* September 28 - October 4
The Need for Hope
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Genesis 1-3.
MEMORY TEXT: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15).
KEY THOUGHT: As soon as there was the need for hope, there was hope.
HOPE IS AS FUNDAMENTAL AN ASPECT of the human condition as is breath. We all hope; maybe not for the same things, maybe not for the same reasons, maybe not with the same fervency, and maybe not even for the right thingsbut we all, nevertheless, hope. We have to.
This week, however, we will look at a time when there was no hope, because there was no need for it. Fortunately, once the need arose, so did hope. And that hope, in a very broad way, forms the essence of the good news. God, out of love for humanity, will renew all things that were disrupted and ruined by the Fall. While the early chapters of Genesis look at the Creation, the last chapters of Revelation point to the re-creation of all that had been spoiled and disrupted by sin (Rev. 21:1).
Our great hope points us not only to this new creation but to the promise--made certain through the atoning death of Jesusthat we, ourselves, will be part of it.
*Please study this weeks lesson to prepare for Sabbath, Oct. 5.
Sunday September 29
"And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31).
Genesis gives a brief outline of what was, unquestionably, an exceedingly complex event-that of the creation of the earth and all life on it, including humanity. One point, however, does come through, and that is how God regarded His creation of the earth and those whom He made to dwell upon it.
Read Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31. Though they all say the same basic thing about the nature of this Creation, how do you understand the word good here? Did it just mean well-done, as in finely crafted and made, or were there, perhaps, other meanings to the word good? If so, what might they have been?
It is hard for us, we who have been born in sin, steeped in sin, and reared in a world defined by sin, to imagine what it must have been like living in a world before sin. (Read Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 44-51.) Adam and Eve lived in an environment in which their lives were in perfect harmony with their Creator and the law of His creation. They had, ideally, no fears, no worries, no uncertainties-which meant that, in the end, they had no hope, because they had no need to hope.
At first that might sound like a rather stark idea (Adam and Eve, before sin, lived without hope?). Yet, think about it: In a world characterized by a perfect harmony with God, there was nothing in their present condition that would cause them to hope for something better in the future. A person, for instance, with strong, healthy lungs doesnt hope for good lungs; it is the person with weak, sickly lungs who hopes for something he or she does not now enjoy.
Hope, then, stems from the idea that whats bad now will one day change; that what is causing us pain, distress, or fear will, in the future, be alleviated. Hope points to something in the future, something anticipated, something expected, something, ultimately, that will cause us to be in a better situation than what we are in now.
Adam and Eve, in contrast, thriving in an existence in which all their needs were met, did not have to hope for anything, because they had everything. Thus, they lived without hope, because they did not need it.
|Dwell on this notion, that Adam and Eve had no reason to hope. Write out how this idea helps you better to understand the nature of hope now.|
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return (Gen. 3:19).
Suddenly, everything changed for Adam and Eve. How quickly their paradise disappeared right out from underneath them. Though we dont know how quickly the effects of sin were manifested, considering the insidious nature of sin, it probably did not take long.
Read Genesis 3 and write down a list of some of the negative consequences that Adam and Eve now faced because of their sin:
Take a look at the list you created on the lines above regarding the negative consequences of the Fall. On the lines below, write down what would be needed that could help bring hope to each of these negative things. For example, if guilt was one of your answers, forgiveness or acceptance could be your response. In short, now that Adam and Eve needed hope, what kind of hope did they need?
|As you look at the two lists, ask yourself: In what ways do we, today, need the same kind of hope that Adam and Eve did after the Fall?|
There is a fancy theological word for the above verse. Its called the protevangelium, which means the first good news. Both Christian and Jewish scholars have, for centuries, recognized in this verse the first promise of the Messiah, the first promise of redemption, the first promise of hope given to a world that now, suddenly and desperately, needed it.
Read carefully Genesis 3:1-15, looking at who is speaking to whom, over what. Only in this way can you see the promise, the hope, found in this text. Notice specifically the contrast between what the Lord says the serpent will do to the offspring of the woman and what it will do to Him. After you read these, write down where you see the hope.
There is more to Genesis 3:15 than first meets the eye. What does it say about the future? It talks about an ongoing conflict that we know from other scriptures goes even to the end of time (see Rom. 16:20; Rev. 12:9, 17). It also shows that the conflict is between two basic entities (Who are they?).
According to the verse, however, that conflict will eventually end. It is not something eternal, something that goes on without resolution. Ultimately the head of the serpent will be crushed, as opposed to the damage done to the heel of the womans Seed. Though the text indicates pain for the womans Seed, it will come out as the Victor in the end.
This conflict will not continue forever, for one of the inflicted wounds is mortal. The struggle may be long and painful, but its outcome will be final victory when the head of the serpent will be crushed.Niels-Erik Andreasen, in The Advent Hope in Scripture and History, ed., V. Norskov Olsen (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald, 1987), p. 17. Thus, here, in Eden, amid Gods condemnation of Adam and Eve because of their blatant transgression, God gave them hope for the future. In short, as soon as Adam and Eve needed hope, the Lord gave it to them.
|In light of todays lesson, read this quote by Ellen White. He was the Redeemer before as after His incarnation. As soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour. He has given light and life to all, and according to the measure of light given, each is to be judged.The Desire of Ages, p. 210. How do you understand that quote in the context of the promise given to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15?|
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (Jer. 29:11).
In a few different places around the world, people who have died have had their bodies frozen at exceedingly low temperatures, in order to halt as much as possible the decay of their flesh, tissue, and organs. They have done this in the hope that sometime, way in the future, science will have advanced so far that it will be able to bring them back from the dead, and they can live forever.
Good luck, folks.
Of course, they are going to need more than luck. Yet, the point is that whatever great achievements humans have made, or might make in the future, in the end, death always waits to swallow everything up, despite our best and most creative efforts to the contrary. That is why any hope short of answering the problem of death remains, essentially, a false hope or, at best, only a temporary one. Yet, we are beings who long for something eternal, so temporary patches cant solve our problem any more than a glass of orange juice can cure diabetes.
Look at the text for today. Dwell on what it is saying, for in it we can
find the only ground for our hope. Write out why this text is so filled with
hope and why, if it were not true, we would have no
Because, ultimately, our problems as human beings go beyond anything that we as human beings can solve, our hope has to be in something, or Someone, outside of us, greater than us. That, of course, is God. But just because there is a God doesnt automatically mean that we would have hope. On the contrary, perhaps the only situation more hopeless than living in a world without God would be living in a world where there was a God who was malicious or who had evil designs on us. Fortunately, that is not our situation.
|The King James Version of Jeremiah 29:11 does not give the full force of the text. The last part reads "to give you hope and a future "(NIV). What is the ultimate future and hope that God offers us? Why would God link the future and hope together? What does that promise tell us about the future? How can you, even now, draw hope and comfort from that promise, no matter your circumstances?|
He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch (Prov. 11:28).
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (Matt. 7:22).
How beautifully the message given in Genesis 3:15 (see Tuesdays lesson) is supplemented by the insight of Ellen White. As soon as there was a need for hope, there was hope, because as soon as there was sin, there was a Savior.
The Lord created humanity free, and freedom entailed the risk of sin, which did arise. God, however, was there, immediately, in order to remedy the problem of sin, even at such a great cost to Himself.
However, almost from the start, humans turned away from that hope.
Look up the following texts. Write down what each one is saying. What do they share in common?
Ps. 44:6 __________________________________________________________
Prov. 11:28 _______________________________________________________
Isa. 31:1 _________________________________________________________
Jer. 5:17 _________________________________________________________
Jer. 7:4 __________________________________________________________
Jer.17: 5 _________________________________________________________
God planted hope in the hearts of Adam and Eve, hope that rests only in Him. Unfortunately, all through history, people have set up their own systems, their own understanding, of what hope is and where it can be found. The above verses represent just a few examples of where people go to find hope and where, in the end, little or no hope exists.
Look at your own life, at your own struggles, and at your own fears. In what ways can you see yourself in the above texts, even in a subtle manner? At the same time, in what ways, if any, is it right to hope in something other than the hope that comes directly from God Himself?
FURTHER STUDY: After his expulsion from Eden Adams life on earth was filled with sorrow. Every dying leaf, every victim of sacrifice, every blight upon the fair face of nature, every stain upon mans purity, were fresh reminders of his sin. Terrible was the agony of remorse as he beheld iniquity abounding and, in answer to his warnings, met the reproaches cast upon himself as the cause of sin. With patient humility he bore for nearly a thousand years the penalty of transgression. Faithfully did he repent of his sin and trust in the merits of the promised Saviour, and he died in the hope of a resurrection. The Son of God redeemed mans failure and fall; and now, through the work of the atonement, Adam is reinstated in his first dominion.Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home, pp. 540, 541.
Because man fallen could not overcome Satan with his human strength, Christ came from the royal courts of heaven to help him with His human and divine strength combined. Christ knew that Adam in Eden with his superior advantages might have withstood the temptations of Satan and conquered him. He also knew that it was not possible for man out of Eden, separated from the light and love of God since the fall, to resist the temptations of Satan in his own strength. In order to bring hope to man, and save him from complete ruin, He humbled Himself to take mans nature, that with His divine power combined with the human He might reach man where he is. He obtained for the fallen sons and daughters of Adam that strength which it is impossible for them to gain for themselves, that in His name they might overcome the temptations of Satan.Ellen G. White, Confrontation, p. 45.
SUMMARY: As soon as there was the need for hope, there was hope, because as soon as there was sin, there was a Savior. Thus, the hope that we have goes all the way back to the beginning. From the Eden paradise until earths last night, God has provided us with reasons to hope.
J. H. Zachary
Nazier was proud of his Muslim heritage. But in high school he discovered that his faith did not answer the deepest questions about life. It did not help him handle the insecurity and emptiness he felt. Nazier began looking into other religions. He studied some Eastern religions, but something about their teachings did not ring true to him.
After high school he entered a military academy. Then he found a small booklet on the life of Jesus. He was overwhelmed to realize that Jesus loved him enough to die for him. Nazier accepted Jesus as his Friend and Savior. Then, when he realized that the military was not the place for a follower of Jesus, he dropped out of military school.
Nazier bought a Bible and began to study it earnestly. He found peace he never dreamed possible. He found a Protestant church in which to worship, but for some reason he did not feel at home there. However, he continued to worship there for several years.
Then Moktier, one of his best friends in the Protestant church, told Nazier that he had become a Seventh-day Adventist. Nazier was troubled, for he had heard that Adventists were a dangerous sect. Finally the friends agreed to study the Bible together and follow whatever truths the Bible taught.
Nazier was amazed that everything Moktier believed had a basis in the Bible. Nazier had long felt that some teachings in the Protestant church had no basis in the Bible. Soon Nazier was sharing his newfound Bible truths with others in the Protestant church. But he was disappointed and hurt when they rejected the Bibles clear teachings in favor of their traditional teachings.
Nazier carefully checked every Adventist belief against what his Bible taught, and soon he could not argue. He was baptized into the Adventist Church.
Nazier has become a literature evangelist. I thank the Lord for His kindness and patience in leading me to a church that truly follows the Bible, he exclaimed.
J. H. Zachary is coordinator of international evangelism for The Quiet Hour and a special consultant for the General Conference Ministerial Association.
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