” ‘ “In that day each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree,” declares the Lord Almighty.’ ” Zechariah 3:10 NIV
[Thought questions for Visions of Hope June 12, 2013]
1. We have this hope. How do you think Zechariah would feel to hear us lustily singing the Adventist hymn, “We Have This Hope”? Wouldn’t it be easier for all concerned if Jesus would come now? Why doesn’t He? Is it because we haven’t spread the word of God around the world? Or because we haven’t fulfilled every possible potential for evil? Or both? Does the word “hope” have a tinge of “maybe” that we need to challenge with unswerving faith?
2. Comforting words of life. Why should God’s desert people wonder about their safety as they returned to Jerusalem? Have you ever watched a youngster in agony while looking forward to something about to happen? Is that close to the picture of the Hebrew people at the end of their captivity? In what context can jealousy be a healthy emotion? Do we worship a jealous God? What about anger? Even now, today, in 2013, does God ever become angry with His children on earth? What makes you think so? or not?
3. The Lord is Coming. What impression did the coming of the Lord give to the people living in and near the little town of Bethlehem? What can we do to awaken a greater interest among our friends concerning the Second Coming of Jesus? A recent piece in the North Pacific Union’s publication, the Gleaner, states that people leave the church not because of a lack of friendliness or caring but because of doctrinal issues. Can we do a better job than we’re doing to present each key teaching as a beautiful doctrine? Are you ready to begin?
4. Readiness to forgive. Can Zechariah’s story of Joshua the high priest comfort us when we’re discouraged by our faults and shortcomings? How? Does Satan have the right to judge God’s people and their sins? Why does he keep doing this? In this vision, how close was Joshua to falling into eternal destruction because of the sins of the people (and his own)? What does the change of apparel for the high priest represent? What can you do about the sins that make you seem filthy and estranged from God? What if you don’t see yourself as sinful?
5. Not by human power. What part of the vision about the candlestick and the seven lamps gives you the most courage? From a human perspective, could the new temple in Jerusalem ever be built again? Would you say that project was an awesome task with too few workers and substandard materials? Have you ever experienced the Spirit of God working within you to accomplish something you simply couldn’t do on your own? How can we learn to trust in God and give honor to His Holy Spirit?
6. Beyond fasting. Your lesson states that the only fasting day commanded by God through Moses was the fasting day in the seventh month, highlighted by the Day of Atonement. What was the purpose of the final fasting day, which occurred in the tenth month? Why did the people question the purpose of that day as the temple was being rebuilt? Do we spend enough time reflecting on our spiritual past, both individually and as a church? What should be the outcome of this type of fasting?
7. Satan knows our sins. How hard is it for Satan to find evidence in our lives of sins of carelessness and other shortcomings? How are we like the high priest Joshua when we stand before God in judgment for our salvation? Does God have both the power and the will to forgive us even as we keep sinning and trying our best not to? What is the biggest change you think Adventist believers need to make to demonstrate that God looks at our sins and what He does about them?