Thursday, May 7, 2020

In The End, Faith Is What Matters

In The End, Faith Is What Matters

In the Movie "Secret Garden," a boy is kept hidden because he is allegedly very sick. The Doctors say his legs are too weak to walk. The boy believes the Doctors. A girl visiting finds him. She challenges the boy by telling him, "You do look sick, but it is nothing a little sunshine, and good food will not help. And your legs could walk if you exercised them." The boy refuses to listen to the girl. However, the girl eventually convinces him to try to walk. The boy, of course, struggles to walk a few steps, assuring the boy that he could walk. The girl saw beyond what the Doctor saw. She followed her conviction that the boy's body atrophied because of disuse. She saw a body that worked fine, but that the owner had refused to make work. However, in the end, it boiled down to the boy believing that he could walk. The girl could have given him evidence and proof that he could indeed walk, but unless the boy thought he could, he would have never walked.


Faith is, at times, defined as belief. All the proof and evidence in the world – whether internal or external - cannot replace faith. It is by faith that the just lives (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11). It is by faith that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). Hebrews 11:6 says that, "… without faith it is impossible to please him." In John 14:8, 9 Phillip asked Jesus for evidence, Jesus in essence answered "I am your evidence." In Matthew 12:38-40 some Scribes asked Jesus for a sign, Jesus replied similarly. Jesus did not believe that evidence would be useful in making people believe unless they chose to exercise the faith given to them.


Let us consider what it says in Hebrews 11:1- 3,


Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.


This statement was true in Paul's day, is true in our day, and before the Bible text was first written. Verse 3 says that our understanding of the world we live in comes through faith, not just evidence from history, archeology, social or physical sciences. Trying to prove that the written narrative of the Bible is reliable has its place. However, how do you explain that from fallen Adam to the writing of the Pentateuch? Those who believed in this era did so without a written narrative of the history of redemption. This is not to say that the Bible is not necessary. It is, however, important to say that the Bible is an instrument in God and men's hand to lead men closer to God. The Bible informs us of how we are saved in Jesus, the Word of God incarnate. 


In the end, you must believe that what the written Word says is true. Romans 10:17 says it clearly, " So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." The Bible is perhaps the most important way to hear the Word of God. However, without faith, the Bible is nothing more than a collection of exciting stories that paint a historical picture of how things were more than 2000 years ago. Let us read Hebrews 11:4:


Hebrews 11:4 By faith [and without the benefit of a Bible] Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.


The same is the case of Noah, Abraham, Sara, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses (Hebrews 11: 7-11, 22-24.) This is the case of those mentioned in Hebrews 11: 32. They had the benefit of Written Scripture. Were these latter ones better off because of the Written Scripture? They believed by faith that what we know today as the Bible is the Written Word of God, without the internal or external proofs we have today. It is by faith that they pleased God and were saved. The same is true for us. Nothing can replace faith effectively.


Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Foundation

The Foundation

The contractor hired a few young men to help build a small house in a low-budget residential area. It was a small budget project. So, the contractor hired these inexperienced young men – to whom the contractor would pay low wages - to dig the footings rather than renting the power equipment to do the job. On the first day, they began digging a ditch with a pickax and a shovel. Hour after hour as the sun beat down, blisters developed, grew, broke, and grew again as these young men dug this trench, a foot and a half wide with straight sides and a flat bottom. When the foreman returned hours later to inspect and help with his finishing touches and grade stakes, in came a concrete truck to fill in the hard-won space.

What they were working on was called the foundation. A foundation is an underlying base or support; in other words, a body or ground upon overlays a built structure. It is the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level. This foundation is to be sound. It should rest on firm undisturbed soil or bedrock so that it can provide reliable support for the structure. The type and quality of the foundation required will, of course, depend on many factors.  Some factors include the size and weight of the structure to be built.  Other factors are the kind and stability of the soil. Foundations for homes are usually no more than one or two feet deep. But if you build a skyscraper, tower, or massive bridge, the foundation will need to be much more substantial. For example, the twin Petronas Towers soaring above Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was situated on soil that couldn't support the weight of the 1,500-foot skyscrapers. Hence, the foundation had to rest on solid bedrock. Imagine how deep the massive hole for the 394-foot-deep concrete and steel foundation, to date, this is the deepest foundation for any building. For comparison, in January 2010, the world's tallest building, rising 2,717 feet above the desert of Dubai and known as Burj Khalifa, has a nearly half-million-ton concrete and steel foundation that extends down only 164 feet. While the foundations may vary, they still need to have the capacity to bear the structure's weight, and keep it standing; this implies that the foundation precedes the building.

The Bible speaks of a "rock" that served as a foundation for the temple of Solomon. Christ identified with this rock. Ellen White tells the story,

"In quoting the prophecy of the rejected stone, Christ referred to an actual occurrence in the history of Israel. The incident was connected with the building of the first temple. While it had a special application at the time of Christ's first advent, and should have appealed with special force to the Jews, it has also a lesson for us. When the temple of Solomon was erected, the immense stones for the walls and the foundation were entirely prepared at the quarry; after they were brought to the place of building, not an instrument was to be used upon them; the workmen had only to place them in position. For use in the foundation, one stone of unusual size and peculiar shape had been brought; but the workmen could find no place for it, and would not accept it. It was an annoyance to them, as it lay unused in their way. Long it remained a rejected stone. But when the builders came to the laying of the corner, they searched for a long time to find a stone of sufficient size and strength, and of the proper shape, to take that particular place, and bear the great weight which would rest upon it. Should they make an unwise choice for this important place, the safety of the entire building would be endangered? They must find a stone capable of resisting the influence of the sun, of frost, and of tempest. Several stones had at different times been chosen, but under the pressure of immense weights they had crumbled to pieces. Others could not bear the test of the sudden atmospheric changes. But at last, attention was called to the stone so long rejected. It had been exposed to the air, to sun and storm, without revealing the slightest crack. The builders examined this stone. It had borne every test but one. If it could bear the test of severe pressure, they decided to accept it for the cornerstone. The trial was made. The stone was accepted, brought to its assigned position, and found to be an exact fit. In prophetic vision, Isaiah was shown that this stone was a symbol of Christ. He says:

"Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. And He shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken."

The prophet is carried down in prophetic vision to the first advent,  and shown that Christ is to bear trials and tests of which the treatment of the chief cornerstone in the temple of Solomon was symbolic. The prophet declares: "Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." Isaiah 8:13-15; 28:16."

So, Christ told the Jews that they were treating Him as others treated this stone. He says to them in Mat 21:42, "Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?"

Paul picks up on this theme in Ephesians 2. He calls us the building and Christ the foundation. Let us read,

Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Eph 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

The above quote gives us two implications. On the one hand, if Jesus is the foundation, then not one of us is as important as Jesus (and we do not have to dig the footings). The only reason we can stand is because He bears our weight and holds us. On the other hand, we need not worry about how we can stand and not fall. Jesus carries and keeps us all; if only we let Him. Both extremes are dangerous. They are both treating Him as the "stone that the builders rejected." It is letting the stone fall on you. By, faith bring forth the fruit of landing on the stone and being broken (Matthew 21: 44 - 45).

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Testing the Prophecy

Testing the Prophecy

There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself, he took a great breath and sang out, "Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!" The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found no wolf. The boy laughed at the sight of their angry faces. "Don't cry 'wolf,' shepherd boy," said the villagers, "When there's no wolf!" They went grumbling back down the hill. Later, the boy sang out again, "Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!" To his naughty delight, he watched the villagers run up the hill to help him drive the wolf away. When the villagers saw no wolf they sternly said, "Save your frightened song for when there is really something wrong! Don't cry 'wolf' when there is NO wolf!" But the boy just grinned and watched them go grumbling down the hill once more. Later, he saw a REAL wolf prowling about his flock. Alarmed, he leaped to his feet and sang out as loudly as he could, "Wolf! Wolf!" But the villagers thought he was trying to fool them again, and so they didn't come.

At sunset, everyone wondered why the shepherd boy hadn't returned to the village with their sheep. They went up the hill to find the boy. They found him weeping. "There was a wolf here! The flock has scattered! I cried out, "Wolf!" Why didn't you come?" An old man tried to comfort the boy as they walked back to the village. "We'll help you look for the lost sheep in the morning," he said, putting his arm around the youth, "Nobody believes a liar...even when he is telling the truth!"  From the story, we can imply that liars can tell the truth. So there is a danger in judging what is said by the person who says it. Perhaps we should spend more effort testing what is said instead of testing who says it.

This seems to be the emphasis of 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 NKJV,

20 Do not despise prophecies.
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.

It does not say test the prophets but test the prophecies. This also seems to be what on Isaiah 8:20 NKJV stresses,

20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

The emphasis here is on what they say, if it does not agree with "the law and the testimony," then there is no light in them. (This text also tells what the criteria are for testing the prophecy.)

Someone gave a prominent Rabbi a copy of Patriarchs and Prophets by Ellen G. White to read. He knew nothing of the author, but after reading the book, something about the book convinced the Rabbi that God inspired Ellen White. He believed that Sister White had to be led by God to write this book because she wrote the book in an ancient style that was unknown in her time and only discovered years after her death. For this Rabbi, only God could do something like that. This Rabbi knew the "law and the testimony." He tested Sister White's writings against this standard. He found that it was good – therefore of God, so he held fast to it.

As with this Rabbi, many recipients of prophecy in the Bible did not know the prophet and heeded his message believing it was the Word of God. (Consider the Ninevites with Jonah). Others who knew the prophets all along rejected the message. As Jesus said in Matthew 13:57, "… A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house." So, as we can see in the end is not about the prophet, but about who sent the prophet. It is not about the life of the prophet, but about the death of Christ.

In the end, no matter who God sends the issue is, do we believe the message? Do we have the faith, belief, and trust in God as the Ninevites had? They knew nothing of Jonah, but they did not despise the prophecy, they tested it, found it good, and held fast to it and repented. Are we?

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Law and the Gospel

The following commentary was published a few years back for another subject. However, I think it applies to this week's lesson. Let us read.

The Law and the Gospel
 Memory Text: "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:3, 4, NKJV).

This verse presents a dilemma because depending on how you read it, the emphasis could be on knowing Christ- (which would make keeping the Law a fruit of knowing Him) or on obeying the Law (which would make knowing Him a consequence of keeping the Law). Which one is it?

We could try looking at the verse closer and see where it leads us. Let us start within the expression, "that we know Him."  In John 17:3, Christ stated that knowing Him (and His Father) is eternal life. In John 6, Christ says that eating His flesh and drinking His blood gives life. When we eat and drink, we assimilate the food and drink - it becomes part of us. So, although we do not think about it in this manner, there is an intimate relation between food and us. What we eat and how we eat will eventually be revealed: this is akin to knowing someone, the more time you spend with them, the more the two assimilate each other. It will be evident that the two spent much time together. To those around Peter, it became apparent that Peter was with Jesus; Peter now spoke like a Galilean (Matthew 26:73). Peter, in many ways, acted like Jesus. So, Peter's speech was evidence that he was with Jesus. Peter did not go around speaking like Jesus to prove that he was one of them. It just came out. When the disciples preached, many said that it was evident that they had been with Jesus. There was a transformation.

The following expression is "Keeping the commandments." Who are these that keep them? Paul identifies "the just" as those who keep the commandments (Romans 2: 13). The words just and righteous are the same word in Greek. Abraham was just. How was Abraham just? He believed God's words, and Abraham's belief was counted to him for righteousness (Romans 4:3). Now, if Abraham's faith made him just, and the just keep the commandments, it follows that only those who hear God's words and believe them (since faith comes through Hearing and hearing through the word) keep the commandments (Romans 10:17). The best way to know someone is to listen to what they say and seek to understand them.

What are the commandments? We could argue that they are the Ten Commandments. We typically also call it the Law. The Ten Commandments speak of things we would do for others, not ourselves. None of the commandments say anything about how you are to treat yourself.  On the contrary, they speak about how you are to treat God and others. Christ stated in Matthew 22: 37 - 40,

Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.

The passage just quoted is a summary of the commandments. It says, in essence, put God and others first. This is what Jesus did; he put His Father and others first; so much that He went to die on the cross so others may live. That is why the Father sent Him (Romans 5:8). So, John put it this way,

1Jo 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

In the Gospel according to John 15: 10 – 17, Jesus is quoted saying that this is the commandment He gives to us,

Joh 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love…
Joh 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Joh 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Joh 15:17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

And we see in this passage how laying down your life is related to abiding in Christ's love. So, is love related to the commandments? Paul answered,

Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law.

How do we relate faith to all of these? Sin is the transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4). Anything outside of faith is Sin (Romans 14:23). So, anything outside of faith transgresses the Law. We have concluded that the Law, in essence, says to love God and others above yourself, So, not loving God and others above yourself or loving yourself above others – is transgressing the Law, and it is not of faith. Therefore it is a Sin. So, if love fulfills the Law and does not transgress the Law, love is not Sin. Thus love is of faith; this means that since loving God and others above yourself is laying down your life; then it follows that only those who lay down their life for others, as Christ laid His life down for us, are just or righteous; they keep the Law. So, how do we know you know Christ? Because you willingly lay down your life for others as He laid His down for you.

So, the question remains, why was the Law given?  Romans says it was given to make Sin, sinful, so that Sin may abound (Romans 5: 20). Galatians says that it was given because of transgression (Galatians 3:19).  To what transgression is it referring? Based on this verse in Galatians and what Paul says in Hebrews, the transgression was the unbelief of the Israelites in the wilderness (Hebrews 3). What Paul is saying is that the Law was written on tablets because the Israelites refused to let God write the Law in their hearts. So, the inscribed tablets would be a reminder to the Israelites of what is righteousness, and in contrast, what is Sin. Paul says in 1 Tim 1: 8,

1Ti 1:8 But we know that the Law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
1Ti 1:9 Knowing this, that the Law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
1Ti 1:10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
1Ti 1:11 According to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

So, for who is the written Law, or moral Law, or 10 Commandments? It is for the wicked, the sinner, the trespasser. Why? For who is the MRI? Is it not for those who are sick? Why? It is to diagnose; for what purpose? To condemn so, we can punish? No. It is to convict so the person will go to the doctor for healing.

The commandments were given to expose Sin and lead us to a Savior, to convince us of how terrible our condition is, and how we can do nothing to fix it ourselves, so we will stop trying and surrender to the one who has the remedy! The Lord gave The commandments to make Sin unattractive and grace attractive. Had man been obedient, there would have been no need for the Law to be given. Ellen White says,

If man had kept the Law of God, as given to Adam after his fall, preserved by Noah, and observed by Abraham, there would have been no necessity for the ordinance of circumcision. And if the descendants of Abraham had kept the covenant, of which circumcision was a sign, they would never have been seduced into idolatry, nor would it have been necessary for them to suffer a life of bondage in Egypt; they would have kept God's Law in mind, and there would have been no necessity for it to be proclaimed from Sinai or engraved upon the tables of stone. And had the people practiced the principles of the Ten Commandments, there would have been no need of the additional directions given to Moses. {PP 364.2}

Thus, we can define the Gospel as the good news that through Jesus, the Law can be written in our hearts and mind if only we allow the indwelling Spirit of God to do it. This is God's desire. Nothing will please Him more. Will we let Him?

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Ask The One Who Wrote It

Ask The One Who Wrote It

A man wrote a note expressing his views on a particular subject. He sent this note to some of the people he knew to get their opinion. The people that received it read the note, and afterward, they started to discuss its content. They were many opinions about what they believed the note said. It continued like this for days, and no one got back to the author. Finally, they gave the note to a man known for his practical wisdom. He read it as the people waited. The reader nodded when he finished reading. The people asked him, "Well, what do you think?" The reader said, "I think this is worth pondering. It could be interpreted in many ways. So I do not know…" They all waited to see if he said something else. Then suddenly, the man spoke, "Well, you all know me to be very practical. And I think this needs a practical solution." "And that is?" asked the impatient crowd. The man said very matter-of-factly, "Well, I am going to find the person who wrote this note and ask him personally what he meant by this." The man left the premises to find the author of the note.


Meanwhile, the crowd stood in place quietly, mumbling, "Why did we not think of that?" I believe the Bible presents a similar situation. When we read it, we do not readily understand it. So, we discuss and philosophize amongst ourselves what we think God meant. But, we do not ask God Himself what He meant in His Word.


This week's scripture reading makes a bold statement: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" 2 Timothy 3:16. In Biblical Greek, the word inspired is translated from the word "theopnuestos." This term means, "God breathed out..." In other words, God exhaled the writings of the Bible on the authors. God did this, not by giving the authors of the Biblical books inspired words, but by inspiring the writers. One of my favorite writers elaborates on this,


The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God's mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented. Men will often say such an expression is not like God. But God has not put Himself in words, in logic, in rhetoric, on trial in the Bible. The writers of the Bible were God's penmen, not His pen. Look at the different writers. It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man's words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind. The divine mind is diffused. The divine mind and will is combined with the human mind and will; thus the utterances of the man are the word of God. (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 21)


So when God exhaled to these Holy men, they "spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" 2 Peter 1: 21. The power that God used to give life to Adam when God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7), is the same power God used to inspire the authors of the Bible. This power gave life to man, and also gives life to the Words written in the Holy Writ.


So, the Bible belongs to the Spirit of God. The Bible is a Spiritual thing. And, Spiritual things are "spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14). Only those who have received that Spirit of God understand the things of the Spirit. Only those who receive the Spirit can discern spiritual things. To understand the Bible in its purest simplest form –as the Truth as it is in Jesus - we need the same breath that God gave to those who wrote it. If the Holy Spirit is the author, and He dwells in us, then He should be able to tell us exactly what He meant when then men He inspired wrote as moved by Him.


The Bible says that "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5). Jesus Himself says to all,


Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

Matthew 7:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.


To the above quote, the Apostle James may have added, "Ye have not, because ye ask not" James 4:2. Jesus also said that the Father is more than willing to give us the Holy Spirit if only we ask for Him (Luke 11:13). Will we continue to discuss amongst ourselves? Or, will we go back to the One that wrote it and let Him breathe His heavenly wisdom upon us?

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Bible's Prevalent Motif

The Bible's Prevalent Motif

A motif is a recurrent thematic element in an artistic or literary work; topics and themes are synonyms. Although the Bible is much more than a literary work, it has identifiable motifs. Some motifs in the Bible are the Love of God and the shedding of blood as expiation for Sin. Another prevalent theme in the Bible is this: God always searches or reaches out to/for man; this is the case from the start. Let us read from Genesis 3: 8-11,

Genesis 3: 8And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
Genesis 3: 9And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
Genesis 3: 10And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
Genesis 3: 11And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

The incident narrated above sets a pattern for the rest of our history. For 6,000 years, there has been a dynamic of man choosing evil and afterward hiding when he believes he others caught him. In his guilt, he drives himself into more evil and hiding further, or he tries to find a way to appease God, whom man believes is against him because of the Sin committed. God looks at the hiding man and says to him, "What are you doing behind there? It is dark there. Come out so we can see each other and talk freely." The man replies, "I am hiding from you. I know you must be angry at me, for I have disobeyed you. You must want to kill me for what I did."

Afterward, God looks at the man looking to appease Him, and says to the man, "What are you doing there? Why are you so busy? Please, stop. Turn around to me. I want us to talk." The man responds, "I am trying to make restitution for the evil I have done. I know you must be angry at me, and probably want to kill me. So, I am doing my best to show that I can do better. Perhaps I will change your mind."

God looks at them with sadness. He says, "Do they not know? Are they not listening? If I wanted them dead, I would have killed them by now. Have they not read in my Word when My Son told Nicodemus, in John 3: 16 and 17, that I God have '…so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.' Because, 'There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one' (Romans 3:11,12). All 'like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). "They reject My free gift to them, which has been so costly to Me. They reject My unconditional and eternal love. They reject my mercy and grace. They reject Me."

God's love for us and us rejecting it is the common thread in the Bible. God goes looking for the man. The man runs away from God. Man believes in his heart that God hates him. God wants to show man that that is not the case. So God goes after man again. But, man continues to reject God and delights further in the evil he does. So, God has no choice but to let man suffer the consequences of his decisions. The wages of Sin is death (Romans 6:23a). Those who choose Sin will die eternally.

Thankfully, not all men will die. Some have chosen the Light of God and come out of hiding in the dark. Some have chosen the gift of God, which is "eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23b). They have accepted by Faith the good works of Christ that grant Salvation and stop trying on their own through their actions. They have received God's love, mercy, and grace. They chose to let God reach out to them and allowed God to stay with them. Will you choose to be part of this group?

Friday, March 13, 2020

That Which Is Desirable

That Which Is Desirable



When was the last time you heard the words, "I love you?" In our society, we toss around these words so much they have lost their meaning. We read them in advertisements, hear them on the radio or view them on TV. However, many of us may have never heard these words addressed to us. Some may have only heard "I love you" in a romantic situation. How do you know someone loves you? Can you hear it in what they say, or see it in what they do? What is your love language?


How do you know God loves you? He called His Son beloved – agapetos (Matthew 3:17), and Daniel himself had the privilege of being told by an angel that he was greatly beloved (Daniel 9:23; 10:11,19). The Hebrew word for beloved is chemdah {khem-daw'}, and it is this word that we translate as "beloved." In Hebrew, Chemda means desire, that which is desirable, pleasant, and precious. And, this is how the angel addressed Daniel. This word Chemda is the same word that is Jews used to describe a precious jewel or fertile land. Friends, Daniel was being compared to a jewel or a productive land overflowing with cattle, and vegetation which produced delicious milk and sweet-tasting honey. Mmm-- imagine --the beautiful and delightful dishes the Jews could make from milk and honey. Just think of that which you desire, that which is precious to you, and pleasing to your senses-- maybe it is something that stimulates your palate, quenches your thirst, or satisfies your longing. Whatever it is that you've imagined (that is ethically acceptable), that feeling of pleasure you get, that joy, is a small fragment of the immense satisfaction that God felt about Daniel and feels toward us.


"I am no, Daniel," you may say, and of course, you are right. There was only one Daniel, and there is only one you, and one me. Let's agree on this, first; God loves each one of us because we are His, irrespective of our choices. He sent His Son to die for all who lived or would ever live-- that each might be saved (John 3:16) if he so desired. God sends His sunshine and rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45), and the beauty of nature is available to all mankind. As strange as it sounds, the act of destroying Sin and sinners is an act of love. Second, it is only by the Faith of Jesus that we please God-- not by our faith or belief, for even the devils believe and tremble. We are His beloveds when we yield to the bidding of His indwelling Spirit. We become His beloved when we allow Him to transform us into precious jewels, or soft fertile soil that bears fruit. It takes time to create a precious jewel. It takes heat and pressure to convert common mineral into a crystallized form. Then a jeweler works on the piece to mold and shape it into a beautiful piece of jewelry. The more delicate the work, the more the need for a master craftsman. This process is akin to God's work in us. He looks at us lovingly, determining by His skilled eye the nature of the work to be performed. We are His jewel, and He will (if we allow Him), not only remove the rough edges but will so cut our stony hearts with such precision, that the brilliance and clarity of the Son is apparent to all.


Just as it takes time and effort to dig the land for jewels, it takes time and effort to make it suitable for sowing. We have hearts of stone. To make them tender and fertile, God has to break the fallow ground and replace it with His perfect topsoil. It is He who must till the stony or thorny or wayside soil, and it is we who, if we choose, will be made willing (to do of His goodwill and pleasure -- Phil. 2:13). It may take years, but it doesn't have to. After the ground is tilled and fertilized, God sows the seed, then the soil is watered, and the ground weeded regularly. How patiently, the sower waits for the land to bear fruit. He must often wait at least three seasons. How he yearns for that crop to grow, and ripen that He may feed others; this is how Christ and the Father wait for us. It through the Holy Spirit working in us--tilling the soil with truth, softening it with the rain, and through the photosynthesis of the word, ripening the plant to produce copious delicious fruit. Allowing this kind of work to go on in us, we become that which the universe finds pleasant, precious, and desirable.


The process of making us precious jewels from rough crystal rocks, or fertile land from seemingly dry, rocky, thorny wayside soil, may seem harsh and unloving, but, well-- remember that desire we talked about earlier, that longing and yearning? Well, "Christ is waiting with longing desire for the complete reproduction

of His mind in the people who love Him-- then the end will come." What God puts us through is necessary for us to become genuinely loving people. All our selfishness and self-love must go. And God Himself is ready and willing to replace it with His selfless and unconditional, fertilized topsoil. It is His love that produces fruit, such as works of faith, that acceptable. It is His love with which we love our family members (and our neighbors), and all will know us by this love.


Brothers and sisters, let's allow God to call us His beloved, not because we try to be like Daniel, but because we allow Jesus -- to make us like Himself.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Forgiveness for Unknown Sin

Forgiveness for Unknown Sin

The police stopped a very famous film actor because of improper driving. The Police officer suspected that the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol. The officer approached the car window, and before he could ask the driver for his driver's license, he could smell the alcohol. He immediately asked the actor to leave the car. The actor gets annoyed by the request and starts insulting the officer. Recognizing the actor, the police officer asks the actor if he had been drinking and how much. The actor is now infuriated and tells him, "None of your business?" The police officer asks the actor one more time to get out of the car. The actor at that moment tells the officer some improprieties about the officer's apparent ethnic background. He then adds, "The reason why this world has problems is because of your people." The next day the incident was all over the press and the media. The actor released a statement of apology, saying in part, "It is a known fact that one effect of alcohol is losing your inhibition. You say things you would not say sober. However, I said what was inside my heart. I was not aware that I held such dark feelings about other ethnic groups. While the incident was indeed embarrassing, what it revealed in my heart is humiliating." Through this incident, the actor realized that we harbor Sin in our hearts and may not be aware of it.

In chapter 9, Daniel prayed for forgiveness. He prayed for forgiveness for him and his people. But, there is something unusual about his prayer. Daniel includes himself with his people. Let us read some instances from Daniel 9: 4 - 19, where Daniel includes himself with his people,

5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
 6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets,
10 Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
 11 …because we have sinned against him.
 13 … all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.
14 … for we obeyed not his voice.
 15 …we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
 16 … because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
 18 …for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses,

As you can see, this prayer is not only intercessory but also corporate. Why does Daniel pray corporately? As far as we know, it was the iniquity of his people - not his own - that lead the Jews to the Babylonian captivity. Maybe Daniel knew the phrase, "there go I, but for the grace of God." Daniel perhaps understood that given the same set of opportunities and circumstances, he would have participated in the Sins of his people.  What separated Daniel from his counterparts? The grace of God, to which Daniel yielded, and his brethren did not.

We know that Daniel read Jeremiah. Daniel must have read Jeremiah 17:9 that says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Could it be that Daniel was confessing all Sin that his heart may harbor – even unknown Sin? However, any act or word we say comes out of the abundance of our heart (Luke 6: 45). All sinful actions that we commit, are committing, and will commit are borne in our hearts before we let them out. All these Sins need is the right opportunity. The problem is we cannot know what is in our hearts. However, God knows the secrets of our hearts (Psalms 44:21). Daniel, very likely, was aware of this truth. And, by including Daniel's prayer in this book of Daniel, sealed until our day, God was stressing the need to see this prayer as a model for us living in the last days.

God knowing how Sinful our hearts are, says through the prophet Ezekiel, that He wants to put in us, "A new heart … and [also] a new spirit … within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26).  Perhaps our prayer should also be "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:4).    David understood this concept of unknown Sin. He probably never thought that he was capable of coveting his best friend's wife, committing adultery with her, and murdering his best friend; this is perhaps why David wrote, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalms 51:10).

What unknown Sins do we bear in our hearts? If only God knows what lays deep and secretly in our hearts, only He can take it out. But, we must let Him do it.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Victory Over Evil Forces

We live in solemn times.  We can look at what is happening today and see in it the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.  Bible prophecy shows us how the Lord is in control throughout until now and forever.  The following commentary, written for a previous lesson, is to encourages not to fear but be sure that in Christ, we are victorious.  

Victory Over Evil Forces

Romans 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

We read the verse for this week's lesson, and we have to ask ourselves several questions. One of them is what does Paul means by "in all these things?" To answer this question, we have to go to the context of the passage. Romans 8 is telling us that because of what Christ has accomplished on the cross, sin no longer has to defeat us. We are not reading the whole of chapter 8, for lack of space and time. Yes, we will suffer, and we will be afflicted. None of that means that God does not love us. God has given us all for us to succeed as Christians. All we have to do is receive it. Paul seems to be telling us that we do not need to fear or doubt. God loves us, and He is in control. We can trust Him.

Why would Paul emphasize this? Because, in chapter 7, Paul spoke about how sin worked internally. When we are living by faith, sin is still within us, striving for mastery and control. And, this battle continues and intensifies for as long as we live and grow in faith. It will not stop until we die or are translated. So, Paul is saying that sin attacks us from within and without.  But,  our greatest struggle with sin is inside; sin, after all, is iniquity – a bent toward self. Paul is saying that despite all that, we should never doubt that God loves us; this is perhaps better said in Romans 8: 35 – 39,

Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Rom 8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Rom 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Now, the word Victory, from the title means the overcoming of an enemy or antagonist. So, the one that defeats or overcomes an enemy or opponent is called a victor. This word victor comes from the Latin word vincere, which means to win, to conquer, or to overcome – the term used in verse 37. What do we overcome? Sin's mastery over us. We are no longer captive or enslaved by sin, whether external or internal, through Christ, who loved us. Here our Victory is tied to God's love for us. So, just as His love is certain and constant, so is our Victory in Christ.

Let us read a couple of quotes from Ellen White in this subject,

"Jesus gained the victory through submission and faith in God, and by the apostle He says to us, 'Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.' James 4:7, 8. We cannot save ourselves from the tempter's power; he has conquered humanity, and when we try to stand in our own strength, we shall become a prey to his devices; but 'the name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it and is safe.' Prov. 18:10. Satan trembles and flees before the weakest soul who finds refuge in that mighty name."—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 130, 131.
"The omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit is the defense of every contrite soul. Not one that in penitence and faith has claimed His pro­tection will Christ permit to pass under the enemy's power. The Saviour is by the side of His tempted and tried ones. With Him there can be no such thing as failure, loss, impossibility, or defeat; we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. When temptations and trials come, do not wait to adjust all the difficulties, but look to Jesus, your helper. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 490, 493.

Now, what about Victory over demons? You will notice that Ellen White does not talk about Victory in terms of casting out demons. Not all victors in the faith will be called to do that. The fact that we do not follow their prompting is Victory in itself. Casting out demons is powerful and given by God. However, Christ tells the disciples, "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20). Ellen White elaborates on those whose names are written in Heaven,

From age to age, all who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon written against their names in the books of Heaven, and in the closing work of Judgment their sins are blotted out, and they themselves are accounted worthy of eternal life. {Volume 4, Spirit of Prophecy 309}

Included in this list are those mentioned in Hebrews 11. Not one of the names of people mentioned there made the list because demons were subject to them. They were there because they believed the promise of God, and it was counted to them as righteousness. Their Victory came from believing that God loved them. And, they died believing the promise that had not been fulfilled. They died with the hope that one day God would fulfill this promise and they would be there to enjoy it. They died with the joy and certainty that their names were written in Heaven. They died with the assurance of God's love for them. Do we have this certainty of God's love for us? Do we have the Victory that is ours in Christ? 

Friday, February 7, 2020

Weighed and found wanting

Weighed and found wanting


A few thousand years ago, a Greek King ordered some craftsmen to make him a crown of gold. The craftsmen were paid handsomely and delivered a beautiful golden crown worthy of royalty. The King had a gut feeling that the craftsmen had cheated him, so he went to the wisest man in his kingdom for help. The name of the man was Archimedes. Archimedes accepted the project, admitted it was a challenge, and requested the King for time to determine whether the craftsmen made the crown of pure gold or not. Archimedes thought for days, the problem riddling him and absorbing his life. One day he filled his tub with water to its average level. Upon entering the tub, Archimedes realized that the water level rose a few inches. His weight had displaced the water and raised the volume in the tub. Archimedes had an epiphany. Running out of the tub, he yelled, "Eureka! Eureka! I found it!' Archimedes discovered that to determine whether the crown was pure gold, all he had to do was learn the amount of gold the crown was supposed to weigh, place it in a tub of water, and mark the water displacement. Afterward, Archimedes repeated the same process with the crown. If the craftsmen made the crown out of pure gold, it would displace the same amount of water as pure gold. If, however, the crown was not made out of pure gold, the amount of water displaced would differ. In the end, Archimedes determined that the craftsman cheated the King. The gold in the crown was weighed and found wanting.


With this in mind, we look at Daniel 5. But, first, We use the expression, "the writing is on the wall," to mean the signs are apparent. In Daniel 5, the biblical passage for this week, it means that you have crossed the point of no return, and judgment has been rendered. If Belshazzar were a crown, Archimedes would have found him lacking gold. Belshazzar was, at best, a gold plated crown. What type of Christians are we? Are we pure gold or gold

plated? Pure gold will not tarnish and become purified in the fire. Gold plated will tarnish and completely melt in flames. How can we become pure gold Christians?


The author of Hebrews says that "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). So to become pure gold Christians, we need faith. Where do we get faith? Roman 10:17 says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." But it is not just any faith or belief in God. James 2:19 says, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." The faith we are talking about here it is humanly impossible to develop. Human faith is corrupted by sin, imperfect, and finite. Revelation 14:12 describes the multitude that God saves as having the faith of Jesus; this is pure gold faith. Human faith is a gold plated faith.


Belshazzar lacked this faith of Jesus. His problem got worse because he had opportunities to acquire it, but chose not to, against the convictions of his heart, despite all the evidence God had given him. Daniel points this out to Belshazzar as Daniel interprets the writing on the wall:


Daniel 5:18 O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:

Daniel 5:19 And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before Him: whom He would He slew; and whom He would He kept alive; and whom He would He set up; and whom He would He put down.

Daniel 5:20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:

Daniel 5:21 And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.

Daniel 5:22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;

Daniel 5:23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:


Ellen White states concerning Daniel and Belshazzar,


Daniel did not swerve from his duty. He held the King's sin before him, showing him the lessons he might have learned but did not. Belshazzar had not heeded the events so significant to him. He had not read his grandfather's history correctly. The responsibility of knowing truth had been laid upon him, but the practical lesson he might have learned and acted upon had not been taken to heart; and his course of action brought the sure result. (Ellen G. White Notes, 36)


God will also find Those who like Belshazzar reject the opportunities that God grants them found wanting. They are gold plated Christians. 2 Timothy 3:5 describes them as, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." Revelation 3 calls them Laodicean--


Revelation 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

Revelation 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:


Ellen White explains regarding those who follow the steps of Belshazzar,


In the history of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, God speaks to the people of today. The condemnation that will fall upon the inhabitants of the earth in this day will be because of their rejection of light. Our condemnation in the judgment will not result from the fact that we have lived in error, but from the fact that we have neglected Heaven-sent opportunities for discovering truth. The means of becoming conversant with the truth are within the reach of all; but, like the indulgent, selfish King, we give more attention to the things that charm the ear, and please the eye, and gratify the palate, than to the things that enrich the mind, the divine treasures of truth. It is through the truth that we may answer the great question, "What must I do to be saved?" (E. G. White Notes, p. 33)


God offers us-- Laodiceans, an opportunity to become pure gold faith Christians. He says to us in Revelation 3:18,


I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.


Will we accept His invitation?

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Worship in Genesis: Two Classes of Worshipers

Daniel's friends had the faith of Abraham.


Worship in Genesis: Two Classes of Worshipers

" 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.' And he was afraid and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!' " (Genesis 28:16-17, NKJV).

The Dictionary defines worship as an act of religious devotion usually directed to one or more deities. The word is derived from the Old English worthscipe, meaning worthiness or worth-ship — to give, at its simplest, worth to something. As we can see, the word has changed meanings. In our understanding, God gives value to us, and we acknowledge His. Based on this reality, someone defined worship thus: "The absolute acknowledgment of all that lies beyond us—the glory that fills heaven and earth. It is the response that conscious beings make to their Creator, to the Eternal Reality from which they came forth, to God; however, they may think of Him or recognize Him. And, whether He be realized through religion, through nature, through history, through science, art, or human life and character." 

But, God is more than Creator. He is redeemer. So, in true Christian Worship there is an acknowledgement of God as redeemer. Thus, there is a heartfelt appreciation for what He is and what He has done, is doing and will do. True worship entails gratitude for creation and redemption. 

Now, the word we translate from the Hebrew as worship means to bow down. In the Hebrew culture, you typically bowed down to your superiors. Servants or slaves bowed down to their masters and subjects to their king. There is an acknowledgment of submission. Now, just because we submit to God, it does not mean there cannot be friendship. Jesus called His disciples friends (John 15: 15). In worshipping God, we willingly submit to One Who gave His life to save those who considered Him an enemy (Romans 5:10). The idea was to show them that God is not an enemy but a Loving Master. A Master that would do anything - even give His life - for His servant's well being. When we truly worship God, we are serving friends. 

Can we reconcile worship with the Hebrew word "to bow down"? How about through submission, we acknowledge not only God's superiority but His love for us. Through submission, we demonstrate our gratitude or heartfelt appreciation for what He has done for us. Through submission, we show gratitude for how much worth He has put on us. 

No one will deny that Abraham was a true worshiper. He lived by faith and is called the father of the faithful. He believed (same word for faith) God's precious promises, and because of this was declared righteous. Did Abraham live in submission to the God he loved? Paul says in Hebrews 11,

Heb11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

Heb11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

Heb11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Heb11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

Heb11:18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

Heb11:19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

 "Faith comes through hearing and hearing through the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). Abraham heard God's word and believed it. Abraham did as God instructed; he submitted to God. Abraham did it because he trusted that God had Abraham's best interest at heart. Now, if Abraham was a true worshiper, and therefore an actual submitter, then we can argue that only those who have faith submit and are true worshippers. 

 We have, in contrast, those in Matthew 7:21 - 23 that did works but not out of faith (which is Sin – Romans 14:23). So, they were insubordinate, even rebellious. They were not submitted. They were not true worshippers. Yet, they were deceived in believing they were. Are we deceived also?

Friday, January 10, 2020

Daniel and his Friends

Daniel and his Friends


How do we develop the enduring kind of patience? Our lesson quotes James 1: 2 – 4 to give us the answer, 


"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and com­plete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2–4, NKJV).


The word patience here is from the Greek hupomone, which means endurance, steadfastness, and courage of every affliction that one confronts on one's spiri­tual journey. The word Paul uses in Galatians 5:22 is macrothumia – translated as longsuffering - which essentially means "long tempered" as opposed to short-tempered. 


Although hupomone is not part of the fruit of the Spirit, it is nevertheless essential in our walk of Faith. According to James, it is through trials that we develop the endurance to overcome unbelief continually and remain faithful to God. Our lesson states about this,


'The Greek word for "trials," sometimes translated "temptations," is the word peirazo, which has the broader significance of "proving" or "testing." The devil tries us or tempts us to do evil. The tests and trials that God allows to come into our lives are to develop our characters.' Ellen G. White talks about this,


"The trials of life are God's workmen, to remove the impurities and roughness from our character. Their hewing, squaring, and chiseling, their burnishing and polishing, is a painful process; it is hard to be pressed down to the grinding wheel. But the stone is brought forth prepared to fill its place in the heavenly temple. Upon no useless material does the Master bestow such careful, thorough work. Only His precious stones are polished after the similitude of a palace."—Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 10.


The previous quite doesn't mean, however, that every trial is in God's providence. Often we bring suffering upon ourselves through disobedience; often, too, trials and suffering are just the results of what it means to live in a fallen, sinful world where we have an enemy who hates us (1 Pet. 5:8). What this does mean, however, is that through a complete sur­render of ourselves to the Lord, to grasping hold of Him in faith and obedience, no matter what we go through, we can come out better or more refined if we allow God to work in us. No one said it would be fun. Life here often isn't fun, but God gives us this wonderful promise: "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).


One good example of how trials help develop endurance is Daniel and his friends. It was through trials that they develop the enduring patience that gave them the victory. Now, when we think of Daniel and his friends going through trials, we probably immediately think of the fiery furnace and the Lion's den. And, these were moments in their respective lives when their faith was tested, and they were victorious by the grace of God. But, this trial was not there first one. The first trial was actually while still in Jerusalem. In Jeremiah 38: 17 – 21, Jeremiah tells the King of Judah to surrender to the King of Babylon and "it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live" (Jeremiah 38: 20). Those who did as God asked to surrender to the Babylonian King, it went well with them. Those that did not were either injured or killed. Daniel and his friends surrendered to the King of Babylon. 


You could argue that Isaiah prophesied the second trial. Isiah states that this happened after Hezekiah failed to give God glory for his miraculous healing, and instead took the glory for himself and showed the Babylonians all that was in the house. Isaiah predicted in 2 King 20:17 – 18,


 2Ki20:17 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.

2Ki20:18 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon.


Put bluntly, Daniel and his friends were castrated. Daniel then narrates how he and his friends refused to eat out the King's table. The foods were luscious and sacrificed to idols. They did not want their appetite to lead them astray. Reluctantly, the prince of the eunuchs agrees to make a deal give them a ten-day trial.  


Our lesson states that, "God honors the loyalty of the four Hebrew captives, and at the end of their ten-day testing period they look healthier and better nourished than the other students who have eaten from the royal table. So, God gives His four servants "knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom," and to Daniel alone, God gives "understanding in all visions and dreams" (Dan. 1:17, NKJV). " 


Furthermore, After three years of training in the "Babylonian University," the four Hebrews are brought before the King for the final examination. They are not only healthier than the other students, they surpass them in knowledge and wisdom. The King immediately hires The four.

Ellen White states, 

"Daniel and his companions in Babylon were, in their youth, apparently more favored of fortune than was Joseph in the earlier years of his life in Egypt; yet they were subjected to tests of character scarcely less severe. From the comparative simplicity of their Judean home these youth of royal line were transported to the most magnificent of cities, to the court of its greatest monarch, and were singled out to be trained for the king's special service. Strong were the temptations surrounding them in that corrupt and luxurious court. The fact that they, the worshipers of Jehovah, were captives to Babylon; that the vessels of God's house had been placed in the temple of the gods of Babylon; that the king of Israel was himself a prisoner in the hands of the Babylonians, was boastfully cited by the victors as evidence that their religion and customs were superior to the religion and customs of the Hebrews. Under such circumstances, through the very humiliations that Israel's departure from His commandments had invited, God gave to Babylon evidence of His supremacy, of the holiness of His requirements, and of the sure result of obedience. And this testimony He gave, as alone it could be given, through those who still held fast their loyalty". — Ellen G. White, Education, p. 54.