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Sabbath Bible Lessons

True Reformation—Then and Now

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Lesson 3 Sabbath, January 16, 2016

Working for Reform

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

“Never was the kingdom of Israel to be left without noble witnesses to the mighty power of God to save from sin. Even in the darkest hours some would remain true to their divine Ruler and in the midst of idolatry would live blameless in the sight of a holy God.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 108.

Suggested Reading:   The Review and Herald, August 21, 1913

Sunday January 10

1. A FAITHFUL REMNANT

a. Was there a faithful remnant in the time of Elijah, as the judgments of God were falling upon apostate Israel? 1 Kings 18:13; 19:18.

b. Does God always have a faithful remnant? Romans 11:5; Revelation 12:17.

c. How does God promise to care for His people as His judgments fall upon the earth? Psalm 27:5; Isaiah 33:15, 16.

“That God who cared for Elijah will not pass by one of His self-sacrificing children. He who numbers the hairs of their head will care for them, and in time of famine they shall be satisfied. While the wicked are dying from hunger and pestilence, angels will shield the righteous and supply their wants. To him that ‘walketh righteously’ is the promise: [Isaiah 33:15, 16; 41:17 quoted].”—The Great Controversy, p. 629.


Monday January 11

2. PREPARING THE WAY OF THE LORD

a. What specific request did Elijah make to challenge the national apostasy? 1 Kings 18:19, 20.

“Elijah demands a convocation at Carmel of all Israel and also of all the prophets of Baal. The awful solemnity in the looks of the prophet gives him the appearance of one standing in the presence of the Lord God of Israel. The condition of Israel in their apostasy demands a firm demeanor, stern speech, and commanding authority. God prepares the message to fit the time and occasion. . . . God will have a fitting message to meet His people in their varied conditions.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 279.

b. Who else made a firm stand for God in carrying forward a work of reform? Nehemiah 5:9.

“The Lord will use in His work men who are as true as steel to principle, who will not be swayed by the sophistries of those who have lost their spiritual eyesight.

“Nehemiah was chosen by God because he was willing to cooperate with the Lord as a restorer. . . .When he saw wrong principles being acted upon, he did not stand by as an onlooker and by his silence give consent. He did not leave the people to conclude that he was standing on the wrong side. He took a firm, unyielding stand for the right. He would not lend one jot of influence to the perversion of the principles that God has established.”—The Review and Herald, May 2, 1899.

“When Nehemiah moved out as a reformer and deliverer in Israel, he was actuated by love to God and anxiety for the prosperity of His people. His heart was in the work he had undertaken; his hope, his energy, his enthusiasm, his determination of character, were contagious and inspired others with the same courage and lofty purpose. Each man became a Nehemiah in his own sphere and helped to make stronger the hand and heart of his neighbor; and soon feebleness was succeeded by strength and courage.”—Ibid., March 18, 1884.

“The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.”—Education, p. 57.


Tuesday January 12

3. A CALL TO REPENTANCE

a. What was the purpose of the judgments sent upon Israel? Isaiah 1:16–18; Luke 11:32. What effect did they have on Ahab? 1 Kings 18:17.

“The object of this [sudden] affliction was to arouse Israel to a realization of their sin, to bring them to repentance, and turn them to God, that they might honor Jehovah as the only true and living God. After three years and a half of drought, the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.’ ‘And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim’ (1 Kings 18:1, 17, 18).”—The Review and Herald, May 26, 1891.

“Confession will not be acceptable to God without sincere repentance and reformation. There must be decided changes in the life; everything offensive to God must be put away. This will be the result of genuine sorrow for sin.”—Steps to Christ, p. 39.

b. What is the difference between true repentance and a false repentance? 2 Corinthians 7:9–11.

“Multitudes sorrow that they have sinned and even make an outward reformation because they fear that their wrongdoing will bring suffering upon themselves. But this is not repentance in the Bible sense. They lament the suffering rather than the sin. Such was the grief of Esau when he saw that the birthright was lost to him forever. Balaam, terrified by the angel standing in his pathway with drawn sword, acknowledged his guilt lest he should lose his life; but there was no genuine repentance for sin, no conversion of purpose, no abhorrence of evil. Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, exclaimed, ‘I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood’ (Matthew 27:4).”—Ibid., pp.23, 24.

“In this chief of the publicans was awakened a longing for a better life. . . . Zacchaeus had heard of the call to repentance. . . . He knew the Scriptures and was convicted that his practice was wrong. . . . He felt that he was a sinner in the sight of God. . . . Zacchaeus began at once to follow the conviction that had taken hold upon him and to make restitution to those whom he had wronged.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 553.


Wednesday January 13

4. A CALL TO OBEDIENCE

a. Upon what does our happiness and salvation depend? Psalm 106:3; Job 36:11; Jeremiah 7:23.

“Our happiness and salvation depend upon eating the bread of life; that is, obeying the words and doing the works of Christ, advancing righteousness and restraining unrighteousness. Nothing can give such self-reliance, such courage, such an increase of talents and ability, as a true estimate of the requirements of God’s law. . . . Love for Jesus Christ leads us to obey God’s commandments, which are a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, securing for us the illuminating, purifying, blissful presence of both the Father and the Son. He who is obedient can commune with God even as did Enoch.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 194.

b. What attitude is revealed by those who resist obedience to God? Acts 7:51–53; 2 Timothy 3:8. How will they regard God’s people in the last days? Matthew 24:9.

“The class that have provoked the displeasure of Heaven will charge all their troubles upon those whose obedience to God’s commandments is a perpetual reproof to transgressors. It will be declared that men are offending God by the violation of the Sunday sabbath; that this sin has brought calamities which will not cease until Sunday observance shall be strictly enforced; and that those who present the claims of the fourth commandment, thus destroying reverence for Sunday, are troublers of the people, preventing their restoration to divine favor and temporal prosperity. Thus the accusation urged of old against the servant of God will be repeated and upon grounds equally well established: ‘And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim’ (1 Kings 18:17, 18). As the wrath of the people shall be excited by false charges, they will pursue a course toward God’s ambassadors very similar to that which apostate Israel pursued toward Elijah.”—The Great Controversy, p. 590.

“All the temptations of Satan, Christ met with the word of God. By trusting in God’s promises, He received power to obey God’s commandments, and the tempter could gain no advantage.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 181.


Thursday January 14

5. A WORK OF RESTORATION

a. What are the “old paths” that require restoration? Jeremiah 6:16; Isaiah 58:12–14.

“Jeremiah called [the] attention [of the nation] repeatedly to the counsels given in Deuteronomy. More than any other of the prophets, he emphasized the teachings of the Mosaic law and showed how these might bring the highest spiritual blessing to the nation and to every individual heart. ‘Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein,’ he pleaded, ‘and ye shall find rest for your souls’ (Jeremiah 6:16).”—Prophets and Kings, p. 411.

b. What is included in the work of restoration, and who is called to do this work? Isaiah 62:6; 58:1.

“It is an alarming fact that indifference, sleepiness, and apathy have characterized men in responsible positions, and that there is a steady increase of pride and an alarming disregard of the warnings of the Spirit of God. The barriers which God’s word places about His people are being broken down. Men who are acquainted with the way in which God has led His people in the past, instead of inquiring for the old paths and defending our position as a peculiar people, have linked hands with the world. The most alarming feature in the case is that warning voices have not been heard in remonstrance, entreaties, and warnings. The eyes of God’s people seem to be blinded, while the church is fast drifting into the channel of worldliness.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 513.


Friday January 15

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1. How did God’s faithful remnant live, even though they were at times surrounded by idolatry? How does this apply to us today?

2. What did Nehemiah do to inspire others to work with him?

3. What kind of changes are necessary in our lives if we are truly repentant?

4. Where does true happiness come from and why?

5. Instead of seeking the “old paths,” what have some done instead, and how has this affected the church?

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