Heaven's Means of Communication

Scripture: Hebrews 1:1-2, Psalm 19:1-6, Exodus 4:10-17
Date: 01/03/2009 
Lesson: 1
This is an overview of the various ways that God has revealed Himself throughout time.
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. Welcome to Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church in bright and sunny California this morning. I welcome you, those that are joining us live on the internet. As you can see behind me this morning I have a very large group singing along. They are from the Sacramento central choir and also from weimar academy just up the hill here in weimar, California.

Our first song that we're gonna sing this morning is hymn number 142, "angels we have heard on high." This comes as a request from a lot of people around the world. Enid and jessica in australia. Audly, carmetta, charles, ralph and birdie in the bahamas. Ismeenia in brazil. Evangeline, raulie in California.

Rachel in Colorado. Marge and annie in florida. Dionne in grenada. The springlands adventist church in guyana. Darcia, allison, yvonne, jessica in guyana.

George and trened in jamaica. Jerry in Michigan. Tina in Montana. Florry in North Carolina. Claudette, New Jersey.

Elizabeth in New York. John and vernon in Oklahoma. Gretchen in Oregon. Dinara in panama. Antonio and arnell in the Philippines.

Abel in puerto rico. Steven in South Dakota. Joe sue in Texas. Marva, eric, nigel and herman in trinidad and tobago. AloMartha in turks and caicos.

Apollonia, emmanuel, teresa in uganda. Nelly in uruguay. Christa in Virginia, and bob and Matthew in Washington. And for those of you that didn't write in but want to hear this song, "angels we have heard on high." We'll sing the first, the second and the fourth verse. [Music] If you have a favorite song you would like to sing with us on a coming Sabbath, I invite you to go to our web site at www.saccentral.org, and there you can click on the "contact" link--the "contact us" link and you can request any hymn in our hymnal and we would love to sing that with you on a coming Sabbath. Our next song is right across the page, "silent night, holy night," hymn number 143. This also comes as a request from people all over the world. Barado and pherabonie in Alaska. Judy in Arizona.

Mary, ratu, ranadi, amani, philmena, Christine, jessica and caleb in australia. Ismenia in brazil. Barbara, helen, sophie, janari, raulie, jack, melanie, dion and leon in California. Jeanie and Esther in Canada. James and katie in england.

Jim, diane, jamie and buffy in florida. Linda and Karen in grenada. Noreen, sauna and shawn in guyana. Steve in Indiana. Molly in Iowa.

Ingrid in jamaica. Rose marie in Maryland. Pherabonie in Minnesota. Elizabeth in New York. Sara in norway.

Vernon and wallace in Oklahoma. Joson in the Philippines. Steven and bruce in South Dakota. Zorada in venezuela. Christa in Virginia.

And last but not least, margaret in Washington. "Silent night, holy night," and we'll sing all four verses. [Music] Let's pray. Our Father in Heaven, what a privilege it is to come before you this morning and to worship you on your Sabbath day. We thank you for all the blessings as you've carried us through this week and for bringing us here to sing praises to your name.

We thank you so much for sending Jesus. We know it wasn't on December 25th, but we take this time to remember him, to praise him, to praise you for sending him to save us. We know you're coming soon again, Jesus. And like the shepherds, watched angels sing long, long ago, we're looking forward to a day very soon when we will see those angels sing again and see you on your cloud of glory to take us home. We pray these things in your name, Jesus, and I ask you to please just bless Pastor Doug this morning as we brings us Your Words.

Amen. Our lesson study will be brought to us this morning by Pastor Doug bachelor, senior pastor here at Sacramento central. Thank you, jolyne and our weimar and central choir. If you folks are looking for a good academy or college for your young people, weimar's one we'd encourage you to consider. You know I'm not only impressed whenever I sit through The Song service of Sacramento Sabbath school here.

With all the people watching all over the world that are making the requests, I'm so impressed that jolyne could read the names. And I'm glad she's doing that because I think it would be a little intimidating for me. You really gotta have international pronunciation for all those names from all over the world. And it's also encouraging to hear about all our friends from the expanded class that are studying with us. Once again, welcome to Sacramento Sabbath school, and we're glad that you could be studying with us.

This is a special day because we are beginning our first lesson in a new quarter study. Now for those of you who are here visiting at Sacramento, we study the lesson 3 weeks in advance from the rest of the world field so when it broadcasts live, it broadcasts simultaneously with those who are studying and they can use it to help enhance their study. Also, we know some are watching it live streaming, and you're aware of that of course. New lesson that we're going into for the new quarter is "the prophetic gift," "the prophetic gift." Now I think this is very significant because I understand even reading through the opening lesson in this study, this is the first time in 30 years that our Sabbath school study lesson has dealt with the subject of the Spirit of prophecy. I think it's overdue, so we're really glad that we're doing that.

I also thought that I would take this moment to mention several times during the quarter studies, there'll be references to not only the Spirit of prophesy biblically what that means, but within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, most adventists believe in the inspiration of one of the founders, Ellen g. White. And a lot of questions on that. And so I think it's interesting just this year there's a new web site that has been launched and I'd like to recommend it. It's called Ellenwhitetruth.

com. We'll put that up on the screen later, Ellenwhitetruth.com. We hope that you'll go there and after you study there, you want some good history and information on what the right relationship is. There's a lot of misunderstandings out there between the Bible, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and how we relate to the inspirational writings of Ellen white. That's a good web site to consider.

Ellenwhitetruth.com. We hope you'll link to it at your churches and it'll help spread the truth about that. We have an offer, as we often do, that goes along with our study guide dealing with the prophetic gift. It's called "the ultimate resource." It's a book that explains the inspiration of the Bible and how to study the Bible and get the most out of it, and we'll send it to you for asking. When you call the number -788-3966, Ask for offer number 728.

That's all you've gotta do. We'll send that to you. Now we're gonna get into our lesson. Our lesson today is number one in our new study on the prophetic gift. We're gonna talk about how God talks with us.

"Heaven's means of communication." It's lesson number one, "heaven's means of communication." Got a lot of verses we're gonna consider. Memory verses, Hebrews 1:1-2. I'll be thankful if you here say it with me. Hebrews 1:1-2, you ready? "God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to The Fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by his son whom he has appointed heir of all things through whom also he made the worlds." That's from the new king James version. I like it, "through whom he made the worlds.

" People wonder sometimes if there's other worlds out there. But God who spoke in various ways and various times has, in these last days, spoken to us by his son. Now how does God speak to us? I should probably back up and ask some fundamental questions. How do we know what truth is? You know we've gotta answer some basics. We're gonna go right back to the basics.

If you take your hand and put it on your wrist assuming you feel a pulse, we'll establish the first fact: you're alive. Why are you alive? Your heart is beating. You're alive. Now maybe you just imagine you're alive and all of this is a dream. You know there's some religions that teach that everything you see around you is just an illusion.

It's not really real, it's just your idea of reality. And all the people that come and go from your life, they're just your imagination. They're not real people. But let's assume that you've gotten past that, that you're alive and those around you are alive. Is there any purpose? Assume that you believe there is a God, that there's too much organization and interworking systems to believe it happened by accident.

There's an intelligence, there's a God which means there's a purpose for your life. What is the purpose? What does he want? Why are we here? These are big questions? Where do you go for the information? Where do you go for the answers? Is there absolute truth, and how do you know? I thought it was interesting a few years ago, the barna research group did a survey, and it confirms that Americans are in danger of becoming a nation of relatives--of relativists. We're all relatives. Relativists. The survey asked: is there absolute truth? Amazingly 66% of American adults responded that they believe there is no such thing as absolute truth.

You know how scary that is? The majority of Americans, and this is a few years ago, I'm sure the results are worse now because we're being bombarded by messages all the time that say, you know, "you got your truth and I got my truth and your truth is just as important as my truth. And we all kind of got our own truth and there is no real truth." And that's scary. Would you want a brain surgeon working on you that way? Would you want a chemist mixing explosives with the belief that there is no absolute truth? You'd blow things up. I mean there's gotta be some absolutes out there. You want people driving down the road that think that all the traffic signals are just sort of guidelines? Or do you want there to be some absolutes? Red means what? Slow down a little bit or does it mean stop? You know what I'm saying? What would the world be like? The man who designed the jet you fly on doesn't believe in absolute truth about aviation laws and dynamics, it'd be a pretty scary world.

But yet a lot of people approach the philosophy about life, theology, religion; there's no absolutes. What happens then? No absolute right and wrong? Get's pretty scary. I'm not done yet. This is still from the barna survey, "66% of adults believe there's no absolute truth. Different people can define truth in conflicting ways and still be correct.

The figure rises to 72% when it comes to those between the ages of 18 and 25." Now what does that tell us? That means that as time goes by and those people grow, more and more people are saying, there is no absolute truth. But Jesus said--by the way, that was the philosophy of pontius pilate. What is truth? Yeah, he didn't even wait for an answer because he thought there is no answer. And here in front of him, when pilate asked that question, is Jesus who is the truth. So is there a truth? Can we know what the truth is? God is wanting to communicate to us the truth.

Jesus is the truth. Is it any wonder that in our world today that people say, "well, you know sex outside of marriage, it's up to you. If it doesn't bother you, it's okay." And you know maybe you think that it's important that you're heterosexual. Others may believe differently and that's your truth, and you got your truth. No wonder that now people are clamoring for gay marriage.

And that it's okay to steal a little bit as long as it's just from rich companies that aren't gonna be hurt by it. If your conscious doesn't bother you, you can cheat on your income taxes. If you believe in evolution or creation, doesn't matter, just your own idea of truth. All these different philosophies come into our society until pretty soon, nobody's afraid of speaking up as though something's absolute because you're called, rigid, straight-laced, strict, close-minded. If you believe you know what the truth is, you're considered arrogant and close-minded.

That's pretty sad to think that we're programming a nation of people to go through life with all that uncertainty about is there any truth. I think the most important thing you must establish in your life is what is the truth and then live your life accordingly, right? When you're young, you better figure out which is north and then you, you set your compass. You've gotta calibrate your life based on what is truth. That will control your world view. So how do we know? Let's assume you believe we're not here by accident and there's a God.

How does God speak to us? How do we know what God is trying to tell us? All right, in the beginning God spoke in the Garden of Eden with adam, face to face. All right, I've got some verses. Let me just check where the microphones are. Got one here. Got one here.

Genesis 3:8, I think that's my first one. Who has that? Right up front here. "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day." What was the relationship between adam and eve and God before sin? Was God this mystical creature living in another dimension, this ethereal people that they couldn't really pinpoint, or was he someone they could talk to face to face? Is that the answer? So does God want to speak to us face to face? One of the last things it says in Revelation, it says, "and we shall see his face. God himself will be with him." This whole terrible separation, because of sin, is not God's will. God never ran from man, man heard the Lord, man ran from God after sin.

So we're separated. The plan of salvation is to bring us back together and get us back in the garden. So communication's been interrupted and God wants to restore it. He used to speak to man face to face. So did man have to wonder what truth was before sin? If God said it and God is perfect ant God knows all things and he's all powerful and he makes everything, that's truth.

God cannot lie, the Bible says. So if God says it, it's truth. But the voice of God, the lines got cut. The signal got distorted. Genesis 32:30.

Do we have the microphone back here? Hold your hand up. You got that one, hannah? Genesis 32:30. "And Jacob called the name of the place peniel, 'for I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved.'" All right so, man did see the Lord face to face, but was it God in his glory or did God veil himself now so that he could communicate with man? What about the verses that say, "no man can see God and live"? And yet here he says, "I've seen God face to face. Jacob wrestled with him, "and my life is preserved." Genesis 18:1-2, I'll read this one for you. "Then the Lord appeared to him by the terebinth trees at mamre as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day.

So he lifted his eyes and looked and behold, three men were standing by him. And when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the ground." Then it goes on you read that Abraham has this long dialogue with especially one of the three which turns out to be the Lord. At first it appears to be what? Three men. And so the Lord veiled his appearance to Abraham in the beginning. You know in the book education, "Christian education" page 237 or 238 Ellen white says, "after the transgression of adam, the Lord spoke no longer directly with man.

The human race was given into the hands of Christ and all communication came through him to the world. It was Christ who spoke the law in Mount Sinai." So in these existences when God speaks with man after sin, who is the vehicle of communication? It's Jesus that is speaking to man. Now he appears in different ways. Who spoke to Moses at the burning bush? I believe that was Christ. God spoke through Christ there at the burning bush.

And a number of times it refers to him as the angel of the Lord. Now that's a confusing phrase because the word "angel" is a word that can mean many things. It means messenger. There's a time in the Bible when king David's called an angel. Well, he's not a cherub or a seraph, but he was a messenger of God.

He wrote the Psalms. Sometimes it says the angel of the Lord and then it identifies him as gabriel. But many times it talks about the angel of the Lord and it was speaking of God The Son, the messenger from The Father to the earth was Lord. Now I'm gonna give you some proof for that. Genesis 48:15, it says that Jacob blessed Joseph.

And he said, "God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who fed me all of my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil." Now wait a second, he says, "God, God, the angel." So God appeared in the form of this messenger. It doesn't mean God was an angel. Don't think that we're saying God is an angel. The word "angel" means messenger. God, before Christ was incarnate in human flesh, the incarnation, he often appeared as a man, a messenger of the Lord and he communicated with these patriarchs.

All right, do we have Exodus 3:2? Go ahead and read that for us. "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. And he looked and behold, the bush burned with fire and the bush was not consumed." And read verse 4. "And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses.' And he said, 'here am i.'" Now look at that, it starts out, "and the angel of the Lord appeared." And then it says God called to him from the bush. Unless there are two people in the bush, they're the same one.

See what I'm saying? It's an important truth, and so I'm spending a moment on it. We're establishing how God communicates with man, getting a good foundation for the rest of this lesson. Let's move right along. You can look in Judges 6:11. I think I may have given that to somebody.

"And there came an angel of the Lord and sat under an oak which was an ophrah that pertained unto joash the abiezrite and his son gideon thrashed wheat by the winepress to hide it from the midianites." All right now who was it that came and sat under the terebinth tree or the oak tree? The angel of the Lord. Now you go to verse 14 it says, "then the Lord turned to him and said--" let's talk about somebody there who's turning. It's the same one. "Go in this might of yours and you shall save Israel from the hand of the midianites." Angel of the Lord, and the Lord turned to him and said--there's a lot of examples of this, Judges 13:21-22. Judges 13:21-22, "when the angel of the Lord appeared no more to maNoah and his wife, then maNoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord.

And maNoah said to his wife, 'we shall surely die because we have seen God.'" All right, there you've got one more example. There are many of them in the old testament. It says, "the angel of the Lord, the angel of the Lord, we have seen God." Well, if it's just a cherub, they're not God. And so the Lord Jesus appeared to them. By the way, I'm trying to remember whether it was gideon or maNoah but when the angel of the Lord, they asked his name.

He said, "why do you ask after my name for it is wonderful. It is wonderful," he said. You remember what it says in Isaiah? "His name shall be called," speaking of Jesus, "wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting father." You do a little detective work, and you can see all through the Bible there that many times Christ appeared. Now he did speak through angels too. The two that came to lot in sodom.

While the Lord was--while Abraham was interceding with the Lord up there in hebron, the two angels went on their way down to sodom. Those were angels that they spoke to, so many times they were angels. At the tomb of Christ, they were angels. Obviously it wasn't Jesus that rolled the stone away to let Jesus out of the tomb. See what I'm saying? So there are many times that you've got the angels there.

But some people are confused on this and I think it's important to understand God often spoke, Christ appeared in these apparitions before he came to earth. John, the Gospel of John 1:18. He says, "no man has seen God at anytime. The only begotten son which is in the bosom of The Father has declared him." So in the Bible when it says "no man has seen God," which member of the Godhead is it speaking of? No man has seen God The Father, and it's especially speaking of God in his glory. When Jesus appeared in the old testament and he's often appearing as what they call the angel or the messenger of the Lord, he veiled somehow his glory.

Because even when Moses said, "let me see your glory," he said, "all right, I'm gonna-- I'm gonna take the shell off. I'm gonna let you see the glory, but you won't be able to behold my face. You can even only see my back parts as I go by." What happened to the eyes of Saul when he saw for a moment the undimmed glory of Christ? It burnt cataracts on his eyes. He was blind for 3 days and even after the scales fell off his eyes, his eyesight never completely recovered. Remember, he had to have other people write his letters for us, and I think that was the thorn that Paul referred to in his side, had the problem seeing.

Do you know that? Yeah, remember when Paul-- and when he did write, he said, "behold with what large characters I'm writing." He wrote very big letters. Any of you ever seen those telephones that they got for people that have trouble seeing, each number's that big... And remember when Paul was being tried by the sanhedrin? He reviled the high priest and someone said, "are you reviling the high priest." And Paul said, "oh, I didn't know that was the high priest," and he apologized. He couldn't see. That's why he always had someone with him.

He was almost blind after his experience with Christ. So just a little insight there. So God spoke in this way. It was veiled. Now you read also John 6:46 Jesus said, "not that anyone has seen The Father, accept he who is from God, he has seen The Father.

" So the divine being that people saw in the old testament must have been God The Son, later known as Jesus that they saw. So how did God communicate truth in the very beginning? With adam and eve face to face. After sin, he would sometimes veil himself and he would appear to man where he would shield his glory somehow. The messages of truth that God gave to the patriarchs-- now name some of the patriarchs before the flood. Adam.

You want a matriarch, eve. Talk about the Godly ones, Enoch, Noah, methuselah. Those are the ones--seth--these are the ones we know that were probably saved that you'll see in the Kingdom. When they communicated truth, did everybody have to wait around for an angel, or did they have pretty much photographic memories? So whenever God taught something to adam, how long was adam in the garden before sin? Anyone know? I heard someone say this last week, "well, he was probably living--it was 930 years before he had his son, so it was years before sin." No, it was 930 years before seth. Right after they left the garden, they had cain and abel.

God told them right after they left the garden, "be fruitful and multiply," right? Were all of their biological functions operational? Did they have any kind of reproductive problems or where they perfect? So is there any reason to think it took long for them to start having children? No, they probably started to have children right away. But there may have been weeks or months where they lived in the garden before they were tempted by the devil. They were instructed by God. How good was adam's memory? For those first 930 years-- oh, wait, no. I said 930, it was 130 years before he had seth, sorry.

Adam lived 930 years. For that first 930 years, the patriarchs could talk to adam face to face, and how well did he remember what God said? Now how many of you have heard of kim peek? Kim peek, they actually made a movie about him, loosely based upon him called "rain man." He is an autistic savant. He's got virtually photographic memory. Born in 1951, his parents knew he was different. He had an enlarged head and tests revealed that the left and right hemispheres in his brain were not separated like most people.

You know, they say men only think with, what is it? The left side of their brain. Women's brains communicate a little bitter, but there's still this little veil that separates the hemispheres. Kim was not born with that, and so his brain was one single data storage area. Had a little problem with his motor skills. He didn't walk until he was 4.

But very early on, his parents noticed something remarkable. By 20 months, he was able to memorize every book that was read to him. By age 3, 3, he was reading and memorizing the dictionary. Since that time, he can clearly recall over 8,000 books word for word. Today, he's in his 50s, let me see, he was born in '51 so he's, what? Fifty-eight now.

Huh? Fifty-seven, that depends on what month. Anyway, he's called a mega-savant because of his photographic memory. It makes him a virtual genius in about 15 different subjects. He's known as kim-puter to many people. He's got this vast knowledge that includes world and American history, british monarchs, Bible history, geography.

He's acquainted with all the main roads and highways in the u.s. You ask him, he'll tell ya about it, and Canada. He's got all the professional sports statistics for baseball, basketball, football, the Kentucky derby winners, the history of the space program. He's got all the facts and figures stored in his mind. You ask him, he'll tell ya all the movies, their themes, the music, the complete works of shakespeare he has memorized.

The telephone area codes for all of North American, all the zip codes, all the tv stations and their Markets. He can identify most classical music compositions to tell you the date the music was written, who wrote it, when that person was born, when they'll die-- or when they died. Most of them are dead. He especially enjoys calendar calculations. If you tell him your birthday, he'll tell you the day of the week you were born.

He'll tell you what day of the week it will be when you turn 65, so you can retire. He still struggles in simple things like, you know, how to dress himself and shave himself like sometimes autistic people, where the silverware is in the drawer. Still he's got an encyclopedic memory that is amazing. He lives in salt lake city, Utah, and he spends his afternoons in the library, what else? Reading and memorizing books. Takes him about 8 seconds to read a page and he reads 2 pages at a time with one eye on each page.

Kind of amazing, huh? Now this is after 6,000 years of sin, every now and then we have somebody that's got this kind of ability. What kind of memory do you think adam and eve and the patriarchs had before--i mean when they were living 900 years, you'd need a good memory. You know if you start losing your memory now at 50, can you imagine how bad off you'd be at 900? So they must have had just extraordinary memories back then. So I'm saying all of that to just reinforce the truth that in the beginning the truth of God was communicated orally. But after the flood and with the erosion of sin, you know even Abraham, 175 years; Isaac, years; Jacob, what was it? One hundred and forty-seven years? Their life span started getting shorter.

The memories probably also started to be impaired, imperfect in any event. And by the time Moses comes along, God says, "in order to encartify the truth, I'm gonna give it to you, you need to write it down." And so then it was inscribed and God spoke through His Word. Now the Bible tells us there's still several ways that God speaks to us, and I'll get to some of these others. There are two basic ways that God communicates with us. One is called general and the other is special Revelation.

You got general Revelation, we'll talk a little bit about that, then you got special Revelation. When God communicates through dreams and visions and prophets, this is special Revelation. But there are other ways that God communicates with everybody, then he'll communicate with you. What are some of these ways that God communicates with us? Well, he communicates through His Word, and we'll get to that more later. But does God communicate with us through nature? All right, some verses.

Did somebody look up psalm-- I think I gave out psalm 19:1-3. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard." The heavens declare the glory of God, amen? All over the universe. You know the latest "national geographic" said-- it's an article.

It may not be the latest, but one recent one--it's called "the disappearing sky." Any of you see that? It talks about how around the world you used to look up at night and you'd see the sky. And now because the earth is so illuminated artificially that people--and because of the haze in the atmosphere, people can't see the stars the way they did a hundred years ago. In Sacramento at night even on a perfect, clear night, you don't see the stars. There's so much, they call it, light pollution that it fades it, it dulls it. You need it really absolute black.

Even if you're on a night where the moon comes up, it destroys it. You can't really see the stars. You get out there and a few places are left where it's really dark and there's no artificial light that dilutes the brightness of the sky, and you can really see all those pinpoints. You know what I'm talking about? There's places you can go. I remember Karen and I went to australia, and we went to the barrier reef, and we spent or 3 nights on this boat.

We were on a dive trip and at night we went up on the deck. And you looked up and they turned off all the boat lights and the moon was not up. One thing that amazed me was I saw a whole different sky then I grow up seeing 'cause here in the southern hemisphere. You've seen stars--you're going, "wow, this looks alien. I've never seen a sky like this before.

" And the other thing was it was so clear that it's, you know, it's just like this cream of lights across the sky. You don't see it anymore. It's nice--i know I don't want to brag but when we go to covelo, because there's no cities around, and the air comes off the ocean. There's no cities that are west of us. It just comes right off the ocean over the trees, and it's clear.

And you turn off all the house lights. We walk out on the porch, and you can just see the milky way just splashed. And you think, man, now we know how big that is and how far away it is. Our milky way galaxy has about billion stars. That's just the one little galaxy we live in, 200 billion.

That's still not enough to pay off the national debt right now. And that's only one galaxy among several hundred billion galaxies that we can see. Did you hear that? Our milky way galaxy, if you get far enough out in space, looks like a pinpoint, is only one of--several hundred billion galaxies that we can see, and that's even with our best telescopes. They go way beyond what we can see. And those galaxies are filled with billions of suns, and some of those suns undoubtedly have other planets that are around them.

And who knows where the other life is positioned in God's great universe? You look at that and you say how big and awesome God is. God speaks to us through it. Just to give you an idea of some of the mind-boggling distances that are there. The nearest star to earth is alpha centauri or alpha proximi, their not sure. About 4.

28 light years away. A light year is the distance the light goes in one year. Light travels ,000 miles per second. So how far would light go in one year? A hundred eighty-six thousand miles per second. That means 1 light year is the distance light travels .

9 trillion miles. A space ship traveling ,000 miles an hour would require 29,000 years to get to the closest star. And think about how many stars we just talked about just in our milky way galaxy. That's why David says, "the heavens declare the glory of God." Psalm 33:6. "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made and all the hosts of them by the breath of his mouth.

" Go ahead, read the next verse. "He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap. He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord. Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

" When you look at the things that God makes through a telescope above, it is awesome. You know, kids really wore out that--i guess they got lots of new words here now. But a few years ago, the word of choice was awesome. Everything's awesome. And you know it kind of made it where they took away how powerful that word is.

We're always kind of wearing out words. I mean what do you use know for something that's big? It all starts to sound like the cups at 7-eleven. Jumbo, super, super-duper jumbo. I mean you know we just--we kind of wear out these words. And when something is really awesome, it means you stand in awe at the greatness of it.

Looking through a telescope and not only a telescope, then you turn it around, so to speak, and you make it a microscope and you look at how minute things are and the design of God in every cell of life. I was watching a video on creation and evolution last week, and they were interviewing biologists and saying compared to what charles darwin and louis pasteur saw when they looked through microscopes, their were primitive, primitive clunky microscopes. And what we see now looking through our microscopes, what is the difference? If you were to compare it to--let's suppose that the microscope was like a skateboard back in darwin's time, what is the microscope today? It's more like the international space station. If a cell of life to them was like an egg, today a cell of life is like the complexity of New York city at rush hour. I mean they never would have believed that life could come into being accidentally now if those same people that formed evolution theory could look through the microscopes today.

It's awesome, the complexity. So we see God through nature. And you look at just, you know, I marvel at this symbiotic relationships between these ants that shepherd and farm these little aphids and they carry them from tree to tree, and they care and protect their little sheep, they're little aphids and they stroke 'em and the aphids excrete little sap. We won't talk about where they excrete it, but they excrete this little sap and that's the nectar for the ants, and it's like they're farmers. How did that ever develop? And the relationship between the bees and the flowers.

And I mean you just could go on through all the--in the ocean below, in the skies above how different animals mimic flowers so they can capture-- they got these spiders that make their whole bodies look like orchards and they hang around on orchards so they can catch these animals. And they got some moths, their nose is specially designed just to drink from a certain orchard. It won't fit in any other. And you just start looking at the complexities of nature, and God speaks to us through that. So you can see the Lord speaking to us through nature.

Matter of fact Romans 1:19, gotta make sure I don't run out of time here. Romans 1:19-20, "because what might be known of God is manifest in them, for God himself has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes are clearly seen being understood by the things that are made." God's attributes can be understood by the things that are made. So even the pagans in lands that never heard about the Lord, a certain amount of truth about God is revealed to them through nature. Isn't that what we're reading here? That's why he says, "and they're without excuse if they turn away from God," 'cause he's revealed it to them.

Job 12:7-9, "but now ask the beasts and they will teach you. And the birds of the air and they will tell you. Or speak to the earth and it will teach you and the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done it?" I mean we can learn about God, not only through nature, but even the creatures. They're so marvelous in the way that they're made.

Now the lesson is really dealing with the gift of prophecy and the prophetic gift. But I wanted to set a backdrop that God speaks us through creation. He speaks to us--i didn't even talk about this, through providence. Have you ever had something happen? This week, I was on my way to-- we had a little Amazing Facts year-end appreciation dinner, and I needed to stop and get cookies. And I was late and I wasn't gonna do it but I thought, well, I promised I'd bring some cookies.

And so I went through this big battle. And so finally I stopped at the store I never shop at to get cookies. While I'm getting cookies, a man comes up to me and most people don't recognize me around town 'cause I got a baseball cap on, I dress pretty frumpy. And but I had my suit on, I'm on my way to work. And he said, "you're Doug Batchelor.

" And usually they just say, "are you on tv? Are you that car salesman?" They don't know who I am, they just recognize the face. And I said, "yeah." And he reached out, he took my hand and he started to tear up and said, "it's God's will that I should see you today." He said, "I'm really discouraged." He said, "I watch your programs all the time. You're my pastor on tv." I don't know if he's ever been to church, I invited him. And he said, "it's God's will," and then I left. And it made him so happy just to see me.

And he said that it was God's answer to prayer for him. I don't know what God was telling him. I don't know what was going on in his life, but he said that was providence. God speaks to us sometimes through things that happen. Coming back from prague, I think I told our office this during worship, I was so exasperated because I had one of those days, just wanted to go home.

You're overseas for a long time, you want to get home. Plane was canceled. I mean I'm on the plane, loaded, bags are loaded. We're sitting down all buckled in ready to go and then we're waiting, waiting, waiting. Finally they come over the air and say, "sorry, we gotta cancel the flight, mechanic problem.

" And you know you're so frustrated you look out there and you see both wings and engines are there. I said, "just try it, see if it works. You know, I'm willing to take a chance, how about you?" You know, you wait long enough and you just want to see if it'll fly. But they took us off the plane. And you know usually it's something like the light on the bathroom's not working and, oh, they cancel the flight.

Anyway but--so I had to wait hours for the next plane. And you know but during that time, I met several people and talked to 'em. And then on the flight I did take the next day, had to fly through zurich. I never would have gone through zurich, I was going from prague. Sat down next to a gentleman, just me and he, these two seats.

The guy's name was frank. He's the ceo of a company in zurich, a Christian. In a pretty pagan country. Now what are the chances that you sit down with a Christian from switzerland? Sorry for my friends who are watching in switzerland. And we began to talk about the Lord and just had a great conversation which is good 'cause it's an 11-hour flight.

I gave him a "final events" dvd, and I do that all the time. I never hear from people. He e-mailed me a day or two later said, "I watched the dvd" and started asking me Bible questions. So I started thinking, "why did I miss that flight, Lord, I wanted to get home." Providence. God speaks to us through providence.

Things happen every day that are God's appointments. And how many of you have had an experience where you said, "the Lord spoke to me through something that happened?" On the way to church this morning, steven and I listen to family radio 'cause they always are reading some Christian missionary story. They were reading about george muller and how he was wanting to start this orphanage. And he said, "Lord, if it's your will that this should happen, I've gotta know because I don't have enough money. I don't know, I don't want to do it anymore if it's not your will.

I need 20 pounds, and I want it to go towards Bibles if there is your will." And after he prayed, he got up. Someone knocked on the door, a lady came in. She said, "you know I've just been impressed that I was supposed to give this to you." She hands him an envelope, feels like money. So he asked two questions. He says, "what do you want this for?" She said, "I don't know whatever you want.

" He said, "if you were to choose?" She said, "for Bibles." And then he said to his wife, "open the envelope, see if it's 20 pounds." And she opens it up, it's 20 pounds. He said, "all right, Lord, this is the sign I needed that you want me to build the orphanage." Of course you all heard about george muller's orphanages in bristol. But he spoke to him through providence. God still does that today. But then he speaks to us through prophets.

Now I got 3 minutes to get to the core of the lesson. The word "prophet--" well, we'll have actually weeks to talk about this. The word "prophet" in Hebrew comes from the word, nabiy', which means it's derived from a verb that means to bubble forth like a spring or like a fountain. Hence the word means one who announces or miraculously speaks. You know when a spring comes out of the water, it's kind of like a miracle? Where's this freshwater come from? It's one who speaks with the inspiration, they bubble forth, so the speak, the declarations of God.

That's the Hebrew meaning. One called by God. "A prophet is a person who proclaims divine messages. These might relate to the past, the present, the future and they may consist of exhortation, instruction or consolation." That was the work of the prophet according to the old testament definition. Now the word "prophet" that we use in english comes from the Greek word prophetes.

That's where we get the english word. It's a combination of the word "pro" which means for or on behalf of, with the word "phem," to speak. Thus the idea of a prophet it means to speak for another or to interpret for another. Now when you say "prophet," we often think of prophet. Right now you'd get real nervous if I said I am a prophet.

But you know, biblically, anybody who spoke in behalf of God, pastors were called, elders were called, members were called prophets. When you read 1 Corinthians 14 that talks about the gift of prophecy, it's talking about the gift of being a vehicle through whom God speaks. It's not talking about the Elijahs and the John the baptists and the Jeremiahs and the Zechariahs and the Moseses and, you know what I'm saying? And so there's a more generic form of the word that many of you would fulfill with this gift of being able to speak and have God speak through you his message. Samuel 23:2, "the Spirit of the Lord spoke by me and His Word was on my tongue." This is what king David said. Jeremiah 1:5, God said, "before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.

Before you were born, I sanctified you and I ordained you to be a prophet to the nations." This is speaking more specifically of the unique gift of prophecy. Hosea 4:1, "hear the word, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land." There's no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. So he says that he was giving the word of the Lord, Hosea here. Many times the prophets, what would they say when they began to speak? "Thus saith the Lord," right? "Thus saith the Lord," and then they'd say something. So here is a message from God.

I mean that'd take a lot of audacity when you hear a pastor stand up and say, "thus saith the Lord." You'd think oh, you've got e-mail from God. You got some special message right now. I mean it's kind of scary when you hear people talk like that. Someone was asking both george bush and the president elect, do you believe that God has designed that you should be president? And they shied away from that, from answering that question. Well, you know I don't want to say that I was chosen by God because it starts sounding like you think you're Moses.

You know what I mean? But would you want to be president if you weren't sure that God had called you to that? But they're afraid to answer it that way. But you'd want to know that God had called you to do that. Then--and we'll talk more about this in future lessons. Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah, The Son of amittai saying, God spoke to them and sometimes he spoke through dreams, sometimes visions, sometimes angels, sometimes he spoke face to face. And we'll talk more about the process and the sequence and the ways that God spoke in future lessons.

Out of time, I want to mention for those who joined us a little late that there's a free offer that goes along with our study today. It's called "the ultimate resource," talking about the Bible which is the best way that God speaks to us. Ask for offer number 728 when you call and the number to call is 866-788-3966. Thank you, friends, very much for joining us. God bless until we study again next Sabbath.

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