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Sabbath School Insights
2016 Quarter 4: Oct-Dec
Insight #14 December 31, 2016
FOURTH QUARTER 2016 ADULT SABBATH SCHOOL LESSONS
During a Sabbath School lesson discussion earlier this quarter, a guest sat quietly, listening. Unfamiliar with the Bible she held in her hands, someone directed her to the book of Job. Silently, she read. She never spoke during the class, but afterwards at potluck she shared a remarkable testimony:
"SOME LESSONS FROM JOB"
DECEMBER 31, 2016
"I am a Buddhist. For thirty years I have struggled to understand why bad things happen. In Buddhism, we believe in karma. If you do something bad, something bad will happen to you. Today I learned that sometimes bad things happen not because I did wrong, but because it is a test. Karma instills fear. We live in fear. But now I can see there is a bigger reason why things sometimes go wrong. We are being tested. I feel so free and happy to have discovered this truth!"
She said the Sabbath School lesson answered many questions she has had for years. She expressed a desire to study the Bible and continue attending the Seventh-day Adventist church.
God is working all around the world to prepare hearts for His soon coming. We have in our hands a message that casts out fear and will lighten the earth with God's glory: the revelation of His character of love.
The story of Job explains the behind the scenes controversy waging between Christ and Satan. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He intimated that God had shown partiality to Job: "Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side?" Job 1:10.
Once the question was asked, the seed of doubt was planted. Did Job worship God out of love or for reward?. There was only one way to find out. The blessings would be removed. Affliction must come. Job would be tried by fire.
For nearly 4,000 years, the story of Job has served to encourage believers in all ages who have suffered loss and persecution. There are larger issues at stake than what we can see, and in each case the charges of Satan must be met and defeated for the eternal security of the universe.
Before Satan had brought charges against Job, he had made allegations against God and the character of Christ. These imputations could not be dismissed with a simple explanation. Christ would come to this world and humble Himself even to the death of the cross, becoming part of the human race forever -- thus making an eternal sacrifice that we but dimly comprehend. All this was necessary that Satan's accusations might be silenced and that sin might not rise up a second time.
We are still in the crossfire of Satan's arrows. There are times when we experience bad outcomes because of poor choices we have made. But there are other times when bad things happen because we are in the midst of a raging war between good and evil.
The search for an answer to why bad things happen is nothing new:
"And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they're worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.' " Luke 13:2-5
We are living in the time just before Jesus' second return. We are about to behold catastrophes on a scale of which this world has never seen. "The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude." 9T, p. 11
It is imperative that we remember Jesus' admonition: "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
As we see these events taking place, we should heed Christ's admonition.
Lot's wife perished by looking back to her home in Sodom. Those bitten by poisonous snakes in the wilderness were to look at the cross and live. Repentance is the continual turning away from sin and towards Christ. Despite the tragedies that came upon Job, he was able to testify with assurance: "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another." Job 19:25-27.
In many ways Job is a type of the last generation that will live on earth. It will be their custom to minister to the poor and needy. Unselfish love will characterize their lives. They will intercede for the souls in spiritual danger around them. Suddenly, unexpectedly, every earthly support will be removed. Calamities will strike: Fire, flood, wind, sickness, financial loss, death. Friends will fail us. It will feel as though God has forsaken us.
Under circumstances such as these, Job looked steadfastly to Jesus in faith. He looked beyond the darkness, pain, and affliction of this world and was sustained by a Power outside himself.
We are told: "It is impossible to give any idea of the experience of the people of God who shall be alive upon the earth when celestial glory and a repetition of the persecutions of the past are blended. They will walk in the light proceeding from the throne of God. By means of the angels there will be constant communication between heaven and earth." Maranatha, p. 206.
"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand. . . . My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful." James 5:7, 8, 10, 11.
Notice here that patience is an attribute that Job developed under the severest test. And of those people who live in the final days of earth's history it is said, "Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14:12. The patience here referred to will likewise be cultivated in earth's darkest hour. Notwithstanding these trials, the salvation of souls will be uppermost in the minds of those whose eyes are fixed on Jesus. "Through many dangers, toils, and snares" they -- dare I say we? -- will carry the message forward to the ends of the earth. "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:14.
"Those who have held the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end will be wide-awake during the time that the third angel's message is proclaimed with great power. During the loud cry, the church, aided by the providential interpositions of her exalted Lord, will diffuse the knowledge of salvation so abundantly that light will be communicated to every city and town. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of salvation. So abundantly will the renewing Spirit of God have crowned with success the intensely active agencies, that the light of present truth will be seen flashing everywhere.
"There is to be, at this period, a series of events which will reveal that God is Master of the situation. The truth will be proclaimed in clear, unmistakable language. As a people, we must prepare the way of the Lord, under the overruling guidance of the Holy Spirit. The gospel is to be given in its purity. The stream of living water is to deepen and widen in its course. In all fields, nigh and afar off, men will be called from the plow and from the more common commercial business vocations that largely occupy the mind, and will be educated in connection with men of experience. As they learn to labor effectively, they will proclaim the truth with power. Through most wonderful workings of divine providence, mountains of difficulties will be removed, and cast into the sea. The message that means so much to the dwellers upon the earth will be heard and understood. Men will know what is truth. Onward, and still onward the work will advance, until the whole earth shall have been warned. And then shall the end come."
Maranatha, p. 219.