Friday, November 13, 2015

The Crisis in Jeremiah Continues

November 14, 2015
Larry R Evans
Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath School Class


There are many ways we could begin our study today but I’d like to begin with a fundamental truth that will help put the crisis Jeremiah faced in perspective.  The principle or truth is stated well in 1 John 3: 1. We’ll also include the last part of verse 2:
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  . . . But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  (1Jn 3:1,2b)
The opening words of this verse, “How great” meant originally “of what country?”  God’s love is so unlike or so foreign to this world’s love that John raises the question: From what country does such a love come!  Yet, that same God refers to us as His children.  God gives us this privileged designation only because that is what we are by his grace, whatever other people may think or say. The ‘children of God’ and the ‘world’ are so different from each other, that the world does not know us. 

Unfortunately, in the crisis faced by Jeremiah, God’s love is not appreciated nor is God’s own people allowing His grace to transform them into His image.  A question is implied in Jeremiah’s weeping, “Then whose children are they and why?”  This leads us now into our discussion regarding the continuing crisis faced by Jeremiah?

Questions to Consider

1.    Because Israel was God’s special people they would be spared judgment. (Jer. 9:23-26).  True or False?
2.    Happiness isn’t brought about by controlling our circumstances but by controlling our allegiances? (Jer. 10:2, 10)  True or False?   
3.    Repentance is saying, “I’m sorry.”  (Jer 2:1-6; 2 Chron 6:37)  True or False?
4.    Calling sin by its right name is a message filled with hope? (Jer. 26:11-13)  True or False?


1.    Because Israel was God’s special people they would be spared judgment. (Jer. 9:23-26).  False

In chapters 7-10 God sends Jeremiah to the Temple gates to refute the false belief that God would not let harm come to the Temple or to those who lived near it. Jeremiah rebukes the people for their false and worthless religion, their idolatry, and the shameless behavior of the people and their leaders.

The themes found in these chapter are false religion, idolatry, and hypocrisy. Jeremiah was almost put to death for this sermon. However, Jeremiah was saved by the officials of Judah (see chapter 26).

2.    Happiness isn’t brought about by controlling our circumstances but by controlling our allegiances? (Jer. 10:2, 10)  True

This is what the Lord says:
“Do not learn the ways of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the sky,
though the nations are terrified by them.  . . .

But the Lord is the true God;
he is the living God, the eternal King.
When he is angry, the earth trembles;
the nations cannot endure his wrath.   
As hard as it is for us to learn, that the greatest happiness comes from grasping God’s love for us and being transformed into his image. 

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. ’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.  Ex. 19:6

3.    Repentance is saying, “I’m sorry.”  (Jer 2:1-6; 2 Chron 6:37)  True & False

First, God asks what happened!
The word of the Lord came to me: “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem:
“ ‘I remember the devotion of your youth,
how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the desert,
through a land not sown.
 Israel was holy to the Lord,
the firstfruits of his harvest
This is what the Lord says:
“What fault did your fathers find in me,
that they strayed so far from me? – Jer 2:1-3
Then the Lord explains what happened:
They followed worthless idols
and became worthless themselves.  Jer.
 They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord,
who brought us up out of Egypt
and led us through the barren wilderness,
through a land of deserts and rifts,
a land of drought and darkness,
a land where no one travels and no one lives.  Jer. 2:5,6
What does repentance look like?

“. . .if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken. 2 Chron. 6: 37,38

4.    Calling sin by its right name is a message filled with hope? (Jer. 26:11-13)  True (can be)

Hope for the people if they repent but the messengers who deliver the message are not always appreciated and sometimes killed.  In Jeremiah’s case the religious authorities wanted Jeremiah killed.
Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, “This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!” Jer. 26:11
Fortunately the elder of the land “stepped forward” recognizing the truth of Jeremiah’s message exclaimed, “We are about to bring a terrible disaster on ourselves!” (Jer. 26:19)

The wise old men remembered the words of the prophet Micah (Micah 3:12), which were similar to the words Jeremiah spoke. When Micah called the people to repent, they turned from their wickedness. Although these people did not kill Jeremiah, they missed the main point—that the application of the story was for them.  They spared Jeremiah, but they did not spare themselves by repenting of their sins.

Is the message to “come out of Babylon” a message of hope?

Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
“Come out of her, my people,
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
 for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes.  Rev. 18:4,5
The original Babylon claimed that its tower reached to the heavens but ironically the Bible says in Gen 11:5 that the Lord “came down” as does the holy city in Rev. 21:2.  Babylon exists on false perceptions and false promises.  Yes, Babylon reached the heavens but it was/is her sins that do!

What application of this story would you make to your own life with regards to false hopes and security in Jesus?  How do we distinguish between the two?

Concluding Reflection

How to Catch Wild Pigs

A Chemistry professor in a large college had exchange students in the class.  One day in class, the Professor noticed one young man (exchange student) who kept rubbing his back, and stretching as if his back hurt. The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country's government and install a new communist government.
In the midst of his story he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked, 'Do you know how to catch wild pigs?'
The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said this was no joke. 'You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day , you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence.
They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side. The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat, you slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught. Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.

Whether we be caught in Communism or Babylonian captivity it normally doesn’t come all at once.  We often lose sight of our spiritual freedom gradually and then fight to defend the choices we made until those choices begin to play out.  The crisis Jeremiah faced was real.  What we face every day is real too.  We are smarter than pigs until we take our eyes off the love that God has for us.  We must not forget:

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Peter & the Gentiles

Sabbath School Study Outline
August 29, 2015

Larry R Evans, Teacher


 “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.’” (Acts 10:34-35)

This is a key verse in our study today but before we get to it, let’s remind ourselves of the setting first:

·      Before Peter was brought to Cornelius in Caesarea he was staying in Joppa with a man called Simon.  Does the city of Joppa sound familiar?  It was the port city where the prophet Jonah boarded a ship to flee from his mission assignment hundreds of years earlier (Jonah 1:3).  His mission?  To go to the self-acknowledged wicked city of Nineveh and appeal for repentance. 
·      Peter was staying in the home of a “tanner”.  Tanners had low social status.  The tanning process took animal hides and treated them with animal and human waste.  No wonder they lived on the edge of towns. What a contrast to go from there to the home of Cornelius!
·      Cornelius was a Roman officer.  Romans and Jews normally did not mix well.  Roman soldiers normally supported the enemies of the Jews. It was unusual for a solder to be friendly to the Jews and follow their religion.
·      The story of Peter visiting Cornelius is the longest story in the book of Acts and plays a pivotal role for the entire book.

The Story

The first five chapters of Acts describes the establishment of the church in Jerusalem and the opposition it faced because Jesus was being preached. By the time we get to chapters 10 and 11, our focus for today, we find the church expanding beyond Jerusalem and reaching out to even the Gentiles!

Chapter 10 begins in a very strange way.  We have a Gentile, Cornelius, having a vision in Caesarea.  He is a man of prayer and generous when it came to helping others meet their needs.  The time of the vision is mentioned in verse 3.  – 3 p.m. (9th hour).  It just so happens that this is the hour of prayer in the temple at Jerusalem. (See 3:1) We don’t know what prayers were being prayed but no doubt prayers were being answered with the vision given to Cornelius who had also been praying.  He is sent three individuals to go get Peter at Joppa.

The next day when Peter was on the roof praying he became hungry and while waiting for the meal to be prepared he had a vision.  In that vision he saw a sheet being let down to earth.  On that sheet were all kinds of animals, reptiles and birds.  Then a strange thing happened!  A voice told Peter to “Get up. Kill and eat!”  Like a good Jew Peter, echoing Leviticus 11,  said he would not eat anything that was unclean!  Then Peter was told not to call anything impure that God has made clean.  This happened 3 times!

About this time three visitors from Caesarea arrived asking Peter to go with them to Cornelius and he did.  When he arrived he found that a large group had gathered.  They were not Jews.  Peter begins by saying:

“He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:28)

Here we have Peter’s interpretation of the vision that he had been given.  The vision wasn’t about food but food was used to describe prejudices that would have limited the flow of the gospel to unreached people. 

In his conversation with Cornelius he summarizes the whole experience this way: 

“Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” (Acts 10:34-36)


1.        The outpouring of God’s Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was designed to set Israel apart as His special people.  (Acts 1:8)  True or False?
2.        If God’s laws are written on the hearts of person it is not necessary to share more doctrines with them. (Acts 10:2, 33)  True or False?
3.        God brought Peter and Cornelius together so He could teach Peter about a new dietary plan.  (Acts 10:28)  True or False?
4.        Peter’s experience with Cornelius reveals that it is not necessary to become a Jew to be part of God’s people. (Acts 10:45,46)  True or False?
5.        When Peter explained what had happened with Cornelius and his interpretation of the dream regarding food and the Gentiles it was accepted by the church leaders in Jerusalem. (Acts 11:18)

Application Questions

1.        Why do you think it is so hard to accept other cultures?  Or other viewpoints?
2.        Did Peter face “political” pressures in the church of his time?
3.        Why do you think there Acts gives such emphasis to the disciples being “constantly in prayer” (1:14), that prayer was involved in the selection of the replacement of Judas (1:24),  that much emphasis was given to Cornelius praying “regularly” (10:2), that his vision came at the time of prayer in Jerusalem (Acts 10:3) and that Peter had gone up on the roof to pray and there had his vision (10:9).  Why?  What was happening in the church at that time?  Is there a correlation?  What can we learn for their experience?
4.        How inclusive is God when choosing His witnesses?
Cornelius, sons and daughters, men and women, Gentiles and Jews?  (Acts 2:17,18)

Concluding Thought

As we consider the lesson and the mission before us, perhaps the words of Peter are appropriate:

“grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18).