Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
Why would God present Himself to Abrah as El Shaddai – the Almighty God- at this time?
Personal Application: How does believing in the Almighty God give us comfort and trust when we are weak and frail and old? Share your thoughts.
Case Study: One of your friends states, “Do you think God calls people today to leave position, wealth, plans and home to do a work for Him in spite of our human frailties? How does one know if it is God’s call?” How would you respond to your friend?
Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
Why did God change Abram’s name to Abraham?.
Personal Application: What kind of “new name” do you think God is going to give you in heaven? What might that name reveal about you and your character? Share your thoughts.
Case Study: One of your relatives states: “Why does God call His covenant an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his descendents forever? Wasn’t that the Old Covenant that has been replaced?“ How would you respond to your relative?
Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
What important facts do we see about Abraham and why God chose him for the covenant promises?
Personal Application: Is leadership and teaching important factors in the family life as well as church life? Share your thoughts.
Case Study: One of your neighbors states, “Obedience seems to be a big factor in Abraham’s walk with God, but obedience doesn’t save anyone; only faith does. So what is the relationship of obedience to faith since we are told we are not saved by faith and works, but by faith only?” How would you respond to your neighbor?
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-19
During my Bible Worker ministry, I have occasionally heard people try to rationalize away Matthew 5:17-19 and the whole law by saying that Jesus did away with the law once it was fulfilled. This is where we need to exercise Isaiah 28:10 and compare other verses. In Matthew 3 Jesus goes to be baptized. In Matt 3:15 Jesus says it is necessary to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness.
After Jesus fulfilled the rite of baptism, did He then do away with baptism? No. In Matthew 28:19-20 He tells the disciples to baptize. So Jesus did not do away with baptism when He fulfilled it, and neither did Jesus do away with any of the law after fulfilling the law. Paul also demonstrates what it means to “fulfill” God’s law:
“For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:9-10
I have also had explained to me that we no longer need the commandments because now we have love. Fact is we have always had love. It is because we have love that we do not steal, kill or lie about our neighbor. When we have love we fulfill the law by putting God and our family and neighbors before ourselves. Love is putting others first. The first four commandments show us how to put God first. The last six tell us how to put our family and neighbors first.
The beautiful thing is how it is all brought about. When the Lawgiver gave the commandments, He began with the reminder, “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Exodus 20:2 Here the Lawgiver is reminding His people that they did not free themselves from the Egyptians, but that He freed them while they were totally helpless. He then goes on to explain in Exodus 20 that He will free them from other gods. He will free them from adultery and murder and other sins.
So how is this brought about? The Lawgiver tells us in Exodus 19:3-5,
And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; ‘Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people.’ Exodus 19:3-5
Just as the Israelites did not save themselves from the Egyptians, but God did, so we will not save ourselves from the power of sin, but He will. He goes on and tells us to obey His voice. My Strong’s Concordance tells me that word “obey” (shama) means to listen and be attentive. God is not demanding a legalistic obedience of works.
Many have the idea that the Old Testament is about being saved by law while the New Testament is about being saved by grace. But grace is just as real in the Old Testament as it is in the New Testament. God wants us to listen to His voice of promises! The Lawgiver goes on and says “keep my covenant.” Again, according to my Strong’s concordance, that word “keep” (shamar) means to guard or protect. Shamar is the same word used in Genesis 2:15 when Adam was told to keep the garden. Did God mean for him to obey the garden? No, He meant for him to cherish the garden. Care for it. Protect it. The word “covenant” is also a promise. So in Exodus 19:3-5 the Lawgiver is telling us that just as He delivered the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage, He will also deliver us from spiritual bondage, if we will only cherish His promises!
Thus we find in the Old Testament the same grace we see in the New Testament.
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 peter 1:4
God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, page 311.
Key Thought: What did sin do to God’s creation? What were some of the characteristics of Noah? What elements were involved in the covenant with Noah? In what ways is God’s grace revealed in the covenant with Noah before the Flood? What does the covenant God made with humanity after the Flood teach us about His universal love for us?
A. Ask the class what is the main idea of this passage?
B. Why did God repent that He had made man? (Try to help the class understand that God was sorry because His creatures were in pain. For example Malachi 2:16 says God hates divorce. Does God hate divorcees? Of course not! He loves divorcees which is why He hates the divorce that brings pain to the divorcees.) What does His solution teach us about true Biblical repentance? (Try to help the class the understand that God repented by undoing what He had done. True repentance on our part is undoing what we have done as far as lies in our power.)
C. Personal Application: In the midst of a wicked world how do we find grace in the eyes of the Lord? What hint does the last part of verse 9 give us?
D. Case Study: Your friend says his pastor says that if Jesus does not come soon to destroy sin and sinners that He will need to apologize to the antediluvians for destroying them? Do you agree with your friend?
A. Ask the class what is the main idea of this passage?
B. How is the covenant in verse 18 related to the covenant in Genesis 3:15 and why does that make it crucial for God to preserve a posterity on the ark?
C. Personal Application: What part did peer pressure play in Adam choosing to sin in Genesis 3:6 and what part do you believe peer pressure played in no one besides Noah’s family getting on the ark? When it comes to salvation why is it so important that we make our own decisions?
D. Case Study: Your young nephew who just lost his favorite puppy asks you if his pet will be in heaven. After all he says, God saved the animals on the ark. What do you tell your nephew?
A. Ask the class that is the main idea of this passage?
B. What is the significance of “every living creature” in verse 16 and “all families of the earth will be blessed” in Genesis 12:1-3? Have unbelievers benefited from the covenant? If so how? Hint: “To the death of Christ we owe even this earthly life. The bread we eat is the purchase of His broken body. The water we drink is bought by His spilled blood. Never one, saint or sinner, eats his daily food, but he is nourished by the body and the blood of Christ. The cross of Calvary is stamped on every loaf. It is reflected in every water spring. All this Christ has taught in appointing the emblems of His great sacrifice. The light shining from that Communion service in the upper chamber makes sacred the provisions for our daily life. The family board becomes as the table of the Lord, and every meal a sacrament.” -Ellen White, Desire of Ages Page 660.
C. Personal Application: How well has God kept His covenant with your personally? How well have you kept your covenant with Him?
D. Case Study: Your neighbor asks if the flood covered the entire globe or just the known world in the middle east at that time? What implications does such a question have? What do you tell your neighbor?
The story goes of a man who got a job chopping down trees. The first day his foreman noticed he had cut down only ten trees while the other men had cut down a hundred or so. “Oh well,” thought the foreman, “it was his first day.” But the next couple days went the same way, so the foreman decided to have a talk with the new worker. “I am sure you have noticed you are not cutting down nearly as many trees as the others are,” the foreman began. “Yes I know, Sir, but I am having trouble with this saw you gave me,” said the new worker. The foreman took a look at the saw and pulled the cord to start the motor. The buzz of the motor scared the new worker, and he jumped back shouting, “What is that sound?”
The new worker did not realize he was not expected saw down a hundred trees in his own power. He did not realize what power was available to him. It’s the same way with us.
Many people shirk at keeping the law, thinking it is an impossibility, not realizing they were never expected to keep it in their own power, and like the power saw, there is plenty of power available.
If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said:
“The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Hebrews 8:7-10
There are those who would have us believe that the Ten Commandments were done away with because God realized they were unreasonable and could not be obeyed. However that is not the case.
Psalms 19:7 KJV says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”
A popular urban legend tells about a captain on a battleship who spotted a light off in the distant fog and radioed the source of the light telling it to change its course 15 degrees to avoid a collision. The response came back that the ship needed to change its course instead. The arrogant sea captain once again demanded the other vessel change its course instead, threatening reprisals, if his demands were not met. The response was, “This is a lighthouse. Your call.”
So it is in life. Many people want the law to be changed just like the ship wanted the lighthouse to change, but lighthouses don’t move out of the way and neither does the law. The law is perfect. The law does not need to change. The law is not faulty. Hebrews 8:8 NLT says the fault was not with the law but with the people. So why would God change the law when the law was not the problem?
The New Covenant was not an afterthought after the first covenant did not work. The new covenant was actually God’s original plan. What we call the “old covenant” was actually man’s idea – thinking he could save himself by his own strength and effort. It was not a faith response. (See Heb. 4:2) Man’s effort failed, so in what we call the New Testament God re-introduces His original plan from the Old Testament, and says “Are you ready to give up trying to do it on your own? and let me write my law on your heart Myself?
The fault of the people was in trying to keep the law in their own power. God made a covenant with the people, and instead of them asking for God’s help they confidently replied,
God knew this was never going to work from the get-go. He knew they could not keep His Law in their own power. This is why God says in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah 31:33 NLT,
“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
You see, the old covenant was not called old because it was the first covenant. It was called old because it was a useless covenant that God never asked them to make. He never asked Abraham to have a son on his own. He never asked us to keep the commandments on our own. This is what Paul is talking about in Hebrews 8:6 NLT when He says the new covenant is, “based on better promises.”
In the “old” covenant the people in Exodus 19:8 were the ones making promises God never asked them to make. I don’t need to tell you how worthless man’s promises are. The new covenant is based on better promises because they are God’s promises!
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 2 Peter 1:4 NLT
The law was never the problem. The problem was the people and their worthless promises. Even in the Old Testament we find the new and better covenant when Abraham becomes the father of Isaac, based on God’s promise. We find the new and better covenant based on better promises in Jeremiah 31:33 when God is promising to write and establish the perfect law in the hearts of men, not by their own power and promises, but by His power and promises.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School Lesson here.
Key Thought:The entrance of sin ruptured the relationship the Creator had originally established with the human family through our first parents. Now God seeks to re-establish that same loving relationship by means of a covenant. This covenant signifies both a committed relationship between God and us (like a marriage bond) and an arrangement for saving us and bringing us into harmony with its Maker. God Himself, motivated by His great love for us, is the Initiator of the covenant relationship. By gracious promises and gracious acts, He woos us to come into union with Him.