Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. Romans 13:10 NLT
A young grade school boy and his daddy were walking down a country road, when they noticed a car pull over to the shoulder a few hundred meters up the road. The passenger door opened, and a little puppy fell out the door into the ditch near the shoulder of the road. The boy watched in amazement as the car then sped off. The boy ran to the aid of the little puppy. He found the puppy whining and confused as well as looking malnourished. When the father finally caught up to the boy, the boy firmly told his daddy, “I know you may not let me keep him, but we have to take him home and feed him right now!”
What did the little boy mean by “we have to?” How did an abandoned puppy suddenly became his problem? Was there some law written in stone that the boy had to rescue this poor dog? As a matter fact there was a law, but it was not written in stone. The only reason why the boy said, “we have to” is because there was a law written on that little boy’s heart.
In Luke 10:30-37 Jesus tells a familiar story we call today, “The Good Samaritan.” In the story both the Levi and the priest knew the law of God which was written in stone, but yet they passed by a suffering brother, because that law was not written on their hearts. Then a Samaritan walks by who has the law of love written on his heart. He at once recognized what he had to do, not because of the law written in stone but because it was a law of love tugging at his heart strings. Like puppet strings, his heart strings controlled his behavior. Love and compassion were written on his heart and controlled his behavior.
Writing God’s law of love on our heart is not new to the New Testament. the goal was never to have the law of love written on stone. The ultimate goal was always to have the law written on our hearts. This goes back to the Old Testament.
But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Jeremiah 31:33 NLT
And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 NLT
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18 NLT
True justice must be given to foreigners living among you and to orphans, and you must never accept a widow’s garment as security for her debt. Deuteronomy 24:17 NLT
In the Old Testament as well as today, God does not just want the letter of the law written on stone. He wants the spirit of the law written on our hearts. That means showing love and compassion for a little puppy that will never be able to help you. It means showing love and compassion for a neighbor or foreigner who would probably just spit on you and pass you by if the situation was reversed.
This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:3 NLT
A Samaritan had to rescue a foreigner left to die in a ditch, a young boy had to rescue a helpless puppy, not because of a law carved in stone. They had to because the law was etched upon their hearts.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Key Thought: Just as Israel was to enter the promised land, Moses gave them a history lesson, remember what the Lord has done for you in the past. This should also mean something to us as we prepare to enter the promised land. October 9, 2021
Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
What does this show about the character of Moses and why God was able to use him?
Personal Application: Most people want to be leaders in concern for themselves, while God picked a leader who was concerned for others above himself. Do you see this kind of leadership in your church? Share your thoughts.
Case Study: One of your relatives states, “Why would Moses risk his own eternal life for the Israelites who had rebelled against him, accused him, didn’t listen to him, and constantly complained about his leadership?” How would you respond to your friend?
Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
What reasoning did Moses use in interceding for the people with God?
Personal Application: How are we to bring about the manifold wisdom of God to the world? Share your thoughts
Case Study: One of your friends states, “Why did God put up with the Israelites in the wilderness? Why didn’t He just destroy them all and start over like He did at the flood?” How would you respond to your friend?
They all cried as they embraced and kissed him [Paul] good-bye. They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they escorted him down to the ship. Acts 2:37-38 NLT
Growing up back in the 20th century, long before Facebook and social media, a pastor or Sabbath School teacher we all loved would move away. It seemed there would always be one member of the congregation or Sabbath School class who would keep in fairly regular contact with the pastor after he moved. Through this member we would hear about the pastor’s current mission trips and his daughter’s graduation and marriage. Looking back now, it never occurred to me to get the former pastor’s contact information. It was enough to hear the stories through that one member who kept in contact, and I suppose subconsciously in the back of my mind, I assumed if I ever needed to talk to the former pastor again personally, all I had to do was get his number from that one member who had it. Looking back, before social media, we still had a healthy and balanced way to stay in touch.
Often times I read memes about lifelong friendships and how wonderful they are-and yes they are! I treasure my friends that I discuss current events with, while remembering going through Watergate together. A couple weeks ago I shared a story about a lifelong friend who had to remind me of an accident I had decades ago. That was very special albeit embarrassing. yes, lifelong friendships are very special, but let’s not let that distract from the specialness of the friendships that didn’t last a lifetime.
While I was in first grade my family moved into a home just a couple blocks from the church school, so I moved with them. Next door lived “Hans” who was about my exact age. In no time we were playing together all the time. He was into puppetry, and we even did a puppet skit on a local TV cable station. We played super heroes and on certain summer nights would sleep outside in the treehouse, with the plans of waking up at 4am to go fight crime. Looking back I thank God I never could wake him up. No telling what trouble we would have ran into. Later in middle school we started drifting apart, and in our teens while we still lived next door we seldom saw each other at all. He had his public school friends and his music. Even as a little boy he loved playing the “Entertainer” on the piano with his front door wide open. To this day I can’t hear that song without thinking of “Hans.” I digress. Anyway Hans and I drifted apart, and for the last few years we were neighbors we were basically total strangers. However, there were times in high school where I was struggling with Algebra and Geometry. “Hans” was great at math, and would let me come over so he could explain it to me. I would thank him, and he would express his pleasure at being able to help me, then I would go back home. That was the extent of our friendship at that point.
At the turn of the 21st century, I learned from his sister that “Hans’ was living in New York City. (Thankfully his sister did indeed turn out to be a lifelong friend.) About this time I got my first computer with Internet capabilities, and had some questions. “Hans” was into computers so I called him up, and once again he enthusiastically helped me out. Once again, I thanked him, he said I was welcome, we hung up and have never spoken since. Ever since 7th or 8th grade “Hans” has had his own friends, hobbies, career and a life that I simply haven’t fit into since around 6th grade. I love staying in touch with people. I love lifelong friends. At the same time I realize it is not practical or even healthy and balanced to expect everyone from my past to still be an active friend today. That would be about as silly as a playwriter putting the entire cast into every single scene. The entire cast does not belong in every single scene, not even the star. It would be about as crazy as a field goal kicker expecting his coach to put him in on every play. That’s not how it works or how you win games.
Fact is, there is a time for actors, once they have served their purpose, to make their final exit from the play. Solomon’s wisdom teaches us there is a purpose for every season, but seasons change and so do our needs, and so do the needs of our friends. But while we celebrate lifelong friendships, lets remember the wisdom of Solomon and also celebrate those wonderful friendships that did not last a lifetime. They still served their purpose. Every friendship howbeit ever so brief, serves a purpose and brings a lesson. While my friend “Hans” had moved on with his life, and really did not need me in it, he was still there when I needed him for Algebra. Through him I have learned how to move on in my life and leave some people alone, while leaving the door wide open for that moment when I may actually be able to serve them again. That’s why I also came up with the analogy of the field goal kicker. While the field goal kicker is not needed on every play, he is needed to be on the sidelines throughout the entire game for that one moment he is needed to kick the winning field goal as time expires. Just because the coach seldom puts the kicker in on a play does not mean he does not value the kicker-he does! Just because a friend called another friend for lunch today without calling you does not mean your friend does not value you. We don’t have to be in on every “play” to be valued and appreciated.
Let’s learn from the stranger who helped us fix that flat tire and then disappeared into the night never to be seen again. He came and taught us kindness, served his purpose and exited the scene. He doesn’t even need to exchange Christmas cards. He taught us a lesson, served his purpose and that was enough.
Let’s learn from the Sabbath School teacher who harped on that one idea all the time till it drove you crazy. You haven’t seen or heard from her since the turn of the century. But sitting in Sabbath School class last week a question came up and you remembered what she said so many years ago. You used it to help someone last Sabbath understand the point a little more clearly.
My ex-fiancé dumped me over 20 years ago, but I still remember how she showed me to add sour cream to mashed potatoes and gravy. I still love making them that way to this day. And as I look back, I learned some important lessons from that relationship that are more important than mashed potatoes and gravy. I learned some hard lessons that have helped me in my relationships today. I am glad she was a part of my life!
While the blessings of lifelong friendships are amazing beyond words, lets not forget to celebrate the friendships that didn’t last a lifetime. After all, those friendships were not in vain even though they did not last. They served their purpose and they taught us valuable lessons that last a lifetime.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
“Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.” Matthew 24:40-41 NLT
Many people have used this passage to suggest a secret rapture, where people will suddenly just disappear and be taken to heaven. Growing up, I occasionally saw bumper stickers, warning that in case of rapture this car will be unmanned. But when you read this passage in context you will see no hint of a secret rapture. *Unlike the secret rapture theory, the Sabbath is found in the Bible and has been taught and observed in the Bible and throughout history. The secret rapture was never taught before 1830 and is not found in the Bible.
Let’s take a look at the entire context of the passage in Matthew 24.
“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes. “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. Matthew 24:37-41 NLT
In the days of Noah the people who were swept away or “taken away” as other versions describe, were the wicked people, not the righteous. Jesus tells us it will be the same when He comes. So the ones taken in the field and at the mill are not the righteous, they are the wicked! They are taken away from the presence of the righteous and destroyed, just like in the days of Noah. So, Jesus is telling us that two men will be in the field; one will be taken and destroyed, just like the tares that are bundled up and destroyed in Matthew 13:30 while the wheat remains in the barn. By saying the other man is left, Jesus means that man is left alive and not destroyed. In Matthew 13:38 Jesus says the field is the world. That tells us that the one who is taken is destroyed while the one who is left inherits the new earth. (See Matthew 5:5 and Revelation 21:1-5.)
Luke makes it even more clear that those who are taken are not taken to heaven, but rather are taken to destruction like those left to be eaten or destroyed by vultures.
I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.” And they answered and said to Him, “Where, Lord?” So He said to them, “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” Luke 17:34-37 NKJV
Neither Matthew or Luke give any hint of a secret rapture. After all, when the wicked were swept away in the flood that was no secret. The whole world at that time saw what was happening. The eight who remained and took over the earth knew what was going on the whole time also. There were no secrets either way.
Far from being a secret the entire world will know.
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. Revelation 1:7 NKJV
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NKJV
Yes there will be a rapture when we are taken up, but it will be no secret. Why is it so important that
everyone sees Jesus coming instead of the righteous just secretly disappearing? There are many reasons, but I am sure that Satan does not want to have to face the music. He would rather avoid that confrontation when Jesus comes as King of kings and Lord of lords. But there is no avoiding it. One day,
As I live says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God. Romans 14:11 NKJV
When the great controversy is finished, the entire universe will declare that God is love. And that is a truth that Satan would rather cover up and keep secret, but he won’t be able. The whole world will see Jesus coming, and He will take home with Him all those who have accepted His love into their lives. Let’s accept Him into our hearts now so that we will greet His coming with joy.
*By the way the secret rapture rapture was never even taught until the theory was invented by John Darby around 1830. The Sabbath truth was re-discovered around the same time.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Main Theme: Jonah could not find rest with his heart in the wrong place. God is patient as He helps us have the right attitudes that give our hearts peace.
Read TogetherJonah 1:1-18. Discuss together what the main idea is of this passage.
Study: Why might Jonah be running away? Did running away bring true rest?
Apply: What are some ways people run from God today? Do they find true rest apart from God? Hint: Isaiah 48:22.
Share: Share a brief testimony of a time when God finally brought you around to doing the right thing.
Read TogetherJonah 2:1-10. Discuss what the main idea is of this passage.
Study: What is Jonah praying about? Where does he direct his prayer and why?
Apply: How has God been merciful even when you were running the wrong way? How did his mercy help you find true rest?
Share: Your friend asks what exactly Jonah 2:8 is talking about. How do you explain it?
Read TogetherJonah 3:1-10. Discuss what the main idea is of this passage.
Study: How did Nineveh respond and how do we see their repentance was sincere?
Apply: How do we show that we have sincerely repented? Hint: Ephesians 4:24-32, Luke 19:8-10. How does repentance and making things right give us true rest? Can you think of a time when you could find no rest until you finally made something right?
Share: A friend at church says she is afraid to share Jesus with her coworkers for fear of being rejected or made fun of. What hope can you share with your friend?
Read TogetherJonah 4:1-11. Discuss the main idea of this passage.
Study: Why is Jonah so upset? Do you think Jonah may have forgot that the same mercy that saved Nineveh also provided the great fish to save him also? What can we learn from this?
Apply: Have you ever been reluctant to grant mercy to someone only to realize later that we all need mercy? See We all Need Mercy. How does forgiving others give us rest?
Share: Can you think of someone you have “discarded” as hopeless as a Ninevite? Will you rethink your attitude and share the Gospel with them this week? Remember,
Just a few years ago, I was meeting a friend from church at the bank to handle some church business. I parked my car in what I thought was a secluded area of the parking lot away from the other cars. My friend followed behind in her car, and for reasons I still do not know, sideswiped the back of my car as she parked next to my car! All she did was scrape some of the paint, but I was upset by the senseless destruction. There was no reason! She could have parked anywhere else where she would have had plenty of room, but no! She had to park right next to my car, and then hit it. She said she was sorry and would pay for it. But as I kept playing the scenario over in my mind it just upset me that what happened to my poor car was so needless and senseless. It never should have happened.
Later that night I called my lifelong friend back home so I could vent. (After all I wasn’t going to gossip about it to my church family or anyone who knew her.) I told my friend back home all the tragic details but assured her my friend would pay for it. After listening, my friend replied, “William do you remember when I bought my brand new red Pontiac Fiero not long after we graduated from high school?” I replied, “Oh no! I remember now! Don’t remind me.” My friend still continued, “Remember at church while it was still new, you parked next to me and side scraped it as you left church ? Do you remember how you offered to pay to fix it, but I knew you didn’t have the money so I just forgave you?”
Immediately I realized out of all my friends on earth God directed me to call this particular friend,-the only friend whose car I have ever damaged the exact same way it just happened to me! A friend since early childhood who freely forgave me and never held a grudge. As a matter of fact in the 35 years since I side swiped her car in the church parking lot, she never mentioned it once. That is until I told her that I was having trouble forgiving someone who did the exact same thing to me. Then she had to remind me that I had been forgiven so I must forgive also. It was like the forgiving master telling his unforgiving servant,
Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Matthew 18:33 NLT
I found it was a lot easier to forgive someone once I realized I had to be forgiven for the exact same thing. It was good that my friend forgave me and forgot about it, but when my other friend accidentally did the same thing to my car I should have remembered on my own, how freely I had been forgiven, and then freely forgave my friend.
For example, Jonah was upset with God for being merciful on such a wicked city, forgetting that the same mercy that spared Nineveh was the same mercy that provided the fish to save him. Jonah should have rejoiced that the same mercy that saved him also saved a wicked city. Maybe Jonah forgot about the mercy that had been shown him.
When we remember all the things we have been forgiven it makes it so much easier to forgive others.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
I was listening to a preacher on the radio talking about the Sabbath. He explained that the weekly Sabbath pointed us to the rest we have in Christ, so we no longer need the weekly Sabbath because we now have Jesus. He sounded sincere, and I really appreciated Him pointing people to Jesus and resting their faith in Him, since the grace of Jesus is the only way to be saved.
As a matter of fact the Sabbath is a sign that we are resting our faith in Jesus’ grace and not our works. God explicitly set aside that day as a sign of His covenant with His people – a sign that He sanctifies His people, in contrast to sanctification by works.1 That’s why I find it ironic when people accuse me of trying to get to heaven by my own works by keeping the Sabbath. The radio preacher was correct that the Sabbath pointed us to the rest we have in Christ. However, he apparently did not realize that the Sabbath is a sign of God’s New Covenant in which He promises to write His law within our hearts:
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:33
Do you see that the New Covenant is the Lord’s promise to sanctify us? A promise to write His law in our hearts, so we would serve Him from the heart? And that’s exactly the meaning of sanctification of which the Sabbath is a sign. Sanctification means to make holy, and God wants to make us holy by writing His law in our hearts.
Some other things he did not appear to consider:
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.
And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. Genesis 2:1-3 NKJV
While the feast days and ceremonial Sabbaths such as the Passover, were not instituted until sin came into the world, we have the weekly Sabbath made holy (sanctified) before there was sin and the need of a Savior. Paul says in Colossians 2:16-17 that the ceremonial feast Sabbaths were done away with at the cross. 2Some people say we should still keep the feast days. They don’t seem to realize that we are literally living in what the feast days symbolized! We no longer need a ceremonial Passover because Jesus dying on the cross was the real Passover to which all the other Passovers pointed. We no longer keep the ceremonial Day of Atonement because, beginning in 1844 we are living in the real Day of Atonement. So those feast days that point us to the cross are done away with, but the Bible nowhere indicates that the weekly Sabbath was a “shadow of things to come.” The weekly Sabbath was there before our need of the cross, and the Bible tells us that it will still be there after the cross.
While Paul tells us the ceremonial Sabbaths were done away at the cross, He continued observing the weekly Sabbath.
And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. Acts 18:4 NKJV
The weekly Sabbath was not a Jewish custom. He met with the Greeks also.
Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, Acts 17:2 NKJV
I have heard people argue that the only reason Paul was at the synagogue on Sabbath was because that’s the only day he could meet the Jews there to talk about Jesus. However we just saw in Acts 18:4 that in the New Testament, Greeks were worshiping on Sabbath as well, and Paul was persuading them all about Jesus as they continued keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. In Acts 17:2 we see Sabbath keeping was still Paul’s own custom even after accepting Jesus. In the New Testament, those who accepted Jesus continued keeping the seventh-day Sabbath.
The Sabbath was not just made for the Jews. The gentiles were keeping the Sabbath as well. Jesus Himself said that the Sabbath was made for mankind, which included Jews and Gentiles alike.
The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Mark 2:27 NKJV
Nowhere does Jesus or anyone else in the Bible say the weekly Sabbath was made for Jews. Jesus says it was made for mankind. Not only was the Sabbath made for everyone, it will be kept by everyone even in the new earth.
And it shall come to pass That from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord. Isaiah 66:23 NKJV
The weekly Sabbath was instituted before sin and remains after the cross. The Sabbath was given to all “flesh” and “mankind.” “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”-Hebrews 4:11.
Will you enter into the Sabbath rest that remains since the creation of the world? Will you keep God’s holy day as an outward sign of your inward faith in Christ as both your Creator and Redeemer? Let us remember that only sanctified people can really keep a sanctified day. So let us enter into that rest by letting Jesus be Lord in our lives.
See Exodus 31:13, Ezekiel 20:12, 20 For more details see “THE SABBATH IN COLOSSIANS 2″ by Andy Nash. He references Ron DuPreez’s book, Judging the Sabbath: Discovering What Can’t Be Found in Colossians 2:16, which you can buy at Amazon.com. The book is particularly valuable in solving the question of whether or not faithful Sabbath keepers should also keep the feasts today. And here’s an article by Ron Dupreez: “No “rest” for the “Sabbath” of Colossians 2:16: A structural-syntactical- semantic study.”