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Blueprint For A Better World

THIRD QUARTER 2019

SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #2

JULY 13, 2019

“BLUEPRINT FOR A BETTER WORLD”

 

And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them.  Deuteronomy 28:13

I marvel at the blueprint God gave to Israel!  Oh what glorious things He wanted to do for and through Israel!  They were to be a shining light in the midst of darkness.  God was the architect of Israel’s economy.

The Sabbatical Year:  Our economy is largely dependent upon nonrenewable resources.  Global warming, deforestation, overfishing of our oceans, urbanization, and environmental pollution are major threats and concerns.  Contrast our consumer society to the agrarian society of ancient Israel.  God ordained that the land would abundantly supply their needs.  The laws God gave them provided for the protection, rest, and renewal of the land.

The observance of the sabbatical year was to be a benefit to both the land and the people. The soil, lying untilled for one season, would afterward produce more plentifully. The people were released from the pressing labors of the field; and while there were various branches of work that could be followed during this time, all enjoyed greater leisure, which afforded opportunity for the restoration of their physical powers for the exertions of the following years. They had more time for meditation and prayer, for acquainting themselves with the teachings and requirements of the Lord, and for the instruction of their households.  PP 532

The Year of Jubilee: Safeguards were established to prevent the disparity between the rich and the poor.  The cancelation of debts and restoration of the land to the rightful possessors put a check on the massive accumulation of property and wealth.  Oh, the many wars and revolutions that have resulted because of great economic disparity between the haves and the have nots! 

Without some restraint the power of the wealthy would become a monopoly, and the poor, though in every respect fully as worthy in God's sight, would be regarded and treated as inferior to their more prosperous brethren. The sense of this oppression would arouse the passions of the poorer class. There would be a feeling of despair and desperation which would tend to demoralize society and open the door to crimes of every description. The regulations that God established were designed to promote social equality. The provisions of the sabbatical year and the jubilee would, in a great measure, set right that which during the interval had gone wrong in the social and political economy of the nation.  PP 534

The people were taught that God was the true owner of the land, and they the stewards.  Yet families were allotted their own territories.  The land was viewed as a valued and treasured inheritance.  (1 Kings 21:1-3)

Those in Need:  God gave detailed instructions concerning the treatment of the poor and disadvantaged.  God had freed His people from slavery and oppression.  They in turn were to model God’s mercy and compassion, particularly to the most vulnerable of society.

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.  Leviticus 19:33-34.  Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.  Exodus 22:22.  If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and a stranger, so they can continue to live among you.  Leviticus 25:35.

The poor were free to satisfy immediate hunger from their kinsmen’s vineyards, orchards, and fields. (Matthew 12:1)  They were also provided for by “gleaning” (Ruth).  In this way their dignity was preserved and they were sustained in a practical way.  Work is a blessing!

“Although God had promised greatly to bless His people, it was not His design that poverty should be wholly unknown among them.  He declared that the poor should never cease out of the land.  PP534  Gifts benevolently bestowed and gratefully received point us to the God who lives to bless.  The art of both receiving and giving speak to us of the gospel.  (John 12:1-8).

Tithes and Offerings:   I remember returning to church as a young adult.  One of the first convictions that took hold of me was that of tithing.  I thought at the time I was in for a financial hardship.  Wrong!  Incredible material and spiritual blessings followed!  Before long I was following the example of my father, who had given a second tithe to support our local church and missions.  Blessings multiplied!  I could share so many stories of the wonderful ways God has blessed.  Giving increases our faith, gratitude, and joy.  It also teaches us to be wiser stewards with that which God entrusts to us.

The system of tithes and offerings was intended to impress the minds of men with a great truth--that God is the source of every blessing to His creatures, and that to Him man's gratitude is due for the good gifts of His providence.  PP 525.3

The Sanctuary and the Yearly Festivals: There is so much that could be said here.  The sanctuary and the yearly festivals are prophetic and have much to teach us about the plan of salvation.  Their truths center on our Redeemer-kinsman.  The spring festivals prophesied of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and High Priestly enthronement.  The fall festivals point to events centered on Christ’s Second Advent.  Consider this amazing statement.  The significance of the Jewish economy is not yet fully comprehended. Truths vast and profound are shadowed forth in its rites and symbols. The gospel is the key that unlocks its mysteries. COL 133

The Law and the Gospel:  There are always beautiful biblical truths that lie hidden below the surface, but at times our cultural and personal biases can be a hindrance to understanding and appreciating Scripture.  It is important to keep in mind context, setting, and culture.  God meets humanity in time and place.

It is of interest to compare ancient laws of the surrounding nations with the Law of Moses.  Take for example the Code of Hammurabi.  Jonathan Sarr comments on some of the differences between Hammurabi’s laws and the laws God gave to Israel:

  • Sanctity of human life. The Code of Hammurabi represents a lower view of human life than Moses. For instance, in The Code of Hammurabi, the consequence for theft is to repay ten- to thirty-fold. If that’s not possible, the thief is executed. That’s never the case in Moses.

  • Favoring the privileged vs. protecting the oppressed. Protection of the oppressed is near to God’s heart; not so much with Hammurabi. Many of Hammurabi’s laws favor the free and wealthy.

  • Justice. Though some of The Code of Hammurabi is just, much of it is eminently unjust. There is no injustice at all in the law of Moses.

  • Mercy. The notion of mercy is exceedingly rare in Hammurabi, but appears with regularity in Moses.

  • The focus of the laws. The vast majority of The Code of Hammurabi concerns money, property, and business transactions. While these are addressed in Moses, the focus on moral laws, loving and honoring God and taking care of man’s relationship to God are strong emphases in Moses.  (Jonathan Sarr (Evangel Classical School, September 27, 2012)

 

The heart of the Mosaic Law is “Love God with all your heart, soul, and might, and love thy neighbor as thyself.”  (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18).  The scribe, the last to question Jesus in the temple, concurred with the answer Jesus gave him.  “Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but He:   And to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices………And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.”  Mark 12:28-34.

Keeping the Ten Commandments, the law of love, makes total sense.  But Israel (as do we) needed to learn their helplessness.  Before there could be any permanent reformation the people must be led to feel their utter inability in themselves to render obedience to God. They had broken His law, it condemned them as transgressors, and it provided no way of escape.  While they trusted in their own strength and righteousness, it was impossible for them to secure the pardon of their sins; they could not meet the claims of God's perfect law, and it was in vain that they pledged themselves to serve God.  It was only by faith in Christ that they could secure pardon of sin and receive strength to obey God's law.  They must cease to rely upon their own efforts for salvation, they must trust wholly in the merits of the promised Savior, if they would be accepted of God.  PP 524

The great sin of the children of Israel was unbelief—trust in self rather than in God. This is common to all mankind. What is needed is something to destroy this vain self-confidence, so that faith may come in. The law entered in a way calculated to do this, and to emphasize the fact that only by faith, and not by works of man, does righteousness come. In the very giving of the law is shown man’s dependence on God alone for righteousness and salvation, since men could not so much as touch the mountain where the law was spoken, without perishing. How, then, can it be supposed that God ever designed that any man should, for a single moment, imagine that he was to get righteousness by the law? 28: The Promises to Israel - The Entering of the Law (Part 1 of 2) The Present Truth, November 12, 1896  E. J. Waggoner.

The manner in which God delivered Israel from Egyptian slavery, the Passover, His saving them from Pharaoh’s army, His guidance and provision through the wilderness were all part of His plan to teach the Israelites lessons of humility and trust.  Before giving them the Ten Commandments, God gave them experiences designed to teach them just how totally dependent they were upon Him for care and protection.  He was their Creator/Redeemer/Provider.  If only they had looked to Him in simple faith when brought into strait places!  God provided them water, fed them, and protected them.  The first words God speaks in Exodus 20 point to Him as the deliverer, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Exodus 20:2.

The Jewish leaders of Christ’s day were well acquainted with the law but they couldn’t/wouldn’t see in Jesus the One Whom it was all about.  When accused of breaking the Sabbath Jesus told them, “Ye search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. John 5:39.  For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me. John 5:46.  The Pentateuch’s narratives, instructions, laws, types, and symbols all point to the Savior of the World!

What Might Have Been: “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, It might have been.”  John Greenleaf Whittier.

O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:  Isaiah 48:17, 18

When we examine the history of ancient Israel, we ask the question, “How would their history have been different had they realized their great need, beheld their Savior that dwelt among them (Exodus 25:8), and by faith obeyed.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church needs to ask the same question.  What if we had truly treasured and delighted in the truths of God’s Word and the counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy? What if all Seventh-day Adventist had lived the health message?  What if we had always followed the blueprint for our publishing, educational, medical, and ministerial lines of work?  What if we as a church had taken to heart the message of the messengers?  The most precious message that “was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Savior, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.  It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God.”  LDE 200

Hope for the Future: This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.  Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. Lamentations 3:21, 22.  There is hope.  We have a sin pardoning Savior, and He has made abundant provisions for His church to triumph gloriously!  He has not given up on His people.  He knocks yet.

There is forgiveness with God; there is acceptance full and free through the merits of Jesus, our crucified and risen Lord. Isaiah heard the Lord declaring to His chosen ones: "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put Me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified." "Thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." Verses 25, 26; 60:16.  PK 723

"The rebuke of His people shall He take away," the prophet declared. "They shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord." He hath appointed "to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified." Clad in the armor of Christ's righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict. "Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners" (Song of Solomon 6:10), she is to go forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer.  PK 725

Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.  Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land anymore be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.  Isaiah 62:3, 4

May we truly treasure light and see it as a blessing!  May we in humility and confession seek repentance.  May we invite the bridegroom into our hearts.  The world needs to know their Savior who is able to save to the utmost those who come to God through him…. Hebrews 7:25

I highly recommend the following reading passages.  May you be blessed.

Patriarchs and Prophets by Ellen White, chapters 49, 50, 51, and 52

Christ Object Lessons by Ellen White, “Things New and Old”

Prophets and Kings by Ellen White, Chapter 60 “Visions of Future Glory”

martha~Martha Ruggles