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Sabbath Bible Lessons

Insights From the Book of Isaiah

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Lesson 12 Sabbath, September 17, 2016

A Message for Today

“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1).

“I cannot too strongly urge all our church members, all who are true missionaries, all who believe the third angel’s message, all who turn away their feet from the Sabbath, to consider the message of the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 265.

Suggested Reading:   Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 24-37; vol. 5, 
  pp. 298–302. 

Sunday September 11


a. What must we carefully keep in mind when seeking to promote the message of Isaiah, chapter 58? Isaiah 58:1.

“[Isaiah 58:1 quoted.] This message must be given; but while it must be given, we should be careful not to thrust and crowd and condemn those who have not the light that we have. We should not go out of our way to make hard thrusts at the Catholics. Among the Catholics there are many who are most conscientious Christians and who walk in all the light that shines upon them, and God will work in their behalf. Those who have had great privileges and opportunities, and who have failed to improve their physical, mental, and moral powers, but who have lived to please themselves and have refused to bear their responsibility, are in greater danger and in greater condemnation before God than those who are in error upon doctrinal points, yet who seek to live to do good to others. Do not censure others; do not condemn them.

“If we allow selfish considerations, false reasoning, and false excuses to bring us into a perverse state of mind and heart, so that we shall not know the ways and will of God, we shall be far more guilty than the open sinner. We need to be very cautious in order that we may not condemn those who, before God, are less guilty than ourselves.”—Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 243, 244.

Monday September 12


a. What is often the reaction faced by earnest believers seeking to “cry aloud, spare not” (Isaiah 58:1)? John 3:19–21; compare Numbers 16:1–4. What was the Lord’s messenger shown concerning the state of God’s professed people?

“Many were cherishing idols in their hearts and were practicing iniquity which separated them from God and caused them to be bodies of darkness. I saw but few who stood in the light, having discernment and spirituality to discover these stumbling blocks and remove them out of the way. . . .

“Some who occupy the position of watchmen to warn the people of danger have given up their watch and recline at ease. They are unfaithful sentinels. They remain inactive, while their wily foe enters the fort and works successfully by their side to tear down what God has commanded to be built up. They see that Satan is deceiving the inexperienced and unsuspecting; yet they take it all quietly, as though they had no special interest, as though these things did not concern them. They apprehend no special danger; they see no cause to raise an alarm. To them everything seems to be going well, and they see no necessity of raising the faithful, trumpet notes of warning which they hear borne by the plain testimonies, to show the people their transgressions and the house of Israel their sins. These reproofs and warnings disturb the quiet of these sleepy, ease-loving sentinels, and they are not pleased. They say in heart, if not in words: ‘This is all uncalled for. It is too severe, too harsh. These men are unnecessarily disturbed and excited, and seem unwilling to give us any rest or quietude. ‘Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them’ (Numbers 16:3). They are not willing that we should have any comfort, peace, or happiness. It is active labor, toil, and unceasing vigilance alone which will satisfy these unreasonable, hard-to-be-suited watchmen. Why don’t they prophesy smooth things, and cry: Peace, peace? Then everything would move on smoothly.’ . . .

“The people have not erected graven images, yet their sin is no less in the sight of God. They worship mammon. They love worldly gain. Some will make any sacrifice of conscience to obtain their object. God’s professed people are selfish and self-caring. They love the things of this world, and have fellowship with the works of darkness. They have pleasure in unrighteousness. They have not love toward God nor love for their neighbors. They are idolaters and are worse, far worse, in the sight of God than the heathen, graven-image worshipers who have no knowledge of a better way.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 439-441.

Tuesday September 13


a. What factors make the task difficult for all who would seek to give the warning trumpet a distinctive sound? Isaiah 58:2; Ezekiel 2:1–7.

“It is not the wicked world, but those whom the Lord designates as ‘my people,’ that are to be reproved for their transgressions. He declares further: ‘Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God’ (Isaiah 58:1, 2). Here is brought to view a class who think themselves righteous and appear to manifest great interest in the service of God; but the stern and solemn rebuke of the Searcher of hearts proves them to be trampling upon the divine precepts.”—The Great Controversy, p. 452.

“The Lord says of these people: ‘They seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness.’ Here is a people who are self-deceived, self-righteous, self-complacent; and the minister is commanded to cry aloud and show them their transgressions. In all ages this work has been done for God’s people, and it is needed now more than ever before. . . .

“God always has men to whom He entrusts His message. His Spirit moves upon their hearts and constrains them to speak. Stimulated by holy zeal, and with the divine impulse strong upon them, they enter upon the performance of their duty without coldly calculating the consequences of speaking to the people the word which the Lord has given them. But the servant of God is soon made aware that he has risked something. He finds himself and his message made the subject of criticism. His manners, his life, his property, are all inspected and commented upon. His message is picked to pieces and rejected in the most illiberal and unsanctified spirit, as men in their finite judgment see fit. Has that message done the work that God designed it should accomplish? No; it has signally failed because the hearts of the hearers were unsanctified.

“If the minister’s face is not flint, if he has not indomitable faith and courage, if his heart is not made strong by constant communion with God, he will begin to shape his testimony to please the unsanctified ears and hearts of those he is addressing. In endeavoring to avoid the criticism to which he is exposed, he separates from God and loses the sense of divine favor, and his testimony becomes tame and lifeless. He finds that his courage and faith are gone and his labors powerless.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 299.

Wednesday September 14


a. How are God’s professed people in Isaiah 58 expecting Him to respond to their service toward Him—and what does He answer? Isaiah 58:3; Malachi 3:14, 15. What factors should we consider today about our own attitude in this regard—both toward God and toward others?

“[Isaiah 58:1–3 quoted.] The prophet presents before us a people who are finding fault with the Lord because He does not give them all that they selfishly desire. The Lord in His answer to their complaints shows that they do not deserve all that they require at His hands; for they have not dealt righteously.”—The General Conference Bulletin, May 31, 1909.

“The fasts observed by these worshipers [in Isaiah 58] are a mere pretense, a mockery of humility. They retain all their objectionable traits of character. Their hearts are not cleansed from defilement. They have not received the softening showers of the grace of God. They are destitute of the Holy Spirit, destitute of the sweetness of its influence. They manifest no repentance, no faith that works by love. They are unjust and selfish in their dealing with their fellowmen, mercilessly oppressing those whom they regard as their inferiors. Yet they complain because God does not exalt them above all others because of their righteousness.”—The Review and Herald, June 25, 1901.

“The people whom the prophet [Isaiah] is commanded to warn . . . have a form of godliness, and regard themselves as entitled to special favor and blessing, because they make a high profession and keep up a round of religious service. This nourishes their self-complacency, and they feel as the young man felt who came to Christ, claiming to have kept all the commandments, and asked, ‘What lack I yet?’ . . . This young man flattered himself that he was keeping all the commandments of God; but was he?—No. He did not love God supremely; for he loved his wealth, which was given him only in trust, more than he loved God; and he did not love his neighbors as himself; for he was not willing to distribute his riches among them. He loved his property more than he loved the souls for whom Christ was ready to sacrifice his own life.”—Ibid., October 13, 1891.

“We need to beware of self-pity. Never indulge the feeling that you are not esteemed as you should be, that your efforts are not appreciated, that your work is too difficult. Let the memory of what Christ has endured for us silence every murmuring thought. We are treated better than was our Lord.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 476.

Thursday September 15


a. In Isaiah 58, what was the real motive behind the fasting of God’s people? Isaiah 58:4. How must we avoid the spirit of this practice? Luke 7:33–35.

“The world’s Redeemer cannot honor the fasts observed by the Jewish nation. They fast in pride and self-righteousness, while Christ eats in humility with publicans and sinners.

“Since the fall, the work of Satan has been to accuse, and those who refuse the light which God sends, pursue the same course today. They lay open to others those things which they consider an offense. Thus it was with the Pharisees. When they found something of which they could accuse the disciples, they did not speak to those whom they thought to be in error. They spoke to Christ of the things which they thought to be so grievous in His disciples. When they thought that Christ offended, they accused Him to the disciples. It was their work to alienate hearts.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 5, p. 1088.

“When our prayers are offered in self-confidence, when we fail to watch, and bring our actions into harmony with our prayers, we are not accounted worshipers in the sight of heaven. We are destitute of the faith that works by love and purifies the soul; for genuine faith will lead the possessor to mortify the deeds of the flesh, and crucify selfishness, self-love, impatience, and self-righteousness. Those who would truly follow Christ must daily learn lessons in meekness and lowliness of heart, that they may speak guardedly, manifest courtesy and kindness, have tender hearts, and bring sympathy and sunshine into the home. All strife, all debate, all smiting with the tongue and the fist of wickedness, must be put away. The overbearing will must be subdued, and gentleness and a disposition to be easily entreated must be cultivated.”—The Review and Herald, June 5, 1894.

Friday September 16


1. What Bible principle determines our level of accountability toward God?

2. Why does a straight testimony reproving sin meet with opposition?

3. If we are serious about eternity, how will we feel about principles?

4. What was wrong with the fasting of the Jews in Isaiah 58?

5. Whether with fasting or not, what kind of attitudes hinder prayer?

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