Sabbath, June 28, 2014

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” Revelation 21:3-5. 

The purified world 

1. What will happen to the earth once evil is eradicated? Who will receive this wonderful inheritance?

Isaiah 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

2 Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Revelation 21:5-7 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

“While the earth was wrapped in the fire of destruction, the righteous abode safely in the Holy City. Upon those that had part in the first resurrection, the second death has no power. While God is to the wicked a consuming fire, He is to His people both a sun and a shield. Revelation 20:6; Psalm 84:11.

‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.’ Revelation 21:1. The fire that consumes the wicked purifies the earth. Every trace of the curse is swept away. No eternally burning hell will keep before the ransomed the fearful consequences of sin.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 673, 674.

“The earth promised to the meek will not be like this, darkened with the shadow of death and the curse.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 17.

2. What traces will remain throughout the ages as a reminder of the price paid for redemption?

Zechariah 13:6 And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

“One reminder alone remains: Our Redeemer will ever bear the marks of His crucifixion. Upon His wounded head, upon His side, His hands and feet, are the only traces of the cruel work that sin has wrought. Says the prophet, beholding Christ in His glory: ‘He had bright beams coming out of His side: and there was the hiding of His power.’ Habakkuk 3:4, margin. That pierced side whence flowed the crimson stream that reconciled man to God–there is the Saviour’s glory, there ‘the hiding of His power.’ ‘Mighty to save,’ through the sacrifice of redemption, He was therefore strong to execute justice upon them that despised God’s mercy. And the tokens of His humiliation are His highest honor; through the eternal ages the wounds of Calvary will show forth His praise and declare His power.” –The Great Controversy, p. 674.

Translated into the kingdom

3. Who will have the joy of being translated into the kingdom of peace and righteousness?

Colossians 1:12-14 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.

Psalm 37:29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.

‘O Tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto Thee shall it come, even the first dominion.’ Micah 4:8. The time has come to which holy men have looked with longing since the flaming sword barred the first pair from Eden, the time for ‘the redemption of the purchased possession.’ Ephesians 1:14. The earth originally given to man as his kingdom, betrayed by him into the hands of Satan, and so long held by the mighty foe, has been brought back by the great plan of redemption. All that was lost by sin has been restored. ‘Thus saith the Lord … that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited.’ Isaiah 45:18. God’s original purpose in the creation of the earth is fulfilled as it is made the eternal abode of the redeemed. ‘The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.’ Psalm 37:29.” –The Great Controversy, p. 674.

Rejoicing in God’s kingdom

4. What will God’s children experience there? What innumerable activities will they take part in?

Isaiah 65:18, 19 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.

Isaiah 65:24, 25 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.

Isaiah 65:21-23 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.

“The cross of Christ will be the science and the song of the redeemed through all eternity. In Christ glorified they will behold Christ crucified.” –Maranatha, p. 362.

“There, immortal minds will contemplate with never-failing delight the wonders of creative power, the mysteries of redeeming love. There will be no cruel, deceiving foe to tempt to forgetfulness of God. Every faculty will be developed, every capacity increased. The acquirement of knowledge will not weary the mind or exhaust the energies. There the grandest enterprises may be carried forward, the loftiest aspirations reached, the highest ambitions realized; and still there will arise new heights to surmount, new wonders to admire, new truths to comprehend, fresh objects to call forth the powers of mind and soul and body.” –The Great Controversy, p. 677.

God’s government in the new world

5. On what special day will the redeemed assemble to worship God?

Psalm 111:7, 8 The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.

Isaiah 66:22, 23 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.

“The nations of the saved will know no other law than the law of heaven. All will be a happy, united family, clothed with the garments of praise and thanksgiving. Over the scene the morning stars will sing together, and the sons of God will shout for joy….

‘And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the Lord.’ The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.’ ‘The Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.’ ‘In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of His people.’ 

“So long as the heavens and the earth endure, the Sabbath will continue as a sign of the Creator’s power. And when Eden shall bloom on earth again, God’s holy rest day will be honored by all beneath the sun. ‘From one sabbath to another’ the inhabitants of the glorified new earth shall go up ‘to worship before Me, saith the Lord.’ Isaiah 66:23.” –Maranatha, p. 371.

6. What will be the capital city of the eternal government of grace and love?

Revelation 21:10, 11 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 

Revelation 21:24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

“The marriage represents the reception by Christ of His kingdom. The Holy City, the New Jerusalem, which is the capital and representative of the kingdom, is called ‘the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’…

“There is the New Jerusalem, the metropolis of the glorified new earth, ‘a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.’ ‘Her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.’ ‘The nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.’ Saith the Lord: ‘I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people.’ ‘The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.’ Isaiah 62:3; Revelation 21:11, 24; Isaiah 65:19; Revelation 21:3.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 427, 676.

7. How and why will the earth be exalted in eternity? From where will the universe be governed?

Revelation 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Romans 5:20, 21 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

“The work of redemption will be complete. In the place where sin abounded, God’s grace much more abounds. The earth itself, the very field that Satan claims as his, is to be not only ransomed but exalted. Our little world, under the curse of sin the one dark blot in His glorious creation, will be honored above all other worlds in the universe of God. Here, where the Son of God tabernacled in humanity; where the King of glory lived and suffered and died–here, when He shall make all things new, the tabernacle of God shall be with men, ‘and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.’ And through endless ages as the redeemed walk in the light of the Lord, they will praise Him for His unspeakable Gift–Immanuel, ‘God with us.’” –The Desire of Ages, p. 26.

For meditation

Isaiah 9:6, 7; 33:14-17; 35:10; 1 Corinthians 13:12, 13. 

“With undimmed vision they gaze upon the glory of creation–suns and stars and systems, all in their appointed order circling the throne of Deity. Upon all things, from the least to the greatest, the Creator’s name is written, and in all are the riches of His power displayed….

“Those who accept the teachings of God’s word will not be wholly ignorant concerning the heavenly abode. And yet, ‘eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’ 1 Corinthians 2:9. Human language is inadequate to describe the reward of the righteous. It will be known only to those who behold it. No finite mind can comprehend the glory of the Paradise of God.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 677, 678, 675.

* * *

Missionary Report
from Sri Lanka

To be read on Sabbath, June 28, 2014

The Special Sabbath School Offering will be gathered
on Sabbath, July 5, 2014

Sri Lanka is an island country in the northern Indian Ocean, twenty-two miles off the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Until 1972, it was known as Ceylon. The country has a documented history of well over 3,000 years, particularly because its geographic location made it strategically important on the ancient spice and trade routes, such as the Silk Road. It is even believed that King Solomon and monarchs such as King Nebuchadnezzar had trade relations with Sri Lanka for its rich gem stones and spices. 

The country’s recent history has been marred by a thirty-year civil war which ended in a military victory in 2009. Of course, this war claimed many lives and also affected the church.

The climate is tropical and warm with average temperatures of 28 degrees C. (82.4 degrees F.) to 31 degrees C. (87.8 degrees F.) year round. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Sri Lanka recorded an annual per capita income of U.S. $2,877 and 8.3% GDP growth in the most recent report. This is the highest in South Asia.

Furthermore, the island was ranked the third most religious country in the world. This is because 99% of the population believes that religion is an important part of life. The population of 20.3 million is 70.2 percent Buddhist, 12.6 percent Hindu, 9.7 percent Muslim, and 7.4 percent Christian (82 percent of them being Roman Catholic). The average literacy rate is 92.5 percent, but the youth literacy rate is close to 99 percent. This is mainly because the government provides free education to all as well as provides free health care.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church entered Sri Lanka in 1904, and the Reform Movement was introduced in 1980. In 1983, bloody riots erupted in this island nation and claimed the lives of many minority Tamils. This greatly limited the growth of the church. Civil war then erupted between minority Tamil militants and the Sri Lankan Army. This war scattered many of our members, and many others emigrated to Canada, the U.S.A., and Europe. 

Now peace is being restored among the communities, but Buddhist extremists still attack and destroy Protestant churches. In fact, we cannot go door to door to distribute leaflets without being attacked by Buddhist mobs. We are unable to do canvassing work for the same reason. The only areas in which we can work freely are in the north and northwestern provinces. We have established two churches in these areas so far, and the majority of our members are from there. We have a total of 31 baptized members and nearly 20 regular visitors gathering in three locations. There are no paid workers, and all activities are carried out by volunteers.

The members are very faithful in paying their tithes and offerings and have purchased property where they can construct a headquarters building. This property is about 15 kilometers from the international airport and 15 kilometers from the commercial capital, the city of Colombo. Furthermore, the area where the property is located is a Christian area and therefore safe for the church. However, the government does not allow churches to be registered, and therefore we cannot purchase any property in the name of the church. We set up an institute which is legally registered with the government, called the “Voice of Reformation Publishing Institute,” and we publish all our materials through this. We even bought the property under this name, and we will build the church under this registration.

The work in Sri Lanka is challenging, and we appeal to your generosity and prayers to help us erect a headquarters building and place of worship. We also need missionary support to advance the work and evangelize this island for Jesus Christ. May God bless you in your continued support of the gospel work.

–Douglas Francis
Sri Lankan Field President
and General Conference Treasurer