Grasshoppers, Giants and Reality

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Reality is 90% perception, or so they say. I don’t know who comes up with these statistics, but it makes a lot of sense to me.

When I was in sales, I led my district one year, but also went through a three-week drought with no sales at all. So what was my reality? Was I a good salesman who had a bad drought, or was I a bad salesman who just happened to get lucky?

Since the dynamics of a family are so different between first born, middle and youngest child, and, taking into account the gender difference, two siblings can grow up in the same family, but since their perceptions are different, it is like growing up in different families. Each child perceives and experiences the family differently to the extent that as far as perception goes, it’s not even the same family. You and I can watch the same football game, but if I am watching behind the goal, and you are sitting on the sideline near the center we are going to have a totally different experience and perception of the same game.

Satan well knows how perception affects our picture of reality. So he likes to play little mind games. A while back during a Bible study I mentioned that sometimes I am tempted to think that I care more about people than they care about me. My Bible student quickly responded, “Me too!” Then he paused, scratched his chin, and added, “I bet Satan tries to make everyone feel that way.” I agreed with my Bible student.

Let’s look at how Satan played mind games with the Israelites. Look at how they perceived themselves after spying out the Promised Land which had already been … well, promised to them!

All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” Numbers 13:32-33 NLT.

Wait a minute? First of all, historians say the Canaanites may have been a few inches taller than the Israelites, but not so much taller as to be called giants. The grasshopper comparison was a drastic exaggeration. Furthermore, how did they know the Canaanites thought they were like grasshoppers? How would they know what they were thinking at all? They didn’t! They cast their perception on other people, and thought their perception was reality, when it was all in their minds. Satan was playing mind games with them.

Later, in Joshua 2:24 another group of Israeli spies visit Rahab in Jericho and there they found out what the reality was.

“The Lord has given us the whole land,” they said, “for all the people in the land are terrified of us.” Joshua 2:24 NLT

So the grasshopper comparison was just a little mind game of Satan’s that the first spies bought into. It was not reality. Sure, God wants us to be humble, but that does not mean he wants us to think we are grasshoppers while everyone else is a giant. Those who walk humbly with God are a terror to those who stand in their own pride and arrogance. If you walk humbly with God you do not need to be intimidated by anyone, regardless of their title or letters behind their name.

Humble men, armed with the word of truth alone, withstood the attacks of men of learning, who, with surprise and anger, found their eloquent sophistry powerless against the simple, straightforward reasoning of men who were versed in the Scriptures rather than in the subtleties of the schools. –Ellen White, Great Controversy, Page 455.

So it is today as in every age. The same can be said for you today, which was said of John the Baptist.

He could stand erect and fearless in the presence of earthly monarchs, because he had bowed low before the King of kings. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, page 103.

Wisdom and humility go beautifully together, while the common combination of arrogance and ignorance seems to be lacking in comeliness. While we do not want to be arrogant and ignorant, it is possible to be humble and confident. Our confidence should be in God and not in ourselves.

Are you facing a giant today? First humble yourself before God. Put your confidence in His love and power. Walk forward in humble faith and obedience, and your giants will turn into grasshoppers. The humble of the land can also be the confident of the land, and not cowards.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

02: “Restless and Rebellious” Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class on July 10, 2021.

Main theme for this week’s lesson: When we rest in God’s love we are secure and have no need to fight and rebel or return to our old life of sin.

Read Together Numbers 11:1-33. Discuss what is the main idea of this passage?

Study: What are the Israelites complaining about and why? Do verses 5 and 6 seem to imply they forgot they were slaves in Egypt?

Apply: Do we remember the past as being better than it really was? Why?

Share: Your son asks you if you miss the good old days before you became a Christian. What do you answer him?

Read Together Numbers 12:1-13. Discuss what is the main idea of this passage?

Study: Why were Miriam and Aaron so angry? Did they have good reason to be? How did God respond?

Apply: When you are with your friends do you tend to speak well of your leaders or criticize them? Is it more natural for to be supportive or to be critical? Is there such a thing as constructive criticism? If so what would be an example?

Share: Is their a leader in your class right now you can pray for and encourage? Encourage, not flatter.

Read Together Numbers 13:27-33. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: Were the spies who said they could not take the land showing lack of faith in themselves or in God?

Apply: If we say we cannot defeat giant temptations or obstacles in our lives are we saying we don’t trust Jesus and His love? See 1 Corinthians 10:13. Titus 2:11-14. Jude 1:24.

Share: Your friend says there is no way he can stop lusting after women. After all he is a man and only human. What do you share with your friend from God’s Word to encourage him, or even from your own battles with temptation?

Read Together 1 Corinthians 10:1-11. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What does the church of today (You and me) need to learn from this passage and the experience of ancient Israel?

Apply: How does resting in God’s love and promises effect our behavior and attitude towards others?

Share: What is your main take away of this study and how will you put it into practice this week?

 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT

Giving in Light of the Cross

Further Study on Christian Giving

What belongs to God?
For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. Psalms 50:10-12 NLT

What besides the earth is His?
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.  The world and all its people belong to him. Psalms 24:1 NLT

Aside from creation why are we God’s?
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.  1 Corinthians 6:19- 20 NLT

What is required of a steward?
Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.
1 Corinthians 4:2 NLT

What will a faithful steward always remember?
One-tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy. Levitcus 27:30 NLT

What was this tenth to be used for?
As for the tribe of Levi, your relatives, I will compensate them for their service in the Tabernacle. Instead of an allotment of land, I will give them the tithes from the entire land of Israel. Numbers 18:21 NLT

What is it used for today?
Don’t you realize that those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings.In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.1 Corinthians 9:13-14 NLT

Which tenth is God’s?
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Proverbs 3:9 NLT
Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:  Proverbs 3:9 KJV
Note: We are to give God the best of what we have, as well as returning our offerings first, instead of just waiting to see what is left over after all our other expenses.

What do we do if we withhold tithe and offering?                                               
Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you? “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Malachi 3:8- 9 NLT

What does God want us to prove Him about?
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Malachi 3:10 NLT

Does he promise to care for us?                                                                                  
Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Matthew 6:26-32 NLT

What should be placed first in our lives?
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  Matthew 6:33 NLT

How much above the tithe is the offering to be?
Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”  2 Corinthians 9:6- 7 NLT

What besides our possessions should we be good stewards of?
Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Ephesians 5:16 NLT
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Ephesians 5:16 KJV

Note: God has given us time and talents to be used for Him as well. God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts which each member is to employ in loving ministry for the common good of the church and of humanity. Given by the agency of the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member as He wills, the gifts provide all abilities and ministries needed by the church to fulfill its divinely ordained functions. According to the Scriptures, these gifts include such ministries as faith, healing, prophecy, proclamation, teaching, administration, reconciliation, compassion, and self-sacrificing service and charity for the help and encouragement of people. Some members are called of God and endowed by the Spirit for functions recognized by the church in pastoral, evangelistic, apostolic, and teaching ministries particularly needed to equip the members for service, to build up the church to spiritual maturity, and to foster unity of the faith and knowledge of God. When members employ these spiritual gifts as faithful stewards of God’s varied grace, the church is protected from the destructive influence of false doctrine, grows with a growth that is from God, and is built up in faith and love. (Rom. 12:4-81 Cor. 12:9-112728Eph. 4:811-16Acts 6:1-71 Tim. 3:1-13; 1 Peter

Do you want to hear Jesus say this to you?
“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! Matthew 25:21 NLT

01: “Living in a 24/7 Society” Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

01: “Living in a 24/7 Society” Sabbath School Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath July 3.

Key Thought: God invites us to a physical as well as spiritual rest in Him.

  1. Have volunteers read Genesis 2:1-3 and Exodus 20:11.

A. Ask the class to share the main idea of these passages.

B. Why did God create a rest day before anyone was tired? Was God tired? What kind of a rest did He take?

C. Personal Application: Does Sabbath rest include both physical and mental rest? In other words do you worry about paying bills and plan work appointments for the week ahead on the Sabbath? Exactly what kind of a rest is God inviting us to each Sabbath?

D: Case Study: A friend asks you what’s the difference between resting on Sabbath or Sunday? What difference does it make so long as you rest? What do you tell your friend from the Bible?

2. Have a volunteer read Jeremiah 45:1-5.

A. Ask the class to share what the main thought of this passage.

B. How does God respond to Baruch’s aches and pains?

C. Personal Application: How does one find rest and peace even when everything seem to be going wrong?

D. Case Study: A single mother tells you she is so discouraged because she tries to raise her children in the Lord but it seems her ex-husband and his family undo everything she has done. It’s an uphill battle going nowhere. How can you encourage this single mother?

3. Have a volunteer read Mark 6:30-32

A. Ask the class to share the main idea of this passage.

B. What does this passage tell us about Jesus understanding our need for rest?

C. Personal Application: What restful or recreational activities do you find refresh you spiritually as well as physically?

D. Case Study: A fellow church member complains that the pastor was talking about taking his kids to a ballgame the other night. The church member feels that the pastor should have been out working trying to save souls and this is no time for games. How does this make you feel and what do you tell your fellow church member?

4. Have a volunteer read Genesis 4:1-17.

A. Ask the class to share the main idea of this passage.

B. Why was Cain a restless wanderer (Vs. 12 NIV)? Did God make him that way or was it because of his own actions?

C. Personal Application: How do we find rest for our sin weary souls? See Matthew 11:28-30.

D. Case Study: Is there someone you know who has been tired and stressed out lately? How can you encourage them this week or even give them a break?

Video: Healthy Living in Light of the Cross

Health and Temperance

Brief overview: God want us to be healthy and happy. See Leviticus 11, 1 Corinthians 10:31Proverbs 20:1

Why it is important to know the truth about health and temperance:

You don’t have to be a doctor to know how important, rest; exercise and diet are to healthy living. Seventh-day Adventists have been sharing a health message for many years now. The December 2005 issue of National Geographichad an article on the health lifestyles of Seventh-day Adventists and reports that they live an average of eight years longer than the general population.

Why it is important to understand health and temperance in the light of the cross:

While we all want to live as long as we can this is great news, but the health message Adventists find in the light of the Cross is not just about living longer, but living better. The health message in the light of the Cross teaches us that a healthier body leads to a healthier mind, which is able to appreciate spiritual themes and make morally sound choices. So while those following Biblical health principles live longer, more importantly they live closer to Jesus.

Further Study on Health and Temperance

What does God call us to do?

Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 NLT

Will this have an impact on what we eat?

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT

What warning does God give?

Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives inyou? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NLT

Why is this subject so important?

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT

Note: In view of the above principles, one should refrain from the use of things which tend to harm, impede, or shorten one’s life; as well as those things which God has strictly forbidden.

What is God’s warning about alcohol?                                                                          

Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks. Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper.   Proverbs 23:29-32 NLT

Who does the Bible say has woe and sorrow?

What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever. What sorrow for those who are heroes at drinking wine and boast about all the alcohol they can hold.Isaiah 5:20-22 NLT

What should we not be deceived by?

Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise. Proverbs 20:1 NLT

Will drunkards be in heaven?

or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:10 NLT

What does God desire for us?

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 John 1:2 NLT

Did Noah realize a distinction between the animals?

Take with you seven pairs—male and female—of each animal I have approved for eating and for sacrifice, and take one pair of each of the others.  Genesis 7:2 NLT

Note: When the animals entered the ark, there were no Jews. The same health laws and principles apply to all mankind and for all time, as we all have the same stomachs.

How can we tell the difference?                                                                                         

Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron,“Give the following instructions to the people of Israel.“Of all the land animals, these are the ones you may use for food. You may eat any animal that has completely split hooves and chews the cud. You may not, however, eat the following animals that have split hooves or that chew the cud, but not both. The camel chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is ceremonially unclean for you. The hyrax chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is unclean. The hare chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is unclean. The pig has evenly split hooves but does not chew the cud, so it is unclean. You may not eat the meat of these animals or even touch their carcasses. They are ceremonially unclean for you. Leviticus 11:1-8 NLT

What must seafood have to be eaten?

Of all the marine animals, these are ones you may use for food. You may eat anything from the water if it has both fins and scales, whether taken from salt water or from streams. But you must never eat animals from the sea or from rivers that do not have both fins and scales. They are detestable to you. This applies both to little creatures that live in shallow water and to all creatures that live in deep water. They will always be detestable to you. You must never eat their meat or even touch their dead bodies. Any marine animal that does not have both fins and scales is detestable to you. Leviticus 11:9-12 NLT

Why did God give this list?

“These are the instructions regarding land animals, birds, marine creatures, and animals that scurry along the ground. By these instructions you will know what is unclean and clean, and which animals may be eaten and which may not be eaten.”  Leviticus 11:46-47 NLT

Who will be destroyed when Jesus returns?

“Those who ‘consecrate’ and ‘purify’ themselves in a sacred garden with its idol in the center—feasting on pork and rats and other detestable meats—will come to a terrible end,” says the Lord.  Isaiah 66:17 NLT

Of course there is more to health than just what we eat.

Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power,–these are the true remedies. Every person should have a knowledge of nature’s remedial agencies and how to apply them. It is essential both to understand the principles involved in the treatment of the sick and to have a practical training that will enable one rightly to use this knowledge.  –Counsels on Diets and Food, Page 301

What does God want you to do?

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.  Romans 12:1NLT

Sometimes Rest is all you Need

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As health conscious Adventists we put a lot of emphases on what we eat, while rest also plays a very vital role in our physical and spiritual well-being. In 1 Kings 19 Elijah is stressed out, feeling like he is all alone in his spiritual battles. Finally he runs away and then prays an unreasonable prayer when he asks God to just let him die. (Interestingly Elijah, the one man who asks to die never gets to die!) God does not chastise Elijah for his foolish prayer. God realizes the reason Elijah is so unreasonable is because he is simply tired. Elijah just needed rest.

Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. 1 Kings 19:5 NLT 

Elijah just needed a good night’s rest. When I became a literature evangelist years ago, we had a meeting with an elderly retired literature evangelist. He shared his wisdom with us, and told us that the cure for a discouraging hard day may simply be a good night’s rest. He claimed a good night’s rest can solve a lot of problems. A while later I had a terrible day at work. It seemed everything was going wrong and no one was helping me. I came home ready to quit. Early in the evening I was preparing my resignation in my head. Then a thought came to me. Just go to bed. But its too early for bed I thought. Again the thought came, just go to bed. Don’t plan anything. Don’t make any decisions. Just go to bed! I decided to listen to myself and though it was mid evening well before bedtime I went ahead and went to bed and got some sleep. The next morning I woke up feeling refreshed and could not even remember why I was so upset the day before. I am a big believer in getting the appropriate amount of rest for both our physical and spiritual well-being. After all John realized how closely our spiritual and physical health are both intertwined. 

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 John 1:2 NLT 

Most of us live in a society that almost makes being “too busy” a status symbol. We

feel pressured to do more and more. Is all that more and more really necessary? Great grandmother did all her laundry on a scrub board and still sat on the front porch and drank lemonade. Today we have washing machines and dryers and all sorts of electronics making work so much easier. So how many of us sit on the front porch and drink lemonade now? Almost none of us. We are busy creating more work. We need to take time to rest like Mary did at the feet of Jesus.

Does God require us to be workaholics?

This is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 NLT 

Let’s heed the words Jesus told Martha (not sure if I should call her a workaholic or not based on this one passage.) When Martha complained about Mary resting at the feet of Jesus instead of doing more work.

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 NLT 

While Jesus never condoned idleness He never condoned being a workaholic either. He tells all His disciples

“Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31 NLT 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

12: Covenant Faith – Sabbath School Teaching Plan

Key Thought: Old Covenant, new covenant: Jesus paid the debt owed by the law, so that we can stand righteous in the sight of God.

Prepared by William Earnhardt, June 19, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read I Peter 1:18,19.

  1. Ask class members to share what is the main idea of this text?
  2. What are we ransomed from? Who are we ransomed to?
  3. Personal Application: What has the blood of Jesus ransomed you from?
  4. Case Study: Your coworker asks you how to know if you are saved or not. How do you respond? Do you have a Bible study presentation to lead someone to accept Jesus and salvation? Please see Salvation in Light of the Cross.

2. Have a volunteer read Genesis 15:6.

  1. Ask class members to share what is the main idea of this text?
  2. What did Abraham do to show that He believed the Lord and had faith? See also Genesis 26:5
  3. Personal Application: Abraham’s faith was tested in Genesis 22. How has your faith been tested?
  4. Case Study: One of your friends says there is no reason to obey God since we are saved by just believing. How do you respond to your friend? Hint: James 2:14-26.

3. Have a volunteer read Leviticus 7:1817:1-4.

  1. Ask class members what the main idea of these passages are?
  2. How is the idea of reckoning expressed in the context of these sacrifices?
  3. Personal Application: Knowing that Jesus accepts us with our faults how should that effect our attitude towards one another? See Colossians 3:13.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives says they don’t feel forgiven even after they ask God to forgive them. How do you respond?

4. Have a volunteer read Galatians 3:11.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. Why is no man justified by the law in the sight of God? By the way it is important to point out no one was ever justified by the law in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. While we have the law in both Old and New Testaments the law itself never saved anyone in both Testaments. See Romans 3:28-31.
  3. Personal Application: How do you know if your faith is a live faith or a dead faith?
  4. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

Can Parents, Mentors and God be Friends With Their Children?

The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant. Psalm 25:14 NLT

We’ve all heard it said, Parents and teachers cannot be friends with their children. They have to be disciplinarians instead. I saw a meme on Facebook where a mother was telling her child, “I am not your friend. I will discipline you when you need it. I will always be watching you and needing to know where you are every second.” To me, that sounds exactly like a friend! When talking about parents and teachers being friends with their kids maybe we just need a broader view of friendship. There is more to being friends than going shopping or golfing together and then out to eat.  Actually I have many friends who I have never done any of those things with. To me, the discipline and accountability all fall under friendship. 

A friend of mine in Texas summed it up wisely I believe. She said, “While I can’t be friends with my child who is rebellious I can be friends with my child who is obedient.” Of course I still believe she was being a real friend by disciplining her child who was rebellious. Even so I appreciate the point that she made that a parent and teacher can be friends with an obedient child. As the Psalm above tells us that the Lord is a friend to those who fear (respect) Him I understand that the goal of the covenant He teaches us is friendship.

The goal of the atonement is friendship. The goal of the covenant is friendship. While I have never had children of my own I have had countless students over the years in the Adventist schools where I have helped out. Disciplining children to learn has opened my eyes to my own teachers so long ago. The teacher who I despised for making me stay after school to get my work done I now see was truly my friend. At dismissal time she could have told herself that she had done all she was paid to do and gone on about her day, but instead she gave up her own time to make me succeed. It did not matter to her that it made me upset with her. She cared so much about my future successes that she was willing to make me hate her if that is what it took for me to succeed. Now that is what I call a real friend! 

Now as a teacher and mentor, often I have to be the “enemy” when I am really being a friend. As a matter of fact, as I was just now writing this, it occurred to me that if a child is set on self destruction then I really am their enemy by foiling their self destruction. Even so, in my mind I am still being a friend. I am at peace with the fact that there are several young people out there who consider me an enemy because I held them accountable to be their best. At the same time while gift cards and treats are nice during teacher appreciation week, nothing is more meaningful to me than when years later former students call me up or even send a text, asking me a Bible question or sharing a prayer request. Sometimes they will share a warm memory assuring me my time and efforts were worthwhile. Even though I have never “hung out” with them, even so with all the time spent in the classroom together I still consider them my friends. The fact that they contact me years later when they have a need tells me they consider me a friend. Again there is a lot more to friendship than golfing and sharing nachos together. 

When I study the covenant I see that Jesus is interested in my friendship. If I am respectful and obedient I am more than His servant. I am His friend.

You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. John 15:14-15 NLT 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

The Punishment of the Wicked in Light of the Cross

The Punishment of the Wicked

Brief overview: The wicked will be destroyed by fire. The punishment will be everlasting but the punishing will not. The wicked will die instead of being tormented for all eternity. See John 3:16Romans 6:23Obadiah 1:16Matthew 10:28Ezekiel 18:420.

Why it is important to know the truth about the punishment of the wicked:

I have a friend who is involved in a prison ministry that visits a juvenile detention center. My friend was telling me that they had recently shared thetruth about hell with the young men there. My friend said the Chaplin at the jail got very upset with him for letting the young men know that the punishment of the wicked is not an eternity spent in hell but rather death just like the Bible says in John 3:16 and Romans 6:23. The reason the Chaplin did not want them to know the truth about the punishment of the wicked was because he wanted the fear of being tormented for all eternity to motivate them to behave.

The teaching of people being tortured throughout all eternity is the most satanic false doctrine of all! It totally misrepresents the love and character of God making it impossible to love and know Him the way He loves and knows us.

Why it is important to understand the punishment of the wicked in the light of the cross:

Many churches use hell and fear as a motivation for doing good because they do not properly understand the love motivation. They do not understand the depths of Christ’s sacrifice in dying the second death. They make the Cross out to be a mere pain endurance marathon instead of seeing a Savior who was actually willing to say goodbye to life forever in order to save the world. When the early church saw the depths of Jesus’ love and sacrifice it turned the whole world upside down! Meaning it changed everything! It was God’s love that constrained, empowered and motivated them. This love is the only motivation that will actually succeed. Galatians 5:6 talks of a faith that works by love, not a fear of punishment. In John 14 Jesus says, “If you love Me keep My commandments”, not if you don’t want to go to hell you better keep my commandments. We must uplift the cross and the truth about the cross like never before. Young men in juvenile centers and people everywhere else need to know that there is a God who did way more than suffer for six hours on a cross. He faced the second death for them. He loved them more than He loved his own life. He loved them so much that when tempted to come down from the cross and go back to heaven He chose to die instead. Simply put, Jesus stayed on that cross for the young men in the juvenile detention center because the thought of heaven without them was hell to Jesus! When the love motivation receives its due power it will accomplish so much more than the fear motivation invented by men. Some people quote John 3:16 all the time while preaching of an eternal torment of sinners while that verse clearly says those who do not believe will “perish” instead of being tortured throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity.

Further study on the punishment of the wicked

What is the opposite of eternal life?

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT

Note: Those who don’t believe perish. They are not tortured for all eternity. God did not kick Eve out of paradise just because she took a piece of fruit she was told not to. The serpent told lies about God’s love and interest in Eve’s welfare, that Eve and all mankind bought into. When Eve stopped believing in God’s love she stopped believing in her only Source of life. At the cross Jesus died for our sin of unbelief, and when we believe again in His love, we gain back the life we lost when we stopped believing in His love. This is the message of john 3:16.

What is the wages of sin?

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23 NLT

Note that the wages of sin is not eternal torment in hell.

What becomes of the soul or person that sins?

For all people are mine to judge—both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins is the one who will die. Ezekiel 18:4 NLT

Note: KJV says soul, NLT says person. Both the KJV and NLT make it clear that the entire soul or person dies in hell and will not be tormented throughout eternity.

How long does the devil have?

Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!
And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!
But terror will come on the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you in great anger,
knowing that he has little time.” Revelation 12:12 NLT

Note: The devil does not have eternity in hell or anywhere else. He has but a little time left to exist.

What will happen to the devil or Satan?

You defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins and your dishonest trade. So I brought fire out from within you, and it consumed you. I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All who knew you are appalled at your fate .You have come to a terrible end, and you will exist no more.” Ezekiel 28:18-19 NLT

Note: Satan, like all sinners, will be annihilated and exist no more.

What happens to both body and soul in hell?

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 NLT

Note: Neither soul nor body are tortured throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. Both are destroyed.

What is the final end of the wicked?

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all. But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Malachi 4:1-3 NLT

Note: There will be nothing left of the wicked – nothing but ashes.

 What does the lake of fire stand for?

Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. Revelation 20:14 NLT

What is God’s promise?

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”Revelation 21:3- 4 NLT

Note: Sinners cannot be eternally tormented in light of the promise that there will be no more pain. The promise is unconditional.

Can we trust that promise?

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”  Revelation 21:5 NLT

Lesson 11: New Covenant Sanctuary – Sabbath School Teaching Plan

Key Thought:  The old covenant-sacrificial system was replaced by the new; instead of animals being sacrificed by sinful priests in an earthly sanctuary, we now have Jesus, our perfect Sacrifice. He represents us before the Father in the sanctuary in heaven, which forms the basis of the new covenant and its promises.

Prepared by William Earnhardt for June 12, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read Leviticus 26:11,12Exodus 25:8.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. Why did God command Israel to build the sanctuary? What reason does He give for doing this?
  3. Personal Application: Why did God need a sanctuary to live among us? Hint: Isaiah 59:2 See also Desire of Ages, Pages 161-162.
  4. Case Study: Suppose a class member were to ask if God abhorred us before the sanctuary was built? What would you say?

2. Have a volunteer read Galatians 1:4Hebrews 9:14.

  1. Ask class members what the main idea of this passage is?
  2. How does God delivers us from this present, evil world? Does God do this now or later? hint: Titus 2:11-12 and 1 John 2:6 and 1 John 4:17.
  3. Personal Application: In what ways and by what means has Jesus saved you from this evil world?
  4. Case Study: A coworker laments that she has given up trying to quit smoking. She has resigned to just letting God forgive her over and over. How do you encourage your coworker?

3. Have a volunteer read Hebrews 8:1-6.

  1. Ask class members to share the main idea of this passage.
  2. What are the better promises the New Covenant is based on? Hint: Read “Better Promises Make a Better Covenant.
  3. Personal Application: How does knowing Jesus is your High Priest give you confidence?
  4. Case Study: Your neighbor tells you That God gave the new covenant because the old Testament law was too hard to keep. He says the Old Covenant had too many faults. What do you tell your neighbor? Hint: Hebrews 8:8 says God found fault with the people, not the law. Psalm 19:7 says the law is perfect converting the soul.

4. Have a volunteer read Hebrews 9:24I Timothy 2:5,6.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What does it mean that we have one mediator? Do we need human priests or mediators? Why, why not?
  3. Personal Application: What does Jesus being in the Heavenly Sanctuary have to do with our practical life ?” Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).