…but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 2 Corinthians 10:12
A couple of years ago I attended the “Best Weigh” program at my church. While I wanted to lose a little weight I was not aware of just how much weight I really needed to lose. The doctor presenting the class pointed out that many people compare their weight to those around them, thinking since they are within the normal range of everyone else that they must be healthy. However, most Americans are overweight, and a third are obese. The majority of Americans are prime candidates for a heart attack. So, by making sure my weight fell within the norm of those around me, I was setting myself up for a heart attack!
Many people accept the health issues that their diets create because they are the same health issues everyone else has, so they just consider it normal. However, if we would eat according to Bible standards we may not have the same health issues everyone else has. You don’t have to accept the normal diet of those around us, and we don’t have to accept the health issues that are prevalent around us as being “normal.” Health issues that we consider a normal part of growing older, are only normal to those who don’t take care of themselves properly.
This week’s SS lesson mentions how people were so far away from God in Jeremiah’s day, while thinking their relationship with Him was perfectly fine. They were making the same mistake many make today. They looked around and found themselves within the norm, not realizing “the norm” is not to have a healthy relationship with God.
Let me share a quote I have not heard in a while, partly because it scares us and makes us uncomfortable. Didn’t a lot of Jeremiah’s counsel make people uncomfortable? Here it is,
It is a solemn statement that I make to the church, that not one in twenty whose names are registered upon the church books are prepared to close their earthly history, and would be as verily without God and without hope in the world as the common sinner. –Ellen White, Last Day Events, Page 172
Apparently the “norm” do not have a healthy relationship with God today, any more than in Jeremiah’s day.
It’s past time for us to stop looking around at how everyone else eats, exercises, dresses, spends the Sabbath, gives offerings, spends time in Bible study and prayer, and start comparing ourselves to the standard of God’s Word. The “norm” is not the standard. God’s Word is the standard.
We cannot consider ourselves physically healthy just because we are like those around us. They may not be physically healthy either. In the same way we cannot consider our relationship with God to be healthy just because it is like those around us.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14 NKJV
While working as a Bible Worker and lay pastor in a small church in west Texas, several of the members told me they hoped I would stay there forever, because they could not survive without me. I was young and stupid enough to believe them. However, the church membership more than doubled – not while I was there – but after I left! And, the people who came in after I left were not people with whom I had studied. They were people who never heard of me and didn’t know I existed.
While taking the gospel and the salvation of souls seriously, I have learned not to take myself so seriously. I can still rejoice even when someone rejects me because I know I presented them with an opportunity to make a choice. While I want everyone to choose Jesus, I know not everyone will.
Whatever else happens, once the gospel has gone into all the world, and that last decision has been made for or against Jesus then He will come. Every decision for or against Jesus is one decision closer to the second coming. This is why it is important to spread the gospel even if people do not accept it. Either way we hasten the Second Coming by just being the “angel” 1 that takes the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, allowing people the opportunity to choose. So don’t be too disheartened when your missionary project does not yield the results you hoped for. It was successful in giving people an opportunity to choose either way.
But we are just that. An opportunity. Not The opportunity. Let’s not take ourselves so seriously. People can reject us and still accept Jesus. What people think about me is trivial in the scheme of the great controversy. So don’t lose heart or take slights and rejections to heart. Just because someone says No to me, does not mean they will say No to the next person God sends. There is still hope.
After leaving Texas and working in Florida as a Bible Worker for a few years, a pastor friend from Texas called me. He asked how many baptisms my church had so far. I told him 90, with 48 of those being in the current year.
“Wonderful!” He exclaimed.
“And how many of those were from your work?” He asked.
“None of them!” I said.
Yup. After a church in Texas more than doubling its membership AFTER I left, I finally learned a thing or two.
- Note that “angel” literally means “messenger.” ↩
At the beginning of a new quarter, it’s time to plan for our 13th Sabbath offering which will go to the Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division, sometimes known as SID for short. In this post you will find some patterns for making 13th-Sabbath offering boxes for your family or for your whole church.
“The Adventist Church is built on mission. Our commission comes from Christ, who told us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” Mark 16:15, NIV. Sharing God’s love around the world is like a vehicle. It needs fuel to propel it. Our mission offerings are the fuel that propels almost every aspect of outreach. Without that fuel, our best efforts are hampered.
The church is united by its call to support mission. But few of us know exactly what the mission offering does, where it comes from, or where it goes. Our offerings support frontline evangelism in unentered countries as well as in teeming cities. They help build and sustain schools, establish churches, and help produce literature for distribution in hundreds of languages. In short, our mission offerings do everything our tithes can’t do.
In addition, the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering allows us to give to specific projects that grow the church in tangible ways…” (am.adventistmission.org)
As a ministry, Sabbath School Net is made possible by volunteers whose deepest desire is to see members study, share and grow as they feast daily on the great love story that is the Bible. Not everyone has the same privileges we have, and that is where Adventist Mission comes in.
Regular Mission Offerings vs 13th Sabbath Offerings
- Regular mission offerings are usually taken up in Sabbath School classes, and they are listed on your tithe envelopes. These voluntary offerings go into a general fund that supports Seventh-day Adventist mission projects throughout the world. Our support is crucial to keep this work going.
- 13th Sabbath offerings go directly to specific projects each quarter. Do you know to which projects this quarter’s offerings are going? Has your area of the world ever received a 13th Sabbath offering?
The specific projects to which 13th Sabbath offerings are dedicated are listed on the back of the quarterly. To gain some understanding of what is going on in other areas of the world, you can watch Mission Spotlight . You can choose the appropriate quarter and appropriate video and watch the video for the month at Mission 360 video
Many are happy to give a hearty ‘Amen!’ to the mission reports that come to us in various ways. But when it comes time for the 13th Sabbath offering, does our giving reflect the desire to support these projects through the quarter? Do we even give it a thought until we hear the announcement on the day that the 13th Sabbath offering will be taken up. Sadly, some churches do not even announce it, and the opportunity for this special offering passes by unnoticed. And we end up giving just whatever we have – which is whatever we normally prepare for any given Sabbath.
It’s exciting to think of how much more Adventist Mission could do if we just planned to support them.
Download and print your copy out today and share it with your church members this coming Sabbath. Each quarter a new offering box will be made available and can be found here and on the Sabbath School Net Facebook page. The Adventist Resources mentioned on the sheet is a personal project of which the 13th Sabbath offering boxes are a part.
For ease of printing after you have saved it to your hard drive-
1. in Windows Explorer, right click on the file & select Preview
2. click Control P to print
3. remove the tick in the box that says Fit Picture to Frame and
4. Print. It will then print to the maximum size of your paper that your printer will print.
Updates are planned to feature new designs and translations into multiple languages. If you are able to support with translations, please reply here so they can be made available as soon as possible. If you would like any other sizes than the ones included below drop a line in the comments.
There are now four design options to choose from. The first two are patterns for making actual 13th-Sabbath offering boxes. Since it’s a bit of work cutting out, folding & sticky-taping up the small box/house, I have included two additional options.
The larger one (Option 3) should wrap nicely around a Pringles (or equivalent) container while the sheet with two images will wrap around the smaller Pringles container. It will also fit nicely on the side of a large tissue box.
This will make a 6-sided box:
This will make a box in the shape of a house:
This design will wrap around a large Pringles container.
This design will fit around a small Pringles container or on the side of a tissues box:
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV
Ever been haunted by your past? Sometimes I will have a flashback of some off-the-cuff smart remark I made to an elder when I was kid, and I will still cringe and want to go hide under a rock 40 years later! I believe Paul’s history of persecuting Christians may have haunted him too. Except for the fact that Paul never persecuted the Christians. That was Saul. Paul was a new creature,
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
Saul the persecutor was converted, and became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 233
God wants to give us all a fresh, new start.
The story goes of a man who was driving down an old highway out in the country when he accidentally ran over a cat. He pulled over and inspected the cat, which sure enough was dead. He looked and saw a house in the distance at the top of a hill. He took the dead cat to the door and knocked. An old lady answered the door, and he said, “I am sorry Ma’m is this your cat?”
“Well it was she responded.” The man told her how sorry he was that he had just hit and killed her cat. She forgave him and they both took the cat to the backyard and buried it. A few weeks later the man found himself driving past the house again.
The terrible memories came back again, and he drove up to the house, went in the backyard, dug up the dead cat and took it to the front door again. When the lady answered, he started telling her all over how sorry he was! She reminded him she already forgave him and she helped the man bury the cat again. A few more weeks went by and the man found himself driving by the house again and once again was overcome with grief, and went and dug the cat back up and took it to the house. By this time the woman was fed up and ordered him to stop bringing the dead cat to her door!
God does not want us bringing dead cats to His door either. Don’t go digging up what His grace has buried. He wants us to leave our dead cats behind us and press for the goal. God wants to make you a new creature, just like He made Saul a new creature and turned him into Paul.
Read 2 Chronicles 36:11-14. What do these verses tell us about the last king of Judah before the final destruction of the nation? What spiritual principles of apostasy are revealed in these texts?
Zedekiah (also known as Mattaniah) took the throne at the age of 21, placed there by Nebuchadnezzar as a puppet king. Unfortunately, as the texts say, he hadn’t learned many lessons from what had gone before with previous kings, and as a result he brought even greater ruin to the nation.
Second Chronicles 36:14 states something very profound, a point that in many ways went to the heart of their apostasy. Amid the list of all the evil done under the reign of Zedekiah, it is said that Judah was following
all the abominations of the nations (NKJV).
There they were, hundreds of years after the Exodus, hundreds of years as the covenant people who were to be a light and a beacon to the nations (Deut. 4:5-8), and yet they were still so caught up in the prevailing culture, so caught up in the cultural and religious environment of their neighbors, that they were doing
all the abominations of the pagans.
Might there be a message there for us?
Read Jeremiah 38:14-18. What did the king ask him, and why?
The Lord had made it clear on numerous occasions that the nation was to submit to the rule of Babylon, that this conquest was punishment for their iniquity. Zedekiah, however, refused to listen, and he formed a military alliance against Nebuchadnezzar. Israel relied heavily on the hope of an Egyptian military victory. But Nebuchadnezzar was victorious over Pharaoh’s army in 597 b.c. This defeat permanently sealed the fate of Jerusalem and the nation. Despite so many opportunities to repent, to reform, to be revived, Judah refused.
We as a church have been raised up to proclaim a message to the world that no one else in the world is proclaiming. In many ways that is very similar to what Judah was to do. What lessons can and should we learn for ourselves from their mistakes?
The nineteenth king of Judah became Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim. He reigned on David’s throne for barely three and a half months. In 598 b.c. Nebuchadnezzar brought his forces to Jerusalem and seized the 18-year-old king with his mother, his wives, and many other royal captives. In 561 b.c., in the thirty-seventh year of his captivity, Jehoiachin was given mercy by Evil-Merodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s successor. He was granted the right to dine with the king of Babylon, and he could wear his kingly robes. (See 2 Kings 25:27-30, Jer. 52:31-34.)
His sons were also in Babylon with him, yet Jeremiah’s prophecy said they would have to give up the throne of David.
Read Jeremiah 29:1-14, the words of the Lord through Jeremiah after King Jehoiachin and his family and the court were taken captive from Jerusalem. Even amid this tragedy, how is God’s love and grace revealed?
One of the most famous verses in the Bible is this:
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ (Jer. 29:11, NIV). Here, of course, we have the immediate context: that of the Lord speaking through Jeremiah to the captives of Judah who had seen their lives completely uprooted by their Babylonian conquerors. Yet, even then, no matter how bad their situation seemed, the Lord wanted them to know that He still loved them and had only their good in mind. No doubt, considering the horrific circumstances, they must have welcomed such promising and hopeful words. Thus, even amid all dire warnings and threats, the people were still given the promise of
a future and hope. How crucial it must have been for them, especially at that time, to have such assurance!
A future and a hope? What promises can you claim from the Lord for
a future and a hope even right now, regardless of your circumstances?
Jehoahaz (also known as Shallum) was 23 years old when he succeeded his father on the throne. His reign lasted only three months. Pharaoh replaced him with his brother because Jehoahaz was not favorable toward Egyptian politics. Jehoahaz was taken to Egypt, and there he died. (See 2 Chron. 36:4, 2 Kings 23:31-34.)
The king that followed Jehoahaz was Jehoiakim, who reigned from 609-598 b.c. He was the son of Josiah. When Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, Jehoiakim was taken to Babylon along with vessels from the temple. Jeremiah again warned the people that their new king was leading the nation down a wrong path.
Read Jeremiah 22:1-19. What were some of the issues with Jehoiakim that brought such a stern rebuke from the Lord?
The Lord, speaking through Jeremiah, had very sharp words for this corrupt and covetous ruler. Jehoiakim was an oppressive and greedy king who imposed heavy taxes in Judah (see 2 Kings 23:35) in order to pay the Egyptians. Worse, using forced labor, he had elaborate construction done on his own palace, in defiance of the Torah, which was clear about paying people for their work:
Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning (Lev. 19:13). Also, unlike Josiah, his father, Jehoiakim permitted pagan rites to flourish again in Judah.
Jeremiah 22:16 is a powerful text. In the context of comparing the corrupt Jehoiakim to his father, Josiah, the Lord said to him:
He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me? (NIV). In other words, the true knowledge of God comes from how one treats those who are in need; it comes when we step out of ourselves to benefit those who can really do nothing for us in return. We see here, again, as we see all through the Bible, the Lord’s concern for the poor and the helpless, as well as the obligation we have to help those who cannot help themselves.
Dwell on the idea that helping the
poor and the needy is how we come to know the Lord. What does that mean?
Josiah was the sixteenth king to rule in the Southern Kingdom; his dates were 640-609 b.c. He became king at the age of eight, after more than half a century of moral and spiritual decline under his father (Amon) and grandfather (Manasseh), two of the most evil kings in Judah. Josiah’s reign lasted for thirty-one years.
Unlike his ancestors, however, Josiah
did that which was right in the sight of the Lord (2 Kings 22:2), despite an environment that worked against him.
Born of a wicked king, beset with temptations to follow in his father’s steps, and with few counselors to encourage him in the right way, Josiah nevertheless was true to the God of Israel. Warned by the errors of past generations, he chose to do right, instead of descending to the low level of sin and degradation to which his father and his grandfather had fallen. He ‘turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.’ As one who was to occupy a position of trust, he resolved to obey the instruction that had been given for the guidance of Israel’s rulers, and his obedience made it possible for God to use him as a vessel unto honor.-Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 384.
Read 2 Chronicles 34:1-33. What were the components of Josiah’s reform, and why would they be central to any attempt at spiritual reformation, be it corporate or personal?
Josiah’s reform consisted of two main components: First, it was getting rid, as much as possible, of anything and everything that smacked of idolatry. That is, he worked to remove the evil practices that had arisen in the nation.
But that was only the first step. An absence of evil or wrong practices doesn’t automatically mean that good will follow. Second, after hearing the book of the law read to him, the king made a covenant before the Lord
to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book (2 Chron. 34:31).
Read 2 Chronicles 34:32-33. What do these verses tell us about the power of a good example, especially among people in positions of power and influence? Think long and hard: What influence do your words and actions exert on others?
He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?(Jeremiah 22:16, NIV).
Famed Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky spent four years in a Siberian prison in the 1800s for subversive political activities. Later, writing about his experiences, he talked about some of his fellow prisoners’ utter lack of remorse for their terrible behavior.
In the course of several years, I never saw a sign of repentance among these people; not a trace of despondent brooding over their crimes, and the majority of them inwardly considered themselves absolutely in the right.-Joseph Frank, Dostoevsky, the Years of Ordeal, 1850-1859, p. 95.
Dostoevsky could have been talking about, with the exception of Josiah, the five kings who ruled Judah during the ministry of Jeremiah. One after another, these men seemed totally unrepentant for their actions, even as it became clearer and clearer that their actions were bringing the calamities that the Lord, through Jeremiah, had warned would come.
It had never been God’s intention to give Israel a king; by the end of this week’s lesson, we will better understand why. We’ll understand, too, the severe pressure that poor Jeremiah faced during much of his unappreciated ministry.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, October 17.
I’m having a hard time understanding this week’s lesson on The Crisis Within and Without. My confusion starts with the first three verses of Jeremiah chapter 2. Jeremiah gets a direct message from God to tell His people that He reminisces about the good old days – the days when they started out together into the wilderness.
“I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.” Jeremiah 2:2
This part doesn’t confuse me. All of us have probably looked back on difficult days and as the pain has subsided, we recount the positive highlights rather than focusing on what was most distressing. It’s how I see women who go through the pain of childbirth (and it seems painful!), but yet their overall memories from pregnancy through the birthing of their child is a positive one. The love they have for their child makes everything, including the bad, worthwhile. That reminds me of our Saviour.
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
The message to Jeremiah goes on to recount how God brought them “into a bountiful country, To eat its fruit and its goodness.” The dream of a generation was realized. Although their continued rebellion cost them much, eventually the people entered the Promised Land. Their future had the potential to be light years removed from their past history of slavery in a foreign land. But the people turned their backs on God.
“The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; The rulers also transgressed against Me; The prophets prophesied by Baal, And walked after things that do not profit.” Jeremiah 2:8
My confusion is now growing and it’s not because they turned their backs on God. After all, they were warned about this very danger.
“So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” Deuteronomy 6:10-12
The people went so far as to make idols out of wood and stone and declared these were their gods. How could a people who had been through so much and had seen so many indisputable miracles, turn from the living God to idols made by their own hands? Sounds delusional doesn’t it?
But this is not the point of my confusion. The pattern of God’s people calling on Him for deliverance only to forget him when things are going good has been played out again and again. If we are honest with ourselves, many of us will admit we’ve done the same thing. Through times of sickness we call on God for healing and promise our loyalty to him if healed. When on the ropes financially we plead for a breakthrough, and if He blesses us we will be faithful servants forever. With our hearts broken and crying through the midnight hours we beg God to lift the clouds in our lives and if He does, we’ll serve Him till we die. But then we forget.
Jeremiah is to point out with perfect clarity just how low the people had sunk. Not only was he to describe the depth of their sin but also the results of their sins and the pain sin would bring in its wake.
But then I found these words to Jeremiah as recorded in chapter 3.
“Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the Lord;
‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you.
For I am merciful,’ says the Lord;
‘I will not remain angry forever.
Only acknowledge your iniquity,
That you have transgressed against the Lord your God.”
That is the source of my confusion. This love, patience and forbearance of God is so far above the love we understand that it leaves me amazed. This love is so deep that I cannot grasp it. It’s as if I am looking through a glass darkly. What kind of love is it that can forgive all transgressions? What kind of love can cast a people’s sins, their past, and place them as it were in the bottom of a sea? Only the love of Jesus.
“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does rebellion mean to you?
- Is it true that as long as you are sincere in your worship of God, even if it is biblically wrong, God is more concerned with the heart than the action? Explain your answer.
- Are major setbacks in life an indication that God is punishing us for sin(s) we’ve committed? Explain your answer.
- Is it true that if the religious leaders had been faithful to God, the people more or less would have followed them? Why yes or no?
- Which, if either, is the greatest threat to our salvation: our own involvement in sin or the fulfillment of the anti-Christ as prophesied in the bible? Explain your answer.
- How should a believer imitate the forbearing, patient love of God when dealing with others?
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: The more I understand God’s love, the more I will demonstrably show it to everyone. Explain your answer.
We close this week’s lesson with a passage from Jeremiah. It repeats this message of love that is consistent throughout the sacred scriptures:
“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!
A Most Satisfying Career – Part 2
Some Christian lay workers visited the prison each week to teach prisoners about God. One of the prisoners invited Harry to join them. He went, but his mind focused on a way to escape from prison.
A lay worker gave him a book called The Great Controversy. Harry read it, but he was sure that with all the crimes he’d committed, God wouldn’t bother with him.
Often at night, some of the prisoners would sing and pray together from their cells. One night the words of their song touched Harry’s heart.
I’ve wandered far away from God, now I’m coming home, they sang. In the darkness, tears fell unchecked from Harry’s eyes. Then he began sobbing. The same thing happened again a few nights later. Harry realized that God was calling him to come home, and he couldn’t refuse.
Harry hesitated to join any one religious group, for he didn’t know which one taught Bible truth. He began studying many different religions. He even learned Arabic so he could read the Koran. But none of these religions seemed to hold the truth.
Then Harry remembered the book that he had received. He pulled it out and began reading it again. As he read The Great Controversy, he sensed that this book was teaching the truth.
Harry began meeting with the Bible class taught be the Adventists. He joined the baptismal class and prepared to be baptized. But because of Harry’s reputation for escaping, the guards refused to allow Harry to leave for his baptism.
A month later Harry was transferred back to the original prison from which he had escaped. When he entered the prison, the guards greeted him. Some of them had heard that Harry had changed, and they watched to see if it was true. They even bribed other prisoners to spy on him.
Harry rejoiced to learn that Adventists held worship services in this prison, too. He joined them and continued studying the Voice of Prophecy lessons he had started several months earlier. Finally he was allowed to be baptized.
Harry wrote to his family and told them that he had given his life to God. When they visited him, they were amazed at the changes they saw. When Harry and his family prayed together, the guards bowed their heads too. They even left him alone with his mother, for they were convinced he would not try to escape again.
Harry threw himself into prison ministries from the inside. He held meetings, enrolled other prisoners in the Voice of Prophecy Bible courses, and shared books by Ellen White with other prisoners. The Adventist group worshipping in the prison grew to about 100 before Harry was released.
When Harry returned home, he began working as a literature evangelist. He loves sharing his faith with those he meets and leading them to God.
Leading souls to Jesus is a new and satisfying career, far better than the one that landed me in jail, He testifies.
_____ * Alex is a pseudonym. Harry Mitengo lives in Liwonde, Malawi.
Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes (Deut. 12:8).
When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the Lord thy God (Deut. 13:18).
There’s a crucially important contrast presented in these verses, especially in this day and age when many people revolt against the idea of being told by an outside authority what to do, or being told what is right and wrong. Yet we can see here a clear distinction between these two worldviews. In one, people do whatever they think is
right in their own eyes; in another, people are to do what is right in the
eyes of the Lord thy God. The problem with the first position is that, so often in history, what is
right in someone’s own eyes is often wrong in God’s. That’s why we have to submit everything, even our own conscience, to the Word of God.
- What are some examples you can think of where
goodpeople did very bad things, even though they thought at the time that what they were doing was right? Many cultures today look back in horror at what were once common practices. What lessons can we draw from this for ourselves today about why we not only need to submit to the teaching of the Bible, but also need to be very careful in how we interpret the Bible? This is especially important when we realize that, in some cases, some of the
badthings that were done were done by those who believed they could justify their actions by the Bible. What should this tell us about how basic and foundational to all our beliefs the Ten Commandments need to be?
- As we study Jeremiah this quarter, keep in mind the idea that despite warning after warning, the people believed that they were right with God. What could have caused them to be so deceived about their true condition? What message should this have for us as well?
Key Thought : Jeremiah’s message addressed a crisis that had been in the making through extended grace and increased apostasy that eventually led to exile.
1. Have a volunteer read Judges 2:1-3.
a. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
b. What caused the problem here, and how was it manifested?
c. Personal Application : How do we learn to transmit our values to the younger generations? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : One of your relatives states: “Where do we expect to get help from in time of crisis? Who or what do you turn to when you get in a crisis situation?” How would you respond to your relative?
2. Have a volunteer read Jeremiah 2:16,17
a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
b. What promises had God made to the nation when they were faithful?
c. Personal Application : How does going after worthless things make us worthless? How does this concept help us understand those who at times feel worthless? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : One of your friends states, “What were some of the priests, pastors, and prophets doing that led the people to be self-deceived in regard to their true spiritual condition?” How would you respond to your neighbor?
3. Have a volunteer read Jeremiah 25:8-12.
a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. What was the essence of Jeremiah’s message to Judah?
c. Personal Application: When was the last time you believed what you wanted to believe, no matter how wrong that belief turned out to be? What lessons have you learned so that the same thing doesn’t happen again? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : One of your neighbors states, “Aren’t there many examples in history where good people did very bad things and used the Bible to justify their actions? How can we keep from doing the same thing today?” How would you respond to your neighbor?
4. Have a volunteer read Jeremiah 5:2,3.
a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. How do you feel if someone disappoints you again and again? How must have God felt?
c. Personal Application: How can we be sure that we don’t deceive ourselves that just because we have the truth and are church members, it’s enough to save us? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.
(Note : “Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.” Ministry of Healing, p. 148)
In Jeremiah 5:1, the Lord tells the people to run through the streets and see
if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her [Jerusalem] (ESV). This brings to mind two stories. One is from an ancient Greek philosopher of the fourth century b.c. named Diogenes who, according to legend, used to walk around in the marketplace in the daytime, claiming that he was looking for an honest man.
The other story, of course, one that we know is true, is that of God speaking to Abraham, telling him that if He could find 50 righteous men (soon reduced to 10), He would not destroy the city.
The point, though, in the Lord’s words through Jeremiah was to reveal just how widespread the apostasy and sin had become among His people. Was there no one who did justice and sought truth?
These verses bring up a point that appears all through the book. No matter how deeply fallen the nation had become, many of the people believed that they were still faithfully following the Lord! They were uttering His name, but they were doing it
falsely instead of
in truth, in justice, and in righteousness (Jer. 4:2, ESV) as the Lord had commanded them. They did not listen to the warning coming from God, but they went on in their lives and religious practices as if everything were all right between them and God, when in fact almost nothing was right between them.
The depth of their deception can be seen in Jeremiah 7:4, when the people would take a false comfort in these words, hekhal yhwh hekhal yhwh hekhal yhwh hemma! (
This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord), as if having the temple there were all that they needed in order to ensure that all would go well with them. It’s one thing to know you’re in a crisis; but when you are in one and don’t know it, that’s an even worse situation.
With all the wonderful truth we have been given as Seventh-day Adventists, how can we make sure we don’t fall into a similar deception of believing our unique calling itself is enough to save us?
The background to the political events that shaped the ministry of Jeremiah are, to some degree, lost to history. That is, many of the details are not available. But we do have in the Bible (with the help of archaeological finds) more than enough information to have a general picture of what took place.
Though from a human perspective it probably seemed that no one was in control as these nations battled it out for land, power, and hegemony, the Bible teaches us differently.
Read Jeremiah 27:6. What are we to make of this?
The little kingdom of Judah had, in the early years of Jeremiah’s ministry, found itself caught up in the military battles between Babylon, Egypt, and the waning power of Assyria. With the decline of the Assyrian empire in the late seventh century b.c., Egypt sought to regain power and dominance in the region. However, at the battle of Carchemish in 605 b.c., Egypt was crushed and Babylon became the new world power.
This new power made Judah its vassal state. Jehoiakim, king of Judah, could stabilize the country only by swearing allegiance to the Babylonian king. Many in the country, however, didn’t want to do that; they wanted to fight and free themselves from the Babylonians, even though that wasn’t what the Lord intended for them to do. On the contrary, God was using Babylon specifically as a vehicle to punish the nation for its apostasy.
Read Jeremiah 25:8-12. What was Jeremiah’s message to the people of Judah?
Over and over Jeremiah warned the people about what would happen because of their sin, and time and again many of the political and religious leaders refused to heed the warnings, believing instead what they wanted to believe, which is that the Lord would spare them. After all, were they not God’s specially called people?
When was the last time you believed what you wanted to believe, no matter how obviously wrong that belief turned out to be? What lessons have you learned so that the same thing doesn’t happen again?
It was against this background that the young Jeremiah began his prophetic ministry.The word of the Lordcame to him, and he spoke it in hopes that the people, if they would heed these words, would be spared the ruin that otherwise was sure to come.
Read Jeremiah 2:1-28 and answer the following questions:
- What promises had God made to the nation when they were faithful? (See Jer. 2:2-3.)
- What were some of the priests, pastors, and prophets doing that was sinful? (See Jer. 2:8.)
- In what terrible ways were the people self-deceived in regard to their true spiritual condition? (See Jer. 2:23-24.)
Even though the nation had experienced some spiritual reform under the leadership of Hezekiah and Josiah, the people reverted to their old ways and fell into worse apostasy. As he did all through his ministry, Jeremiah here spoke in no uncertain terms about what was going on.
Particularly interesting are his words in Jeremiah 2:13. The people had committed two evils: they forsook the Lord, the fountain of living waters and, as a result, hewed out for themselves broken cisterns that, of course, could not hold any water at all. In other words, having abandoned the Lord, they had lost everything. These words become even more meaningful in light of what Jesus said in John 4:10.
In Jeremiah 2:5, the Lord said that the people had gone afterworthlessness,and as a result they had becomeworthless(ESV). The Hebrew words for both terms come from the same Hebrew word (hbl) that is used in Ecclesiastes often translatedvanity.It also meansa vapororbreath.How does going after worthless things make usworthless? What does that mean? How does this concept help us to understand those who, at times, feel as if their lives are meaningless or worthless? What is the answer for them?