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First Quarter 2016 (January–March)
COMMENTARY ON REBELLION AND REDEMPTION
Week 5: January 23–29
COMMENTARY ON THE CONTROVERSY CONTINUES
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).
Sabbath Afternoon, Jan. 23: Introduction
Since the validity of the Adventist doctrine of The Great Controversy has been dealt with in previous commentary for this quarter today's observations will be a brief biblical review of why this can only be non-biblical fiction.
In the book of Job (Job 1:8) we begin with this verse; 'And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” ' In chapters 38 through 40 of the book of Job God declares why none, not even Job, could in way question his sovereignty. Finally after all else has been done and said, Job whom God declared a righteous man, answered God with this statement:
Then Job answered the LORD and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:3-5)
God's sovereignty is total. God vindicates himself before none, not even a righteous man. Certainly not not Satan nor any other possible beings Ellen G. White invents out of nothing more than 'thin air'. Satan's part in the book of Job is so unimportant we are not even told how he reacted to the outcome when he was proven wrong about Job.
Satan's personal defeat and fate was determined the instant he was cast out of heaven. Scripture gives us no other details. We are only told that this happened. We don't even know how this integrates in with the the six days of creation recorded in the first book of the Bible. Anything beyond the biblical record is pure speculation.
It is Christians, the redeemed saints of God, who are admonished that their enemy is the "spiritual forces of evil":
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:10-12)
The reason God's armor is so important is that Satan has no defense against God. There is no ongoing battle between God and Satan. Furthermore Satan lost his control of fallen sinners at Calvary. Instead, Satan's attacks are direct towards the fallen human race. However, no matter what happens to those who love God there is nothing that can separate such a person from the love of God, Rom. 8:31-39.
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:11-14)
Sunday, Jan. 24: David, Goliath, and Bathsheba
Today the lesson focuses on two contrasting extreme events in the life of King David. Both the victory over the giant Goliath through the power of God and where he was guilty of terrible sins centered on his lust after the beautiful Bathsheba.
Since King David's lust wasn't an attack by Satan directed towards God his failure and sin was not an example of the supposed Great Controversy theme. As stressed already, Satan's attacks are directed towards sinners, not God.
No where in Scripture does it say Christians will ever live perfect sinless lives before the return of our Savior Jesus Christ. This also is an Adventist myth. On the contrary, the following passage is addressed to Christians, those who are in the kingdom of God:
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)
If any Seventh-day Adventist every dared to make the claim of no longer sinning that person would be making God out to be a liar and God's word would not be in him/her.
Now, back to King David who replaced King Saul:
And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ (Acts 13:22)
God said King David was "a man after my heart".
When God said that King David would "do all my will" God obviously didn't mean David would be free of sin. Yet, when confronted with his sin God knew David would repent. The life of King David does illustrate why, in the New Covenant Christian context, we are to have on the full armor of God.
Monday, Jan. 25: To Turn Their Hearts
The lesson says:
"Read 1 Kings 18:21–39. Despite the obvious reality of the great controversy here, what did Elijah really want to see happen in Israel, and why is that so relevant to us today?"
While 400 prophets of Asherah are mentioned they do not participate in this confrontation.There is nothing obvious in this account of Elijah's challenge of the 450 prophets of Baal on top of Mount Carmel to support the Great Controversy theme considering Satan isn't mentioned or even alluded to. The actions of Elijah demonstrated that the prophets of Baal were totally powerless against the living God, creator of the universe. There was no battle between God and Satan. The context of this account suggests that Satan did nothing to support his minions because God would not allow him to participate.
What we do see in is that our sovereign God was in total control proving that Satan, even if he wanted to, has no power to confront God. It is sinners who are under attack but when you are a redeemed sinner covered by the blood of Jesus Christ you have the full armor of God that protects you from Satan's strategies, Romans 8:35-37. God's power is infinite because he is sovereign meaning Satan can not challenge him. This is one of the fundamental lies of The Great Controversy theory.
Tuesday, Jan. 26: Words of Defiance
The theme for today centers on this Ellen G. White statement:
" “That which He could no longer do through them in the land of their fathers He would seek to accomplish by scattering them among the heathen. His plan for the salvation of all who should choose to avail themselves of pardon through the Saviour of the human race must yet be fulfilled; and in the afflictions brought upon Israel, He was preparing the way for His glory to be revealed to the nations of earth.”—Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 292."
Ellen G. White is wrong to limit the power of God with the statement; "That which He could no longer do through them in the land of their fathers He would seek to accomplish by scattering them among the heathen." What God determines to do he will do without any limitation. Neither we nor Satan controls the actions of God in any way. This is what God said he would do, through his prophet Moses, if the Israelites turned away from their God and would not repeat of their sins:
“Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the LORD. How much more after my death! Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them. For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.” (Deut. 31:26-29
God knew exactly what Israel would do and warned them what would happen to them as a result. Israel would be blessed when they served their God and they would be cursed when they turned away. In either case God would keep his eternal promise he gave to Abraham:
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:1-3)
The theme of God's absolute sovereignty will be continued in tomorrow's commentary.
Wednesday, Jan. 27: Death Decree
The lesson says this concerning the story of Esther and the threat to the existence of the Hebrew people:
" “Little did the king realize the far-reaching results that would have accompanied the complete carrying out of this decree. Satan himself, the hidden instigator of the scheme, was trying to rid the earth of those who preserved the knowledge of the true God.”—Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, pp. 600, 601. And from these same people, too, would come the Savior of the world."
The one good clue as to who instigated these events is in the words of Esther's Uncle Mordecai:
Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)
The story of Esther reveals the absolute knowledge and power of the Jew's sovereign God along with the total helplessness of Satan. Against God Satan can do nothing. The story of Esther teaches us that there is no 'Great Controversy' between God and Satan.
Thursday, Jan. 28: Nehemiah
The lesson centers on Nehemiah's efforts to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the resulting obstacles he faced, then the lessons concludes with this question:
"We all face obstacles. How do we know when to back down and when to keep going?"
The real question is this; Is what you are attempting to do founded upon the will and power of God as recorded in Scripture? Because, if your foundation of faith comes from any other source than written word of God, you are acting on your own pride-contaminated limited abilities instead of the infinite power of God. We, as sinners ultimately fail in our own strength yet our holy righteous sovereign God of heaven and earth who has already defeated our enemy the devil cannot and will not ever fail.
To repeat once again, the so called Great Controversy is a fraud and simply not true. If what you are doing is acting humbly and courageously according to the will of God with the full armor of God then what you are doing will not fail because it is God's assurance, found only in Scripture, that anchors your faith upon the Rock Jesus Christ.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:31-32)
What is true for present-day Christian saints of God was also true for Nehemiah. When what you are doing is according to the will of God coupled with the knowledge of the promised power of God you cannot fail. The problem for Seventh-day Adventist is that only the Bible gives the inspired true word and promises of God.
Only in Scripture will you find powerful assurance such as was expressed by the Apostle Paul as he faced his coming death will full assurance that God's plans had not in any way failed:
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Tim. 1:8-12)
Friday, Jan. 29: Summary for This Week