The Sabbath School Bible Study Guide is published by Pacific Press Publishing Association, which is owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist church. The current quarter's edition is shown above.
Official Adventist Resources for week 6:
Support this project
If you would like to support this website, please click on the following link to donate online or you may mail your check to: Life Assurance Ministries, PO Box 905, Redlands, CA 92373. Mark your check "Bible Studies."
Fourth Quarter 2015 October–December)
COMMENTARY ON JEREMIAH
Week 6: October 31–November 6
COMMENTARY ON SYMBOLIC ACTS
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, Oct. 31: Introduction
This Ellen G. White quote sets the theme for this week:
“Every student of the Bible knows that it is filled with symbols, things that represent concepts and ideas other than themselves. The entire earthly sanctuary service, for example, was a symbolic prophecy of the plan of salvation. “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. Through a knowledge of the plan of redemption, its truths are opened to the understanding.”—Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 133.”
Since the symbolism associated with the "earthly sanctuary service" is the example cited within the above quote this is will be the focus for today's commentary.
A word study, in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, of the phrase 'without blemish' makes it clear that the sacrifices performed at the sanctuary for sin offerings must be “without blemish”because only an animal that was without blemish could represent the perfect person and work of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ:
And he shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the LORD and use it as a sin offering, but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the LORD to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel. (Lev.16:5-10)
Notice that both goats would have been without blemish since they were selected to be an offering before lots had been cast over them to determine which was 'for the LORD' and which was to be the 'Scapegoat'. Also, notice that they are referred to as a single sin offering. Since both goats were without blemish neither goat could have represented Satan nor any work of Satan. Such a claim is a violation of the symbolic meaning of 'being without blemish'.
Day Two, Sunday, Nov. 1: Truth in Symbols
In the interest of understanding ‘truth in symbols’ today’s commentary focuses on this statement made at the beginning of the lesson:
“Very early in the Bible we can see the difference between the attempt to work one’s way to heaven (in the offering of Cain) and the realization that salvation is by grace alone, made available to us only through the merits of a crucified Savior (the offering of Abel).”
If you are to understand the true meaning of the symbolism used in Scripture then it is imperative to confine your understanding to what Scripture does or does not say.
In focusing on the account of the sacrifices offered by Cain and Able recorded in Genesis chapter four the lesson makes arbitrary statements not support by the Genesis’ account. God doesn’t say why he rejected Cain’s sacrifice.
In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?” And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. (Gen. 4:3-10)
God had regard for and accepted the offering of Able but Cain’s offering. In the quoted passage God does not say why he rejected Cain’s offering. Since both brothers brought the ‘fruit of their labor’ and the faith of either brother isn’t mentioned we must turned to other Scripture to arrive at a possible explanation that fits what we do see recorded in this Genesis account.
When Adam and Eve sinned their eyes were 'opened'. They knew they were naked and attempted to cover themselves with fig leaves which God replaces with skins. This implies the shedding of the blood of an animal to cover their nakedness, Gen. 3:21. Since this act of God preceded the account of Cain and Able’s offerings this could help us understand why God only accepted Able’s offering. Adam and Eve’s nakedness graphically symbolized their sin condition which God covered over with skins. This leads us to this verse where we are given the symbolic meaning of the sin offerings brought to the earthly sanctuary:
And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Hebrews 9:21-22)
Day Three, Monday, Nov. 2: The Potter’s Clay
The symbolic meaning of ‘the Potter’s Clay’, Jer. 18:1-10, is where Jeremiah's observation of the potter working at his wheel illustrates that God is absolutely sovereign over all that he has created.
Overall today's lesson is good but it should be noted that the book of Jeremiah nowhere suggests that the Prophet Jeremiah ever wanted to give up in spite of all the rejection and persecution he experienced. To express a personal opinion is fine but that should be clearly separated from what Scripture actually says.
The references for today give us a classic example of where the Old Testament record adds insight to the Scriptures found in the New Testament, so we will begin by first looking at Rom. 9:13-21 where the Apostle Paul poses the hypothetical question; "Is there injustice on God's part?". From this we can learn what is God's sovereign will for fallen mankind.
As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? (Rom. 9:13-21)
What the Apostle Paul records might make it seem that God is being arbitrary. Since Paul mentions "has the potter no right over the clay" it is appropriate for us to turn back to Jeremiah's account and learn how our holy and just God exercises his sovereign will.
Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. (Jer. 18:5-10)
It is God's will that none should perish, 2 Peter 3:9, but there are many who simply do not repent of their evil ways. For those who do not repent, God will not relent of the disaster that he intends to do to them.
Days Four & Five, Tue. & Wed., Nov. 3-4: The Degeneration of a Nation & Smashing the Jar
In Jeremiah chapter 18 the potter makes clay jars for noble use and others for ignoble use illustrating God’s sovereignty. In Jeremiah chapter 19 a perfectly good clay jar is smashed and destroyed by Jeremiah illustrating what God is about to do to Judea and Jerusalem because of their willful unrepentant degeneration into the sacrificing of their own children.
Jeremiah is instructed by God to purchase a clay pot (earthenware flask), take the Jewish elders with him and go to the gate near the Hinnom Valley, also known as Topheth or Valley of Slaughter which in the New Testament is called Gehenna. It is a long narrow ravine located on the south side of Jerusalem used as the 'city garbage dump'. There Jeremiah breaks the flask and announces that this is what God is going to do the people of Jerusalem and Judea "because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents".
Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind—therefore, behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. (Jer.19:4-6)
Baal worship along with the proximity of the related Asherim poles (phallic symbols), Num. 25:1-4; Judges 6:25-28 & 1 Kings 14:22-24, was the practice of a degenerate sexual orgy Israel engaged in even before they entered into the Promised Land. Molech worship, which was directly tied to Baal worship, involved the sacrifice through fire of their own children and is what God condemns here in the Book of Jeremiah. Obviously there is a direct connection between their sexual perversion and the subsequent killing (abortion) of their children, a practice which the people refused to repent of.
Note: In the commentary for the first day of the first week of this quarter it was shown that Jeremiah was fully human at conception which is in contradiction to the false Adventist belief that you are not human until you are born and breathe air outside of the womb. To deliberately kill a baby, whether born or not yet born, except in the possible rare instances where the life of the mother is in danger, it is clearly murder. Even if this act is somehow justified, when a child is aborted it is a human being that has just died.
The point being made here is that what is happening right now here in our country is nothing more than a modern day version of what God found so offensive in the time of Jeremiah. Furthermore the Adventist denomination does not have a firm stance condemning the practice of abortion which is routinely being performed in Adventist hospitals.
Day Six, Thursday, Nov. 5: The Linen Belt
This lesson quote introduces today’s theme of the ‘Linen Belt’ as recorded in Jer. 13:1-11:
“Whatever the case, the belt symbolizes both the house of Israel and the house of Judah, pure and unstained at the time of God’s request. The man wearing the belt is God Himself. This shows, among other things, just how closely tied God Himself was to His people. Some commentators have seen significance in the fact that the belt was made of linen, the same material as the priestly garments (Lev. 16:4); after all, Judah was to be a priestly nation (Ex. 19:6).”
The above lesson quote says; "The man wearing the belt is God Himself". This statement is almost but not totally correct. It would have been better to say: "The man wearing the belt represents (symbolized) God himself". In the Old Covenant Levitical priesthood ordinances only the high priest could, once a year on the day of atonement, pass through the veil and approach God. The Levitical high priest, because he was still a sinner had to offer a sacrifice for his own sin yearly before he could approach God at the mercy seat, Lev. 16:6.
Understand that when Jeremiah put on the belt he represented the Levitical high priesthood who in turn represented the Messiah Jesus Christ, who is our eternal true Great High Priest. The rotted belt represented the Hebrew people who were lusting after other gods and willfully refused to repent of their sins. If we then extend the typology (symbolism) then when Jeremiah returns and finds the rotted belt in the cleft by the Euphrates River, that would then represent those who would be cast away because of their unrepentance. On the positive side, in God's mercy he says this concerning 'the remnant of Israel':
“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. (Jer. 29:10-14)
In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. For the Lord GOD of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in the midst of all the earth. (Isa. 10:20-23)
Even to this day many of the Hebrew people are still in exile and have not returned to the Promised Land nor have they accepted as a people (a nation) the Lord Jesus Christ who is their promised Messiah. This means the promise imbedded in the above quotations has not yet been literally fully fulfilled. In the New Testament we find this related promise given to the 'House of Jacob':
And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad, 12,000 from the tribe of Asher, 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh, 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon, 12,000 from the tribe of Levi, 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar, 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed. (Rev. 7:4-8
Day Seven, Friday, Nov. 6: Further Thought
The quarterly lessons for this week culminate with this Ellen G. White quote:
“To many minds the origin of sin and the reason for its existence are a source of great perplexity. They see the work of evil, with its terrible results of woe and desolation, and they question how all this can exist under the sovereignty of One who is infinite in wisdom, in power, and in love. Here is a mystery of which they find no explanation. And in their uncertainty and doubt they are blinded to truths plainly revealed in God’s word and essential to salvation.”—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 492.
Instead of responding to the discussion questions the commentary for today will be focused on the phrase ‘essential to salvation’ in accordance to what is written in the word of God.
Observations concerning what is "essential to salvation":
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (1 Cor. 15:1-5)