Saturday, September 27, 2003

Special Insights Extra

Third Quarterly 2003 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Sanctuary Themes: The Book of Hebrews”
(Produced by the editorial board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)
As we come to the last lesson in this series, let us review some
significant contributions that the 1888 message of Christ’s
righteousness gives us for understanding Hebrews:

(1) Hebrews chapter 1--Christ is the eternally pre-existent Son
of God: “Our purpose in this investigation is to set forth Christ’s
rightful position of equality with the Father, in order that His power
to redeem may be the better appreciated” (E. J. Waggoner, Christ and
His Righteousness, p. 19, new ed., 21). “The fact that Christ is a part
of the Godhead, possessing all the attributes of Divinity, being the
equal of the Father in all respects, as Creator and Lawgiver, is the
only force there is in the atonement. It is this alone which makes
redemption a possibility” (pp. 43, 44; new ed., 51).
(2) Hebrews chapter 2--in His incarnation, Christ “took” our
fallen, sinful flesh or nature, yet was sinless: “There was in His
whole life a struggle. The flesh, moved upon by the enemy of all
righteousness, would tend to sin, yet His divine nature never for a
moment harbored an evil desire, nor did His divine power for a moment
waver. . . . He returned to the throne of the Father as spotless as
when he left the courts of glory” (Waggoner, Signs of the Times, Jan.
21, 1889; note Ellen White’s similar comment six years later: “On not
one occasion was there a response to . . . [Satan’s] manifold
temptations. Not once did Christ step on Satan’s ground,” Letter 8,
1895). This view of the blessed nearness of our Savior is special to
the 1888 message. Again: Christ “was made in the likeness of sinful
flesh. Don’t go too far, . . . not in the likeness of sinful mind. Do
not drag His mind into it. His flesh was our flesh; but the mind was
‘the mind of Christ Jesus.’ . . . If He had taken our mind, how then
could we ever have been exhorted to ‘let this mind be in you, which was
also in Christ Jesus’”? (A. T. Jones, 1895 General Conference Bulletin,
p. 327).
(3) The central theme of Hebrews is perfection of Christian
character--5:9, 14; 6:1; 7:11, 19, 25, 28; 9:9; 10:1, 14; 11:40; 13:21:
“Christ was in the place and He had the nature, of the whole human
race. And in Him meet all the weaknesses of mankind, so that every man
on the earth who can be tempted at all, finds in Jesus Christ power
against that temptation. For every soul there is in Jesus Christ
victory against all temptation, and relief from the power of it”
(Jones, ibid, p. 324; eleven times in Hebrews Christian perfection of
character is emphasized).
(4) Hebrews 9:2-10--the “1888” Hebrews spotlight is on Christ’s
unique work in the Most Holy Apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. He is
preparing a corporate body (the church) to be ready to meet Jesus at
His second coming and be translated. (His First Apartment ministry
prepared people to die and come up in the first resurrection.) In 1893
Jones discusses the 1888 message: “Now brethren, when did that message
of the righteousness of Christ begin with us as a people? [One or two
in the audience: ‘Three or four years ago.’] Which was it, three? Or
four? [Congregation: ‘Four.’] Yes, four. Where was it? [Congregation:
‘Minneapolis.’] . . . What is that message of righteousness? The
Testimony has told us what it is; the loud cry--the latter rain. Then
what did the brethren reject in that fearful position in which they
stood, at Minneapolis? They rejected the latter rain--the loud cry of
the third angel’s message. . . . And, brethren, the time has come to
take up tonight what we there rejected. . . . Let us thank the Lord
that He is dealing with us still, . . . and to pour upon us the latter
rain, that we may be translated. That is what the message
means—translation--to you and me” (1893 General Conference Bulletin,
(5) Hebrews 11 lifts our vision above a reward for ourselves. We
glimpse a concern for Christ that He receive His reward. Here is a
sample insight: “The little horn--the man of sin, the mystery of
iniquity--has put his own earthly, human, and sinful priesthood,
ministry, and sanctuary, in the place of the heavenly and holy
priesthood, ministry, and sanctuary. In this priesthood and service of
the mystery of iniquity, the sinner confesses his sins to the priest,
and goes on sinning. Indeed, in that priesthood and ministry there is
no power to do anything else than to go on sinning; and even after they
have confessed their sins. But, sad as the question may be, is it not
too true that those who are not of the mystery of iniquity, but who
really believe in Jesus and in His priesthood and ministry--is it not
too true that even these also confess their sins, and then go on
“But is this fair to our great High Priest, to His sacrifice, and
to His blessed ministry? Is it fair that we should thus put Him, His
sacrifice, and His ministry, practically upon a level with that of the
‘abomination of desolation,’ and to say that in Him and in His ministry
there is no more power or virtue than there is in that of the ‘mystery
of iniquity’?” (Jones, The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection, pp.
121, 122).
(6) What does the 1888 message see as the end result of the
sanctuary message in Hebrews? Revelation 19:7-9: To prepare a corporate
body of God’s people to become the bride of Christ, to “grow up” to
“make herself ready” for the “marriage of the Lamb.” This wedding will
be His reward!
(7) Let us not think of our study of Hebrews as a past
(as our algebra in high school!). Let’s continue receiving fresh
insights by studying Christ and His Righteousness, The Consecrated Way
to Christian Perfection, The Everlasting Covenant, and the 1893 and
1895 General Conference Bulletins.
—Robert J. Wieland

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Special Insights No. 13

Third Quarterly 2003 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Sanctuary Themes: The Book of Hebrews”
(Produced by the editorial board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)

Insights to Lesson 13: “Jesus and Our Future”

The serious question is posed in our Quarterly: Why did Paul say
that his lifetime 2000 years ago was “these last days”? Also, “now once
in the end of the world”? Why did Peter say his day was “these last
times”? (Heb. 1: 2; 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20). Did Christ lead His disciples
then to believe He was coming back within their lifetime?
This is important. If the time of the apostles 2000 years ago was
the “last days,” how can we say our time today is “these last days”?
Could it take another 2000 years before Christ comes back? A fairly
recent Review article quoted many of our youth in our colleges and
universities saying they had no idea when Christ will return. The
Quarterly rather leaves the question in limbo; at least there’s not
much to help us. Is there any truth in the 1888 message of Christ’s
righteousness that can help us get our bearings in this important
The 1888 message that “the Lord in His great mercy sent” is in
total harmony with the prophetic time scale that established confidence
in the rise and progress of the Seventh-day Adventist Church:
(1) Paul specifically taught his people that Christ was NOT
returning in their lifetime, even though some in Thessalonica had
picked up that idea. He wrote his Second Letter to disabuse their
minds: “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our gathering together to Him, we ask you not to be soon shaken in
mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from
us, as though the day of the Lord [NU-Text] had come [or “is at hand,”
KJV]. Let no one deceive you by any means, for that Day will not come
unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed,
the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is
called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple
of God, showing himself that he is God” (2:1-4).
(2) The demonstrative pronouns “THAT day,” “THE falling away,”
“THE man of sin,” indicate he is referring to specific truths he taught
them when he was with them. “Do you not remember that when I was still
with you I told you these things?” (vs. 5). Where else could he have
gotten it all except the book of Daniel? “Paul . . . pointed his
brethren into the then far-distant future . . .” (The Great
Controversy, p. 356).
(3) Jesus had specifically begged His disciples to read Daniel
(Matt. 24:15). Paul would obviously do so. After the resurrection, the
disciples saw the prophecy of the “seventy weeks” (490 years)
fulfilled, as Jesus explained it to the two disciples on their way to
Emmaus; and of course during the time He was with them until His
ascension. Paul could see that the “seventy weeks” were “cut off” from
the 2300 “days.” He knew that the “seventy weeks” had to be prophetic
time in order to come to the time of the Jews’ final rejection of the
apostles (Acts 7:59, 60). He knew the Jews had passed their day of
probation as a nation. He could easily have at least a rudimentary
idea that time must yet elapse for Daniel’s “little horn,” the rise of
the papacy, and the persecution of 1260 years. This is evident in what
he wrote to the Thessalonians.
(4) In Hebrews, Paul said that his lifetime was not the “now”
to speak of the ministry in the Most Holy Apartment (9:5). He knew they
were living in the First Apartment ministry.
(5) The time prophecies of Daniel and Revelation figure in this
problem. Genuine Christians, truly converted, began studying these
prophecies in the late 1700s and early 1800s. They saw the prophetic
time-line that Ellen White described as “the chain of events that have
made us a people what we are today.” She said, “Historical events
showing the direct fulfillment of prophecy were set before the people,
and the prophecy was seen to be a figurative delineation of events
leading down to the close of this earth’s history. The scenes connected
with the working of the man of sin are the last features plainly
revealed in this earth’s history. . . . [God’s] students of prophecy
[were] led by genuine, living experience, advancing point by point,
tested, proved, and tried, until the truth to them was a reality. . . .
[We must not] make an application of the Word that will undermine the
foundation and remove the pillars of the faith that has made
Seventh-day Adventists what they are today” (Selected Messages, book 2,
pp. 101-103; 1896).
(6) When the above was written, the 1888 message was “present
truth.” At the same time, she made reference to it as follows: “A new
life is coming from heaven and taking possession of all God’s people. .
. the present message which is already lightening the earth with its
glory” (ibid., p. 114; 1896).
(7) When Ellen White urged the General Conference brethren and
church at large to accept the message of Jones and Waggoner, she
offered no criticism of the main features of our prophetic message.
Their message as the initial “showers from heaven of the latter rain”
and “the beginning” of Revelation 18, complemented our prophetic
message, and would have completed the gospel commission in that
So, what about “these last days” and “these last times” of Paul
and Peter? The Old Testament was at its end and the New Testament was
beginning. Simple.
Today the 1888 message pinpoints our place on God’s prophetic
time-line. We are way behind God’s schedule. Heaven knows it’s time for
—Robert J. Wieland