Lesson 25 | Sabbath, 18 December 2021
“Notwithstanding Israel’s failure as a nation, there remained among them a goodly remnant of such as should be saved. At the time of the Saviour’s advent there were faithful men and women who had received with gladness the message of John the Baptist, and had thus been led to study anew the prophecies concerning the Messiah. When the early Christian church was founded, it was composed of these faithful Jews who recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the one for whose advent they had been longing. It is to this remnant that Paul refers when he writes, ‘If the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.’” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 376, 377.
Great number of progeny
1. What promises tell of the abundance of descendants and the great number of God’s children?
Genesis 13:16; 15:5; 22:17. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered….15:5And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be….22:17That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.
“As Abraham stepped out into the night, he seemed to hear the divine voice that called him out of Chaldea fifty years before, saying, ‘Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them…. So shall thy seed be.’ Can it be the same voice that commands him to slay his son? He remembers the promise: ‘I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.’ Is it not the voice of a stranger that commands him to offer his son as a sacrifice? Can God contradict Himself? Would He cut off the only hope of the fulfillment of the promise?” –The Youth’s Instructor, June 6, 1901.
“After Abraham’s separation from Lot, the Lord said to him, ‘Lift up now thine eyes and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth; so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.’‘The word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.’‘ And Abram said, Behold, to me Thou hast given no seed; and lo, one born in my house is mine heir.’” –The Spirit of Prophecy, pp. 94, 95.
2. However, what conditions have to be met for the promises to be fulfilled? What will happen if the conditions are not met?
Deuteronomy 28:1, 2; 28:15, 16. And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: 2And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God….28:15But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: 16Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.
“It should be remembered that the promises and the threatenings of God are alike conditional.” –Evangelism, p. 695.
“God’s promises are conditional. In order to make it possible for Him to bless us, we must do our part. We cannot expect that all His blessings will come to us naturally, if we fold our hands in inactivity. We are to be laborers together with God. It is our privilege and duty to labor for souls ready to perish.
“If you have a knowledge of God and have taken your position under the banner of Prince Emmanuel, remember that you are not to allow yourself to come under the control of the powers of darkness–the fallen angels. You are to keep in mind the promises that pertain to eternal life and godliness, and seek for divine power that is given to enable you to escape everything that would lead you astray.” –Peter’s Counsel to Parents, pp. 25, 26.
3. What evidence shows that God’s every promise is conditional? Who were the remnant of the great multitude of Israel?
Numbers 14:34. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
Jeremiah 18:7, 8. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; 8If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
“It was not the will of God that Israel should wander forty years in the wilderness; He desired to lead them directly to the land of Canaan and establish them there, a holy, happy people. But ‘they could not enter in because of unbelief.’ Hebrews 3:19. Because of their backsliding and apostasy they perished in the desert, and others were raised up to enter the Promised Land. In like manner, it was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be so long delayed and His people should remain so many years in this world of sin and sorrow. But unbelief separated them from God. As they refused to do the work which He had appointed them, others were raised up to proclaim the message. In mercy to the world, Jesus delays His coming, that sinners may have an opportunity to hear the warning and find in Him a shelter before the wrath of God shall be poured out.” –The Great Controversy, p. 458.
A remnant in the time of Elijah
4. Although the great majority of the millions that formed Israel went deep into apostasy, what did the Lord tell Elijah about the remnant at that time? What promises did the Lord give to Ezekiel about the remnant that would escape?
1 Kings 19:4, 18. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers….18Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him..
Ezekiel 6:8; 14:22. Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries…. 14:22Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings: and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it.
“Through long, dark years when ruler after ruler stood up in bold defiance of Heaven and led Israel deeper and still deeper into idolatry, God sent message after message to His backslidden people. Through His prophets He gave them every opportunity to stay the tide of apostasy and to return to Him. During the years that were to follow the rending of the kingdom, Elijah and Elisha were to live and labor, and the tender appeals of Hosea and Amos and Obadiah were to be heard in the land. Never was the kingdom of Israel to be left without noble witnesses to the mighty power of God to save from sin. Even in the darkest hours some would remain true to their divine Ruler and in the midst of idolatry would live blameless in the sight of a holy God. These faithful ones were numbered among the goodly remnant through whom the eternal purpose of Jehovah was finally to be fulfilled.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 108.
A remnant will be saved
5. How thankful was Ezra for the remnant who returned to Judah after the captivity? What was his earnest prayer for them?
Ezra 9:8,13, 14. And now for a little space grace hath been showed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage….13And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this;14Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?
“The decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus for the restoring and building of Jerusalem, the third issued since the close of the seventy years’ captivity, is remarkable for its expressions regarding the God of heaven, for its recognition of the attainments of Ezra, and for the liberality of the grants made to the remnant people of God….
“‘The chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised’–these were the goodly remnant, about fifty thousand strong, from among the Jews in the lands of exile, who determined to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity offered them ‘to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.’” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 610, 559.
6. Can we say that all who call themselves Israel are truly Israel? Who only belong to the Israel of God?
Romans 9:6-8. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
“A mere profession of faith in Christ, a boastful knowledge of the truth, does not make a man a Christian. A religion that seeks only to gratify the eye, the ear, and the taste, or that sanctions self-indulgence, is not the religion of Christ.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 317.
“Where there is a lack of home religion, a profession of faith is valueless…. Many are deceiving themselves by thinking that the character will be transformed at the coming of Christ, but there will be no conversion of heart at His appearing. Our defects of character must here be repented of, and through the grace of Christ we must overcome them while probation shall last. This is the place for fitting up for the family above.” –The Adventist Home, p. 319.
Entrance into the kingdom
7. According to Isaiah and the apostle Paul, even if the nominal children of Israel were as the sand of the sea, who would be saved?
Romans 9:27; 11:5. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
“Thus Paul shows that God is abundantly able to transform the hearts of Jew and Gentile alike, and to grant to every believer in Christ the blessings promised to Israel. He repeats Isaiah’s declaration concerning God’s people: ‘Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: for He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma and been made like unto Gomorrah.’” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 379.
For additional study
“Of the remnant people of God it is written, ‘The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ Revelation 12:17.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 398.
“This distinctive banner is to be borne through the world to the close of probation. In describing the remnant people of God, John says, ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ Revelation 14:12. This is the law and the gospel. The world and the churches are uniting in harmony in transgressing the law of God, in tearing away God’s memorial, and in exalting a sabbath that bears the signature of the man of sin. But the Sabbath of the Lord thy God is to be a sign to show the difference between the obedient and the disobedient. I saw some reaching out their hands to remove the banner, and to obscure its significance….” –Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 385.