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First Quarter 2015 (January–March)
COMMENTARY ON PROVERBS
Week 9: February 21–27
COMMENTARY ON WORDS OF TRUTH
Following is a combined commentary on the material included in the Bible Study Guide with references as necessary to the supplemental passages included in the E. G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons.
Sabbath Feb. 21st – Words of Truth
This week’s lesson focuses on the truth that is found in Proverbs. Immediately, the lesson author makes a huge error in stating that:
Some of this week’s proverbs show parallels with Egyptian texts. Under inspiration, Solomon might have shaped these texts according to a specifically Hebrew perspective. Here, the words of the Egyptians meet the Spirit of Israel’s God; and thus, they became divine revelation.
This is not how divine inspiration works. In promoting such a practice, this teaching validates the writings of Ellen White, which were often taken from other works, plagiarized by her. Scripture has never been borrowed from another religion and “shaped these texts to a specifically Hebrew perspective.” The words of the Egyptians do not meet the Spirit of Israel’s God and become divine revelation. God’s revelation through Solomon was direct inspiration, not borrowed and modified “truths” from somewhere else.
Scripture is very clear about its source. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
The lesson author goes on to state that:
This observation is important, for it reminds us of the universal character of “truth.” What is true for the Israelite should also be true for the Egyptian; otherwise, it would not be the truth.
God’s truth never comes from other religious sources, but only from the Bible as men were moved and wrote what God inspired them to write. Egyptian “truth” is far different than Biblical truth. They have a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, we know there is only one God. They have beliefs about the afterlife that differ significantly from Christianity or Judaism. Just because another faith has statements that are close to the Biblical statements, and can be refined by a human author (in this case Solomon) does not mean that what they have is truth. Egyptian religion and practice come from one source, the enemy of our souls, Satan. We must never forget that in his deceptions our arch-enemy mixes in a little truth with falsehood to make it sound as though it came from God.
We must avoid any thinking that God’s truths come to us as modified “truths” from other religious sources.
Sunday Feb. 22nd – The Knowledge of Truth
Early in today’s lesson, the author makes the following correct statement:
Some people who have a lot of biblical facts in their heads have no real knowledge or experience with the Truth (John 14:6).
However, at the end of today’s lesson, the learner is told to use “all the powerfully logical reasons we have for our faith”:
Think about all the powerfully logical reasons we have for our Seventh-day Adventist faith. What are these reasons, and why should we never hesitate in keeping them ever before us and sharing them with others? Bring your answer to class on Sabbath.
If we don’t have a testimony based on something other than “logical reasons”, we have no testimony. A testimony is how God has worked in your life specifically, and how he has saved us and allowed us to become overcomers with him in the eternal kingdom of God. There are as many powerfully logical reasons against the Seventh-day Adventist faith as there are reasons for it. More perhaps. Simply do a little checking on the internet and you will find out the truth about some of Adventisms “truths.”
Monday Feb. 23rd – Robbing the Poor
Today’s lesson is about robbing from the poor. The lesson author makes some true statements about the injustice done to the poor, using David and Bathsheba as an example. Those who remain unrepentant about their injustice will have to answer for it before the Lord of the universe. Psalm 51 is David’s psalm about his mistreatment of Bathsheba and her husband. He truly repented.
The lesson author does not even mention repentance, but only judgment for those who have practiced injustice. Those who practice injustice towards the poor need the gospel preached to them just as much as the poor need the gospel. They need to know that there is forgiveness for what they have done, if they repent and accept God’s forgiveness.
At the end of today’s lesson, the author asks:
How should faith in God and in His promises of judgment help to give us some peace of mind regarding all the injustice we see in the world now?
Christians have the mind of Christ and are truly comforted by all the promises God has given us. When we see injustice, we, where possible, should be there to help the needy as they suffer at the hands of “robbers”. Especially if we see a brother in need, we are commanded to help him. First John 3:17 tells us:
But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?
Apparently God’s love does not abide in such a person. We should each search our own souls and bring justice to those we have been unjust to in the past.
Tuesday Feb. 24th – Being Jealous of the Wicked
Today’s lesson teaches us to look beyond the immediate gain from certain sins to the long-term results of not committing those sins.
The lesson author states:
We should hate sin because it is sin. We should hate it because of what it has done to us, to our world, and to our Lord. If we want to see the real cost of sin, look at Jesus on the cross. This is what our sin has cost. That realization alone should be enough (though so often it isn’t) to make us want to avoid sin and to keep away as much as possible from those who would lead us into it.
Although good, in and of itself, the author misses an opportunity to introduce the Holy Spirit as the one who both convicts us of sin and can sustain us in our struggle with sin. When we realize that the Holy God has taken residence in our hearts and minds we can be assured that the blood of Christ continues to cleanse us from all sin. 1st John 1:9 tells us:
If we confess our sins [sinfulness], he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We don’t have to remember every single sin we’ve committed to receive this forgiveness. Confessing our sinfulness allows the blood of Christ to keep on cleansing us from all unrighteousness.
Wednesday Feb. 25th – What We Put in Our Mouths
In today’s lesson, we are told that what we put in our mouths has the potential to ruin our lives. This is true whether one drinks alcohol or not, or eats “unclean” flesh or not. Jesus was very careful to state that what we put in our mouths has no influence on our righteousness. He stated very clearly in Mark chapter seven, verses 14-19:
And he called the people to him again and said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him." 16 [If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.] 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, "Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.)
True religion is not concerned to a great degree about what we put in our mouths, food or drink. Paul tells us in Romans 14:7,
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
The lesson today clearly misses the fact that in the New Covenant, eating and drinking are not a part of our spiritual lives. In fact, we are warned in 1 Timothy 4:1-4 that teaching about eating and not eating is a lie from the enemy of our souls.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
Whether we eat or don’t eat, drink or don’t drink, we should all be doing these things to the glory of the Lord and not just for the sake of man. Good dietary habits are a good thing to follow, but these things should never become a part of our religious institutions. As seen above, teaching about requiring abstinence from foods God created, is a doctrine of demons.
The fact that Adam and Eve’s only commandment had to do with food is simply incidental to the story being told. We should not make something more out of that than the Bible states.
Thursday Feb. 26th – Our Responsibilities
Today’s lesson begins with a story about a woman who was murdered in a large city. Many heard her cries for help but did nothing to help her. In response to this, the lesson author states:
The law of Moses clearly warns that those who fail to report what they witness will bear guilt (Lev. 5:1). We may not be able to act against crime, but if we keep silent about what we see, we then share the guilt with the criminal. By our silence, we become accomplices.
This is Old Testament (old covenant) reasoning. Sure, we live in a community and should be good neighbors, in fact as Christians we should be the best neighbors one could have. But we are not accomplices to crime simply because we witness it and do nothing. There are many crimes we can do nothing about, while some crimes should be reported. However, when it comes to spiritual matters, we are to leave the blind guides and their followers alone. We do this by not casting our pearls before swine. Matthew 15:13-14 tells us:
He answered, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit."
This is Jesus’ warning about the Pharisees. He explicitly states that we should “let them alone”. We should report their crimes to the appropriate authorities, when necessary. This does not mean that we do not care for our neighbors. Christians should be the best neighbor to have in the neighborhood. Murder is one evil that we may not be able to make an impact on in the lives of others. Murders happen every day all over the world, but we can only influence those around us.
It’s tragic enough to remain silent and do nothing as a woman is being murdered on your street. But what about many of the other evils in the world: hunger, war, injustice, racism, economic oppression? What are our responsibilities here, as well? (Pg. 77 in standard Sabbath school guide.)
Injustice, economic oppression and war will always be with us. We can only take care of those in our sphere of influence. We can fight hunger and racism for the sake of our neighbors, but we cannot be held responsible for all oppression everywhere, our responsibilities lie within our sphere of influence. Our responsibility is to live good Christian lives and be salt and light in a dark and dangerous world. We are to love all, especially the “brethren” (fellow believers). This is a witness to those around us of what a relationship with Christ can bring.
Friday Feb. 27th – Further Study
Today’s lesson, as is so often the case, is a quote from Ellen White. There are two things to notice about the quote.
First, she states that “Not a moment we have to lose.” Ellen White elsewhere states that we will be judged about wasted moments, and time spent doing things other than witnessing about the Adventist faith. If there are wasted moments in our lives, we will not be judged for them. Christ’s forgiveness even redeems wasted moments and will use what we do to spread the gospel message. Again, we can only be responsible for our opportunities and pray when we miss the opportunity to share the gospel with another. Sometimes, what we do and how we live as Christians makes the most impactful witness for Christ.
Ellen White says something in this reading that warrants our attention. She says, “We want something besides Sabbath religion.” She hit the nail on the head with that statement. Too much emphasis is placed on Sabbath-keeping, and what is right or wrong to do on the Sabbath day. Christians must move beyond the petty aspects of their religion and start eating the meat of the gospel. In fact, each Seventh-day Adventist needs to move beyond the Sabbath to the more important matters of the Kingdom of God; including things such as righteousness, the cleansing of our sins by the blood of the Lamb, and personal devotional time with the Lord.
Although the reading is short and there are many good points that are made, how do we know of Ellen White’s source for the teaching. She plagiarized much of what she wrote, and that often includes the positive statements made by her.
After you have read the Ellen White statements, I would suggest one to read First Corinthians chapter 3, Galatians, Romans chapter 8, and or Hebrews. Spending time in the infallible, inerrant word of God should be a Christians priority for truth and grace through the Holy Spirit as one reads the Word.
Remember what Ellen White said, “We want something besides Sabbath religion.”