Sabbath School Lesson for June 22-28, 2019


Understanding how God used prophecy to restore and rebuild relationships, we explore…

  • the link between Elijah and John the Baptist (Sunday)
  • how the widow of Zarephath was saved through her acceptance of Elijah’s message (Monday)
  • how the people turned back to God through Elijah’s prayer at Jehovah’s altar on Mt. Carmel (Tuesday)
  • the message of John the Baptist to get ready for the Messiah (Wednesday)
  • the message of God’s last-day church to get ready for Christ’s Second Coming (Thursday)


God’s prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments center on ways to restore and reunite families. This included:

  • drawing Israel back to Himself through Elijah the prophet,
  • preparing His people for Jesus’ birth through John the Baptist, and lastly,
  • proclaiming Christ’s Second Coming through faithful Adventists in the last days.

Although the covenant curses contain some scathing rebukes and dramatically graphic consequences in chapters like Deuteronomy 28, we also get a picture of hope and blessings that would result in their keeping of the covenant.

Memory Text: ” ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers; lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.’ ” Malachi 4:5, 6 NKJV

Malachi’s mention of turning “the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:5, 5) is a verification that families are meant to benefit from these covenant promises. And families would also suffer when God’s people turned their backs on God and broke the covenant.

No matter what the state of your family at the time, you can be blessed by the hope of God’s covenant promises, which are for all who accept His message of salvation and choose to follow the Lamb of God.

Sunday: The Prophecy of Turned Hearts

God is in the business of turning hearts, changing us through the grace and power of God. As a result, our hearts are not only brought closer to God, but closer to each other. Families are strengthened and renewed by the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises, as outlined in the prophecies delivered to us by God’s servants of old.

The Old Testament focused on the coming of the Messiah. Elijah, and others, made repentance paramount in their ministry. This repentance, or turning of hearts, was promised to restore Israel as God’s special agent to spread the message of salvation.

Malachi, the last of the minor prophets, promised that another Elijah would come (Malachi 4:5, 6). John the Baptist was identified as this second Elijah, the one responsible for teaching repentance right before the coming of the Messiah.

Discussion Questions:

Read Luke 1:17 and Matthew 11:13, 14. What made John the Baptist like Elijah? How was their message and ministry similar?

Read Malachi 3:7, 8. Why was the response of the Israelites considered arrogant? Why was it so hard for them to see their failings?

Read Isaiah 44:22 and 1 Corinthians 6:20. What does it mean to be redeemed, and what response is required from God’s people?

Monday: Family Reunion

The reign of King Ahab brought significant changes to Israel. His wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, a priest-king of Baal, introduced her pagan religion to the nation, causing great moral decline. Incest, prostitution, and other sexual perversions replaced God’s plan for strong, healthy families.

Prophet Elijah was sent to retrieve Israel from this horrible, immoral condition. God called him to the town of Zarephath during the famine that resulted from their sorry spiritual state.

There he met a widow, who had a young son–a battered family that had seen much hardship. Her decision to help Elijah, by sharing with him what looked like would be their last meal, turned out to be their salvation from the famine.

When the widow’s son fell sick and died, it gave Elijah the opportunity to show her even more what kind of God he served. She then felt personally the truth of God’s word and her heart was easily turned to Jehovah.

Discussion Questions:

Read 2 Kings 16:3 and Jeremiah 19:5. Why were child sacrifices a part of pagan religions? What aspect of God’s salvation was it targeting?

Read 1 Kings 17:18, 23, and 24. What two points did pagan sacrifice teach its followers, and why did this incident, in particular, get the widow’s attention and show her the true nature of God?

Read Luke 4:24-26. What point was Jesus making when He mentioned Elijah and the widow of Zarephath?

Tuesday: Turning Hearts at the Altar

Probably the most dramatic family worship service ever held was officiated by Elijah at Mount Carmel. There God demonstrated the difference in worshiping the true God versus the false worship of Baal’s prophets, who had taken over the land through idolatry and the sinful, cruel practices that came with it.

The whole nation witnessed God’s power when He accepted Elijah’s sacrifice by sending fire, which burned up, not only the animals on the altar, but the rocks of the altar and the buckets of water poured over it.

“Come near to me” sounds like Christ’s invitation to “Come unto me, all you who are burdened and heavy laden.” Any religion or philosophy, other than true Christianity, is a burden on the soul that is ineffective in resolving the sin problem. We can never, of our own, be forgiven and cleansed of our sin, as Elijah was able to convey by the experience at Mt. Carmel.

Discussion Questions:

Read 1 Corinthians 5:13 and Isaiah 53:6. What is the opposite of turning our hearts toward God?

Read 1 Kings 18:37 . Who turns hearts back to God? Why can’t we do it on our own?

Read Matthew 11:28 and 1 Kings 18:30. What was similar to Elijah’s entreaty to “come near” and Jesus’s invitation to “come to me”? What were the people leaving behind and what would they gain by following God?

Wednesday: Turning Hearts at the Jordan

Just as Elijah had a message of repentance that was illustrated with such force at the altar on Mt. Carmel, John the Baptist preached his stirring sermons on repentance near the Jordan River.

The baptisms that took place in the Jordan were the public witness that hearts had been turned. Both the mountaintop and the river experiences were fitting symbols that taught God’s people about the power of God (on the mountain) and the cleansing and everlasting life (symbolized by water) that only our Creator God can bring.

John found much success in drawing people to repentance and baptizing them in the Jordan River. Everything about John’s dress and demeanor spoke of the humility needed to come to the Lord for cleansing, and his words spoke of the need to change our sinful ways. Genuine repentance such as this is always marked by this same sense of humility and need for God to change our behavior.

The appearance of the Lamb of God at the river to be baptized was the highlight of John’s preaching. John’s mission had been to herald the coming of the Messiah, and once that mission had been fulfilled, John knew that his ministry would soon come to a close. He testified of this when he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30).

Discussion Questions:

Read Matthew 3:3 and Isaiah 40:3. Describe the spiritual “wilderness” that had developed by the time of Jesus’ birth.

Read Malachi 3:1 and Matthew 11:7, 9, 10. Why were both John and Jesus called “messengers” in Malachi? What was their message?

Read John 3:27-30 and 1 Corinthians 3:4-6, 9. Why is it important to remember that preachers are fallible humans, and not become too attached to individuals in the church, no matter who they are?

Thursday: Turning Hearts in the Last Days

The Adventist Church naturally sees itself as a movement that has taken on the role of John the Baptist in proclaiming the Coming of the Lord. Our primary message should likewise be of repentance, as a means to ready ourselves for that glorious appearing.

Many think this preparation will be instigated by preachers of the gospel. And, although their work will be needed, far more conversions will be realized through the loving, caring, unselfish acts of family members, both individual families and the church family at large.

We must give the world a living demonstration of what committed devotion to God looks like. Genuine repentance must be seen in the actual lives of God’s people, so the world can see fully what God’s grace can do.

Our only concern should be to cooperate with God in developing our witness to the extent that others can see God’s character reflected in our actions. Words will never be enough to get the world ready for the coming of the King of kings.

We mustn’t neglect getting ourselves ready through God’s power and grace. When that happens, the world will be warned and given the opportunity to turn their hearts to God as well. And then the end will come…

Discussion Questions:

Read Ephesians 3:14-19. Who makes up the “family in heaven”? Why is it important for Christ to be in our hearts?

Read Ephesians 2:16-18. Why is it important for God’s church to be reconciled with each other? In what ways have we not been reconciled, both now and in the past?

Read 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. How can we all be ambassadors for Christ? How does this bring God closer to us?

And, finally…

Many misinterpret what God was trying to convey to His people in the Old Testament. Since His messages through the prophets so greatly touch the lives of all families, then and now, we must recognize the pattern of His communication to Israel…

  1. He reminded the Israelites that He had saved them and treated them well in the past.
  2. He pointed out that they had rejected Him through their idolatry and other sinful practices.
  3. He declared that terrible consequences would result from their rebellious acts.
  4. He promised to forgive and restore them, if they would return to His ways.

This sounds much like the advice of a concerned parent to a wayward child. We mustn’t forget that God is just that to His people. The times and culture were different, but the entreaty to turn their hearts to the One who loves them with an everlasting love is just as fervent now as it was back then.

Families are the ones who can best demonstrate this kind of love. Are we ready to listen and do what He asks–to trust Him with a future that is not looking pretty in the end times either?

Sin is, and always has been, the cause of this earth’s problems. Pain and suffering may or may not be the result of our individual sins, but certainly sin in general is to blame.

Thankfully, there will be a final end to the sin problem. God has promised this…and His promises never fail.

Next Week’s Lesson: God Created (new quarter–“The Least of These…”) 

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Ed Dickerson has a new article for his Outlook blog series about teaching a Bible class…

When teaching feels like combat