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Sabbath: The End of God’s Mission — 18 Comments

  1. On Thursday I referenced an article in the Jewish Standard on the meaning of Purim in the post-modern era. I found the article seriously challenging because it gave a deep meaning to the celebration of Purim. Purim is a fairly important event in the Jewish calendar celebrating the victory of the Jews over their detractors in Shushan. Among other things, they eat special pastries called Hamantaschen, a three-cornered pastry with a sweet filling representing Haman's hat. It is a celebration of victory.

    The writer of the article in the Jewish Standard reminds us that the whole episode is told without any mention of God and makes the salient point that the time had come, not so much to celebrate the victory but to reaffirm their covenant with God.

    I mention this at the beginning of this week's lesson where we will look at the apocalyptic end of the mission with some longing. Perhaps we should take the time to consider the renewal of our covenant (relationship) with God. Before the Second Coming, Jesus should come into our hearts. Rather than just repeating and the signs of the end to ourselves, maybe it is time to examine our hearts and live the victory now.

    Like Esther and Mordecai, let us renew the Covenant in our own time. Let us ponder its meaning for our individual and communal lives. Let us consider how we shall respond to its commanding reality. Purim and Post-Modern Jewish Thought, Jewish Standard, March 17, 2011

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    • Amen. God gave Esther and the Jews victory over their enemies right before their imminent destruction and He can give us victory, too, as Jesus’ second coming is soon to happen. 1 Corinthians 15:57

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    • Maurice – I agree wholeheartedly! Yes, let’s renew our Covenant of Faith with Him on a daily basis. Personally, I rather praise God’s Goodness all day long then to engage in any debate over details in the Scriptural record He so graciously provided for to strengthen our faith and love for Him.
      Let us lift up in our lives the faith and love and the never ending praises for our heavenly Father and His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! This is the essence of Their Gospel message to man!

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  2. I find it interesting that Peter was saying that we can hasten the coming of the Lord through the way our lives are lived.
    The message of the Third Angel is that we are to live perfect lives of obedience or we'll be destroyed.
    Jesus says to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect.
    And Ellen White tells us that the message of the Third Angel which hastens Christ coming is to live the life of obedience and she says that it's an easy life to live when we truly give up self and selfishness.
    It's sad that not 1 in 8,000,000 people on Earth have given up self, it's also sad that not 1 in 5,000 in the SDA church have given up self.
    But I am hopeful that someday 144,000 people will be united in Spirit and Truth and hasten the return of Jesus.

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    • Just wondering where you get your numbers - I am not aware of any verses that talk about 1 in 8 million or 1 in 5,000? I would be really careful about speculating. Also, I believe 144,000 is symbolic not literal just as most of Revelation is.

      I really am uncomfortable when people make broad statements about how few people are faithful. Not one of us, even the General Conference President, really has any idea about that. It's not something we always see easily. And talking that way is often linked to being prideful or judgmental. If only 1% of people or less in the church are going to be saved, we know our odds are very low, so we look for all sorts of evidence that others are lost. Because if they're saved, that just reduces our chances. And so it goes. Not a good way of thinking.

      Remember Elijah? He was sure he was the only one of God's people left. And God reminded him there were 7,000. I think it's the same today.

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    • I messed up on my math and I'm sorry for that:
      ~8B people on earth / 144k = not one in 55,555 living on this planet have the saving relationship with Jesus that leads to the transformation of character.
      ~21M nominal SDA / 144k = not one in 146 SDAs living on this planet have the saving relationship with Jesus that leads to the transformation of character.

      I'm sorry for the incorrect numbers in the previous post I made above.

      The 144,000 are the literal number of living saints who will survive the great time of trouble without sinning while there is no intercessor in Heaven. This does not mean that only the 144,000 alone are saved.

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      • Okay, I understand what you mean now. I don't believe the 144, 000 are literal. It is a perfect 12 x 12,0000 which indicates it is a symbolic number just as most of Revelation is symbolic. If you believe it is literal you must also believe that 12,000 will be saved from each tribe which means there are many (basically all Gentiles) that cannot live through the final tribulation.

        Ultimately this view is bound to lead to either great discouragement or great pride. Neither is good and neither comes from a God of love, in my opinion.

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    • When I read the 3rd angels message I must say I do not see anything about "perfect lives of obedience or we will be destroyed" in the text...

      rather the bible reads “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand,they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath."

      My interpretation of this passage has been that I should not worship the beast or his image. In other words a warning is against Idolatry.

      God is my God and I am His child. I have no room to worship another and look forward to the day when His kingdom will be established with me (Rev 21:3).

      Your quote about being perfect even as our Father is perfect comes from Jesus sermon in Matthew 5. In the passage Jesus lays out how we are to love one another and how God in His love and mercy brings sun and rain on both the just and the unjust. I have interpreted this call to perfection as a call to love like God loves.

      I do not point this out to excuse disobedience, I just cannot see that the message of the gospel is "obey or be destroyed". I apologize if I misunderstand what you are trying to say, but if I have misunderstood I hope you can see my concern.

      Paul in his letter to the Galatians speaks pointedly about the Gospel and that we are saved by faith in Christ alone and not by works (Galatians 2:5). He does point out that our faith will change the way we act but our focus is always on faith in Christ that brings us to an understanding of perfect love (John 3:16). If God so loved us we also love each other and in this we become complete or perfect. It is because of this love that we have confidence in Judgment as perfect love drives out all fear (1 John 4:11-12 &17-18).

      This is at least my understanding of the everlasting Gospel. As to the numbers of those who are lost I do not know but I take courage in the fact that there will be a great white multitude that no one can number saved out of the whole world (Rev 7:9).

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  3. I find the list of heaven's leadership in Rev.1:4-5 remarkable: ”Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth . . . .”
    John lists “Him who is and who was and who is to come, then the seven Spirits, and Jesus Christ – the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and ruler over the kings of the earth.”

    God is eminently holy – there is no imperfection found within Him or in the by Him established system of His government directing that which is created. Can we humans really comprehend His ‘Greatness’ – His Perfection? I do not think so; not in our current form.

    But the time will come when mankind's home has a new heaven and our God’s tabernacle finds its place on the new earth. Then His children can truly comprehend what it means to have been accepted into God’s family as we will be able to come into His presence in the Tabernacle of the new Jerusalem. Will we be found faithful?

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  4. I have been attracted to the passages which announce that God will save all humans. Instead of believing, as an Adventist, that only a small percentage (perhaps 144,000) would be finally saved, I can now see it is God's purpose to save everyone Otherwise the "plan of salvation" is a farce. Billions will perish and the watching universe will be extremely disheartened.

    This only makes sense to those who believe in grace, that "all": died in Adam, and "all" will be made alive in Christ." God's love is unconditional, unearned, a free gift, and only in this way can humans be saved.

    We don't know how and when God will save everyone, but in his own good time and place it is certain. God's love and mercy will prevail, and billions will be shocked to see and feel the full salvation of our God.

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    • Jordan, I have no doubt that God wants save all humans. (1 Tim. 2:4) That is the purpose of salvation, and on the cross, Christ said, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." I believe that encompassed all humanity.

      Yet, our God is a God of love. Love never forces compliance. Thus God literally cannot save those who have so developed their characters that they would be miserable in an environment that does not cater to pride and self-focus, an environment where one does not rule over another, but all are servants of each other.

      Or do you really think that the billions of earth's inhabitants all have a servant attitude like that of Jesus?

      I am really looking forward to your sharing "the passages which announce that God will save all humans."

      I believe you are referring to 1 Cor. 15:21-22: "21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
      22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

      This whole chapter deals with the reality of the resurrection, with Paul demonstrating the illogic of being a Christian and denying the resurrection. When we read that passage in our family worship recently, we wondered whether some Sadducees had followed Paul around and contaminated the teachings of Paul. But it could just have been secular philosophy.

      Here, the devil is in the details - namely the interpretation. I believe that Paul means that in Adam, all humanity became subject to eternal death, without hope of salvation without divine intervention. Perhaps we agree thus far?

      "in Christ shall all be made alive." I understand Paul to mean that Christ redeemed all that Adam had lost. "In Christ" all humanity is offered a new start. All humanity is offered a second chance to choose Jesus as Lord in order to live eternally.

      In fact, it will also be literally true that "in Christ shall all be made alive" because John the Revelator teaches us that all will be resurrected. This could not be true without Christ. The details are this: Some will be raised in "the resurrection of life" and "they that have done evil" will be raised in "the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:29)

      But why would a God of love not raise everyone in the resurrection of life and take everyone to heaven?
      1) I have already mentioned that not everyone would be happy in a heaven where the highest value is service, not position, wealth or power. In fact, the vast majority of the current in habitants of this earth would not want to be there. Many who want to go to heaven imagine a heaven where things continue much as they are here, except that they are the ones in position of wealth and power and no one will steal from them and they won't get sick. But that's not the heaven that the Biible teaches about.

      2) If God took everyone to heaven with their current characters and concomitant preferences, does it not stand to reason that heaven (and the new earth) would closely mirror what we have here now - with all the selfishness, violence and disparity of privilege? If not, what would prevent this situation from being duplicated in the after-life? Is it God Who creates all the evil and suffering in this world?

      3) Perhaps you believe that God could change all characters in an instant - to make them loving and kind automatons. (A forced "change of character takes away freedom of will, and the result would be automatons.) Is it not true that there cannot be genuine love without freedom of will? If that is not true, then marriage to a robot should yield the ultimate happiness. (Remember that robots are pretty sophisticated and life-like nowadays, especially with AI.)

      I have but scratched a bit of the surface of Bible teachings that fly in the face of universalism. And maybe I've provided a bit of plain logic as well. I'd love to hear from you ...

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    • Revelation 7:4-17 speaks about the 144,000 and the multitude who will be in heaven. I haven't heard that Adventists believe that only the 144,000 will be saved in heaven. I agree with Inge's response as well.

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      • Inge; your question on ( doesn't God creat evil and suffering in this world) God is Love! Jesus came to reveal that, for God is LOVE!
        Everything that is bad is from the evil side. We have choices and we need to make the right one! We are pilgrims looking for the way home!!

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        • Zsuzsi,
          You writing

          Inge; your question on ( doesn't God creat evil and suffering in this world)

          puzzles me.

          Neither I nor anyone else on this blog page wrote that "God creates evil and suffering," as far as I can tell.

          Rebellion against God's law of love creates evil. God does not.

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  5. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

    Make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. (Isaiah 12:4)

    I think that this mission of sharing Jesus will become easier and easier for us once we trust and enjoy and magnify Jesus above all things in our own lives. Our reputation becomes one with God’s reputation…. We want to show Him as He is, so we need to know Him as He is.

    We know it is going to happen…God is eventually going to be praised and trusted and worshipped everywhere . His triumph over the self-seeking influence of evil is never in question, only thing for us to decide is our participation in His mission. Just like Mordecai said to Esther in last week’s lesson ….” if you remain silent, relief and deliverance will arise from another place” (Esther 4:13-14). God can pass over us and do His great work with someone else while we hide and relax in our nests of comfort…. pray that we won’t be drunk with private concerns and blurry vision. The book of Revelation is a revelation of Jesus Christ. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus.

    I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18)

    My counsel shall stand,
    and I will accomplish all my purpose. (Is. 46:10)

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  6. The message is simple: there is no other way but to be for or against Love. "Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love." 1 John 4:8. Do you Love? Learning to love is to learn about God!

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