Why Heaven Needed Reconciliation

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. Colossians 1:19-20 NLT

Why did God need to make peace with heaven? This verse right here may help us understand just how real the war in heaven was. Even after Lucifer was cast out, those who remained may have still had their doubts. Did God really love them, or did Lucifer have some good points about God just being a tyrant? On earth Eve was convinced God did not care for her and she needed to eat the fruit and disobey, if she really wanted to be happy. While all this was going on, is it possible some of the remaining angels in heaven still had some questions? Have you ever been loyal to a boss not because you thought he was fair, but because you did not see any way out? So out of fear you remained loyal to him, still wishing you weren’t in that situation? If so, what did it take for you to reconcile the situation so you could have peace at work and not just conformity?

When the Son of God died on the cross He was not just atoning for Eve taking a piece of fruit she was told not to. Eve’s disobedience was a symptom of her doubts. The Cross of Christ did not just take care of the symptoms of sin. The Cross took care of sin itself! The Cross removed all doubt about God’s love. All questions in heaven and earth are answered at the cross! There can be conformity while rebellion is still in the heart. The cross goes way beyond bringing us into conformity and outward obedience. The cross replaces our thoughts of rebellion with peaceful thoughts towards God.

That which alone can effectually restrain from sin in this world of darkness, will prevent sin in heaven. The significance of the death of Christ will be seen by saints and angels. Fallen men could not have a home in the paradise of God without the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Shall we not then exalt the cross of Christ? The angels ascribe honor and glory to Christ, for even they are not secure except by looking to the sufferings of the Son of God. It is through the efficacy of the cross that the angels of heaven are guarded from apostasy. Without the cross they would be no more secure against evil than were the angels before the fall of Satan. Angelic perfection failed in heaven. Human perfection failed in Eden, the paradise of bliss. All who wish for security in earth or heaven must look to the Lamb of God.-Ellen White, Signs of the Times, December 30, 1889

Some have the idea that once we get to heaven, God will flip a little switch in the back of our heads that makes us stop sinning. After all, we will be in heaven and so we automatically won’t sin right? Wait. Where did sin begin? Heaven! The reason why humans and angels will not sin, is the same reason why God reconciled both heaven and earth to Himself. The cross of Jesus. The cross cures the root cause of sin which is doubting God’s love. The reason there will be no sin in heaven is not due to a mechanical correction that the flip of a switch will fix. The reason there will be no sin in heaven will be because the cross will cure humans and angels alike from ever doubting God’s love, and thinking we need anything God has not given us. There will be no reason to rebel. Rules without relationship causes rebellion. The love of Christ on the cross removes our fear of God, so we are not afraid to have an intimate relationship with Him. With our relationship cured we will have no reason to rebel. We won’t be conformists. We will be free thinking moral agents who are at peace with God because God is love.

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

1: Rebellion in a Perfect Universe-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School class, October 1, 2022.

Read in Class: 1 John 4:7-16. Discuss the main thought of this passage.

Study: What can the certainty that “God is love” tell us about the nature of His creative activities? What does this passage tell us about free will as a condition to cultivating love?

Apply: Free will, a gift from God, is sacred, but comes heavy laden with powerful consequences, not only for yourself but for others, as well. What important decisions are you, using this gift, about to make, and what will be the consequences of whatever choices you make?

Share: Your friend asks you why didn’t God only create people who would choose to serve Him? Wouldn’t that still be giving free choice to all his creation? Why would that be or not be free choice? Another friend claims that if we die for not choosing Jesus then Jesus is not really giving us free choice. He is intimidating and manipulating us. Is there a difference between free choices and consequences?

Read in Class: Ezekiel 28:12-19. Discuss the theme of this passage.

Study: What can we learn from this passage about the mysterious origin of sin?

Apply: Does pride make us not sense our need of a Savior? Does pride cause us to not be thankful for what Jesus and others have done for us?

Share: Your friend says, God didn’t create the devil, He created Lucifer. Is your friend right? How so?

Read in Class: Isaiah 14:12-15. Discuss the key thought in this passage.

Study: What far-reaching consequences did Lucifer’s pride while in heaven bring to the universe and to this world?

Apply: Why is it so easy to become proud and boastful of either our positions or achievements, or both? How does keeping the cross before us prevent us from falling into such a trap?

Share: Your friend says that competing in sports to be number one is like Lucifer wanting to be number one in heaven,. How is it the same? How is it different?

Read in Class: Revelation 12. Discuss the main point of this passage.

Study: What does this chapter teach about the spread of the rebellion in heaven to the earth?

Apply: What are ways in which we can see the reality of this battle being played out on earth? What is our only hope to overcome our enemy in this battle?

Share: For further discussion see “Why God Needed to Make Peace With Heaven?

Agape in the Crucible

Critics of Christianity will often argue that Jesus knew beforehand that, though He would die, He would be resurrected to life. Thus, they ask, what was the big deal about His death when He knew it would be only temporary? As we take a deeper look at the cross we see the agape of Christ in His crucible.

My mother knew that flying in an airplane is safer than traveling by car. She knew the sad statistics that people are killed every day on the highways, while a rare jet crash makes headlines around the world. Knowing all this, when my mother got on an airplane she sure did not feel that it was safer! There is a difference between knowing and feeling. Jesus died as a man, not as God.

As a man, this is what Jesus experienced;

“In that thick darkness God’s presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 753, 754.

“The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 753.

Foxe’s book of Martyrs tells us John Huss was singing songs of praise as he burned at the stake for his faith. We wonder if John Huss, a mere mortal man, could be singing songs of praise as He died at the stake, why couldn’t Jesus sing songs of praise instead of crying out “My God My God why have You forsaken me?”

It is because John Huss died a totally different death than Jesus died. John knew he would be resurrected. He knew he was at peace with the Father. But on the cross Jesus was being treated the way we deserve to be treated so we can be treated the way He deserves to be treated. Think about this, Jesus always called God His Father.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.”
“I always do those things that please my Father.”
“I and my Father are one.”

But when Jesus was on the cross being treated the way we deserve to be treated He could not call God His Father! He did not know that He would be resurrected. Instead He cried out, “My God! Why have you forsaken me?” This fulfilled the prophecy of Psalms 22 of Jesus dying the second death.

Jesus was not crying out, “Why have you forsaken me till Sunday morning?” You don’t forsake someone when you leave them for the weekend. When I tell my Sabbath School class I will be preaching at another church next Sabbath, none of them ask me why I have forsaken them. They know I will be back the following week. When Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” He felt abandoned forever. He felt what the wicked will feel.

Photograph by William Earnhardt

Obadiah 1:16 says the wicked will be as though they had never been. Jesus was not facing a mere six-hour pain endurance marathon. A lot of cancer patients would gladly trade their years of battling cancer for six hours on a cross. The physical pain is not what made it the supreme sacrifice. What Jesus was facing was going into total oblivion and being as though He had never existed! While Satan was willing to sacrifice anyone who got in his way of being number 1, Jesus was willing to go into total oblivion if He could just save even one of us.

Hebrews 2:9 tells us Jesus tasted death for everyone. Jesus and Paul both refer to the first death as sleep. Jesus did not save us from that death, as we plainly experience that death ourselves. Paul did not say Jesus tasted sleep for every man. No, He tasted death, the death of the wicked. Yes, He prophesied of His own resurrection, but that was while He still felt the presence of His Father. When Jesus felt the Father turn His back on Him, He felt, as a man, that the promise of the resurrection had left with the Father. Jesus became the God-forsaken God.

Some say, how could Jesus have tasted the second death while He never lost faith in His Father? Remember Jesus had no sense of self-preservation. The sense of self-preservation belongs to Satan. Jesus had faith, but His faith was not that He would be saved but that you and I would be saved!

Some have a hard time wrapping their minds around this awesome love. Some refuse to believe that Jesus would be willing to die forever to save us. In that case they have made Moses more loving than Jesus. In Exodus 32:32 Moses is willing to be wiped out of eternity in order to save the children of Israel. Do you think Moses loved them more than Jesus loves sinners? Of course not! Only when Moses experienced the self-sacrificing love of God could he express such love. If you don’t believe that Jesus was willing to say good-bye to life forever in order to save us, then you believe that Moses demonstrated more love than Jesus.

Since the Jews were accusing Jesus of blasphemy they could have just stoned Him to death. According to Leviticus 24:16, blasphemers were to be stoned and not crucified. Yet Jesus was crucified. Why? Because Deuteronomy 21:22-23 tells us those who are hung are cursed by God. Someone could plead for mercy and have the hope of salvation, just like John Huss had, even though they were stoned to death. However, being hung was a sign you were cursed by God. Joshua 10 tells the story of five kings who refused to accept Israel’s God and were hung from five trees, telling the world they had rejected God and so there was no salvation for them. It was good-bye to life forever.

Friend, does this help you understand how much Jesus loves you? He could have come down from the cross and returned to heaven where He could wear His kingly Crown instead of the crown of thorns. He could have left the road to Calvary and walked on streets of gold. He could have left the mocking mob and returned to hear angels sing His praise. He could have returned to His mansion. Why didn’t He do just that? Because the thought of going back to heaven without you did not appeal to Jesus. Heaven would not be paradise without you, as far as Jesus is concerned.

There is nothing I would rather be preaching than this message here. It is the everlasting gospel in the three angels’ messages. This kind of love changes everything. It changes how we look at the cross and how we look at sin. Most of all it changes our hearts. The disciples were just a bunch of self-ambitious men until they saw this love displayed on the cross. After they saw this love they were willing to give everything – even their own lives. Revelation 15 tells us there will be a multitude singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. They will be filled with this self-sacrificing love just like Moses and Jesus. They will hate sin more than they hate death and they will love God more than they will love their own lives or self preservation.

In the the crucible of Christ we see true agape. Jesus’ love for you goes deeper than the nail scars. He loves you more than He loves life itself. He was willing to go into total oblivion and be as though He had never existed if that is what it took to save you!

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

When Everything Seems to go Wrong

Photo by Inzmam Khan on Pexels.com

Curse that day for failing to shut my mother’s womb, for letting me be born to see all this trouble. Job 3:10 NLT

While our experience may be different than Job’s, many of us have been in situations, so dire, that we even question our existence.

Wayne’s parents never married. Growing up, he learned to shrug off the names he was called on the church school playground, and ignore the older ladies whispering behind his back in church.

Wayne managed to work his way through school. He got a job, and then got engaged to his best friend. Finally he had someone who loved him and would never leave him, unlike the father he never even knew. He vowed to himself as much as to his fiancee that he would create the perfect home for her, and unlike his biological father, would always be there to provide for his future children. As he looked forward to the wedding, he hoped to begin a new and better life.

But then Wayne’s whole world came crashing down. First, his fiancee broke off their engagement. Then he lost his job. And when he thought he had found a new job at least, his new supervisor told him things were not working out.

Wayne came home to his empty apartment and threw himself down on the floor. Feeling as low as you can get, Wayne felt a huge void in his life.

His fiancée did not want him. His old job did not want him. Now things were not working at at his new job, and he wondered if anyone needed him or wanted him at all? It sure did not feel like he was wanted or needed by anyone. He was all alone, and it seemed nobody cared if he lived or died. And if no one cared if he lived or died, why should he? Who would miss him if he just vanished away? Obviously no one from his work, or his ex-fiancée.

No one called from church to check up on him either. What’s the point of surviving in a world where no one cares if you survive or not? Wayne cried out, asking God why nothing was going right. Suddenly a thought came to him – but not from God. He reasoned that his parents never should have had the affair that brought him into this world, and therefore he was never supposed to be born! That has to be it, Wayne reasoned. Nothing works out for me, because God does not have a plan for my life, seeing how my parents never should have made me.

Wayne was so sure his theory was correct, that the following day at lunch he shared it with a friend from church. When Wayne explained that nothing was working out because he was not supposed to be born, his friend surprised him, by responding, “That is the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard!” Wayne’s friend was close enough that only he could get away with a response like that, but it woke Wayne up enough to realize his theory simply was not true. After all, Solomon was a product of Bathsheba and David’s sinful encounter, yet Solomon went on to write inspired proverbs and became an ancestor of the Savior.

Long story short, Wayne discovered that God did have a plan for his life. Although he’s had his ups and downs, he has had many opportunities to see God’s hand in his life. And God used him and is continuing to use him to pastor his flock.

Like Job, even though God greatly loved and had a plan for Wayne’s life, did not mean his life was just a walk in the park. Even Mary, Jesus’ mother had her moments.

Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you! ” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! Luke 1:28‭-‬30 NLT

Mary was chosen. She was favored and the Lord was with her. I’m sure she didn’t feel that way when she heard her Son being called a demon and folks questioning the legitimacy of His birth, or when she watched Him being crucified. Still, she was chosen and favored, and God was with her.

If your heart is fully surrendered, take heart. Whatever storm you are going through. You are chosen. You are favored, and the Lord is with you. And yes! God has a plan for your life!

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

8: Seeing the Invisible-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class on Sabbath, August 20, 2022.

Main Theme: God’s Word gives us real hope we can trust even in the worst circumstances.

Read in Class: Romans 8:28-39. Identify the main thought of this passage.

Study: How does this passage help us keep from doubting God’s goodness, even when things go wrong?

Apply: How is it possible for a truth (God’s goodness) to have a more powerful effect on you than your doubts? What does this do for your faith?

Share: Your friend asks you if all things work together for our good, does that mean that everything that happens to us is good? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: John 14:1-14. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus? Why does Jesus encourage us to pray this way?

Apply: What hope and encouragement can you draw from these promises? At the same time, ask yourself, “What things in my life could be standing in the way of having these promises fulfilled for me? What changes must I purpose in my heart to make?”

Share: Your friend asks, “Why did Jesus say in John 14:3 that He would come again so we could be with Him? Aren’t we with Jesus as soon as we die?” What do you tell your friend? Hint: See Death in Light of the Cross.

Read in Class: Ephesians 1:18-23. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: Paul talks about the power of God. What do these verses teach us about the power of the Resurrection? What hope and promises for yourself can you find in these verses?

Apply:  what can we do better, what choices can we make, that can allow this power to work more freely in our lives?

Share: Your friend asks how the church can represent the fulness of God’s body? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22 and Matthew 6:25-33. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: It’s been said, “What we worry about the most shows where we trust God the least.” How can worry be a sin? How does worry expose our lack of trust in God?

Apply: What are things that cause you worry now? However legitimate they are, however troublesome they are, is there anything too hard for the Lord? Maybe our biggest problem is that even though we believe that God knows about it and can fix it, we don’t believe that He will resolve it the way we would like it resolved. Dwell on that last point and ask yourself how true it is in your own life.

Share: Your friend asks you, “Why should I cast all of my care upon someone who let His own cousin get beheaded in prison?” What do you tell your friend?

2: The Crucibles That Come- Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Pexels.com

Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School class, July 9, 2022.

Main Theme: What are the causes of the difficult times that we experience through our lives?

Read Together: 1 Peter 4:12-19. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What is Peter’s Message?

Apply: Peter was referring to trials that are the consequence of standing up for Christ. But there are also other reasons that trials come. How could 1 Peter 4:12-19 help you to explain tactfully to a friend why not to be surprised at the painful trials he or she might face?

Share: Your friend asks, “How can I be glad when I am suffering?” What do you tell your friend?

Read Together: 1 Peter 5:8-11. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How should we react to Satan’s prowling? How does God promise to help us?

Apply: Think about the other ways that Satan causes pain. How could reading 1 Peter 5:8-11 help us to deal with the anguish that we experience because of our fate in living in a sinful world in which Satan wreaks havoc?

Share: Your friend asks why God allows Satan to prowl us? What do you tell your friend?

Read Together: Jeremiah 9:7-16. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: God says that he will “refine and test” (NRSV), or “melt” (KJV), Judah and Jerusalem (Jer. 9:7, NIV). What two reasons does God give for this? (Jer. 9:13,14). How will the refining happen? (Jer. 9: 15,16).

Apply: Think about the sins that you struggle with. If God were going to refine and test you today, how might He do it? What action could you take now to deal with this before God would want to take drastic steps with you, as He did with Israel?

Share: Your friend asks what it means in verse 16 where God says he will destroy or consume us? After all doesn’t Jesus want to save us? What do you tell your friend? How could this quote help you explain? “If the Spirit of God brings to your mind a word of the Lord that hurts you, you can be sure that there is something in you that He wants to hurt to the point of its death.” — Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour & Company, Inc., 1963), p. 271.

Read Together: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How does Paul deal with his “thorn”? Do you think that Paul’s weakness had any other spiritual benefits to him? How can the way that Paul responds help you to deal with “thorns” that you may have to carry?

Apply: In what ways might God’s ideas for your spiritual development be very different from your own? Think about areas in your life in which you need to become more fruitful in righteousness. What spiritual qualities would you like to ask God to develop in you through His “pruning”?

Share: Can you think of someone who is going through a difficult time right now? This week can you reach out to them and share an encouraging passage, and pray with them, if even on the phone?

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

12: Joseph, Prince of Egypt-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Photo by David McEachan on Pexels.com

Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School class June 18, 2022.

Maine Theme: Joseph’s brothers experience sin, repentance and salvation.

Read: Genesis 41:37-57. Summarize this passage.

Study: What is God’s place in the success of Joseph?

Apply: What are ways that others should be able to see, from the kind of lives that we live, the reality of our God?

Share: Your friend says that the story of Joseph rising to power from such humble beginnings sounds like a fairy tale. Especially the part about him being promoted from prisoner to such a high position. Your friend says nothing like this could ever happen today. What do you tell your friend?

Read: Genesis 42, especially verses 20-23. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What happened here, and how does it reveal the providence of God, even despite human evil and wrongdoing?

Apply: How can we make up for what we have done that we are sorry for?

Share: Your friend asks if God is punishing us every time something bad happens? If not, how do you know the difference between what Joseph’s brothers experienced and when bad things are just randomly happening to you? What do you tell your friend?

Read: Genesis 44:1-9 and 18-34. Define the main idea of these passages.

Study:  Why did Joseph put the divination cup in Benjamin’s sack and not in another brother’s sack?

Apply: What principle of love, as exemplified in Judah’s response, is implied in the process of substitution? How does this kind of love explain the biblical theology of salvation? See Romans 5:8.

Share: Your friend says that Judah did not want to break his father’s heart again. Is that what true repentance is all about? How do you answer your friend?

Read: Genesis 45:1-9. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What lessons of love, faith, and hope can be found in this story?

Apply: Yes, Joseph was gracious to his brothers. He could afford to be. How, though, do we learn to be gracious to those whose evil toward us doesn’t turn out as well as it did for Joseph?

Share: Your friend says that Genesis 45:5 says God sent Joseph into Egypt. Does that mean his brothers didn’t have anything to do with it? How do you answer your friend?

Do we Trust God Enough to be who we Really are?

Photo by Dom J on Pexels.com

A while back, a woman writing to prisoners for her church ministry asked me if she would be dishonest if she does not use her real name. She wanted to hide her real identity for security purposes. I assured her a pseudonym was not being dishonest. After all, the Bible gives many names for God, so why can’t we have many names? 

While living in the Dallas area during the mid ’90s Deion Sanders was playing for the Dallas Cowboys, so I decided it would be fun to invent “Deion” as my restaurant name. So for the last almost 30 years now, when waiting for a table or placing an order to be called out, my name has become Deion. Since then I have learned many people use pseudonyms when giving their names at a restaurant. It’s not being dishonest. The restaurants couldn’t care less what your real name is. They just need to know who to call when your table is ready. A pastor friend told me he uses the name “Wild.” That way when his table is ready the hostess calls out, “Wild party of four, your table is ready.” 

Name games can be fun, but fact is I love being me. God loves me being me too. I am glad God made me to be me. There is a difference between having multiple names and pretending to be a totally different person than I really am. I don’t need to wear a Deion Sanders jersey with his name on the back. I don’t have to be someone else to be happy. I love who God made me. 

While the name game at restaurants is fun, Satan plays a game that is no fun at all. He likes to make us think that the only way we can ever be happy is, we have to be someone other than who God made us. This was his first deception with Eve. 

“God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” Genesis 3:5 NLT

There are two problems here with the serpent’s suggestion. First he is insinuating that Eve cannot be happy unless she becomes someone else. Sadly this is his deceptive suggestion to many people. You can’t be happy being you. You can’t be happy being who God made you to be. You have to become someone else in order to he happy. In this case Eve needed to be God. The second problem with this suggestion is, Eve was already made in God’s image. See Genesis 1:26. While Eve obviously of course was not God Himself, she was already created in God’s image, a truth the serpent’s suggestion seemed to deny.

I suppose since Lucifer thought he could not be happy just being himself he suggested no one could be happy just being themselves, but this is not so. We can be happy just being who God made us to be. However a lack of trust in God led others to skew their own identities. in Genesis 12 Abraham skews his identity, claiming to be Sarai’s brother only, instead of her husband. In Genesis 26 Isaac does practically the same thing, changing his identity and relationship with Rebekah. In Genesis 27 Jacob does not trust God to bless him, so he puts his trust in a lie. That lie causes him to change his identity. Jacob thinks he has to be Esau in order to be blessed. 

David appreciated who he was when he exclaimed, 

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. Psalm 139:14 NLT 

David trusted God enough to be who he really was. Do we trust God enough to be who we really are? Do you realize how special you are to God? Friend, you are no accident. You are not just another face in the crowd. With the billions of beings already to grace the face of the earth God was not content until He made you. He literally loved you into existence! Don’t fall for Stan’s lie that you cannot be happy until you change your identity. Satan’s biggest lie to Eve and all humanity is that you can’t be happy unless you become someone you are not. Don’t fall for that lie. God is love, and God created you to be you because He loves you being you. Don’t try to become someone or something that God never loved into existence. You are you because you are what He loved into existence. Trust God enough to be the you that He loved into existence. 

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

9: Jacob the Supplanter-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt, For Sabbath School Class, Sabbath, May 28, 2022.

Main Theme: Jacob deceives and then gets deceived, thus learning what goes around comes around.

Read Together: Genesis 25: 21-34. Discuss the main theme of this passage.

Study: What qualities of Jacob predispositioned him to be more worthy than Esau of Isaac’s blessings?

Apply: Jacob wanted something good, something of value, and that was admirable (especially compared to his brother’s attitude). Yet, he used deception and lies to get it. How can we avoid falling into a similar trap of doing bad so that “good” may come?

Share: Your friend says its okay to tell a white lie in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Do you agree with your friend? Why or why not?

Read Together: Genesis 29:20-30. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How and why does God allow for Laban’s deception? What lessons did Jacob learn?

Apply: How can we avoid justifying doing something bad so that good may come? 

Share: Your friend asks if God let Jacob get deceived so that he would then realize and be convicted of his own lies. What do you tell your friend?

Read Together: Genesis 30:15-22. Summarize this passage.

Study: How are we to understand the meaning of what takes place here?

Apply: How does this story reveal that God’s purpose will be fulfilled despite human errors?

Share: Your friend asks why God was so good to Leah when Leah was deceptive? What do you share with your friend?

Read Together: Genesis 30:25-32. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What is going on here, and what kind of reasoning does Jacob use? What is Laban’s response?

Apply: Have you ever been cheated by an employer? How did you deal with it?

Share: Think of someone who would be encouraged by this week’s message. How can you share it with them this week?

God’s Promises to Abraham are God’s Promises to you

I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. Genesis 17:7 NLT

When God made His covenant with Abraham He was making it with all of us. All of the promises that were given to Abraham were given to us.

A member of a church in which I had recently spoken asked me to come to her home. She was very upset because a neighbor claimed to be a witch and put a curse on her home and family. The lady church member believed in God but was afraid of what this curse might mean. When I got to her home I shared this passage with her. It is a promise God made to Abraham.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 2:1-3 NLT

The Lord promised to bless those who blessed Abraham and to treat those who cursed him with contempt. I actually think the KJV is a little more powerful on this point when it says, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” Right after this promise was given, Abraham went into Egypt, and instead of trusting God to care for him, he trusted a lie he invented that Sara was only his sister, not his wife. Not only are lies deceitful, they show we are not trusting God. When we trust God we have no reason to make up lies. Pharaoh took Sara to himself, not knowing she was married. Even though Abraham was less than perfect in this situation the Lord still kept his promise like He always does.

But the Lord sent terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. Genesis 12:17 NLT

Even when Abraham was less than perfect and even had trust issues, the Lord kept his promise to curse those who cursed him. I reminded the lady I was visiting, that Balaam tried to curse Israel but could only bless them! See Numbers 23:11-12. The Lord’s blessing continued for the great nation of Israel the Lord had promised to Abraham. The lady I was visiting thought that was all wonderful for Abraham but what did that have to do with her and the curse that was placed upon her? I asked her if she belonged to Christ and of course she said she did. I told her I had good news for her.

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:29 NLT

I shared with her that the promise to bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you belonged to her just as much it did to Abraham. She claimed this promise and when I spoke to her again many months later, the neighbor was gone and there were no signs of any curses.

Once there was an elder in my area who was being slandered by some of the other church leaders. Thank God the church body could see through the other leaders’ lies and stood up for him. When the truth came out and the elder was exonerated ,one of his enemies, who was also a leader was too proud to recant his lies and accusations. Not long after, the leader who made the false accusations retired to a new area. Soon he had to move far away from the area he retired in, because of accusations that were made against him which were much more serious than the one he made against the local elder. Some called it karma, some called it what goes around comes around. I can’t help but think of God’s promise, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” I hope too that this situation led the slandering leader to repentance and salvation.

Now before we start acting all high and mighty when God works in our favor, it’s important to remember that God blessed Abraham because of His own faithfulness, not the faithfulness of Abraham. Even though God cursed Pharaoh so to speak, Abraham still had his own lesson to learn about honesty and trusting God instead of lies. I would imagine even when God curses those who curse us that we too still need to humbly learn some lessons as well. The promise in Genesis 12:3 goes on to say that all families of the earth will be blessed as God wants to bless and save all of us friends and foes, just as he saved faulty Abraham.

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