–8; 2 Chronicles 32:26.

Note: “During his remaining years the king of Judah was to have much prosperity because of his steadfast purpose to redeem the past and to bring honor to the name of the God whom he served; yet his faith was to be severely tried, and he was to learn that only by putting his trust fully in Jehovah could he hope to triumph over the powers of darkness that were plotting his ruin and the utter destruction of his people.” Prophets and Kings, 347.



  • What should we all learn from Hezekiah’s experience with the Babylonian ambassadors? Psalm 141:3; 1 Corinthians 10:12; 1 Peter 3:15.

Note: “The story of Hezekiah’s failure to prove true to his trust at the time of the visit of the ambassadors is fraught with an important lesson for all. Far more than we do, we need to speak of the precious chapters in our experience, of the mercy and loving-kindness of God, of the matchless depths of the Saviour’s love. …

“Every day, our words and acts are making impressions upon those with whom we associate. How great the need that we set a watch upon our lips and guard carefully our steps! One reckless movement, one imprudent step, and the surging waves of some strong temptation may sweep a soul into the downward path. …

“On the other hand, if by our example we aid others in the development of good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn they exert the same beneficial influence over others. Thus hundreds and thousands are helped by our unconscious influence.” Prophets and Kings, 347, 348.

“When the Lord’s voice calls, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ the Divine Spirit puts it into hearts to respond: ‘Here am I; send me’ (Isaiah 6:8). But bear in mind that the live coal from the altar must first touch your lips. Then the words you speak will be wise and holy words. Then you will have wisdom to know what to say and what to leave unsaid. …

“[1 Peter 3:15 quoted.] Why fear? Fear lest your words should savor of self-importance, lest unadvised words be spoken, lest the words and manner should not be after Christ’s likeness. Connect firmly with Christ and present the truth as it is in Him.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 325.



 1      Why can we be inspired by the proactive approach of Ahaz’s heir?

2      Why was Hezekiah’s reign crowned with joy and success?

3      Besides helping Judah’s king, whom else was God seeking to draw?

4      What did Hezekiah forget when the ambassadors came to visit?

5      When seeking to witness for God, why do we need to be watchful?

Insights from the Book of Isaiah (1) – Unbelief by Confederacy

November 5 – 11

Key Text

“Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread” (Isaiah 8:12, 13).

Study Help: The Ministry of Healing, 183–200.


“He [God] calls for men who will remain separate from the enemies of the truth. He calls for men who will not dare to resort to the arm of flesh by entering into partnership with worldlings in order to secure means for advancing His work—even for the building of institutions.” Counsels on Health, 290.



  • Explain the extent of the adverse conditions that God’s faithful few faced during the reign of Ahaz, king of Judah. 2 Chronicles 28:1–4. How did Micah describe the situation? Micah 7:2, 4.

Note: “The accession of Ahaz to the throne brought Isaiah and his associates face to face with conditions more appalling than any that had hitherto existed in the realm of Judah. Many who had formerly withstood the seductive influence of idolatrous practices were now being persuaded to take part in the worship of heathen deities. Princes in Israel were proving untrue to their trust; false prophets were arising with messages to lead astray; even some of the priests were teaching for hire. Yet the leaders in apostasy still kept up the forms of divine worship and claimed to be numbered among the people of God.” Prophets and Kings, 322.

“‘They which lead thee,’ … ‘cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths’ (Isaiah 3:12). During the reign of Ahaz this was literally true. …

“The forces for good were rapidly diminishing, the forces for evil multiplying.” Ibid., 324.



  • What did God appeal during the crisis in Ahaz’s time? Micah 6:1–5. How did He depict the situation, and what did He do about it? Isaiah 28:5–13.

Note: “In every age, for the sake of those who have remained true, as well as because of His infinite love for the erring, God has borne long with the rebellious, and has urged them to forsake their course of evil and return to Him. ‘Precept upon precept; line upon line, … here a little, and there a little,’ through men of His appointment, He has taught transgressors the way of righteousness (Isaiah 28:10).

“And thus it was during the reign of Ahaz. Invitation upon invitation was sent to erring Israel to return to their allegiance to Jehovah. Tender were the pleadings of the prophets; and as they stood before the people, earnestly exhorting to repentance and reformation, their words bore fruit to the glory of God.” Prophets and Kings, 324, 325.

  • While Ahaz ignored the appeals of the prophets and continued in his idolatrous course, what finally frightened him? 2 Kings 16:5. Why did God allow this to happen? 2 Chronicles 29:6–8.

Note: “Had Ahaz and the chief men of his realm been true servants of the Most High, they would have had no fear of so unnatural an alliance as had been formed against them. But repeated transgression had shorn them of strength. Stricken with a nameless dread of the retributive judgments of an offended God, the heart of the king ‘was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind’ (Isaiah 7:2).” Prophets and Kings, 328, 329.

  • What message was then given to Ahaz at this crucial moment? Isaiah 7:4–9. How did the king respond? 2 Kings 16:6–8.

Note: “Well would it have been for the kingdom of Judah had Ahaz received this [Isaiah’s] message as from heaven. But choosing to lean on the arm of flesh, he sought help from the heathen.” Prophets and Kings, 329.



  • What warnings should we take from the bitter results of Ahaz’s alliance with Assyria? 2 Chronicles 28:14–23.

Note: “The tribute [Ahaz] offered aroused the cupidity of Assyria, and that treacherous nation soon threatened to overflow and spoil Judah. Ahaz and his unhappy subjects were now harassed by the fear of falling completely into the hands of the cruel Assyrians.” Prophets and Kings, 329.

  • What was the worst part of Ahaz’s apostasy? 2 Chronicles 28:24–27.

Note: “As the apostate king neared the end of his reign, he caused the doors of the temple to be closed. The sacred services were interrupted. No longer were the candlesticks kept burning before the altar. No longer were offerings made for the sins of the people. No longer did sweet incense ascend on high at the time of the morning and the evening sacrifice. Deserting the courts of the house of God and locking fast its doors, the inhabitants of the godless city boldly set up altars for the worship of heathen deities on the street corners throughout Jerusalem. Heathenism had seemingly triumphed; the powers of darkness had well-nigh prevailed.” Prophets and Kings, 330.

  • Why are confederacies so dangerous—and what can we learn from Isaiah’s message of hope to the remnant? Isaiah 8:9–14.

Note: “In Judah there dwelt some who maintained their allegiance to Jehovah, steadfastly refusing to be led into idolatry. It was to these that Isaiah and Micah and their associates looked in hope as they surveyed the ruin wrought during the last years of Ahaz. Their sanctuary was closed, but the faithful ones were assured: ‘God is with us’ (Isaiah 8:10).” Patriarchs and Prophets, 330.

“The question has been asked, What do you mean by a confederacy? Who have formed confederacies? You know what a confederacy is—a union of men in a work that does not bear the stamp of pure, straightforward, unswerving integrity.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1142.



  • What warnings, if heeded, will protect us from the mistake of forming alliances with those who do not adhere to the present truth? Isaiah 31:1–3.

Note: “Satan is moving with his power from beneath to inspire men to form alliances and confederacies of evil against light and against the word of God. Infidelity, papacy, and semi-papacy are coming in close and powerful companionship with professed Christianity. The low views of inspiration, the exalting of human ideas from men called wise, are placing human talent above the divine wisdom and forms, and science so-called above the power of vital godliness. These are the signs of the last days.” That I May Know Him, 345.

“All need wisdom carefully to search out the mystery of iniquity that figures so largely in the winding up of this earth’s history. God’s presentation of the detestable works of the inhabitants of the ruling powers of the world who bind themselves into secret societies and confederacies, not honoring the law of God, should enable the people who have the light of truth to keep clear of all these evils. More and more will all false religionists of the world manifest their evil doings; for there are but two parties, those who keep the commandments of God and those who war against God’s holy law.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, 322.

  • What Bible principle warns against confederacies? 2 Corinthians 6:14–18.

Note: “The wicked are being bound up in bundles, bound up in trusts, in unions, in confederacies. Let us have nothing to do with these organizations. God is our Ruler, our Governor, and He calls us to come out from the world and be separate. … If we refuse to do this, if we continue to link up with the world, and to look at every matter from a worldly standpoint, we shall become like the world. When worldly policy and worldly ideas govern our transactions, we cannot stand on the high and holy platform of eternal truth.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1142.

“The trades unions and confederacies of the world are a snare. Keep out of them, and away from them, brethren. Have nothing to do with them. Because of these unions and confederacies, it will soon be very difficult for our institutions to carry on their work in the cities.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 142.



  • How does Inspiration depict the bustle of city life and the alliances it requires—in contrast to the peaceful existence God wants for His people? Nahum 2:4; Lamentations 5:4; Isaiah 32:17–19.

Note: “It is God’s design that our people should locate outside the cities, and from these outposts warn the cities, and raise in them memorials for God. There must be a force of influence in the cities, that the message of warning shall be heard.

“For years the warning has been given to our people, Get out of Battle Creek. But because of the many interests established there, it was convenient to remain, and men could not see why they should move. … Take the school out of Battle Creek if you can possibly do so. Go out into a place where there are no people who believe as we do, and there establish the school on a location with plenty of land, that the students who come may be educated in right lines. They [brethren Sutherland and Magan] obeyed the instruction given. This was the first move made. It has been a success. God has been pleased with it.” The General Conference Bulletin, April 6, 1903.

“In God’s plan for Israel every family had a home on the land, with sufficient ground for tilling. Thus were provided both the means and the incentive for a useful, industrious, and self-supporting life. And no devising of men has ever improved upon that plan.

“The earth has blessings hidden in her depths for those who have courage and will and perseverance to gather her treasures. Fathers and mothers who possess a piece of land and a comfortable home are kings and queens.

“An expensive dwelling, elaborate furnishings, display, luxury, and ease, do not furnish the conditions essential to a happy, useful life.” The Faith I Live By, 260.



 1      How far into apostasy did Ahaz lead the people of Judah?

2      In what ways did Ahaz’s alliance with Assyria show serious unbelief?

3      When the temple services ceased, how did God comfort the faithful?

4      What is the real problem with alliances?

5      Why is country living good for our faith—especially nowadays?

Bible Study Guides – Insights from the Book of Isaiah (1) – Our Compassionate Father

October 29 – November 4

Key Text

“Lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God” (Isaiah 40:9)!

Study Help: Christ’s Object Lessons, 150–163.


“The prophet [Isaiah] exalted God as Creator of all. His message to the cities of Judah was, ‘Behold your God’ (Isaiah 40:9)!” Prophets and Kings, 315.



  • What was Isaiah told to expect in the call he had accepted? Isaiah 6:9–12. What assurance was he to cherish nonetheless? Verse 13; 10:20, 21.

Note: “His [Isaiah’s] burden of soul in behalf of erring Judah was not to be borne in vain. His mission was not to be wholly fruitless. … Throughout his lifetime he must be a patient, courageous teacher—a prophet of hope as well as of doom. The divine purpose finally accomplished, the full fruitage of his efforts, and of the labors of all God’s faithful messengers, would appear. A remnant should be saved.” Prophets and Kings, 308, 309.

  • Name some key concepts the prophet emphasized—and why such uplifting themes can inspire us with hope. Isaiah 40:9, 13–15, 21–31.

Note: “The stars also have a message of good cheer for every human being. In those hours that come to all, when the heart is faint and temptation presses sore; when obstacles seem insurmountable, life’s aims impossible of achievement, its fair promises like apples of Sodom; where, then, can such courage and steadfastness be found as in that lesson which God has bidden us learn from the stars in their untroubled course?” Education, 115.



  • Throughout the history of the world, what misconception about God’s character has always needed to be clarified? Ezekiel 18:25; Isaiah 55:8, 9.

Note: “In Isaiah’s day the spiritual understanding of mankind was dark through misapprehension of God. Long had Satan sought to lead men to look upon their Creator as the author of sin and suffering and death. Those whom he had thus deceived, imagined that God was hard and exacting. They regarded Him as watching to denounce and condemn, unwilling to receive the sinner so long as there was a legal excuse for not helping him. The law of love by which heaven is ruled had been misrepresented by the archdeceiver as a restriction upon men’s happiness, a burdensome yoke from which they should be glad to escape. He declared that its precepts could not be obeyed and that the penalties of transgression were bestowed arbitrarily.

“In losing sight of the true character of Jehovah, the Israelites were without excuse. Often had God revealed Himself to them as one ‘full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth’ (Psalm 86:15).” Prophets and Kings, 311.

  • What genuine picture about God do we too often forget? Isaiah 49:13–16.

Note: “When we seem to doubt God’s love and distrust His promises we dishonor Him and grieve His Holy Spirit. How would a mother feel if her children were constantly complaining of her, just as though she did not mean them well, when her whole life’s effort had been to forward their interests and to give them comfort? Suppose they should doubt her love; it would break her heart. How would any parent feel to be thus treated by his children? And how can our heavenly Father regard us when we distrust His love, which has led Him to give His only-begotten Son that we might have life? [Romans 8:32 quoted.] And yet how many, by their actions, if not in word, are saying, ‘The Lord does not mean this for me. Perhaps He loves others, but He does not love me.’

“All this is harming your own soul; for every word of doubt you utter is inviting Satan’s temptations; it is strengthening in you the tendency to doubt, and it is grieving from you the ministering angels. When Satan tempts you, breathe not a word of doubt or darkness.” Steps to Christ, 118, 119.



  • What did Isaiah reveal as God’s plan for His wayward people? Isaiah 41:14; 48:4, 8–11.

Note: “The heart of Infinite Love yearns after those who feel powerless to free themselves from the snares of Satan; and He graciously offers to strengthen them to live for Him. …

“The inhabitants of Judah were all undeserving, yet God would not give them up. By them His name was to be exalted among the heathen. Many who were wholly unacquainted with His attributes were yet to behold the glory of the divine character. It was for the purpose of making plain His merciful designs that He kept sending His servants the prophets with the message, ‘Turn ye again now everyone from his evil way’ (Jeremiah 25:5). …

“The call to repentance was sounded with unmistakable clearness, and all were invited to return.” Prophets and Kings, 316, 319.

  • What glorious assurances are given to each one of us if we would only accept them? Isaiah 55:6, 7; 44:21, 22.

Note: “Have you, reader, chosen your own way? Have you wandered far from God? Have you sought to feast upon the fruits of transgression, only to find them turn to ashes upon your lips? And now, your life plans thwarted and your hopes dead, do you sit alone and desolate? That voice which has long been speaking to your heart, but to which you would not listen, comes to you distinct and clear, ‘Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction’ (Micah 2:10). Return to your Father’s house. …

“Do not listen to the enemy’s suggestion to stay away from Christ until you have made yourself better, until you are good enough to come to God. If you wait until then you will never come. When Satan points to your filthy garments, repeat the promise of the Saviour, ‘Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6:37). Tell the enemy that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin.” Prophets and Kings, 319, 320.



  • Explain the transition God wants His people to make from idola­try and pride, to become children of one heavenly Father. Isaiah 57:13–21.

Note: “Let not pride, or self-esteem, or self-righteousness keep any one from confessing his sins, that he may claim the promise: ‘He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy’ (Proverbs 28:13). Keep nothing back from God, and neglect not the confession of your faults to the brethren when they have a connection with them. …

“It is a lamentable fact that the erring heart is unwilling to be criticised [sic], or to subject itself to humiliation by the confession of sin. Some see their faults, but thinking confession will detract from their dignity, they excuse their wrong, and shield themselves from the discipline that confession would give to the soul. … They see the errors of others; but how can they have courage to give the advice, ‘Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed’ (James 5:16), when they have failed to follow this instruction in their own lives? How much will ministers or people learn of a truth which they thrust aside, and forget if possible, because it is not agreeable; because it does not flatter their pride, but reproves and pains? … They must hunger and thirst for the righteousness of Christ, the illumination of the Holy Spirit.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 239, 240.

  • How can we better cooperate with the Holy Spirit to be part of the Lord’s great plan? Isaiah 59:20, 21.

Note: “Sin must not be cherished. This is a time when the love of many is waxing cold, and any defection on your part may encourage others in a wrong course, and lead to many and grievous transgressions. Do not set an example of lukewarmness; do not turn away from testimonies of the Spirit of God. We are intrusted with a solemn message to give to the world, and there is much at stake. We cannot be safe amid the temptations that surround us in these times of peril, without constantly watching unto prayer. We must guard against accepting a low standard of our own instead of the high Bible standard of character.” Gospel Workers (1892), 462.



  • What gracious invitation given to the inhabitants of Judah echoes down to us today? Isaiah 27:5.

Note: “It is Satan’s special device to lead man into sin, and then leave him, helpless and trembling, fearing to seek for pardon. But why should we fear. … Every provision has been made for our infirmities, every encouragement offered us to come to Christ. …

“Christ has pledged Himself to be our substitute and surety, and He neglects no one. He who could not see human beings exposed to eternal ruin without pouring out His soul unto death in their behalf, will look with pity and compassion upon every soul who realizes that he cannot save himself.

“He will look upon no trembling suppliant without raising him up. He who through His own atonement provided for man an infinite fund of moral power, will not fail to employ this power in our behalf. We may take our sins and sorrows to His feet; for He loves us.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 156, 157.

  • With what words does Isaiah describe the experience that is to be ours? Isaiah 12:1–6.

Note: “Oh, how many times has your heart been touched with the beauty of the Saviour’s countenance, charmed with the loveliness of His character, and subdued with the thought of His suffering. Now He wants you to lean your whole weight upon Him.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 232.



 1      Why was Isaiah able to minister to his people with hope?

2      How are we to avoid being duped by common misconceptions about God?

3      Why does God bother to call proud, stubborn people to repentance?

4      We may confess our sins to God, but how is James 5:16 often neglected?

5      Despite Satan’s claims, why did God want us to study this week’s lesson?

Recipe – Fig and Banana Cookies

Fig and Banana Cookies

2 ripe bananas, mashed ½ tsp. cardamom
1 ¼ cups ground almonds, lightly packed 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
¾ cup dried figs, chopped 1 Tbsp. natural sweetener of choice (if using liquid, add ½ tsp. chia seeds), optional
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit 5-10 minutes. Drop 1 ½ Tbsp. dough on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten cookies to desired thickness. Bake in 400F oven for 7-10 minutes, until cookies firm up and edges turn golden. Let cool completely. Enjoy!

Food – Figgy Figs

Delicious sweet fig fruit, dried or fresh, has been a popular delicacy in the Mediterranean diet since biblical times. A member of the family of mulberry, figs are botanically identified as Ficus carica and universally called the “common fig” or “edible fig” in a genus including over 1,000 species.

Part of the wonder of the fig comes from its unique taste and texture. Figs are the sweetest of all fruits, boosting a 55% sugar content and featuring a complex texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds.

Fig trees never blossom because the flowers are on the inside. Figs are not technically a fruit but are inverted flowers. Tiny flowers bloom within the pear-shaped pod called syconia, which later matures into the fruit. Each flower within the syconium then produces a single, one-seeded, hard-shelled fruit called achene which gives the fig its crunch. The fig is made up of masses of achene. Thus when you eat a fig, you are actually eating multiple fruits.

Neither bee nor wind contribute to the pollination of figs. Instead, a unique species of wasp, only about ⅛ inch long, pollinates the numerous, tiny club-shaped ovaries extending toward the central hollow cavity of the syconium, as it enters and exits through the small pore or apex on the rounded end of the fig.

Figs have been known to have many medicinal properties. Traditional medicine around the world has made use of figs as poultices on tumors, warts, and wounds. The fruit and leaves have been pulverized and gargled to relieve sore throats. Juice extracted from the leaves are beneficial in soothing insect bites. Used as a facial mask, figs tighten and nourish the skin. Due to high alkalinity, figs diminish desire for cigarettes for those who want to quit smoking.

Figs are dense in phenolic antioxidants. Although sweetest at the firm to tender stage, the riper they are, the more antioxidants they provide, with the dried fruit providing higher concentrations of antioxidants than the fresh fruit. Figs have been shown to increase antioxidant activity in humans for four hours after consumption.

Figs are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, most notoriously when Adam and Eve covered their nakedness with fig leaves after they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:7). Isaiah used them to heal skin problems (Isaiah 38:21). In the New Testament Jesus used fig symbolism in some of His parables (Matthew 21; Luke 21).

“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:32, 33). Be ready, be watchful, ever ready for His soon return!


Fig and Banana Cookies

2 ripe bananas, mashed ½ tsp. cardamom
1 ¼ cups ground almonds, lightly packed 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
¾ cup dried figs, chopped 1 Tbsp. natural sweetener of choice (if using liquid, add ½ tsp. chia seeds), optional
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit 5-10 minutes. Drop 1 ½ Tbsp. dough on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten cookies to desired thickness. Bake in 400F oven for 7-10 minutes, until cookies firm up and edges turn golden. Let cool completely. Enjoy!

Life Sketches – Kicking Against the Pricks

Sometimes people will experience a life-changing event that will completely turn their life upside down and they know that life as they knew it will never be the same again. Such events are described in the Bible, and there is a life-changing event that everyone must experience if they are going to have eternal life. However, not everybody experiences it in the same way.

The stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was a pivotal turning point in the history of the Christian church. Before that event, the apostles preached the gospel almost exclusively to the Jews. In fact, we do not have a record of the apostles preaching the gospel to non-Jews up until that time. But, after the stoning of Stephen, it is very clear in the book of Acts that the gospel then went to the Gentiles.

This opening of the gospel to the Gentiles met with severe opposition, for the Jews did not want the Christian church to exist. In fact, they set out to destroy it so that there would be no Christians left. One of the chief persecutors was a man by the name of Saul of Tarsus. The first mention in Scripture of this man is at the time of the stoning of Stephen. It says, “They (the Jews) cast him (Stephen) out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:58). In Acts 8:1, first part, it says that “… Saul was consenting to his death.”

“Saul of Tarsus was present [at Stephen’s trial] and took a leading part against Stephen. He brought the weight of eloquence and the logic of the rabbis to bear upon the case, to convince the people that Stephen was preaching delusive and dangerous doctrines … .” The Acts of the Apostles, 98. “At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:1, second part–3).

Saul tried to destroy the Christian church by putting Christians in prison and having the leaders killed to stop the spread of what he deemed to be a terrible so-called heresy. Now, Saul was greatly esteemed by the Jewish nation because of his zeal. He, a learned and zealous rabbi, had become a member of the Sanhedrin counsel. He was a mighty instrument in the hand of Satan, used to carry out the rebellion against the Son of God.

However, things would soon change. The very person who was the leading persecutor of the Christian church would become the leading Christian apologist, the leading Christian apostle and proponent of the Christian religion. This story is stranger than fiction. It is a story in which we see that there is Someone mightier than Satan, who had selected the very person who led the persecution of the Christian church to become the leader of the Christian religion. This man would later write more than half the books of the New Testament.

The Bible records Stephen’s death this way: “He, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man (Jesus Christ) standing at the right hand of God’ ”(Acts 7:55, 56)! It says that, “all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15).

Stephen died, but he did not die a defeated man. He died a conqueror. He said, “I see the heavens opened.” He said that he saw the Son of Man “standing at the right hand of the throne of God.” Saul and the Jewish leaders could not stand to hear that, for it was contrary to their beliefs, especially the Sadducees who taught that there was no such thing as a resurrection from the dead. When Saul witnessed this man’s faith, it shook him.

“The mind of Saul was greatly stirred by the triumphant death of Stephen. He was shaken in his prejudice; but the opinions and arguments of the priests and rulers finally convinced him that Stephen was a blasphemer; that Jesus Christ whom he preached was an imposter, and that those ministering in holy offices must be right.” The Story of Redemption, 268.

Saul was a man of decided mind and determined purpose and he became very bitter in his opposition to Christianity that he considered now to be a delusion. He had it entirely settled in his mind that the views of the priests and the scribes were right, and his zeal led him to voluntarily engage in persecuting the believers. He made havoc of the church, going everywhere, and putting men and women in prison. He caused the Christians to be dragged before judicial councils. Some were imprisoned and some were condemned to death without evidence of any offence, except the fact that they had faith in Jesus.

Having to travel to Damascus upon his own business, Saul decided that he would accomplish a double purpose. He would obtain letters from the high priest to be read in the synagogues that would authorize him to seize all who were suspected of being believers in Jesus and send them by messengers to Jerusalem, to be tried and punished. So he set out, as recorded in Acts 9:1, 2: “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way (Christians), whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

He set out on his way full of the vigor of manhood and the fire of a mistaken zeal that has possessed millions upon millions of men and women down through the ages. When you study history, you find very often the worst persecutors of all time have been those who believed that what they were doing was for the glory of God. The cry of persecutors for thousands of years has been, “We have to get rid of these people so that they won’t deceive the rest of the people in the world.”

Saul and his companions had to travel over a desolate, dry desert region to reach their destination. But as they neared Damascus, they looked upon the fertile land, beautiful gardens, fruitful orchards, and cool streams. It was a very refreshing scene on which to look after such a wearisome journey.

“As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’

“And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads [pricks].’ ” (Acts 9:3–5).

The scene was one of greatest confusion. The companions of Saul were stricken with terror, and almost blinded by the intensity of the light. They heard the voice, but they did not see anybody. To them it was all unintelligible and mysterious, but Saul, lying prostrate on the ground, understood exactly the words that were spoken. He saw before him a Being brighter than the light of the sun, and the image of that glorified Being was indelibly marked upon his mind, and His words struck home to his heart with appalling force. A flood of light poured into his darkened mind, revealing his ignorance and error. He saw that while he had imagined himself to be zealously serving God in persecuting the followers of Christ, he had actually been doing the work of Satan. He saw his folly in resting his faith upon the assurances of the priests and rulers.

Oh, friend, are you aware that there are millions of people today, who can give you no other reason for what they believe than that it was told them by some religious teacher? They have never checked in the Bible for themselves to find out if what they believe is true? Where is your faith? In the word of man, or the word of God?

Is your faith founded in an intelligent knowledge of the word of God, that you have studied and read for yourself, or is your faith just anchored in what somebody has said, or what some group of people have said? That was the problem with Saul. His faith had been in what the religious leaders had told him. His faith was in the religious leaders that he talked to himself. He thought that these “holy men” would not be wrong.

Millions of people through the ages have been misled by placing their faith in men that they called “holy,” that led them directly contrary to what the Bible says. Jesus, talking to the Jews about this very problem, said, “Search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). They were reading a book about Jesus and when He was there they did not recognize Him.

These priests and rulers in sacred office had great influence over the mind of Saul, and they had caused him to believe that the story of the resurrection was an artful fabrication of the disciples of Jesus. But now, he had seen Jesus Christ Himself, a glorified being, brighter than the light of the sun. And then suddenly, the forcible sermon of Stephen was brought again to his mind. He now understood the truth of the dying words that Stephen had exclaimed and that the priests and rulers had said was blasphemy.

In those few moments of illumination, Saul’s mind reacted with remarkable rapidity. Your mind can work very rapidly in certain situations. Perhaps you have met people who just before a car accident, or before some other traumatic event, have later recalled, “My whole life history went before my mind.” It is an event like that which happened to Saul of Tarsus. He traced quickly through prophetic history and realized that in the Old Testament it was predicted that the Messiah would be rejected by the Jews. He knew those prophecies in Isaiah. He thought through the prophets of the Old Testament who had predicted the crucifixion of Jesus. He knew those prophecies in the Psalms.

He thought through the prophecies predicting the resurrection of Jesus. He also knew the prophecy in the Psalms that predicted the ascension of Jesus upon high, with a multitude of captives that had been freed from captivity. He saw that all this had been foretold by the prophets, and proved that Jesus Christ really was the Messiah. He remembered again the words of Stephen, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” And he knew then that the dying saint whose death to which he had consented had looked upon the kingdom of Glory. In a moment, the scales had been lifted from his eyes and now he understood.

What a revelation it was. It was light, clear but also terrible. Christ was revealed to him as having come to earth and having fulfilled his mission, being rejected, abused, condemned, and crucified by those that He came to save, but also as having risen from the dead, and having ascended into the heavens. In that terrible moment, Saul remembered that the holy man, Stephen, had been stoned with his consent. It was through his instrumentality that not only Stephen, but other Christians, had met their death by cruel persecution. “So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do’ ” (Acts 9:6, first part)? That is never a bad question to ask. “Lord, what do You want me to do?”

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do’ ” (verse 6, last part). Jesus had spoken to him. There was no doubt in his mind who this was. The person had identified Himself as Jesus. He said, “I’m Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” He knew now. He knew that this Jesus was the Messiah, that He was the One who had come to this world to save anyone who was willing to be saved from sin and give them the opportunity to have eternal life.

He was the Consolation, the Redeemer of Israel. While on earth, Jesus had often used parables and symbolic language to explain the truth to people. He also now used a familiar object to illustrate His meaning in talking to the man that became the apostle Paul. Jesus said to him, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.”

Those forcible words illustrate a truth that everyone in this world someday will know and understand. There are still millions of people in the world who are kicking against the pricks. They think that if they can get enough people to kick, and kick hard enough and long enough, they will be able to destroy the Christian religion and maybe all the Christians as well. Jesus’ words reveal the fact that it is hard for you to kick against the pricks of your own conscience.

There are many stories of people who were atheists, communists, socialists, of various non-Christian religions who had persecuted Christians and then become converted. There is the prick of seeing the effect of the Christian religion on human beings as no other religion can have and the prick of their own conscience.

The fact is that it is impossible for any man or for any group of men to stop the onward progress of the truth of Christ. The truth of Christ is going to march on to victory and triumph, and every effort by any man or any group of men to stop it, will simply result in injury to the opposer.

In the end, the persecutor will suffer far more than those whom he has persecuted, for, sooner or later, his own heart will condemn him for what he has done.

The Saviour, Jesus Christ, had spoken to Saul through His servant Stephen, whose clear reasoning from the Scriptures could not be controverted. The learned Jew had seen in the face of the martyr the reflected glory of Christ. “Everyone that saw Stephen, saw his face as if it were the face of an angel.” He had witnessed not only Stephen’s forbearance, but the forbearance of other Christians toward their enemies. He had witnessed their forgiveness of their persecutors. He had also witnessed the fortitude and cheerful resignation of other believers in Jesus while they had been tormented and afflicted and still others who had yielded up their lives as martyrs, rejoicing that they might give up their life for the truth’s sake.

All this testimony had appealed to Saul of Tarsus and had put conviction on his mind, causing him to struggle against it night and day. One reason some people become persecutors is because they are struggling against the conviction of their conscience, and to be free they fight those who bring the conviction. Saul’s education, his prejudices, his respect for priests and rulers and his pride of popularity had braced him to rebel against all the voice of his conscience and the grace of God.

He had believed that Christians were deluded fanatics, but now Jesus had spoken to him with His own voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

Oh, my friend, how is it with you? The way that you treat your fellow men is recorded in the books of heaven as the way you treat Jesus. Are you kicking against the pricks or are you ready to have a life-changing event that will turn you around 180 degrees and send you in the direction of eternal life?

(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 – Sunlight and Physical Fitness

Before the time of Christ, men such as Herodotus and Antyllus believed in the beneficial effect of sunlight in promoting physical fitness. They believed that “the sun feeds the muscles.” The Romans made use of the sun in training their gladiators, for they knew that sunlight seemed to strengthen and enlarge the muscles.

There seems to be conclusive evidence that sunlight produces a metabolic effect in the body that is very similar to physical training. Tuberculosis patients being treated by sunbathing have been observed to have well-developed muscles with very little fat, even though they have not exercised for months.

Beneficial effects which are apparently the same as those of an endurance exercise program can be achieved by a series of exposures to sunlight.

Resting heart rate decreases

It has been demonstrated that after a patient has been on a good endurance exercise program for several months, his resting heart rate begins to decrease (1); it has also been demonstrated that a patient’s resting heart rate will decrease and will return to normal much more rapidly following exercise, if he includes sunbathing in his physical program (2).

Respiratory rate decreases

Similarly, a patient’s respiratory rate not only decreases following an endurance exercise program, but it also decreases following sunbathing, and the patient’s breathing is slower, deeper, and seems to be easier (3).

Lactic acid decreases

Less lactic acid accumulates in the blood during exercise following sunbathing (4) (another effect which usually follows a course of physical training).

Cellular oxygen increases

The ability of the lungs to absorb more of the inspired oxygen (and the ability of the muscle cell to utilize more oxygen) comes as the result of endurance exercises continued for at least several weeks. This means that more oxygen is available for delivery to the muscles while exercising, and to the other body organs while at rest. After fitness has been established through a program of endurance exercises, a marked improvement in the level of energy is noticed. This results in a greatly improved, longer performance in work or play and also allows one to endure stress much better. This whole general improvement in one’s physical condition has come about from an improvement in the circulation and its ability to carry life-giving oxygen out into the tissues.

Sunlight seems also to increase the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen and to deliver it to the tissues. A striking increase in the oxygen content of the blood has been shown to follow a single exposure to ultraviolet light. This effect lasts for many days (5). Severe, intractable bronchial asthma patients were able to breathe freely and the color of their skin returned to a normal pink following an ultraviolet light treatment (6). The blue color of a seriously ill patient suffering from peritonitis, paralytic ileus, and bronchial pneumonia, returned to a normal pink following an ultraviolet light treatment (7).

The mechanism whereby sunlight increases the oxygen content of the blood and its utilization in the tissues may not be the same mechanism by which exercise accomplishes this same goal; but one thing becomes very clear at this point: both exercise and sunlight increase the oxygen in the tissues.

Energy and endurance increase

Fatigue is a common complaint today, but contrary to feelings, more rest may not always be the best answer. As stated previously, a good exercise program decreases fatigue and increases the capacity for work. Marked improvements in one’s endurance and working capacity has also been found to follow sunlight treatments (2). The fact that sunlight seems to increase oxygen in the tissues undoubtedly contributes to this effect. Another factor may be that glycogen (stored energy for the body) is increased in the liver and the muscles following sunbathing (8). This would allow for the increased endurance observed.

Muscular strength increases

Sunlight seems, also, to increase the blood supply to the deep internal organs and muscles (9). The skeletal muscles underlying the skin get an increased amount of blood when exposed to the sunlight (10). This is important in helping to develop muscular strength and will also help to prevent sore muscles when a new activity is undertaken. …

Recently a young male patient consulted me about his elevated cholesterol. Being a muscle builder, he was on a high protein diet and had always believed that a high carbohydrate diet would not provide the building blocks his body needed. When he was told that the ideal diet, for lowering the cholesterol, was a diet low in fat and protein and high in complex carbohydrates, he seemed rather shocked. He expressed his fear of not being able to continue on his muscle building program with this new diet. I told him about sunlight and its cholesterol lowering effect, and how it has been known for centuries to have a muscle building effect. The diet, high in complex carbohydrates with legumes and grains, would have all the protein his body could use in a muscle building program. When I saw this patient several months later and checked his cholesterol, it had fallen by over 30%. He looked well, tanned, and happy, and was enthusiastic about the progress he was achieving as his muscles had increased in strength and bulk on the new program. He was particularly pleased with the fact that he had lost subcutaneous fat. …

Blood pressure decreases

Exercise can be of great benefit in lowering the blood pressure. In one study, 23 men who had high blood pressure were given a moderate exercise program. They did 20 minutes of calisthenics and 30 to 35 minutes of jogging twice a week. After six months on this program, they averaged an 8% drop in their blood pressure (12). In another study, 656 men who had high blood pressure were given a more vigorous program of exercise. It was found that these men had an average reduction in their blood pressure of 15% (13).

A study done at Tulane University, on the effect of ultraviolet light on blood pressure, showed that men, who had normal blood pressure, had a slight lowering that lasted one or two days following a single exposure. At the same time, a group, that had high blood pressure, had a marked lowering of the blood pressure, that lasted five or six days (14). …

Single exposures of a large area of the body to ultraviolet light were found to dramatically lower elevated blood pressure (up to a 40 mm Hg drop). …

It would seem that a good exercise program, combined with a sunbathing program, would go a long way towards eliminating hypertension in this country.

The heart’s efficiency increases

A good endurance exercise program will not only lower the pulse rate, but will also increase the efficiency of the heart, allowing it to pump more blood at each beat, and also allowing the heart more time to rest between beats.

Sunbathing can also increase the efficiency of the heart. In one study, the output of blood from the heart was increased by an average of 39% in the group of patients studied. The increased output continued for five or six days following a single ultraviolet light exposure (14).

Physicians use drugs to stimulate the heart, causing it to pump more blood. These drugs could possibly be eliminated in some cases if the patient were to follow an active exercise program out-of-doors in the sunlight.

Blood sugar decreases

Exercise will lower the blood sugar in a diabetic and enable the diabetic to require less insulin or medication (15). Exercise also helps those with hypoglycemia by stabilizing their blood sugars and keeping them from dropping to the point where they experience alarming symptoms.

Exposure to sunlight appears to have an insulin-like effect in that it causes a lowering of the blood sugar. This is minimal in normal individuals, but dramatic in diabetics (8, 16). When the blood sugar drops in diabetics, it is manifested by a reduction of sugar in the urine. Blood sugar is lowered by a process in which some sugar is removed from the blood and is stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen, thus by increasing its glycogen stores, the human body can reduce its blood sugar.

This process can apparently be achieved by the sun’s stimulating enzymatic reactions in the body. Initially, the sunlight stimulates an increase of the enzyme phosphorylase. Phosphorylase decreases the amount of stored glycogen. After a few hours an enzyme called glycogen synthetase starts to increase. This enzyme increases glycogen storage in the tissues while decreasing blood sugar levels. This effect continues and reaches its maximum level in about ten hours (17).

A high level of glycogen means that the body has enough reserves of energy to supply prolonged physical exercise. From this it can be seen that it would be best to take part in strenuous exercise on the day following exposure to the sunlight. A single suberythema dose (before reddening of the skin) of sunlight produces this effect and it may last several days.

Because of this dramatic effect, a diabetic may need to adjust his insulin dose when he is following a sunbathing program. … Because sunlight combined with insulin can have a very powerful hypoglycemic effect, a diabetic must sunbathe with caution. By gradually increasing the exposure to sunlight and decreasing the dose of insulin, one may avoid a hypoglycemic reaction. A diabetic who chooses to sunbathe should always keep in touch with his physician, who can best determine his need for insulin. …

 Tolerance of stress increases

The psychological effects of training and exercise are beginning to find a prominent place in scientific literature. One study of 60 middle-aged men, showed that after an intensive, four-month physical fitness program, most were significantly more emotionally mature, more self-sufficient, and more imaginative. Others have reported an increased ability to tolerate the stresses of daily life, mood elevation, and ability to sleep and relax; and with this change, came the ability to overcome faulty living habits such as alcoholism and/or cigarette smoking (15).

Those who have had experience with the beneficial effects of sunlight, say that it not only improves the general health, but it also stimulates the appetite, gives a feeling of well-being, and enables one to sleep at night. Somehow, exposure to sunlight has a more relaxing effect upon patients than simply lying down and resting (19). …

One very nervous patient of mine had tried everything to calm her nerves: tranquilizers, vitamins, minerals … . Nothing seemed to work. I informed her of the relaxing benefits associated with sunlight and suggested she try sunbathing following moments of emotional trauma. When next I saw her, she was delighted with the wonderfully relaxing effect of the sunbaths, which far surpassed any benefit she had found from other modes of treatment. …

Sunlight seems to have a relaxing and soothing effect on the stomach and intestines. A research report from Russia shows that duodenal ulcers are greatly improved after a course of sunlight treatments and can also be prevented from reoccurring (21).

Sunlight and exercise better than exercise alone

The fear of heart disease may be the major motivating factor in stimulating people to exercise – and for good reason. It has been known for some time that exercise “converts abnormal electrocardiograms to normal ones” (22, 23). And a study of the results of combined sunlight and exercise, showed that a group that was getting the sunlight treatments with exercise, had improved almost twice as much, as shown by their electrocardiograms, as had those who only exercised, even though both groups were on a general health resort treatment program (24). …

There is some evidence in the scientific literature that sunlight can increase the energy level in human cells (28). This could explain some of the increased physical fitness that comes with exposure to sunlight. Certainly sunlight is the source of energy for the entire plant kingdom and man may also derive direct energy from the rays of the sun. …

It should be emphasized that, in order to achieve the training effect associated with exercise, a gradual and consistent exercise program must be maintained over a period of months. To achieve this “training effect” from sunlight, a similar gradual and consistent exposure to sunlight must be maintained. …

How to sunbathe

One should always consult his physician before beginning a sunbathing program. He can best evaluate your particular needs and possible problems.

One’s sensitivity to sunlight is the first deciding factor. … Some can spend hours during the summer out-of-doors and not become sunburn, while others can spend only a few minutes. Many drugs, cosmetics and soaps can so sensitize the skin that burning becomes a real problem. Generally, blonde, and red-haired people need to begin with brief exposures, and will require less total sunlight than do brunettes because the light can pass more readily through lighter skin. Dark-skinned people can spend more time in the sun initially, and then they will need to increase their exposure time, because sunlight does not readily penetrate dark skin. …

As to how much time to sunbathe, it really comes down to a program that varies with individuals. The best way to start is by experimenting, perhaps 2 minutes on each area – front, back, right, and left side – in full summer sun, then gradually increase the exposure on each area by, one minute or longer every day. If you turn slightly pink several hours after the exposure, hold the time steady for several days and then start again increasing the exposure time. It is best, when starting, to keep the time lower than necessary rather than longer and experiencing a burn. Never burn! The circumstances and the situation certainly will dictate how much skin can be exposed while sunbathing. …

The time of day, season of the year, and latitude are all important when considering how much time to sunbathe. Elevation also plays an important part, for sunburning can take place faster at a higher elevation than it can at sea level. The amount of ultraviolet light reflected from the environment can also make a big difference. Snow will reflect about 85% of the ultraviolet, dry sand 17%, and grass 2.5%. Water is a poor reflector of ultraviolet light, contrary to public opinion. …

In most temperate climates, it is possible to sunbathe year around if you get out of the wind with no air movement over your body. On bright, sunny winter days it is a fabulous experience to lie in the warm sun. … Most of the beneficial effects of sunlight can be obtained without turning the skin red, so even in northern areas, winter sunbathing can be helpful. …

During the summer, it is preferable to sunbathe earlier in the day while the air is cooler, because sunbathing can become uncomfortable as well as dangerous during the heat of the day. … If one feels himself becoming too warm, he should move to the shade or take a lukewarm shower. … One should not be afraid of sweating, as the sweating process cools the body and eliminates toxins, and the sweat contains substances that can absorb some of the sun’s burning rays. …

No kind of cream or lotion should be applied to the skin while sunbathing. Clear skin is the best (skin washed with plain water to remove soap films and cosmetics). Fat or oil applied to the skin will stimulate the formation of cancer cells. Most of the suntan creams, butters, and lotions have fat as their base and should not be used. …

If one burns easily, get out of the sun sooner; season yourself by graduated, day by day exposure. Used moderately, sunlight will give the skin a soft, velvety-smooth feel along with a healthy glow.


1)     Skinner, J. S., Holloszy, J. O.; and Cureton, T. K.: Effects of a Program of Endurance Exercises on Physical Work, Amer J Cardiol 14:747, 1964.

2)     Lehmann, G., and Szakall, A.: Der Einfluss der Ultraviolettbestrahlung auf den Arbeitsstoffwechsel und die Arbeitsfahigkeit des Menschen, Arbeitsphysiologie 5:278, 1932.

3)     Laurens, H.: The Physiologic Effect of Ultraviolet Radiation, JAMA 11:2385, 1939.

4)     Parade, G. W., Otto, H.: Alkalireserve und Leistung, Z Klin Med 137:7, 1939.

5)     Miley, G.: Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation: Studies in Oxygen Absorption, Amer J Med Sci 197:873, 1939.

6)     Seidel, R. E, et al: Preliminary Report of Results Observed in Eighty Cases of Intractable Bronchial Asthma, Arch Phys Ther 24:533, 1943.

7)     Miley, G.: Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation Therapy in Acute Pyogenic Infections, Amer J Surg 57:493, 1942.

8)     Pincussen, L.: The Effect of Ultraviolet and Visible Rays on Carbohydrate Metabolism, Arch Phys Ther X-ray Radium 18:750, 1937.

9)     Levy, M.: Der Einfulss Ultravioletter Strahlen auf die Inneren Organe der Maus, Strahlentherapie 9:618, 1919.

10)   Bing, H.I.: Effects of Ultraviolet Rays in Depth and Duration, Acta Med Scand 114:217, 1943.

12)   Boyer, J., and Katsch F.: Exercise Therapy in Hypertensive Men, JAMA 21:10, 1970.

13)   Hellerstein, H. K.: “A Primary and Secondary Coronary Prevention Program,” in Raab, W. (ed.): Prevention of Ischemic Heart Disease, Springfield: Charles C. Thomas, 1966.

14)   Johnson, J. R., et al: The Effect of Carbon Arc Radiation on Blood Pressure and Cardiac Output, Amer J Physiol 114:594, 1935.

15)   Cooper, K. H.: Aerobics, New York: Bantam Books, 1968.

16)   Ellinger, F.: The Biologic Fundamentals of Radiation Therapy, New York: Elsevier Publishing Co., Inc., 1941.

17)   Ohkawara, A., et al: Glycogen Metabolism Following Ultraviolet Irradiation, J Invest Derm 59:264, 1972.

19)   Lorincz, A. L.: The Physiological and Pathological Changes in Skin from Sunburn and Suntan, JAMA, 173:1227, 1960.

21)   Okhonko, V. I.: Treatment of Duodenal Ulcer with Cholinolytics and General Ultraviolet Radiation, Vrach Delo 1:61, 1976.

22)   Mikhailov, V. A.: Influence of Graduated Sunlight Baths on Patients with Coronary Atherosclerosis, Sovet Med, 29:76, 1966.

23)   Kidera, G. J.: Exercise Aids in Converting ECG to Normal, JAMA, 204:31, 1968.

24)   Goldman, A. N., et al: Effects of Continuous and Impulse Ultraviolet Radiation Therapy in Clinical Health Resort Treatment of Patients with Hypertension and Chronic Coronary Insufficiency, Vop Kurort Fizioter 36(5):417, 1972.

28)   Kabat, J., et al: Effect of UV-irradiation of Shifts of Energy-rich Phosphate Compounds, Zabl Bakt Hyg I Abt Orig B 162:393, 1976.

Sunlight, Zane R. Kime, M.D., M.S., 33–47, 237–245.

Question & Answer – How is the third hour of the day determined in Mark 15:25, Acts 2:15?

And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him” (Mark 15:25); “For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day” (Acts 2:15). [Emphasis supplied.]

“The Jewish people divided the twenty-four-hour day into two great divisions—the day, the light part, and the night, the dark part. The light part was subdivided into four sections; namely, the third hour, the sixth hour, the ninth hour, and the evening. The light part of the day began at six o’clock in the morning. The third hour of the day would be 9 a.m.” Messiah in His Sanctuary, F.C. Gilbert, 105.

The third hour of the day would be three hours past 6:00 a.m. which was the beginning of the Jewish day. Further information on this subject is as follows:

“Day. A term used variously to mean:

  1. The period of daylight in contrast to the night. In postexilic [relating to the Jewish history following the Babylonian captivity] and NT times it was divided into twelve hours (John 11:9; Matthew 20:1–12), between approximately sunrise and sunset, or dawn and dark. Thus the sixth hour was at noon. In this system, the hours were longer in the summer than in the winter.
  2. The period of a day and a night, approximately the time of one rotation of the earth on its axis.
  • The calendar day was reckoned by the Hebrews from evening to evening (Leviticus 23:27, 32; cf. Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, etc.), that is, from sunset to sunset (Leviticus 22:6, 7; cf. Mark 1:32).
  • The Babylonians began the day likewise with sunset, but
  • the Egyptians [began the day] with sunrise; and
  • the Romans began it with midnight, whence we derive the custom. …” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition, 275, 276. The Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1979.

Pen of Inspiration – Rejoice in the Lord

Christ says to His followers, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Then let your light shine forth in clear, steady rays, Do not wrap about you a cloud of darkness. Cease to suspect others. By good works represent the character of Christ. When you are tempted to yield to despondency, look to Jesus, and talk with Him. Your Elder Brother will never make a mistake. He will judge righteously. He will guide you aright.

God is not pleased to see His children wrapped in gloom and sadness. His arm is mighty to save all who will lay hold on Him. He desires us to be cheerful, but not trifling. He says to each one of us, “But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15). God wants us to be happy. He desires to put a new song on our lips, even praise to our God. He wants us to believe that He forgives our sins, and takes away our unrighteousness. He wants us to make melody in our hearts to Him.

The “hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18) – what is it? – The hope of eternal life. Nothing short of this will satisfy the Redeemer; and it is our part to lay hold of this hope by living faith in Him. If we are partakers with Him in His sufferings, we shall be partakers with Him in the glory which will be His; for His merits have purchased forgiveness and immortality for every sinful, perishing soul. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” Our trust in this hope, purchased for us by the atonement and intercession of Christ, is to keep us steadfast and unmovable in every hour of conflict. With such a hope as this before us, shall we allow Satan to cast his shadow across our pathway, to eclipse our view of the future?

Christ values human beings with a value that is beyond any human computation. Then let us encourage faith. Take your eyes off yourself. Faith and hope are not to be centered in self: they are to enter into that within the veil, whither our Forerunner is for us entered. Talk of the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We are exposed to great moral danger; and if we trust in self, looking no higher, we shall make shipwreck of faith. Do not fail nor be discouraged. Hope is an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast when it enters into that within the veil. Thus the tempest-tossed soul becomes anchored in Christ. Amid the raging of temptation, he will neither be driven upon the rocks nor drawn into the whirlpool. His ship will outride the storm.

Close the door of the heart to distrust, and throw it open to the heavenly Guest. Put away all fretting and complaining; for these things are a snare of the devil. Let us make a pledge before God and the heavenly angels that we will not dishonor our Maker by cherishing darkness and unbelief, by speaking words of discouragement and mistrust. Let every word we utter, every line we write, be fraught with encouragement and unwavering faith. If we live faith, we shall talk faith. Think not that Jesus is the Saviour of your brother only. He is your personal Saviour. If you entertain this precious thought, you will beat back the clouds of despondency and gloom, and make melody to God in your soul. It is our privilege to triumph in God. It is our privilege to lead others to see that their only hope is in God, and to flee to Him for refuge.

Every act of consecration to God brings joy; for as we appreciate the light He has given us, more and greater light will come. We must banish the spirit of complaining, and open the heart to the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. There is peace in perfect submission. Peace follows grace. They work in perfect harmony, and are multiplied in progression. When the hand of faith takes hold of the hand of Christ, the expression of the heart is: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 1:3, 4).

Open the windows of the soul heavenward, and let the rays of the Sun of Righteousness in. Look on the bright side. Let the peace of God reign in your soul. Then you will have strength to bear all suffering, and you will rejoice that you have grace to endure. Praise the Lord; talk of His goodness; tell of His power. Sweeten the atmosphere that surrounds your soul. Do not dishonor God by words of fretfulness and repining. Praise, with heart and soul and voice, Him who is the health of your countenance, your Saviour, and your God.

The Youth’s Instructor, December 27, 1900.