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Thursday: Other Images — 17 Comments

  1. Most of us, when we get married, take little thought of the legalities of the relationship that we are about to enter. We are in love and to us, that is all that matters. It is later when the reality of a broken relationship hits home that the legalities are pored over and nuances of meaning extracted. Then the lawyers have a field day and often make a lot of money. An acquaintance of mine told me that when he divorced, every time one of his children wanted permission to go on a school excursion it involved two lawyers and $400 in legal fees!

    Marriages and parenting are two relationships where there is an interaction of love and legality. Clearly, there is a need for law, but if the relationship is right, you probably never come up against the rough edges of the law.

    For those of us who are parents, we have a living object lesson every day of the relationship that God desires to have with us. We love our children, even when they rebel against us. Anyone who has experienced bringing up teenage children where they are coming to terms with hormones and flexing their independence knows what I mean. They can be frustratingly difficult and in almost the same breath show signs of maturity.

    Moses was bringing a teen-aged nation out of Egypt. They had a lot to learn and they needed to mature. They spat the dummy on several occasions, so much so, that, as we just read last week, God grounded them for 40 years. Yet, God did not desert them. He kept loving them, just like any parent with growing, developing teenage children.

    Are we any different today? Is God any different?

    • We are no different today and GOD is never different too. This and many other questions I ask myself as I study the lesson that I'm in no way different than the Israelites. Infact, I am worst than them. But Gods grace has been keeping me. Thank you Jesus

      • Sarah, you said "Infact, I am worst than them."

        Without hesitation, I can assure you that this is NOT how God sees you - even though He is fully aware of all your slip-ups and challenges and wants to help you address these along the way.

        God deeply desires you and has nothing but compassion for you because he understands the challenges you face in your life - and that's how He sees and feels towards you no matter what!

    • “Spat the dummy” - here’s a translation for the non-Australian world.
      I had to look it up as it is apparently a uniquely Australian term. It means to have a temper tantrum or “pitch a fit” as children sometimes do and spit out the dummy (pacifier, soother, the thing we put in a baby’s mouth to let him/her suck on) in the midst of the tantrum.

  2. Berean Study Bible Deut 12:8
    You are not to do as we are doing here today, where everyone does what seems right in his own eyes.

    It is so wonderful that the LORD has provided for us His Principles of Life based on love for one another.
    He hasn't left us to decide for ourselves what it means to be like Jesus.
    Our default hearts are exceedingly wicked and at enmity against the LORD. We need to be born again and trained to know right from wrong.
    That is why the LORD gave the Israelites an outline of His character in His Ten Words and then explained how to apply them in real life.
    Present Truth. The Holy Spirit through Paul reminded the early church how to grow up into mature Christians
    Heb 5:11-14; Heb 6:1-3. Applying the LORD's Principles of Life.

    • Thank you, Shirley - I am happy to find your comments reflecting the new focus for us who are 'saved'; it is now time to 'mature our faith', as the Scripture you chose points out - Heb.6:1-3.

  3. I am afraid I disagree with today's lesson when it proposes that because "God is the law-giver", "the element of a legal agreement between two parties, with rules and stipulations and regulations" "must indeed exist". I retain this disagreement even though the lesson goes on to also propose that this aspect of covenant is "not broad enough to encompass the depth and breadth of the kind of relationship God wanted with His people". What the lesson has outlined is man's way of doing things - not God's.

    Please do not misunderstand where I am coming from and think that I am advocating that we should be able to live without restraint and restriction. I am definitely not! And I acknowledge that we need a human justice system to respond to those who are maleficent toward others. But that is not what we are talking about in this lesson. We are talking about God's covenant with His people. And I also acknowledge that God meets people where they are at using concepts they are familiar with at that time and within that context. Deuteronomy was being delivered to people who were only 40 years out of a background of 400 years of conditioning as slaves. I get that. But we no longer live within this context. So if we are to identify and understand the present truth of covenant, we need to have our eyes opened so that we can go beyond man's ways of doing things and start to see God's higher way's of covenant. And then we need to understand and communicate that in ways that convey that understanding within our current context. This latter point is especially the case of late where authoritarian mandating of rules and associated compliance monitoring is predominating across our globe.

    It is true that God is the law giver. But not a law giver as we would typically associate those words to mean - and as the lesson is doing. The 'law' that God gives most fundamentally is the 'law of love' that according to Ellen White has its origin within the heart of God. This kind of 'law' is not a rule but an inherent cause-and-effect principle that reflects the essence of God and His way/s-of-being (ie His nature and character: 1 John 4:8). That love is pure other-focussed beneficence - living to give that which truly benefits another even when such involves self-sacrifice (1 Corinthians 13:4-8; John 15:13). Within scripture this dynamic is illustrated by the metaphor of a fountain welling up within us that quenches all (metaphorical) thirst and promotes restoration to eternal life (John 4:10,14).

    I would invite you to read (or re-read) the first few pages of Desire of Ages where Ellen White describes this 'law' that God 'gives' (emanates) - the essential constant/principle that is the very foundation of life on earth and in heaven. And when you have done this, then consider for yourself whether it is talking about "a legal agreement between two parties, with rules and stipulations and regulations".

    What do you find?

    • Thank you, Phil for re-balancing our spiritual portfolio. The most difficult part of today's lesson is the colored box at the bottom of the lesson.

      God's law is the law of love. He places it in our hearts and gives us the power to live in and demonstrate His love (Eph. 2) Then we live in victorious relationship. What a God!

    • Hello Phil, I agree with your general thought and with those first pages in Desire of Ages, yet Deut 5 (Exodus 20) remain unchanged, and somewhere hidden away in an undisclosed location, there are two tablets of stone which remain unchanged from the finger of God, and in heaven, the original "tablets"(?) inscribed with the same words. We also need to consider Ps 19:7 don't we?

      What does "perfect" mean? I believe it means that the first pages in Desire of Ages are correct, as well as Exodus 20.

      Let's look at those 400 years of slavery, and realize than the first half or more of those 4 centuries were not as slaves in Egypt, and not even the first hundred or so once there. But regardless of how long they were slaves, a man only lived so long, and Moses, Caleb, and Joshua came out of that environment as well. Today, we have life-long "slaves" to sin don't we? If the law delivered on Sinai was "perfect" then, it remains perfect now in a world of slaves. The advanced view of the law of "love" comes after the conviction of guilt and the desire to be saved from sin/guilt. Notice these verses: Dan 12:10, John 7:17, Matt 5:8, Rev 3:18, 2 Pe 1:19, Prov 4:18, to share just a few verses which describe the transformation from slave to saint, in which the Law becomes more clearly defined in regard to its true character and purpose. A slave cannot understand this advance view if the Word of God is true, yet if believed and accepted, the word of God tells us that we will one day "see" God's love in the law that tells us "thou shalt not..." 8 out of 10 times. Even "remember"(thou shalt not forget) and "honor"(thou shalt not dishonor) appeal to the sinners conscience don't they? Yet the "path of the just(repentant soul who believes the Gospel[Rom 5:1])" will advance as perfect understanding unfolds.

      In all of this the law remains unchanged, and still "perfect" as it reads, no matter where we might find ourselves on "the path of the just". As it reads it defines both sin and righteousness, hatred and love(Rom 7:7; 8:4, Jas 1:25). It is only our perspective that changes with advancing knowledge and experience in all who overcome as Jesus did(John 16:33).

      The law as given will draw sinners when declared with the gospel, and properly demonstrated, while both Saints and angels will continue to marvel at its perfection throughout a sinless eternity.

      • What did Jesus say all the law and the prophets hung upon (Matthew 22:40)?

        And what are these two 'commandments' a reflection of?

        Therefore, what is the core, foundational reality if not what is being described in Desire of Ages: the "circuit of beneficence" also termed "the law of self-renouncing love" that is "the of life for earth and heaven" which "has its source in the heart of God"?

        Detailed rules/commandments are what we teach children until they progressively learn the actual principles behind these rules and then begin operating at the level of principles because they choose to. When they do this, the rules are redundant because they have been fulfilled - as in filled-fully by adoption of the actual principles behind the rules. Thus, the principles are now (metaphorically) written on their hearts.

      • Robert, you wrote, regarding God's Law:

        It is only our perspective that changes with advancing knowledge and experience in all who overcome as Jesus did(John 16:33).

        And that is a very important insight. It's something to remember as we discuss the Law of God. To those in harmony with His Law, it is the "law of liberty" (James 1:25, Ps 119:45). It is something in which the converted heart delights (Ps 40:8, Ps 119:27, 174). Those who delight in God's law do just what they please because the Law controls the desires of their hearts. (Ps 34:7)

        Yet, the Law condemns the sinner and makes him sense the need of a Savior. And that is exactly what the Law is designed to do.

        So it all depends on who is looking at the Law - whether it is a delight, or whether it condemns. And when we discuss the Law, we need to keep this in mind.

        I also want to suggest that the Ten Commandments are not the Law of God, but only an expression of the law of self-renouncing love adapted to man's fallen condition. (It becomes obvious when we think of the Law applying to angels, for instance.)

    • Hi Phil,
      Your maturity is showing. On one hand you admit "it is true that God is the law giver." (your words) and then you explain the deeper meaning.

      When we consider that most SDA's fail to read the Bible daily, and suffer from theological immaturity, we can understand how the lesson speaks to their level as children.

      At least, that's how I view it. IMHO

      • Not only does the lesson author speak to spiritually "immature" readers, but so does the Bible. It's God "coming down" to us by speaking to us in our language. As we become more spiritually mature, we see the overarching truth on which all biblical teaching is built, and it informs our view of such teachings.
        Unfortunately we too easily fall into the trap of considering one or the other view as "wrong" and our current view as the "right" one.

        • Hi Inge

          So I don't misperceive what you are saying, in a present world that increasingly holds that no perception of truth is more 'right' or 'wrong' than any other and therefore that everyone should be left to their existing view, can you perhaps expand on what you are meaning by your last sentence?


    • I am afraid I disagree with today's lesson when it proposes that because "God is the law-giver", "the element of a legal agreement between two parties, with rules and stipulations and regulations" "must indeed exist".

      I concur Phil. Many Christians view God's law of selfless love in the same manner that they view human rules and laws. Obey and receive a reward, disobey and receive a punishment. Anything we do out of hope for reward or fear of punishment is inherently self-focused and thus inconsistent with God's law of other-centered love.

      I obey the speed limit so I don't get a ticket. I don't love the speeding laws or the law giver in this instance. I obey for mostly selfish reasons (I don't want a ticket).

      Sadly, many seek to follow God's will for purely selfish reasons as well (hope of reward, fear of punishment) rather than out of love. This then leads to either slavish attempts to obey or, alternatively, to complete resignation to the fact that "I can never measure up."

      As a result, many turn away from the faith. A dear brother at church tells a story of when he stole a shoelace as a child and was told by his mother "that shoelace is going to keep you out of heaven."

      We really need to think of God's law of love differently.

  4. I find Deut.32:18-20 especially revealing about God and His relationship with His children! They are Moses' words, inspired by his love for his people, but echoing, giving expression to God's Love b>OF His people, reminding them of their calling - who they now are as a people and as individuals! 
    Our Creator God had chosen His family - Deut.32:9. The families of Abraham's children were declared by Him to be "His portion, Jacob to be His PLACE of His Inheritance." These are powerful words spoken by His faithful, inspired servant and friend Moses, revealing God's claim upon them as His children from then on and throughout time; not in flesh but in spirit, therefore also His designated spiritual heirs. 

    Our heavenly Father desired for His children to walk a new path in life - His Way of Life based on His revealed Truth which generates Love=Life. Earthly parents aspire to be good teachers to their children's earthly life. Our heavenly Father likewise teaches His spiritual children, and does so more perfectly, hoping for their gratefulness and devotion in return. I agree, 'His Grace and Love - given to the undeserving - is what the relationship between God and humanity has always been about;' though it was given for a purpose - to generate Love and devotion of the Giver of Life.

    I am becoming more and more convinced of the urgency to bring God the Father into every minute of our every-day life - into every thought, into every act no matter how small and insignificant it might appear; this is of crucial importance - it is 'life-saving', essential to life! I am convinced that all acts of kindness, smallest to greatest, unwittingly[without being aware; unintentionally] create - and I mean create - this 'Love=Life-saving' effect that the Father identifies with.
    To explain, I use a 'pebble' as a metaphor to explain the effect acts of kindness have. Consider acts of kindness as small pebbles thrown into a pond; the more pebbles enter the pond the more ripples form and eventually merge with each other - the water is stirred by the effects of kindness. Soon, little waves intersect with each other creating their own waves, causing kindness by contact with kindness to reverberate throughout the universe.
    I also consider acts of kindness as "laying up treasures in heaven." We urgently need to be about our Father's business of loving our fellow man and so spread God's Love and Kindness throughout the pond of Life.

  5. I believe the law is as simple as my illustration of command out of love. The love of the father for his son as they were running down the slight slope, being taller than his young son, he saw the danger of the looming cliff, which his young son much shorter did not. The father gave the command to fall to the ground, they both fell to the ground instsntantly arresting there momentum, saving them from going over the cliff to their death. When we look at the law as precepts for living the victorious life and we have been seeking the Lord, and we put our hope(trust) in the Lord, the restrictions, and stipulations of the covenent we now view dynamically are delightful. We have this delight because, love for Christ swells to the point where, we obey out of love, faith and respect, as was seen by the boy who fell to the ground per his father's command. He could not see the danger, so it is obvious he obeyed not out of fear for his life but out of instinctive faith in his father's commands. That is what Jesus set as example for us.

    In the 1st few pages of The Desire Of Ages we not only find the Love of God also we find Christ example of obedience.
    "Satan represents God’s law of love as a law of selfishness. He declares that it is impossible for us to obey its precepts. The fall of our first parents, with all the woe that has resulted, he charges upon the Creator, leading men to look upon God as the author of sin, and suffering, and death. Jesus was to unveil this deception. As one of us He was to give an example of obedience"...DA page 24.2.
    Christ accepted the restrictions of the covenant, delighting in them as doing the will of His Father out of love, faith, and respect. He is our Father too if we choose. I choose Him, and delight in the restrictions given out of love by my Heavenly Father who sees the danger that I oftentimes don't see, and He commands for my own good.

    Give me the Bible, Holy message shining, Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way. Precept and promise, law and love combining, til night shall vanish in eternal day.

    Right on Robert. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
    Psalms 19:7.


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