Friday, October 2, 2015

Lesson 1: The Prophetic Calling of Jeremiah

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Lesson 1: The Prophetic Calling of Jeremiah
Like the maker of a fine musical instrument, God created Jeremiah as a spokesman for the word of the Lord. The Lord was thinking about Jeremiah as His prophet before he was born (Jer. 1:4, 5).
Likewise the Lord "cause[s] His face to shine upon us" (Psalm 67:1). For God to smile at us with approval is the same as for Him to justify us, for that is its meaning. God has a plan for your life just as He had a plan for Jeremiah before he was born which included forgiveness of sins. Are we justified in God's sight by our good works, or by grace through faith? Because of the 1888 message we see in Jeremiah's call as with us, that our justification is a birthright inheritance from God.
The Lord commissioned Jeremiah to "go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak" (Jer. 1:7). "I have put my words in thy mouth (Jer. 1:9). His message was largely unheeded. By all accounts his success must be judged an abysmal failure. He often wept because he loved the people, but they refused to hear what God was saying to them.
God appointed Jeremiah to an international ministry "to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant" (Jer. 1:10). Erroneous beliefs and practices must be destroyed before reconstruction can take place. A new building cannot be constructed until the old structure it will replace has been demolished.
Judah, under King Manasseh and a corrupted priesthood, was led into idolatry, Baal worship, and human sacrifice. All of their ideas about appeasing an angry god must be overthrown, before replacing it with God's true word of righteousness by faith. Though the people did not receive the message, God evaluated Jeremiah's ministry a success because he faithfully proclaimed God's word.
God's good news of salvation and deliverance is the same in every generation. God's great Sacrifice is the only solution to our common human problem of rebellion against Him.
"The message given us by A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner is the message of God to the Laodicean church, and woe be unto anyone who professes to believe the truth and yet does not reflect to others the God-given rays." [1]
During the fall of 1882, at the age of 27, E. J. Waggoner had an experience that he would later describe as the turning point of his life. Sitting under a camp meeting tent one dismal rainy afternoon in Healdsburg, California, listening to the gospel presented by Ellen White, he suddenly saw a light shinning about him, and the tent illumined as though the sun were shining. He had a distinct "revelation of Christ Crucified" for him. He later wrote that it was revealed for the first time in his life that God loved him, and that Christ gave Himself for him personally--that it was all for him. The light that shone on him that day from the cross of Christ became the guide in all his Bible study. He resolved that the rest of his life would be devoted to discovering the message of God's love for individual sinners found in the pages of Scripture, and making that message plain to others. [2]
At the close of our lesson's study on Friday a very important question is posed: "What is our attitude toward the prophetic word to us, especially when we hear things that we don't like? ... The very ones who should have been revealing the true God to the world were the ones who were, by reviling and attacking His spokesman, fighting against Him?"
The cleansing of the sanctuary can never be complete until the 1888 incident of our history is fully understood and the underlying spiritual problem solved. That particular segment of our history is especially significant. This is implied in a statement Ellen White wrote to the General Conference president, O. A. Olsen, four years after the Minneapolis conference:
"The sin committed in what took place at Minneapolis remains on the record books of heaven, registered against the names of those who resisted light, and it will remain upon the record until full confession is made, and the transgressors stand in full humility before God." [3]
Her later writings indicate that "full confession" was never made and the experience of "full humility before God" eluded most of them. [4] Those brethren have all died, but that does not mean those "record books of heaven" are automatically cleansed. They record corporate sin as well as personal sin. The foundation truth that has made Seventh-day Adventists a unique people is that death does not cleanse the heavenly record books. The cleansing must occur in "the investigative judgment," a corporate and final Day of Atonement.
The present issue is not the salvation of the souls of those dear leaders of a century ago who resisted the message. They rest in the Lord, at peace, while they remain prisoners in their tombs. The issue now is the finishing of the work of God on earth, developing a long overdue empathy with the Lord so that we can truly "give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come." We must recover in this generation the priceless blessing which our brethren of a century ago "kept away from the world" and "from our people, in a great measure." [5] We are "one body" in Christ, a spiritual community corporately involved with those brethren of the past. Their sin is our sin, apart from specific, intelligent repentance.
The "body" is lukewarm, ill with spiritual disease that can be traced to 1888. A new generation must now correctly interpret what happened in a past generation because of its profound implications for our spiritual state today. Christ's message to His last-day church implicitly demands a re-examination of our history which underlies our "rich-and-increased-with-goods" complex (Rev. 3:14-21).
A failure to do so invokes upon ourselves the guilt of previous generations. We are being tested as truly as they were. Like Calvary, 1888 is more than a mere historical event. God's providence will not permit it to be covered with dust in the Adventist attic, forgotten by a new generation. It represents the outworking of principles that reapply in every generation until the final victory of truth.
In a certain real sense, we today are each one at Calvary; we are also "delegates" at the 1888 Conference. We shall be called upon to do what a past generation failed to do. An inspired prophecy tells us how 1888 must be revisited:
"We should be the last people on earth to indulge in the slightest degree the spirit of persecution against those who are bearing the message of God to the world. This is the most terrible feature of unchristlikeness that has manifested itself among us since the Minneapolis meeting. Sometime it will be seen in its true bearing, with all the burden of woe that has resulted from it." [6]
O. A. Olsen, president of the General Conference, also recognized that this issue of 1888 must remain a perennial test among us until at last we do fully overcome:
"Some may feel tried over the idea that Minneapolis is referred to [in these meetings, 1893]. I know that some have felt grieved and tried over any allusion to that meeting, and to the situation there. But let it be borne in mind that the reason why anyone should feel so is an unyielding spirit on his part. Just as quickly as we fully surrender, and humble our hearts before God, the difficulty is all gone. The very idea that one is grieved, shows at once the seed of rebellion in the heart ...
"If we fail at one time, the Lord will take us over the ground again; and if we fail a second time, He will take us over the ground again; and if we fail a third time, the Lord will take us over the same ground again. ... Instead of being vexed over the idea that the Lord is taking us over the same ground, let us thank Him, and praise Him unceasingly, for this is God's mercy and compassion. Anything else than this is our ruin and destruction." [7]
Welcome to this new line of studies in Jeremiah from the 1888 perspective.
--Paul E. Penno
[1] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1052.
[2] Letter E. J. Waggoner to Ellen G. White (Oct. 22, 1900).
[3] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1031 (1892).
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, vol. 1, pp. 234, 235.
[6] General Conference Bulletin, 1893, p. 184.
[7] Ibid., p. 188.
Note: "Sabbath School Today" and Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson are on the Internet at: