Upholding the official beliefs and doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and spreading the three angels' message of Revelation 14:6-12
LESSON 5 - BEGINNING WITHOUT END
BEGINNING WITHOUT END
Jigsaw puzzles are popular. They consist of many pieces which form a picture when put together in the right way. One part, or even a few parts, usually does not allow us to see what the whole picture will be. We must keep searching until a completed picture emerges.
It is similar with the Bible. The events described are often understood in retrospect or when connected with other occurrences. In order to grasp what God is saying and what His intentions are, we cannot, therefore, rely simply on small extracts. We must create for ourselves an all-encompassing overview.
God has a particular plan for us. We can take this as our starting point. Important event support this.
EVERYTHING HAS A BEGINNING
In the beginning God, through Jesus Christ, created heaven and earth. A perfect world.
'God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.' Genesis 1:31.
Man was the crowning glory of God's creation. He was created in the image of God and, for a time, lived in harmony with the will of God. He was the only being who could comprehend divine thoughts. He was without guilt and lived happily in communion with God.
Then for Adam and Eve came the fateful fall into sin. They ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil although it was forbidden. The personal relationship between God and the first people was thereby destroyed. They were banished from paradise, for they had not taken seriously God's test of obedience.
The results of this disobedience can still be seen today.
'Through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners.'
'The wages of sin is death.'
THE SHAPE OF THE FUTURE
God suffered because of man's situation. Prospects for the future were gloomy. God pitied man. Therefore immediately after the fall into sin He promised to rescue mankind.
'"And I will put enmity between you (serpent equals Satan) and the woman (Eve equals mother of believers), and between your offspring (disbelievers) and hers (Jesus Christ); he will crush your (Satan's) head, and you will strike his (Jesus Christ's) heel."'
Here we have the first reference to Jesus Christ as Redeemer. A piece of Good News. The first time the Gospel was proclaimed. Yet before Satan and evil could be destroyed the Redeemer would be bruised. That pointed to the fact that Jesus was to suffer and die on the cross. However, His death was not an end but a beginning, the necessary prerequisite for the full life which God promised us.
THE GREAT FLOOD
God had to recognize
'... how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.'
This situation no longer deserved to be called 'very good'. God regretted ever having created man. He decided to annihilate all men and animals by means of a great flood. There was one exception - Noah. He had always remained true to God. Therefore God spared him and his family.
With eight people God made a new beginning. Qf course evil had not been eradicated from the world, but no longer did God withdraw from what He had created. He promised Noah that He would not destroy life again. As confirmation of this agreement He put the rainbow in the sky, a sign which even today reminds us of God's promise.
WHAT WE CAN DEPEND ON
Again and again God confirmed His agreement with those people who believed in Him. Abraham who was even prepared to kill his own son because he believed that God was asking it of him received this promise:
'"Because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore ... through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."'
After Abraham, God renewed the agreement with lsaac and Jacob. Jacob, who was also called Israel, moved with his sons to Egypt. There the Israelites multiplied and achieved the status of a nation within a nation. When Israel was repressed in Egypt God freed the emerging nation through Moses. In this way Israel experienced God as a giver of freedom, the redeemer from slavery and repression. At Sinai Yahweh then made an agreement with this nation.
According to Exodus 19:5,6 they became God's '"treasured possession, ... a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."'
These three points show Israel's commission to be an example in every way to heathen nations.
God gave Israel His law, particularly the ten commandments.
HOW TO OFF-LOAD GUILT
The service of sacrifice introduced by God pointed to redemption through Christ.
Whoever sinned transgressed the agreement with God. In order to re-establish communion with Him the sacrifice of a perfect animal was necessary. The sinner transferred his guilt by laying his hand upon the innocent beast and killing it, and so it died instead of him. With the blood of this animal the man's sins were transferred to the sanctuary and thereby brought to God who forgave them.
A MAN SACRIFICED HIMSELF
However, with the blood of an animal no sin could be blotted out. It was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4).
The animal sacrifice turned man's gaze to Jesus Christ who would die in the place of man. John the Baptist said, '"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"'
Three-and-a-half years later these words were fulfilled when Jesus was condemned to die on the cross.
'He himself was without the slightest fault, but sacrificed himself for our sins.'
Hebrews 4:15; Romans 4:25.
With this sacrifice God made the New Agreement with mankind. The basic requirement remained the same. It depended on man's attitude towards God.
'Without faith it is impossible to please God.'
'Faith in Jesus Christ makes us children of God.'
The basis of the Christian faith is also the fact that Jesus Christ is coming again. This time all people will see Him and nobody will be able to avoid Him. Although Jesus will pronounce His judgement on men, that need not worry us, for He comes as judge and Redeemer.
'Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.'
After passing sentence upon all unbelievers, including Satan and his angels (Revelation 20:11-15), God will create a new heaven and a new earth. From then on men will live for ever with God. There will be no more sin, no more death and no more suffering. Peace will reign in the new earth (Revelation 21:3-5).
NOW THE PIECES FIT
Now we have become acquainted with the great pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of the Bible. In the picture which they produce it becomes clear how greatly God loves men. On His side He has done everything which is necessary for our liberation and salvation. This conviction is expressed in the words of the apostle Paul:
'This grace was given me: . . . to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.'
Now everything depends on how we react to God's love.
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