Lesson 1 | Sabbath, 3 July 2021
“Often the Israelites seemed unable or unwilling to understand God’s purpose for the heathen. Yet it was this very purpose that had made them a separate people and had established them as an independent nation among the nations of the earth. Abraham, their father, to whom the covenant promise was first given, had been called to go forth from his kindred, to the regions beyond, that he might be a light bearer to the heathen. Although the promise to him included a posterity as numerous as the sand by the sea, yet it was for no selfish purpose that he was to become the founder of a great nation in the land of Canaan. God’s covenant with him embraced all the nations of earth. ‘I will bless thee,’ Jehovah declared, ‘and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.’ Genesis 12:2, 3.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 367, 368.
Call of Abram
1. What call did Abram receive when he was living in Ur, a city located in the territory of modern-day Iraq? What mission did the Lord give him?
Genesis 12:1. Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.
Acts 7:2, 3 The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, 3And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee.
“It was for the purpose of bringing the best gifts of Heaven to all the peoples of earth that God called Abraham out from his idolatrous kindred and bade him dwell in the land of Canaan. ‘I will make of thee a great nation,’ He said, ‘and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.’ Genesis 12:2. It was a high honor to which Abraham was called–that of being the father of the people who for centuries were to be the guardians and preservers of the truth of God to the world, the people through whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed in the advent of the promised Messiah.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 15.
2. What great promise did the call convey? What would characterize Abram’s seed that was to compose God’s chosen people?
Genesis 12:2-3; 15:5, 6. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed….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.6And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
“There was given to Abraham the promise, especially dear to the people of that age, of a numerous posterity and of national greatness: ‘I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.’ And to this was added the assurance, precious above every other to the inheritor of faith, that of his line the Redeemer of the world should come: ‘In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.’” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 125.
“The message of God came to Abraham, ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.’ In order that God might qualify him for his great work as the keeper of the sacred oracles, Abraham must be separated from the associations of his early life. The influence of kindred and friends would interfere with the training which the Lord purposed to give His servant. Now that Abraham was, in a special sense, connected with heaven, he must dwell among strangers. His character must be peculiar, differing from all the world. He could not even explain his course of action so as to be understood by his friends. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and his motives and actions were not comprehended by his idolatrous kindred.” –Daughters of God, pp. 25, 26.
The promised son
3. Did the seed come into being immediately after the promise was given? What age did the patriarch reach before there was any indication of the promise’s fulfillment? Finally, when did he receive a message that pointed to the exact time?
Genesis 15:2-4; 17:1, 21; 21:2,3. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?3And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. 4And, behold, the word of theLord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir….17:1And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, theLord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect….21But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year….21:2For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.
“In the obedience of faith, Abraham had forsaken his native country–had turned away from the graves of his fathers and the home of his kindred. He had wandered as a stranger in the land of his inheritance. He had waited long for the birth of the promised heir.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 148.
“As Abraham had no son, he at first thought that his trusty servant, Eliezer, should become his son by adoption, and his heir. But God informed Abraham that his servant should not be his son and heir, but that he should really have a son. ‘And 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.’” –The Story of Redemption, p. 77.
4. What special experience was made by Jacob, one of Isaac’s sons? What significance do his struggle and supreme victory have for us today?
Genesis 32:24-28. 28 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.25And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.26And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.27And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.28And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
“… If men cling to sin, they become identified with it. Then the glory of God, which destroys sin, must destroy them. Jacob, after his night of wrestling with the Angel, exclaimed, ‘I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.’ Genesis 32:30. Jacob had been guilty of a great sin in his conduct toward Esau; but he had repented. His transgression had been forgiven, and his sin purged; therefore he could endure the revelation of God’s presence. But wherever men came before God while willfully cherishing evil, they were destroyed.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 107,108.
“Jacob pleaded with determined spirit, ‘I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.’ Genesis 32:26. This spirit of persistence was inspired by Him who wrestled with the patriarch. It was He who gave him the victory, and He changed his name from Jacob to Israel, saying, ‘As a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.’ Genesis 32:28. That for which Jacob had vainly wrestled in his own strength was won through self-surrender and steadfast faith. ‘This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.’ 1 John 5:4.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 144.
Becoming a great nation
5. What led to Jacob and his family leaving the promised land to move to Egypt? What comforting message did he receive on the way?
Genesis 43:1; 46:1-4. And the famine was sore in the land….46:1And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac. 2And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. 3And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: 4I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.
Acts 7:11, 12 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.12But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
“The assurance, ‘Fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation,’ was significant. The promise had been given to Abraham of a posterity numberless as the stars, but as yet the chosen people had increased but slowly. And the land of Canaan now offered no field for the development of such a nation as had been foretold. It was in the possession of powerful heathen tribes, that were not to be dispossessed until ‘the fourth generation.’ If the descendants of Israel were here to become a numerous people, they must either drive out the inhabitants of the land or disperse themselves among them. The former, according to the divine arrangement, they could not do; and should they mingle with the Canaanites, they would be in danger of being seduced into idolatry. Egypt, however, offered the conditions necessary to the fulfillment of the divine purpose. A section of country well-watered and fertile was open to them there, affording every advantage for their speedy increase. And the antipathy they must encounter in Egypt on account of their occupation–for every shepherd was ‘an abomination unto the Egyptians’–would enable them to remain a distinct and separate people and would thus serve to shut them out from participation in the idolatry of Egypt.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 232.
6. How many souls went to Egypt with Jacob? What happened to them?
Exodus 1:1-5; 1:7, 12 Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob. 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. 5And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already…. 1:7And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them…. 12But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.
“There were but a few families that first went down into Egypt. These increased to a great multitude.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 147.
“The Israelites had already become very numerous; they ‘were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.’ Under Joseph’s fostering care, and the favor of the king who was then ruling, they had spread rapidly over the land. But they had kept themselves a distinct race, having nothing in common with the Egyptians in customs or religion; and their increasing numbers now excited the fears of the king and his people, lest in case of war they should join themselves with the enemies of Egypt. Yet policy forbade their banishment from the country.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 241,242.
Cry for deliverance
7. What fears rose in the new Pharaoh and his people as they saw the children of Israel multiplying rapidly?Although the Israelites were once welcome guests, what did the Egyptians now do to try to reduce their numbers? What became increasingly urgent?
Exodus 1:9, 10; 2:23-25 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:10Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land…2:23And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. 24And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.
“Many of them were able and understanding workmen, and they added greatly to the wealth of the nation; the king needed such laborers for the erection of his magnificent palaces and temples. Accordingly he ranked them with the Egyptians who had sold themselves with their possessions to the kingdom. Soon taskmasters were set over them, and their slavery became complete. ‘And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor: and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigor.’‘But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.’…
“The time for Israel’s deliverance had come. But God’s purpose was to be accomplished in a manner to pour contempt on human pride. The deliverer was to go forth as a humble shepherd, with only a rod in his hand; but God would make that rod the symbol of His power.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 241, 251.
For additional study
“Some were careful to instruct their children in the law of God, but many of the Israelites had witnessed so much idolatry that they had confused ideas of God’s law. Those who feared God cried to Him in anguish of spirit to break their yoke of grievous bondage and bring them from the land of their captivity, that they might be free to serve Him. God heard their cries and raised up Moses as His instrument to accomplish the deliverance of His people.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 147.