* May 24 - 30
MEMORY TEXT: "Holy and reverend is his name" (Psalm 111:9).
HISTORIANS AND PUNDITS often try to give names and labels to various eras: the Age of Reason, the Age of Aquarius, the Lost Generation, the Age of Deceit, the Modem Era, the Post Modern Era, and so forth. The labels only loosely fit, because they describe only a part of the whole, rarely the whole itself.
If, however, we were to try to label our time, perhaps one label could catch, if not the whole, at least a good part of it, and that would be: the Age of Irreverence. Nothing is sacred these days. In books and magazines, on television, radios, and billboards, few things are taboo. Religion, sex, faith, familyeverything is fair game to be mocked, satirized, teased, and distorted. Recently a famous politician's marriage infidelities were the subject of a comedian's actwhile the politician and his wife sat in the audience, listened, and laughed!
Is nothing sacred? Fortunately, not everyone has lost a sense of reverence. For followers of Jesus, reverence should be one of the premier manifestations of faith. This week, as we continue to look at the results of being forgiven, we'll look at a subject that deserves, especially in this, the Age of Irreverence, a whole quarter's study.
THE WEEK AT A GLANCE: Why should we show God reverence? How does the Cross play into the idea of reverence? How is obedience linked to the concept of reverence?
*Please study this weeks lesson to prepare for Sabbath, May 31.
Sunday May 25
"Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isa. 6:5).
Read Isaiah 6:1-5, which gives the context of Isaiah's outburst in verse 5. What makes it even more remarkable is that Isaiah is a chosen prophet of the Lord, someone who obviously had a divine calling. Yet, when presented with a vision of God, he recoiled in personal shame.
What was the one word Isaiah used twice to describe himself and his people? Was he talking about something physical or spiritual? Explain your answer. How do these few verses help us understand what he meant: Isaiah 64:6, Zechariah 3:3, and Revelation 3:18?
The big problem, particularly in the modern world, is that people do not see their own uncleanliness, their own sinfulness. That is because they are comparing themselves to others or to the world around them. People always can find others to compare themselves with who are worse then they are. After all, it is hard to see dirt against a dark background.
Contrasted against the background of God's righteousness and holiness, however, that problem vanishes. On the contrary, as Isaiah's example shows, no one who comes into contact with God in such a manner comes away unaware of his or her own personal sinfulness.
Perhaps that is what the world needs: a glimpse of the holiness of God. Because only then will individuals not only see their true state, they will seek a remedy. Which, of course, is where Christ, the Cross, and the gospel come in. Indeed, God's revelation of His holiness was not intended to devastate Isaiah or us. God reveals Himself to us in order to humble us, not to humiliate us. There is a difference. When we are humbled, we sense our need and seek to have that need supplied; we feel helpless but not hopeless. When we are humiliated, we feel devastated and beyond hope. The revelation of God's holiness never devastates. It brings healing.
|Read Isaiah 6:6, 7. What happened to Isaiah after he acknowledged his sinful state? What did the Lord do for him? How do we understand what that means? How do we understand the coal on the lips in the context of the gospel? How is our iniquity taken away and our sins purged?|
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Heb. 2:9).
Look at the above text. What is it saying? What are the implications of it, particularly in the context of reverence toward God?
Sure, we revere God because He is the Creator, and we are His creatures (Ps. 100:3). Sure, we revere God because He is a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24), because He is a merciful God (Deut. 4:31), because He is mighty (Deut. 7:21), a powerful God (Ps. 29:4), and because He can do all things (Luke 1:37).
Yet, however good all those reasons are, there is one reason that is by far the best, and that is because He is a forgiving God, a God who does not impute our trespasses against us, a God who will blot out our sins, a God who through the sacrifice of Himself has opened the way for such miserable and sinful creatures as ourselves to be granted eternal life in His presence and the presence of the holy angels for eternity.
Think about it: Jesus, the One who sustains and upholds all things (Acts 17:28), who died as a Substitute for the sins of the whole world (1 Cor. 5:7), who is equal with God (Phil. 2:6), the One who made all things (Col. 1:16), who became a human being and lived a life of perfect holiness (Heb. 2:10). When you look at the Cross and realize that this was God, the Creator, hanging there, dying for His own creation, how can we not have a sense of reverence, of awe? Sure, by virtue of who God is, as God, as Creator, we would owe Him awe and reverence. Even if He didn't die for us, His exalted status in contrast to us alone would make Him worthy of praise and reverence.
But when you add the element of the Cross, when you add the element of what was done at the Cross for us, the forgiveness of sin that was made available to us because of the Crossthe awe, the reverence, the love can only grow.
|Of all the reasons we have to revere the Lord, whyfrom our perspective (that of fallen, sinful creatures)is the fact that He is a forgiving God the best reason for us to revere Him?|
Look up the following texts. What does each one say about "the name of the Lord" that helps us understand what that concept means and what's contained in it?
Exod. 20:7 ____________________________________________________________
2 Sam. 6:2 ____________________________________________________________
Job 1:21 ______________________________________________________________
Ps. 20:7 _______________________________________________________________
Ps. 116:4 ______________________________________________________________
Matt. 6:9 ______________________________________________________________
Rom. 10:13 ____________________________________________________________
James 5:14 ____________________________________________________________
A mong modern Orthodox Jews today, the name of the Lord is considered so sacred that it's deemed blasphemy to say it. Instead, they often call the Lord HaShem, which simply means in Hebrew "the name."
Nevertheless, it is clear from the above texts that the name of the Lord is deemed as something important, something sacred, something powerful. It is not that any inherent magical powers emanate from the name itself; instead, it's what the name represents that evokes the kind of awe and reverence the Bible says it deserves.
In Bible times, a name was often closely linked with what it named, more so than now. Look, for example, at Romans 10:13. There is no salvation in the name itself; salvation is found in Whom it represents, Jesus. Look at Psalm 20:7. Deliverance is found not in the name of God itself (as though something in the sound of the vowels and consonants had power) but in the God who is named there. In the Bible, God is so closely associated with His names that they are often used in a manner that is indistinguishable. That is why the Bible is so clear about why we should use the name with reverence. To profane the name is, in an indirect sense, to profane the One who is named.
|So often, in many languages, the name of God is used as a curse. Why would the devil be glad to have people use God's name in such a manner?|
"Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" (Rev. 14:7).
If the first and most important commandment is to love God with all our heart and soul (Matt. 22:37), why, then, does the first angel's message tell us to "fear God"? Can we love what we fear? The answer depends upon our understanding of fear. A few times in the Hebrew Bible, the word translated "reverence" (Lev. 19:30; 26:2; Ps. 89:7) comes from the same word that is commonly translated "fear."
Look up those two verses in Leviticus. They can help us see that the idea of "fearing" God isn't to be afraid of Him in the same way we might be afraid of a poisonous snake; instead, to fear God is to hold him in reverence for whom He is in contrast to who we are. To reverence God, to fear Him, is simply to acknowledge how we, as fallen beings, stand in relationship to Him. It is simply to acknowledge the Creator-creature relationship as it should be acknowledged. It is understanding how great, how powerful, and how holy He is in contrast to how small, how weak, and how unholy we really are. This reverence, of course, grows even deeper as we understand our relationship to Him as our Redeemer, as well.
"True reverence for God is inspired by a sense of His infinite greatness and a realization of His presence. With this sense of the Unseen, every heart should be deeply impressed. The hour and place of prayer are sacred, because God is there. And as reverence is manifested in attitude and demeanor, the feeling that inspires it will be deepened. 'Holy and reverend is His name,' the psalmist declares. Psalm 111:9. Angels, when they speak that name, veil their faces. With what reverence, then, should we, who are fallen and sinful, take it upon our lips!"Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, pp. 48, 49.
|It is one thing to say we reverence God; it is another to manifest
it. How are we to show that reverence? Is it merely lowering our heads in
prayer or bowing on our knees when we pray (a few places in the Old Testament
the Hebrew word translated to do "reverence" comes from a verb that means
"to bow down"). Or is there more to it? If so, what?
"Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him" (Deut. 13:4).
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" (Eccles. 12:13).
As followers of Christ, above and beyond everything else, we stand forgiven.
No matter what we have done, we can, by faith, claim the righteousness of Jesus, a righteousness He not only wrought out in His own life but freely offers to us. All we have to do is accept it, and then, no matter how sinful our lives have been, we can stand before God as perfect in His sight as was Jesus. Our sins are no longer held against us. They are forgiven.
As a result, our lives are transformed (How could they not be?), and we determine, by His grace, to "shew forth the praises of him who hath called [us] out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). We will want to be the kind of persons He desires His people to be "in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God." We will look "according to his promise... for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" and will "be diligent" in order that we "may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless" (2 Pet. 3:11-14).
All this, of course, means obedience. There is no question that if we love God we will reverence Him, and reverence implies more than just uttering praises to Him or bowing down when we pray. We truly cannot revere God without obeying Him.
|Notice how the two texts for today clearly link fear or reverence of God with obedience to His commandments (it also does the same thing with love for God, as well: see John 14:15; 1 John 5:2, 3). How can one show respect, or reverence, to someone or something and then blatantly defy the will of the one they claim to revere? It's like telling someone you love him or her but then overtly and blatantly defying all that you know that person stands for. Why can we not truly revere God while being openly disobedient to Him? How does the Sabbath play into this whole concept of reverence?|
Humility and reverence should characterize the deportment of all who come into the presence of God. In the name of Jesus we may come before Him with confidence, but we must not approach Him with the boldness of presumption, as though He were on a level with ourselves. There are those who address the great and all-powerful and holy God, who dwelleth in light unapproachable, as they would address an equal, or even an inferior. There are those who conduct themselves in His house as they would not presume to do in the audience chamber of an earthly ruler. These should remember that they are in His sight whom seraphim adore, before whom angels veil their faces. God is greatly to be reverenced; all who truly realize His presence will bow in humility before Him, and, like Jacob beholding the vision of God, they will cry out, 'How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 252.
J. H. Zachary
When Pravadras learned that the God of heaven sent Jesus to die for the sins of the world, he and his wife decided to become Christians. After a year of Bible study, his pastor urged him to share his faith with others. Pravadras helped his pastor on weekends and evenings and eventually studied theology and became a Protestant minister.
After graduation, he moved to a large village and began door-to-door evangelism, looking for Hindus who would come to Jesus. As interest grew, he raised funds and constructed a church.
Among Pravadras's members was a woman who had been praying for help for her church family. One day she dreamed that a helicopter landed in the center of her village. A man stepped out and told her, "All the villagers have dirty spots in their lives. God will remove the spots and make you clean if you follow His teachings."
When she told Pastor Pravadras about the dream, he replied, "Yes, God has more light for us, which we will follow."
A few days later, Pastor Pravadras went to another city to attend a wedding. While there, he heard about a Christian meeting being conducted by a pastor from America. He decided that he would go to one meeting before returning home. However, the meetings were so interesting that he decided to attend the entire series. He was amazed at the Bible knowledge of the pastor and noted that every point was clearly based on Scripture.
Pravadras realized that for 36 years he had not been keeping the Bible Sabbath. Late into the night he reviewed the Bible verses the pastor had presented. How could he have been teaching error for so long and leading others in error too? He asked God to forgive him and decided to follow this new truth God had revealed from the Bible.
At the close of the meetings Pravadras returned home to share the news with his wife and church members. Soon he and his wife were rebaptized. As he presented the new truths to his congregation, they joined him in commitment to God's new light and also joined the Adventist Church. Since Pravadras built his own church, it did not belong to any denomination. The church became the Adventist church.
"My wife and I have dedicated the rest of our lives to sharing the new Bible truths we have learned," Pastor Pavadras testified. He and his wife are sharing the new truths in 14 nearby villages.
J. H. Zachary is coordinator of international evangelism for The Quiet Hour.
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