Please read the Missionary Report from
Emerging Countries of West Africa below

Sabbath, April 29, 2017

“Christ’s persecutors had tried to measure His character by their own; they had represented Him as vile as themselves. But back of all the present appearance another scene intruded itself–a scene which they will one day see in all its glory. There were some who trembled in Christ’s presence. While the rude throng were bowing in mockery before Him, some who came forward for that purpose turned back, afraid and silenced. Herod was convicted. The last rays of merciful light were shining upon his sin-hardened heart. He felt that this was no common man; for divinity had flashed through humanity. At the very time when Christ was encompassed by mockers, adulterers, and murderers, Herod felt that he was beholding a God upon His throne.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 731.

Trying to shift responsibility

1. Finding himself in a very difficult situation, what idea occurred to Pilate when he heard that Jesus had preached in Galilee? 

Luke 23:6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. 

2. Therefore, what did Pilate decide to do when he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction? Despite the strong opposition of the priests and leaders, what did Pilate do? 

Luke 23:7 And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.

“Pilate at this time had no thought of condemning Jesus. He knew that the Jews had accused Him through hatred and prejudice. He knew what his duty was. Justice demanded that Christ should be immediately released. But Pilate dreaded the ill will of the people. Should he refuse to give Jesus into their hands, a tumult would be raised, and this he feared to meet. When he heard that Christ was from Galilee, he decided to send Him to Herod, the ruler of that province, who was then in Jerusalem. By this course, Pilate thought to shift the responsibility of the trial from himself to Herod.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 728.

Human interests

3. What were Herod’s feelings when he finally had the opportunity to see Jesus? What pleasure would there be in this for him, since his hands were stained with the blood of John the Baptist?

Luke 23:8; 9:9 And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him…. 9:9And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him. 

“Pilate delivered Jesus again to the soldiers, and amid the jeers and insults of the mob He was hurried to the judgment hall of Herod. ‘When Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad.’ He had never before met the Saviour, but ‘he was desirous to see Him of a long season, because he had heard many things of Him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him.’ This Herod was he whose hands were stained with the blood of John the Baptist. When Herod first heard of Jesus, he was terror-stricken, and said, ‘It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead;’ ‘therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him.’ Mark 6:16; Matthew 14:2. Yet Herod desired to see Jesus. Now there was opportunity to save the life of this prophet, and the king hoped to banish forever from his mind the memory of that bloody head brought to him in a charger. He also desired to have his curiosity gratified, and thought that if Christ were given any prospect of release, He would do anything that was asked of Him.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 728, 729.

Answering with silence

4. Did Herod’s many questions reveal a genuine interest in knowing the truth, or was he curious and interested in sensationalism? Explain why Jesus refused to answer the king’s questions.

Luke 23:9 Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. 

“Herod questioned Christ in many words, but throughout the Saviour maintained a profound silence. At the command of the king, the decrepit and maimed were then called in, and Christ was ordered to prove His claims by working a miracle. Men say that Thou canst heal the sick, said Herod. I am anxious to see that Thy widespread fame has not been belied. Jesus did not respond, and Herod still continued to urge: If Thou canst work miracles for others, work them now for Thine own good, and it will serve Thee a good purpose. Again he commanded, Show us a sign that Thou hast the power with which rumor hath accredited Thee. But Christ was as one who heard and saw not. The Son of God had taken upon Himself man’s nature. He must do as man must do in like circumstances. Therefore He would not work a miracle to save Himself the pain and humiliation that man must endure when placed in a similar position.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 729.

5. While Herod was asking for signs and a demonstration of Jesus’ ability to heal and trying thus to bribe Him to be released, what did the priests and leaders vehemently protest? In this case, did Jesus attempt to deny the accusations of the Jews and justify Himself?

Luke 23:10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. 

“A large company of the priests and elders had accompanied Christ to Herod. And when the Saviour was brought in, these dignitaries, all speaking excitedly, urged their accusations against Him. But Herod paid little regard to their charges. He commanded silence, desiring an opportunity to question Christ. He ordered that the fetters of Christ should be unloosed, at the same time charging His enemies with roughly treating Him. Looking with compassion into the serene face of the world’s Redeemer, he read in it only wisdom and purity. He as well as Pilate was satisfied that Christ had been accused through malice and envy….

“Herod promised that if Christ would perform some miracle in his presence, He should be released…. Again the priests and rulers, in great anxiety, urged their accusations against Him. Raising their voices, they declared, He is a traitor, a blasphemer. He works His miracles through the power given Him by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. The hall became a scene of confusion, some crying one thing and some another.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 729, 730.

6. Why did Jesus reply to many questions presented to Him during His ministry and yet refuse to say a word to the king under these circumstances? 

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7, last part To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:… 7A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

“Herod’s conscience was now far less sensitive than when he had trembled with horror at the request of Herodias for the head of John the Baptist. For a time he had felt the keen stings of remorse for his terrible act; but his moral perceptions had become more and more degraded by his licentious life. Now his heart had become so hardened that he could even boast of the punishment he had inflicted upon John for daring to reprove him. And he now threatened Jesus, declaring repeatedly that he had power to release or to condemn Him. But no sign from Jesus gave evidence that He heard a word. 

“Herod was irritated by this silence. It seemed to indicate utter indifference to his authority…. Again he angrily threatened Jesus, who still remained unmoved and silent. 

“The mission of Christ in this world was not to gratify idle curiosity. He came to heal the brokenhearted…. But He had no words for those who would but trample the truth under their unholy feet.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 730.

Why He was silent

7. What abuse against Jesus did Herod sanction when his curiosity and ego were not satisfied? What other reasons does the Spirit of prophecy give for the Master’s silence?

Luke 23:11, first part And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him,…

Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

“Christ might have spoken words to Herod that would have pierced the ears of the hardened king…. But Christ’s silence was the severest rebuke that He could have given. Herod had rejected the truth spoken to him by the greatest of the prophets, and no other message was he to receive…. Those eyes that had ever rested upon the penitent sinner in pitying, forgiving love had no look to bestow upon Herod. Those lips that had uttered the most impressive truth, that in tones of tenderest entreaty had pleaded with the most sinful and the most degraded, were closed to the haughty king who felt no need of a Saviour. 

“Herod’s face grew dark with passion. Turning to the multitude, he angrily denounced Jesus as an impostor. Then to Christ he said, If You will give no evidence of Your claim, I will deliver You up to the soldiers and the people. They may succeed in making You speak. If You are an impostor, death at their hands is only what You merit; if You are the Son of God, save Yourself by working a miracle.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 730, 731.

8. Although not pleased with his interview with Jesus, did Herod agree to the condemnation of Him that the Jews demanded? What did the fact that he sent Him back to Pilate reveal? Did his meeting with the Redeemer change his relationship with God? In what way? 

Luke 23:11, last part, 12 And arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. 12And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. 

Deuteronomy 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. 

“Hardened as he was, Herod dared not ratify the condemnation of Christ. He wished to relieve himself of the terrible responsibility, and he sent Jesus back to the Roman judgment hall.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 731.

“Herod had heard many things of Jesus in Galilee, and out of curiosity longed to see him. The poorest beggar that asked a miracle for the relief of his necessity, was never denied; but this proud prince, who asked for a miracle only to gratify his curiosity, is refused. He might have seen Christ and His wondrous works in Galilee, and would not, therefore it is justly said, Now he would see them, and shall not. Herod sent Christ again to Pilate: the friendships of wicked men are often formed by union in wickedness. They agree in little, except in enmity to God, and contempt of Christ.” –Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Luke 23:6-12.

Thought questions

  • Having previously heard of Jesus, was Herod in a better position than Pilate to give a correct judgment? 
  • Herod was happy to see Christ, but was he happy also to hear and accept His message?
  • What can we learn from the fact that the Lord did not answer the repeated requests of the king?
  • The day that Jesus was condemned, Pilate and Herod became friends; but what alone is the true friendship that is valuable to God? Psalm 83:5-7; James 4:4; Matthew 6:24.

For additional study

“Paul declared that in his unconverted state he had known Christ, not by personal acquaintance, but merely by the conception which he, in common with others, cherished concerning the character and work of the Messiah to come. He had rejected Jesus of Nazareth as an impostor because He did not fulfill this conception. But now Paul’s views of Christ and His mission were far more spiritual and exalted, for he had been converted. The apostle asserted that he did not present to them Christ after the flesh. Herod had seen Christ in the days of His humanity; Annas had seen Him; Pilate and the priests and rulers had seen Him; the Roman soldiers had seen Him. But they had not seen Him with the eye of faith; they had not seen Him as the glorified Redeemer. To apprehend Christ by faith, to have a spiritual knowledge of Him, was more to be desired than a personal acquaintance with Him as He appeared on the earth. The communion with Christ which Paul now enjoyed was more intimate, more enduring, than a mere earthly and human companionship.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 452.

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Missionary Report
from Emerging Countries of West Africa

To be read on Sabbath, April 29, 2017

The Special Sabbath School Offering
will be gathered on Sabbath, May 6, 2017

“But when He saw the multitude, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth His labourers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38.

The missionary work is progressing well in the African continent, even as we face many obstacles and challenges of different kinds. The message of Adventist Reformation (IMS) began in Africa back in the early 1930s in southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Republic of South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, and Swaziland) and then spread to eastern Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda) in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Later the message reached Malawi, Mozambique, Burundi, and Rwanda. In early 1990, the message entered central Africa and western Africa (D.R. Congo, Cameroon, Ghana, and Angola).  From 2000 to 2010, the message spread even faster into other countries, especially in West Africa. Many countries were evangelized during this time, including Madagascar, Seychelles, Ethiopia, Namibia, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Liberia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Senegal, South Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast. Recently the message entered Lesotho, and soon we will have baptisms in Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, and Djibouti, where our co-workers are busy evangelizing. 

Africa is a vast continent, the second largest in the world after Asia, with 55 sovereign countries. The church’s objective is to reach all of the African countries with the message of Reformation, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

So far 35 countries in Africa have been reached, and we still have 20 countries waiting for the message. Most of the latter are in West and North Africa, and they are predominantly Muslim. To work in such countries is a huge challenge. However, the main obstacle is a lack of financial resources. This has made it necessary to move slowly while time is flying fast. The new territories we are focusing on right now are Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Central Africa Republic, and Djibouti. 

The General Conference and the African Division have received requests for funds from countries that desire to advance church activities in their newly established fields. Therefore, the plan of the General Conference is to use the income from next week’s Special Sabbath School offerings to support the advancement of missionary activities in the newly established fields in West Africa and to cover the expenses for purchasing headquarters facilities. Such facilities have been purchased recently in Ghana, The Gambia, and Sierra Leone. Headquarters are needed in Ivory Coast, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Senegal. Altough prior Sabbath School Offerings have been collected for many of these countries, the costs of church buildings, headquarters, and schools have far exceeded the amounts collected. Thus, this offering is also being gathered to replenish the exhausted accounts. We earnestly entreat you to give a heartfelt offering to help advance the evangelistic programs in those fields and also obtain houses off worship.

May our gracious Lord give us cheerful, willing hearts as we join hands in this project of extending the gospel message to the dark areas of this planet. We need to be serious with the matters pertaining to the Lord’s cause, especially by giving for missionary activities and places of worship. While you are stretching out your hand to present your gift, please remember the following Biblical challenge: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tiding of good things!” Romans 10:14, 15.  

God grant you His abundant blessings!

–Parmenas Shirima, African Division Leader