June 17 - 23
God Reveals His Righteousness
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Gen. 3:1-8; Exod. 3:14; Job 1:8-12; Ps. 98:2-9; Isa. 45:22-24; John 14:6; Rev. 19:11.
MEMORY TEXT: "Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, 0 King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, 0 Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested" (Revelation 15:3, 4, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHTS: At the end of the millennium, every knee will bow, responding to God's revelation of His righteousness. All beings in God's great universe will acknowledge that God is love, truth, and justice.
SOME OF THE TRAGEDIES that we confront in the legal systems of the world today have to do with the fact that often we are not certain whether justice is really done. God's government is sometimes put on trial even by well-intended individuals. It is as if the creatures would have the power and authority to take their own Creator to court, to determine whether He is a good and reliable God worthy of their trust.
The Scriptures reveal that no one can take God to court to pass judgment on Him or to evaluate Him. However, God has voluntarily allowed His creatures to witness His acts and the proceedings of the final judgment in order to see that He is an altogether righteous and merciful God and that the accusations of the demonic powers against Him had no foundation whatsoever.
God sent Moses to Egypt to ask Pharaoh to let His people go free to worship Him in the wilderness. Pharaoh challenged Moses, asking him:
"Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?" (Exod. 5:2, NKJV). This is indeed an important question, because its answer testifies to the power of the Lord to judge nations and defeat His enemies. God in Egypt acted as the judge of the nation and defeated the magicians and the gods of Pharaoh.
Read the description of God found in Isaiah 40:12-14, 17-28. Then list the characteristics of God that qualify Him to judge the nations of the earth.
Think for a moment. Would it be possible for human beings or any intelligent creatures to judge God and take Him to court? Perhaps from our familiarity with human legal systems comes a desire to bring God into a court of justice where we could require Him to justify Himself In our sophisticated era, humans are using philosophy, science, and other human disciplines as the basis for evaluating God and passing judgment on His existence or on His lovingkindness. But God's infinite power and wisdom and His own mysterious nature place Him beyond the full comprehension of our finite minds.
What comparison does Isaiah make between our thoughts and ways and those of God? Isa. 55:8, 9. What status do the judgments of God have? Rom. 11:33.
God is the Incomparable One! God asked His people, "To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?" (Isa. 40:25). No one can ever be adequate to pass judgment on this unique and majestic God. Outside Himself there is no standard that we can use to measure the love and justice of His actions. It is He and only He who can perfectly judge the universe, because He is our Creator and Redeemer.
In what sense and on what basis did Eve judge God, and what was the result of her function as judge? Gen. 3:1-8.
|In what ways have some of my actions been similar to those of Eve? How does trusting God help me in this area?|
When a telephone pole fell on his car during a storm, Rodney Bowman of Florin, Pennsylvania, suffered a broken back. He sued the telephone company for $10,830 in damages. In defense, the company argued that the accident was "an act of God," a charge that has been heard occasionally in the courts of the United States. Who do you think was responsible?
Who does God say He is? Exod. 3:14.
God is the great "I AM," the self-existent One. He is not dependent upon any other being, thing, or idea for His existence. He is Himself the Creator the Source of life, matter, and truth. God gives wisdom and understanding (Isa. 54:13; John 6:45). Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Ps. 111:10; Job 28:28). In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:2, 3). Jehovah is the foundation of all wisdom, all truth, and all knowledge. (See Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1079.)
According to Paul and John, of what is God the source?
1 Cor. 1:30 __________________________________________________________
John 14:6 ___________________________________________________________
1 John 3:16; 4:7, 10 ________________________________________________
Because of His revelation in Jesus Christ and the Bible, we can know something of God and the world He has created for us. God's Word gives light and understanding (Ps. 119:98-100, 105, 130). It is the basis for right thinking and doing (Ps. 119:1, 2, 5, 6, 11, 30; 1 Tim. 6:20). So-called wise persons who reject the Word of the Lord are ashamed and dismayed; there is no wisdom in them (Jer. 8:9).
God is beyond the highest expression of truth and love. He Himself is truth, love, and life. He is the Source and the basis of our knowledge of them. So when we attempt to obtain principles above God by which to judge Him, we are actually attempting to place ourselves above God.
|In what everyday ways do we judge God? Perhaps when we return tithe and then suffer a financial downturn. Or perhaps a neighbor loses a child to cancer and we say, "We just can't understand why God let that happen." How should we relate to such situations, and why?|
God is the One who establishes justice in the earth (Isa. 42:4). He is proclaimed as judge in the Scriptures because He created everything there is and therefore has universal dominion (Rev. 14:7; Ps. 110:6). He is the Source of all love and justice. He is the moral Arbiter of the world, who differentiates with absolute exactness justice from injustice, love from hatred, and moral from immoral. Those who believe in Him can trust Him as their judge and joyfully look forward to the time when He will judge them (Ps. 26:1-12). Knowing that there is only One Person to whom we have to answer as our judge, and knowing also that He is loving and compassionate, is a comforting truth for any person in need of forgiveness. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that God entrusted judgment to His Son, who became one of us. God has done all that He could do to show the universe the righteousness of His judgments.
What is the value of human judgments upon God?
Job 40:2, 8 __________________________________________________________
Rom. 9:20, 21 _______________________________________________________
Isa. 40:23 _________________________________________________________
The human desire to pass judgment on God and His actions is at the root of the sin problem. It is the desire to live our lives independently of God; to know our own truth, to determine our own morality, and to live by our own wisdom. We must be on guard against those who "presume to pass sentence upon God's moral government."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 124.
"Let men remember that they have a Ruler in the heavens, a God who will not be trifled with. He who puts his reason to the stretch in an effort to exalt himself and to delineate God, will find that he might far better have stood as a humble suppliant before God, confessing himself to be only an erring human being."Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, p. 1079.
|How does it encourage you to know that God will ultimately have the final word in the affairs of this troubled world and that though wickedness seems to triumph, God knows all things and will one day make everything right?|
How does the knowledge of God's glory come to us? Isa. 40:5. How can the knowledge of God's righteousness be obtained? Rom. 1:16, 17; 3:21-26; Ps. 98:2.
A revelation of the character of God is needed, for sin corrupted and distorted the natural world and our human nature. True knowledge of God can be provided for us only from God Himself as self-revelation of His nature. He, knowing our desperate need, provided in Christ the most glorious revelation of Himself as a loving God. The biblical God we know has not been discovered through philosophical analysis or scientific investigation, for He is beyond the natural world.
Which arguments did Satan use to question the character of God? Gen. 3:1-6. What argument did he use to accuse God of ruling on the basis of selfishness and not love? Job 1:8-12.
The evil forces have been passing judgment on God, accusing Him of being precisely the opposite of what He claims to be. God cleared up this distortion on the cross through the sacrificial death of His Son as our substitute. He has also allowed His creatures to be involved in the final judgment in order to witness the justice of His decisions. According to Daniel 7:10, during the investigative judgment "A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened." The resolution of the sin problem is not something that will take place in secret and unknown to God's creatures.
"In His dealing with sin, God could employ only righteousness and truth. Satan could use what God could not flattery and deceit. He had sought to falsify the word of God and had misrepresented His plan of government before the angels, claiming that God was not just in laying laws and rules upon the inhabitants of heaven.... Therefore it must be demonstrated before the inhabitants of heaven, as well as of all the worlds, that God's government was just, His law perfect."The Great Controversy, p. 498.
|"That which the mind cannot now grasp, which is hard to be understood, will be explained. We shall see order in that which has seemed unexplainable; wisdom in everything withheld; goodness and gracious mercy in everything imparted."Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1991.|
The God who cannot be judged by the universe is willing to allow the universe to witness the wonderful way in which He dealt with the sin problem, thus demonstrating once and for all that the accusations of the evil powers were false. In the final judgment God vindicates Himself. We must remember that "the plan of redemption had a yet broader and deeper purpose than the salvation of man. It was not for this alone that Christ came to the earth. . . but it was to vindicate the character of God before the universe."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 68.
What is God's intention for all the inhabitants of earth? Isa. 45:22-24; Ps. 66:1-4; 96:11-13; Rev. 13:4; 14:7.
It has always been God's intention to reunite the universe by a recognition that He alone is worthy of worship. This conflict will come to an end when everyone makes a public recognition of that glorious fact.
At the end, who will bow before Jesus? Phil. 2:10.
The terminology used by Paul in this text is all-inclusive indicating the universal scope of the action. "These words have not yet been fulfilled, but they are an assurance that the time will come when every creature will acknowledge Christ's overlordship (cf. Rev. 5:11-14). This can only be when the great controversy is ended, when all, including Satan and his followers, will bow down at the feet of Jesus and own that the ways of God have been just and righteous."SDA Bible Commentary, vol.7, p. 157.
This confession of the evil ones is not an indication of their repentance but a recognition that God has shown Himself to be worthy of worship. Achan was asked to give glory to God before being executed (Josh. 7:19, 20). It was after his "confession" was made that he was executed for his sin. It is in this sense that the evil forces will glorify God at the end of the conflict and before their destruction. They will recognize that their punishment is deserved. God will defeat His enemies from without and also those from within.
"Satan sees that his voluntary rebellion has unfitted him for heaven. . . . His accusations against the mercy and justice of God are now silenced. The reproach which he has endeavored to cast upon Jehovah rests wholly upon himself. And now Satan bows down and confesses the justice of his sentence."The Great Controversy, p. 670.
FURTHER STUDY: Isa. 11:4; Matt. 10:42; 23:31-39; John 16:8; Rom. 1:18-23; 1 Cor. 1:21; Rev. 5:13; 15:4.
Read The Desire of Ages, p. 22; The Great Controversy, pp. 493, 504, 666-670; Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 393.
"The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan's deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God's government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened."The Desire of Ages, p. 22.
"And the years of eternity, as they roll, will bring richer and still more glorious revelations of God and of Christ. As knowledge is progressive, so will love, reverence, and happiness increase. The more men learn of God, the greater will be their admiration of His character. As Jesus opens before them the riches of redemption and the amazing achievements in the great controversy with Satan, the hearts of the ransomed thrill with more fervent devotion, and with more rapturous joy they sweep the harps of gold; and ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands and thousands of voices unite to swell the mighty chorus of praise. . . .
"The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love."The Great Controversy, p. 678, emphasis supplied.
SUMMARY: God is the Judge of the universe because He is the Creator and Redeemer. Creatures can never sit in judgment against their infinite Creator. He revealed Himself on the cross as a loving God, and during the final judgment it will be clear to all that, even in His judgment against His enemies, He is righteous and merciful.
I did not take religion seriously until a co-worker invited me to attend a Revelation Seminar in 1998. I went, and there I met the Savior.
A few days after my baptism some co-workers and I drove to a funeral some 225 miles from where we live in Tamale [TAH-mah-leh], Ghana. Before we left, I prayed for our safety. These co-workers had known me as a drinker and laughed at my prayer.
Our trip covered some very rough roads, and I stopped often to pray. Each time I prayed, my companions mocked me. The road became quite rugged. Suddenly we heard a bang, and the car jerked off the road and into the bush. As I struggled to control the car, it veered back onto the road. We stopped and jumped out to inspect the damage. The right front wheel had come off. The men who had been laughing minutes before now asked how I had steered the car without the wheel. I told them that God had protected us.
I left the others with the car and walked to the nearest town to find a mechanic. Two different mechanics looked at the car and said that without spare parts they could not repair it. And the parts were not available in that town.
I remembered that I had some nylon rope in the trunk. We raised the car and pushed the wheel back into place, tying it with the rope. As we got back into the car, I told my companions that I would pray for safety. This time they were quiet and did not make fun of me. Slowly we started out toward the next town. None of us thought that the rope would hold for long, but I kept driving and praying.
No town along our route had the parts to fix the car, so we continued on to our destination. We could not find parts there either, so we started toward home. By God's grace, we arrived safely in Tamale, having driven some 350 miles on little more than a rope and a prayer.
Not once after the accident did my companions mock my prayers. And since that trip, my Muslim friend comes by to discuss religion. God's miracle has reinforced my faith and made others stop to think about the power of God and the effectiveness of prayer.
Rafael Apaaya is an industrial relations officer in Tamale, in northern Ghana.
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