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02: Heaven on earth – Thought Starters — 9 Comments

  1. Joyce what you say in #5 raises a question in my mind. Does God copy from the devil or is it the other way around?

    • Tyler, I don't see Joyce saying anything about God "copying" from the devil.

      (Neither do I see Satan copying from God. Satan perverts what God has created. If he truly copied, Satan's character would be like God's!!)

      That the Hebrew temple was in the approximate format of temples existing at the time appears to be historical fact based on archeological excavations. I don't know enough to judge whether or not they got their dates right, but there's no compelling reason to believe they did not.

      When God communicates with man, He uses human language and human concepts so we may understand Him. (How far removed from the language of heaven this must be!) It should not be surprising, then, that he used a building pattern similar to what the people were used to as a place of worship. And He filled it with symbols teaching His truth.

      I appreciate the central concept of this week's lesson: It appears to be focused on "God With Us." He comes to us in our time and in our culture. He came to us in human form, rather than divine, so we could see Him and relate to Him.

      Likewise, it seems to me that He used the pattern of a recognizable place of worship so the Hebrew people could begin to understand what He wanted to teach them.

      • Well, Inge, your comment raises a whole host of questions concerning God and how he relates to fallen humanity.

        I raised a question about God having Moses copy from pagan sources which I believe is a product of Satanic twisting.

        1) I always thought that God was the great originator of all knowledge. Is He also the source of paganism and all its practices? If not then where did paganism get all the designs they had?
        2) Was the Heavenly sanctuary also a copy of paganism? After all, that was the pattern Moses was to use wasn’t it?
        3) Certainly God communicates with fallen humanity on a level that we can understand and certainly that includes using things that we are familiar with but how far do we take that? Does God also use the practices of Baal worship to teach us heavenly things?

        • First of all, Tyler, I think we need to recognize that two things being alike does not mean that one is a copy of the other. Just because my garden is laid out similar to yours does not mean I copied from you, for instance.

          Joyce did not say that God had Moses "copy from pagan sources."

          Joyce said that "the architecture and physical structure of the sanctuary resembles the magnificent buildings of the heathen Canaanites. Is it surprising to you that God would use pagan sources of harmony and beauty in designing a place where He could meet with His people?"

          That the Hebrew temple was of similar proportions as the Hittite/Canaanite temples is a fact verified by archeologists.

          I think Joyce's question is relevant in view of the fact that contemporary Christians say we should not do certain things because of their pagan associations (which no one knows about without delving into history). Certainly the Hebrew temple proportions could have been deemed to have "pagan associations" because of its format. But that didn't stop God from using the pattern. (We don't know how or why the Canaanite temples were of similar proportion and we can only speculate.)

          I suggested that God communicates to us by using concepts with which we are familiar, and I base them on the pattern in which God has related to man throughout human history. And there are some interesting specific examples in the Bible.

          I think of God's covenant with Abraham. We read the story of the Abraham laying sacrifices on the ground and watching over them till evening (Gen 15:8-17), and we think "What strange behavior!" But Abraham had asked God, "How will I know that what you say is true?" And so God used the procedures for making a legal covenant in Canaan to assure Abraham that the covenant was binding. He condescended to pass between the pieces of the sacrifice in the form of a "smoking furnace and a burning lamp" just as a human guarantor of a covenant would have done.

          It seems to me that saying God "copied" heathen practices in this instance rather distorts the picture, don't you? Instead, I say that God used the familiar to assure Abraham of His intentions. It was like God coming down to you right now to make a covenant with you, and you ask, "How shall I know that you will actually do it?" And God says, "Fill out a legal contract and meet me tomorrow the same time." And on that day, God goes to the court house with you and signs the contract, having it witnessed and sealed by a lawyer.

          Did God need to do this with Abraham? If not, why did He do it this way?

          You also wrote, "certainly that includes using things that we are familiar with but how far do we take that?"

          Well, I think we had better take it no further than Jesus did. 😉

          Remember that story Jesus told about Lazarus and Abraham's bosom? It was a well-known story of the time, and there have been times when I wished heartily that Jesus would have used a different illustration to make His point. But he used a story that had some false theology embedded in it to make a point. I've known preachers to do the same today by using a story of someone going to heaven and meeting St. Peter at the gate who asks the applicant on what basis he deserves to enter heaven. Now the preacher knows very well that there's no Peter at the gate of heaven. But he uses the story to make a point about entrance requirements to heaven. He uses the story just like Jesus used the story of Abraham and Lazarus.

          It tells me something about how far God will go to communicate with us in a manner we can understands. He wants to meet us down here, right where we are. He's much more "down to earth" than many of His followers.

          The point is that God wants to be "with us," and He wants us to be with Him. And He'll meet us way more than half-way!

  2. Joyce the statement in #6 about Rev 21:22 does indeed raise some interesting questions doesn’t it? For about the last 20 years or so I have consistently thought the New Jerusalem as depicted in Revelation was symbolic every bit as much as the earthly sanctuary was. I know that bothers some people and they will point me to Christ’s promise, “In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn 14:2 NKJV) but I consider the two entirely separate. Certainly there will be places for the saved to stay in when they are transported to Heaven. We can’t deny that although one could rightly argue that they won’t be mansions.

    The point is that if the vision John had of the New Jerusalem was symbolic then what he said concerning the temple in it should be thought of as theological instead of literal shouldn't it?

    • We Adventists believe the physical reality of the heavenly sanctuary (last sentence of Monday lesson on "Copy of the sanctuary") as well as the physical reality of the New Jerusalem. "The New Jerusalem is the city for which Abraham looked (Heb. 11:10). Within that vast city Christ is preparing mansions (John 14:12), or as the original word indicates, abiding places-real homes. But the redeemed will not be confined within the walls of the New Jerusalem. They will inherit the earth. From their city homes the redeemed will go out into the country to design and build their dream homes, to plant crops, and harvest and eat them (Isa, 65:21)..."Seventh day Adventist Believe p. 377

  3. [Please be sure to use your full name as stated in the SSNET Comment Guidelines when commenting on this site. Thank you.]

    Well, Satan knew the heavenly temple. Its possible he copied it here on earth before God did. When Moses asked for compelling evidence, God used the very staff Moses was familier with. When Moses much later pleaded with God for Miriam to be healed of Leprosy, God reminded Moses that in their culture she had to be ostracized for a week. So, yes, God uses whatever we understand with little regard for previous associations.

  4. ERROR, in paragraph 3 "God walked in the cool of the evening " The Bible says in the cool of the day, Genesis 3:8 . Such error may bring credibility of contribution into question . Thank you.

  5. Im an adventist en i've bn baptised at te time of pentecost 98.i want 2 knw more about adventism en wich books i cn read to increase my knowledge as at one stage i backslided but deep inside i alwys knew tat tere can neva be any other true church of God other than SDA the truth i learned has alwys talkf to me inside even when i was lost.i now prepared to live my life for God alone.i chased after material things bt God shown me that they can disapear like a dew.im back now with nothing and all i want is to work for God and don't expect a reward in this earth but in heaven


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