Sabbath School Lesson for June 15-21, 2024

Overview of Lesson 12, Earth’s Closing Events

Memory Text: “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.” Proverbs 23:23 NKJV

Everything Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for people living on this earth, especially in the last days, is designed to get His righteous ones home safe with Him in heaven.

Satan will do all he can, through the image of the beast, to prevent the saints from buying or selling at that time (Revelation 13:16, 17). Taking away those economic actions so necessary to survival are part of his plan to punish God’s loyal followers.

Proverbs 23:23, however, reminds us that there are things that no one can prevent us from having. We are to stock up on truth, wisdom, learning, and understanding now, so we will have them to fortify our minds during the coming crisis. No one can take away these precious spiritual blessings. They will make us strong, despite Satan’s best efforts to eliminate us from the earth.

Read chapters 37 and 38 of The Great Controversy for more on these closing events.

  • Sunday: Loyalty to God and His Word–The Bible is our safeguard against Satan’s deceitful lies.
  • Monday: Sealed for Heaven–The seal of God, the Sabbath, reveals who, when, and why we worship our Creator.
  • Tuesday: Whom Do We Worship?–Our very unstable world demands that we choose now whom we will serve.
  • Wednesday: The Early and Latter Rain–God’s Holy Spirit will be poured out again, making a harvest of souls ready for Jesus to come.
  • Thursday: The Loud Cry–God’s followers will be enabled by His Spirit to spread the gospel rapidly to all the earth in those last days.

Sunday: Loyalty to God and His Word

The great controversy between Christ and Satan is not just about worship. It is also a battle of truth and error that affects our worship. Jesus said that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and that Satan is the “father of lies”, the opposite of truth (John 8:44).

But Satan is quite deceitful and cunning. His lies are masked in secrecy, differing from the truth in very small ways. It requires us to be attentive students of God’s word, so we can avoid Satan’s counterfeit lies. Only by focusing on the real are we able to recognize the false.

The apostle Peter assured us that the prophetic word of God can be trusted. It is based on eyewitness accounts. The disciples saw His majesty on many occasions, and testified boldly about who they believed their Master was (2 Peter 1:16-21). Being faithful in spreading the Word of God became their only life mission.

Bible Verses:

  • John 14:6 and 8:44

What heavenly beings are fighting for our loyalty, and how do they differ?

  • 2 Peter 1:16-21

Why can we trust the prophetic words written by the apostles?

  • John 8:32, 17:17 and Psalm 119:105, 130, 160

What can the truth do for us?

Monday: Sealed for Heaven

We are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). But many want to know what that seal is, which is just as important as knowing what the mark of the beast is. How will we know we have been declared righteous in those final hours of earth’s history?

Of course, Revelation 14:12 mentions that the saints will be keeping God’s commandments and will have the faith of Jesus (repeated in Revelation 12:17). Isaiah 8:16 hints that the seal is connected with God’s law. It says, “Seal the law among my disciples.”

Ancient documents contained an actual seal that was needed to verify its authenticity. Even today, official papers are designated with the logo or seal of the one sharing it. This distinctive identification seal or sign typically contains the name of the one sending it, their title, and the territory they represent. You may have noticed that business letters end with a person’s name, his title, and the company he represents.

If we look at the law of God, we will find these elements in the fourth commandment. This commandment contains a name–“the Lord thy God”, His title–“the Creator”, and His territory–the “heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is”. We, thereby, know the author of the Commandments. It was indeed written by God’s own finger (Exodus 31:18).

Bible Verses:

  • Exodus 20:8-11 and Isaiah 8:16

What elements might indicate that this commandment about the Sabbath might be considered a seal that comes from God?

  • Revelation 7:1, 2,  14:1, and 13:6, 7

What might be the significance of where the seal or mark is placed on a person? Why the difference?

  • Ezekiel 20:12, 20 and Romans 4:11

Although the Sabbath was called a “sign” in Ezekiel, why might it also be thought of as a “seal”?

Tuesday: Whom Do We Worship?

Satan’s obvious strategy has always included ways to prevent us from worshiping our Creator and Redeemer. The first murder occurred when he convinced Cain to offer a different kind of offering. This slight deviation from God’s plan led to his brother Abel becoming the first martyr for God’s cause.

Today, Satan’s deception to change which day we worship seems to be very successful also, with most of the Christian world worshiping on the first day of the week, rather than the seventh.

Many people today are unaware of the history and significance of this change of the Sabbath. But in those final days, the dividing line between the true Sabbath and the counterfeit will be clearly presented. There will be no middle ground to stand on. You will either be worshiping God or Satan.

We live in a very unstable world. We’ve seen how quickly one tragic event can lead to total chaos and change on the world scene. There was the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, the covid-19 pandemic, wars in many places that affect people across the globe. Our security can be blown away in an instant with many kinds of disasters, no matter where we live.

We continue to have power-hungry, corrupt, violent people who threaten our freedom to worship our Creator. The lines of loyalty will be clearly drawn just before the Lord’s Coming.

Bible Verses:

  • Revelation 14:12, 4:11, and Ephesians 3:9

How and why do we worship Christ, the Son of God?

  • Revelation 13:13-17

What will be the penalties for not worshiping the image of the beast?

Why are they so severe?

Wednesday: The Early and Latter Rain

The second chapter of Joel describes the former (or early) rain and the latter rain that God causes to fall on the earth. These two times of the year were celebrated in the feasts they were given to observe in the Old Testament. Agriculturally, they represented the rains that made their crops germinate and grow, and then, later in the season, the rains that brought about the harvest.

Both feasts encouraged thanksgiving for God’s care, but they also symbolized two spiritual outpourings of blessings that would occur after Christ’s death on the cross. The former, or early, “rain” came about at Pentecost, celebrated by the disciples shortly after Jesus went back to heaven. The Holy Spirit blessed them at that time with special miracles and signs, which allowed a rapid spreading of His word that helped establish the early Christian church.

We are still looking forward to another spiritual outpouring in the end times (the latter rain), that will enable God’s people to spread the gospel more quickly, resulting in another large harvest of souls. These blessings will also help us survive the horrific events and persecution that will engulf the world before Jesus comes.

Bible Verses:

  • Joel 2:21-24, Zechariah 10:1, Hosea 6:3, and Acts 2:1-4, 41-47

How was the former, or early, rain symbolized by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost?

What were the results?

  • James 5:7, 8

How can we prepare to receive an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit today?

Thursday: The Loud Cry

There is evidently one last, loud cry, or message, that will go out to the ends of the earth just before the Second Coming of Christ. Revelation 18:1-4 talks about it. We also see evidence of a widespread, mission effort in Habakkuk 2:14 and Matthew 24:14. John in Revelation tells us it will be coming from an angel “with great authority”.

Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (thought to be “the former rain”), Jesus’ disciples were enabled to spread the seed of the gospel rapidly to a large portion of the earth’s population (Colossians 1:23). They certainly enlightened the earth with God’s glory back then.

We should expect no less when God’s people are filled to overflowing with the Spirit during “the latter rain”. This outpouring will be manifested with miraculous signs and wonders that glorify God, just as we saw happen for the disciples in the first century. See Revelation 14:15.

Bible Verses:

  • Revelation 18:1-4, Habakkuk 2:14, and Matthew 24:14

What message and warnings will this angel “with great authority” bring to the world?

  • Colossians 1:23 and Matthew 28:19, 20

How will the gospel messages for the former and the latter rains compare with each other? What will they be preaching, and why?

Friday: Final Thoughts

The closing events depend on us attaining wisdom (studying God’s word makes us wise), instruction (keeping the Sabbath helps us know and learn from God), and understanding (being able to detect Satan’s deceptions through the outpouring of God’s Spirit).

When we are loyal to God, and are studying and following the Bible, we are preparing ourselves to receive more bountifully His Spirit in the final days. The “latter rain” and the “loud cry” are metaphors used to describe the spiritual manifestations that will comfort and empower us during that last, overwhelming crisis. Working with God, we will be strengthened enough to finish God’s work on earth.

The glorious return of our Lord and Savior will more than compensate for the trials we may experience on this sorry, sinful planet.

Next Week: The Triumph of God’s Love (based on ch. 39-42 of “The Great Controversy”)

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