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 11:
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."
Second Quarter 2016 (April–June)
COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF MATTHEW
Week 11: June 4–10
COMMENTARY ON LAST DAY EVENTS
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, June 4,
Today’s lesson is fairly straightforward. However, the author states that the second coming of Christ will result in the “redemption of humanity and the end of the great controversy.” If what is meant by the “great controversy” is the end of the battle between Christ and Satan, that battle was completed on the cross and in the resurrection of Jesus. Alternatively, if what is meant is the “vindication of the character of God and his Law” then that was completed in the person of Jesus Christ in the first advent, also on the cross and in the resurrection, although God did not need to be vindicated, nor his law.
Colossians 1:13-20 tells us all that was accomplished for us by Christ in his death on the cross. Notice that these are in the past tense, in other words they were already true, long before the second advent of Christ.
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (ESV, emphasis mine.)
Sunday, June 5, Blind Guides
The lesson author states at the end of today’s lesson, about all believers that:
They would become Abraham’s true seed “and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). We, too, today, are part of the same people, with the same divine calling. [Pg. 89 of the Standard SS Quarterly]
The Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches replacement theology; that is to say that Israel is no longer the chosen people, and the church has replaced them and become the new Israel to whom all of Israel’s promises will be fulfilled.
However, Paul himself says in Romans 11:1-5:
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? 3 "Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life." 4 But what is God's reply to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
The Gentiles have been grafted into the vine, but the original branches, Israel, still exists as the people of God. Many of the original branches have been pruned off and cast into the fire, but there remains in Israel a remnant who will come to faith in the Messiah Jesus, and to whom all God’s original promises to Israel will be fulfilled. The church is not the remnant.
Monday, June 6, Signs of the End
The lesson author quotes from Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 628:
Had He opened to His disciples future events as He beheld them, they would have been unable to endure the sight. In mercy to them He blended the description of the two great crises, leaving the disciples to study out the meaning for themselves.
This is patently false. If he intended the disciples to study out the meaning “for themselves” then confusion would have resulted. The “blending” of the two great crises, would have been as much to endure as if they were not blended. If blending would have done anything, it would have made the end-times even more frightening than they actually were shown to be. In actuality Jesus gave both prophecies at the same time as they had a dual fulfillment, first the destruction of Jerusalem, secondly the second coming of Christ. Christ’s warnings are valid in both cases, in the destruction of Jerusalem and at his second coming.
The quarterly states:
One thing is very clear in Jesus’ answer: the events leading up to His return are not pretty. Jesus doesn’t predict any earthly utopia or earthly millennial reign of peace. (Emphasis mine)
This statement is a direct attack on the Evangelical understanding of the millennial reign of Christ on the Earth. Read Revelation 20 in its entirety and you will see that the millennial reign of Christ is something that takes place on Earth, not in heaven as is taught by the Adventist church.
Jesus will reign on the Earth for 1,000 years, from Jerusalem and will rule the nations with a rod of iron, as is predicted in the Old Testament. See Psalms 2:6-12:
"As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill." 7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." 10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
This is a promise to the final Davidic king, Jesus Christ, who will reign after he comes with his people, who will rule with him from thrones in Jerusalem. There will be an earthly millennial reign of peace under the final Davidic king, Jesus.
Tuesday, June 7, The Demise of Jerusalem
As we saw yesterday, Jesus mingled His depiction of this event with those surrounding the state of the world before His second coming. (Pg. 91, Standard Edition quarterly)
Jesus didn’t “mingle” his depiction of two different events; the two events had commonalities that were captured by the complete statement of Jesus, incorporating two different events that had similarities.
Wednesday, June 8, The Second Coming of Jesus
The author asks the student to read Matthew 24:18-26, which includes:
26 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 [the inner apartments of the heavenly sanctuary],' do not believe it. (Brackets mine)
We are not to believe in the Adventist understanding of the heavenly sanctuary and the two compartments, the holy, and the most holy place.
He later states,
The trumpet imagery reveals that it’s going to be loud, loud enough even to wake the dead! (Pg. 92, Standard quarterly)
The dead do not wake up due to the loud trumpet sounds; they are resurrected at the command of their Lord Jesus.
At the end of today’s lesson, the author asks the following question,
At a time of so much turmoil and uncertainty in our world about the future, how can we learn to draw personal strength and hope from the promise of the Second Coming?
The answer is given in the question itself; the promise of Christ’s second coming gives us strength to face each day. The thought that Jesus will come again one day to end our suffering in this world and usher in an era of peace unlike the world has ever known, provides more than enough hope to get through our daily struggles.
Thursday, June 9, Keeping Watch
The author states that,
The second coming of Jesus is the culmination of all Christian hopes; it is the fulfillment of all that we have been promised. Without it -- what? We would rot in the ground after death just as everyone else does. Without the Second Coming and all that it entails, everything else about our faith becomes a lie, a farce, everything that the critics and opponents have claimed against it.
This is clearly incorrect. It is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead that is (was) the culmination and guarantee of “all Christian hopes.” Without that resurrection, our faith would be in vain; it is because of that resurrection that we can be assured that one day our bodies will be raised, or the living believers will be transformed, to meet our Lord when he comes. That is why Easter is the highest Christian holy day of the year, we remember his resurrection and look to that as a hope and assurance that one day he will come again for us. Paul says as much in 1 Cor. 15:13-20:
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
The author then makes this interesting observation:
No wonder, then, that in eager anticipation of His return, some Christians have set dates for His return. After all, so much hinges on that return. Of course, as we know, every past date set for the return of Christ has been wrong.
The “Great Disappointment” should really be called the “Great Embarrassment”. Oct. 22nd 1844 was the supposed date for the return of Christ to this earth. Hiram Edson along with O. R. L. Crosier came up with the current explanation that it was a misunderstanding of the phrase in Daniel 8:14, to “then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (KJV) as referring to Jesus going into the heavenly sanctuary as opposed to returning to the Earth, when in reality this verse has nothing to say about the ministry of Christ either on the Earth or in a heavenly sanctuary.
The quarterly author finally asks:
As Seventh-day Adventists who have long believed in Christ’s return, how can we make sure we don’t make the mistake, even if only in a subtle way, of this “evil servant”?
Teaching of the investigative judgment and that there will be a remnant upon the earth that will cease from sinning, to vindicate God and his Law, is making a “subtle” mistake about the second coming of Christ. It puts his return to a far-off time that may never come if there isn’t a generation of Adventists living completely in accordance with God’s will.
Friday, June10, Further thought
At the end of Friday’s lesson, the author asks a plethora of questions. He finishes with:
How do we learn to live with delay? What Bible characters had to live with delay, and what can we learn from them? For example, Joseph, Abraham and Sarah, Caleb and Joshua? Also, what does Revelation 6:9, 10 say about delay? (Pg. 94 Standard quarterly)
Rev. 6:9-10 does not teach about delay, but verse 11 does. It states:
Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
This verse is avoided because it brings up more questions that Adventists have had difficulty explaining. Just who are these “servants” that are there? Are they there bodily, or are they spirits of the slain during the time of the seven seals, bowls and trumpets (the great tribulation) of Revelation? Are these spirits of those who have been slain for the testimony of Jesus Christ near the end of time, or are they from all ages of the Christian church? What does it mean that they are under the altar? What does it mean to “rest a little longer”? How had they been killed and who are they who will be killed in like manner?
The questions could go on for a long time, but what’s the point of it? This week’s lesson is supposed to be about “last day events” but it’s been about a lot more than that. It’s primarily been about the destruction of Jerusalem and the second coming of Jesus Christ. We’ve been living in the last days since the time of the Apostles until now. Christ will return like a thief in the night, at an hour in which we do not expect. He will not come on any false date set for the second coming, but will surprise even the most honest searchers for the time of his return. He will not surprise the true believer, however, because a true believer is already ready for the return of his Lord, by being found in Christ.