Sabbath School Lesson for April 1-7, 2023
Overview of Lesson 2, A Moment of Destiny
Memory Text: “Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe’ ” Revelation 14:14, 15 NKJV
Topics this week will include:
- Sunday: Eternal Choices–Understanding and preaching the gospel will help us make choices that will last for eternity. (Revelation 14:6)
- Monday: The Son of Man Returns–Who is the Son of Man and what will He do when He returns to earth? (Revelation 14:14)
- Tuesday: The Heavenly Judgment–How is all heaven and the universe involved in this Judgment?
- Wednesday: The Victor’s Crown–Jesus will come with a crown and a sickle. What do these symbols represent?
- Thursday: Every Seed Produces a Harvest–What two harvests will Jesus reap when He comes and how can we prepare for them?
God has always warned us about our future, whenever that warning would benefit us by helping us prepare for some important event involving our salvation. Noah was warned about the coming flood that would destroy so much of our planet. They were given time to build an ark of safety for as many as wanted to be saved from the deluge.
Many Old Testament prophets were given prophecies to let them know when the Messiah would be born. Daniel was given special insight into the judgment going on in the heavenly sanctuary, just prior to Jesus’ Second Coming. And John reveals in Revelation 12-14 the events that will accompany Christ’s return.
By loving and choosing Christ, surrendering to Him and obeying Him, we will be making the right choices and be ready for the final crisis ahead. Our destiny will be decided fairly and will be executed in a moment of time. Now is the time to prepare for that grand finale.
Sunday: Eternal Choices
Our lesson this week takes us to Revelation, chapter 14. Here we find God’s final messages of mercy to our fallen planet. The gospel of God’s kingdom is to be preached to all the world by His remnant church, the first angel declares (Revelation 14:6, 7).
Choices for eternity are being made every day. But no time should be wasted in delivering this message of hope. Three times we are told that Jesus is coming quickly in Revelation 22:7, 12, and 20.
There will come a time when God pronounces the judgment over, and our Lord will say “he who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still” (Revelation 22:11). All of us will have decided for or against God by that time. There is no turning back. Our destiny will be decided by the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Matthew 24:14 and Revelation 14:6
- Why is it important for the whole world to hear the gospel before He comes?
- How might this be possible, with the growing world population today?
Revelation 22:7, 12, 20
- Why is it important to emphasize that His Coming will be soon?
- When will this time of probation close?
- Do we need to know precisely when it will happen? Why or why not?
Monday: The Son of Man Returns
Revelation 14:14 tells us about the Son of Man and how He comes on a white cloud, with a crown and a sickle. We wonder why this title is used to describe Jesus at His Second Coming. We think of Him mostly as the Son of God, but actually Jesus frequently called Himself the Son of Man. We find Him doing so 82 times in the Gospels.
During His lifetime on earth, Jesus must have felt this closeness with mankind in a pronounced way. And when He returns with a retinue of holy angels by His side, He once again will be showing the universe His desire to identify with those He comes to save.
Other references about this event help us understand the meaning of verse 14.
- Matthew 16:27, for instance, informs us that “the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father, with His angels”. So, His angels must be the white cloud mentioned by John in Revelation.
- Matthew 24:27, 30 reminds us how visible the event will be. It will span the entire sky above us, with every tribe on earth able to witness God’s power and glory. This is why a crown is mentioned in Revelation 14:14.
- And finally Matthew 25: 31, 32 explains that that a separation is involved, as a shepherd divides the sheep and goats in his flock. The sickle, used for harvesting, will be used for this purpose of gathering the ripened crops.
- Why does Jesus seem to prefer the title Son of Man, and why would it be appropriate to use it for this event?
Matthew 16:27, 24:27, 30, and 25:31, 32
- How do these verses expand our understanding of His coming?
Tuesday: The Heavenly Judgment
Christ’s ascension described in Acts1:9-11 helps us to know a bit more about the manner of Jesus’ Coming. Two angels, dressed in white, remained on the ground and told the disciples that He would return in like manner as they saw Him go into heaven, being received in a white cloud. They emphasized that “this same Jesus”, the Son of Man, would return. The same one who had walked the dusty streets of Nazareth and Jerusalem with them. This news surely helped them cope with the grief of Jesus leaving them that day.
As we look ahead to the judgment, how comforting it is to know that Jesus, the Son of Man, will be a central figure in deciding our destiny. His connection with the human experience will make Him our best Defender and Judge. We can easily trust Him with our case.
The prophet Daniel was given a vision about this court scene (Daniel 7:9, 10, 13, 14). Daniel, too, recognizes “One like the Son of Man”, who comes with all His holy angels, “ten thousand times ten thousand”, more than we can count. He will sit on a throne and judge mankind, “all people, nations, and languages”. His kingdom will not be destroyed.
Psalm 51:4 reminds us that the judgment will include vindicating God. God is also on trial before the universe. He will be seen at last as the just and blameless God that He is. The first two chapters of Job support this idea of the importance of God’s reputation depending on our actions here on earth.
Revelation 14:14, Acts 1:9-11, and Exodus 13:21
- What are the similarities in these accounts?
- What kind of cloud will it be? When has God’s presence also been seen as a cloud?
Daniel 7:9, 10, 13, 14
- Why is Jesus portrayed as the Son of Man in this heavenly judgment scene?
Psalm 51:3, 4
- Why is God also on trial before the universe?
- How can we help vindicate God?
Wednesday: The Victor’s Crown
Jesus was given a crown of thorns to wear, when He was brought to Mt. Calvary to endure a shameful death on the cross. Although it was given as a sign of mockery for His claim to be the King of the Jews, we now know that it represented the extreme suffering and death He would endure for His followers.
When Jesus returns from heaven though, He will be wearing a golden crown (Revelation 14:14). It will be similar to the victor’s crown worn by athletes after winning an important contest (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). This crown represents the power and glory bestowed on the Son of Man by His Father for the Son’s sacrifice and glorious victory over death.
His victory will also enable us to wear crowns, as we join Him in heaven when He returns. His victory will be ours, and we will surely acknowledge this by casting our crowns at the Lord’s feet, as did the twenty elders (Revelation 4:10, 11). The Lamb of God alone is worthy to receive such a crown of glory.
Revelation 14:14 and 4:10, 11
- What does the golden crown, worn by the Son of Man, mean to you?
- Who should we acknowledge as the victor, whether it be in heaven then or here on earth now?
Thursday: Every Seed Produces a Harvest
Revelation 14 ends with a description of not one, but two, harvests. The sickle held by the Son of Man will first reap the ripened grain. Jesus’ parable about a harvest that separates the wheat from the tares explains that the “harvest” is the “end of the age” (Matthew 13:39), and the wheat planted from good seeds are the sons of the kingdom. The tares are the sons of the wicked one (Matthew 13:37, 38). We understand then that this harvest of the wheat occurs at Christ’s Second Coming.
Then Revelation 14 goes on to describe a second harvest. This one will be a harvest of ripened grapes, which are thrown into the “great winepress of the wrath of God” by an angel “who had power over fire”. These grapes of wrath, as they’ve been called, are thus destroyed in a winepress outside the city. John goes further in explaining this second harvest in Revelation 20:9, 10, where he shows us the terrible scene of the wicked being punished by being thrown in a lake of fire, called the second death (Revelation 20:14).
We, naturally, want to be part of that first harvest of God’s people who reflect His grace and compassionate love, and not those who will be harvested later, those children of the devil, who are filled with greed, jealousy, and hate.
Revelation 14:14-20 and Matthew 13:36-43
- How does Jesus’ parable of the harvest help us understand the meaning of John’s vision about the two harvests in chapter 14?
Friday: Final Thoughts
The book of Revelation presents us with many contrasts. This is understandable as we find ourselves closer and closer to the end of earth’s history. All of mankind will have made their final choice in the great conflict, as we either worship the Lamb or the dragon, and receive either the seal of God or the mark of the beast. We will either listen to the woman in white, or the deceptions of the scarlet one. We will be residents of New Jerusalem, or spiritual Babylon.
Revelation is a great reminder that when we think only of ourselves, and claim our actions don’t have an impact on others, we will rise no higher than ourself. God is the only one capable of drawing us away from our selfish desires, so we can be a helpful force in serving others out of love. By doing this, we are serving God and preaching the gospel in the most tangible way possible.
We can prepare for the harvest of ripened grain, or do nothing for God and find ourselves in the harvest of grapes that are destroyed. By the grace of God, we are given the freedom to choose which harvest it will be for us.
Next Week: The Everlasting Gospel
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