September 12, 2010 – September 18, 2010
“Each of the ancient prophets spoke less for their own time than for ours. … Their prophesying is in force for us. … Daniel, Isaiah, and Ezekiel … spoke of things that … reached down to the future, and to what should occur in these last days.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 338, 419, 420.
As a continuation from the previous lesson, these last two lessons are a study in polar contrasting experiences and outcomes. The outcomes are impossible to anticipate solely through the lens of human experience. They are easily unanticipated when tradition is the standard for prophetic interpretation. The student should carefully note in these lessons that modern Israel has, as Israel did in the time of Christ, been preparing for a tragic surprise by misinterpreting and misapplying promises of victory for the church. Are you ready for a surprise?
1 Referencing the quotations we’ve studied thus far, how many survive the decimating destruction among God’s professed people?
For example, review again Isaiah 10:19, Isaiah 17:4–6, Jeremiah 11:15–-17.
“Though your people, O Israel, be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overwhelming … upon the whole land.” Isaiah 10:22, -23.
2 What does Zion say just before her triumph? How are the extremes of seeming defeat and victory contrasted?
“O Lord … other masters besides You have had dominion over us; but by You only we make mention of Your name. … As a woman with child is in pain and cries out in her pangs, when she draws near the time of her delivery, so have we been in Your sight, O Lord. We have been with child, we have been in pain; we have, as it were, brought forth wind; we have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth.” Isaiah 26:12-, 17, 18.
Note the contrast in the following quote:
“Sing, O heavens! be joyful, O earth! and break out in singing, O mountains! for the Lord has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted. But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.’ ” Isaiah 49:13, 14. [Emphasis supplied.]
Just when Heaven starts to rejoice because of the destruction of Babylon, Zion says, “The Lord has forsaken me!” Isaiah 49:14. Compare this with the situation of Christ on the cross. Just after Christ cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me” [Matthew 27:46], Ellen White tells us that, “Well might the angels rejoice.” The Desire of Ages, 764. Here again we see an example of victory about to dawn, after defeat seems to have already happened!
For the saints, this scene will yet be repeated. Ellen White writes: “The remnant in the time of trouble will cry, ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ ” Spalding and Magan Collection, 2, 3.
“With pity and compassion … the Lord is looking upon His tempted and tried people. For a time the oppressors will be permitted to triumph over those who know God’s holy commandments. … Everyone shall be tested and proved, to see whether he will be loyal. … God permits Satan to reveal his character. … Thus the final triumph of His people is made more marked … and complete. … People of God … should set aside days for fasting and praying.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 414.
3 We are shown that God’s church ultimately escapes and fulfills God’s purpose for her, after it seems like all has been lost! Note the language of fruit and birth, marriage and children! How is it, when only a handful survive, that Israel is so numerous?
“ ‘In that day,’ says the Lord, ‘I will assemble the lame, I will gather the outcast. … The stronghold of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, Even the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.’ Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in your midst? Has your counselor perished? For pangs have seized you like a woman in labor. Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in birth pangs. For now you shall go forth from the city, you shall dwell in the field, and to Babylon you shall go. There you shall be delivered.” Micah 4:6, 8–10. [Emphasis supplied.]
“Lift up your eyes all around. … They all gather together. … Your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side.” Isaiah 60:4.
“Break forth into singing … you who have not travailed with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman. … Enlarge the place of your tent … your descendants will inherit the nations … you … will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. For your Maker is your husband.” Isaiah 54:1–-5.
“ ‘Before she was in labor, she gave birth; before her pain came, she delivered a male child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children. Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?’ says the Lord. … Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad … all you who mourn for her.” Isaiah 66:7–-10.
“In that day [day of captivity] … Israelites, will be gathered up one by one. … Those who were perishing in Assyria and … exiled in Egypt will come and worship the Lord … in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 27:12, 13. [Emphasis supplied.]
“Surely these shall come from afar … the north and west, and from the land of Sinim. … Lift up your eyes, look around and see; all these gather together and come to you. … You shall surely clothe yourselves with them all as an ornament. … For … the land of your destruction, will even now be too small for the inhabitants. … The children you will have, after you have lost the others, will say again in your ears, ‘The place is too small for me; give me a place where I may dwell.’ Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who has begotten these for me, since I have lost my children and am desolate, a captive, and wandering to and fro? And who has brought these up? There I was, left alone; but these, where were they?’ ” Isaiah 49:12, 18–-21.
“Those who come [to make peace with God] He shall cause to take root in Jacob; Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” Isaiah 27:6.
“Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man … like a woman in labor … faces turned pale? … It is the time of Jacob’s trouble … he shall be saved out of it. … In that day … I will break his yoke from his neck … foreigners shall no more enslave them. … Though I make a full end of nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you … They called you an outcast saying: ‘This is Zion; no one seeks her.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will bring back the captivity … I will multiply … Their children shall be as before.’ ” Jeremiah 30:6–8, 11, 17–20. [Emphasis added.]
“ ‘At that time,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they will be My people.’ … I will bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water, on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s Father, and Ephraim is My firstborn son.” Jeremiah 31:1, 8, 9.
“You have … scattered us among the nations. … You make us a byword among the nations. … We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. … Why do You hide Your face, and forget our affliction? … Our soul is bowed down … Our body clings to the dust. … Arise for our help [transition]. … Listen, O daughter … Forget your own people also, and your father’s house; so the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, worship Him. And the daughter of Tyre will be there with a gift. … The royal daughter is glorious within the palace; her clothing is woven with gold. … Virgins follow her. … They shall enter the King’s palace. Instead of your fathers shall be your sons, whom you shall make princes. … I will make your name to be remembered.” Psalm 44:11, 14, 22, 24, 26; 45:10–17. [Emphasis supplied.]
“ ‘Return, O backsliding children,’ says the Lord; ‘for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land.’ ” Jeremiah 3:14–16.
“Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion city of our god! … And of Zion it will be said, ‘This one and that one were born in her.’ … The Lord will record, when He registers the peoples: ‘This one was born there.’ ” Psalm -87:3, 5, 6.
“I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold. … They shall make a loud noise because of so many people.” Micah 2:12. [Emphasis supplied.]
“The Lord will restore the splendor of Jacob Like the splendor of Israel, Though destroyers have laid them waste and have ruined their vines.” Nahum 2:2.
“I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel, they will rebuild and occupy ruined cities, plant vineyards and drink their wine … make gardens and eat their produce.” Amos 9:14.
“For the Lord hears the poor and does not despise His prisoners. … For God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah, that they may dwell there. … The descendants of His servants shall inherit it.” Psalm 69:33, 35, -36.
“He will … assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah.” Isaiah 11:12.
“I will save … your seed from … captivity. … I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you.” “I will rebuild you … O virgin of Israel! … Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden.” Jeremiah 30:10, 11; 31:4, 12
“Israel will be abandoned, until the time when she who is in labor gives birth.” Micah 5:3.
“At that time … I will … gather those who have been scattered. … In every land where they were put to shame. … I will give you honor … when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes.” Zephaniah 3:19, 20.
“Call a sacred assembly. Gather … the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast … [prepare for the marriage of the bridegroom and bride]. … Spare Your people, O Lord … then the Lord will … take pity on His people. … The trees are bearing their fruit.” Joel 2:15–18, -22. [Emphasis supplied.]
4 In the context of Scriptures that we have been reading, what significance do you give to the frequent phrases, in that day or at that time? What is happening when these phrases are used?
Review and Discuss
Compare, for example, the following quotations from Joel 3 and Jeremiah 31 with Revelation 14:14–-20; Revelation 16:12–-21 and Revelation 19:11–-21. Do God’s people see with their eyes the ultimate success of the birth of offspring to the church before this time?
“In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. … Proclaim this among the nations: prepare for war! … beat your plowshares into swords. … Let the nations be rouses; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all nations. … Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes. … The Lord will be a refuge for His people … Jerusalem will be holy, never again will foreigners invade her.” Joel 3:1, 2, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, -17.
“At that time, declares the Lord, ‘I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they will be My people.’ … The people who survive the sword will find favor in the desert—I will come to give rest to Israel. … You will be rebuilt … the remnant of Israel … I will bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be … expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. … He who scattered Israel will gather them.” Jeremiah 31:1, 2, 4, 8, 10.
For additional references to this same time, see Isaiah 11:11–-15; Isaiah 19:23–-25; and Isaiah 25:8; -26:2.
Studies prepared by John T. Grosboll, P.E. John T. is a mechanical engineer living near Vancouver, Washington. His secular employment includes several years of experience in primary metals and transportation-related industries. He, along with his wife, Teresa, is actively involved in the work of the Historic Message Church in Portland, Oregon. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com.