Thursday, November 13, 2003

Insights to Lesson 7 - 4th Qtr :Jonah : “Second Chances”

Dear Readers of Sabbath School “Insights”:

The experience of Jonah demonstrates in a miraculous manner that
the goodness of God leads to repentance. Yes, God’s goodness was
chasing after the Ninevites to bring them to repentance, but He went to
extreme lengths to draw Jonah to the foot of the cross in the whole
process. Jonah was given a second chance. But his second chance was
derived from the second chance given to the father of his race. The
prime evil second chance was conceived from eternity past when the
Father and the Son covenanted together to execute a plan, should it
become necessary, which would reveal the height and depth and length
and width of divine love.
“Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the Father and
Son had united in a covenant to redeem man if he should be overcome by
Satan. They had clasped Their hands in a solemn pledge that Christ
should become the surety for the human race. This pledge Christ has
fulfilled. When upon the cross He cried out, ‘It is finished,’ He
addressed the Father. The compact had been fully carried out. Now He
declares: Father, it is finished.” [1] The blood of the everlasting
covenant ratified this pledge at the cross and by so doing guaranteed a
second chance to all mankind. In effect Christ saved the world from the
second death and gratuitously granted a probationary life to all. [2]
As a result of that pledge from eternity not only Jonah but the
whole world lives in panoply of grace. [3] The goodness of God was
teaching Jonah that there was much more power in His amazing grace than
in all the power that human effort can muster. God’s amazing grace
ordained both the fateful storm at sea and the great fish that
swallowed Jonah alive. But it was not until Jonah was deep inside the
belly of that fish that Jonah began to realize that where sin abounds,
grace much more abounds. And now Jonah began to partake of that grace,
something he had uniformly frustrated until this monumental crisis. “I
cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered” and
Jonah acknowledged the grace of God, “You brought up my life from the
pit. … Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:2, 6-10).
But the moment of truth came after God’s amazing grace caused the
fish to vomit Jonah and plant him on dry land. There is only one way to
partake of the grace that much more abounds. Grace and truth come
through Jesus Christ and Jesus is the Word that was made flesh. It is
only through the Word, and the Word alone, that grace becomes all
powerful. It is submission to and acting upon the authority of God’s
word that conveys power to the life of those who profess faith in the
Lord God of heaven and earth. Again God spoke the word to Jonah,
“Arise, go to Nineveh that great city, and preach to it the message
that I tell you” (Jonah 3:2).
Jonah came face to face with grace of God with that command. The
grace of God was in the command to carry out the command. Jonah was not
so foolish to frustrate the grace of God on this “second chance.” He
acted on the Word and in the Word itself there was power to carry out
the command. Through the grace of God that much more abounds, Jonah
accomplished what no prophet of God ever accomplished. An entire nation
responded to goodness of God which leads to repentance. Jonah still had
much more to learn about God’s abounding grace, and we too like Jonah
have much to learn when He commands that message be given to the world.
At the time of end recorded in the book of Daniel when hour of
God’s judgment on the Day of Atonement arrived, God has commanded a
message to be given to the world. Within that command there is power to
carry out the command. There is power to deliver a message that has
power within itself to lighten the earth with glory of His changeless
love and much more abounding grace. May our hearts be stirred as we
meditate and act upon the command.
“The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His
people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring
more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice
for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through
faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness
of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments
of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes
directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for
the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may
dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own
righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God
commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message,
which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the
outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.” [4]
--John W. Peters

[1] The Desire of Ages, p. 834.
[2] Christ was tempted by Satan in a hundredfold severer manner than
was Adam, and under circumstances in every way more trying. The
deceiver presented himself as an angel of light, but Christ withstood
his temptations. He redeemed Adam's disgraceful fall, and saved the
world. With his human arm, Christ encircled the race, while with his
divine arm, he grasped the throne of the Infinite, uniting finite man
with the infinite God. He bridged the gulf that sin had made, and
connected earth with heaven. In his human nature he maintained the
purity of his divine character. He lived the law of God, and honored it
in a world of transgression, revealing to the heavenly universe, to
Satan, and to all the fallen sons and daughters of Adam, that through
his grace, humanity can keep the law of God. He came to impart his own
divine nature, his own image, to the repentant, believing soul (The
Youth’s Instructor, June 2, 1898).
[3] “[He] hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not
according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace,
which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now
made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath
abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through
the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:9-10).
[4] Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 91-92. The uplifted Saviour is to
appear in His efficacious work as the Lamb slain, sitting upon the
throne, to dispense the priceless covenant blessings, the benefits He
died to purchase for every soul who should believe on Him. John could
not express that love in words; it was too deep, too broad; he calls
upon the human family to behold it. Christ is pleading for the church
in the heavenly courts above, pleading for those for whom He paid the
redemption price of His own lifeblood. Centuries, ages, can never
diminish the efficacy of this atoning sacrifice. The message of the
gospel of His grace was to be given to the church in clear and distinct
lines, that the world should no longer say that Seventh-day Adventists
talk the law, the law, but do not teach or believe Christ. The
efficacy of the blood of Christ was to be presented to the people with
freshness and power, that their faith might lay hold upon its merits.

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