a. How did God communicate with mankind in the beginning and what caused this to stop? Genesis 3:8–10; Isaiah 59:2. Why is it important? John 17:3.
b. How has God given messages for prophets to deliver—and why are these needed? Genesis 18:18, 19; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 Corinthians 1:18–24.
“The Bible unfolds truth with a simplicity and a perfect adaptation to the needs and longings of the human heart, that has astonished and charmed the most highly cultivated minds, while it enables the humble and uncultured to discern the way of salvation. And yet these simply stated truths lay hold upon subjects so elevated, so far-reaching, so infinitely beyond the power of human comprehension, that we can accept them only because God has declared them. Thus the plan of redemption is laid open to us so that every soul may see the steps he is to take in repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to be saved in God’s appointed way; yet beneath these truths, so easily understood, lie mysteries which are the hiding of His glory—mysteries which overpower the mind in its research, yet inspire the sincere seeker for truth with reverence and faith. The more he searches the Bible, the deeper is his conviction that it is the word of the living God.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 700.
c. How many of God’s people should have been prophets? Numbers 11:24–29.
2. Mount Sinai
a. When it came time to deliver the law to the Israelites, how did God communicate with them? Deuteronomy 5:22–24.
“[God] did not even then trust His precepts to the memory of a people who were prone to forget His requirements, but wrote them upon tables of stone. He would remove from Israel all possibility of mingling heathen traditions with His holy precepts, or of confounding His requirements with human ordinances or customs. But He did not stop with giving them the precepts of the Decalogue. The people had shown themselves so easily led astray that He would leave no door of temptation unguarded. Moses was commanded to write, as God should bid him, judgments and laws giving minute instruction as to what was required. These directions relating to the duty of the people to God, to one another, and to the stranger were only the principles of the Ten Commandments amplified and given in a specific manner, that none need err. They were designed to guard the sacredness of the ten precepts engraved on the tables of stone.
“If man had kept the law of God, as given to Adam after his fall, preserved by Noah, and observed by Abraham, there would have been no necessity for the ordinance of circumcision. And if the descendants of Abraham had kept the covenant, of which circumcision was a sign, they would never have been seduced into idolatry, nor would it have been necessary for them to suffer a life of bondage in Egypt; they would have kept God’s law in mind, and there would have been no necessity for it to be proclaimed from Sinai or engraved upon the tables of stone. And had the people practiced the principles of the Ten Commandments, there would have been no need of the additional directions given to Moses.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 364.
b. Where was the law to dwell? Deuteronomy 5:29; 6:5; 2 Corinthians 3:3.
c. What did the people fail to realize in the law? Exodus 20:13; 1 John 3:15.
“In consequence of continual transgression, the moral law was repeated in awful grandeur from Sinai. Christ gave to Moses religious precepts which were to govern everyday life. These statutes were explicitly given to guard the ten commandments. They were not shadowy types to pass away with the death of Christ. They were to be binding upon men in every age as long as time should last. These commands were enforced by the power of the moral law, and they clearly and definitely explained that law.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1104.
3. More Prophets
a. Why were the Israelites continually needing more prophets? Judges 6:7–10.
“Until the generation that had received instruction from Joshua became extinct, idolatry made little headway; but the parents had prepared the way for the apostasy of their children. The disregard of the Lord’s restrictions on the part of those who came in possession of Canaan sowed seeds of evil that continued to bring forth bitter fruit for many generations. The simple habits of the Hebrews had secured them physical health; but association with the heathen led to the indulgence of appetite and passion, which gradually lessened physical strength and enfeebled the mental and moral powers. By their sins the Israelites were separated from God; His strength was removed from them, and they could no longer prevail against their enemies. Thus they were brought into subjection to the very nations that through God they might have subdued. . . .
“Yet He did not utterly forsake His people. There was ever a remnant who were true to Jehovah; and from time to time the Lord raised up faithful and valiant men to put down idolatry and to deliver the Israelites from their enemies. But when the deliverer was dead, and the people were released from his authority, they would gradually return to their idols. And thus the story of backsliding and chastisement, of confession and deliverance, was repeated again and again.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 544, 545.
b. What happened when they went too deep into apostasy—and why? Ezekiel 3:4–7; 1 Samuel 28:6; 2 Chronicles 36:14–16; Luke 11:47–51.
“The Lord never turned away a soul that came to Him in sincerity and humility. Why did he turn Saul away unanswered? The king had by his own act forfeited the benefits of all the methods of inquiring of God. He had rejected the counsel of Samuel the prophet; he had exiled David, the chosen of God; he had slain the priests of the Lord. Could he expect to be answered by God when he had cut off the channels of communication that Heaven had ordained? He had sinned away the Spirit of grace, and could he be answered by dreams and revelations from the Lord? Saul did not turn to God with humility and repentance. It was not pardon for sin and reconciliation with God, that he sought, but deliverance from his foes. By his own stubbornness and rebellion he had cut himself off from God.”—Ibid., p. 676.
c. What did the last Old Testament prophet prophesy and how was that partially fulfilled after a period of nearly 400 years without a prophet? Malachi 4:5, 6; Matthew 11:11, 14.
4. THE New Testament
a. Why was there no need for the usual kind of prophets when Jesus was on earth? Hebrews 1:1, 2; 1 Timothy 3:16; Matthew 1:23.
“The priest did not think that this babe was the One of whom Moses had written, ‘A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you.’ Acts 3:22. He did not think that this babe was He whose glory Moses had asked to see. But One greater than Moses lay in the priest’s arms; and when he enrolled the child’s name, he was enrolling the name of One who was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy. That name was to be its death warrant; for the system of sacrifices and offerings was waxing old; the type had almost reached its antitype, the shadow its substance.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 52.
“Before this the Spirit had been in the world; from the very beginning of the work of redemption He had been moving upon men’s hearts. But while Christ was on earth, the disciples had desired no other helper. Not until they were deprived of His presence would they feel their need of the Spirit, and then He would come.”—Ibid., p. 669.
b. How do we compare the New Testament with the Old and what should we do about it? 2 Corinthians 3:8; Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:16–18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19, 20.
“The types and shadows of the sacrificial service, with the prophecies, gave the Israelites a veiled, indistinct view of the mercy and grace to be brought to the world by the revelation of Christ. To Moses was unfolded the significance of the types and shadows pointing to Christ. He saw to the end of that which was to be done away when, at the death of Christ, type met antitype. He saw that only through Christ can man keep the moral law. By transgression of this law man brought sin into the world, and with sin came death. Christ became the propitiation for man’s sin. He proffered His perfection of character in the place of man’s sinfulness. He took upon Himself the curse of disobedience. The sacrifices and offerings pointed forward to the sacrifice He was to make. The slain lamb typified the Lamb that was to take away the sin of the world. . . .
“Without Christ, the transgressor was left under its curse, with no hope of pardon. The ministration had of itself no glory, but the promised Saviour, revealed in the types and shadows of the ceremonial law, made the moral law glorious.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 237.
5. The Last Days
a. How do we know that Joel was speaking of God’s final remnant and how does the New Testament reinforce the need of the spirit of prophecy? Joel 2:32; Revelation 12:17; 19:10.
“God has given us, as His servants, our work. He has given us a message to bear to His people. For thirty years we have been receiving the words of God and speaking them to His people. We have trembled at the responsibility, which we have accepted with much prayer and meditation. We have stood as God’s ambassadors, in Christ’s stead beseeching souls to be reconciled to God. We have warned of danger as God has presented before us the perils of His people. Our work has been given us of God. What, then, will be the condition of those who refuse to hear the words which God has sent them, because they cross their track or reprove their wrongs? If you are thoroughly convinced that God has not spoken by us, why not act in accordance with your faith and have no more to do with a people who are under so great a deception as this people are? If you have been moving according to the dictates of the Spirit of God you are right and we are wrong. God is either teaching His church, reproving their wrongs and strengthening their faith, or He is not. This work is of God, or it is not. God does nothing in partnership with Satan. My work for the past thirty years bears the stamp of God or the stamp of the enemy. There is no halfway work in the matter. The Testimonies are of the Spirit of God, or of the devil. In arraying yourself against the servants of God you are doing a work either for God or for the devil. ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’ What stamp does your work bear? It will pay to look critically at the result of your course.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 229, 230.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why is it so urgent that we have communication with God?
2. How was God’s intention revealed that the people should understand a deeper meaning than just the basic written words of the law?
3. At what point did God send more information through the prophets and what happened when they kept rejecting it?
4. How is the New Testament to be received in comparison to the glorious manifestation of God in the Old Testament?
5. What are we to expect from God in the days just before the end of the world?