Sabbath School Lesson for June 17-23, 2023

For a review of some of the prophecies studied this quarter, see my new blog series here at: Prophecy 101 and Prophecy 102

Overview of Lesson 13, Ablaze With God’s Glory

Memory Text: “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory.” Revelation 18:1 NKJV

Topics studied this week include:

  • Sunday: Preparing for the Final Crisis–The fulfilled sequence of earthly kingdoms prophesied in Daniel 2 reminds us to be ready for God’s heavenly Kingdom. We are in the toes.
  • Monday: Knowing Truth–The book of John contains many invitations to cling to the truths found in God’s word.
  • Tuesday: The Reformation Continues–There is a fourth angel in Revelation 18 that strengthens the three angels’ messages in chapter 14 by elaborating on the fall of Babylon.
  • Wednesday: God’s Glory Fills the Earth–God’s glory is seen in the loving character and actions of His people living just before He comes.
  • Thursday: The Lamb, the Slain Lamb–Of all the symbols found in prophecy, none is more precious than the slain Lamb of God, the focal point of the whole Bible.

Revelation, chapter 18, gives us a final glimpse of the fall of Babylon, as prophesied in Revelation 14:8. Those found with the mark of the beast are doomed to final, complete separation from God. Their fate is guaranteed. God’s Kingdom will be welcomed by all those with the seal of God, whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

God does everything He can to save the lost. This fourth and final angel earnestly calls for people to leave their fallen condition and join the ranks of God’s holy, redeemed saints. Nothing more can be done after that for those who have made their choice of whom to worship.

Sunday: Preparing for the Final Crisis

Paul urged the Thessalonians to “watch” and “be sober”, as they waited for Christ to return. This has been good advice throughout human history, because no matter when the Lord comes, our chance to be saved is during our short life, which is a length of days or years none of us can predict.

The reason to “watch” was given by Christ Himself, when He told the disciples to “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:42). Just as we don’t know when our individual lives will be over, no one can predict precisely when Jesus will come back to resurrect us from the grave (Matthew 24:36). Even the angels are left clueless about when that moment will occur.

We get a better picture of how to “watch” for the Lord in these words of Jesus to His disciples, when He went to Gethsemane to pray. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41)

The admonition to “be sober” is something else we must do. Remember that Babylon is described as having all nations drink her wine (Revelation 14:8). This harlot church took the pure, unfermented wine of the grape, which symbolizes Jesus’ blood and the true doctrines He taught, and made it into an intoxicating drink–the “wine of the wrath of her fornication”, full of confusing, apostate doctrines.

Bible Verses:

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 and Matthew 24:42, 26:36

  • Why is it important to always watch and be sober, till Christ returns?
  • What does it mean to “watch and be sober”? How is it done?

Daniel 2:36-45

  • Why was this heavenly vision given to a pagan king?
  • What effect did it have on Daniel and should it have on us?
  • Where are we now in the sequence of kingdoms represented by the metallic image and what does that mean?

Monday: Knowing Truth

Several verses in the book of John tell us that if we desire truth about God’s will, He will show it to us through His word. Sticking to the Bible, along with prayer and the Holy Spirit, we can be assured that we are following the correct path that leads to our salvation. It is the path that leads to Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

We’ve been warned, however, that there will be a religious/political power in the last days that will try to throw darkness on our path. Just as the apostate Roman Church in the Middle Ages used its power to influence kings to enforce its false doctrines, there will be a beastly power arise again that will seek to enforce false worship.

The author Ellen White describes how this will happen: “Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism [the belief that when we die, we enter a “spirit world”]; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power [Catholicism], and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.” The Great Controversy, p. 588

Bible Verses:

John 7:17, 8:32, and 17:17

  • Why is knowing the truth so important, especially in the last days?

Revelation 13:3, 14

  • How has the wound, received when the pope was captured in 1798, been healed?

John 8:32

  • In what way does the truth set us free? Free from what?

Tuesday: The Reformation Continues

The second angel’s message about the fall of Babylon must be particularly significant in the last days. Revelation 18 speaks of another angel, one with great authority, illuminating the earth with his glory. Supposedly this angel comes directly from Lord Jesus in heaven, who while on earth, sent the disciples out to preach with His authority (Matthew 10:1).

This heavenly being expresses great sorrow at the plight of those who do not leave Babylon, described as a scarlet woman, a harlot who makes the nations drink of her “wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Revelation 18:3). He encourages her to “come out of her, my people…lest you receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).

What does it all mean? Since a woman is so often spoken of as God’s church, and Babylon was known for its confusing beliefs, we must assume this harlot is a church that has fallen away from God’s truth, confusing the minds of its worshipers. This angel could, therefore, at least partly represent all the Protestant efforts to correct the errors of the apostate Roman Church of medieval times.

Many identifying marks of Babylon, also called “the little horn” and “beasts” in Daniel and Revelation, point to the Catholic Church as the one that fell away from true worship and needed to be reformed.

Bible Verses:

Revelation 18:1 and Matthew 10:1

  • What makes this angel stand out from the others?

Revelation 18:2-5

  • How does the Roman Catholic Church fit the description given here?

Wednesday: God’s Glory Fills the Earth

The great controversy in the universe involves two main characters: Christ and Satan. Satan has charged that God restricts our freedom, making it impossible to experience any real joy. The life of a true Christian, however, proves this to be false. And in the end times, there will be plenty of evidence that Satan’s charges are not true. That evidence lies in the manner in which God’s saints have endured to the end, maintaining their hope and patience in spite of overwhelming persecution and trial.

We are told by the first angel to “fear God and give Him glory”. Just as we honor our parents by living a life that brings them honor, we give God glory by living a life that is loving, wholesome, and faithful. Our characters show the world what God is like.

As we are empowered to live a God-filled life that brings Him glory, we must not forget that none of that glory is for us. This is an important challenge as we contemplate what it means to give God glory. The angel said to “give glory to HIM!–meaning not us, as Satan tempts us to do.

Bible Verses:

Revelation 14:7, 4:11, 5:12, 19:1

  • In what ways do God’s people give Him glory, besides singing and praising Him during worship, either in heaven or on earth?

Revelation 18:1

  • What does it mean that this angel was illuminated with glory? How did that happen?
  • What is “God’s glory”, and why is it important to Him?

Thursday: The Lamb, the Slain Lamb

Of all the symbols in Revelation: the dragon, angels flying in the midst of heaven, a woman riding on a scarlet beast–none of them is more important than the slain Lamb of God. This Lamb represents the Messiah, whom we came to know at His First Advent as Jesus Christ,  and is mentioned frequently throughout Revelation.

Jesus’ crucifixion being the sacrifice for our sins should be the main message we bring to our fallen planet. One author, Angel Manuel Rodriguez, has pointed out that the Lamb should be “the heart and soul of our doctrines and mission and at the heart of every sermon we preach, every article we write, every prayer we make, every song we sing, every Bible study we give, and in everything we do.”

In order to lead others to Christ, we must make Him the center point of our life. After all, the need to worship the Lamb of God is ultimately what the three angels’ messages are all about.

Bible Verses:

Revelation 5:12, 7:17, 14:1, 15:3, 19:7, 21:22, 23, 22:1, 3

  • Explain the symbolism you see in the Lamb, and why do you think it appears so many times in Revelation?

Friday: Final Thoughts

Several lines of thought are brought out in our lesson this week that would make good discussion questions among our Sabbath School friends.

  1. What is meant by the statement by Ellen White that “the message of justification by faith is the third angels’ message” Evangelism, p. 190?
  2. When does our obedience to God become legalism?
  3. How does one keep a balance between being aware of the important times we are living in and getting caught up in pointless speculation about future events that are not clearly revealed in Scripture?

From The Great Controversy, p. 612, we are reminded that “The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God.” And particularly encouraging is this : “Notwithstanding the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord’s side.” Like the title of our lesson indicates, we can look forward to this: the universe will someday be “ablaze with God’s glory”!

Next Week: Paul and the Ephesians

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