Lesson 2 For
Octuber 10th 2015.
The Crisis (Withing And Without)
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Third Quatter 2015
The Crisis (Within and Without)
Read for This Week's
1 Kings 12:26-31;
2 Chron. 33:9-10;
'Israel was holiness to the Lord. The firstfruits of His increase. All
that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them,' says the
If we could pick one word to describe the human
condition since the Fall, it would be
crisis, the extent of which
can be best understood by what it took to get us out of the crisis: the
death of Jesus on the cross. The crisis must be pretty bad; after all,
look at the extreme measures needed to solve it.
All through the Bible, many stories took place against the backdrop
of one crisis or another. The situation during the time of Jeremiah and
his ministry was no different.
God's people faced many challenges, both from within and from
without. Unfortunately, despite the terrible military threat from
foreign powers, in many ways the greatest crisis came from within.
Within meant not just a corrupt leadership and corrupt priesthood,
which were bad enough, but
within was in the sense of people
whose hearts had been so hardened and damaged by sin and apostasy that
they refused to heed the warnings that God was sending them, warnings
that could have spared them from disaster.
Sin is bad enough, but when you refuse to turn away from it-talk
about a crisis!
Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath,
A Quick History
When the Israelites had finally entered the Promised Land, after
years of wandering in the wilderness, it wasn't long before troubles
began. All it took was for a new generation to arise, one that didn't
know the Lord (Judg.
2:10), and a spiritual crisis started that, in many ways,
infected the nation all through its history. It's a problem that,
indeed, has infected the Christian church as well.
Judges 2:1-15. What caused the crisis, and how was it made manifest?
Judges 2:11 says:
Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the
Lord (NIV). Each generation, one after the
other, moved one step further from God until the nation was doing
exactly what the Lord had told them not to do. Due to their sin, they
faced one crisis after another, but even then the Lord had not given up
on them. He sent them judges (Judg.
2:16), who delivered them from their immediate woes.
After the era of the judges, the nation entered a time of relative
peace and prosperity under what has been called
the United Monarchy,
the rule of Saul, David, and Solomon, which lasted about one hundred
years. Under David, then Solomon, it grew into a regional power.
good times, though, did not last. After the death of
Solomon (about 931 b.c.), the nation split into two factions, Israel in
the north and Judah in the south. Much of the blame can be placed on the
misguided rule of Solomon, who, for all his wisdom, made numerous
The tribes had long suffered grievous wrongs under the
oppressive measures of their former ruler. The extravagance of Solomon's
reign during his apostasy had led him to tax the people heavily and to
require of them much menial service.-Ellen G. White,
Prophets and Kings, pp. 88, 89. Things
were never the same again for God's chosen nation. Everything the Lord
had warned them not to do, they did, and thus they reaped the doleful
Think about the problem of the next generation
not having the values and beliefs of the one before it. How have we, as
a church, dealt with this issue? How can we learn to transmit our values
to those who follow us?
The Two Kingdoms
After the division of the nation, things went from bad to worse. In
the Northern Kingdom, King Jeroboam made some terrible spiritual choices
that had a long-lasting impact for evil.
1 Kings 12:26-31. What should this tell us about how immediate
circumstances can so blind our judgment?
The king's introduction of idolatrous worship helped set the nation
on a disastrous course.
The apostasy introduced during Jeroboam's
reign became more and more marked, until finally it resulted in the
utter ruin of the kingdom of Israel.-Ellen G. White,
Prophets and Kings, p. 107. In 722 b.c.,
Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, put an end to the country and deported its
inhabitants to different parts of his empire (see
2 Kings 17:1-7). There was no turning back from this exile.
For a time, Israel disappeared from history.
Things weren't as bad in the Southern Kingdom, at least not yet. But
they weren't great either, and, as with the Northern Kingdom, the Lord
sought to spare these people from the calamity that the Northern Kingdom
faced, only now from the threat of the Babylonians. Unfortunately, with
rare exceptions, Judah had a series of kings who continued to lead the
nation into deeper apostasy.
What do these
verses say about the reign of some of Judah's kings?
2 Chron. 33:9-10,
2 Kings 24:8-9,
Despite all the terrible leadership, so many of the prophetic books
of the Bible, including Jeremiah, are the words of the prophets whom God
sent to His people in an attempt to turn them away from the sin and
apostasy that was eating at the heart of the nation. The Lord was not
going to give up on His people without giving them ample time and
opportunity to turn from their evil ways and be spared the disaster that
their sin would, inevitably, bring.
It's so hard to step out of your own culture and
environment and look at yourself objectively. In fact, it's impossible.
Why, then, must we constantly test our lives against the standard of the
Bible? What other standard do we have?
It was against this background that the young Jeremiah began his
The word of the Lord came to him, and he
spoke it in hopes that the people, if they would heed these words, would
be spared the ruin that otherwise was sure to come.
Jeremiah 2:1-28 and answer the following questions:
had God made to the nation when they were faithful?
What were some
of the priests, pastors, and prophets doing that was sinful?
In what terrible
ways were the people self-deceived in regard to their true spiritual
Even though the nation had experienced some spiritual reform under
the leadership of Hezekiah and Josiah, the people reverted to their old
ways and fell into worse apostasy. As he did all through his ministry,
Jeremiah here spoke in no uncertain terms about what was going on.
Particularly interesting are his words in
Jeremiah 2:13. The people had committed two evils: they forsook the
Lord, the fountain of living waters and, as a result, hewed out for
themselves broken cisterns that, of course, could not hold any water at
all. In other words, having abandoned the Lord, they had lost
everything. These words become even more meaningful in light of what
Jesus said in
Jeremiah 2:5, the Lord said that the people had gone after
worthlessness, and as a result they had become
(ESV). The Hebrew words for both terms come from the same Hebrew word
(hbl) that is used in Ecclesiastes often translated
It also means
a vapor or
breath. How does going after
worthless things make us
worthless? What does that mean? How does
this concept help us to understand those who, at times, feel as if their
lives are meaningless or worthless? What is the answer for them?
Wednesday October 7
The Babylonian Threat
The background to the political events that shaped the ministry of
Jeremiah are, to some degree, lost to history. That is, many of the
details are not available. But we do have in the Bible (with the help of
archaeological finds) more than enough information to have a general
picture of what took place. Though from a human perspective it probably
seemed that no one was in control as these nations battled it out for
land, power, and hegemony, the Bible teaches us differently.
Jeremiah 27:6. What are we to make of this?
The little kingdom of Judah had, in the early years of Jeremiah's
ministry, found itself caught up in the military battles between
Babylon, Egypt, and the waning power of Assyria. With the decline of the
Assyrian empire in the late seventh century b.c., Egypt sought to regain
power and dominance in the region. However, at the battle of Carchemish
in 605 b.c., Egypt was crushed and Babylon became the new world power.
This new power made Judah its vassal state. Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
could stabilize the country only by swearing allegiance to the
Babylonian king. Many in the country, however, didn't want to do that;
they wanted to fight and free themselves from the Babylonians, even
though that wasn't what the Lord intended for them to do. On the
contrary, God was using Babylon specifically as a vehicle to punish the
nation for its apostasy.
Jeremiah 25:8-12. What was Jeremiah's message to the people of
Over and over Jeremiah warned the people about what would happen
because of their sin, and time and again many of the political and
religious leaders refused to heed the warnings, believing instead what
they wanted to believe, which is that the Lord would spare them. After
all, were they not God's specially called people?
When was the last time you believed what you
wanted to believe, no matter how obviously wrong that belief turned out
to be? What lessons have you learned so that the same thing doesn't
Jeremiah 5:1, the Lord tells the people to run through the streets
if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth,
that I may pardon her [Jerusalem] (ESV). This brings to mind two
stories. One is from an ancient Greek philosopher of the fourth century
b.c. named Diogenes who, according to legend, used to walk around in the
marketplace in the daytime, claiming that he was looking for an honest
man. The other story, of course, one that we know is true, is that of
God speaking to Abraham, telling him that if He could find 50 righteous
men (soon reduced to 10), He would not destroy the city.
The point, though, in the Lord's words through Jeremiah was to reveal
just how widespread the apostasy and sin had become among His people.
Was there no one who did justice and sought truth?
Jeremiah 5:2-3. What is being said here that shows just how bad
things were becoming? (See
These verses bring up a point that appears all through the book. No
matter how deeply fallen the nation had become, many of the people
believed that they were still faithfully following the Lord! They were
uttering His name, but they were doing it
falsely instead of
in truth, in justice, and in righteousness (Jer.
4:2, ESV) as the Lord had commanded them. They did not listen
to the warning coming from God, but they went on in their lives and
religious practices as if everything were all right between them and
God, when in fact almost nothing was right between them.
The depth of their deception can be seen in
Jeremiah 7:4, when the people would take a false comfort in these
words, hekhal yhwh hekhal yhwh hekhal yhwh hemma! (
This is the
temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord),
as if having the temple there were all that they needed in order to
ensure that all would go well with them. It's one thing to know you're
in a crisis; but when you are in one and don't know it, that's an even
With all the wonderful truth we have been given
as Seventh-day Adventists, how can we make sure we don't fall into a
similar deception of believing our unique calling itself is enough to
Ye shall not do
after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is
right in his own eyes (Deut.
When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord
thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to
do that which is right in the eyes of the Lord thy God
In those days there was no king in Israel, but
every man did that which was right in his own eyes
There's a crucially important contrast presented in these verses,
especially in this day and age when many people revolt against the idea
of being told by an outside authority what to do, or being told what is
right and wrong. Yet we can see here a clear distinction between these
two worldviews. In one, people do whatever they think is
their own eyes; in another, people are to do what is right in the
eyes of the Lord thy God. The problem with the first position is
that, so often in history, what is
right in someone's own eyes is
often wrong in God's. That's why we have to submit everything, even our
own conscience, to the Word of God.
- What are some examples you can think of where
people did very bad things, even though they thought at the time
that what they were doing was right? Many cultures today look
back in horror at what were once common practices. What lessons
can we draw from this for ourselves today about why we not only
need to submit to the teaching of the Bible, but also need to be
very careful in how we interpret the Bible? This is especially
important when we realize that, in some cases, some of the
bad things that were done were done by those who believed
they could justify their actions by the Bible. What should this
tell us about how basic and foundational to all our beliefs the
Ten Commandments need to be?
- As we study Jeremiah this quarter, keep in mind the idea
that despite warning after warning, the people believed that
they were right with God. What could have caused them to be so
deceived about their true condition? What message should this
have for us as well?
A Most Satisfying Career -Part 2
Some Christian lay workers visited the prison each week to teach
prisoners about God. One of the prisoners invited Harry to join
them. He went, but his mind focused on a way to escape from prison.
A lay worker gave him a book called The Great Controversy. Harry
read it, but he was sure that with all the crimes he’d committed,
God wouldn’t bother with him.
Often at night, some of the prisoners would sing and pray
together from their cells. One night the words of their song touched
I’ve wandered far away from God, now I’m coming
home, they sang. In the darkness, tears fell unchecked from
Harry’s eyes. Then he began sobbing. The same thing happened again a
few nights later. Harry realized that God was calling him to come
home, and he couldn’t refuse.
Harry hesitated to join any one religious group, for he didn’t
know which one taught Bible truth. He began studying many different
religions. He even learned Arabic so he could read the Koran. But
none of these religions seemed to hold the truth.
Then Harry remembered the book that he had received. He pulled it
out and began reading it again. As he read The Great Controversy, he
sensed that this book was teaching the truth.
Harry began meeting with the Bible class taught be the
Adventists. He joined the baptismal class and prepared to be
baptized. But because of Harry’s reputation for escaping, the guards
refused to allow Harry to leave for his baptism.
A month later Harry was transferred back to the original prison
from which he had escaped. When he entered the prison, the guards
greeted him. Some of them had heard that Harry had changed, and they
watched to see if it was true. They even bribed other prisoners to
spy on him.
Harry rejoiced to learn that Adventists held worship services in
this prison, too. He joined them and continued studying the Voice of
Prophecy lessons he had started several months earlier. Finally he
was allowed to be baptized.
Harry wrote to his family and told them that he had given his
life to God. When they visited him, they were amazed at the changes
they saw. When Harry and his family prayed together, the guards
bowed their heads too. They even left him alone with his mother, for
they were convinced he would not try to escape again.
Harry threw himself into prison ministries from the inside. He
held meetings, enrolled other prisoners in the Voice of Prophecy
Bible courses, and shared books by Ellen White with other prisoners.
The Adventist group worshipping in the prison grew to about 100
before Harry was released.
When Harry returned home, he began working as a literature
evangelist. He loves sharing his faith with those he meets and
leading them to God.
Leading souls to Jesus is a new and
satisfying career, far better than the one that landed me in jail,
_____ * Alex is a pseudonym. Harry Mitengo lives in Liwonde, Malawi.