Saturday, December 29, 2012

When all things become new

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

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This week's Script:

When all things become new

 Memory Text: “ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away’ ” (Revelation 21:4, NKJV).

The lesson focuses on the events from the second advent forward.  The lesson’s main objective seems to be to distance Adventists from the beliefs of other Christian denominations.  As the lesson states on Friday, other denomination have a preterist (in the past; between the first and second advent of Christ) or futurist (in the future – before the second advent) understanding of the Millennium, ours is historist; that the millennium happens after Christ’s second Advent.  The language used by our lesson is a little disturbing: The millennium happens in heaven as oppose to earth.  Yet, in my experience, Adventists teach the millennium based on what happens here on earth and heavern: the Devil held captive on this planet, and the judgment in Heaven.  So, truthfully, the millennium happens both on heaven and earth. 

Now, as Adventists we believe that at least the part of what happens to the Devil is represented in the Day of Atonement activities.  Ellen White says,

In the typical service the high priest, having made the atonement for Israel, came forth and blessed the congregation. So Christ, at the close of His work as mediator, will appear, "without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:28), to bless His waiting people with eternal life. As the priest, in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat, so Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin. The scapegoat, bearing the sins of Israel, was sent away "unto a land not inhabited" (Leviticus 16:22); so Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he has caused God's people to commit, will be for a thousand years confined to the earth, which will then be desolate, without inhabitant, and he will at last suffer the full penalty of sin in the fires that shall destroy all the wicked. Thus the great plan of redemption will reach its accomplishment in the final eradication of sin and the deliverance of all who have been willing to renounce evil.  {GC 485 - 486} 

This is pretty straight forward.  Why is more judgment needed? 

“During the millennium the saints participate in a deliberative judgment that reviews the cases of the lost of this earth and the fallen angels. This judgment is evidently necessary in view of the cosmic nature of the sin problem. The course of the rebellion of sin has been the object of concern and interest on the part of other worlds (Job 1;2;Eph. 3:10). The whole interlude of sin must be handled in such a way that hearts and minds throughout God’s universe are satisfied with its treatment and conclusion, with particular reference to God’s character. It is especially important for the redeemed from earth to understand God’s dealings with those who called for the rocks to fall on them and deliver them from the ‘face of him who is seated on the throne’ (Rev. 6:16). They must be totally satisfied that God was just in His decision regarding the lost.”—Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology (HagerstownMd.: Review and Herald® Pub. Assn., 2000), p. 932.

Among the group that will be burning, are many who the redeemed held in high esteem.  The opening up of the books to the redeemed and there study of these books help them grieve and heal from the eternal loss of those they loved and admired.  This helps them see that what will happen after the Millennium – the burning of the wicked - is a strange act of Love. 

In the book of Early Writings pages 292 and 293 there is a full narrative of the events that will happen between the end of the Millennium and the final destruction of the wicked.  It is too long for this space.  But it is worth reading.  Suffice it to say that what is revealed during this time is that the wicked’s heart has not changed.  Even when they admit that Christ is the Lamb worthy of praise, they still want to kill Christ and the redeemed.  This is the final proof that their destruction is necessary.  There hearts have not changed. 

The fire that destroys the wicked and the earth purifies the earth. Sin and its consequences are forever banished.  As the John the Revelator says,

Rev 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
Rev 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Rev 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them,and be their God.
Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

They are beautiful indeed.