09: Prophets and Worship
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A S T O R Y
“Is being a Christian easy or hard?” Mike asked.
“Easy,” said Ted. “If you love Jesus, then following Him is the easiest thing in the world to do.”
“But what if people poke fun at you or ignore you because you’re a Seventh-day Adventist Christian? Is that easy?”
“No, it isn’t. It hurts when people are mean to me because of my religion.”
“But you said that following Jesus is the easiest thing in the world to do.”
“Well, yes. Following Jesus is easy. Putting up with the mean people, that isn’t.”
“What about having fun on Sabbath? Is it easy staying home from games being played in the stadium at the college?”
“Well, the best games are usually on Saturday night. I wait until the sun gets close to setting and change my clothes. When that last sliver of sunlight slips below the horizon, I’m out the door. Sometimes it’s past halftime and I get in free. Other times I just get standing room near the front gate and watch from there. Sometimes I get kicked out.”
“You’re lucky to live so close to the stadium. Tell me something, Ted. If your pastor told you it was okay to go to games of football or basketball or other sports on Sabbath, what would you do?”
“I’d tell him he was wrong.”
“Aw, sure. You wouldn’t do that in a million days of moonlight.”
“Yes, I would. Plus I’d tell him he’s a false prophet.”
“You would not. A false what?”
“A false prophet. Like the ones of the Bible who pretended to represent God but didn’t.”
“And then what would happen?”
Ted shrugged. “I don’t know. But going against the false prophet would be easier than saying he was right when he was wrong.”
“And that’s why being a Christian is easy. Ted, you amaze me.”

1. Salvation by grace alone. How does the Old Testament teach salvation by grace alone? Who are some of the characters you know from reading the Bible who demonstrate this point? Do you think there was more emphasis on works in Old Testament times than there is today? Why do you think God put up with his disobedient people for so many years? Is He doing the same thing today? Are our sins of the twenty-first century easier to tolerate than they were 3,000 or so years ago?
2. Isaiah the man. Have you ever thought of Isaiah as a young man? A teenager? A youngster? How was attendance at religious services going when Isaiah came into prominence? What about prosperity for God’s people? Would it be appropriate to say, “Everything was coming up roses?” If not, why not? Why did God refuse to lavish praise on His people’s achievements instead of preparing to issue warnings? Did God choose Isaiah because of his sinless life? If not, why did God choose this young man to deliver stern warnings and conditional promises to His people? How did Isaiah feel about being called by God for this task? Even so, he said “Yes, I will go.” Why? Would you go if you received a direct call from God? Anywhere?
3. Worship with God. How often do you sense the presence of God in the church service? Do you wave your hands slowly from side to side or bow your body to the floor to acknowledge this presence? Would it be wrong for you to do so? Why or why not? Are there less visible ways to show your reverence to God in His sanctuary? How can we teach our young children how to be reverent? Can they also sense God in the church where you worship?
4. Pleasing God. What pleases God most—Our generous offerings? Our faithful attendance? Our study of the details of being a twenty-first century Christian? Our attention to the vital truths we hold dear? Or the love we show to our brothers and sisters within our families, the church and outside? Think about what it must have been like in Old Testament times. As an Old Testament believer, would you want to do the right thing? Would you be generous in your financial support? How would you feel if God were to speak to you and say, “Your offerings are worthless! I’ve had it up to here with your sacrificial giving”? Does God ever feel that way about us modern-day Christians? Does He ever get sick and tired of the way we pretend to worship Him?
5. For nothing? Have you learned recently that someone close to you is dying? How long will that person be remembered after his or her death? What difference did that person make in the world? The church? The school? The family? What about you? What great accomplishment have you achieved during your years on earth? Suppose you live in a lovely five-bedroom home with spacious and well-kept gardens. What will happen to your home when Jesus comes? Did you build or purchase that home for nothing? Is there anything you can build and develop that is worth something in eternity? Describe and discuss.
6. The temple of the Lord. Would you say that the Children of Israel were proud of their temple? Why did Jesus [cause Jeremiah to] chant the words, “the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord” in a manner that could be seen as sarcastic? The lesson author says these were “deceptive words” but not in a negative way. Do you agree? What might an angel say in your church if he heard a member say, “I have accepted the truth. I’ve been in the truth for seventy years. We must spread the truth.” Can you imagine Jesus chanting with tears in His voice, “The truth, the truth, the truth.”
7. What is truth?

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09: Prophets and Worship — 14 Comments

  1. About pleasing God, only a heart changed by His grace can please Him....the natural heart is truly at enmity with God.

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  2. On number 6: I'm sure that they were proud of the temple, as perhaps we are of Bible truth. But, the point seems to be that they were repeating deceptive words when they said, "This is the temple of Jehovah." These were true words, yet deceptive. Why? No other people had the temple of Jehovah among them, and no doubt they believed that this gave them special status. They really did have special blessings, but these in fact gave them special responsibilities. What they seem to have missed is the fact that with God there is no partiality. If they merely wished to enjoy these special blessings, while having no desire to share them with the less privileged, this could only bring guilt on themselves -- especially when their conduct deteriorated to the level of the heathen around them. Yet they kept on repeating the evidence that they were God's own special people, as if this meant that God would overlook their selfishness -- as if they had a special pass into God's favour.

    On number 1: Does any of the foregoing seem familiar? Why have we Seventh-day Adventists been blessed with such a rich understanding of Bible truth? Presumably, it's so that we can share it with others, right? Jesus is about to come back, and there is a whole unprepared world out there! Yet, sometimes it seems that we are just as selfish as ancient Israel, and yes, our love (lust?) for this world sometimes seems to be every bit as intense as anyone's. Yet, we repeat the words: "We are the remnant church." True, but does this mean that God will overlook our sins? Are these sins more tolerable than were those of the children of Israel 3,000 years ago? We are living in the accumulated light of the ages. What do you think?

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    • R.G. it seems to me that they were worshiping the temple itself instead of the God of the temple (Ref. Mat 23:16-22; Mat 12:6). I do wonder as I look at the splendid things that we have and see all the pride generated by them if we are not doing the very same thing.

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      • I don't know about that particular point in history, Tyler, but I do know that your idea applies to the time of Christ's earthly ministry. It seems that, if Israel ever did anything wrong at any time in its history, we likely have our counterpart today. Glad to hear you sighing and crying...

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        • I agree with you about the first century Jews but I do wonder over the relationship to the temple before the captivity when I read texts such as the following:

          “But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy” (Ezra 3:12 NKJV).

          And when I read from Ellen White: “But some failed of discerning God's opening providences. Instead of rejoicing, they cherished thoughts of discontent and discouragement. They had seen the glory of Solomon's temple, and they lamented because of the inferiority of the building now to be erected.” {PK 564.2}

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    • Ellen White's commentary on this is illuminating:
      "The long reign of Uzziah [also known as Azariah] in the land of Judah and Benjamin was characterized by a prosperity greater than that of any other ruler since the death of Solomon, nearly two centuries before. . . .

      "This outward prosperity, however, was not accompanied by a corresponding revival of spiritual power. The temple services were continued as in former years, and multitudes assembled to worship the living God; but pride and formality gradually took the place of humility and sincerity." Prophets and Kings, pp. 303 - 304)

      It seems that "pride and formality," rather than heart service, made the temple services meaningless, even though they were outwardly correct. Could we slip into the same religious routine of meaninglessness?

      It would seem, as R.G. suggests, that genuine heart service would result in a heart for the lost, like the heart of our Lord.

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      • I think you and R.G. are both right. The only reason I said what I did is because usually when we loose sight of God everything else seems to slip. Besides Jesus called loving God , "the first and great commandment" (Mat 22:38 NKJ).

        As far as whether or not we can slip into the same religious routine, I'm not to sure that we haven't already done that.

        Incidentally, thank you, Inge for the quote, it is indeed illuminating.

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    • It is my belief from the scripture texts that I've read, & what Christ has said through Ellen White; we who are God's true people of the end days will obey all that has been told us by God/Christ that is to be done! My research of the Greek & Hebrew words that were originally used, & replaced with 'commandment' or 'commands'; revealed to me just what a commandment actually is, which led me to understand that the 10 commandments of God the Father are the most important yet not the only commandments that God has given!

      These are words that have been replaced with 'commandment' or 'command', in the Bible: which I'd found in the 'Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible'!

      Hebrew terms listed by their numbers:
      *2706 chôq definition: The work, tasks, or duty that I've appointed to be done!
      *6680 Tsâvâh definition: Charges or orders that have been given, an order sent to human beings (a synonym for, you) by a messenger!
      *6310 Peh definition: Words, speech, or wish!
      *4687 mitzvah definition: A human or divine command, commandment, ordinance, precept, or law that has been given; collectively known as, the Law!
      *3384 & 3381 yârâ’ & yârad definitions: To rain or point out teachings, to direct & instruct; to let light down, to a lower subdued region!
      *1697 dâbâr definition: Words, acts, counsel; a request for doing one's work!
      *565 ‘imrâh or ‘emrâh definition: A commandment, speech, or words!

      Greek terms listed by their numbers, which I personally like the most include:
      *31 & 32 aggĕlia & aggĕllôs definitions: A message sent by a messenger to announce a way, for us to follow (a messenger, His oracle,angel, [or pastor])!
      *1785 ĕntôlĕ definition: An authoritative prescription, precept, or command [like doctor's give their prescriptions in order to help heal us]!
      *2036 ĕpō definition: What I've asked (bid) human beings [synonym for, you] to do, in person or in writing [I believe means face to face, or through His messengers]!
      *3004 lĕgō definition: The way that I've laid out before human beings [synonym for, you] that's to be done!
      *3852 paraggĕlia definition: A command or mandate [which if you look up means, a order to obey]!
      *3853 paraggĕllio definition: The instructions that I've sent to human beings [synonym for, you] for you to do!
      *5056 tĕlŏs or tĕllō definition: To be done as a continual custom; given for an immediate or prophetic purpose; given to achieve a definite goal!

      Plus the definitions for the following words in the ‘the New WEBSTER Encyclopedic DICTIONARY of the English Language including a Dictionary of Synonyms & Twelve Supplementary Reference Sections’, also reveals that a commandment is a command; a command is the directions of a person in authority [like a King], mandates His citizens who'll be living in heaven will become like by following His orders given! At least that's what I've decided for myself! The words I looked up in that encyclopedia, & the definitions that follow the words at the back of my bible included these words: [Look these word definitions up in it for yourselves]

      *Charge [as in a charge, or to charge someone]
      *Command [as in a command, or to command someone]
      *Commandment(s) [as in a commandment or the commandments]
      *Decree(s) [as in a decree, or the decrees]
      *Law or laws [as in, The Law; or, a law]
      *Precept(s) [as in, a precept or the precepts]
      *Principle(s) [as in, a principle or the principles]

      Verses the name that I found for Just the 10 commandments was in that book too, it's called this:

      *Decalogue

      Hope that I've given some of you something that'll help you in your walk with God! I also found words in the various places to explain the words, 'keep' & 'my sayings' also; to know just what Christ meant when He told us, 'If you love me, keep my sayings'! If interested, ask me to list those also here.

      But let me also say that the only way we'll be able to obey is by following what we've been told, & asking Jesus Christ for what He has said is needed to be able to obey; as in God's Spirit, & the power that Jesus used to be able to obey! Yet we'll only be successful if we do it for Christ out of our love for Him, as our duty to Him; but the only obedience that gets us into heaven is the obedience of Christ unto His Father, yet transgression can keep us out because there'll not be anyone who's sinning let in heaven!

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  3. I wonder if God's ability to be pleased is greater/broader than ours--multi-demensional . Too often we are pleased with the outward appearance. Yes, I believe that God is pleased with the heart attitude, the motive born out of love and adoration and appreciation and amazement of Him. However, I wonder, based on Eph 2:10 (we are God's workmanship or masterpiece created in Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do-NIV) if God isn't also pleased with the potential He has placed in every human, from even before/by conception. Might there be a sense that we can say even to the pharisee, that "you are His beloved child in whom (maybe only in the light of the cross and our being "in Him" as the second Adam) He is well pleased? It appears to me that maybe He can see every potential exploit for Him that we have been created to do. That He can see every comfort which we can be a channel for giving to others because of how He has, even in our rebellion and darkness, comforted us?

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  4. The christian journey is not as easy as one would put or hard as one would put, but the Bible clearly points out. Only by grace the later rain will rain on everyone who believe and walks in the truth of the lamb.

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