Lesson 2

* October 5 - 11

Old Testament Hope

Sabbath Afternoon   October 5

READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY:  Genesis 6; 11; 12; Isa. 7:1-14.

MEMORY TEXT: "That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments" (Psalm 78:7).

KEY THOUGHTS: Hope is not just some abstract thing, some philosophical or theological concept that exists only as grand overarching principles that float around only in the sky or in the mind of God and never touch earth, particularly those of us living on earth. Hope needs to be something tangible, touchable, something that we experience ourselves or see in our lives or in the lives of others. Otherwise, why call it hope?

THIS WEEK'S LESSON looks at various examples of hope expressed in the lives and the experiences of those who are present in the Old Testament. It starts with Noah, looks at Abraham, and then scans over Israelite history through the great promises of the prophets for a new heaven and a new earth, the hope that we, living in post—New Testament times, share with those who lived in Old Testament times.

One thing should be clear: While we see that whatever the situation God is able to give people hope, the ultimate hope comes only through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, who is the fulfillment of all the promises of hope found in the Hebrew Bible.  

*Please study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, Oct. 12.

Sunday  October 6


"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5).  

Read Genesis 6:5-7. Though the account itself is short, it says much. Look specifically at verse 5, which depicts the moral condition of humanity. The Hebrew of the last part of the text reads like this: "And the whole framework of the thoughts of his heart was only evil every day." Thus not only were humanity's thoughts at their core evil, they were only evil, and they were only evil all the time. Also, Genesis 6:11, 12 show that not only were people's thoughts corrupt but their actions as well (read Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 90—92 for more details).

Although through history people have tried to find various ways to deny it, the same God revealed to us through Jesus (John 14:9) was also the same God who said that He was going to "destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them" (Gen. 6:7). How can you reconcile the two?  

What hope could remain for the inhabitants of a world whose Creator said not only that He was sorry He had made them but that He was going to wipe out all of them? It is one thing to worry about global warming or some sort of nuclear armageddon, which still would leave a glimmer of hope that some people might survive. In this case, however, it's God Himself saying that He was going to destroy everyone, man and beast. That wouldn't seem to leave anyone much hope for the future, would it?

Yet, the same God who offered Adam and Eve hope in Eden offered hope to the wretches of the pre-Flood world too. That hope came, of course, through the ark that God commanded Noah to build (Gen. 6:14-22). In other words, no matter how desperate the situation and no matter how drastic the consequences, the Lord still offered people hope.

Even amid the warning of global destruction, God offered hope. Yet only a few benefited from that hope. Was that hope for everyone or just a few? If it were for everyone, why did so few take advantage of it, and what does that tell us about the nature of the hope that God offers?  

Monday  October 7


"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3).  

After the Flood, humanity did not seem to learn any lessons. Genesis 11:2 says that men "journeyed east" (NASB; see also Gen. 13:11). This was not just a historical statement but a theological one. "East" in the Bible can represent spiritual alienation and separation from God. Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, the place where they met with God, and went, apparently, east of the Garden (for on the east side is where the Lord put the angel with the flaming sword to keep them from coming back; see Gen. 3:24). Cain also separated from God and went east of Eden (Gen. 4:16).

The story of Babel also indicates that humanity was morally and spiritually degenerating, even to the point where they attempted to defy God (Gen. 11:3, 4). Nevertheless, the Lord was not going to leave them without hope. Read Genesis 12:1-3. Though God promised to bless Abram and make a great nation out of him, the blessing was not for him alone: "and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3). The hope was for everyone.

What does that promise mean? What promise is being made here? 

"The Hebrew word here translated 'earth,' adamah, means, essentially, 'ground,' or 'soil.' . . . It was the 'ground' that had been cursed after the Fall (Gen. 3:17), the same ground out of which man had originally been made. That curse had come because of the unfaithfulness of one man (Rom. 5:12), and now all families of the 'ground' were to receive blessing through the obedience of one who was found faithful. As his spiritual offspring, Christians today share in the blessing imparted to Abram (Gal. 3:8, 29). The blessing vouchsafed to him would finally unite divided families on earth, and change the dread curse pronounced upon the ground because of sin into a blessing for all men. All further promises to the patriarchs and to Israel either clarified or amplified the promise of salvation offered the entire human race in the first promise made to Abram."—The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, pp. 293, 294.

Read Romans 5:12 and Galatians 3:8, 29 in the context of the promise made to Abram. How did Jesus fulfill that promise? In what way can you, thousands of years after this promise had been made, claim to have been blessed in Abram?  

Tuesday  October 8


"Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is" (Jer. 17:7).  

The Hebrew Bible is filled with not only expressions of hope but examples of the fulfillment of that hope. It presents human needs and God's willingness to answer those needs for those who will let Him do so. The Hebrew Bible presents a powerful testimony of God's interaction for the benefit of His people, whatever their situation.

For example, the patriarchs hoped for new land (Gen. 48:21); the Hebrew slaves hoped for deliverance from slavery (Exod. 2:23-25); Moses and the freed slaves hoped for the Promised Land (Deuternomy 34); Israel under the judges and then the kings hoped for rest (1 Kings 8:56) and peace (1 Chron. 22:9); Job hoped for personal restoration and a meeting with his Redeemer (Job 19:25-27); the psalmist looked to Jerusalem (Psalm 122); the prophets looked for a return home from Babylon (Isa. 51:9-11; Dan. 9:1, 2; Zech. 14:16-21), as well as for a new heavens and a new earth (Isa. 65:17).

Look up each of the texts written above and see in what ways these hopes were fulfilled, will be fulfilled in the future, or perhaps weren't fulfilled in the past. If they weren't, why not? Which hopes can we, today, relate to, as well?  

Through Revelation, God has made certain promises to His people, often depending upon their specific situation (after all, the promises that Abram hoped for were not the exact ones that Daniel leaned on). Yet, whatever the specific promises, Israel's hope consisted in nothing else than believing in those promises, whatever they were. That's why hope is a constant theme throughout the Old Testament, because the Lord was constantly making or renewing His promises to His people. Even amid the most dire threats, the Lord still offered them the hope and promise of deliverance. Where there is faith in God and His promises, there is hope; where there is a lack of faith, there is a lack of hope. It's that simple. Thus, all their hope—whether for land, for freedom, for rest, for peace, for restoration, for Jerusalem, for salvation—it is all really nothing other than hope in God. That is the great theme of the Old Testament, and it is the foundation of not only Israel's hope but all ours, as well

Read aloud Psalm 39:7, 130:7, Isaiah 25:9, and Jeremiah 17:7 and ask the Lord to make the hope that is found in them your hope.  

Wednesday  October 9


"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14).  

In many ways, then, all Old Testament hope is, essentially, the Advent hope—the hope that God will come to get His people.  Take, for instance, the Messianic promise of Isaiah 7:14. In the midst of this desperate situation—two enemy kings have made an assault upon Jerusalem; the king has burned his own son as a sacrifice to foreign gods in order to seek some divine aid—the prophet Isaiah comes to Ahaz and promises that God will deliver Jerusalem, a promise that King Ahaz refuses (vs. 12). Then Isaiah gives him the wonderful prophecy concerning the coming Messiah.

Read Matthew 1:23, which talks about the fulfillment of this prophecy. What significance is found in the name Immanuel? How does that name contribute to the building of hope?  
There is much theological speculation regarding the timing and the nature of this Messianic prophecy, which didn't have its real fulfillment until nearly eight hundred years later. Why would God give to Ahaz a promise for something that did not really address his immediate concern, which was at that time the military threat to the nation?

The answer seems to be that the Lord wanted Ahaz to understand that all his human attempts to find deliverance would fail, that his only hope was trusting in the Lord God, the One who created the heavens and the earth. Nothing that the king could do of himself or even with his nation could bring him the sought-for deliverance. They had to trust only in the Lord. Thus, whatever the immediate context, what the Old Testament teaches is that hope is, ultimately, a Messianic hope and that whatever God does for us now is only a precursor, or even a "type," of the ultimate deliverance that will come through the work of the Messiah. The ultimate hope for Israel will be upon the One who comes to them; that is, the Messiah Himself.

Think through the meaning of the name "Immanuel." Certainly those who lived in Jesus' time could believe that God was with them, because, after all, Jesus was there, In the flesh. What Bible promises can you find that show that God is "with us" even now, centuries after Isaiah 7:14 was fulfilled?  See, for instance, Matthew 18:20; 28:20.  

Thursday  October 10


As Christians, we believe that the fulfillment of all the Old Testament hope was found, of course, in Jesus of Nazareth, the One prefigured and symbolized in the Old Testament (Matt. 16:16; Luke 24:27; John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7). But what is that hope? What exactly did Jesus do, as the long-awaited Messiah, the Desire of Ages, that formed the basis of all hope?

Look up each of the following texts that deal with the work of Jesus at His first coming. Summarize what each one says about what He accomplished.  

Isa. 53:11 __________________________________________________________

Mark 14:24 ________________________________________________________

John 1:29 __________________________________________________________

Col. 1:20  __________________________________________________________

1 Thess. 1:10 _______________________________________________________

Heb. 9:28 __________________________________________________________

As the first week showed, humanity through disobedience severed itself from God. Jesus, the Messiah, came and through His life and death made a way to restore that breach and bring humanity back into harmony with God. Through His ministry Jesus solved the ultimate dilemma of death, offering everyone the opportunity to have eternal life, no matter what happens to their bodies now. In short, the great hope that He offered by His first coming, in which He bore the penalty of our sins (Isa. 53:6), finally will be brought to fruition at the Second Coming, when death, the fruit of sin, will be overthrown once and for all (see Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2; 1 Cor. 15:54).

We can hope for a lot of things, but whatever we hope for and whatever we get from the earth, in the end, death pulls it all back into the ground. Yet, Jesus offers us something beyond the earth and the conditionality of its gifts (for what the earth gives it always takes back). In contrast, what God gives, through Christ, is forever.

Look at the verses listed above and summarize in a paragraph the essence of what they are saying regarding what Jesus did for us.  

Friday  October 11

FURTHER STUDY:  "Plain and specific prophecies had been given regarding the appearance of the Promised One. To Adam was given an assurance of the coming of the Redeemer. The sentence pronounced on Satan, 'I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel' (Gen. 3:15), was to our first parents a promise of the redemption to be wrought out through Christ.

"To Abraham was given the promise that of his line the Saviour of the world should come: 'In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.' 'He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.' Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16."—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p.222.  

After a French office worker who had murdered an Arab on a hot, breathless Algerian beach was sentenced to have his "head cut off in a public square in the name of the French people," a chaplain entered the doomed man's cell.  Not wanting to talk, Meursault said right away that he did not believe in God.  The chaplain begged him to reconsider, asking if he really expected that when he died that was it? "Yes," Meursault answered.  When the chaplain then offered to pray for him, Meursault shook him by the collar and screamed that all the chaplain's certainties were not worth even one hair on a woman's head.  All people, even the chaplain, were condemned, and so it did not matter when or even how he died . All were going to, anyway, so what difference did it make? Nothing, Meursault screamed— not who was innocent or guilty, not whom one married, not even whom one's friends were—nothing  mattered! This scene, exhumed from Albert Camus's book The Stranger, expressed the sentiments of a man who lived without hope.  Based on what you have studied in the past two weeks, if you were the chaplain, what might you have said to Meursault that might have given him something to hold on to and to hope for?  (Quoted from Albert Camus, The Stranger, translated from the French by Matthew Ward [New York Vintage International, 1989], pp 107, 115—117, 120, 121.)  

SUMMARY: The Hebrew Bible is filled with premonitions of the hope that we can have through Jesus Christ. In fact, that hope is really nothing but the consummation of the promises first presented in the Hebrew Scriptures.  

InSide Story

The Secret Christians

Philip Follett

As a boy growing up in a North African village, Abdel* learned the

Muslim prayers and traditions from his family. He believed that Islam was the one true religion and that only a traitor would leave that faith.

Abdel spoke the Berber language, as do 11 million people in North Africa.

When he was a teenager, Abdel met a man working with ADRA. He came to trust and admire him. The ADRA worker told Abdel about a radio broadcast called Voice of Hope. Although the program was not broadcast in Abdel's mother language, Abdel listened to the broadcasts and enjoyed what he heard. But he did not tell his parents. He was fascinated by the stories from the Bible and enjoyed the songs about Jesus. After listening for several months, Abdel asked his ADRA friend for a Bible and Bible lessons. He hid the Bible and lessons in his room, so no one would know he was studying Christian books.

In Abdel's culture the women clean the men's rooms. One day when his sister was picking up his things, she discovered the hidden Bible and lessons. Fascinated, she began studying them for herself, but she did not tell Abdel or their parents.

One day she found an announcement in Abdel's papers telling about a meeting of Adventist Christians in their country. She had overheard Abdel talking about making a trip, and she realized he was going to this meeting. She decided to attend the meeting too.

When Abdel arrived at the meeting, he was shocked to see his sister. She told him how she had learned about Jesus and that she wanted to follow Christ. Abdel promised to keep her secret from their family.

Abdel's sister met a Christian young man, and eventually the two were married. They moved to Europe, where they enrolled in an Adventist school. Abdel also left his homeland to study in Europe, but he could not get a visa to the same country his sister was living in, so he began studying in a small Adventist seminary. His parents still do not know that their children are Christians. If they did, they would be required to disown them.

Abdel wants to become a pastor and create radio programs in his own language. Although AWR broadcasts in more than 50 languages, at present they have no Berber speaker.

*Abdel is a pseudonym. His country of birth and present location are not revealed in order to protect his identity. Philip Follett is special assistant to the president of Adventist World Radio.

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