Friday, November 1, 2013
Atonement Phase One:
“It’s Complicated—It’s All About Relationships”
November 2, 2013
Larry R Evans, Teacher
I found this definition of “It’s Complicated” in the Urban Dictionary:
The Bible is clear. The plot is laid out in Genesis 1-4. God had a plan at the very beginning and we messed things up. The relationship got “complicated.” It got complicated in part because of a third party (Satan) who entered the scene and tried to breakup the relationship that God was building. Damage was done for sure. The relationship was fractured but there was still hope. It was God who came to Adam and Eve. It was God who took the initiative to meet them. He came to restore a relationship. They were hiding. He came wanted to talk and they wanted to hide. It was God who asked “Where are you?” It was Adam and Eve who in turn blamed, accused and condemned then God and each other. Sin complicates things. God knew that the relationship He had intended and what the three of them had been experiencing was on the verge of ending. Action had to be taken. Much was at stake . . . even more than Adam and Eve realized.
This week’s lesson is all about restoring our relationship with God. Our study ushers us into the history of broken relationships. We’ll see how God is still at work trying to restore and deepen the special kind of friendship He wants for us. He does not give up easily. We step back into history and see through ancient sanctuary services how He tries to convey both the cost and the process of restoration. It was no easy task to communicate with a wandering, nomadic people who had forgotten the very basics of their own religion. I’m not convinced it is any easier today.
This week’s lesson is all about a relationship that had become “complicated.” It seems today that some are anxious to declare that they are “Single” and “Looking for Random Play.” God is moved out of the center of the relationship. Our study is about God’s efforts to restore the relationship back to His original plan. Its about how He lays the necessary foundation for a genuine friendship and lasting relationship. It’s about two tough words that are part of any relationship – accountability and responsibility but placed in a matrix of “faith, hope and love.” It’s about how God took upon Himself the weight of these simple but profound words. The door is opened and inside we see how God assumes the guilt for the sin problem—that’s right, He assumes the fault for the broken relationship as if He is the guilty party. But He’s the innocent One! Go figure!! There is no finger pointing but there is an invitation. It is a wake-up call for all of us to rethink our attitudes, our feelings, and our frustrations. God invites us to allow Him to come back into the picture and to change our status from being “Single--Looking for Random Play” to becoming “Friends in a relationship” again. God set the pattern. He surrendered Himself. He paid the price. He faced the problem and He became part of the solution. The dispute and hostility should have ended but change takes time and it takes a deeper understanding of what the real problem is. Central to this week’s lesson is a central principle of any relationship: It is dangerous to remain in the “It’s Complicated” status – and especially with God. It doesn’t have to stay that way! God has a plan.
The road to recovery begins with understanding God’s plan but understanding isn’t enough. This study isn’t to be limited to knowing about sanctuary furniture and sacrificial rituals. They are there to lead us now to the Sacrifice and in that journey will find ourselves confessing and surrendering and becoming. Rituals were never the answer. They opened the door to an understanding. To help us know Him better. In this conversation with God we are taken to a giant “felt board,” as it were, located in a desert. Here, away from the distractions of an “Egyptian slavery,” we can visualize what is at stake. It is here that God tells us His story. It is now time to let Him tell it. The good news is that we are at the heart of own God’s story! Amazing.
1. The fact that there is a need for an “atonement” suggests that a relationship has been broken. True or False? (Heb. 2:14-18; Rom. 5:11)
2. God is “guilty” because of “our” sin. True or False? (Isa. 53:6; 2 Sam. 14:9)
3. Blood is used extensively throughout the sacrificial system because the Israelites were no longer vegetarians. True or False? (Lev.3:17; 17:10-12)
4. The “laying on hands” signifies both identity and a transference of guilt. True or False? (Lev. 1:4; 4:4; 16:21)
5. In God’s sight all sins are the same? True or False? (Lev. 4:3, 13, 22, 27)
6. By way of illustration, the sacrificial system revealed that as long as sin remained with the person they were lost. (Heb. 9:22; Rom. 5:9) True or False?
7. With such sacrificial love illustrated in the sanctuary service and in the cross of Jesus, we know that judgment is only a symbol to get our attention. All will be saved in the end. True or False? (Micah 7:18-20; Nahum 1:2,3; John 3:16).
8. The sacrificial system reveals one dominant truth: God has a recovery plan for every sinner. (Gal. 2:20)
Leviticus is about relationships lost and relationships restored. Restoration is costly. It took the life of Jesus. Taking the life of an animal was an extreme measure of the sanctuary service. It was used to illustrate just how serious the sin problem is. Sin separates. Sin kills. Sin is a barrier to recovery. The good news is that the power of sin was defeated. Grace sees possibilities when sin removes them. Grace restores relationships. Grace brings life. Grace restores relationships. Sin no longer has to dominate. There is hope for broken relationships. It is not necessary to live in “Complicated Relationships.” There is hope, the kind found only in Jesus – the Lamb of God.
Friday, July 5, 2013
Sabbath School Lesson
July 6, 2013
Class Teacher: Larry Evans
The story is told of a young boy who cried out in the night for his dad to come and be with him. He had a terrible dream and was scared. He had seen what he thought were demons. Maybe it was the lights dancing on the walls of his bedroom, maybe something he ate or maybe it was the dark presence of demons themselves. Regardless, he wanted the assurance that he was safe. He asked his father, “Please pray to Jesus and ask Him to keep me safe.” The father thinking for a moment said, “I will pray but instead of asking that you be kept safe I am going to pray that you be dangerous!” Maybe, just maybe, we ought to consider that being armed with Jesus is not just about being safe. It makes us dangerous to the kingdom of Satan.
It is easy to read the Bible is sections yet by doing so, lose sight of the bigger picture. For example, when we read about the 7 churches in Revelation 2 and 3 we end up with the story of Laodicean lukewarmness. Yet the very next chapter opens our view to something more glorious – the throne room of heaven itself. The attention drawn to the throne room in heaven found in Rev. 4 is not about us. It is about God! How can this possibly be connected to the message for the Laodecian church?
While we need to hear the message to Laodicea we must not linger there too long. When Jesus tells the lukewarm followers that he is the door (Rev. 3:20) it begs the question – the door to what! That’s where Rev. 4:1 comes in! John directs our attention to the “open door in heaven” and the centerpiece of both chapters 4 and 5 is Jesus. —His power, His victory over sin, His plan for those whom He died. When we see this we then realize that the center of the 7 churches in Rev. 2 and 3 is also Jesus! But did you notice how Jesus is described in Rev. 5:5,6? He is portrayed as both the Lion and the Lamb! What a strange combination. But don’t underestimate Jesus as the “Lion.” He is dangerous! He is dangerous to any self-righteousness, self-centeredness and to any self-exaltation. Jesus is dangerous to the kingdom of Satan and to any part of that kingdom that resides in our hearts. This is exactly the message the Laodecian church needs – they need a Lion to fight their lukewarmness. There are times when we need Him to speak to us as a lion. Sin is an enemy and it cannot and should not be ignored.
This quarter we are going to be studying about “Revival and Reformation.” It will be easy to conclude before we even begin our study that the secret to being revived is to withdraw from the world so that we might be safe. We are tempted to begin with “reformation.” But I ask, is that what revival is? Being safe! I am not suggesting that we take a longer drink of what the world has to offer. No but I do ask, “What do we want Jesus to do for us?” What does having a revival in our own life really mean? What are we asking Jesus to do?
Questions for Reflection
1. When is a revival needed?
2. When Jesus asked His disciples what they wanted Him to do for them what kind of answer did He get? See Matt. 20:20-28 and Luke 18:35-43.
3. There is little hope for Laodicea because of its lukewarmeness. (Rev. 3: 14-22) True or False?
4. To be Laodecian means to be uncaring. (2 Matt. 15:8; Timothy 3:1-5) True or False?
5. There are sins for which there is no cure. True or False?
6. A knowledge of Jesus can cause people to stumble. (1 Peter 2:7,8; 5:7) True or False?
7. When the Laodicean church is told that it must “buy” something to change their condition how expensive is it? (Rev. 3:18) What does this do to the idea of “righteousness by faith”?
8. It is possible to have a spiritual revival without spiritual reformation? True or False?
“There is a story about Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. He was inspecting the Berlin prison. As he walked through the hordes of shackled men, they fell pleading at his feet, protesting their innocence. They claimed to be falsely accused, models of virtuous living, completely innocent of all crime. Only one man didn’t do this. Fredrick called to him, ‘Prisoner, why are you here?’
‘I robbed a man, Your Majesty.’
‘And are you guilty?’
‘Yes, Your Majesty.’
Frederick called the guard over. Pointing at the man who confessed, he said, ‘Release this man immediately. I will not have this scoundrel thief kept here where he might corrupt all these other fine, virtuous, and innocent men.’
That’s the lovely irony of confession: The one who actually confesses gets out of prison—or off of the borderland—and gets to go free.” (Mark Buchanan in Your God Is Too Safe—Rediscovering the Wonder of a God You Can’t Control, p.174)
And so we discover the beginning point of the hopeful journey of the Laodecian church.