Sabbath, July 12, 2008
“Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” Matthew 7:16.
“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:8.
The result of sin for the first man
1. How were the consequences of his transgression explained to Adam? Was only his life affected, or were all the relationships of society and nature altered?
“And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Genesis 3:17-19.
“God cursed the ground because of their sin in eating of the tree of knowledge, and declared, ‘In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.’ He had apportioned them the good, but withheld the evil. Now He declares that they shall eat of it, that is, they should be acquainted with evil all the days of their life.
“The race from that time forward was to be afflicted by Satan’s temptations. A life of perpetual toil and anxiety was appointed unto Adam, instead of the happy, cheerful labor that he had hitherto enjoyed. They should be subject to disappointment, grief, and pain, and finally come to dissolution. They were made of the dust of the earth, and unto dust should they return.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 40.
“In the creation God had made her
2. What is reported about the very first human being born into this world?
“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain, Where [is] Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand.” Genesis 4:8-11.
“Satan is the parent of unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion. He filled Cain with doubt and with madness against his innocent brother, and against God because his sacrifice was refused and Abel’s was accepted. And he slew his brother in his insane madness.” –Confrontation, p. 23.
“When Cain, moved by the spirit of the wicked one, saw that he could not control Abel, he was so enraged that he destroyed his life. And wherever there are any who will stand in vindication of the righteousness of the law of God, the same spirit will be manifested against them….
“But Cain lived only to harden his heart, to encourage rebellion against the divine authority, and to become the head of a line of bold, abandoned sinners. This one apostate, led on by Satan, became a tempter to others; and his example and influence exerted their demoralizing power, until the earth became so corrupt and filled with violence as to call for its destruction.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 77, 78.
Picture of the following centuries
3. Can you imagine and describe the moral and spiritual conditions in existence some generations later?
“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.”
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
“And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”
“And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Genesis 6:11, 12, 5, 3, 13.
“… The inhabitants of the world at this time are represented by the dwellers upon the earth at the time of the Flood. The wickedness of the inhabitants of the old world is plainly stated: ‘And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.’ Genesis 6:5. God became weary of these people whose only thoughts were of pleasure and indulgence. They sought not the counsel of the God who had created them, nor cared to do His will. The rebuke of God was upon them because they followed the imagination of their own hearts continually; and there was violence in the land.” –Selected Messages, Book 2, p. 151.
“This prevailing sin, the indulgence of perverted appetite, inflamed the passions of men in the days of Noah, and led to widespread corruption. Violence and sin reached to heaven. This moral pollution was finally swept from the earth by means of the Flood.” –Counsels on Health, p. 23.
4. Generations later, what terrible slaughters of innocent beings were sometimes ordered?
“And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives…. And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live…. And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.” Exodus 1:15, 16, 22.
For further study, read 1 Samuel 22:16, 19 and Matthew 2:16.
“The king commanded that the male children should be killed as soon as they were born. Satan was the mover in these matters. He knew that a deliverer was to be raised up among the Hebrews to rescue them from oppression. He thought that if he could move the king to destroy the male children, the purpose of God would be defeated…. As the king of Egypt was informed that his command had not been obeyed he was very angry. He then made his command more urgent and extensive. He charged all his people to keep a strict watch, saying, ‘Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.’” –Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 179, 180.
“… Saul had such a spirit of envy and hatred and murder, that he desired the report to be true. The partial and exaggerated statement of the chief of the herdsmen, was suited for the use of the adversary of God and man. It was presented to the mind of Saul in such a light that the king lost all control of himself, and acted like a madman. If he had but calmly waited until he could have heard the whole story, and had exercised his reasoning faculties, how different would have been the terrible record of that day’s doings!” –(The Signs of the Times, Sept. 21, 1888) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 1020.
The roots of strife and violence
5. According to the word of God, what are the origins of quarrels, violence, terrorism, and war with all its horrors?
“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” 1 Peter 2:11.
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” James 4:1.
For further study, read Romans 7:23 and Proverbs 15:18.
“The will of God is the law of heaven. As long as that law was the rule of life, all the family of God were holy and happy. But when the divine law was disobeyed, then envy, jealousy, and strife were introduced, and a part of the inhabitants of heaven fell.” –Child Guidance, p. 79.
“Satan delights in war, for it excites the worst passions of the soul, and then sweeps into eternity its victims steeped in vice and blood. It is his object to incite the nations to war against one another; for he can thus divert the minds of the people from the work of preparation to stand in the day of God.” –The Great Controversy, p. 589.
“Satan’s influence is constantly exerted upon men to distract the senses, control the mind for evil, and incite to violence and crime. He weakens the body, darkens the intellect, and debases the soul. Whenever men reject the Saviour’s invitation, they are yielding themselves to Satan. Multitudes in every department in life, in the home, in business, and even in the church, are doing this today. It is because of this that violence and crime have overspread the earth, and moral darkness, like the pall of death, enshrouds the habitations of men. Through his specious temptations Satan leads men to worse and worse evils, till utter depravity and ruin are the result. The only safeguard against his power is found in the presence of Jesus…. His Spirit will develop in man all that will ennoble the character and dignify the nature.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 341.
God’s dealings with sinful men
6. Although men are corrupt and unworthy, how does the Lord deal with them? Does He recompense us according to our merits?
“If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” Psalm 130:3.
“He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” Psalm 103:9, 10.
For further study, read Ezekiel 20:44.
“The Lord is gracious, of tender pity, and plenteous in mercy. He knows our needs and weaknesses, and He will help our infirmities if we only trust in Him and believe that He will bless us and do great things for us.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 67.
“While He [God] extends to all the world His invitation to come to Him and be saved, He commissions His angels to render divine help to every soul that cometh to Him in repentance and contrition, and He comes personally by His Holy Spirit into the midst of His church.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 15.
7. How does He deal with us sinners and unworthy beings?
“Nevertheless for thy great mercies’ sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.” Nehemiah 9:31.
“But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not…” Psalm 78:38.
For further study, read Psalm 103:2-4.
“But He does forgive sins and that fully. There are no sins He will not forgive in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the sinner’s only hope, and if he rests here in sincere faith, he is sure of pardon and that full and free. There is only one channel and that is accessible to all, and through that channel a rich and abundant forgiveness awaits the penitent, contrite soul and the darkest sins are forgiven.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 102.
“When Moses asked the Lord to show him His glory, the Lord said, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before thee.’ ‘And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty…. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.’ When we are able to comprehend the character of God as did Moses, we too shall make haste to bow in adoration and praise.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 178.
The behavior of children of peace
8. What should therefore be our response in cases of provocation and offense?
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9.
“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1.
“And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.” Genesis 13:8.
“Evilspeaking is a twofold curse, falling more heavily upon the speaker than upon the hearer. He who scatters the seeds of dissension and strife reaps in his own soul the deadly fruits. How miserable is the talebearer, the surmiser of evil! He is a stranger to true happiness.
“‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ Grace and peace rest upon those who refuse to join in the strife of tongues. When vendors of scandal are passing from family to family, those who fear God will be chaste keepers at home. The time that is so often worse than wasted in idle, frivolous, and malicious gossip should be given to higher and nobler objects. If our brethren and sisters would become missionaries for God, visiting the sick and afflicted, and laboring patiently and kindly for the erring–in short, if they would copy the Pattern–the church would have prosperity in all her borders.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 176.
“‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ Matthew 5:9. He who has the meek and lowly spirit of Christ will be a peacemaker. Such a spirit provokes no quarrel, gives back no angry answer. It makes the home happy, and brings a sweet peace that blesses all around.” –The Story of Jesus, p. 62.
“Hold firmly to the One who has all power in heaven and in earth. Though you so often fail to reveal patience and calmness, do not give up the struggle. Resolve again, this time more firmly, to be patient under every provocation. And never take your eyes off your divine Example.” –The Review and Herald, October 31, 1907.
An object lesson
How can we obtain victory? A man once became lost in the desert and for many days and nights remained completely disoriented. He wondered anxiously, How long before I starve to death? The merciless sun beat down upon him, and he felt feverish. When from sheer exhaustion he managed to sleep for an hour, he would dream of water, oranges, and dates. Then he would wake up to even greater suffering and stagger on.
Suddenly, he saw an oasis in the distance. It is certainly a mirage, he thought, an optical illusion trying to deceive me and plunge me into despair, since there is nothing there. But as he came closer to the oasis, instead of disappearing, it became more and more real. He could see the date palms, the green grass, and the water springing up from the rocks. This too may, of course, be a hallucination brought on by my half-mad mind, thought he. Such fantasies happen in my condition. There, now I can even hear the water gushing! How cruel nature can be! While thus reflecting, he had a complete breakdown and died, silently cursing the senselessness of life.
An hour later, two Bedouins found him. “Can you understand something like this?” one of them asked the other. “The dates are growing almost by his mouth–he needs only to stretch out his hand–but here he lies, near the spring, in the middle of this beautiful oasis, starved to death. How is this possible?!”
So many people trust their own strength and attain to nothing. They do not seek God’s help. Many think that they can find peace and rest on their own. But only the Lord, who is so close to us, can give us peace, and that more abundantly and speedily than we can imagine!