October 22, 2006 – October 28, 2006
“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where [is] the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk [therein].” Jeremiah 6:16.
Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 408–416; 425–429.
“The conditions prevailing in the land of Judah were such that only by the most decided measures could a change for the better be brought about.” Prophets and Kings, 412.
“Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This [is] my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. The proud have had me greatly in derision: [yet] have I not declined from thy law. I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord; and have comforted myself. Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law. Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept thy law. This I had, because I kept thy precepts.” Psalm 119:49–56.
1 In the time of Jeremiah, what was the condition of God’s chosen people? Jeremiah 8:5, 6.
note: “For forty years Jeremiah was to stand before the nation as a witness for truth and righteousness. In a time of unparalleled apostasy he was to exemplify in life and character the worship of the only true God. During the terrible sieges of Jerusalem he was to be the mouthpiece of Jehovah. He was to predict the downfall of the house of David and the destruction of the beautiful temple built by Solomon. And when imprisoned because of his fearless utterances, he was still to speak plainly against sin in high places. Despised, hated, rejected of men, he was finally to witness the literal fulfillment of his own prophecies of impending doom, and share in the sorrow and woe that should follow the destruction of the fated city.” Prophets and Kings, 408.
2 Especially on what point of transgression did God specify through His prophets? Jeremiah 17:19–23.
note: “The work of the priests in connection with the sacrificial offerings was increased upon the Sabbath, yet in their holy work in the service of God they did not violate the fourth commandment of the decalogue. As Israel separated from God, the true object of the Sabbath institution became less distinct in their minds. They grew careless of its observance, and unmindful of its ordinances. The prophets testified to them of God’s displeasure in the violation of his Sabbath. Nehemiah says: ‘In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine-presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath-day, and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.’ [Nehemiah 13:15.] . . .
“But they heeded not the admonitions of the inspired prophets, and departed more and more from the religion of their fathers. At length calamities, persecution, and bondage came upon them in consequence of their disregard of God’s requirements.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, 194.
3 How did God reveal His longsuffering and forgiving character to His people in spite of their continued transgression? Jeremiah 17:24–26.
note: “Through Jeremiah the word of the Lord to His people was: ‘Return, thou backsliding Israel, . . . and I will not cause Mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God. . . . Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you.’ ‘Thou shalt call Me, My Father; and shalt not turn away from Me.’ ‘Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.’ Jeremiah 3:12–14, 19, 22.” Prophets and Kings, 410.
4 Where was God directing His people then, just as He is today? Isaiah 58:12–14.
note: “Thus the prophet stood firmly for the sound principles of right living so clearly outlined in the book of the law. But the conditions prevailing in the land of Judah were such that only by the most decided measures could a change for the better be brought about; therefore he labored most earnestly in behalf of the impenitent. ‘Break up your fallow ground,’ he pleaded, ‘and sow not among thorns.’ ‘O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved.’ Jeremiah 4:3, 14.” Prophets and Kings, 412.
“[Isaiah 61:4; 58:12 quoted.] The prophet here describes a people who, in a time of general departure from truth and righteousness, are seeking to restore the principles that are the foundation of the kingdom of God. They are repairers of a breach that has been made in God’s law—the wall that He has placed around His chosen ones for their protection, and obedience to whose precepts of justice, truth, and purity is to be their perpetual safeguard.” Ibid., 677, 678.
5 What condition must be met before we can realize the fulfillment of God’s promises? Deuteronomy 4:30, 31; 11:26–28; Isaiah 1:19.
note: “There are those who profess holiness, who declare that they are wholly the Lord’s, who claim a right to the promises of God, while refusing to render obedience to His commandments. These transgressors of the law claim everything that is promised to the children of God; but this is presumption on their part, for John tells us that true love for God will be revealed in obedience to all His commandments. It is not enough to believe the theory of truth, to make a profession of faith in Christ, to believe that Jesus is no impostor, and that the religion of the Bible is no cunningly devised fable. ‘He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments,’ John wrote, ‘is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.’ ‘He that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him.’ 1 John 2:4, 5; 3:24.” The Acts of the Apostles, 562, 563.
“So it is with every other one of God’s requirements. All His gifts are promised on condition of obedience. God has a heaven full of blessings for those who will co-operate with Him. All who obey Him may with confidence claim the fulfillment of His promises.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 145.
6 What was the warning given to Israel if they would not turn from their ways, especially in regards to the Sabbath? Jeremiah 18:15–17; 25:8–12.
note: “[Jeremiah 17:24, 25 quoted.] This promise of prosperity as the reward of allegiance was accompanied by a prophecy of the terrible judgments that would befall the city should its inhabitants prove disloyal to God and His law. If the admonitions to obey the Lord God of their fathers and to hallow His Sabbath day were not heeded, the city and its palaces would be utterly destroyed by fire.” Prophets and Kings, 411, 412.
7 What course did God’s people take in spite of the warnings? Jeremiah 6:16, 17; 11 Chronicles 36:17–20.
note: “God had pleaded with Judah not to provoke Him to anger, but they had hearkened not. Finally sentence was pronounced against them. They were to be led away captive to Babylon. The Chaldeans were to be used as the instrument by which God would chastise His disobedient people. The sufferings of the men of Judah were to be in proportion to the light they had had and to the warnings they had despised and rejected. Long had God delayed His judgments, but now He would visit His displeasure upon them as a last effort to check them in their evil course.” Prophets and Kings, 425.
“In calling the attention of Judah to the sins that finally brought upon them the Babylonian Captivity, the Lord declared: ‘Thou hast . . . profaned My Sabbaths.’ ‘Therefore have I poured out Mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads.’ Ezekiel 22:8, 31.” Ibid., 182.
8 Why was God compelled to take such action? 11 Chronicles 36:14–16; Ezekiel 22:8, 31.
note: “The children of Israel were taken captive to Babylon because they separated from God, and no longer maintained the principles that had been given to keep them free from the methods and practises of the nations who dishonored God. The Lord could not give them prosperity, he could not fulfil his covenant with them, while they were untrue to the principles he had given them zealously to maintain. By their spirit and their actions they misrepresented his character, and he permitted them to be taken captive. Because of their separation from him, he humbled them. He left them to their own ways, and the innocent suffered with the guilty.” Review and Herald, May 2, 1899.
9 What are the most important characteristics of God’s love toward us? Psalm 89:14; Exodus 34:6, 7.
note: “The infinite love of God has been manifested in the gift of His only-begotten Son to redeem a lost race. Christ came to the earth to reveal to men the character of His Father, and His life was filled with deeds of divine tenderness and compassion. And yet Christ Himself declares, ‘Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law.’ Matthew 5:18. The same voice that with patient, loving entreaty invites the sinner to come to Him and find pardon and peace, will in the judgment bid the rejecters of His mercy, ‘Depart from Me, ye cursed.’ Matthew 25:41. In all the Bible, God is represented not only as a tender father but as a righteous judge. Though He delights in showing mercy, and ‘forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,’ yet He ‘will by no means clear the guilty.’ Exodus 34:7.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 469.
10 How can we be assured that God will always deal justly with the sinner? Hebrews 13:8.
note: “God does not change his plans and devise new expedients to save man in different ages or dispensations. With him ‘is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.’ [James 1:17.] He does not abolish the law to bring man into harmony with himself. If he had proposed to destroy the jurisdiction of the law over man at any time, he would have done so when Adam’s failure to keep its requirements brought him under its terrible condemnation. But God does not provide any such escape in this emergency. He expels the guilty pair from the garden. The law says the penalty of sin is death, and they have brought on themselves, by deliberate choice, the loss of eternal life. The course of God toward the rebellious has not changed. There is no way back to innocence and life except through repentance for having transgressed God’s law, and faith in the merits of the divine sacrifice, who has suffered for your transgressions of the past; and you are accepted in the Beloved on condition of obedience to the commandments of your Creator.” The Signs of the Times, December 15, 1887.
Spiritual Blindness—“God’s love and justice have provided one way, and one only, whereby man can be saved from eternal separation from Heaven and alienation from God, and that is by faith in Christ and obedience to his law. The Spirit of God operating upon the human heart never leads men to belittle the law of Jehovah. Enlightened by this divine influence, we will see with awe the majesty of its requirements, the heinousness of sin, and feel the terror of its inevitable penalties upon the transgressor.
“ ‘If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,’ [1 John 2:1] and to this refuge the repentant soul turns to plead the merits of his Saviour’s blood. But while the blood of Christ avails for the repenting soul, Christ is not the minister of sin, and there is no peace, no assurance, no genuine hope, for anyone who ignores the claims of God’s law and tramples upon its just demands. To trust in man’s good purposes or works is seen by the repenting sinner to be utmost folly. To suppose that a few deeds of beneficence or the performance of duty will cancel a life-time of sin, is a blindness that Satan brings over the mind to befog the moral perceptions, and lead men to trust in themselves.” The Signs of the Times, December 15, 1887.
Glorious Deliverance—“Thus prophecies of oncoming judgment were mingled with promises of final and glorious deliverance. Those who should choose to make their peace with God and live holy lives amid the prevailing apostasy, would receive strength for every trial and be enabled to witness for Him with mighty power. And in the ages to come the deliverance wrought in their behalf would exceed in fame that wrought for the children of Israel at the time of the Exodus. The days were coming, the Lord declared through His prophet, when ‘they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.’ Jeremiah 23:7, 8.” Prophets and Kings, 427.
Reprinted with permission, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia, 2003.