Sabbath School Lesson 21 - Relying on His Word

Sabbath, November 18, 2017

“Christ continues, pointing out the condition of the world at His coming: ‘As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the Flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’ Christ does not here bring to view a temporal millennium, a thousand years in which all are to prepare for eternity. He tells us that as it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of man comes again.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 633. 

Suddenly, as a thief

1. Explaining His return, what vivid illustration did Jesus use? 

Revelation 16:15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. 

1 Thessalonians 5:1, 2 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 

2 Peter 3:10, first part But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night….

“Peter kept alive in his heart the hope of Christ’s return, and he assured the church of the certain fulfillment of the Saviour’s promise, ‘If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.’ John 14:3. To the tried and faithful ones the coming might seem long delayed, but the apostle assured them: ‘The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…’.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 536.

2. Although we are informed about the signs preceding the Lord’s coming, does this mean that we know the exact time?

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

“But the day and the hour of His coming Christ has not revealed. He stated plainly to His disciples that He Himself could not make known the day or the hour of His second appearing. Had He been at liberty to reveal this, why need He have exhorted them to maintain an attitude of constant expectancy? There are those who claim to know the very day and hour of our Lord’s appearing. Very earnest are they in mapping out the future. But the Lord has warned them off the ground they occupy. The exact time of the second coming of the Son of man is God’s mystery.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 632, 633.

3. While the Lord has revealed specific events and details of Jesus’ return, why has He not made known the day and hour? 

Mark 13:32, 33 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. 

Acts 1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 

“The exact time of Christ’s second coming is not revealed. Jesus said, No man knoweth the day nor the hour. But He also gave signs of His coming, and said, ‘When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.’ He bade them, as the signs of His coming should appear, ‘Look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.’ And in view of these things the apostle wrote: ‘Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day.’ Since we know not the hour of Christ’s coming, we must live soberly and godly in this present world, ‘Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.’ ” –Reflecting Christ, p. 258.

4. In spite of the preaching of the gospel and the signs of the times that are becoming more and more obvious, what will Jesus’ coming be for many people?

Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 

Mark 13:35, second part, 36 … For ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 

“These words of Christ should sink into the hearts of all who believe present truth:… Our danger is presented before us by Christ Himself. He knew the perils we should meet in these last days, and would have us prepare for them. ‘As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.’ They were eating and drinking, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage, and knew not until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the Flood came and swept them all away. The day of God will find men absorbed in like manner in the business and pleasures of the world, in feasting and gluttony, and in indulging perverted appetite in the defiling use of liquor and the narcotic tobacco. This is already the condition of our world, and these indulgences are found even among God’s professed people, some of whom are following the customs and partaking of the sins of the world.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 309.

Light at the proper time

5. In past events, did the Lord always provide every detail ahead of time and all at once? What did the apostle Paul write about this?

Ephesians 3:4, 5 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 13:9, 10, 12 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away…. 12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

“Jesus is waiting with longing desire to open before His people the glory that will attend His second advent, and to carry them forward to a contemplation of the landscape of bliss. There are wonders to be revealed. A long lifetime of prayer and research will leave much unexplored and unexplained. But what we know not now will be revealed hereafter. The work of instruction begun here will be carried on to all eternity. The Lamb, as He leads the hosts of the redeemed to the fountain of living waters, will impart rich stores of knowledge; He will unravel mysteries in the works and providence of God that have never before been understood.” –Lift Him Up, p. 361. 

Avoiding speculation 

6. If the Lord has not revealed certain aspects of the future, is it wise to speculate about them? Instead of making conjectures that will help no one, what should be our primary interest? 

Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 

Matthew 24:44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

“We can never by searching find out God. He does not lay open His plans to prying, inquisitive minds. We must not attempt to lift with presumptuous hand the curtain behind which He veils His majesty. The apostle exclaims, ‘How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!’ It is a proof of His mercy that there is the hiding of His power, that He is enshrouded in the awful clouds of mystery and obscurity; for to lift the curtain that conceals the Divine Presence is death. No mortal mind can penetrate the secrecy in which the Mighty One dwells and works. We can comprehend no more of His dealings with us and the motives that actuate Him than He sees fit to reveal…. He will reveal to us as much of His purposes as it is for our good to know; and beyond that we must trust the hand that is omnipotent, the heart that is full of love.” –Lift Him Up, p. 361. 

Waiting hopefully by faith 

7. Even though Abraham received the promise several times that he and his descendants would possess the land of Canaan, how did he live while waiting for the promise to be fulfilled? What does his example teach us?

Hebrews 11:9, 10 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 

James 5:7, 8 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 8Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 

“God gave to Abraham a view of this immortal inheritance, and with this hope he was content. ‘By faith he sojourned in the Land of Promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.’ Hebrews 11:9, 10. 

“Of the posterity of Abraham it is written, ‘These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.’ Verse 13. We must dwell as pilgrims and strangers here if we would gain ‘a better country, that is, an heavenly.’ Verse 16. Those who are children of Abraham will be seeking the city which he looked for, ‘whose builder and maker is God.’ ” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 170.

For additional study

“There are in the world today many who close their eyes to the evidences that Christ has given to warn men of His coming. They seek to quiet all apprehension, while at the same time the signs of the end are rapidly fulfilling, and the world is hastening to the time when the Son of man shall be revealed in the clouds of heaven. Paul teaches that it is sinful to be indifferent to the signs which are to precede the second coming of Christ. Those guilty of this neglect he calls children of the night and of darkness. He encourages the vigilant and watchful….” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 260.

“Abraham’s unquestioning obedience was one of the most striking instances of faith and reliance upon God to be found in the Sacred Record. With only the naked promise that his descendants should possess Canaan, without the least outward evidence, he followed on where God should lead, fully and sincerely complying with the conditions on his part, and confident that the Lord would faithfully perform His word. The patriarch went wherever God indicated his duty; he passed through wildernesses without terror; he went among idolatrous nations, with the one thought: ‘God has spoken; I am obeying His voice; He will guide, He will protect me.’ Just such faith and confidence as Abraham had the messengers of God need today.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 524.