1. A GREAT RESPONSIBILITY BEFORE GOD’S PEOPLE
a. Which was the first great nation that Heaven wanted to bless with the knowledge of the true God? Psalm 135:9.
“The descendants of Abraham . . . were brought down to Egypt that . . . they might reveal the principles of God’s kingdom. The integrity of Joseph and his wonderful work in preserving the lives of the whole Egyptian people were a representation of the life of Christ. Moses and many others were witnesses for God.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 286.
b. What evidence shows that the king, his courtiers, and the people in general had chosen to remain in spiritual darkness? Exodus 5:1, 2.
“The Lord would give the Egyptians an opportunity to see how vain was the wisdom of their mighty men, how feeble the power of their gods, when opposed to the commands of Jehovah.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 263.
“If we sow pride, we shall reap pride; if we sow stubbornness, we shall reap stubbornness.”—Lift Him Up, p. 266.
2. GOD’S PLAN FOR ISRAEL
a. What important mission was entrusted to the children of Israel when they numbered over 2,000,000—and the time of their deliverance from Egypt had arrived? John 4:22; Deuteronomy 4:6–8.
“God chose Israel to reveal His character to men. He desired them to be as wells of salvation in the world. To them were committed the oracles of heaven, the revelation of God’s will.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 14.
b. For what purpose did God establish Israel in a strategic place, “in the midst of the nations”? Ezekiel 5:5.
“God had designed that His people should be the light of the world. From them was to shine forth the glory of His law as revealed in the life practice. For the carrying out of this design, He had caused the chosen nation to occupy a strategic position among the nations of earth.
“In the days of Solomon the kingdom of Israel extended from Hamath on the north to Egypt on the south, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the river Euphrates. Through this territory ran many natural highways of the world’s commerce, and caravans from distant lands were constantly passing to and fro. . . .
“Placed at the head of a nation that had been set as a beacon light to the surrounding nations, Solomon should have used his . . . influence in . . . directing a great movement for the enlightenment of those who were ignorant of God and His truth.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 70, 71.
c. How did the powers of darkness work to thwart the plan of God? 1 Kings 11:1, 2; Ecclesiastes 2:8, 9; 10:1.
“The missionary spirit that God had implanted in the heart of Solomon and in the hearts of all true Israelites was supplanted by a spirit of commercialism. The opportunities afforded by contact with many nations were used for personal aggrandizement.”—Ibid., p. 71.
3. GOD’S MERCY AND JUSTICE
a. Why were other nations disqualified for evangelizing the world? Leviticus 18:24, 25; Deuteronomy 9:4. What lesson did the inhabitants of the world gradually forget after the Flood? Genesis 6:5, 11, 17.
b. What conditions prevalent among many heathen nations demanded their destruction? Romans 1:19, 21, 23–25.
“In many nations parents were abandoned or put to death as soon as age had rendered them incapable of providing for themselves. . . . By perverted conceptions of divine attributes, heathen nations were led to believe human sacrifices necessary to secure the favor of their deities; and the most horrible cruelties have been perpetrated under the various forms of idolatry. Among these was the practice of causing their children to pass through the fire before their idols. . . . The most licentious and abominable rites were made a part of the heathen worship. The gods themselves were represented as impure, and their worshipers gave the rein to the baser passions. Unnatural vices prevailed and the religious festivals were characterized by universal and open impurity.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 337, 338.
c. Does God send destruction without first sending warnings and calls for repentance? Ezekiel 18:21, 23; Amos 3:7. What happens to those who have exhausted the patience of God and are considered incurable? 2 Peter 3:5–7.
“Could those whose hearts are filled with hatred of God, of truth and holiness, mingle with the heavenly throng and join their songs of praise? Could they endure the glory of God and the Lamb? No, no; years of probation were granted them, that they might form characters for heaven; but they have never trained the mind to love purity; they have never learned the language of heaven, and now it is too late. A life of rebellion against God has unfitted them for heaven.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 542, 543.
4. GOD’S MERCY AND JUSTICE (CONTINUED)
a. How do we know that the mercy of God was still extended towards the various nations that had not reached the point of no return? What was still granted to the Amorites under this plan? Genesis 15:16.
“In the early days of Israel the nations of the world, through corrupt practices, had lost the knowledge of God. They had once known Him; but because ‘they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, . . . their foolish heart was darkened’ (Romans 1:21). Yet in His mercy God did not blot them out of existence. He purposed to give them an opportunity of again becoming acquainted with Him through His chosen people.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 14.
b. What lesson can we learn from the way that God dealt with Nineveh? Jonah 3:10; 4:10, 11. What kind of missionary spirit did Jonah have?
“When Jonah learned of God’s purpose to spare the city that, notwithstanding its wickedness, had been led to repent in sackcloth and ashes, he should have been the first to rejoice because of God’s amazing grace; but instead he allowed his mind to dwell upon the possibility of his being regarded as a false prophet.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 271.
c. What encouraging message does God send to every missionary working in the cities? Acts 18:9.
“God’s messengers in the great cities are not to become discouraged over the wickedness, the injustice, the depravity, which they are called upon to face while endeavoring to proclaim the glad tidings of salvation. . . . Let those engaged in soul-saving ministry remember that while there are many who will not heed the counsel of God in His word, the whole world will not turn from light and truth, from the invitations of a patient, forbearing Saviour.”—Ibid., p. 277.
5. GOD’S JUDGMENTS STILL MINGLED WITH MERCY
a. Specify the two main effects of the judgment reserved for the time of the end. Isaiah 24:4–6; 26:21, 9.
“The time is at hand when there will be sorrow in the world that no human balm can heal. The Spirit of God is being withdrawn. Disasters by sea and by land follow one another in quick succession. How frequently we hear of earthquakes and tornadoes, of destruction by fire and flood, with great loss of life and property! Apparently these calamities are capricious outbreaks of disorganized, unregulated forces of nature, wholly beyond the control of man; but in them all, God’s purpose may be read. They are among the agencies by which He seeks to arouse men and women to a sense of their danger.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 277.
b. What does God say while His merciful hand is still held out to save those who want to be saved? Isaiah 55:6, 7.
“In every city, filled though it may be with violence and crime, there are many who with proper teaching may learn to become followers of Jesus. Thousands may thus be reached with saving truth and be led to receive Christ as a personal Saviour.”—Ibid.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why did God bring the descendents of Abraham out of Egypt?
2. What are we to learn today from the way God strategically established Israel “in the midst of the nations”?
3. How did the powers of darkness work to thwart God’s missionary plan?
4. How does the book of Jonah teach that God is happy to save rather than destroy wicked people?
5. What does the Lord want us to realize about those around us?