Welcome to 1888 Message Study Committee!
Sabbath School Insights
2016 Quarter 4: Oct-Dec
FOURTH QUARTER 2016 ADULT SABBATH SCHOOL LESSONS
NOVEMBER 19, 2016
Our lesson for this week does not provide an answer to the question of suffering, but begins to look beyond it. Job, in chapter 9, felt there was no mediator between himself and God (9:33). In his prayer to God recorded in chapter 10, Job begins to formulate his complaint to God. Thinking that God brought on his severe suffering, Job wondered why He treated him so terribly? (10:1-7). Job began to think that God created him only to condemn him (10:8–17). Job asks if God’s plan was to destroy him even as his body was being formed in his mother’s womb. He thought it would have been better to never have been born (10:18–22). If Job was created only to be condemned, in his opinion, it would be better to have died at birth.
Job did not realize the devil was bringing all the troubles. Nor did Job realize that God had put His trust in him. He did not realize that to him had “been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29); and that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
The innocent do suffer. The “Innocent Blood” – the title of our lesson this week is about the “innocent life” of the believer, for the life is in the blood (Genesis 9:4). Examples of this include the trials and sufferings of the innocent Waldenses. Men, woman and children were hunted down, persecuted, and murdered in the Piedmont valleys of Northern Italy during the 12th to the 16th centuries, a.d. Those persecutions were planned in the councils of hell by the devil in cooperation with his persecuting henchmen. This was done to counter and to eliminate the Waldensian’s faith in God. Their stories of faith and perseverance provide an inspiration for those times when you and I feel persecuted as they and Job were hounded and oppressed. The martyrdom of the Waldensians was their victory. They are forever delivered from suffering. And they will be resurrected to eternal peace and comfort very soon.
Job’s life was innocent. He was a righteous man. God Himself announced Job’s righteous life to Satan when he pushed himself into the council of God. (see Job 1:8). There was, and is, only one kind of true righteousness on earth and that is a faith righteousness. That faith is the faith of Jesus which believes not only in the absence of feelings but against them. This is the faith Job had. He did not understand why he was going through those severe trials. The trials wore him down. And in his afflictions he asked God why? And so did Jesus.
Jesus “suffered shame for us that we might not suffer everlasting shame and contempt. He suffered on the cross, that mercy might be granted to fallen man. God's justice is preserved, and guilty man is pardoned. Jesus dies that the sinner might live. Shame is borne by the Son of the Highest for the sake of poor sinners, that they might be ransomed and crowned with eternal glory” (RH August 2, 1881).
As Jesus hung by Roman nails on a Roman tree of execution, He felt totally excluded and banned from the fellowship and presence of God. He screamed “Why?"! In this cry from the depths of His being, Jesus sounded more like a wounded wild beast than as a man. On that fearful Passover day at 3:00 in the afternoon – the time of the corporate evening sacrifice – Jesus asked God, “Why have you forsaken Me?” In this utterance His agonizing feelings are expressed. But we need to remember that His faith spoke first and it spoke twice as He said, “My God, My God.” (Mark 15:34). Then His feelings spoke once, “Why have you forsaken me?” The faith of Jesus was eternally triumphant. He believed not only in the absence of his feelings, but against them. This is the faith that He gives to us. This is the faith His people will be known for in the days just before Jesus comes to deliver them. (See Revelation 14:12, 14).
This is the faith God gave to Job. Like Jesus, Job didn’t deserve what was happening to him and he asked why? His complaints were bitter. We realize Job didn’t deserve what he was going through. He didn’t know that he was being afflicted by the devil. And he didn’t know God trusted him with one of His greatest of gifts. This gift is the gift of suffering for Christ’s sake. Notice this thought from the pen of inspiration: “Of all the gifts that Heaven can bestow upon men, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the most weighty trust and the highest honor” (Desire of Ages, 224). This and the following thought is encouragement for you and for me as we go through severe trials as did Job:
“To all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of greatest discouragement is the time when divine help is nearest. They will look back with thankfulness upon the darkest part of their way. ‘The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly,’ 2 Peter 2:9. From every temptation and every trial He will bring them forth with firmer faith and a richer experience” (Desire of Ages, 528).
Peter, in writing to the churches in Asia Minor, reminded them (and us) that when tried by “the fiery trial” to not think it strange for this to happen. He wrote, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). This counsel is for us today as we go through trials and temptations and as we learn of extremely wicked and cruel acts against innocent persons occurring in the world today. It will not be long until this is over. The last battle soon will be fought and won by Jesus when He comes back to claim His own.
Earlier in his letter Peter wrote,"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7, KJV).
In closing, we have read the end and the beginning of the story of Job. His faith in God remained intact. And God’s trust in Job was vindicated before the universe in this battle of the ongoing cosmic conflict. Job came through the battle bruised and wounded, but victorious. You too, like Job, may be assaulted and battered. But you will come from the battle victorious through the faith of Jesus given to you through God’s promises. This is the victory that overcomes the world, the devil and our fallen nature, even “our faith” (1John 5:4; see also 1 John 2:13; 4:4; John 16:33). When Jesus returns we will sing the never ending doxology: “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.”