The Answer From Above
"Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels'
With that pained utterance, the German poet Rilke asked what modern
humanity—whose outlines have been sketched by Darwin, then colored in
with the soulless hues of science—has long asked.
Why not, considering the dismal picture evolution paints of human origins?
According to this scenario, about fifteen billion years ago a tremendous
explosion created matter, energy; time, and space all at once. Atoms condensed
into gaseous clouds, stars coalesed from whirling strands of fire and light,
and from those stars, molten globules hardened into planets, including our
own. Shallow water fermented, simple life forms, emerged by chance, and millions
of years later, human beings. If the temperatures had been warmer or colder
or if gravity had been slightly off, none of us would be here.
No wonder Rilke asked, Is anyone above listening? Is there anyone above us?
Is there even an above us—something besides what we, with all
our sophisticated gadgetry; could ever see? Are we here only by design of
cold forces that operate with no purpose and yet gave us hearts and minds
that cry out for purpose? (How cruel to be creatures who want answers in
a world that offers none.)
Worse than no purposeful creator would be one with evil designs on us. The
fact that a god exists doesn't automatically mean good news. Ancient mythologies
crowd the heavens with cruel deities. Better to take a chance with the cold,
lifeless forces of the cosmos than with an evil god who takes pleasure in
our sorry lot.
Fortunately, the Bible teaches that there is a Creator God, Jesus, who loves
the human race. Far from taking pleasure in our sorry lot, He has shared
it, suffering worse than we ever could. His sufferings climaxed at the Cross,
the topic for this quarter.
Years ago, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote about a madman who shouted in a marketplace,
"What were we doing when we unchained this earth from the sun? Whither is
it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging
continually? Backward, side-ward, forward, in all directions? Is there still
any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we
not feel the breath of empty space?" His point was that all moral and spiritual
foundations have been shattered, leaving humans to plunge aimlessly in all
directions through a purposeless and infinite nothingness.
Scripture says the opposite. The spikes in His hands, in His feet, not only
nailed Jesus to the cross but nailed the earth to heaven in ways that nothing
could sever. The Cross shows this tiny planet that we are not alone and that
our Creator has linked Himself to us through our pain.
through the Bible, from Creation through the birth of Jesus, God reveals
to us that He is intimately involved in humanity. The incarnation of Christ,
where the Creator dwelt among His creation in human form, was amazing enough.
But that God should, in this incarnation, substitute Himself for us and
bear the full brunt of His own divine wrath against sin, all in order to
save us from that wrath? Who even can begin to grasp what this sacrifice
means? We'll need eternity to fathom it (in the meantime, we'll cover what
we can in the next three months).
Though we follow the plan of redemption down through the ages, we will focus
on the final week of Christ's life, death, and resurrection. From here we
will reflect on the meaning of the Cross and what it offers to us who claim
it as the foundation of our salvation.
Who, if we cried out, would hear us from above?
The Cross not only answers who has heard us from above, it is the answer
Our principal contributor, Pastor Brian Jones, recently served as coordinator
and materials developer for a multilanguage Bible information ministry, sponsored
by the Upper Columbia Conference, in Spokane, Washington. Brian, the author
of two previous quarterlies of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study
Guide, has a Ph.D. in Christian counseling; he and his wife have a young
daughter and currently reside in West Virginia.
(all lessons may
School Study Helps
Jerry Giardina of Pecos, Texas, assisted by his wife, Cheryl,
prepares a series of helps to accompany the Sabbath School lesson. He includes
all related scripture and most EGW quotations. Jerry has chosen the "New
King James Version" of the scriptures this quarter. It is used with permission.
The study helps are provided in three wordprocessing versions
Word; RTF for our MAC friends (this
is now a zip file); and HTML (Web Pages).
Last updated on November 8, 2004
Editorial Office: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.
Principal Contributors: Brian D. Jones
Editor: Clifford R. Goldstein
Associate Editor: Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti
Publication Manager: Soraya Homayouni Parish
Editorial Assistant: Larie S. Gray
Pacific Press Coordinator: Paul A. Hey
Art and Design: Lars Justinen
Concept Design: Dever Design
Copyright © 2004 by the Office of the Adult Bible Study
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.
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