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Friday: Further Thought ~ From Furnace to Palace — 13 Comments

  1. Right from an early age I was admonished to prepare for the final persecution. In JMVs (If you are old enough, you will know what I am talking about.) our reading course books included stories about the Waldenses and Huguenots and how they were persecuted. We were told that the Roman Catholic Cathedrals all had dungeons under them to incarcerate Seventh-day Adventists. Even when I got to College I remember a worship where the preacher for the evening admonished us not to use aerograms to write letters home because the Catholics had spies who would squeeze open the aerograms, because they were only gummed on three sides, to get the inside running on what Seventh -day Adventists were up to. For a while I was scared spitless that the Catholics would come in the middle of the night and round us up and put us in dungeons.

    It took me a little while to realise that Catholics could be good friends and were not really interested in persecuting me. And it took me just a little while that it was really no use preparing for the final persecution because I had more to think about in day-to-day living and the challenges I face every day.

    I have to admit that I have never been persecuted. I have had to explain a couple of times why I could not present a paper on Sabbath, even when the government or university were paying for me to attend the conference. Fortunately for many of my conferences, the conveners were Jews and understood immediately, even though they did not keep the Sabbath themselves.

    The focus on end-time persecution has often clouded our vision of the present. I know that for me personally it hung over my head every time I talked to Catholics and it was not until I had some good Catholic friends that I realised that there are some wonderful Christians among them.

    I don’t think that our three Hebrew young men specially prepared themselves for being thrown into a blast-furnace. They lived by principle every day.

    My father-in-law has a mantra that he recites whether we want to hear it or not. “The only time you’ve got in now!” He is right, although I wish he would not use up so much of the “now” telling us that. But if we practice our principles in the present, they won’t desert us when the going gets tough. Focussing on future problems distracts us from focusing on Jesus.

  2. How great is God. How great and mighty.

    #3 deals with last day event, outward sign and worship.

    Jer 12: 5-6. Keeping up with hard times.
    I have come to realized that when things are easy and people complain and carry on, no matter what they say, when things get tough they can’t hold up or hold on. Eg, many people (generally speaking) are not persecuted for the sabbath now but can’t hold out now, how will people manage during persecution time? Many think keeping the sabbath equal going to church.
    You can go to church (for our 4 hrs) and still not keep the sabbath. Or you can not go to church and still keep the sabbath.
    Eg, The purpose of the Sabbath is to remind humans to
    1. Reflection on who God is, the Creator and Sustainer of all humans.
    2. The God of love.
    3. Worship on his holy day as he requires Eze 20.
    4. Ex 20:8-11. Isa 58:13-14
    Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease while others fight to gain the price and sail through bloody seas.

    • For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Eph 2:8KJV

      Remember the parable of the workers. Some worked all day, while others worked for one hour. They were all paid the same - a day's wages.

    • We are having issues with the system that sends out the email versions of the lesson. It is going to take us some time to resolve them and we fear that part of the problem is that the system is not longer supported and has bugs in it.

      You can always get to the lesson by going to the links at the top left hand side of https://ssnet.org. I know the email option is convenient for some of you and we ask for patience as we work though the issues.

  3. Today's lesson asks:

    "From our understanding of last-day events, what will be the issue, the outward sign, that will show whom we worship? What should this tell us now about how important the Sabbath really is?"

    I would propose that 1 John 3:10 beautifully outlines the answer to the first question above for all times - including last-day events.

    A point to ponder. The Pharisees crucified Jesus on Friday in time for them to get back and observe Sabbath. Is Sabbath observance really the definitive issue/sign that it is held up to be? Or is there more to it than that?

    Am I proposing that Sabbath observance is not important? No.

    What I am proposing is that if Sabbath observance is to be important, it must be in conjunction with what is stated in 1 John 3:10 - or perhaps it would be more accurate to say true 'Sabbath observance' will be a natural byproduct of anyone whose character aligns with the characteristics mentioned in 1 John 3:10.

    • Phil, I agree with you. The older I get and the more people I have met in my life, the more I have come to know that it is character that counts. What is in a name, God’s name, His Character, Exodus 33:19.

      About midway through his book, “Mere Christian”, C.S. Lewis says, “We might think that God wanted simply obedience to a set of rules: whereas He really wants people of a particular sort.”

      Looking for good, kind, God fearing (respecting) people is more important than some religion/institution they belong to. No religion, not even Adventism has ALL the “truth”.

  4. Why do I worship the LORD? - Not because of the many benefits I receive (or don't) but because I can't help myself because He is so wonderful, amazing, almighty, powerful, full of loving kindness!! - this song expresses it all:

    O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
    Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made
    I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
    Thy power throughout the universe displayed

    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
    How great Thou art, how great Thou art

    And when I think of God, His Son not sparing
    Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
    That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
    He bled and died to take away my sin

    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
    How great Thou art, how great Thou art

    When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
    And lead me home, what joy shall fill my heart
    Then I shall bow with humble adoration
    And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art

    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
    How great Thou art, how great Thou art
    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
    How great Thou art, how great Thou art

  5. I should've saved my response from Wednesday for today's lesson haha. Anyways here is my take on question 1:

    Although we see various instances in Hebrews 11 where miraculous deliverance does happen and others where it does not happen to the faithful, Paul concludes his lesson on faith by saying, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Heb 12:1,2. Urging us to trust Him.

    Job says, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.." (13:15). This is faith. Faith is the link between us and God. Who are we to put God in a box and question things/circumstances we can't comprehend with our minute minds? So even though we may not be able to explain situations where miraculous deliverance does not happen to the faithful, we can simply say, "I trust Him because He is good." And how do we know he is good? Look at the cross.

    • With respect Steev, God actually delights in us questioning things we don't understand. That is how we grow as humans in our understanding. See Jeremiah 9:23,24 and Isaiah 1:18 for a concept that is in conjunction with Isaiah 55:8,9.

      Contrary to what many people mistakenly believe, Job was not criticised for questioning God (see God's 'assessment of Job's verbalisations in Job 42:7). Also, Abraham was was in no way reprimanded for questioning/debating with God in regard to the fate of Sodom (see Genesis 18:25 onward).

      I believe the notion of not questioning God is more a reflection of church tradition from the 2nd century onwards where the emerging church institution was aiming to control society - rather than God's actual preference that we come to know Him more and more accurately and intimately.

  6. Our relationship with the Great God.

    I am not so sure if it is really about questioning God or is it about having a relationship with him and then having a conversation with him. Many times people question God only when something was/is wrong, unlike a relational conversation where you and God constantly talk to each other. When things are good you talk about it, when things are bad, you continue to talk about it. Friends all the times.

    I can remember some years ago at my workplace they used to recognized workers for several things. They would write on the blackboard/chalk board or post on the wall your achievements, birthdays, recognitions, etc. Sometimes things were done according to seniority. So when they will skip me I always say probably the next time will be my turn but this went on for mths, then into yrs, but my turn never came. I then realized what they were doing then I started asking Jesus why? Also asking him if he was seeing what they were doing. After a while he answered me. His answer shocked me. But it was after a relationship with him.
    While Jesus walker this earth it was about relationship with people.

  7. From our understanding of last-day events, what will be the issue, the outward sign, that will show whom we worship? What should this tell us now about how important the Sabbath really is?

    The very fact that Nebuchadrezzar gave these three young men a “second chance” showed that he knew them and had some respect for them; otherwise, they would have gone immediately to the fire. Nevertheless, the whole purpose of the golden statue was to enforce conformity and unity with his will through willing or coerced obedience. This is the way the religion and politics of man work.

    Under threat of death, the response of Mishael, Azariah and Hannaniah was respectful, but clear, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.” Why was no answer required to this threat against their lives? Because the evidence was in the focus of their lives – it was on the One whose love they knew, whose will they desired to do, and whom they trusted with their lives.

    And it was the will of God to win the heart and soul of this heathen king, whose great need was to know the One who could deliver out of the hand of powerful men. This quote comes to mind:

    “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’” – Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 143.

    On the Plain of Dura, with the spectacle of symbolic religious imagery and music, under the power of the king’s threat, and with the pressure of conformity of their peers, these three men stood for God. And when they were in the fire, One like the son of the gods stood with them. This witness was another step in the conversion of Babylon’s heathen king.

    At the end of time, before Christ’s judgement throne, we will be not be judged on our (imperfect) knowledge of end time events or our (imperfect) Sabbath keeping or on our (imperfect) religious behaviour. Instead, we will face a judgement based on how we have treated others, even our enemies. Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 12:20-21. How we treat others is a supernatural gift of the Spirit of the Lord and of his Christ that comes from a practical personal heart knowledge of their love for each one of us.


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