1. GOD CHOOSES A PEOPLE
a. In the song of deliverance composed by Moses after the crossing of the Red Sea, what did he say about God’s plan to establish a kingdom on earth? Exodus 15:17, 18. What plan did the Lord have for the children of Abraham? Exodus 19:5, 6.
b. What promise did that plan include? Exodus 29:45.
c. Although God is not a respecter of persons (2 Chronicles 19:7; Acts 10:34), why did He choose the people of Israel? Deuteronomy 9:3–5; 10:15. Why does He choose us today as well? 1 Corinthians 4:9 (last part).
“God had chosen Israel. He had called them to preserve among men the knowledge of His law and of the symbols and prophecies that pointed to the Saviour. He desired them to be as wells of salvation to the world. What Abraham was in the land of his sojourn, what Joseph was in Egypt, and Daniel in the courts of Babylon, the Hebrew people were to be among the nations. They were to reveal God to men.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 27.
“By our words and our works we reveal to the world, to angels, and to men whether we believe in Christ as a personal Saviour.”—The Youth’s Instructor, April 26, 1900.
2. GOD DEFINES HIS PURPOSE
a. What aim did God set before Israel? Deuteronomy 4:5–8. What was to be accomplished through them? Deuteronomy 28:12; Isaiah 2:2, 3.
“God had designed that His people should be the light of the world. From them was to shine forth the glory of His law as revealed in the life practice. For the carrying out of this design, He had caused the chosen nation to occupy a strategic position among the nations of earth.
“In the days of Solomon the kingdom of Israel extended from Hamath on the north to Egypt on the south, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the river Euphrates. Through this territory ran many natural highways of the world’s commerce, and caravans from distant lands were constantly passing to and fro. Thus there was given to Solomon and his people opportunity to reveal to men of all nations the character of the King of kings, and to teach them to reverence and obey Him. To all the world this knowledge was to be given. Through the teaching of the sacrificial offerings, Christ was to be uplifted before the nations, that all who would might live.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 70, 71.
b. What did the Lord remind His people, repeatedly, to take into serious consideration? Deuteronomy 7:6–9; 28:15, 16, 33.
c. What warning was given to the Jews when the kingdom was about to be taken from them? Matthew 8:11, 12. Why did they finally lose the kingdom? Matthew 21:43; Mark 12:6–9.
“The Jewish leaders thought themselves too wise to need instruction, too righteous to need salvation, too highly honored to need the honor that comes from Christ. The Saviour turned from them to entrust to others the privileges they had abused and the work they had slighted. God’s glory must be revealed, His word established. Christ’s kingdom must be set up in the world.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 16.
3. GOD’S PLAN FOR US TODAY
a. Describe God’s plan for those under the new covenant. Luke 12:32; 17:21.
“Day by day men are revealing whether the kingdom of God is within them. If Christ rules in their hearts, they are gaining strength of principle, power, ability to stand as faithful sentinels, true reformers; for there can be no reform unless there is thorough cooperation with Jesus Christ.
“Through the grace of Christ men are to use their God-given faculties to reform themselves. By this self-denying action, which the Lord of heaven looks upon with approval, they gain victories over their wrong hereditary and cultivated tendencies. Then like Daniel they make impressions upon other hearts that will never be effaced. The influence will be carried to all parts of the world.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, p. 113.
“Christianity . . . is not a creed. It is the word of Him who liveth and abideth forever. It is a living, animating principle that takes possession of mind, heart, motives, and the entire man.”—Ibid., p. 114.
b. What victory does the Lord want to accomplish in and through His chosen ones? Matthew 5:14, 16; Philippians 2:15.
“Men are taking sides, according to their choice. These that are feeding on the Word of God will show this by their practice; they are on the Lord’s side, seeking by precept and example to reform the world. . . .
“The question for us to consider is, Have we the attributes of Christ? Excuses are valueless. All circumstances, all appetites and passions, are to be servants to the God-fearing man, not rulers over him. The Christian is not to be enslaved by any hereditary or cultivated habits or tendencies. He is to rule the animal passions, rather than to be held in the bondage of habit. We are not to be the servants of circumstances, but to control circumstances, by an inwrought principle learned of the greatest Teacher the world ever knew. The solemn position in which we stand today toward the world, the solemn responsibilities and duties enjoined upon us by our Lord, are not to be ignored until our will and our circumstances are adjusted. The principle of self-denial and self-sacrifice, as revealed in the example of Christ, of John the Baptist, of Daniel and the three worthies, is to pass like a plowshare through hereditary and cultivated habits, through all circumstances and surroundings.”—Ibid., pp. 113, 114.
4. TWO CLASSES OF PEOPLE
a. Today, as we approach the borders of heavenly Canaan, what warnings must we heed? Luke 21:34–36; Romans 13:11, 12.
“Those who receive Christ by faith as their personal Saviour cannot be in harmony with the world. There are two distinct classes: One is loyal to God, keeping His commandments, while the other talks and acts like the world.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 139.
b. What scene applies with special force today? Luke 17:26–30; Acts 2:40.
“Everything in the world is in agitation. The signs of the times are ominous. . . .
“Men are still eating and drinking, planting and building, marrying, and giving in marriage. Merchants are still buying and selling. Men are jostling one against another, contending for the highest place. Pleasure lovers are still crowding to theaters, horse races, gambling hells. The highest excitement prevails, yet probation’s hour is fast closing, and every case is about to be eternally decided. Satan sees that his time is short. He has set all his agencies at work that men may be deceived, deluded, occupied and entranced, until the day of probation shall be ended, and the door of mercy be forever shut.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 636.
c. Describe the two classes of people in this world. 1 Thessalonians 5:4, 5. What are the children of light doing? Luke 11:28. What makes many churchgoers children of darkness? Matthew 24:48–51.
“All society is ranging into two great classes, the obedient and the disobedient. Among which class shall we be found?”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 949.
“Men are taking sides, according to their choice. These that are feeding on the Word of God will show this by their practice; they are on the Lord’s side, seeking by precept and example to reform the world. All that have refused to be taught of God hold the traditions of men. They at last pass over on the side of the enemy, against God, and are written, Antichrist. The people of God, who understand our position in this world’s history, are, with ears open and hearts softened and subdued, pressing together in unity, one with Jesus Christ.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, p. 113.
5. ETERNITY BEFORE US
a. Since each and every person, sooner or later, must make his or her choice in view of eternity extending before us all, what is written in 1 John 2:17?
“Many who profess to be looking for the appearing of our Lord are anxious, burdened seekers for worldly gain. They are blind to their eternal interest. They labor for that which satisfieth not; they spend their money for that which is not bread. They strive to content themselves with the treasures they have laid up upon the earth, which must perish, and they neglect the preparation for eternity, which should be the first and only real work of their lives.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 600.
“Make your decision for eternity.”—Ibid., p. 495.
b. Because we must make provisions for eternity, what admonition should we bear in mind? 1 Peter 5:6–10.
“Where is security? There is assurance in nothing that is human or earthly. Rapidly are men ranging themselves under the banner they have chosen. . . . There are those who are waiting and watching and working for our Lord’s appearing. Another class are falling into line under the generalship of the first great apostate. Few believe with heart and soul that we have a hell to shun and a heaven to win.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 636.
“Which will we choose—liberty in Christ, or bondage and tyranny in the service of Satan? Why should we reject the invitation of mercy, refuse the proffers of divine love? If we choose to live with Christ through the ceaseless ages of eternity, why not choose Him now as our most loved and trusted friend, our best and wisest counsellor?”—The Bible Echo, June 25, 1894.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why did God choose Israel?
2. Why was the kingdom taken from the Jewish nation and given to others?
3. What is God’s purpose for His people with reference to the world?
4. Explain the difference between true Christians and nominal Christians.
5. Why will many professed Christians be deceived and lose Heaven?