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Fourth Quarter 2015 October–December)
COMMENTARY ON JEREMIAH
Week 10: November 28–December 4
COMMENTARY ON THE DESTRUCTION OF 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).
We will skip Sabbath, Sunday and Tuesday’s lessons, and focus on the issues found in the remaining days of the Sabbath School quarterly.
Monday, November 30th The Unhappy Reign of King Zedekiah
Today’s lesson does have an important statement, in the form of a question, at the end of the lesson. Those of us who participate in writing these commentaries for the Sabbath School Quarterlies are occasionally accused of “hurting the very ones you are trying to help.”
However difficult the pit was, think about how much harder it was for Jeremiah to hear the charge against him that he was seeking the hurt, not the welfare, of his own people. What’s it like to be accused of hurting the very ones you are trying to help? (Pg. 126 Teachers Edition, pg. 82 Standard Edition)
Suffice to say that it can be odd feelings that are brought about by such accusations. Most of us have been Adventists and truly believe we are doing a loving thing by making these Sabbath School commentaries available to Adventists.
C. H. Spurgeon said in his daily devotional for November 5th,
Should it not be laid upon the heart of every lover of the gospel of Jesus on this day to plead for the overturning of false doctrines and the extension of divine truth? (Morning by Morning)
The issues identified in this week’s lessons begin on Wednesday, so we’ll jump in at that point.
Wednesday, December 2nd All Your Heart
Today the author writes:
We have been given the prophetic gift in the wonderful ministry of Ellen G. White. How can we be sure that we don’t show the same attitude toward her today that many (but not all) had toward Jeremiah? (Pg. 84 Standard Edition, pg. 128 Teachers Edition)
If we are to show Ellen G. White the same attitude we show Biblical prophets implies that she is on the same level as a Biblical prophet. In fact, the SDA Church has stated publicly how EGW is to be taken. Unfortunately, this has led to a view of Scripture that is not a scriptural view. The following is found on the website of the E. G. White Estate.
Because "everything that is human is imperfect," we must accept the idea of imperfections and mistakes in both the Bible and Ellen White's writings. This means at least two things: 1. The prophet uses his or her common, everyday language learned from childhood and improved through study, reading, and travel; there is nothing supernatural or divine in the language used. 2. The prophet can make orthographical or grammatical mistakes, as well as other kinds of language imperfections such as lapsus linguae (a slip of the tongue) or lapsus memoriae (a slip of the memory), which need to be corrected by an editor before the text is ready for publication. The editor corrects not the inspired message, but rather the noninspired language.
The Bible is not a human document, it has been breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16.) The very words of Scripture are the words God wanted to be recorded. During his life, Jesus never suggested that any of the Old Testament could have had errors; Jesus was an inerrantist.
Modern archaeology has proven the correctness of the manuscripts of Scripture that are available for translation into modern languages. The very few differences between manuscripts are small and do not affect the theology that is being spoken of by the writer.
This is simply an attempt to bring Scripture down to the level of the writings of EGW. The website at the EG White Estate makes the following claim:
Ellen White was inspired in the same manner and to the same degree as were the Bible prophets. ( http://www.whiteestate.org/issues/rev-insp.html go to Part III.)
Ellen White was not inspired in the same manner and to the same degree as the Biblical prophets. That’s quite a shocking statement for those of us who consider themselves “Biblicists”. Notice how the quarterly writer lifts Ellen G. White’s writings up to the level of the Biblical prophets:
Dwell more on the idea of why, historically, the prophets had been so mistreated and misunderstood in their own time. What should and could this teach us about how we relate to the ministry of Ellen G. White? Think about her in the context of what Jesus said here: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets” (Matt. 23:29–31, NIV). (Pg. 86 of Standard Edition, pg. 130 of Teachers Edition)
If EGW was inspired in the same manner and to the same degree, then how is it that we shouldn’t take her as a biblical prophet? This is double-speak and allows Adventists to put the same trust in EGW as they put in the Bible.
Jesus warned us of those who would say that Jesus is here, or he is in the desert, or the “inner rooms”.
Mat 24:26 tells us, “So, if they say to you, 'Look, he is in the wilderness,' do not go out. If they say, 'Look, he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it.” Adventism teaches that Jesus has been in the inner room (most holy place) in the heavenly sanctuary since Oct. 22, 1844, but according to Jesus we are not to believe it.
Thursday, December 3rd The Seventy Years
In today’s lesson, the author writes:
They were still the covenant people, and the Lord wasn’t through with them or the nation of Israel. Redemption was available there for all of those ready to meet the conditions. (Pg. 85 Standard Edition, pg. 129 Teachers Edition)
We “meet the conditions” by bringing nothing to Christ but our faith in him. (Just as I am, without one plea, but thou my Lord didst die for me.) There are no conditions to meet to become a follower of Jesus Christ. Christ has met all the requirements of the Law for us, and has fulfilled, and will fulfill, all that the Law, Prophets and Psalms have said about him.
Jesus plus anything is not going to save you – only Jesus alone can save us. Scripture alone is sufficient to teach us about Jesus Christ, and Christ alone is sufficient to save us from hell. Sabbath-keeping is also not going to affect our being saved. It is a work of the Law and cannot be added to simple faith in Christ.
Just before this statement by the author, he writes:
What’s so important about this prophecy is that, if they had taken in the concepts of faith and submission, it would have given the captives great hope and assurance of the Lord’s complete sovereignty.
Here he explicitly states that all the Israelites needed were “faith and submission”, so what are the conditions that the Israelites were to bring to the Lord?
Friday, December 4th Further Thought
Today’s lesson, as is usual for Friday’s lesson, includes some of E. G. White’s writing. She makes the following statement in Selected Messages:
This is the change we need today, and for the attainment of this experience we should exercise persevering energy and manifest heartfelt earnestness. We should ask with true sincerity, ‘What shall I do to be saved?’ We should know just what steps we are taking heavenward.” (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 187, 188).
We don’t take “steps … heavenward,” for Christ has already lowered himself as a man, and was obedient, even unto death on a cross. (See Phil. 2:5-10) There are no “steps” to take to reach him. He is already here in the person of the Holy Spirit and is simply waiting for the believer to place faith in what Jesus has already done for us on the cross.
In summary, let’s remember the following points: