Sabbath School Lesson for September 24-30, 2022

Overview of Lesson 1, Rebellion in a Perfect Universe

In order to find hope, we must have some understanding of the source of evil. This week we will look at the rebellion that catapulted our universe into a downward spiral that included death and dying on our planet. Themes explored:

  • We were created as an expression of God’s love–Matthew 13:36-44. (Sunday)
  • We were given free will so we could return His love–1 John 4:7-16. (Monday)
  • One of God’s creatures was not thankful for this love and mysteriously denied its existence–Ezekiel 28:12-19. (Tuesday)
  • This angel called Lucifer became full of pride and spread his discontent with God to other angels–Isaiah 14:12-15. (Wednesday)
  • A war broke out in heaven because of this division, and Lucifer was cast out with one third of the angelic host–Revelation 12. (Thursday)

How a perfect world could turn so ugly is a mystery we may never fully understand as mortal beings. The Bible gives us some clues about how this happened, however, and this week, we will begin to explore this unusual turn of events that got us where we are today.

Knowing that God’s love permeates His Creation will help us grapple with these enormous, troubling questions that threaten to dash our hopes for a better future.

Memory Text for the week: ” ‘How you have fallen from heaven, you star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who defeated the nations!’ ” Isaiah 14:12 NASB

Contemporary English Version: ” ‘You, the bright morning star, have fallen from the sky! You brought down other nations; now you are brought down.’ “

Sunday: Creation, an Expression of Love (Matthew 13:36-44)

Nature, at least as it appears to us on this planet, presents a confusing mixture of good and evil. For example, although the rose is beautiful, it also has painful thorns on its stem. We are also amazed at the majestic colors and flight of certain birds, but dismayed that they may attack the nests of smaller birds and steal their young for food.

Jesus told a parable that partly explains these paradoxes that often present themselves in our natural world. In the parable of the wheat and tares, the owner of the field was questioned about the undesirable tares, or weeds, that grew up among his carefully planted wheat. He replied, “An enemy has done this” (Matthew 13:28).

There is an enemy of God who constantly seeks to divert us from God’s love. He instead plants seeds of hate in our heart. But we must remain firm in our belief that God’s character is one of love, not hate. 1 John 4:8 and 16 tell us undeniably that this is so. God IS love, John proclaims.

For love to exist, it must be expressed. That is the nature of love. To be sure, all of creation was an expression of God’s love reaching out to His created beings. Remembering this underlying premise for our existence will help us navigate the many forces that try to pull us away from His love.

Bible Verses:

Matthew 13:36-44

  • Who was the enemy that Jesus identified in this parable?
  • How will God’s final act of justice (also an incomprehensible mystery) be an act of love?

1 John 4:8, 16 and Mark 12:30, 31

  • How do we “abide” in God’s love?

Monday: Free Will, the Basis for Love (1 John 4:7-16)

Love must be mutual for it to exist in its purest form. Therefore, God’s created beings must have the capacity to return His love. Thankfully, human beings were blessed with the gift of being able to give and receive love.

Just like artificial flowers can never replace the smell and feel of real flowers, humans could never fully be the loving creatures God desired without the power of choosing to love in return. We would have been mere robots without it, with no choice but to love our Creator.

Love is a choice. The free will of both parties must be included for a truly loving relationship to exist. But unfortunately, there is risk involved when the choice is made not to love.

As we have seen, Lucifer was the first angelic being to decide not to love. The painful repercussions of his choice are being felt by the whole universe, with God Himself paying the highest price. Offering His Son to die as our punishment for not loving demonstrates love in its purest, most convincing way.

Instead of blaming God for creating Lucifer, we have the choice to thank God for creating a solution to the problems Lucifer has unleashed. The creation of Lucifer may always be a mystery, but we shouldn’t let it blind us to the powerful love God still extends to all who will accept His Sacrifice.

Bible Verses:

1 John 4:7-16

  • What is the best way to see and know God’s love?
  • Why is loving others part of what it means to love God?

Tuesday: Mysterious Ingratitude (Ezekiel 28:12-19)

Much of the language of prophet Ezekiel is symbolic and prophetic. We find in chapter 28 a description of the king of Tyre, a rich, proud ruler of a Phoenician port city. As we read more about him in this passage, however, we notice that this king of Tyre represented Lucifer.

The fact that he “was perfect in all his ways” at the beginning of his creation (Ezekiel 28:15) indicates that he was someone other than a human being, born in sin. Ezekiel 28:14 calls him “the anointing cherub who covers”, someone very close to the throne of God. And Ezekiel 28:13 places him in the Garden of Eden.

Evidently Lucifer was not thankful for his exalted position in the heavenly courts above, and he allowed his pride to overtake his thoughts and actions. He was not satisfied with where God had placed him and wanted more recognition of himself by the other angels.

No reason is given for this unfortunate rebellion on Lucifer’s part. One author has claimed that sin has “no reason for its existence; to seek to explain it is to seek to give a reason for it, and that would be to justify it.” ~Ellen G. White, The Truth About Angels”, p. 30

We can only know that Lucifer’s rebellion happened and try to avoid the same pitfalls ourselves by remaining thankful and humble before God.

Bible Verses:

Ezekiel 28:12-15

  • How do we know these verses are talking about Lucifer, and not the actual king of Tyre?

Ezekiel 28:16-19

  • What were the sins of this angelic being and what will be his ultimate fate?

1 Thessalonians 5:18

  • How can ingratitude lead to pride?

Wednesday: The Price of Pride (Isaiah 14:12-15)

Ezekiel told us that the symbolic king of Tyre had a heart that was lifted up because of his beauty (Ezekiel 28:17). Isaiah goes into more detail about the pride involved in the rebellion that began in heaven (Isaiah 14:12-15), and declares plainly that it was Lucifer, a fallen angel, who began causing so much trouble in the universe.

One can’t help but notice how many times the word “I” appears in Isaiah’s description of this prideful angel. Pride is indeed an unhealthy focus on self. We see its divisive, corrosive nature every day in the human realm, as people try to put themselves above others.

The Bible teaches that there are two distinct kingdoms warring for our attention. God’s kingdom is spoken of as Salem, Mount Zion, or Jerusalem. Satan’s kingdom has been referred to as Babel and Babylon.

When we think of Babel, specifically the Tower of Babel, we are told that pride was a factor in its construction. They wanted to “make a name for themselves” (Genesis 11:4). There was also pride involved in Babylon’s rule. King Nebuchadnezzar built a golden image, representing Babylon, and forced people to bow down before it.

In the end-time prophecies of Revelation, the terms “New Jerusalem” and “Babylon” continue identifying the places that become our final destination.

Bible Verses:

Isaiah 14:12-15

  • What caused Lucifer to fall from heaven?
  • How does pride continue to get us in trouble today? What are the results of it?

Revelation 21:2 and 14:8

  • How do these two cities compare in the end?

Thursday: The Spread of Unbelief (Revelation 12)

Revelation 12 tells us even more about the heavenly conflict Lucifer instigated among the angels. Evidently, his rebellion was no simple difference of opinion or clash of conflicting ideas. It seems to have gone beyond words to an actual point of warfare, with battles so severe it resulted in, some believe, one-third of the heavenly throng being thrown out of heaven with him (Revelation 12:7-9, 4).

Chapter 12 of Revelation gives us an overview of this great controversy between Christ (referred to as Michael, see Daniel 12:1) and the dragon, or Satan (who Lucifer was later called). Along with the information about the war in heaven, it reveals the many struggles and hardships this war has caused the church (God’s people on earth). Their persecution is recognized as part of the conflict, and it was predicted by John to continue right down to God’s end-time remnant people.

The apostle Paul recognized the controversy as well, pointing out that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but “against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). He then goes on to describe the kind of armor God provides us to battle these evil forces. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation, but most importantly, prayer, are needed to withstand the attacks of God’s enemy.

Bible Verses:

Revelation 12:7-9

  • Why do you think it’s important for us to know about this war in heaven?

Ephesians 6:10-12

  • In what way is there still war between God and Satan, and how can we protect ourselves from it?

Friday: Final Thoughts

Both good and evil are described as mysteries in the Bible (2 Thessalonians 2:7 and 1 Timothy 3:16). This must be remembered, as we tackle the universal questions about why death has fallen upon every creature on our planet. We may never fully grasp the meaning of these mysteries, but it’s important to know everything God has revealed to us.

Knowing about Lucifer and the war he started in heaven gives us some background into the causes for our unfortunate circumstances. We will never find a justification for this rebellion, or why God chose to allow it to happen.

What we can know, however, is that God loves us so much He has provided a solution to the situation Satan created in heaven. This dramatic saga we find ourselves a part of began with Lucifer, the covering cherub, and will end with his destruction in a lake of fire.

Our destiny relies on our choice of which kingdom we wish to join–God’s or Satan’s. One kingdom brings a glorious hope and the other brings a final everlasting death.

Next Week: Death in a Sinful World

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