9 – Respect for Life

9 – Respect for Life2016-11-27T17:36:32+00:00

Read the Missionary Report from Ethiopia
at the bottom of this page 

Sabbath, August 29, 2015

“The spirit of hate and revenge originated with Satan, and it led him to put to death the Son of God. Whoever cherishes malice or unkindness is cherishing the same spirit…. In the revengeful thought the evil deed lies enfolded, as the plant in the seed… All were created in His image, and even the most degraded are to be treated with respect and tenderness. God will hold us accountable for even a word spoken in contempt of one soul for whom Christ laid down His life….” –Reflecting Christ, p. 70. 

Consequences of taking life

1. What sentence was pronounced against Cain when he became guilty of his brother’s death? What will happen to those who threaten man’s life? 

Genesis 4:9-12; 9:6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? 10And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. 11And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; 12When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth…. 9:6Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. 

“Notwithstanding that Cain had by his crimes merited the sentence of death, a merciful Creator still spared his life, and granted him opportunity for repentance. 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. 

“In sparing the life of the first murderer, God presented before the whole universe a lesson bearing upon the great controversy. The dark history of Cain and his descendants was an illustration of what would have been the result of permitting the sinner to live on forever, to carry out his rebellion against God. The forbearance of God only rendered the wicked more bold and defiant in their iniquity…. The longer men lived in sin, the more abandoned they became.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 78.

Human life and preservation

2. What commandment did the Lord repeat orally and in writing to protect human life? What instructions did He give concerning those who would not respect this holy principle? 

Exodus 20:13; 21:12-14 Thou shalt not kill…. 21:12He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. 13And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee. 14But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die. 

“All acts of injustice that tend to shorten life; the spirit of hatred and revenge, or the indulgence of any passion that leads to injurious acts toward others, or causes us even to wish them harm (for ‘whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer’); a selfish neglect of caring for the needy or suffering; all self-indulgence or unnecessary deprivation or excessive labor that tends to injure health–all these are, to a greater or less degree, violations of the sixth commandment.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 308. 

“The law of God takes note of the jealousy, envy, hatred, malignity, revenge, lust, and ambition that surge through the soul, but have not found expression in outward action, because the opportunity, not the will, has been wanting. And these sinful emotions will be brought into the account in the day when ‘God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.’ Ecclesiastes 12:14.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 217.

Deep spiritual meaning of the sixth commandment 

3. How did Jesus uphold the validity of the sixth commandment? How deep did He go in presenting the spiritual meaning of this precept? 

Matthew 19:17-19; 5:21, 22 If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself…. 5:21Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 

“Here Jesus describes murder as first existing in the mind. That malice and revenge which would delight in deeds of violence is of itself murder. Jesus goes further still, and says, ‘Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.’ There is an anger that is not of this criminal nature. A certain kind of indignation is justifiable, under some circumstances, even in the followers of Christ. When they see God dishonored, His name reviled, and the precious cause of truth brought into disrepute by those who profess to revere it, when they see the innocent oppressed and persecuted, a righteous indignation stirs their soul; such anger, born of sensitive morals, is not a sin.” –The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, pp. 219, 220.

“Whoever cherishes malice or unkindness is cherishing the same spirit, and its fruit will be unto death. In the revengeful thought the evil deed lies enfolded, as the plant in the seed. ‘Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.’ 1 John 3:15. 

“In the gift of His Son for our redemption, God has shown how high a value He places upon every human soul, and He gives to no man liberty to speak contemptuously of another.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 56.

Christian non-resistance

4. In harmony with His previous teaching, what did the Lord say about the system of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth? How did He present the principle of Christian non-resistance? 

Matthew 5:38-42 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. 

“These words were but a reiteration of the teaching of the Old Testament. It is true that the rule, ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ (Leviticus 24:20), was a provision in the laws given through Moses; but it was a civil statute. None were justified in avenging themselves, for they had the words of the Lord: ‘Say not thou, I will recompense evil.’ ‘Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me.’ … Proverbs 20:22; 24:29.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 70, 71.

“The example of Jesus was a practical illustration of the lesson here taught; contumely and persecution never caused Him to retaliate upon His enemies. But this was a hard saying for the revengeful Jews, and they murmured against it among themselves.” –The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, p. 223. 

The law of recompense

5. What is the place of revenge when one suffers an offense or injury? How is the Christian law of recompense carried out in practice? 

Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. 

“We may never know until the judgment the influence of a kind, considerate course of action to the inconsistent, the unreasonable, and unworthy. If, after a course of provocation and injustice on their part, you treat them as you would an innocent person, you even take pains to show them special acts of kindness, then you have acted the part of a Christian; and they become surprised and ashamed, and see their course of action and meanness more clearly than if you plainly stated their aggravated acts to rebuke them.” –Medical Ministry, pp. 209, 210.

“He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord’s permission, and ‘all things’ that are permitted ‘work together for good to them that love God.’ Romans 8:28.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 71.

Consequences for all who take the sword

6. Consistent with the principle of non-resistance, what did the Lord say to a disciple when he felt compelled to use force against force? Was the Lord referring to just that one isolated incident, or was He applying this principle to everyone in every time and place?

Matthew 26:51-53 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. 52Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 

“The disciples had thought that their Master would not suffer Himself to be taken. For the same power that had caused the mob to fall as dead men could keep them helpless, until Jesus and His companions should escape. They were disappointed and indignant as they saw the cords brought forward to bind the hands of Him whom they loved. Peter in his anger rashly drew his sword and tried to defend his Master, but he only cut off an ear of the high priest’s servant. When Jesus saw what was done, He released His hands, though held firmly by the Roman soldiers, and saying, ‘Suffer ye thus far,’ He touched the wounded ear, and it was instantly made whole. He then said to Peter, ‘Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels?’–a legion in place of each one of the disciples.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 696. 

Children of the heavenly Father

7. How should one’s enemies be treated? If we are children of the heavenly Father, how will we react to those who persecute us and attempt to take our lives? 

Matthew 5:43-45 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 

“The manifestation of hatred never breaks down the malice of our enemies. But love and kindness beget love and kindness in return. Although God faithfully rewards virtue and punishes guilt, yet He does not withhold His blessings from the wicked, although they daily dishonor His name. He allows the sunshine and the showers to fall upon the just and the unjust, bringing alike worldly prosperity to both. If a holy God exercises such forbearance and benevolence toward the rebellious and the idolatrous, how necessary it is that erring man should manifest a like spirit toward his fellowmen. Instead of cursing those who injure him, it is his duty to seek to win them from their evil ways by a kindness similar to that with which Christ treated them who persecuted Him.” –The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, p. 224. 

  • Despite the sixth commandment and Jesus’ clear teaching in support of it, what is one form of widespread killing that many people support? 
  • List some forms of disrespect for human life of which you are aware. 
  • Considering that Jesus came to save human life, what will His followers do?

* * *

    Missionary Report  from Ethiopia

    To be read on Sabbath, August 29, 2015

    The Special Sabbath School Offering
    will be gathered on Sabbath, September 5, 2015

    “From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My suppliants, even the daughter of My dispersed, shall bring Mine offering.” Zephaniah 3:10, King James Version.

    “From beyond the rivers of Cush (Ethiopia) My worshippers, My scattered people, will bring Me offerings.” Zephaniah 3:10, New International Version.

    Ethiopia is located in the horn of Africa, bordering Eritrea on the north, Djibouti and Somalia on the east, Kenya on the South, and Sudan and South Sudan on the west. 

    This country is esteemed in Africa for the following reasons.

    • It has a very rich early Biblical history.
    • The capital, Addis Ababa, is considered Africa’s political capital.
    • It is the second most populous country on the continent, after Nigeria.
    • It is one of only two countries in Africa that have never been colonized, the other being Liberia. Italians tried to colonize Ethiopia, but they were defeated on the battlefield. 
    • It has its own unique official national language, Amharic, although other tribal languages are also widely spoken, such as Oromo. English is spoken by a few as a foreign language. Ethiopia also has a distinct calendar and a unique culture.

    The country covers an area of about 1,104,300 square kilometers, and 2014 statistics show it to be the home of about 96.5 million people. There are two main religions–Christianity and Islam. Coptic Christianity is the state religion, and therefore Christian holy days dominate the holiday calendar of activities.

    Seventh-day Adventists number about 150,000 in this country, and the message of Reformation gained entrance in 2005. Among the pio-neering missionaries were Pastors Idel Suarez, Jr., Tzevtan Petkov, and Parmenas Shirima. Later, the Ethiopian Union was visited by many other missionaries, including Pastors Raul Escobar, Bright Fue, Sevith Moyo, Henry Dering, Larry Watts, Francesco Caputo, Stefano Salemi, Sister Leila McTavish, and other sisters from Canada.

    The first contact came through a Macedonian call sent to the General Conference by an interested person known as Gabre. Although at the beginning the missionary work seemed very difficult and discouraging due to strong opposition from the S.D.A. Church members and other independent groups, the light of Reformation was accepted by more than 2,000 believers. Two years later, there was a setback caused by unbiblical doctrines, and some people left the church. But we thank God that the greater number of souls stood firm in the truth and today form the Ethiopian Union.

    The Union has four Fields: 1) Western Field, 2) Hossana Field, 3) Southern Field, and 4) Sidama Field. In terms of membership, it is among the largest Unions in Africa. Now the main objective is to consolidate the missionary activities in the central region of the country and then extend those efforts to the north. One of the main challenges is the lack of a central office and Union headquarters. For ten years, the administrative activities have been housed in various rented buildings. The General Conference desires to acquire property in or near the capital city, Addis Ababa, in the central part of the country; but land and buildings are quite expensive. The requirements of the work make it necessary to purchase something appropriate near the capital. Acquiring property instead of spending money to rent a place for the headquarters will be a much better use of funds.

    A Special Sabbath School Offering was gathered for Ethiopia on January 3, 2009, and approximately $60,000 is available from that offering for this project. However, this amount is not sufficient to accomplish what is needed. At least $100,000 more is required.

    Therefore, we implore you to give generously to support the work of extending the missionary efforts by helping the Ethiopian Union at this time in this way. May the following words from the inspired pen motivate us to take advantage of this opportunity to give our means to secure a heavenly institution: “The Lord could carry forward His work without our cooperation. He is not dependent on our money, our time, or our labor. But the church is very precious in His sight. It is the case which contains His jewels, the fold which encloses His flock, and He longs to see it without spot or blemish or any such thing. He yearns after it with unspeakable love. This is why He has given us opportunities to work for Him, and He accepts our labor as tokens of our love and loyalty.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 261.

    May His grace be poured upon all of us. Amen!

    –Parmenas N. Shirima
    African Division Leader


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