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Second Quarter 2015 (April–June)
COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF LUKE
Week 12: June 13–19
COMMENTARY ON JESUS IN JERUSALEM
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.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
Day One, Sabbath Afternoon, June 13: Introduction
This quote sets the quarterly lesson theme for this week:
"Never before and never since has any city witnessed so critical a progression of history, one that brought the cosmic conflict between good and evil to its climax, even though no one but Jesus understood the significance of what was unfolding"
If one were to ignore the numerous indirect references to unique Adventist doctrines the quarterly lesson for this week is a straightforward study of the Passion Week.
Today we will focus on the lesson phrase; "one that brought the cosmic conflict between good and evil to its climax".
The phrase; 'the cosmic conflict between good and evil' is a direct reference to the Adventist theme and doctrine of The Great Controversy which is the scheduled subject for the First Quarter of next year and will be the appropriate time to confront in detail the non-biblical errors of this belief.
For now here are some points on this topic to keep in mind:
Day Two, Sunday, June 14: The Triumphal Entry
The Passion Week begins with Jesus' entry into Jerusalem which culminated at Calvary where he shed his blood for atonement of the sins of the world as promised in Gen. 3:15. This city is a location which Scripture indicates has been central for God's foreknown and planned redemption of mankind beyond what is known of recorded history.
Our sovereign God, without the need to explain why and how he chooses to do what he does, determined before the time of creation that he would introduce the Savior into the world through the blessing of Abraham and his descendants, the nation of Israel.
Abram (Abraham) recognizes Melchizedek king of Salem as 'priest of God Most High' as recorded in Genesis chapter 14:
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. (Genesis 14:18-20)
Obviously Salem (modern day Jerusalem) was important in the sight of God prior to it becoming the center of Jewish worship.
It is God who directed Abraham to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah as recorded in Genesis chapter 22:
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:1-2
King Solomon built the temple at Mount Moriah in Jerusalem , 2 Chronicles 3:1.
Jesus died at Calvary just outside the then existing city of Jerusalem which is probably the very location where Abraham took Isaac to be sacrificed but God provided his foreordained perfect substitute.
In Ezekiel chapters 40-42 there is prophesied of a Jewish temple that doesn't yet exist. Then in chapter 43 we see 'the glory of God coming from the east'. From within the New Covenant context this can only be understood to be the Messiah Jesus Christ.
Contrast the eternal biblical importance of Jerusalem with Ellen G. White's quote, while on her topic of why not to go to Jerusalem with the Adventist message. Her view is founded upon the false belief that "Old Jerusalem" would never be rebuilt. In the providence of God and in his own timing Jerusalem and the nation of Israel have been rebuilt because Israel is and always will be his covenant people. The biblical 'Gathering Time' refers to the return of the Hebrew people to the land of Israel which has nothing to do with the false belief that Adventist are now God's covenant people. In the real 'Gathering Time' the Israeli people, will repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their promised Messiah:
'Then I was pointed to some who are in the great error of believing that it is their duty to go to Old Jerusalem and think they have a work to do there before the Lord comes. Such a view is calculated to take the mind and interest from the present work of the Lord, under the message of the third angel; for those who think that they are yet to go to Jerusalem will have their minds there, and their means will be withheld from the cause of present truth to get themselves and others there. I saw that such a mission would accomplish no real good, that it would take a long while to make a very few of the Jews believe even in the first advent of Christ, much more to believe in His second advent. I saw that Satan had greatly deceived some in this thing and that souls all around them in this land could be helped by them and led to keep the commandments of God, but they were leaving them to perish. I also saw that Old Jerusalem never would be built up; and that Satan was doing his utmost to lead the minds of the children of the Lord into these things now, in the gathering time, to keep them from throwing their whole interest into the present work of the Lord, and to cause them to neglect the necessary preparation for the day of the Lord. (Ellen G. White, Early Writings, The Gathering Time, Pages 75-76)'
Scripture teaches that the 144,000 evangelist of Revelation chapter seven come from the twelve tribes of Israel which has nothing to do with the Adventist message or those who choose to uniquely call themselves Seventh-day Adventist. Israel and the city of Jerusalem are a people and a place of importance because of the will and providence of God.
Day Three, Monday, June 15: Jerusalem: Cleansing the Temple
The lesson asks this question concerning the profaning of the temple:
'Why did He not simply leave it alone, in its own corruption, especially since it would not only become unnecessary but, within a generation, would be destroyed?'
The reason Jesus stressed the importance of not profaning the temple of God centers upon the attributes of who God is. God is both holy and righteous. Sin cannot be overlooked (Romans 3) yet God is also a loving God as we learn in such classic verses as John 3:16. God doesn't explain why he loves fallen sinners yet he does.
Before God can be approached sin must be atoned for through the offering of a perfect sacrifice that takes the place of the repentant sinner seeking forgiveness. The buying and selling of a sacrificial animal on temple grounds profaned how God was to be approached.
Not until Jesus died on the cross at Calvary was the Old Covenant and the offering of an animal sacrifice for atonement of sin replaced by the New Covenant and the real one-time sacrifice of Jesus Christ the promised Messiah for the sins of all the world.
In the New Covenant Christians now live under, both the Jews who were given the New Covenant along with the Gentiles who have been grafted into this covenant, it is no longer about were to worship God as Jesus explained to the 'Woman at the Well':
"...But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)
Now we come to the classic verse concerning what it means to profane the temple of the Holy Spirit which has been violated through the teachings of Adventism. In First Corinthians chapter three the Apostle Paul is teaching that elevating personalities above Jesus Christ, the foundation of our faith, is what profanes the temple of the Holy Spirit:
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Cor. 3:16-17)
While it is good to live and practice healthy living the Adventist 'health message' is not the 'right hand of the gospel' as this is not what profanes the temple of the Holy Spirit, meaning the individual members who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and make up the body of Christ, the true universal church:
And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (Matt. 15:10-20)
Concerning the related topic of altering the gospel message of Jesus Christ see what the Apostle Paul has to say in Galatians, especially Gal. 1:9.
Day Four, Tuesday, June 16: The Unfaithful
Luke 20:9-18 gives us Jesus' parable of 'The Wicked Tenants'. In the lesson critique of this parable it is said "but glory will eventually triumph". This is another apparent allusion to the Great Controversy theme where God isn't victorious over Satan until one coming final battle.
As has been pointed out, Satan's personal fate had already been determined the moment he was cast out of heaven. There is no biblical foundation for believing there is an ongoing personal battle between Satan and Jesus Christ as portrayed in the Great Controversy theme where there existed the possibility of failure on the part of Jesus Christ.
When Adam sinned the human race inherited death which is the curse of sin. We sinners are born dead of our human spirit which culminates in our physical death. The promise of victory over death was assured in Genesis 3:14 which is what Jesus meant when he said "it is finished" at Calvary, John 19:30.
To say "but glory will eventually triumph" is only true if we understand it is in reference to the foreknown results of a coming battle of a war Satan has already lost when Jesus died at Calvary and arose from the grave three days later.
Those whose sins have been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ can never be separated from the love of God, Romans 8:31-39:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
In the parable of 'The Wicked Tenants' Jesus is teaching us that those who reject his message of salvation and thereby fail to repent of their sins face certain eternal judgment in the Lake of Fire. Jesus was addressing the 'chief priests, scribes and elders' who would be the 'wicked tenants' of this parable. They are the ones who were rejecting Jesus' message. If you do the same by rejecting the complete atonement of Jesus' shed blood at Calvary and instead add to it any work of your own then your fate will be the same as theirs, Gal. 1:9.
Day Five, Wednesday, June 17: God Versus Caesar
The lesson for today is taken from Luke 20:20-26 where the question is asked of Jesus whether or not it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus 'perceived their craftiness', verse 23.
The lesson quotes Ellen G. White where she makes the unfounded unbiblical claim that since they were living under the protection of Caesar it was appropriate for them to pay taxes to Caesar. Both the biblical evidence and the historical record of the Roman Empire suggests that the Roman military existed for one reason only, which was to maintain the power of Rome. Peace for Rome was understood to mean Caesar ruled with absolute authority even at the expense of what may have been just or true for those subject to Roman authority. To maintain peace Pilate signed Jesus' death warrant even though he knew Jesus was innocent. To maintain peace, the way Rome understood peace, Pilate was willing to sentence Jesus to die in order to placate the local Jewish authorities:
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.” (Luke 23:1-5)
The Jewish authorities were attempting to trap Jesus in a situation where he would have to choose the 'lesser of two evils', either of which would have been a wrong choice. Jesus showed them you could pay the tax to Rome, which of course no Jew could avoid doing, and still not sin against God.
The practical application we can learn from this is that when tempted to sin there will always be a way of escape:
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Cor. 10:13)
To claim this promise we must be fully submitted to the leading of our Savior Jesus Christ because he is the one who 'perceived their craftiness' when confronted by those who were tempting him to sin.
Day Six, Thursday, June 18: The Lord's Supper
In the lesson for today the Lord's Supper is compared to the Passover.
While the lesson does mention the "paschal lamb" with a reference to 1 Cor. 5:7 it failed to mention that Jesus along with his disciples were celebrating and eating the Paschal (Passover) Lamb.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” (Luke 22:7-8)
In Exodus chapter twelve when Israel was about to escape bondage in Egypt we find recorded the first eating of the Passover lamb with the shed blood of the lamb having been placed on the door posts and lintel of the Jewish homes. At that time the angel of death passed over all who were covered by the shed blood of the lamb. Nothing but the shed blood of the lamb protected them.
The sacrifice of Isaac, Abrahams first-born son, was the very first time God passed over and provided a Passover ram. This pointed all the way forward to the Lord's Supper and the Messiah's death at Calvary:
But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” (Gen. 22:11-14)
The message is very clear. God will pass over your sins only if they are covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. If your sins are covered by the blood of Jesus they are eternally covered, Romans 8:31-39. Sabbath keeping or the lack thereof is not part of the gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ. The Adventist health message being the 'right hand of the gospel' is no gospel at all, Gal. 1:9.
Day Seven, Friday, June 19: Further Study
Today's Ellen G. White quote includes the following phrase:
"He forgives our sins"
God in the person of Jesus Christ forgave the sins of the world at Calvary. His forgiveness, his atonement paid in his shed blood for the sins of the world, is complete and not an ongoing process. While repentance of daily sins is ongoing as Christians grow in his sanctification, Jesus' propitiation (his atonement and our justification) is already final and complete. Therefore you are either in the kingdom of God or you are not.
As the Philippian Jailer asked; "Sir, what must I do to be saved?":
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. (Acts 16:31-34)