January 19 - 25
The War Comes to Earth
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Gen. 2:16, 17; 3:1-6; 4:1-12; 6:1-9:17; 11:1-9.
MEMORY TEXT: " 'And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel' " (Genesis 3:15, NKJV).
KEY QUESTIONS: When Satan was cast out of heaven, he eventually found his way to the earth; thus, the great controversy shifted its theater of operation. What strategies did he use to capture the human race? How does he use these strategies today? What did God do to counterattack?
DECEPTION AND DELIVERANCE. Genesis 1 and 2 provide a picture of what God meant for us to be and to have, but like a knife to a master's canvas, the events in Genesis 3 slash the idyllic scene to shreds. Now instead of peace, harmony, and selflessness, we witness anger, jealousy, pride, disobedience, shame, and guilt-words, thoughts, and actions that earlier had no existence. "God's creation of man as a person stands as the source of good in us; now we face the source of evil."Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher 's Commentary (Colorado Springs, Colo.: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1987), p. 32.
From this point in time, the agencies of deception and deliverance have struggled over the heart of each person on earth. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, and the Tower of Babel illustrate well the beginning of this struggle, its underlying issues, and motivating forces. As you study this week's lesson, consider how the agencies of deception and deliverance are at work in your own life and how you can choose deliverance.
*(Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, January 26.)
Sunday January 20
God's laws govern His entire creation. When He placed Adam and Eve in Eden, they were subject to His laws. Obedience is the Creator's first command and the creature's first privilege. Both are born of love.
What did God require of our first parents? Gen. 2:16, 17. What was the essence of this requirement?
"Given the intention of God that man should be in His own image, that tree was a necessity! There is no moral dimension to the existence of a robot; it can only respond to the program imposed by its maker. Robots have no capacity to value, no ability to choose between good and bad, or good and better. To be truly like God, man must have the freedom to make moral choices and the opportunity to choose, however great the risk such freedom may involve."--Richards, The Teacher's Commentary, p. 32.
Scottish atheist J. L. Mackie has argued that an omnipotent God should have created free beings who could have chosen to make only good decisions and that freedom didn't require the potential to do wrong. "If God has made men such," he wrote, "that in their free choices they sometimes prefer what is good and sometimes what is evil, why could he have not made men such that they always freely choose the good?" What's wrong with that argument? Would Adam and Eve have truly been free moral agents if they could have made only right decisions? Discuss this further with your class.
Adam and Eve had given the wrong answer to a spiritual and moral test. God had proven His unselfish love for them by creating them in His own image and then entrusting them with dominion over the rest of His creation. But they yielded to everyone's first and greatest temptationthe desire to be one's own god. They destroyed their relationship with Him by placing their will against His and in so doing joined forces with the chief of all rebels.
|The test God presented to Adam and Eve was about loyalty to God and making the right choices. Obey the Sovereign Lord or the usurper. Abandon self or establish oneself as God. In what ways do we face these same choices every day, even in the "little things"?|
What methods did Satan use to tempt Eve?
Gen. 3:4, 5 __________________________________________________________________________
Gen. 3:6 _____________________________________________________________________
Satan tempts us all in many ways, but his objective in doing so is always the same: to get us to distrust and then disobey God. His speech to Eve is basically a three-part lie: 1. You shall not die. 2. Your eyes shall be opened. 3. You shall be like God.
How did God respond to the fall of Adam and Eve? Gen. 3:15.
"Reference is made to the agelong struggle between Satan's 'seed' or followers (John 8:44; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:10) and the woman's seed. The Lord Jesus Christ is styled by pre-eminence 'the seed' (Rev. 12:1-5; cf. Gal 3:16, 19); it was He who came 'to destroy the works of the devil' (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8).
"[I]n this pronouncement is compressed the record of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, a battle that began in heaven (Rev. 12:7-9), was continued on earth, where Christ again defeated him (Heb. 2:14), and will terminate finally with Satan's destruction at the end of the millennium (Rev. 20:10)."The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 233.
The enmity that God puts between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent also can be viewed as the way by which sinful humans can return to Christ. This way is none other than divine grace, the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We can read Jesus' discussion with Nicodemus regarding this work in John 3:5-8. Laboring with our conscience (Rom. 9:1), the Holy Spirit aspires to convict us of sin and lead us to the Cross. Thus, He enables us to hate sin and love righteousness (Amos 5:14, 15; Heb. 1:9).
|Read how the Old Testament describes the work of divine grace on our hearts in Jeremiah 31:31, 33; Ezekiel 11:19, 20; 18:31; 36:26, 27. Through divine grace, we can (1) have our sins washed away, (2) receive a new heart, and (3) have His Holy Spirit live in us. Think of it as God's three-part remedy to Satan's three-part lie.|
Satan used Cain in the great controversy to (1) introduce a false system of worship and (2) to cause resentment between human beings. Both involve the commandment of lovethe first toward God (Exod. 20:3-11), the second toward our fellow humans (Exod. 20:12-17; see also Matt. 22:37-40).
A false system of worship. "Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering" (Gen. 4:3-5, NKJV).
What did Cain's offering symbolize? Why was Abel's offering pleasing to God? Heb. 11:4.
"Cain and Abel represent two classes that will exist in the world till the close of time. One class avail themselves of the appointed sacrifice for sin; the other venture to depend upon their own merits. .
"The class of worshipers who follow the example of Cain includes by far the greater portion of the world; for nearly every false religion has been based on the same principle-that man can depend upon his own efforts for salvation. . . . Humanity has no power to regenerate itself. It does not tend upward, toward the divine, but downward, toward the satanic. Christ is our only hope."Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 72, 73.
Resentment between human beings. "Cain rose against Abel his brother and killed him" (Gen. 4:8, NKJV).
Cain loved neither God nor his brother. Where there is no love, sin thrives and Satan rejoices. Cain is an example of how a lack of love destroys life, but Christ is the supreme example of how love redeems life. "God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8, RSV).
|Put yourself in the role of Cain, working hard to present your offering to God, who rejects it while He accepts your brother's offering, which is nothing but a slain animal. What was Cain's problem? What didn't he understand? What lessons does that hold for us today who might be tempted to harbor sentiments similar to Cain's?|
Somehow, between Genesis 3 and 6, Satan was able to gain so much ground in the great controversy that "the Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. . . . But Noah found favor [grace, KJV] in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen. 6:6-8, NIV).
What does that mean, the idea that God's heart was filled with pain? Does God have emotions? (See Exod. 32:11; 34:7; Deut. 4:31; 1 John 4:7.) How do we understand God's "emotions," if that's even the right word? What limits do we have, as fallen beings, in trying to understand this concept?
God's "emotions" brought the Flood. The Flood tells us that God cares very much about right and wrong, that His universe is moral, and that He will punish unrepentant sinners. However, because of His love for sinners, He gave the people 120 years to reconsider whose side they wanted to be on in the great controversy. And while they waited, they watched. The ark grew before their very eyes as a symbol of the gospel God wanted them to accept.
The Flood is God's judgment on sin. Love, no less than justice, demanded that the earth be cleansed of evil. How does God's judgment reflect His grace?
While God's judgment destroys sin (2 Pet. 3:5-7), His grace and love pursue the sinner as far and as long as possible. God's love is limitless, His justice certain. To symbolize that love, God made a covenant with Noah at the conclusion of His judgment (Gen. 9:8-17). In His mercy, God looked down upon the small handful of people who came out of the ark, and He pledged never again to destroy the entire earth by flood. As a sign of this covenant, He set a rainbow in the sky. Noah did not, could not, originate the covenant or the rainbow. Because of God's promise, we have the assurance that His goodness never fails.
|Imagine being one of those who lived during the time of Noah. Here's this man, claiming that water would fall out of the skysomething that's never happened before. (He might as well have said that fish could climb trees.) No wonder so many didn't get on board. In what ways does Satan use this same ploy today, getting us to doubt that which we have yet to see, in order to try to keep people from "getting on the boat"?|
Why did Noah's descendants desire to build a tower that would reach to the heavens? Gen. 11:4.
What was the underlying motive of their desire? Compare this motive to the motive that misdirected Lucifer while he was still in heaven. Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:17.
The Tower of Babel stood as a symbol of distrust in God's Word. His covenant with Noah assured his descendants that a flood would never again destroy the entire earth (Gen. 9:11). But still they distrusted God and sought to save themselves by their own works.
The people "disbelieved God's covenant that He would not again bring a flood upon the earth. Many of them denied the existence of God and attributed the Flood to the operation of natural causes.
One object before them in the erection of the tower was to secure their own safety in case of another deluge. By carrying the structure to a much greater height than was reached by the waters of the Flood, they thought to place themselves beyond all possibility of danger.
The whole undertaking was designed to exalt still further the pride of its projectors and to turn the minds of future generations away from God and lead them into idolatry."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 119.
The tower also was a symbol of disobedience to God. His command at Creation and after the Flood was for people to spread throughout the earth. But the builders of Babel became their own god and sought strength in their faulty human reasoning. So, once again, God intervened to fulfill His purpose. And once again Satan stood defeated, if not speechless, while God confused the language of the builders.
"The tower of Babel was a great human achievement, a wonder of the world. But it was a monument to the people themselves rather than to God. We may build monuments to ourselves (expensive clothes, big house, fancy car, important job) to call attention to our achievements. These may not be wrong in themselves, but when we use them to give us identity and self-worth, they take God's place in our lives. We are free to develop in many areas, but we are not free to think we have replaced God. What 'towers' have you built in your life?"Life Application Study Bible, p. 25.
FURTHER STUDY: Read in 2 Peter 3 how Peter summarized and applied the message of the Flood. Give each verse a title or summary statement to help you develop a thorough idea of what he is saying. Then determine how Peter's application is true for us.
'"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.' Christ was engaged in this warfare in Noah's day. It was His voice that spoke to the inhabitants of the old world in messages of warning, reproof, and invitation. He gave the people a probation of one hundred and twenty years, in which they might have repented. But they chose the deceptions of Satan, and perished in the waters of the Flood."The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, vol. 1, pp. 1088, 1089.
If you are interested in learning more about how the great controversy came to this earth and spread, read any or all of the following chapters from Patriarchs and Prophets: "The Temptation and Fall," pp. 52-62; "The Plan of Redemption," pp. 63-70; "Cain and Abel Tested," pp. 71-79; "The Flood," pp. 90-104; "After the Flood," pp. 105-110; "The Tower of Babel," pp. 117-124.
SUMMARY: With the fall of Adam and Eve, this world has become the center of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. They, along with Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, and the Tower of Babel illustrate how good and evil struggle to win the hearts and minds of human beings. Satan's weapons include lies about God, our desire for self-exaltation, false systems of worship, and resentment between humans. But Genesis 3:15 tells us that God's weapondivine grace shaping and molding the human heart through the work of the Holy Spiritwill prevail.
Ch. Victor Sam
"The mission needs 50 volunteer evangelists to help enter new villages in our area," the pastor announced one Sabbath. "There will be training for those who volunteer. Those who are interested see me after the service."
Sangayya (sung-GEE-yah), felt that God was calling him, and after the service he told the pastor, "I would like to be one of those volunteers."
"But Sangayya," the pastor said kindly. "You cannot read or write. How will you take notes on the lectures during the training program? How can you give e Bible studies?"
"I will take my little daughter to help me," Sangayya answered. "She is in the fifth grade and can read and write well. She will take notes for me. I will memorize the Bible studies, and she can help me find the Bible texts."
Reluctantly the pastor added Sangayya's name to the list of volunteers. He was accepted, and he and his 10-year-old daughter went to the training program together. For six days the child sat next to her father during every session. Carefully she took notes on everything the teachers said. At the end of the training, Sangayya stood in commitment to study the Bible with everyone in his village.
|Sangayya and his daughter went from house to house praying for the people
and sharing words of hope and truth about Jesus Christ. At the end of one
month he invited a pastor to conduct a series of evangelistic meetings. Sangayya
invited the people with whom he had studied to attend the meetings. At the
close of the meetings 100 precious new believers were baptized.
"I can't read nor write," Sangayya admits. "But that will not stop me from sharing the wonderful truths I have come to love. I am glad that God is willing to use even poor and illiterate me to build up His kingdom."
Sangayya and his daughter (left). Ch. Victor Sam is director of the South Bengal Region, Calcutta, India.
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