1. THE PATRIARCHS
a. Describe Abraham’s example as a patriarch. Genesis 18:17–19; 12:6–8.
“In early times the father was the ruler and priest of his own family, and he exercised authority over his children, even after they had families of their own. His descendants were taught to look up to him as their head, in both religious and secular matters. This patriarchal system of government Abraham endeavored to perpetuate, as it tended to preserve the knowledge of God. It was necessary to bind the members of the household together, in order to build up a barrier against the idolatry that had become so widespread and so deep-seated.”— Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 141.
b. What lifestyle was pursued by the patriarchs? Hebrews 11:8–10; Genesis 25:27.
2. EDUCATION IN THE WILDERNESS
a. How did the Lord direct the education of Israel in the wilderness? 1 Corinthians 10:1–4; Isaiah 63:9.
“The Lord Himself directed the education of Israel. His care was not restricted to their religious interests; whatever affected their mental or physical well-being was also the subject of divine providence, and came within the sphere of divine law.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 592.
“Even in providing their food, God sought their highest good. The manna with which He fed them in the wilderness was of a nature to promote physical, mental, and moral strength.”—Education, p. 38.
“The Hebrew nation were educated during their journeying through the wilderness. They engaged in physical and mental labor. They used their muscles in various lines of work. The history of the wilderness life of God’s chosen people was chronicled for the benefit of the Israel of God till the close of time. . . . The Lord did not forsake his people in their wanderings through the wilderness, but many of them forsook the Lord. The education they had had in Egypt made them subject to temptation, to idolatry, and to licentiousness, and because they disregarded the commandments of the Lord, nearly all the adults who left Egypt were overthrown in the wilderness; but their children were permitted to enter Canaan.”—The Review and Herald, December 17, 1895.
“Everything connected with the pitching of the camp was an object lesson to the children, schooling them in habits of precision and carefulness and order. The children that were old enough were required to learn how to pitch the tents in which they lived, and to observe perfect order in all that they did. . . . Constantly they were obtaining an education in regard to heavenly things. Constantly the parents were explaining to their children why the Israelites were traveling in the wilderness; why the law was given at Sinai; and what they expected to do and to be when they reached the Land of Promise.”—Lift Him Up, p. 145.
“Israel needed just the experience that God gave to them, and there was no other power that could deal with them as Christ did through all that long journey in the wilderness. The education of Israel was not entrusted to any human agency; they were taught by One who was infinite in wisdom. They were daily learners of what God required His church on earth to be.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, p. 234.
3. GOD’S PLAN FOR ISRAEL
a. What was God’s purpose for Israel in the settlement of Canaan? Deuteronomy 4:5–10; 11:22–24.
“God chose Israel to reveal His character to men. He desired them to be as wells of salvation in the world. . . . In the early days of Israel the nations of the world, through corrupt practices, had lost the knowledge of God. They had once known Him; but because ‘they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, . . . their foolish heart was darkened.’ Romans 1:21. Yet in His mercy God did not blot them out of existence. He purposed to give them an opportunity of again becoming acquainted with Him through His chosen people. Through the teachings of the sacrificial service, Christ was to be uplifted before all nations, and all who would look to Him should live.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 14.
“God had placed His people in Canaan as a mighty breastwork to stay the tide of moral evil, that it might not flood the world.”— Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 544.
b. How did they fare in the implementation of this plan? Judges 2:7, 10–12; 1:28.
“The Lord had faithfully fulfilled, on His part, the promises made to Israel; Joshua had broken the power of the Canaanites, and had distributed the land to the tribes. It only remained for them, trusting in the assurance of divine aid, to complete the work of dispossessing the inhabitants of the land. But this they failed to do. By entering into league with the Canaanites they directly transgressed the command of God, and thus failed to fulfill the condition on which He had promised to place them in possession of Canaan.”—Ibid., p. 543.
“Wherever in Israel God’s plan of education was carried into effect, its results testified of its Author. But in very many households the training appointed by Heaven, and the characters thus developed, were alike rare. God’s plan was but partially and imperfectly fulfilled. By unbelief and by disregard of the Lord’s directions, the Israelites surrounded themselves with temptations that few had power to resist.”—Education, p. 45.
4. SCHOOLS OF THE PROPHETS
a. From references to the existence of the schools of the prophets, what can we learn about their nature and operation? 1 Samuel 19:18–20; 2 Kings 6:1–7.
“The schools of the prophets were founded by Samuel to serve as a barrier against the widespread corruption, to provide for the moral and spiritual welfare of the youth, and to promote the future prosperity of the nation by furnishing it with men qualified to act in the fear of God as leaders and counselors. In the accomplishment of this object Samuel gathered companies of young men who were pious, intelligent, and studious. These were called the sons of the prophets. As they communed with God and studied His word and His works, wisdom from above was added to their natural endowments. The instructors were men not only well versed in divine truth, but those who had themselves enjoyed communion with God and had received the special endowment of His Spirit. They enjoyed the respect and confidence of the people, both for learning and piety.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 593.
“The chief subjects of study were the law of God with the instructions given to Moses, sacred history, sacred music, and poetry. It was the grand object of all study to learn the will of God and the duties of His people. In the records of sacred history were traced the footsteps of Jehovah. From the events of the past were drawn lessons of instruction for the future. The great truths set forth by the types and shadows of the Mosaic law were brought to view, and faith grasped the central object of all that system, the Lamb of God that was to take away the sins of the world.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 97.
b. What manual training did Jesus receive when He was on this earth? Matthew 13:55. What about the students of the schools of the prophets?
“The pupils of these schools sustained themselves by their own labor as husbandmen and mechanics. In Israel this was not considered strange or degrading; it was regarded a crime to allow children to grow up in ignorance of useful labor. In obedience to the command of God, every child was taught some trade, even though he was to be educated for holy office.”—Ibid.
5. NOBLE EXAMPLES
a. How did God reward Joseph’s integrity and faith, after he had suffered great adversity? Genesis 37:28; 41:41–44. What preparation did he have?
“Pure, active, and joyous, [Joseph] gave evidence also of moral earnestness and firmness. He listened to his father’s instructions, and loved to obey God. The qualities that afterward distinguished him in Egypt—gentleness, fidelity, and truthfulness—were already manifest in his daily life.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 209.
b. Describe Daniel’s background. How does Daniel’s life reveal the benefit of godly education? Daniel 1:1–6; 6:1–3.
“By their wisdom and justice, by the purity and benevolence of their daily life, by their devotion to the interests of the people—and they, idolaters—Joseph and Daniel proved themselves true to the principles of their early training, true to Him whose representatives they were. These men, both in Egypt and in Babylon, the whole nation honored; and in them a heathen people, and all the nations with which they were connected, beheld an illustration of the goodness and beneficence of God, an illustration of the love of Christ. . . .
“The same mighty truths that were revealed through these men, God desires to reveal through the youth and the children of today. The history of Joseph and Daniel is an illustration of what He will do for those who yield themselves to Him and with the whole heart seek to accomplish His purpose.”—Education, pp. 56, 57.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What lifestyle was chosen by the patriarchs, and why?
2. Why did Israel need such extensive education in the wilderness?
3. How did God’s plan compare with what Israel actually achieved?
4. What important elements were present in the schools of the prophets?
5. How did God’s plan for education shine forth in the lives of the noble few?