Tuesday: The Peril of Privilege

Amos’ prophetic message was not intended to be restricted to the historical situation in Israel

Image © Standard Publishing from GoodSalt.com

Image © Standard Publishing from GoodSalt.com

but to expand the scope of the message beyond Israel and Judah. In the Old Testament, Israel had a unique but not exclusive claim on God.

Read Amos 3:1-2. The Hebrew verb yada, “to know,” which is used in verse 2, bears a special sense of intimacy. In Jeremiah 1:5, for example, God says that He “knew” the prophet and set him apart even before his birth. Such was the case with Israel. They were not just another nation among nations. Rather, God set them apart for a sacred divine purpose. They stood in special relationship with Him.

God Himself had chosen Israel and brought it out of slavery to freedom. The exodus from Egypt was the single most important event in the beginning of Israel’s history as a nation. It set the stage for God’s acts of redemption and the conquest of the land of Canaan. But Israel’s strength and prosperity led to pride and complacency in regards to its privileged status as the Lord’s chosen people.

Read Christ’s statement from Luke 12:47-48. In what ways can we understand the principle He taught there: when great privileges in life are abused, they will be replaced by great penalties?

Under divine inspiration, the prophet warns that because the people of Israel are the Lord’s elect, they particularly will be held accountable for their actions. The Lord is saying that Israel’s unique relationship with God carries obligations, and punishment will result if those obligations are not fulfilled. In other words, Israel, as God’s chosen people, is all the more liable to His judgments, because the privilege entails responsibility. Israel’s election was not just to privileged status; they were called to be witnesses to the world about the Lord who had so blessed them.

“The professed churches of Christ in this generation are exalted to the highest privileges. The Lord has been revealed to us in ever-increasing light. Our privileges are far greater than were the privileges of God’s ancient people.”—Ellen G. White, Christ Object Lessons, p. 317. Think about all that we have been given as Seventh-day Adventists. Why should the responsibilities that come with these privileges make us tremble? Do they, or have we simply gotten used to them? Have we even become complacent about all that we have been given? If so, how can we change?



Tuesday: The Peril of Privilege — 13 Comments

  1. 1. Just like Israel of old we have been given high privileges to be witnesses for God in this present generation. In fact our privileges are much higher than their because of the increased light given to us. 2. Israel of old failed to fulfill the trust given to them and was punished for this. Are we also going to fail? Jesus make it plain that to whom much is given much more is expected. 3. Israel became proud because they set their eyes on the blessing and lost sight of the Blesser. God calls us in Micah 6v6-8 to walk humbly with our God. 4. We have a high calling and in God's strength and His alone can we prove true to this calling one day at a time. Will we cooperate with God for our salvation and the advancement of His kingdom? Here may we ever stand so help us God amen!

  2. [Moderator's Note: Please use first and last names when commenting.]

    Cristians can enjoy a special right (His right) or immunity (to resist evil)
    By Abiding we can be His Witnesses, safe from the satan's (enemy's) snare
    If we do not abide we are in great danger as the world knows how
    we aught to be. Be ye disciples! May our lives be a Good Sermon.

  3. God set Israel apart for His sacred work. He know them and punished their sins on them. Great conflict was in head of every one in Israel. So is with us today, God knows us and discipline us. Godless inyoy in sin and see us like some strange peoples. Can ' t understand our life.

  4. This lesson is a reminder that as Seventh day Adventist, we are called to be witnesses. If we refused to proclaim the good news of salvation we will be held accountable. Therefore let us pray for spiritual cleansing, total loyalty to the gospel,and for the out pouring of the holy spirit so that the day of Pentecost can be repeated in our lives.

  5. As I study this days lession,I got from it Israle the Lord's elect; Amos was letting the Israelites know that God was watching them and reminding them that He was still God and though they were
    chosen He would hold them accountable for there actions. Even when we are bless sometime we take it for granted and for get where our blessing come from.That why Christ said in Mark10:25Its is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God. But the good news is in Mark 10:27.So rich or poor their is hope in Christ.and He end in saying in Mark10:31First shall be last and Last shall be First

  6. We (Seventh-day Adventists) are often designated as the remnant people. Like the people of Israel, there is the temptation and tendency towards spiritual segregation and pride. We must not make the same mistake that Israel committed.
    Could it be that each one of us as disciples of Christ need to take first an INDIVIDUAL responsibility for this privilege that has been given?
    I believe in the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, and as Ellen G. While writes "The professed churches of Christ in this generation are exalted to the highest privilege..." could there be other sheep that are not from this fold who also carry the Gospel with this privilege? John 10:16 "other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

  7. Though I have been raised in the church, I have made mistakes in my life. I am guilty of trying to figure out things and do things on my own without trusting in God. I have experienced many failures because I had been trying to do things my way even though I know that Jesus is the Way. I have surrendered myself to God. I have decided to give myself to Him. ALL of me. I know that there is something that He wants me to do. I just don't know what. I have been praying about it, but I don't know where to start. I know I have responsibilities as a Christian. The closer I get to God, the more I realize I have a long way to go.

  8. Wat god wants us to do is turn from our wicked wAy.some times we do things and don't even see wat we are doin as Christian.some time we even make mistake,but that don't say he don't forgive us.is when we keep reaping the same things over and over again.we need to see where we goin wrong and make a different in our life before its too late.or we goin to end up like the Israelites them.

  9. I can understand why Amos said what he did especially when I consider the age he lived in; however, I think as New Testament Christians we need to see God's interactions with us a bit differently.

    In this comment I will be addressing the general thoughts in following statements in the lesson:

    "In what ways can we understand the principle He taught there: when great privileges in life are abused, they will be replaced by great penalties"
    "The Lord is saying that Israel’s unique relationship with God carries obligations, and punishment will result if those obligations are not fulfilled"
    "In other words, Israel, as God’s chosen people, is all the more liable to His judgments"
    "Why should the responsibilities that come with these privileges make us tremble?"

    To me the first thing that we need to understand is that the privilege that we have with God is not something that is forced on us but is entirely by our consent. Second is that within that privilege are many positions of responsibility and some of them are not what we choose to do because we are not gifted in that area. Not all of us are a mouth, an eye, or a foot (1 Cor 12) and I don't think the Holy Spirit arbitrarily forces us into what we are not designed to be. All of the disciples were with Jesus because that is what they wanted and even after they saw the difficulties they were to encounter they remained there of their own free will. Even Paul was not really pushed where he didn't want to go - he was a theologian and church official before his conversion and in that capacity he remained, except for a different theology. To me God uses us where He can but not against our will.

    Thirdly, I don't think God punishes us severally when we fail a mission but rather He works with us; consider John Mark as an example. If we refuse to do what we should and willfully go the direction Satan wishes God simply abandons us to Satan's control, after all, that would be our choice. And that is where our trouble comes from and after we realize we are in deep trouble because of our choice then we tend to listen to what God has to say a whole lot better. That is what the entire book of Judges is about and I believe that is the real message of Amos.

    Therefore, it is my understanding that we are first invited to become part of His government and we can either accept the invitation or not. If we accept then we enter into a covenant relationship which does not reject those who do not feel up to doing certain things. God certainly would like us to use the gifts that we are given but if we don’t they simply atrophy and we lose the status we could have had through them. He will use those who are willing to be used and will reward them in ways this world cannot know but to me when a person wastes the gifts that are given, God doesn’t beat the person in anger and heated wrath like Satan does.

    Upon this subject I think we need to remember the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-24) who was given his inheritance and then wasted it all in selfishness yet the father waited for his return. When he did come back the father didn’t punish him nor did he treat him like the slave the son figured he deserved. His status was still that of the son – welcomed back with thanksgiving and celebration. People like Samson, Solomon, and David fall into this category and yet are still listed with the faithful in Hebrews 11.

    The real problem comes when we are given talents and privilege and then knowingly use them in Satan’s service like the parable of the unfaithful servant (Mat 24:45-51). To them there is abandonment to eternal death along with the devil. Anyone who chooses to serve Satan rather than God comes under the control of a tyrant who has about as much love for the person as one does for a parasite. So when Satan gets out of him what he wants he is treated as refuse and is often used sacrificially to serve the devils own agenda then discarded. That is the punishment that follows the one who chooses to serve Satan rather than God. So, in my view punishment doesn't come from God but is something that God allows.

  10. Isreal as a nation, are a people who knew God's requirements. From Egypt,God set them aside to His mouth piece. All that was needed for them to accomplish the task they were given was provided for. But because of their choices, the willed to disobey their redeemer, became self concieted.
    God gave us the power of choice, which unfortunately most us have choosen to leave God behind.
    Isreal, so much previllage to have their redeemer in there midst, still could not obey His requirement.
    So it is with us today. We are privileged to have the Truth as compared to other churches because God will use us to harvest the world.But instaed of being grateful and be humble, we become too proud as Rev 3:17 says. We think having the truth is already a passport to heaven. As we journey, we need not leave our Lord behind beacuse HE is the One who knows the way. How can we move in darkness when we leave the Light behind.This is nowonder the ancient Isreal failed to leave up to the call of God. God's desire for His church today is to accomplish what old Isreal failed.
    Let us not allow the privilage we have as "Light bearers" be a stubling block in our christian journey. Our focus should be solely on the One who has given us the commission. If indeed we become obedient and humble ourselves to Him, His will, will be our will and we shall surely accomplish the task we have been give.
    Let this Isreal ordeal be an eye opener to every advent beliver. God is no repector of person. If we fail to recognise Him as the One leading us, surely, what befell lsreal will on us too when the great and dreadful comes.
    May the good Lord give us His strength to keep up His pace in these last days of this earth's history that we may be overcomers of earthly desires and focus our minds to the eternal things, for there is salvation.

  11. We are not called to defend God. He wil not give His glory to anyone. If we say God isn't punishing us but allows us to reap our ways is just play with words. If He allows then He still is punishing us. Only the stronger can allow weak to do or not do things. So there is active will of God in everything. That can be a stumbling block for us.

    • Goran, I appreciate the position you take and I think a lot of people believe the same as you do. In spite of that, there are some questions I would like to ask.

      When you say "We are not called to defend God" I believe you are correct that there is no command in the Bible that tells us to do that. I am wondering, though, if that is not what we end up doing when we argue with other Christians that the wicked will not burn for all eternity. What difference would it make in this life if they did? There are even a number of texts in the Bible that are easily interpreted to say that they do and the only good way we have of defending our position in those texts is to study in depth the word "forever". But then again, what difference does it make? Why do we consider it so important?

      We could also ask the same questions concerning the state of the dead which have some rather difficult texts for us to explain in defending our theology. What difference does it really make? Because Satan traps people into thinking that they are talking to the dead and then leads them astray through that misunderstanding? The trouble in this is that there are a lot texts in the Bible that warn us against mediums and spiritualists so we really don't have to resort to an argument over where they are. So why is knowing that the dead are in the grave and not in Heaven so important?

      I would like to suggest that the reason in both cases is because it has to do with the character of God, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (Jn. 17:3 NKJV). That is what the whole great controversy is about and the thing that got the Pharisees and many other people after them in the deepest of trouble. Misunderstanding the character of God has also been the driving force behind persecution, "They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service" (Jn. 16:2 NKJV). That is also the reason why Paul had so much trouble from the Jews - they didn't understand God or His plan of salvation. So to me defending God's character is part of our witness as Christians (Acts 1:8; Acts 10:39).

      The problem of passive involvement. Let's take the case of Job where God allowed Satan to destroy his family, all his possessions, and inflict him with boils. What reason was there for God to punish him? Wasn't he, "blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil" (Job 1:1 NKJV)? Certainly God took the responsibility for allowing Satan to do that but did it come directly from God and was it God's intention to punish Job for being good?

      There are many times when righteous people have to let things be unless they make matters worse but that doesn't make them responsible for the wrongs that happen in the situation does it (Ref. Mat 13:24-30)? In God's case He allows evil to exist through Satan's working for the sake of answering questions concerning His government that was raised in the controversy but does that make God responsible for the sin that Satan causes? Personally I don't feel very comfortable implicating God in the sin of this world even though He has the power to stop it. He always gives freedom but to me that doesn't automatically make Him responsible for the sin we choose to commit.

  12. To avoid making the mistakes they made we need to Sit at the feet of Jesus daily.
    We there find that as we look upon the past His love has been so gracious, it will win our hearts at last. Don't you want your heart to be won over to Christ everyday? Then you should recite this prayer every day.

    Bless me oh my Saviour bless me,
    As I sit low at Thy feet.
    Oh look down in love upon me,
    Let me see Thy face so sweet.
    Give me Lord the mind of Jesus,
    Keep me holy as He is.
    May I prove I've been with Jesus,
    Who is all my righteousness.

    Now you see it isn't hard to take
    on the privilege of discipleship of


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