Editorial – The Future of Babylon and Jerusalem

The destruction of the ancient city of Babylon is a symbol of the coming destruction of the entire world. The destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its stately temple is also a symbol of the destruction of the world. In the New Testament, Jerusalem and the Jews are used as a symbol of the professed Christian church and Babylon is used as a symbol of the entire religious world. And yet both of these—Babylon and Jerusalem—are portrayed as objects that will be totally destroyed (see for example The Desire of Ages, 743, 816; The Youth’s Instructor, December 29, 1890).

Why is the world going to be destroyed at the end?—because of its wickedness. “The destruction of Babylon pictures to some degree the final destruction of the world [see Isaiah 13]. Babylon is a symbol of the world at large. … When the doom of a nation is fixed, it seems that all the energy, wisdom, and discretion of its former time of prosperity, deserts its men of position, and they hasten the evil they would avert. Outside enemies are not the greatest peril to an individual or a nation. The overthrow of a nation results, under the providence of God, from some unwise or evil course of its own. But the people who fear God, who are loyal to His laws, who carry out the principles of righteousness in their lives, have a sure defense; God will be the refuge of those who trust in Him.” The Signs of the Times, December 29, 1890

“Could the curtain be rolled back before the youth who have never given their hearts to God, with others who are Christians in name, but who are unrenewed in heart and unsanctified in temper, they would see that God’s eye is ever upon them, and they would feel as disturbed as did the king of Babylon. …” The Youth’s Instructor, May 26, 1898

“We are never alone. We have a Companion, whether we choose Him or not. … Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, God is there. To your every word and action you have a witness,—the holy, sin-hating God. Nothing that is said or done or thought can escape His infinite eye. … In the deepest darkness and solitude He is there. No one can deceive God; none can escape from their accountability to Him.” Ibid

Bible Study Guides – Prophecies of Doom and of Deliverance

February 8, 2009 – February 14, 2009

Key Text

“Is the Lord’s hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.” Numbers 11:23.

Study Help: Fundamentals of Christian Education, 355–357; Christ’s Object Lessons, 164–180.


“The long-suffering and forbearance of God will be appreciated by those who repent, and God will save them from sin. But those who continue to disobey will receive punishment which is proportionate to their rebellion against the God of heaven.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 221.

1 How was Manasseh punished for his wickedness? II Kings 21:16; II Chronicles 33:9–11. What was the spiritual condition of the people during Manasseh’s reign as compared with that of Hezekiah?

Note: “The kingdom of Judah, prosperous throughout the times of Hezekiah, was once more brought low during the long years of Manasseh’s wicked reign, when paganism was revived, and many of the people were led into idolatry. ‘Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen.’ II Chronicles 33:9. The glorious light of former generations was followed by the darkness of superstition and error. Gross evils sprang up and flourished—tyranny, oppression, hatred of all that is good. Justice was perverted; violence prevailed.

“Yet those evil times were not without witness for God and the right. The trying experiences through which Judah had safely passed during Hezekiah’s reign had developed, in the hearts of many, a sturdiness of character that now served as a bulwark against the prevailing iniquity. Their testimony in behalf of truth and righteousness aroused the anger of Manasseh and his associates in authority, who endeavored to establish themselves in evil-doing by silencing every voice of disapproval.” Prophets and Kings, 381, 382.

2 What should we learn from the punishment and repentance of the apostate king? II Chronicles 33:12, 13; II Peter 3:9.

Note: “In the case of Manasseh the Lord gives us an instance of the way in which He works.

“The Lord has often spoken to His people in warning and reproof. He has revealed Himself in mercy, love, and kindness. He has not left His backsliding people to the will of the enemy, but has borne long with them, even during obdurate apostasy. But after appeals have been made in vain, He prepares the rod for punishment. What compassionate love has been exercised toward the people of God! The Lord might have cut down in their sins those who were working at cross purposes with Him, but He has not done this. His hand is stretched out still. We have reason to offer thanksgiving to God that He has not taken His Spirit from those who have refused to walk in His way.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1132.

3 What did Isaiah prophesy regarding the Babylonian captivity? Isaiah 39:6. When, why, and how did the Lord allow this to happen? II Chronicles 36:14–20.

Note: “Foremost among those who were rapidly leading the nation to ruin was Zedekiah their king. Forsaking utterly the counsels of the Lord as given through the prophets, forgetting the debt of gratitude he owed Nebuchadnezzar, violating his solemn oath of allegiance taken in the name of the Lord God of Israel, Judah’s king rebelled against the prophets, against his benefactor, and against his God. In the vanity of his own wisdom he turned for help to the ancient enemy of Israel’s prosperity, ‘sending his ambassadors into Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people.’ [Ezekiel 17:15.] …

“To the ‘profane wicked prince’ had come the day of final reckoning. ‘Remove the diadem,’ the Lord decreed, ‘and take off the crown.’ [Ezekiel 21:25, 26.] Not until Christ Himself should set up His kingdom was Judah again to be permitted to have a king.” Prophets and Kings, 450, 451.

4 Although Babylon was thus used as God’s rod of punishment, what was Isaiah shown about this cruel nation? Isaiah 13:19–22. What principle does this teach us?

Note: “The strength of nations, as of individuals, is not found in the opportunities or facilities that appear to make them invincible; it is not found in their boasted greatness. It is measured by the fidelity with which they fulfill God’s purpose.

“An illustration of this truth is found in the history of ancient Babylon. To Nebuchadnezzar the king the true object of national government was represented under the figure of a great tree. …

“But the king failed of recognizing the power that had exalted him. … Instead of being a protector of men, Babylon became a proud and cruel oppressor. The words of Inspiration picturing the cruelty and greed of rulers in Israel reveal the secret of Babylon’s fall and of the fall of many another kingdom since the world began. …

“Every nation that has come upon the stage of action has been permitted to occupy its place on the earth, that it might be seen whether it would fulfill the purpose of ‘the Watcher and the Holy One.’ [Daniel 4:13.] Prophecy has traced the rise and fall of the world’s great empires—Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. With each of these, as with nations of less power, history repeated itself. Each had its period of test, each failed, its glory faded, its power departed, and its place was occupied by another.” Education, 175–177.

5 With what words did God promise to deliver His people after their period of chastisement? Isaiah 44:24, 28; 45:1–3, 13.

Note: “More than a century before the birth of Cyrus, Inspiration had mentioned him by name, and had caused a record to be made of the actual work he should do in taking the city of Babylon unawares, and in preparing the way for the release of the children of the captivity. Through Isaiah the word had been spoken.” Prophets and Kings, 551.

6 How was this prophecy fulfilled? Ezra 1:1–4; 6:3–5. What principle should this fact cause us to recall? Numbers 11:23.

Note: “In a written proclamation published ‘throughout all his kingdom,’ [II Chronicles 36:22] Cyrus made known his desire to provide for the return of the Hebrews and for the rebuilding of their temple.” Prophets and Kings, 558.

“The Lord has resources. His hand is on the machinery. When the time came for His temple to be rebuilt, He moved upon Cyrus as His agent to discern the prophecies concerning Himself, and to grant the Jewish people their liberty. And more, Cyrus furnished them the necessary facilities for rebuilding the temple of the Lord. This work began under Cyrus, and his successor carried on the work begun.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1175.

7 With what prophecy did Isaiah make reference to the restoration in Nehemiah’s day and in our day? Isaiah 58:12.

Note: “The spiritual restoration of which the work carried forward in Nehemiah’s day was a symbol, is outlined in the words of Isaiah:

“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.” Prophets and Kings, 677, 678.

8 How does this prophecy also refer to our work today, as we are preparing for our Lord’s return? Matthew 17:11; Acts 3:21.

Note: “In the time of the end every divine institution is to be restored. The breach made in the law at the time the Sabbath was changed by man, is to be repaired. God’s remnant people, standing before the world as reformers, are to show that the law of God is the foundation of all enduring reform.” Prophets and Kings, 678.

9 What promise should we ever keep in mind? Isaiah 49:8–11.

Note: “When temptations assail you, when care, perplexity, and darkness seem to surround your soul, look to the place where you last saw the light. Rest in Christ’s love and under His protecting care. When sin struggles for the mastery in the heart, when guilt oppresses the soul and burdens the conscience, when unbelief clouds the mind, remember that Christ’s grace is sufficient to subdue sin and banish the darkness. Entering into communion with the Saviour, we enter the region of peace.” The Ministry of Healing, 250.

10 As we struggle with the cares of this life, with what promises does God comfort us? Isaiah 49:24, 25; Matthew 6:31–34.

Note: “If you give yourself to God’s service, He who has all power in heaven and earth will provide for your needs.

“Jesus does not release us from the necessity of effort, but He teaches that we are to make Him first and last and best in everything. We are to engage in no business, follow no pursuit, seek no pleasure, that would hinder the outworking of His righteousness in our character and life. Whatever we do is to be done heartily, as unto the Lord.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 99.

Additional Reading

“God requires His people to shine as lights in the world. It is not merely the ministers who are required to do this, but every disciple of Christ. Their conversation should be heavenly. And while they enjoy communion with God they will wish to have intercourse with their fellow men in order to express by their words and acts the love of God which animates their hearts. In this way they will be lights in the world, and the light transmitted through them will not go out or be taken away. It will indeed become darkness to those who will not walk in it, but it will shine with increasing brightness on the path of those who will obey and walk in the light.

“The spirit, wisdom, and goodness of God, revealed in His word, are to be exemplified by the disciples of Christ, and are thus to condemn the world. God requires of His people according to the grace and truth given them. All His righteous demands must be fully met. Accountable beings must walk in the light that shines upon them. If they fail to do this, their light becomes darkness, and their darkness is great in the same degree as their light was abundant. Accumulated light has shone upon God’s people; but many have neglected to follow the light, and for this reason they are in a state of great spiritual weakness.

“It is not for lack of knowledge that God’s people are now perishing. They will not be condemned because they do not know the way, the truth, and the life. The truth that has reached their understanding, the light which has shone on the soul, but which has been neglected or refused, will condemn them. Those who never had the light to reject will not be in condemnation. What more could have been done for God’s vineyard than has been done? Light, precious light, shines upon God’s people; but it will not save them unless they consent to be saved by it, fully live up to it, and transmit it to others in darkness. God calls upon His people to act. It is an individual work of confessing and forsaking sins and returning unto the Lord that is needed. One cannot do this work for another. Religious knowledge has accumulated, and this has increased corresponding obligations. Great light has been shining upon the church, and by it they are condemned because they refuse to walk in it. If they were blind they would be without sin. But they have seen light and have heard much truth, yet are not wise and holy. Many have for years made no advancement in knowledge and true holiness. They are spiritual dwarfs. Instead of going forward to perfection, they are going back to the darkness and bondage of Egypt. Their minds are not exercised unto godliness and true holiness.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 122–124.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – Jeremiah Grieves for His People

May 24, 2009 – May 30, 2009

Key Text

“Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard.” Jeremiah 26:12.

Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 430–437; Testimonies, vol. 4, 176–181.


“God will send reproof and warning to His people as long as they continue upon earth.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 180.

1 How did the priests, false prophets, and people react to Jeremiah’s message? Jeremiah 26:7, 8. Who else heard about the prophet’s declaration? Jeremiah 26:10–12.

Note: “When the priests and the people heard the message that Jeremiah delivered to them in the name of the Lord, they were very angry and declared that he should die. … Thus was the message of God despised and the servant with whom He entrusted it threatened with death. The priests, the unfaithful prophets, and all the people turned in wrath upon him who would not speak to them smooth things and prophesy deceit.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 167.

2 What positive appeal did Jeremiah make, and why was he not intimidated by those in authority? Jeremiah 26:13–16.

Note: “Had the prophet been intimidated by the threatening attitude of those high in authority, his message would have been without effect, and he would have lost his life; but the courage with which he delivered the solemn warning commanded the respect of the people and turned the princes of Israel in his favor. They reasoned with the priests and false prophets, showing them how unwise would be the extreme measures they advocated, and their words produced a reaction in the minds of the people. Thus God raised up defenders for His servant.” Prophets and Kings, 418.

3 What should we learn from Jeremiah’s attitude? II Timothy 1:7.

Note: “The unfaltering servants of God have usually suffered the bitterest persecution from false teachers of religion. But the true prophets will ever prefer reproach, and even death, rather than unfaithfulness to God.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 167.

“God’s chosen servants should meet with courage and patience the trials and sufferings that befall them through reproach, neglect, and misrepresentation. They should continue to discharge faithfully the work God has given them to do, ever remembering that the prophets of old and the Saviour of mankind and His apostles also endured abuse and persecution for the Word’s sake.” Prophets and Kings, 437.

4 What should we always remember as we take a firm stand for the Lord? II Timothy 3:12.

Note: “God cannot use men who, in time of peril, when the strength, courage, and influence of all are needed, are afraid to take a firm stand for the right.” Prophets and Kings, 142.

“Those who stand in defense of the honor of God and maintain the purity of truth at any cost will have manifold trials, as did our Saviour in the wilderness of temptation. While those who have yielding temperaments, who have not courage to condemn wrong, but keep silent when their influence is needed to stand in defense of the right against any pressure, may avoid many heartaches and escape many perplexities, they will also lose a very rich reward, if not their own souls. Those who are in harmony with God, and who through faith in Him receive strength to resist wrong and stand in defense of the right, will always have severe conflicts and will frequently have to stand almost alone. But precious victories will be theirs while they make God their dependence.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 302, 303.

5 Who else agreed with the princes against the decision of the priests? Jeremiah 26:17–19.

Note: “The elders also united in protesting against the decision of the priests regarding the fate of Jeremiah. They cited the case of Micah, who had prophesied judgments upon Jerusalem. … Through the pleading of these men of influence the prophet’s life was spared, although many of the priests and false prophets, unable to endure the condemning truths he uttered, would gladly have seen him put to death on the plea of sedition.” Prophets and Kings, 418, 419.

6 What assurance did Jeremiah have from the Lord? Jeremiah 6:27. Wherein lay the secret of Jeremiah’s courage and the strength of his life? Jeremiah 20:11.

Note: “The children of God are wise when they trust in that wisdom alone which comes from above, and when they have no strength but that which is from God. Separation from the friendship and spirit of the world is needful for us if we would be united to the Lord and abide in Him. Our strength and our prosperity consist in our being connected with the Lord, chosen and accepted of Him.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 689.

7 Because the people of Judah did not hear the Lord’s messages, what sentence of doom was pronounced? Jeremiah 25:8–11. To impress those in leading positions of the coming calamities, what was the prophet instructed to do? Jeremiah 19:1, 10, 11, 15.

Note: “Although the sentence of doom had been clearly pronounced, its awful import could scarcely be understood by the multitudes who heard. That deeper impressions might be made, the Lord sought to illustrate the meaning of the words spoken. He bade Jeremiah liken the fate of the nation to the draining of a cup filled with the wine of divine wrath. Among the first to drink of this cup of woe was to be ‘Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof.’ Others were to partake of the same cup—‘Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people,’ and many other nations of earth—until God’s purpose should have been fulfilled. [Jeremiah 25:18, 19.]” Prophets and Kings, 431.

8 At this time of impending doom, what was Jehoiakim doing? Jeremiah 22:13, 14. What was Jeremiah directed to do, and what was the reaction of the king? Jeremiah 36:1–6, 20–23.

Note: “This message was a reproof of the many sins of Israel and a warning of the consequences that would follow a continuance of their evil course. It was an earnest appeal for them to renounce their sins. …

“When the king was told by the princes of what Baruch had read, he immediately ordered the roll brought and read to him. But instead of heeding its warnings and trembling at the danger that hung over himself and his people, in a frenzy of rage he flung it into the fire, notwithstanding certain ones who were high in his confidence had begged him not to burn it.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 177.

“When man has sinned against a holy and merciful God, he can pursue no course so noble as to repent sincerely and confess his errors in tears and bitterness of soul. This God requires of him; He accepts nothing less than a broken heart and a contrite spirit. But King Jehoiakim and his lords, in their arrogance and pride, refused the invitation of God. They would not heed the warning, and repent. The gracious opportunity proffered them at the time of the burning of the sacred roll, was their last. God had declared that if at that time they refused to hear His voice, He would inflict upon them fearful retribution. They did refuse to hear, and He pronounced His final judgments upon Judah, and He would visit with special wrath the man who had proudly lifted himself up against the Almighty.” Prophets and Kings, 435, 436.

9 How did the Lord protect His faithful prophet and strengthen him to persevere? Jeremiah 36:26–29.

Note: “The wrath of man had sought to prevent the labors of the prophet of God; but the very means by which Jehoiakim had endeavored to limit the influence of the servant of Jehovah, gave further opportunity for making plain the divine requirements.” Prophets and Kings, 437.

10 What should we realize today from this experience? Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Note: “Many now despise the faithful reproof given of God in testimony. I have been shown that some in these days have even gone so far as to burn the written words of rebuke and warning, as did the wicked king of Israel. But opposition to God’s threatenings will not hinder their execution. To defy the words of the Lord, spoken through His chosen instruments, will only provoke His anger and eventually bring certain ruin upon the offender. Indignation often kindles in the heart of the sinner against the agent whom God chooses to deliver His reproofs. It has ever been thus, and the same spirit exists today that persecuted and imprisoned Jeremiah for obeying the word of the Lord.

“While men will not heed repeated warnings, they are pleased with false teachers who flatter their vanity and strengthen their iniquity, but who will fail to help them in the day of trouble. God’s chosen servants should meet with courage and patience whatever trials and sufferings befall them through reproach, neglect, or misrepresentations because they faithfully discharge the duty that God has given them to do.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 180.

“Those who valiantly take their position on the right side, who encourage submission to God’s revealed will and strengthen others in their efforts to put away their wrong-doings, are the true friends of the Lord, who in love is trying to correct the errors of His people, that He may wash them and, cleansing them from every defilement, fit them for His holy kingdom.” Ibid., vol. 4, 181.

Additional Reading

“Christ did not fail, neither was He discouraged; and His followers are to manifest a faith of the same enduring nature. They are to live as He lived, and work as He worked, because they depend on Him as the great Master-worker.

“Courage, energy, and perseverance they must possess. Though apparent impossibilities obstruct their way, by His grace they are to go forward. Instead of deploring difficulties, they are called upon to surmount them. They are to despair of nothing, and to hope for everything. With the golden chain of His matchless love, Christ had bound them to the throne of God. It is His purpose that the highest influence in the universe, emanating from the Source of all power, shall be theirs. They are to have power to resist evil, power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master, power that will enable them to overcome as Christ overcame.” Gospel Workers, 39.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 15:58.

“Those who stand in defense of the honor of God, and maintain the purity of truth at any cost, will have manifold trials, as did our Saviour in the wilderness of temptation. The yielding temperaments, who have not courage to condemn wrong, but keep silent when their influence is needed to stand in the defense of right against any pressure, may avoid many heartaches and escape many perplexities, and lose a very rich reward, if not their own souls.

“Those who in harmony with God, and through faith in Him, receive strength to resist wrong, and stand in defense of the right, will always have severe conflicts and will frequently have to stand almost alone. But precious victories will be theirs while they make God their dependence. His grace will be their strength. Their moral sense will be keen, clear, and sensitive. Their moral powers will be equal to withstand wrong influences. Their integrity, like that of Moses, of the purest character.

“It will require moral courage to do God’s work unflinchingly. Those who do this can give no place to self-love, to selfish considerations, ambition, love of ease, or desire to shun the cross. … Shall we obey His voice, or shall we listen to the soothing voice of the evil one, and be rocked to a fatal slumber just on the eve of eternal realities?

“Our Saviour longs to save the young. … He is waiting to place upon their heads the crown of life and hear their happy voices join in ascribing honor and glory and majesty to God and the Lamb in the song of victory that shall echo and re-echo throughout the courts of heaven.” My Life Today, 320.

“The very contempt that is shown to the law of God is sufficient reason why His commandment-keeping people should come to the front and show their esteem and reverence for His downtrodden law.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 136.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – The Impending Judgment

May 3, 2009 – May 9, 2009

Key Text

“Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.” Jeremiah 26:13.

Study Help: Our High Calling, 349; The Review and Herald, March 22, 1887.


“God does not send judgments upon His people without first warning them to repent. He uses every means to bring them back to obedience and does not visit their iniquity with judgments until He has given them ample opportunity to repent.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 179.

1 What calamity was predicted to come upon Judah? Jeremiah 4:5–8. What nation was identified as being the lion of verse 7? Jeremiah 50:43, 44.

Note: “All unexpectedly a new world power, the Babylonian Empire, was rising to the eastward and swiftly overshadowing all other nations.

“Within a few short years the king of Babylon was to be used as the instrument of God’s wrath upon impenitent Judah. Again and again Jerusalem was to be invested and entered by the besieging armies of Nebuchadnezzar.” Prophets and Kings, 422.

2 What prophecy, applicable to the time of the end, was given to Isaiah, Joel, and Jeremiah? Isaiah 24:1–8; Joel 1:15–18; Jeremiah 4:19, 20, 23–27.

Note: “That the expression ‘bottomless pit’ represents the earth in a state of confusion and darkness is evident from other scriptures. Concerning the condition of the earth ‘in the beginning,’ the Bible record says that it ‘was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.’ … Genesis 1:2. Prophecy teaches that it will be brought back, partially at least, to this condition.” The Great Controversy, 658, 659.

“In visions of the great judgment day the inspired messengers of Jehovah were given glimpses of the consternation of those unprepared to meet their Lord in peace. …

“ ‘I am pained at my very heart,’ Jeremiah exclaims as he beholds the desolations wrought during the closing scenes of earth’s history.” Prophets and Kings, 726, 727.

3 What promise is given to the faithful people of God living in the time of universal calamity? Jeremiah 30:5–7; Isaiah 26:20, 21.

Note: “The people of God will then be plunged into those scenes of affliction and distress described by the prophet as the time of Jacob’s trouble. …

“Jacob’s night of anguish, when he wrestled in prayer for deliverance from the hand of Esau (Genesis 32:24–30), represents the experience of God’s people in the time of trouble.” The Great Controversy, 616.

4 What must we do to be among those who will be saved from destruction? Isaiah 55:6, 7.

Note: “Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. Not even by a thought could our Saviour be brought to yield to the power of temptation. … Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father’s commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble.

“It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ. Our precious Saviour invites us to join ourselves to Him, to unite our weakness to His strength, our ignorance to His wisdom, our unworthiness to His merits. God’s providence is the school in which we are to learn the meekness and lowliness of Jesus. The Lord is ever setting before us, not the way we would choose, which seems easier and pleasanter to us, but the true aims of life. It rests with us to co-operate with the agencies which Heaven employs in the work of conforming our characters to the divine model. None can neglect or defer this work but at the most fearful peril to their souls.” The Great Controversy, 623.

5 Why were the appeals of God through Jeremiah unable to save the people of Judah? Jeremiah 5:3, 23; 6:16, 17.

Note: “Israel’s experience from the days of the Exodus was briefly reviewed. God’s covenant with them had been, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be My people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.’ Shamelessly and repeatedly had this covenant been broken. The chosen nation had ‘walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.’ Jeremiah 7:23, 24.

“ ‘Why,’ the Lord inquired, ‘is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding?’ Jeremiah 8:5. In the language of the prophet it was because they had obeyed not the voice of the Lord their God and had refused to be corrected.” Prophets and Kings, 414.

6 Summarize the description of the predicted doom and its cause. Jeremiah 6:10–13; 15:1–4.

Note: “The time had come for deep heart searching. While Josiah had been their ruler, the people had had some ground for hope. But no longer could he intercede in their behalf, for he had fallen in battle. The sins of the nation were such that the time for intercession had all but passed by.” Prophets and Kings, 415.

7 What appeal did the Lord direct the prophet to make to the people? Jeremiah 3:22. What should this appeal cause us to consider in our day?

Note: “By the great mass of the people the call to repentance and reformation was unheeded. Since the death of good King Josiah, those who ruled the nation had been proving untrue to their trust and had been leading many astray. Jehoahaz, deposed by the interference of the king of Egypt, had been followed by Jehoiakim, an older son of Josiah. From the beginning of Jehoiakim’s reign, Jeremiah had little hope of saving his beloved land from destruction and the people from captivity. Yet he was not permitted to remain silent while utter ruin threatened the kingdom.” Prophets and Kings, 412.

“The Lord has often spoken to His people in warning and reproof. He has revealed Himself in mercy, love, and kindness. He has not left His backsliding people to the will of the enemy, but has borne long with them, even during obdurate apostasy. But after appeals have been made in vain, He prepares the rod for punishment.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1132.

8 How did God make it clear that even His patience has its limits? Jeremiah 9:25; 11:14.

Note: “Jesus is about to leave the mercy seat of the heavenly sanctuary to put on garments of vengeance and pour out His wrath in judgments upon those who have not responded to the light God has given them. ‘Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.’ Instead of being softened by the patience and long forbearance that the Lord has exercised toward them, those who fear not God and love not the truth strengthen their hearts in their evil course. But there are limits even to the forbearance of God, and many are exceeding these boundaries. They have overrun the limits of grace, and therefore God must interfere and vindicate His own honor.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 207, 208.

9 What very important work must men in responsible positions perform when wrongs exist among God’s people? Titus 2:15; Matthew 18:15–17.

Note: “We are certainly living in the closing days of this earth’s history. We need to devote much time to our spiritual interests, if we would experience the spiritual growth that is essential in this age. We are to make decided reforms. The Voice said: The watchmen need to awake, and give the trumpet a certain sound. The morning cometh; and also the night. Wake up, My watchmen. Voices that should now be heard presenting the truth are silent. Souls are perishing in their sins, and ministers and physicians and teachers are asleep. Wake up the watchmen!” Pacific Union Recorder, February 20, 1908.

10 How should we respond when admonished by God’s servants? Hebrews 12:13; 13:17.

Note: “Let none who claim to be the depositaries of God’s law flatter themselves that the regard they may outwardly show toward the commandments will preserve them from the exercise of divine justice. Let none refuse to be reproved for evil, nor charge the servants of God with being too zealous in endeavoring to cleanse the camp from evil-doing. A sin-hating God calls upon those who claim to keep His law to depart from all iniquity. A neglect to repent and to render willing obedience will bring upon men and women today as serious consequences as came upon ancient Israel. There is a limit beyond which the judgments of Jehovah can no longer be delayed. The desolation of Jerusalem in the days of Jeremiah is a solemn warning to modern Israel, that the counsels and admonitions given them through chosen instrumentalities cannot be disregarded with impunity.” Prophets and Kings, 416, 417.

Additional Reading

“God stands toward His people in the relation of a father, and He has a father’s claim to our faithful service. Consider the life of Christ. Standing at the head of humanity, serving His Father, He is an example of what every son should and may be. The obedience that Christ rendered God requires from human beings today. He served His Father with love, in willingness and freedom. ‘I delight to do Thy will, O My God,’ He declared; ‘yea, Thy law is within My heart.’ Psalm 40:8. Christ counted no sacrifice too great, no toil too hard, in order to accomplish the work which He came to do. At the age of twelve He said, ‘Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?’ Luke 2:49. He had heard the call, and had taken up the work. ‘My meat,’ He said, ‘is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.’ John 4:34.

“Thus we are to serve God. He only serves who acts up to the highest standard of obedience. All who would be sons and daughters of God must prove themselves co-workers with God and Christ and the heavenly angels. This is the test for every soul. Of those who faithfully serve Him the Lord says, ‘They shall be Mine, … in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.’ Malachi. 3:17.

“God’s great object in the working out of His providences is to try men, to give them opportunity to develop character. Thus He proves whether they are obedient or disobedient to His commands. Good works do not purchase the love of God, but they reveal that we possess that love. If we surrender the will to God, we shall not work in order to earn God’s love. His love as a free gift will be received into the soul, and from love to Him we shall delight to obey His commandments.

“There are only two classes in the world today, and only two classes will be recognized in the judgment—those who violate God’s law and those who obey it. Christ gives the test by which to prove our loyalty or disloyalty. ‘If ye love Me,’ He says, ‘keep My commandments. … He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me. And he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. … He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings; and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.’ ‘If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.’ John 14:15–24; 15:10.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 282, 283.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – Captivity and Restoration

June 21, 2009 – June 27, 2009

Key Text

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.” Jeremiah 33:14.

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 8, 69–80; Steps to Christ, 57–65.


“Thus was the church of God comforted in one of the darkest hours of her long conflict with the forces of evil.” Prophets and Kings, 474.

1 What is recorded of the last events after the fall of Jerusalem? II Chronicles 36:17–21.

Note: “At the time of the final overthrow of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, many had escaped the horrors of the long siege, only to perish by the sword. Of those who still remained, some, notably the chief of the priests and officers and the princes of the realm, were taken to Babylon and there executed as traitors. Others were carried captive, to live in servitude to Nebuchadnezzar and to his sons ‘until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah.’ [11 Chronicles 36] Verses 20, 21.” Prophets and Kings, 459, 460.

2 How did God care for His faithful servant, Jeremiah? Jeremiah 39:11, 12.

Note: “Released from prison by the Babylonian officers, the prophet chose to cast in his lot with the feeble remnant, ‘certain poor of the land’ left by the Chaldeans to be ‘vinedressers and husbandmen.’ [II Kings 25:12.]” Prophets and Kings, 460.

3 How did Jeremiah show his immutable faith in God’s purpose for His people? Jeremiah 32:6–15.

Note: “From every human point of view this purchase of land in territory already under the control of the Babylonians, appeared to be an act of folly. The prophet himself had been foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem, the desolation of Judea, and the utter ruin of the kingdom. He had been prophesying a long period of captivity in faraway Babylon. Already advanced in years, he could never hope to receive personal benefit from the purchase he had made. However, his study of the prophecies that were recorded in the Scriptures had created within his heart a firm conviction that the Lord purposed to restore to the children of the captivity their ancient possession of the Land of Promise. With the eye of faith Jeremiah saw the exiles returning at the end of the years of affliction and reoccupying the land of their fathers. Through the purchase of the Anathoth estate he would do what he could to inspire others with the hope that brought so much comfort to his own heart.” Prophets and Kings, 469.

4 Perplexed by what the Lord had instructed him to do, what was the tenor of Jeremiah’s prayer? Jeremiah 32:24, 25.

Note: “So discouraging was the outlook for Judah at the time of this extraordinary transaction that immediately after perfecting the details of the purchase and arranging for the preservation of the written records, the faith of Jeremiah, unshaken though it had been, was now sorely tried. Had he, in his endeavor to encourage Judah, acted presumptuously? In his desire to establish confidence in the promises of God’s word, had he given ground for false hope?” Prophets and Kings, 469, 470.

5 How did the Lord answer Jeremiah’s prayer? Jeremiah 32:26, 27, 37, 38, 42–44. What further confirmation of God’s promise was given to Jeremiah? Jeremiah 33:1–3, 6–8.

Note: “Thus was the church of God comforted in one of the darkest hours of her long conflict with the forces of evil. Satan had seemingly triumphed in his efforts to destroy Israel; but the Lord was overruling the events of the present, and during the years that were to follow, His people were to have opportunity to redeem the past.” Prophets and Kings, 474.

6 Name an important principle that God is seeking to teach us through the study of this experience from Jeremiah’s day. Proverbs 11:30.

Note: “Why did the Lord permit Jerusalem to be destroyed by fire the first time? Why did He permit His people to be overcome by their enemies and carried into heathen lands?–It was because they had failed to be His missionaries, and had built walls of division between themselves and the people round them. The Lord scattered them, and that the knowledge of His truth might be carried to the world. If they were loyal and true and submissive, God would bring them again into their own land.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1040.

“The time has come when the liberty of the church of Christ is endangered. Let it be a time also when true missionary work shall be done, in public ministry and in house-to-house labor. The oppression of Christ’s church would apparently be a great victory for the side of transgressors of the Sabbath, and would cause rejoicing among evil-doers. But nothing should discourage us. God has victory for his people. Let sanctified ability be brought into the work of proclaiming the truth for this time. If the forces of the enemy gain the victory now, it will be because the churches have neglected their God-given work.” The Review and Herald, February 16, 1905.

7 Besides Judah, who was included in the promise of restoration? Jeremiah 31:1, 7–9.

Note: “In the glad day of restoration the tribes of divided Israel were to be reunited as one people. The Lord was to be acknowledged as ruler over ‘all the families of Israel.’ ‘They shall be My people,’ He declared. ‘Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save Thy people, the remnant of Israel.’ Jeremiah 31:1, 7.” Prophets and Kings, 474, 475.

8 Before restoration was to take place, what lesson did the captives need to learn? Jeremiah 30:11.

Note: “Humbled in the sight of the nations, those who once had been recognized as favored of Heaven above all other peoples of the earth were to learn in exile the lesson of obedience so necessary for their future happiness. Until they had learned this lesson, God could not do for them all that He desired to do. ‘I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished,’ He declared in explanation of His purpose to chastise them for their spiritual good. Jeremiah 30:11.” Prophets and Kings, 475.

9 What hope did God give the people through Jeremiah, even at this tragic hour in history? Jeremiah 23:3–8.

Note: “Never did Jeremiah in his ministry lose sight of the vital importance of heart holiness in the varied relationships of life, and especially in the service of the most high God. Plainly he foresaw the downfall of the kingdom and a scattering of the inhabitants of Judah among the nations; but with the eye of faith he looked beyond all this to the times of restoration. …

“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] Verses 7, 8. Such were the wonderful prophecies uttered by Jeremiah during the closing years of the history of the kingdom of Judah, when the Babylonians were coming unto universal rule, and were even then bringing their besieging armies against the walls of Zion.” Prophets and Kings, 426, 427.

10 What promise is given to all who fully accept Christ as their Deliverer? Hebrews 8:10. How must we understand the immutability of this promise? Jeremiah 31:35–37.

Note: “The Jews regarded their natural descent from Abraham as giving them a claim to this promise. But they overlooked the conditions which God had specified. Before giving the promise, He had said, ‘I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. … For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.’ Jeremiah 31:33, 34.

“To a people in whose hearts His law is written, the favor of God is assured. They are one with Him.” The Desire of Ages, 106.

“When the principle of love is implanted in the heart, when man is renewed after the image of Him that created him, the new-covenant promise is fulfilled, ‘I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.’ Hebrews 10:16. And if the law is written in the heart, will it not shape the life? Obedience—the service and allegiance of love—is the true sign of discipleship. …

“We do not earn salvation by our obedience; for salvation is the free gift of God, to be received by faith. But obedience is the fruit of faith.” Steps to Christ, 60, 61.

Additional Reading

“The work of restoration and reform carried on by the returned exiles, under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, presents a picture of a work of spiritual restoration that is to be wrought in the closing days of this earth’s history. … Heavy were the burdens borne by the leaders in this work; but these men moved forward in unwavering confidence, in humility of spirit, and in firm reliance upon God, believing that He would cause His truth to triumph. Like King Hezekiah, Nehemiah ‘clave to the Lord, and departed not from following Him, but kept His commandments. … And the Lord was with him.’ II Kings 18:6, 7.

“The spiritual restoration of which the work carried forward in Nehemiah’s day was a symbol, is outlined in the words of Isaiah: ‘They shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities.’ ‘They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.’ Isaiah 61:4; 58:12.

“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.

“In words of unmistakable meaning the prophet points out the specific work of this remnant people who build the wall. ‘If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.’ Isaiah 58:13, 14.

“In the time of the end every divine institution is to be restored. The breach made in the law at the time the Sabbath was changed by man, is to be repaired. God’s remnant people, standing before the world as reformers, are to show that the law of God is the foundation of all enduring reform and that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is to stand as a memorial of creation, a constant reminder of the power of God. In clear, distinct lines they are to present the necessity of obedience to all the precepts of the Decalogue. Constrained by the love of Christ, they are to co-operate with Him in building up the waste places. They are to be repairers of the breach, restorers of paths to dwell in. See verse 12. [Isaiah 58.]” Prophets and Kings, 677, 678.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Neglectful Blindness in the Light of Truth

Often people put their trust in things that turn out to be not so trustworthy. This is one of the most common human experiences, and also one of our greatest disappointments. Some put their trust in the government, some in the church, the military, or the court system while others trust only in their own mind. As human beings, we have a seemingly insatiable desire to know what is going to happen in the future. The God of the Bible gives a challenge in Isaiah 45 and 46. He challenges those who are worshipping all other gods. He says, “Prove your case. Who can tell the future? I can tell the end from the beginning.”

In the Bible, we find the only accurate prophecies from ancient times dealing with not only up to the present, but to things that have not yet happened.

The disciples of Jesus also enquired about the future.

A few days before His crucifixion, Jesus left the Jewish temple in Jerusalem for the last time. He had just denounced the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders and of the nation as a whole and as He was leaving He made this pronouncement. He said, “See, your house is left to you desolate.” Matthew 23:38.

This was not an arbitrary decree but Jesus explained why. He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to you, how often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Verse 37.

He then went on and told them, “You are not going to see me anymore, until you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Verse 39. Here He referred to what they will say in the resurrection at the last day. He then walked out of the temple, and with His disciples went out of the city, up into the Mount of Olives where they sat down overlooking the temple. See Matthew 24:1.

This temple they saw was not the original which had been built by Solomon. Great stores of material had been gathered by King David for the first temple and built according to the plans that had been given him by divine inspiration; however, David was not allowed to build it himself. See I Chronicles 28:12, 19.

David’s son, Solomon, who was declared to be the wisest of Israel’s monarchs, completed the task. The building is reputed to have been the most magnificent building that the world has ever seen. However, because of the apostasy of the Jewish people, God allowed that building to be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. About 500 years before Christ was born the Jews, returning from captivity to a land that had been largely desolated during their absence, rebuilt the temple.

This second temple was not nearly as magnificent as the first and when the people, the old men who had seen the first temple, saw it, they wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes (Ezra 3:12).

Describing the second temple the Bible says, “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts: and in this place I will give peace, says the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:9.

The prophet explained how that was going to happen. “For thus says the Lord of hosts; Once more, it is a little while, I will shake heaven, the earth, the sea, and dry land; And I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the desire of all nations: and I will fill this temple with glory, says the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:6, 7.

Though the second temple did not have the visible tokens of the glory of God like the first one did, it was honored and was more highly exalted because in this second temple there came the desire of all nations. The Man of Nazareth taught and healed in its sacred enclosure. The presence of Christ alone made it more glorious than the first.

But Israel had put from her God’s proffered gift. And that day, when the humble Teacher had passed out from the temple for the last time, Jesus said, “Your house is left to you desolate.”

Now the disciples were filled with awe and wonder and astonishment as they heard Christ speaking these words, and as He was going out of the temple they tried to draw His attention to the wonderful architecture and to the skill and to the wonderful and expensive materials that had constructed this temple.

“Then as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” Mark 13:1.

The temple walls were made with white marble. They were fitted together so tightly that, according to tradition, you could not stick a knife between them. From a distance it was a gorgeous sight and looked like one solid piece of white marble. The disciples attempted to draw Jesus’ attention to this marvelous building that He had just said was left to the Jewish people, desolate. “And Jesus answered and said to him, Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Verse 2.

At this the disciples were in a state of astonishment. They thought that if Jerusalem would be overthrown, Jesus must be talking about the events associated with His personal coming back to this world in temporal glory, to take the throne of universal empire, to punish the impenitent Jews and to break off the Roman yoke. Jesus had told them that He was going to come back to this world a second time. So when He mentioned the judgments that were going to come upon Jerusalem their minds reverted to that coming. “Now as he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when will these things be? and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3.

Fortunately, in mercy, the future was veiled from the disciples. If they had known that in just a few more days their Lord and Master would be tried, scourged and crucified and also that for most of them, within their own lifetime, Jerusalem and the temple would be totally destroyed with not one stone being left upon another, they would have been filled with horror and unable to think logically or analytically about anything. They would have been overwhelmed, so Jesus simply presented to them an outline of the prominent events that were to take place before the destruction of Jerusalem and before the close of time. The prophecy He uttered had a two-fold meaning; firstly it had to do with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, but it also had to do with the terrors of the last great day.

Jesus declared to His listening disciples the judgments that were going to fall upon apostate Israel and especially the vengeance that would come upon them for their rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah. Before this dreaded hour would come there would be unmistakable signs that would precede the awful climax. This would come swiftly and suddenly.

He warned, “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand).” Matthew 24:15.

Luke records this in literal terms and in the most graphic language. Jesus said, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.

“Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains; let those who are in the midst of her depart; and let not those who are in the country enter her.” Luke 21:20, 21.

In other words, when they would see the idolatrous standards of the Roman armies set up on the holy ground around Jerusalem, then the followers of Christ were to find safety in flight.

This is an interesting command that Jesus gives. He told them that when they saw the Roman army surrounding Jerusalem they were to flee.

But how were the Christians to flee from Jerusalem if there were Roman armies surrounding and besieging it? Jesus did not explain how it would happen; He just gave them instructions what they were to do. He told them they were not even to take time to return home to get a garment but when they had the opportunity they were to immediately flee.

At the time that Jesus spoke those words the city of Jerusalem was a highly fortified city and any person who publicly foretold that Jerusalem would be destroyed and there would not be one stone left upon another at the temple would have been regarded as Noah was when he predicted a worldwide flood. They would have been considered a crazed alarmist and out of their mind. But Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Matthew 24:35.

Because of her sins, wrath had been denounced against Jerusalem and her stubborn unbelief rendered her doom certain. This is exactly what the Lord predicted was going to happen in Jerusalem through the prophet Micah hundreds of years before it happened. “Hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob, and rulers of the house of Israel, who abhor justice, and pervert all equity. Who build up Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with iniquity. Her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money: yet they lean on the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? no harm can come to us.” Micah 3:9–11.

Notice that these people who are living in wickedness say, “We are God’s people.”

There are people today who say they are Christians and that no harm can come to them, yet they are not living a Christlike life but live directly contrary to the way Jesus said to live. Jesus said to the people in His day, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and you don’t do what I say?” Luke 6:46.

Because they were living like the devil while claiming to be God’s own people their outcome was predicted: “Therefore because of you, Zion shall be plowed like a field. Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.” Micah 3:12.

This prophecy described the condition of the Jewish nation in the time of Christ. Although they were proud of their self-righteousness,, they were living in sin and were transgressing the principles of the law of God. They hated Christ because of His purity. His holiness was a living rebuke to the way that they were living and they accused Jesus of being the cause of their troubles. They knew that He was sinless. Jesus said, “Which of you convicts me concerning sin?” John 8:46.

They had no answer, but they condemned Him to death because they said His death was necessary for the security of their nation. “If we let him alone like this, everyone will believe in him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation. And then, do you not consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish?” John 11:48, 50.

As Micah had predicted, they built up Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with iniquity, and yet, even though they had killed their Saviour, who reproved their sins, because of their self-righteousness they still claimed to be the people of God, His favored people, and expected the Lord to deliver them from their enemies.

This same thing has happened many times through earth’s history and is still happening today. Many people claim that they are God’s people but refuse to follow His instructions. They make a profession without reflecting His character; they do not walk as He walked, or live as He lived.

For nearly forty years after A.D. 31 when Jesus predicted this destruction, the judgments against Jerusalem were delayed. God is wonderfully long-suffering. The murderers of His Son were given almost forty years to consider the evidence and see the development of the Christian church and what was happening in the world. For two generations the fathers, mothers and children had opportunity to evaluate the character of Christ.

But when the time came that the children also rejected not only the light that their parents had, but also additional light that they themselves had received, the cup of their iniquity was full. The long-suffering of God toward Jerusalem just confirmed the Jews in their stubborn impenitence and eventually God gave them up.

When God sees that no matter what evidence He gives a person they still refuse to submit, there is no way they can be saved. He finally gives up and leaves them over to their own control. The Holy Spirit ceases to plead with them because they have committed the unpardonable sin and have come under the control of another spirit.

In their hatred toward the disciples of Jesus, the Jews rejected God’s last offer of mercy to His chosen people. His protection was removed and also His restraining power upon Satan and his angels who came to totally control God’s chosen people. Her children had spurned the grace of Christ, the only One who could deliver her.

There now was no safety anywhere. Friends and kindred betrayed one another and uncontrolled passions made the people tyrants.

False accusations made their lives uncertain. They had said, “Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” Isaiah 30:11. And now their desire was granted. The fear of God no longer disturbed them. Satan was at the head of the nation and the highest civil and religious authorities were under his control and sway. All kinds of awful things happened but the leaders still said, “This city cannot be destroyed; it is God’s own city. We are not afraid that this city will be destroyed; God won’t ever let it happen.”

So the multitudes believed, right to the last, that the Most High was going to deliver them from their adversaries. But, they had spurned the Divine protection and now they had no defense. They were rent by internal dissentions and her children were slain by another’s hands.

All the predictions that Jesus gave concerning Jerusalem were fulfilled right to the letter. They learned the truth of His words—As you measure to somebody else it will be measured to you again. See Matthew 7:2.

There were many signs that occurred before the destruction of Jerusalem, showing that something awful was going to take place.

One of the most interesting fulfillments of prophecy when you look at that historical event of the destruction of Jerusalem is that you will find that not one Christian perished in the city. Jesus had given His disciples warning and every one who listened to the warning was saved. This is what Jesus had said to them:

“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains; let those who are in the midst of her depart; and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things that are written may be fulfilled.” Luke 21:20–22.

The Romans under the general Cestius surrounded the city, about A.D. 66. It was the time of the Feast of Tabernacles and there were people from throughout the world who were gathered in Jerusalem during this siege. Unexpectedly, Cestius abandoned the siege when everything seemed to be in his favour. These events were so overruled that neither the Jews nor the Romans did anything to hinder the flight of the Christians. Upon the retreat of Cestius the Jews sallying from Jerusalem pursued after his retiring army and while both forces were thus engaged, the Christians had an opportunity to leave the city unmolested.

Also, at this time the country had been cleared of enemies who might have endeavoured to intercept them. At the time of the siege the Jews had been gathered together in Jerusalem and thus the Christians throughout the land were able to make their escape without hindrance.

It is interesting that Jesus gave a command that would seem impossible to be fulfilled and yet the opportunity to escape was there, just as He told them. All those who listened and obeyed the command of Jesus were saved; not one perished in the destruction of Jerusalem. They fled without delay to a place of safety beyond Jordan.

Read Matthew 24 carefully. The destruction of Jerusalem was used by Jesus as a symbol of what will happen to the entire world who rejects the authority of God and His law and the gospel of Jesus Christ at the end of time.

The Bible says, “Flee from the wrath to come.” Matthew 3:7.

If you are willing to listen to the instructions that Jesus gives in His word, then at the end of the world you will not be among the nations that mourn because they then realize that they have been worshipping the anti-christ and not the true Christ.

You can be saved. You do not have to be destroyed in the destruction of the world that is coming. Jesus said it like this:

“Watch therefore: for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready: for the Son of man is coming at an hour when you do not expect.” Matthew 24:42–44.

Jesus is coming, and He is coming in our time.

Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: (316) 788–5559.

Lives of Unfaithfulness

There are hundreds of millions of people in the world today, and have been in times past, who believe there is an infallible church. But, there is no such thing.

The first church I have studied about in history that believed this was the Jewish church. “The Jewish people cherished the idea that they were the favorites of heaven, and that they were always to be exalted as the church of God. They were the children of Abraham, they declared, and so firm did the foundation of their prosperity seem to them that they defied earth and heaven to dispossess them of their rights. But by lives of unfaithfulness they were preparing for the condemnation of heaven and for separation from God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 294.

The Jews were confident that they were the true church and always would be. They defied earth and heaven to deprive them of their rights. But heaven had a response to that kind of self-confidence and sent them a message and a messenger to shake them out of their self-complacency. You can read it from the Bible in a sermon that John the Baptist preached. This is what he said in Matthew 3:7–12: “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’ ”

The Jews were the descendants of Abraham and claimed the right to the covenant that God made with Abraham (Genesis 17). God promised Abraham that He would be God to his children and that they would be His people and He promised to Abraham’s children special blessings.

Some people would say that there is a lot of sin in the church. But even though that is the case, the church is going to go through, because the Lord has promised us, through the prophet Jeremiah that the church is going to go through no matter how much sin is in it. “Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (the Lord of hosts is His name): If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the Lord, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever. Thus says the Lord: ‘If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says the Lord.’ ” Jeremiah 31:35–37.

And they would read that and they would say, “Do you see here what the prophet Jeremiah said? He said, ‘As long as the sun is in the sky and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, that long, the children of Israel are going to remain.’ ” So, is the sun still in the sky? Well, yes. Does the moon still come up at night? Well, yes. Are the stars still in the sky? Well, yes. Then if that is so, we are God’s people.

What they did not understand was, Who is the real Israel? I have been told, with great confidence by Adventist ministers, that the Jewish nation was God’s people right up until Matthew 23:38 and 39. This belief is contrary to the words of Jesus and the words of John the Baptist who told them not to even think they were Abraham’s children. It is no wonder so many Adventists have been deluded on this point, because many of our ministers have the very same delusion that the Jews had in the time of John the Baptist.

The Jewish leaders were so deluded that just before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, in 70 A.D.,

“The leaders of the opposing factions at times united to plunder and torture their wretched victims, and again they fell upon each other’s forces and slaughtered without mercy. Even the sanctity of the temple could not restrain their horrible ferocity. The worshipers were stricken down before the altar, and the sanctuary was polluted with the bodies of the slain. Yet in their blind and blasphemous presumption the instigators of this hellish work publicly declared that they had no fear that Jerusalem would be destroyed, for it was God’s own city.” The Great Controversy, 29.

Ellen White goes on to say that right until the time the Romans came in and slaughtered them all, plowed and totally destroyed the whole city, they thought that Jerusalem could not be destroyed because they were God’s people and Jerusalem was God’s city. Over a million people lost their lives because of that delusion. They really believed they were God’s people and could prove it from the Bible.

In the book, The Desire of Ages, 107, Mrs. White explains very clearly what John the Baptist, who, according to Jesus, there was not anyone born of women greater than him (Matthew 11:11), was talking about. He clearly defined who the church is and who the people of God really are.

“ ‘And now also,’ said the prophet, ‘the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire’ [Matthew 3:10]. Not by its name [Israel], but by its fruit, is the value of a tree determined. If the fruit is worthless, the name cannot save the tree from destruction.” John declared to the Jews that their standing before God was to be decided by their character and life and not whether they could trace their genealogy. John the Baptist taught that profession was worthless, and if their lives and characters were not in harmony with God’s law, they were not His people. That principle is still true today.

God had called the Jewish nation and their mission was to represent Him on the earth. However,

“The people whom God had called to be the pillar and ground of the truth had become representatives of Satan.” Ibid., 36.

A very sober message was given to the church of today that in these last closing days of earth’s history ministers are going to have to give a message that is even straighter than that given by John the Baptist. One wonders how this can be possible when John the Baptist addressed the leaders of the Jewish church, calling them a bunch of poisonous snakes and not to even think they were children of Abraham. In other words, do not think that you are the church just because of your heritage.

Jesus said, “ ‘I know that you are Abraham’s descendants [according to the flesh] but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.’ They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father’ [the same argument they used with John the Baptist]. Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.’ Then they said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.’ ” John 8:37–44.

Notice what Jesus is saying here. He first acknowledges that they are the physical descendants of Abraham, but He says, “You are not really the children of Abraham.” Why? “You do not have the same character or the same religious experience that Abraham had; you don’t have the same connection with God that Abraham had, so spiritually, you are not the children of Abraham at all. Your spiritual father is the devil.” This is the same thing that John the Baptist said. It is character that counts and not profession.

Ellen White explains this same concept:

“The Pharisees had declared themselves the children of Abraham. Jesus told them that this claim could be established only by doing the works of Abraham. The true children of Abraham would live, as he did, a life of obedience to God. They would not try to kill One who was speaking the truth that was given Him from God. In plotting against Christ, the rabbis were not doing the works of Abraham. A mere lineal descent from Abraham was of no value. Without a spiritual connection with him, which would be manifested in possessing the same spirit, and doing the same works, they were not his children.

“This principle bears with equal weight upon a question that has long agitated the Christian world—the question of apostolic succession.” The Desire of Ages, 466, 467.

Apostolic succession is the theological theory that God gave the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to the apostle Peter, and he was the first bishop of Rome, passing the keys on to the next bishop of Rome, right on down to the two hundred and sixty-fifth one we have today. The theory goes that the bishop of Rome has authority over the church because the keys given to Peter have been passed on right to this present day.

“Descent from Abraham was proved, not by name and lineage, but by likeness of character. So the apostolic succession rests not upon the transmission of ecclesiastical authority, but upon spiritual relationship. A life actuated by the apostles’ spirit, the belief and teaching of the truth they taught, this is the true evidence of apostolic succession. This is what constitutes men the successors of the first teachers of the gospel.” Ibid., 467.

The successors of the first teachers of the gospel are the people who have the same spirit that they had, those who teach the same things that they taught. The Jews misunderstood who it was that truly represented Israel. They thought that by making a profession and joining their church, then you were part of Israel. But John the Baptist said no, a profession without a corresponding character is nothing.

If what was true then is still true now, then a true Seventh-day Adventist is not just somebody who makes a profession of the Adventist faith; it is somebody whose character backs up his or her profession. “God is honored, not so much by the great number, as by the character of those who serve Him. He appreciates moral worth. He draws the dividing line between those who bear His name by profession, and those whose character shows them to be His children.” The Signs of the Times, June 30, 1881. That is an interesting statement. Let us think that through.

It says that God “draws a dividing line.” Now this dividing line, by the way, is drawn through every church. Every professing Christian is either on one side or the other of this dividing line. On one side are those who bear His name by profession, and on the other side are those whose character shows them to be His children. Jesus is coming soon, and there are many people who have been deceived into thinking that by their profession they will be saved. We do not believe that. We believe that a character that is in harmony with it must back up the profession. The New Testament is full of instruction on this point. Look for example in the book of Titus. Paul wrote to the young minister about problems they were having with some people who were professing to be Christians. Notice the problem: “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” Titus 1:16.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly [that is, without being intoxicated], righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11–14.

The message that the apostle preached was not a message that you could be saved by profession of faith alone when your character was out of harmony.

So who is Israel?

“But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God [those who make a profession]; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed [those whose character is in harmony with their profession].” Romans 9:6–8.

Let me repeat, God has drawn a dividing line in our church, and every single one of us who professes the Adventist faith is on one side or the other of that dividing line. Paul emphasizes this over and over again to the Roman church. “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” Romans 2:28, 29.

Again, saying it about as plain as it can be said: “For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, ‘I have made you a father of many nations’) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” Romans 4:13–17.

If you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s seed, you are Israel. That is what Paul said to the Galatians, in Galatians 3. If you have been baptized into Christ, if you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s seed. You are Israel, and even if you can claim a genealogy that goes all the way back to Abraham, if you do not believe in Christ, you are not Abraham’s seed.

“Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” Galatians 3:7.

In Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 204, there is a statement that was written to Seventh-day Adventist physicians, but it applies to all of us. It says, “A profession of Christianity is not sufficient to constitute us Christians. We must each have the character manifest by our divine Pattern.”

There is a dividing line in the Adventist church. If you profess the Adventist faith, you are on one side or the other of the dividing line. On what side are you? The Christian religion is the most attractive and spiritual of all religions. The reason is that in the Christian religion Jesus Christ makes decisions in your behalf on the basis of your choice, the decisions that you make in your mind, and not just by going through some ritual.

If you want to follow Jesus, not just by profession but actually learn how to live His life, to become like Him, God will hear that, and He will answer that prayer. John said, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” I John 3:2.

It will be a terrible disaster to come to the Day of Judgment and find yourself on the wrong side of the great divide. Choose today the right side; Jesus is waiting to answer your plea for help to save you.

(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 Free Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Editorial – Sinners in Zion, part 1

Zion is one of the hills on which the city of Jerusalem is built. Since the ark of God with the Shekinah glory was transferred to Zion (by David) it was referred to as the place where God dwelt. Jeremiah 8:19, Psalm 76:2. Jerusalem in the Old Covenant was the type of the heavenly Jerusalem and Zion in the New Covenant. The people of God, His chosen, would therefore be referred to as the people of Zion as is done repeatedly in scripture—”Say to Zion you are my people.” Isaiah 51:16.

The church, when triumphant will stand on the heavenly mount Zion. Hebrews 12:22, 23. Zion contains the chief cornerstone of the spiritual building that we call the church. Ephesians 2:19-22, I Peter 2:5,6.

The 144,000, after their deliverance from the death decree described in Revelation 13:15-17, will stand on this same heavenly mount Zion. Revelation 14:1.

In the Bible, whether talking about the earthly Jerusalem (the Old Covenant Zion), or the heavenly Jerusalem (the New Covenant Zion), Zion represents not as much a place as a people, specifically the people who profess to be the people of God and are acknowledged by Him as His people. For example, “the Lord has comforted his people and will have mercy on His afflicted. But Zion said, the Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee. Behold I have graven you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:13-16. “The Lord shall comfort Zion.” Isaiah 51:3. Zion is asleep and is commanded to awake and be loosed from captivity. Isaiah 52:1. As soon as she travails, a nation is brought forth. Isaiah 66:8. To ask the way to Zion, Jeremiah 50:5, is to ask how to become part of God’s chosen people. It is only in Zion that there will be deliverance in the last days. Joel 2:32, Obadiah 17.

In the last days God has declared that He is jealous for Zion with a great jealousy, that He will return and dwell in Jerusalem, and it will be called a city of truth. Zechariah 8:2,3. When God talks about coming to dwell in Zion He is talking about coming and dwelling among His people, His church. The church is the holy city spoken of in Revelation 11:2,3. To sinners our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:29. When God comes to Zion what will happen to sinners in Zion when the greatest spiritual battle of all time arrives—the most momentous crises of the ages? What will happen to those who are trying to build Zion with bloodshed? Micah 3:10

The prophets give us awesome answers to these questions. Here is one answer from the pen of Ellen White:

“In our largest churches the greatest evils exist, because these have had the greatest light. They have not a true knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ whom he has sent. The leaven of unbelief is working, and unless these evils which bring the displeasure of God are corrected in its members, the whole church stands accountable for them. The deep movings of the Spirit of God are not with them; the glorious presence of the King of saints, and his power to cleanse from all moral defilement, are not manifest among them. Many come to the assembly as worshipers, like the door upon its hinges. They understand not the true application of the Scriptures, nor the power of God. They have eyes, but they see not; ears have they, but they hear not; they continue in their evil ways yet regard themselves as the privileged, obedient people who are doers of the word. A carnal security and ease in Zion prevail. Peace, peace, is sounded in her border, when God has not spoken peace. They have forfeited the terms of peace; there is reason for an alarm to be sounded in all ‘my holy mountain.’ The sinners in Zion should be afraid, in a time when they do not expect it, sudden destruction will surely come upon all who are at ease.” Review and Herald, December 23, 1890.

Friend, do not let the most momentous crises of the ages pass by. If you are at ease should you not be alarmed? If you are not engaged in the controversy over Zion, will the prophecy be fulfilled in you, that many will not wake up until it is too late? Early Writings, 71. Zion must awake, put on the beautiful garments, and entering into the final conflict, contend with the sons of Greece. Zechariah 9:13.

The End