September 26 - October 2
Our Ancient of Days
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: 1 Chron. 16:24, 25; Ps. 90:1, 2, 4; 139:7-10; Isa. 44:6-8; 14:26, 27; Jer. 10:10, 11.
MEMORY TEXT: "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other" (Isaiah 45:22, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: It is important to have a clear concept of God. It is important to know how He relates to evil and how we should relate to Him.
"DOES GOD HAVE A BEARD?" Four-year-old Schuyler asked her mother.
"Why do you want to know?" her mother wondered. "Because," Schuyler explained, "I don't like beards. And if God has one, I need to get used to the idea now so I won't mind hugging Him when I meet Him in heaven!"
Schuyler's curiosity about God echoes both our own interest in Him and the need to have that interest satisfied. But how can we learn about God? We recognize that we cannot really know Him unless He chooses to reveal Himself So we are grateful that He has revealed Himself in Creation, the Bible, and the life of Christ. We also have the writings of Ellen White, often referred to as the Spirit of Prophecy, a modem-day manifestation of God's revelation through a prophet. Through all these sources we can become acquainted with God, whom to know is eternal life (John 17:3).
Knowing God lifts us out of the mire of human life. Although we have inherited the fallen nature of Adam, we look forward to the time when we can reflect God's character more fully.
What does Psalm 90:1, 2, 4 emphasize about God?
In this psalm, Moses contrasts our temporary existence with the eternity of God. Our life is limited. We come and go like the grass. We spend our years as a tale that is told. But God abides forever.
How do the following texts describe God?
Rev. 11:15 _________________________________________________
Dan. 2:44 __________________________________________________
1 Tim. 6:13-16 _______________________________________________
"My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass. But you, 0 Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations" (Ps. 102:11, 12, NIV).
The eternity of God means the eternity of His righteousness and peace. When we make the eternal God our refuge, we will never be moved. Everything around us changes and decays. But God never changes. When God abides with us, we can abide in Him forever.
"I AM means an eternal presence; the past, present, and future are alike to God. He sees the most remote events of past history, and the far distant future with as clear a vision as we do those things that are transpiring daily."Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1099.
|We like and expect new things, new experiences, new ideas. And many of us try to retain our youthful looks as long as possible. Perhaps these are some of the reasons why many of us find it difficult to relate to the eternal God. "He is ancient," we seem to be saying. "How can He offer anything to help me cope with this fast-changing world?" Take time today to consider how our eternal God can change your life for the better.|
Isaiah 44:6-8 describes the uniqueness of God. As you read these verses, choose one or two phrases that highlight this unique ness. Why do these phrases appeal to you?
The Bible makes it clear there is only one God-the God who created us and who is the Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth. God's Word emphasizes that the Lord is the only true God.
Explain how the following texts increase our understanding of God's uniqueness.
Isa. 45:5, 6 ___________________________________________________
Isa. 43:10 ____________________________________________________
1 Cor. 8:6 ____________________________________________________
Ps. 86:10 ____________________________________________________
The more we learn to appreciate God's uniqueness, the more we will appreciate His first and second commandments (Exod. 20:3, 4). As we love God more and more, we will put away our other gods and worship only Him.
|The SDA Bible Commentary on Isaiah 44:8 points out that the Hebrew word translated "God" in this passage literally means "Rock," "a common Scriptural term for God, denoting His en during qualities and His strength (see Deut. 32:4; 2 Sam. 22:3; 23:3; Ps. 18:2; cf. Isa. 26:4). Israel has nothing to fear with God as their strength and defense."Vol. 4, p. 264. In what practical ways have you experienced God as your strength and defense? Think of two areas in your life that God's enduring strength can fortify. Be prepared to share one of these experiences with your class members. Pray to God the Rock to make you strong.|
How does Isaiah contrast God's greatness with our insignificance? Isa. 14:26, 27.
When Isaiah wrote these verses, "the whole world stood in awe of Assyrian might. But Isaiah saw the Lord as One who had 'measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span,' before whom the 'nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance' (ch. 40:12, 15).... "Isaiah saw the hand of God stretched out in judgment against Assyria and the other nations of his time, and knew there was no power in heaven or earth that could turn it back. When God purposes to do something His will shall be accomplished, regardless of the will of man (see Num. 23:19; Job 9:12; Isa. 43:13; Dan. 4:32, 35)."SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, pp. 172, 173.
List three or four facts Matthew 10:29, 30 teaches us about our universal God.
It is comforting to know that the Supreme Ruler above is our Friend. People everywhere are objects of His saving grace. "God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:34, 35). "The life of Christ established a religion in which there is no caste, a religion by which Jew and Gentile, free and bond, are linked in a common brotherhood, equal before God. No question of policy influenced His movements.... That which appealed to His heart was a soul thirsting for the waters of life. "-Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, P. 191.
The way Christ treated others while He lived on earth shows us that Christianity is a religion meant to serve everyone. See Him win Matthew the tax collector (Matt. 9:9), the Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30), the children (Mark 10: 13-16), blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), and the Samaritan woman (John 4:4-30). How many others can you think of ? Include yourself in the list.
|Because our "God is no respecter of persons," how should we treat those around us, even our "enemies"? Think of at least one person with whom you have a less-than-ideal relationship. Ask God to help you develop a Christlike love for her or him.|
Besides His eternity and uniqueness, what other characteristic does God have? Jer. 10:10, 11.
These verses set forth the living God of the Hebrews in striking contrast to the handmade gods of the heathen, which have no life. (See 1 Sam. 17:36; 1 Kings 18:26-29; 1 Thess. 1:9.) The term "living God" means more than that God is alive. It also means that God gives life. That is why the psalmist says: "With my whole being I thirst for God, the living God" (Ps. 42:2, NEB; see also Ps. 63:1). The psalmist knows that, as the parched animal drinks water and is refreshed, so we can come to the living God and receive renewed energies. There is also the idea of watching, caring, and acting-something a living God could do but idols could not. We can be thankful we have a living God whom we can trust to care for our every need.
By what name did God reveal Himself to Moses? Exod. 3:14. What does this name tell you about God?
The four Hebrew letters composing this name have no related vowels. The devout Hebrew considers the name too sacred to pronounce. The name suggests that God is the ever-present, ever-active God, the One who is ready to help when the need arises. Of Jesus, Peter proclaimed, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16, NIV). Jesus claimed that He is the Life-giver (John 6:47; 10:10), the Bread of Life (John 6:51), the Door (John 10:7, 9), and the Shepherd (John 10:9, 14).
"It was Christ who from the bush on Mount Horeb spoke to Moses saying, 'I AM THAT I AM.... Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.' Ex. 3:14. This was the pledge of Israel's deliverance. So when He came 'in the likeness of men,' He declared Himself the I AM. The Child of Bethlehem, the meek and lowly Saviour, is God 'manifest in the flesh,' 1 Tim. 3:16. And to us He says: 'I AM the Good Shepherd. ' ' I AM the living Bread, ' ' I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life.' 'All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth.' John 10:11; 6:51; 14:6; Matt. 28:18. 1 AM the assurance of every promise. I AM; be not afraid."'-The Desire of Ages, pp. 24, 25.
|If the words of Christ are eternal life, what should I do about them? How do His words of life become life to me in my daily experiences?|
What two phrases does David repeat in Psalm 139:7-10 to emphasize God's omnipresence?
God is everywhere. There is no place where we may flee from His presence, nowhere that His power is not at work. By the omnipresence of God we mean that God is not limited by space as we are. We can be in only one place at a time. But He can be everywhere at the same time. It is not that He spreads Himself out everywhere but that He is wholly present everywhere. This concept is beyond our comprehension. But so is everything else about God!
God has given us assurance in His Word that He is ever present with us. To His followers, Jesus said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20). Through His prophet Isaiah, God spoke these words of courage, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness" (Isa. 41:10). In the final crisis, God's people will be able to say, "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge" (Ps. 46:7).
What desire did God express in Exodus 25:8?
The church building today has, in some ways, taken the place of the tabernacle of Old Testament times. There the Lord meets with His people. There we can hear His voice speaking to our hearts. God can be to us more than mere theory. Wherever we may be, walking and talking with Him can be a matter of personal experience. With our spiritual ear, we personally can hear God speaking to us, telling us He loves us and is with us, directing our ways, and speaking confidence and joy to our hearts. When Jesus returns in glory, we can be with those who say, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation" (Isa. 25:9).
In 1845, Sir John Franklin set sail to look for a passage across the polar seas. Crew members of a whaling ship in Baffin Bay were the last to hear from him. One of the items recovered from the shipwreck included Franklin's Bible. He had underlined Psalm 139:9, 10.
|Recall an experience when the omnipresence of God was of great assurance to you. Be prepared to share that experience with your Sabbath School class.|
FURTHER STUDY: David's concept of God includes the following: "Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods" (1 Chron. 16:24, 25). Also read Job 38:1-41; Psalm 19:1-6; ; and Education, pp. 13-19, "The Source and Aim of True Education."
"God so loved the world that He would not suffer it to remain possible for it to be said that He could have given us more, or manifested for the human family a greater measure of love. He knew that the great manifestation of love, displayed in the life and death of the Son of God, would awaken the fiercest jealousy on the part of Satan. The gift of Christ to the world was beyond computation, and no power could compete with God by giving a gift that would bear any comparison to the value of heaven's best treasure. The greatness of this gift was to furnish men with a theme of thanksgiving and praise that would last through time and through eternity. Having given His all in Christ, God lays claim to the heart, mind, soul, and strength of man. Looking upon the treasure which God has provided in the full and complete gift of Christ, we can exclaim: 'Herein is love! '"-Ellen G. White, The Youth's Instructor, "Words to the Young," Dec. 13, 1894.
SUMMARY: We serve an eternal, living God who delights in making us the objects of His saving grace. His greatness and omnipresence can give us strength and courage during even the most difficult situations. Nowhere else can we find such a friend.
J. H. Zachary
Vasele Lupu looked up from his hospital bed into the eyes of his son, Benone. "It's not good news , he said quietly. "The doctor says the cancer might have spread. But I have placed my life in God's hands. I am ready to live or die as He wills."
The two men prayed together in the hospital room in Bucharest, Romania. Then Benone left. Two days later when he returned to visit his father, he found him preparing to go home.
"What happened?" the younger man asked. "You were so ill!"
"I may have been dreaming," the elder man told his son. "But after you left, I saw an intense light at the foot of my bed. A man standing in the light told me that God had a work for me to do. Later I asked my roommate if he had seen a bright light or heard a voice during the night, but he had seen and heard nothing. Surely I have been visited by an angel!"
Lupu asked God to show him the ministry God had for him. He began visiting the prison in Bucharest where he had spent several years as a prisoner for his faith during Communist times. He recognized many of the guards, and he remembered the insults that he endured from guards and prisoners alike because of his faith. One guard recognized him and hurled new insults at him.
Lupu began sharing with the prisoners messages of hope in Christ. The guard who had insulted him listened to Lupu's testimony. His heart was touched, and he accepted Christ as his Saviour.
But the guard's wife was angry with his decision. "How can an intelligent person believe there is a God?" she demanded. Then she challenged her husband. "Do you see this plant? It has never blossomed. If your God can make this plant bloom, then I will believe!"
Later that day the woman walked into the room where the barren plant sat. She stared at it amazed, for the plant was blooming! Faith blossomed in her heart, and she joined her husband to worship God and later followed him in baptism.
Lupu thanks God for giving him a special work to do.
Vasele Lupu (left). J. H. Zachary is international evangelism coordinator for The Quiet Hour.
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