Lesson 24 | Sabbath, 12 December 2020
Sapphira means “sapphire” or “lapiz lazuli precious stone.”13 “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” Acts 5:1, 2.
“The number of those who commit the sin of Ananias and Sapphira is increasing. Men do not lie to man, but to God in their disregard of the pledges which His Spirit moved upon them to make. Because sentence against an evil work is not, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, executed speedily, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil, to strive against the Spirit of God. How will these men stand in the judgment? Dare you abide the final issue of this question? How will you stand in the scenes described in the Revelation?” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 314.
A shaking in the early Christian church
- What did the early Christians do during Pentecost and the great conversion of souls? In the same manner, what did Sapphira and her husband do before Barnabas and the other brethren?
Acts 4:34-37; 5:1 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet…. 5:1But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.
“As the disciples proclaimed the truths of the gospel in Jerusalem, God bore witness to their word, and a multitude believed. Many of these early believers were immediately cut off from family and friends by the zealous bigotry of the Jews, and it was necessary to provide them with food and shelter.
“The record declares, ‘Neither was there any among them that lacked,’ and it tells how the need was filled. Those among the believers who had money and possessions cheerfully sacrificed them to meet the emergency. Selling their houses or their lands, they brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet, ‘and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.’
“This liberality on the part of the believers was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit. The converts to the gospel were ‘of one heart and of one soul.’ One common interest controlled them–the success of the mission entrusted to them; and covetousness had no place in their lives. Their love for their brethren and the cause they had espoused, was greater than their love of money and possessions. Their works testified that they accounted the souls of men of higher value then earthly wealth.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 70.
- But what enormous mistake did Sapphira and Ananias make? To whom did they lie?
Acts 5:2-4 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
“Each of us has a case pending in the court of heaven. Shall our course of conduct balance the evidence against us? The case of Ananias and Sapphira was of the most aggravated character. In keeping back part of the price, they lied to the Holy Ghost. Guilt likewise rests upon every individual in proportion to like offenses.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 315.
- What happened to Sapphira’s husband? What was the reaction to these things in the Christian community?
Acts 5:5, 6 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 6And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.
“But God hates hypocrisy and falsehood. Ananias and Sapphira practiced fraud in their dealing with God; they lied to the Holy Spirit, and their sin was visited with swift and terrible judgment.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 72.
“Not to the early church only, but to all future generations, this example of God’s hatred of covetousness, fraud, and hypocrisy, was given as a danger signal. It was covetousness that Ananias and Sapphira had first cherished. The desire to retain for themselves a part of that which they had promised to the Lord, led them into fraud and hypocrisy.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 74.
- Three hours later, when Sapphira came before the apostle Peter, what conversation did they have? What happened to her?
Acts 5:7-10 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. 9Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. 10Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
- How rapidly will the final work and the shaking of God’s people be completed?
Romans 9:28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
Isaiah 5:26 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly.
“Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads–it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved–just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come. Indeed, it has begun already; the judgments of God are now upon the land, to give us warning, that we may know what is coming.” –Our Father Cares, p. 328.
The shaking at the time of the end
- In the last days, what event is prophesied as occurring during the Sunday law? Who will remain faithful during the end-time shaking?
Amos 9:9, 10 For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth. 10All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.
Matthew 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Romans 9:27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved.
“The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliancy will then go out in darkness. Chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind, even from places where we see only floors of rich wheat. All who assume the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ’s righteousness, will appear in the shame of their own nakedness.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 81.
“The days are fast approaching when there will be great perplexity and confusion. Satan, clothed in angel robes, will deceive, if possible, the very elect. There will be gods many and lords many. Every wind of doctrine will be blowing.”–Our Father Cares, p. 328.
- How did the congregation of believers react when they heard that the shaking had taken Sapphira out of the church and from life itself? What do God’s people need to do so they are not removed from the remnant?
Acts 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Matthew 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.
Psalm 37:27, 28 Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for eve more. 28For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
“I saw that we are now in the shaking time. Satan is working with all his power to wrest souls from the hand of Christ and cause them to trample underfoot the Son of God. An angel slowly and emphatically repeated these words: ‘Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath
trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?’ Character is being developed. Angels of God are weighing moral worth. God is testing and proving His people. These words were presented to me by the angel: ‘Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.’ God is displeased that any of His people who have known the power of His grace should talk their doubts, and by thus doing make themselves a channel for Satan to transmit his suggestions to other minds. A seed of unbelief and evil sown is not readily rooted up. Satan nourishes it every hour, and it flourishes and becomes strong. A good seed sown needs to be nourished, watered, and tenderly cared for; because every poisonous influence is thrown about it to hinder its growth and cause it to die.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 429.