Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Lesson 1: Son of David

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Matthew

Lesson 1: Son of David

The theme of our lesson in this new quarter of studies from Matthew dwells on the genealogy of Christ. In other words, Jesus learned from His earthly, ancestral heritage. By taking upon His divine nature, the fallen, sinful human nature of His earthly ancestors, He gathered up in Himself, the lessons of the ages, and overcame sin, where they had fallen.
As man is since he became subject unto death, this is what we "see Jesus" to be. Death could not have touched Him had He come in the sinless nature of Adam before the Fall. He is "the son of Abraham" (Matt. 1:1). That is, He took upon Himself the full heredity imposed by the genetic line from Abraham, that He might minister to them, not to the unfallen angels.
We can never suggest that Christ had a sinful nature. He had a sinless one; but He took our sinful nature. [1] This is the glorious gospel of hope that many have been hindered from seeing. But the Lord gave it to Seventh-day Adventists, and Ellen White said that "God commanded [it] to be given to the world." [2] It presented a Christ who knows how the sinner is tempted and can save Him from the lowest hell.
It has been generally assumed that getting serious about overcoming means only hard, boring work. But 1888 had good news. Here are samples from the two 1888 "messengers":
Writes A. T. Jones: "Jesus came to the world, and put Himself in the flesh, just where men are; and met that flesh, just as it is, with all its tendencies and desires; and by the divine power which He brought by faith, He 'condemned sin in the flesh,' and thus brought to all mankind that divine faith which brings the divine power to man to deliver him from the power of the flesh and the law of sin, just where he is, and to give him assured dominion over the flesh, just as it is." [3]
Writes E. J. Waggoner: "He who takes God for the portion of his inheritance, has a power working in him for righteousness, as much stronger than the power of inherited tendencies to evil, as our heavenly Father is greater than our earthly parents." [4]
If a people were to receive such a message wholeheartedly, would it not prepare them for translation at the coming of Jesus?
We are not the first people to have misunderstood a message God sent. The ancient Jews brought grief to the Messiah because they were certain they understood—but they didn't. His unheeded call to repent could hardly have brought more heartbreak to the Saviour than the lukewarm, unknowing response He has received from the last of the "seven churches" of history.
The Jews were expecting the Son of David to take the throne and rule in splendor. Their national rejection of Him must surely parallel our letting Him remain outside the door, still knocking for admission. The history of our spiritual forefathers demands clear understanding.
Some ten times Matthew speaks of Jesus Christ as "the son of David." This is spoken of in two senses: (1) Christ's legal, linear, unbroken genetic descent from David, and (2) His personal spiritual experience that was identical to David's as revealed in the Book of Psalms.
The marks of identification are numerous: It is obvious that in an anticipatory sense David foreshadowed Christ's experience on the cross: the piercing of His hands and His feet (Psalm 22:16), the parting of His garments among the soldiers, the casting lots for His "vesture" (vs. 18), the ridicule of the bystanders (vs. 7), the taunts of the priests and rulers (vs. 8), Christ's cry of dereliction (vss. 1, 2). All these details were literally reduplicated in Christ's experience. David wrote intimate prophecy.
Now can we as believers in Christ "adopt" David's experiences as ours, too? If Jesus did, why can't we? When Christ became "Emmanuel, ... God with us," His humanity required Him to pray. He could not have lived without prayer. Neither can we!
Identification with Christ is an essential aspect of the 1888 message. If Christ was "the son of David," identifying with David's experiences, then we too can identify with David "in Christ." We are "crucified with Christ," we "abide in Him" which means we live in Him. We identify with Christ; His experiences in battling with temptation become our experiences. Even if you have never known a moment of pain or sorrow, you can "grow up" "unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" by identifying with Him in Matthew. Then when you at last meet Him face to face, you will not feel like a stranger in His presence.
The good news is that Jesus Christ has already identified with you. He knows what you inherited, he knows what you grew up learning, doing. He even knew your heart, lungs, arms, legs, and other organs that were put together in your mother's womb (Psalm 139:13).
That is not all He has written about you. He has rewritten your history, He has redeemed you and all the human family from the pit, or more literally a grave in Hell. God chose every one of us to be in Him before the earth was ever formed that we should be without blame before Him in love. He has already felt in His own person our sicknesses and pains. We will not turn our faces from His kind of love, we will not abandon Him. He for our sakes became poor that we might through His poverty become rich (2 Cor. 8:9).
In view of Daniel 8:14, it is time to "overcome" where past generations failed. The entire sweep of ancient history to modern times is taken in by the 2,300 years from 457 B.C. to 1844 A.D. It wasn't until after 1844 that God's people could take in all the ups and downs of Christian history and learn from it. Only then the church with the discernment of the gospel/sanctuary truth could learn to overcome the mistakes of previous generations. God's people must learn from her history.
Paul E. Penno
[1] "He took on Him the seed of Abraham" (Heb. 2:16).
[2] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1337.
[3] A. T. Jones, "Studies in Galatians. Gal. 5:16-18," Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Sept. 18, 1900.
[4] E. J. Waggoner, The Everlasting Covenant, 1900, p. 66.