God's Call

Scripture: Ezra 7:27, Nehemiah 1:1-11, Daniel 9:24-27
Date: 10/19/2019 
Lesson: 3
'What excuses do we often find that keep us from doing the things we know the Lord would have us do?'
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Jean Ross: Good morning, friends. Welcome to "Sabbath School Study Hour" here at the Granite Bay Seventh Day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California. I'd like to welcome our online members and our friends who are joining us for our study time across the country and around the world. We started a new lesson dealing with two books in the Old Testament, Ezra and Nehemiah. Today we find ourselves on lesson number three, very important study. It's called God's Call.

Now, if you're joining us, maybe for the first time in our Sabbath School Study Hour and you don't have a copy of the lesson, you can download one for free. Just simply go to lesson.aftv.org. Again, that's lesson.aftv.org. You'll be able to download lesson number three entitled God's Call, and you can study along with us. We also have a free offer we'd like to let you know about, a book written by Pastor Doug. It's entitled "Determining The Will Of God," and this is our free offer for today. If you would like to receive it, the number to call is 866-788-3966 and you want to ask for Offer Number 778, or you can download a copy of the book for free by simply texting the code SH025 to the number 40544. You'll then get a link as to where you can go to download a copy of the book, "Determining The Will Of God."

We'd also like to welcome our regular church members right here in our church this morning. We're glad you're here, here to study the Word together. But before we get to our lesson, I'd like to invite our song leaders to come and they're going to be leading us in our song for our study time today. ♪♪♪

Female: Happy Sabbath.

The song this morning is 524,

"Tis So Sweet To

Trust In Jesus."


♪ 'Tis so sweet to trust

in Jesus, ♪

♪ just to take Him

at His word; ♪

♪ just to rest upon

His promise, ♪

♪ just to know,

Thus saith the Lord. ♪

♪ Jesus, Jesus,

how I trust Him! ♪

♪ How I've proved Him

o'er and o'er! ♪

♪ Jesus, Jesus,

precious Jesus! ♪

♪ O for grace to

trust Him more! ♪

♪ O how sweet to

trust in Jesus, ♪

♪ just to trust His

cleansing blood; ♪

♪ just in simple faith

to plunge me ♪

♪ 'Neath the healing,

cleansing flood! ♪

♪ Jesus, Jesus,

how I trust Him! ♪

♪ How I've proved Him

o'er and o'er! ♪

♪ Jesus, Jesus,

precious Jesus! ♪

♪ O for grace to trust

Him more! ♪

♪ Yes, 'tis sweet

to trust in Jesus, ♪

♪ just from sin

and self to cease; ♪

♪ just from Jesus simply

taking life and rest, ♪

♪ and joy and peace. ♪

♪ Jesus, Jesus,

how I trust Him! ♪

♪ How I've proved

Him o'er and o'er! ♪

♪ Jesus, Jesus,

precious Jesus! ♪

♪ O for grace to trust

Him more! ♪

♪ I'm so glad I learned

to trust thee, ♪

♪ precious Jesus,

Savior, friend; ♪

♪ and I know that

thou art with me, ♪

♪ wilt be with me

to the end. ♪

♪ Jesus, Jesus,

how I trust Him! ♪

♪ How I've proved Him

o'er and o'er! ♪

♪ Jesus, Jesus,

precious Jesus! ♪

♪ O for grace to trust

Him more! ♪♪

Jean: Dear Father in heaven, we thank You once again that we're able to gather together in Your house on this beautiful Sabbath that You've given us to open up Your Word and study a very important lesson, something dealing with the call that You're given to us as individuals to share the gospel, to be Your ambassadors here in this world. So, bless our time, bless our study today. For we ask this in Jesus's name, amen. Our lesson this morning is going to be brought to us by Pastor Luccas, our youth pastor here at Granite Bay. Thank you, Pastor.

Luccas Rodor: Happy Sabbath. It's so good to be here with you all. Today's lesson is a very beautiful lesson. I hope you've studied throughout this week. It's a beautiful lesson, a deep study actually about God's calling for our life. And that being said, I'd just like to emphasize this free offer and the reason for that is because determining the will of God is exactly what we're going to be talking about today. It's the grand theme of our study this, this past week. Since we started this new lesson, you might have noticed that it's a very deep lesson. It's a very historical lesson. It talks a lot about dates. It talks a lot about events in history, about names. There are certain prophets and kings here that are connected. So, you really need to study at home because well, if you show up just for Sabbath school, or if you only listen to the Sabbath School lesson in, you know, in 40 minutes, you will miss out on a lot. So, don't forget to study at home.

We're going to get right into it. We're going to have a brief recap right now about the previous two lessons, the previous two weeks since they're the beginning of what we're going to talk about today. Now, the previous two lessons, they introduce the main Bible themes that we're going to be studying throughout the next quarter, the main Bible themes and the main Bible characters. So, we know that Ezra and Nehemiah, they play the decisive role in what we're going to be studying throughout the whole quarter. But we also understand that as we're told by Prophet Jeremiah, we know that after 70 years-- and again, this is a recap. After 70 years, he had prophesied that what would happen? The exile would end, the children of Israel would be able to return home to Jerusalem to Israel. And this is a process that begins in the year 606 and 605, and it goes down to 537 and 536 B.C.

Now, the important thing here, and, of course, the dates are important. The names are important, but the most important thing is for you to understand this week is that God calls and God uses people in His plan. Ultimately, this story, this lesson, it's not about Ezra. It's not about Nehemiah. It's not about Artaxerxes or about, you know, Darius or Cyrus. Ultimately, this study is about how God calls us and how God has perfect control and sovereignty over time. God knows when things need to happen. And we see that through this study where God uses multiple people. The Lord uses Jeremiah, the Lord uses Ezra, Nehemiah. The Lord uses Zerubbabel. He uses even pagan kings such as Cyrus and Darius, you know, and Xerxes and Artaxerxes. So, we see that God, He is limitless. God has no limits. He can use anyone, and you know what that means? That means that He can even use me and you. Isn't that beautiful? He can use even me, and He can use even you.

Now, they say that the two most important days in anyone's life are, first of all, the day that you're born. That's a very important day, right? The day you're born. And secondly, the day you find out why you were born, the day you figure out your purpose. What have you been born for? Why did God create you? Now, this question, this aspect of life has to do with God's calling, the calling of God. Now, each person is individuals. Each individual is a singular exclusive, unique being. Your father's DNA links to your mother's DNA, but the product, it's not a copy of the parents, is it? I know I'm not a copy of my mom or my dad. The product, the end product, it's not a direct copy. What comes out in the end is a unique, an exclusive, a singular being. And your singularity, this is what the Bible teaches, your singularity, your uniqueness, reaches its maximum potential, its maximum potential, when you understand that you are unique and when you submit your life, when you submit your talents and your gifts to God's will, when you strive to understand what His will is for your life. And we find this over again in the Bible.

We find that many times there are different people writing mystified. For example, we find the psalmist in Psalm 39 saying, "Your eyes have seen my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book, they are all written." Mystified, the psalmist writes. Look, You've seen all the days of my life. To Ananias in the Book of Acts in the New Testament, we find the Lord saying, speaking about the calling of Paul now, God says, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of mine." Now, do you think that God's foreknowledge, that His, God seeing the future, do you think that that only applies to Paul and to David? Of course not, that applies to all of us. The Bible tells us that the Lord, He has counted our days. He knows what is going to happen. And this foreknowledge, in this foreknowledge, He has a plan, a plan even for me and for you, a mission for me and for you. It's also not surprising that when we frustrate God's plan, when we go outside of what His will is for our life, it's a, it's a big disaster, isn't it? We see that it also in the Bible. For example, King Saul, God had a plan, didn't He? And King Saul frustrated that plan. And look at the end, it was disastrous.

Look at Jonah. How--what would have happened, let's imagine, what would have happened if he hadn't run away at first, if he had gone? We know that the Lord did end up saving the Ninevites, but we find a very, a very sour, a very unhappy prophet at the end of the book. What would have happened if he had submitted his will to the Lord? When we frustrate God's plan, only disaster comes from that, only disaster comes from that. The question that we have to come out from all of this study, the true question, and we're going to get into it.

But I want you to ask yourself this, not only now, but throughout the week, the question that we have to have after a study like this is, "Well, then what is God's calling from my life? What does He want from me?" I really believe that one of the most important prayers that anyone can pray throughout their life is, "Lord, where do I fit in? What is my place in Your plan?" I'm sure that many of you, if not all, have prayed that or asked the Lord that in one moment or another in your life. I know I have multiple times. I still pray it sometimes. What is Your will, Father, for my life? What do You want? Show me my place according to Your will. He has for each person, a very special place in His grand plan for the human race. And what's more, all are called, everyone is called, and some are called for very decisive roles. Some of us are called for very decisive roles.

Ezra and Nehemiah, that's what we study, you know, in this whole lesson and this week, Ezra and Nehemiah, they were called for different functions. They had different abilities, different backgrounds, training, different personalities. Ezra, for example, he was a scribe. The Bible tells us in Ezra 7:10, the Bible tells us his attitude. Look at what we read here, "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel." So Ezra, he knew what he was good at, and that's also something important in life. What talents, what gifts has God given you? Recognize them and employ them in the service of the King, in the service of heaven. So Ezra, the Bible tells us that he determined his heart to seek the law of the Lord. And not only to seek it, there are many of us that only study the Bible. Is that enough? It's not, because when you study the Bible, you're not studying something abstract. It's not an abstract study. You're studying the person, you're getting to have a relationship with Him. And because of that, you want to teach, you want to show other people. And this is what happens to Ezra.

The Bible tells us that Ezra, he determined his heart, not only to study the law of the Lord, but to do what else? To teach it, to teach it. And so, he was using a very decisive role. The New Testament gives us three lists, three major lists of gifts. And of course, God, He can add more gifts to these lists. Is God limited to the gifts that we find here in the Bible? Of course not. If any new need should arise, the Lord would add more and more and more gifts to these lists. But we find that the supreme gift, the supreme fruit, is what? The fruit of the Spirit. We find in Galatians 5:22 and 23, we find what the Lord says about this, but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

And what I mean to say by this is, we can't all have the same gifts. You know, some people are good at singing. I know I'm not, I wish I was. That's not my gift. My gift isn't singing. There's some people that can preach, that can teach. Other people are amazing greeters. Now, we don't all have the same gifts. To some, the gift of singing was given. To others, the gift of preaching or teaching was given. To others, the gift of greeting. To others, the gift of being a good host, of being a good companion, of listening. Have you ever been around someone that's a good listener, that can hear you very well? Some people have that gift. Now, we can't all have these gifts, but the supreme fruit of the Spirit, that is something that God expects of us.

Love, that is something that we should all have because that's not something that you can live as a Christian without. A great problem to many Christians is that many, and I don't know what kind of Christian you are. I know that sometimes I even do this. But many Christians, they spend their time lamenting a gift that they don't have. "Lord, why couldn't I sing better? Lord, why couldn't I teach better? Oh, Lord, why couldn't I be bold enough to greet?" Have you ever done something like that? Kind of complained to God, "Lord, look at that person singing so beautifully. How I wish I could do that." I've done that a few times after hearing myself sing and then, "Lord, why can I sing better?" Many Christians, they spend a lot of time complaining for the gifts that they don't have and in the end, they don't employ, they don't use the gifts that they do have.

What did we learn from the parable of the talents in the Bible? The one who used his gift, more was given to him, more gifts were given. And the one that didn't use it, well, what happened? He lost, even what he had, he lost. So, do you want more gifts? Do you want more responsibility? Use what you have. Start with what you have in your hands. The calling of Ezra and Nehemiah, they were beautiful callings for decisive roles. Ezra was able to use his gift to train and to teach the children of Israel for 13 years in Jerusalem and those must not have been easy years for Ezra. He went there, and he taught those people. The Bible says, and the word here is word qum in Hebrew, to determine his heart. And due to this, the Lord was able to use him powerfully. Nehemiah had a different personality. When you find Nehemiah, he had a strong, almost aggressive, isn't it right, almost aggressive personality. And that the traits, the character traits, the talents that God gave him, they were different from Ezra, but they were no less important because to Nehemiah the gift of leadership was given. Even before he arrives in Jerusalem, he had to rack up the, you know, the nerve, the boldness, the courage to speak to whom? To the king, to Artaxerxes and ask him to allow him to go. And how long did he pray for this? What does the lesson say? He had pray for about four months.

He heard the news coming from Jerusalem that, and we studied this last week, he heard the news that the things, things were not going. They were not happening in Jerusalem and he cried, and he prayed, and he poured himself before the Lord. And he was waiting for the right moment. And because he was a cupbearer, he had a good contact with the king. He had proximity to the king. One day the king came and said and saw that he was sad, and said, "Well, why are you sad?" Now, the Bible says that Nehemiah had that moment. He did what? He prayed to the Lord. And this is where you see the humanity of the person, the man behind the book, you know? Because I can't imagine this, a moment where the king comes and says, "What's mad, you're sad." And then he hears, "Hold on a bit, king." He goes out, he kneels down, he prays, and then he comes back. I don't see that happening. I see Nehemiah. You know that lightning prayer where he said, "Lord, please bless me. Lord, please help me. Lord, please save me." You know those lightning prayers? I imagine Nehemiah at that moment saying, "Lord, please use me right now," and he gets into it. And he says, in a very diplomatic form, he says, "You know, king, I would like to go back to help my people." And because of his proximity, his responsibilities, the talents that God had given him of leadership, of administration, he was the perfect man for that job. The team trusted him. This was the same team that had halted the construction before. So, Nehemiah had to be very careful of how he worded this, but the Lord helped him. The Lord used him.

You see, there are some gifts that are more visual than others. Obviously, the gifts of singing or of preaching, they're more visual because while people are, you know, you're teaching people, you're singing to people. And sometimes people with more visual gifts, they tend to belittle people with other gifts. Imagine if perhaps Nehemiah, who was you know a cupbearer to the king, if he had belittled, I don't know, maybe someone with a very important talent back in Jerusalem. We can't belittle other people because their gifts aren't as visual, perhaps, as our own. All are used. God can use all in the most extraordinary and powerful ways. It is vital for us to recognize the gifts and the work that people previously have done. Nehemiah, he was only able to do what he did and Ezra, because they stood atop the shoulders of Zerubbabel, the shoulders of Jeremiah, Daniel, the people who had come before.

I believe it was Thomas Edison who said that he was only able to invent what he invented and do what he did because he stood atop the shoulders of giants, the men who had come before him, and figured it out, and found out, and discovered the things that he used to invent, you know, what he did invent. Sometimes we have to stand atop the shoulders of giants. When it comes to how God handles prophecy, prophetic timing, it's a beautiful thing because we see, apparently humanly, we see some disconnected points in history. And sometimes people ask, "Well, how is all this coming together?"

Well, when you look behind the scenes you have the master guider, the master king who has control of all time. As we study the Bible, it becomes obvious that God has perfect control over time, always. God knows what is happening. The lesson gives us a list of people and it's just so impressive that these people were there when the prophecies were being meant to be fulfilled. For example, we find Noah commissioned to build the ark during the time of the flood. I didn't know if you, I don't know if you know this, but Enoch, when he named Methuselah, Methuselah's name literally means after this one, the waters will come. Did you know that? His name was a prophecy for the flood and Noah was there to fulfill that. You find Abraham called out of his father's, his father's land. Moses, what a calling. Joshua, Samuel, Hosea, and Amos, Ezekiel and Daniel, Haggai and Zechariah, Ezra, Nehemiah, John the Baptist, Stephen. More recently, Ellen White.

Do you see that God is in control of time? And here's the beautiful thing about God, God is transparent. He doesn't do things, you know, in a backhanded sort of way. He doesn't hide what He's doing. The Bible tells us that God doesn't do anything without first doing what? Revealing His will to His servants, the prophets. We're not left in the dark. Not only is God in control, God allows us to know, He tells us what He is going to do. That is the kind of God that we have. Jeremiah prophesied the return of the people from captivity after a period of 70 years. God did not leave them in the dark as to how long they would be in exile. To that end, God first raised up Zerubbabel, then Ezra, and then 13 years later after Ezra, He raised up Nehemiah. However, from Jeremiah all the way down to Nehemiah, God used many people, maybe even some people that we don't know, people that are not mentioned in the Word, but God used many people.

Now, the chronology places Artaxerxes' intervention in 457 B.C. And this is where the lesson, it becomes, timing becomes crucial. Now, again, this is a deep lesson, a very historical lesson, so please bear with me. But chronology places Artaxerxes' intervention in 457 B.C., because-- and this is why it's so important to us-- because this decree given by this king in 457, it's tied to another prophecy. Which prophecy? The prophecy of Daniel chapter 9, verse 25 of the 70 weeks. Look at what it says. "Now therefore, understand that from the going forth of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah, the prince, there shall be seven weeks and 62 weeks." Two items are interconnected here, okay? And when we study this, of course, we don't have the time to go in depth. We don't have time for a seminary here, but two things here remain broadly crucial. First of all, the date itself, the date itself. Since there were three individual decrees given in three different moments by three different kings, why do we use this one, 457? If we have a decree given by Cyrus, and then we have another decree given by Darius, and then we have another decree now here given by Artaxerxes. Why do we use this last one, 457, to understand Daniel 9:25. There are a few reasons, okay?

And here, this is important for you as an Adventist here, or you if you're studying to become, or studying to understand who the Adventists are. It's important for you to understand these dates and the reasons why we use this year because the way we understand these 490 years and the way we understand the 2300 years, that's crucial. That's basically who we are. If you take that away, if you track that from the Adventist message, there will be simply no Adventist message. So, it's crucial for you to understand this. Now, the reason why we use this date, the date of 457 B.C. is well, first of all, only the decree of Artaxerxes includes the concern--includes concern for the city of Jerusalem. The previous two decrees, they didn't say much about the walls, they didn't say much about the city. They were talking about what? The temple. They were mostly talking about the temple. Then when Artaxerxes gives his decree, we find that he mentions the reconstruction of Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the city. That's one of the reasons why we use this the date, 457 B.C. If we use any other date, if you use any other date for the 490 years of Daniel, that wouldn't lead us to Messiah the prince. If you use any other date, it wouldn't take it to anywhere. Anything significant in history, it fits. It's a very good fit and it stands to reason because it's what we believe to be true.

So, King Artaxerxes, he gives this decree in 457 B.C., as a decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and therefore, we believe that that is the beginning date of the second thing that we're going to mention here, which is the day year principle. Have you ever wondered why, I don't know maybe you have, maybe you haven't. I know that when I was younger, I used to see us interpreting these time schemes, and I wanted to understand why we use the day year principle. And it's very simple. The Bible gives us these principles in Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:5 and 6. Many people tend to interpret this literally. They'll say, well, there's 490 years, there's 70 weeks, right, let's interpret this literally. The problem with that is that you don't get anywhere. With a literal interpretation, how much is 490 days literally? That's about a year and a half, a little bit more than a year and a half, perhaps, right around there. What happened in the year 456, 455? Nothing significant, certainly not a Messiah, the prince. So, if you interpret this literally, you get nowhere.

We have to understand that in the Bible, prophecy is interconnected. If you want to understand, for example, Revelation, where do you go? Daniel, Daniel and the Old Testament. If you want to understand the ten plagues, where do you go? The seven plagues, I'm sorry. You go to the ten plagues of Exodus. So, one thing in the Bible is connected to the other. It has to be that way, otherwise, we get nowhere, prophecy will mean nothing. It will be just someone coming up with ideas and that's what the world is full of around us. We find many people coming up with the craziest ideas because they're not being guided by the Bible, by connecting the dots in the Bible itself. The 70 weeks end in the year 34 AD, when Stephen is martyred, when the Jewish nation of the time they rejected Jesus, they rejected God's chosen servant. The half of the week, that coincides with what? The death of Jesus, the crucifixion. And that's where we believe that Jesus, He confirmed a covenant with many. And we read that in Daniel 9:27. Now, Adventists, and please again, we don't have all the time in the world to go into this so please bear with me. Adventists have been severely criticized in their understanding of this prophecy, severely criticized, especially in this part of the 70 weeks that have been determined. And the main argument used against Adventists is in the interpretation of the word "determined." We literally believe that the word "determined" means to be cut off, it has been cut off. And that's how we understand that this prophecy of 490 years given in Daniel chapter 9, it is cut off from the larger time period prophecy of where? Daniel chapter 8 of the 2300 years. So, we believe that it has been cut off, one thing is part of the other and that's where we've been criticized.

They say that the interpretation of this word that we use is wrong because it's only used once in the whole Hebrew Bible. It's only used here in Daniel, and that's the main argument given against us in this-- in regard to this, that this word, it's only used once in the whole Hebrew Bible here by Daniel, and that it doesn't mean cut off. It means to be determined or decreed, and that would change everything because if the word is determined, then it doesn't have to do with the larger time prophecy of Daniel chapter 8. So, that's the criticism, you understand? They say that we use, or we interpret the word wrong, the word "determined" incorrect.

Now, the question is how solid is this argument? It is a fact. Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you want to see this, it is a fact that this word is only used once. In the whole Hebrew Bible, this word, which is the word "shatach," it's only used once in the whole Hebrew Bible. But nevertheless, and again, this is going to get a bit amusing. But first, this other words, other words, such as decree, or such as determined, they appear in the Hebrew Bible, and they are not the word shatach. So, one of the questions is, well, why didn't Daniel use it? If what he wanted to mean was decree or determined, 70 weeks are determined for you, well, why didn't he use these other words? Why did he go with this more obscure, this more mysterious word, shatach? He should have used, I mean, if he wanted to mean determined or if he wanted to mean decreed, shouldn't he have used those words? That's what you would expect. But no, he uses this less known, this more obscure word called shatach.

Secondly, while shatach isn't used anywhere in Hebrew Scripture, it appears numerous times in Jewish writings, such as the Mishnah, the Jewish Bible Commentary, which was compiled. It already existed in oral form, but it was compiled in the first two centuries AD. And that word "shatach" is there. And while the Hebrew and the Mishnah isn't exactly alike, the Hebrew in the Old Testament, they are very similar. And there the word shatach is used many times. In fact, it's used 12 times and ten of those 12 times, it refers to the cutting off of animal parts, according to the dietary laws. Of the 19 times that this word is used as a noun in the noun form, not as a verb, but as a noun 19 times, 18 times it appears as that which is cut off. Not only this, Strong's concordance gives its primary root to cut off. Whiting's translation, which is a very well-known translation, has it as cut off. Gesenius is the standard key lexicographer, defines it as to cut off. The Chaldeal Rabbinic Dictionary of Stoycius defines it as to cut, to cut away, to cut into pieces, to engrave or to cut off. The earliest versions of the Vulgar or the Septuagint define the verb here, shatach, as cutting off. Theodotion's Greek version of the word renders it to cut off. Even more versions use the term "cut off." Do you get the point?

Cut off is a perfectly good explanation. It's a perfectly good interpretation of this word shatach, perfectly fine. Actually, it's the best one we have. So, to say that this word isn't, that it doesn't mean that, well, then we would be playing a guessing game. That would be the guessing game not to interpret it as cut off.

As the lesson tells us, there are many reasons why we believe that the 70-year-- the 70-week prophecy of Daniel 9 and the 2300-year prophecy of Daniel chapter 8, they belong together. First of all, both are time prophecies, right? That by itself doesn't mean much, but both our time prophecies. Second, the terminology, vision, understanding, link them together. Both interpretations were given by whom? Gabriel, the same person, the same angel, the same messenger is interpreting them. Lastly, and this to me is the most important reason, the only part of the vision of chapter 8, the only part of the vision of chapter 8 of the 2300 years that was not explained is exactly this one of the 2300 years. The rest of the vision in chapter 8 is explained by Gabriel. Why didn't he explain the 2300 years? And then you go to chapter 9, a few years later, then you have the interpretation. Daniel chapter 8 contains two parts. You have a vision and you have an interpretation of the vision. Daniel chapter 9 doesn't really have a vision. It only has an interpretation, and the interpretation, it has to do with something. What was the only thing that had not been interpreted yet? The vision of the 2300 years. Do you see how one is tied to the other? This might be a bit confusing, and I urge you to study more on this, this good part of your comprehension of Adventism and of the Bible prophecies, they will be hinged upon this matter of Daniel chapter 7, 8 and 9. B

ut we believe that these two prophecies, the cutting off of this period of 490 years, they have to do with the vision of the 2300 years that go from 457. What happened in 457? Artaxerxes issued in a decree that the walls of Jerusalem should be built. And from then on, we start counting not only the 490 years in the year 34, but we end in the year 1844 with the 2300 years. That is one of our most basic beliefs and this is why we believe it. Praise the Lord. For all these reasons and more, we believe that these two prophecies, they belong together, Daniel 8 and 9, they are tied together. The next, the next topic that we find in the lesson, and this is something that I really want to get into, is the topic of biblical election. This might be as confusing, or maybe even more confusing, then about all the dates. Because when it comes to dates, really it's a matter of you sitting down concentrating, and trying to figure out what prophecies it's talking about. When it comes to election, there's just so much debate.

When it comes to how God chooses people or what God's choosing people means, there's just so much debate. It's so controversial that it might be a bit intimidating for a few people. God's election in the Bible has nothing to do with predestination, as many would believe. We're not talking here about predestination in a certain sense. God has chosen how many for salvation? All, all are chosen. What does John 3:16 tell us? For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever, whosoever is an all-inclusive word. Whosoever, does whosoever exclude anyone? Whosoever except, except Luccas. Whosoever except my Brazilians. Whosoever except the Granite Bay Church. No, whosoever is an all-inclusive word. All are chosen. All are on God's map of salvation. Everyone is on His radar.

Now, the only way that you can not be on that map, or not be on that radar of salvation, if you choose for yourself to exclude yourself. That's the only way because God does not violate our will. So, when we're talking about God's election, first of all, we're talking about when it comes to salvation, it's for everyone. In theology, this is called soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, all right, how God saves us. All are chosen, all are on the map. Now, on the other hand, and this is something that I struggled for a while when I was younger is about God's free will because God also has free will, doesn't He? I should hope so. God also has free will. And the fact that God has free will means that He has the freedom of choosing whoever He wants for certain roles. When it comes to salvation, God doesn't meddle with that. Everyone is chosen, everyone should be saved.

But when it comes to some certain roles, then some people are chosen, some specific, particular people are chosen. For example, it was Paul, not Peter, that God chose to write 14 books in the New Testament because of his training, his background, his knowledge. He prepared himself for this. And that teaches me something, that natural talent placed under God's hand, placed and submitted to God's Word, that talent, that natural talent, becomes divine talent. Now, you might be good at something, you might be very good. You might have a very good talent. Trust me, it can get better. You know how? By submitting it to God because in the end, my friends, actually, before I say this, let me say something else. You might have a very good talent, but at the same time, maybe you are not good at something. Trust me, God can still use you. Maybe you try to imagine, "Well, what can I do? I'm in a church with 600 people. I'm in, you know, there are so many people around me. I live in a city with I don't know, two, three million people, ten million people. What can I do? How can I be used by God? I can't sing. I can't preach. I can't, I don't know, I can't be a deacon. I can't be an elder. I can't be this. I can't be--what do I do?"

Look, what matters is not--what determines God's usage of you and how you can be of service is not your ability or your disability, but your availability. That's it because the rest, while it could be important, you know, a natural talent could be very important, very good. But if you're not available, it's for nothing. If Ezra, or Nehemiah, or Moses, if they had been good at all that they were good at, but they hadn't been available to God, well, how would He use them? He couldn't use them. Romans 9:13, this is a very confusing texts for many. Romans 9:13 tells us that God loved Jacob and He hated Esau. This, my friends, has no soteriological meaning. What I mean by that is, this doesn't-- the issue here isn't salvation. God didn't love Jacob for salvation and hate Esau, condemning him to death, eternal death without a choice from Esau. That's not what we're talking about.

What we're talking about is that God chose Jacob for a specific role inside His plan. Does that make sense? God chose Jacob, He loved Jacob. This is classic Semitic literature, all right? God loved Jacob for a purpose. That doesn't mean that God hated Esau for him to die forever for no reason whatsoever without a choice, without a say in the matter. That's not what we're talking about. The issue isn't salvation, but different roles inside the plan of salvation. Now, we've studied a little bit about these prophets, the calling of Ezra and Nehemiah. We've studied a little bit of how this prophecy played out in their life. The prophecy given by Daniel a few years before played out in the life of Ezra and Nehemiah. Wouldn't it be cool for you to fulfill prophecy and to know that you're fulfilling prophecy? Imagine how it was for them. I don't know if they were thinking about this as it was happening, if it dawned upon them. It's always easier with, you know, after the things happen.

You know, it's always easier for you to determine. But it must have been so amazing to fulfill a prophecy that had been given, to fulfill the beginning of that spectacular prophecy that one day, the Savior, the Messiah, He would come and they could know the exact year. It must have been spectacular. We've studied that. We've also studied a little bit how God considers salvation. All are chosen, all are on God's map, unless we decide to exclude ourselves. We've seen how God, He can, and this is where we talked about election, He does elect some people for specific roles.

But the important thing that we have to come to, now at the end with eight minutes, what we have to understand is, "What is my responsibility? What do I have to do now? What does God expect from me? How am I responsible?" Do you know what etymology-- I don't know if I'm saying that right. But the meaning of the word "responsibility," you know what that means? The ability of response. That's what the word, its roots mean, the ability of giving a good answer, a good response. So, what is my--what should be my good response? How should I? Be it choosing Nehemiah, be it choosing Ezra, or certain other individual for certain roles, in God's plan He wants us to know, He wants me to know that He can bless and transform me. Not only can He transform me and make-- and give me a blessing, but He can make me a blessing. That's my calling, to be a blessing.

Ultimately, the saints are called to what? To be a blessing to this dark world, to take light where there is darkness, to take joy where there's sadness and anger, peace to where there is anger. Ezra and Nehemiah, and here you have the difference between certain people. Ezra and Nehemiah, did they kind of ponder? Were they reluctant to answer God's call? No, they weren't. They went readily. They wanted it. But you do find a few others that they were kind of reluctant. Remember Moses? Moses was very reluctant. Moses had been in the desert for 40 years. He was 80 years old. Who starts thinking of a grand scheme for their life when they're 80? Maybe someone does, okay, maybe you do. I don't know. I know that when I'm 80, I want to be up and kicking still. I want to be doing a lot of stuff. But usually, you don't have someone, you know, thinking of the next 40 years, a plan for the next 40 years when they're 80 years old. So Moses, he was like, "Is God blind? Is He, you know, doesn't He know how old I am? Doesn't He know that I'm already tired. I'm heavy of tongue?"

And actually, I'm going to mention that. Moses, he came up with his best arguments. He used his sociological argument, his knowledge about others. "Lord, they're not going to believe me. Who am I to teach them to talk to them? Look at me. I used to be a prince there. They hate me. I killed one of the officials. They drove me out. Who am I--no one's going to hear me." That's a sociological argument which God destroyed, God broke that argument. He said, "Look, when You go there, You just tell them that I Am sent you, Yahweh, the Eternal One." Man, sometimes I've seen, you know, I've seen movies about Moses's calling. And at that moment at the burning bush, there isn't one time that goes by that I either read it or see it that I don't--tears don't come to my eyes. Imagine being in the presence of Yahweh. Imagine Him knowing your name and you hearing Him call you by name. We know that He knows us by name, but imagine hearing it, that He remembered, and He is going to use you as a chosen vessel. Moses, he gives first a sociological argument, then when that's been destroyed, he gives a psychological argument, his knowledge, not about others now, but as knowledge by himself. "Lord, look at me. I'm heavy of tongue, I'm heavy of speech. I've been here shouting at sheep for the past 40 years, now You're going to put me to shout in front of Pharaoh? It's not going to work, Lord, that's not going to work. Too old, my abilities not qualified for this project that Yahweh is giving me." Which Yahweh, and when you read it, God appears very optimistic about this plan. Moses was the doubter in the story. He's the one saying, "I don't know, Lord." The Lord insisted with him. The Lord did insist with him. The Lord knew Moses better than he knew himself.

And here's something important for you, the Lord knows you better than you know yourself. He knows that in the future if you do follow His plan, as hard as it may be, you will be happy. You'll be happy that you did. You'll be happy that you did. You know, many times I've heard people use arguments about, you know, "Well, why can't I just live my life, the pleasures that I want to and do what I want? At the very end, I'll come to God." And well, first of all, you know that, you know that you don't know when you'll die. That's uncertain to us. Who can guarantee that I will have time to come to God? But most of all, I think, for example of the difference between Isaac in the Bible and the thief on the cross, the good thief, who lived a better life? Isaac, he was born, raised, and he lived a relationship with God. Both will be in heaven, we know this, but who lived a better life? The one that walked with God.

So, we're not only talking about salvation, we're talking about quality of life here and now, a quality of life that God gives you by walking with Him, by having a relationship with Him. Looking back at the end of his life, I'm certain that Moses, he was, he would admit that this was his greatest and best decision. He could have said no, couldn't he? Of course he could. He could have said, "Look, Lord, I know--" And he tried, in the end, he even gave the excuse that it's not a psychological, it's really an excuse given on laziness. "Lord, I know all this, but please send another." But God knew Moses better than he knew himself. Moses could have insisted. He could have run away from God, but he didn't. And I'm sure that at the end, looking back, he would tell you, he would admit that was the best decision. Imagine to be a companion to God, to hear His voice, to see His back at least, to have Him, to have God have his back. That's a privilege and Moses would be the first one to admit that. God comes--when God appears to Moses, He says, "Moses, what do you have in your hands?" And this is where it gets real for you and for me. "Moses, what do you have in your hands?" What did he have? A staff, a symbol of his pathetic wanderings in the desert for 40 years. A symbol of his simpleness, shepherd. But God transformed that staff in an instrument of omnipotence. Where was the power though? Was it in the staff? No, the power was with God.

So, today God's calling to you might be a question. He might be asking you, "Look, my dear friend, what do you have in your hands?" Maybe not a lot of money. Maybe not many gifts or talents to be used. Maybe a painful history, a painful past, traumas, heartache. The power isn't in what is in your hands, the power is with God. Sister White tells us that anyone that submits himself or herself to the Lord, anyone that places themselves in His hands become instruments of omnipotence. You can become an instrument of omnipotence. That is God's calling for you. My deep and profound prayer for each one of us here is that we learn to become instruments of omnipotence, regardless of what we hold in our hands. May God bless you. May He use you. May He teach you and educate you and show you what His calling for your life is. May God bless you. Thank you so much for being with us for this Bible Study Hour this week. I hope you return next week. And study your lesson, we have a great lesson to learn, a lot to learn. May God bless you.

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Announcer: Amazing Facts, changed lives.

Female: I was born into a family of criminals. When I got older and I started breaking the rules, no one ever taught me about "Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not lie, Thou shalt not commit adultery," anything like that. When I became a runaway at 14, I was just a wild and lost child. I had somebody tell me, "Hey, you want to earn some money cleaning this guy's kitchen?" So, I went to this house on a different side of town than I was used to. Someone kept giving me alcoholic drinks, and being 115 pounds and 14 years old, it really didn't take much time before I was so inebriated that I had no control over what was going on around me. He took me to another location, another town and I was put in isolation. I would come out to be abused between three and eight times a day. I was degraded. I was humiliated, that I had no value as a human being. And I learned very quickly that what I felt and what I thought, and how this made me feel, did not matter to him at all. If I even thought about not doing what he wanted me to do, I would have a gun to my head and knife to my throat. There was one time in particular where he had been tormenting me psychologically.

And one day he said, "Oh, you'll never kill yourself. You'll never do it." And almost defiantly I was like, Yes, I will. And he handed me a Bible and full of pills, and I took them. While I was overdosing and I had been overdosing all night, I cried out to a God that I didn't even believe in and at that very moment in the most powerful way, God shone His light on me. And He gave me peace of mind like I never had. And He let me know right then and there while I was on that bathroom floor that He was real, and He was love. And that I did not know how at that time, but He was going to help me. A little less than a year later, I became pregnant at 15. I loved my son with my whole heart. He also became something that my abuser could use against me in order to pump more fear and coercion. I had finally got away from my abuser, and I had finally built up a support system to help me stay on the move and stay on the run. And I was at my grandmother's house and on my son's third birthday, he took my son. And when I called the police and said, "My son's just been kidnapped," they said, "He's the father, we can't do anything about it."

After my son was gone, I lost my mind. I started doing drugs and within a month and a half, I robbed a convenience store. So, I was sentenced to 70 months, five years, ten months in prison. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I started attending the church services in prison seven days a week. It blew my mind. I was hooked. And then we went through, it was millennium of prophecy and net 99 that just solidified my faith in such a powerful way. And I knew God, that God was leading me. Even the guards there commented on how much I had changed. And since I started doing the studies on Amazing Facts, I was so excited about what I was learning that I was coming back from there and trying to convert my hardened criminal friends with the Storacles of Prophecy. Every question I ever had, every worry, everything that I ever wondered about, the Bible answered everything, and it was so clear and so easy to understand. It's been 11 years since I've been out of prison. I am married to an amazing, wonderful man, my first non-abusive relationship and my whole entire life. Before we got married, we watched the Millennium of Prophecy series together, and it was just such a blessing to be able to see him learn and see him grow. And I feel like my life now is just a gift, that every single thing that happened to me bad in the past is nothing compared to the joy, and the happiness, and the stability that I have now. My name is Christine Vanorder and my life has been changed by Jesus Christ and "Amazing Facts."

Doug Batchelor: Today's smartphones are a virtual universe of information that fits in the palm of your hand. It's a good thing we have opposable thumbs. With it, you can buy your groceries, take care of your exercise regime, watch a video, listen to music. You can surf the international World Wide Web, which may not always be a good thing. And you know, there is more computer processing technology and power in a little smartphone today than was used by NASA to put a man on the moon. And I almost forgot, you can also use these to make a phone call. But who does that anymore? Today communication is not in complete sentences. It's all about short message servicing or SMS texting. That's right, there are about 2.5 billion people in the world today that are communicating with their fellow humans in short bites called texting. That's more data that is being used than those who are surfing the web, or even playing video games. And friends, nowhere is this more true than right here in the Philippines. Even though the Philippines has about 100 million people, they are responsible for the largest number of text messages of anywhere in the world. They're the 12th largest country, but they send 400 million text messages every day. Wow, that's a lot of finger fatigue. Even though the greatest number of texters is here in the Philippines, the record for the fastest texture in the world is from Brazil, a young man by the name of Marcel Fernandes Filho. He was able to text 25 very complicated words in a little more than 18 seconds. Wow, it takes me longer than that to just say, "I love you" to my wife and press send, all thumbs. One of the neat things about texting is you can text just about anywhere. If you're surrounded with people, you want to send a personal message, you text. You're in a crowded subway or an airport, you can text. If you're surrounded by noise, or nosy people, you can text. Just don't text while you're driving. That's what's so wonderful, friends, you can always text God a message of prayer from your heart. When you're wondering, "What school do I go to? What job do I take? Who am I supposed to date that may be a future life partner?" Your prayers don't have to be long. The shortest prayer in the Bible is three words. When Peter prayed, "Lord, save me." Jesus answered his prayer. And it doesn't matter how fast you can text when you're talking to God. He'll know what you're asking for and hear your prayer before you have a chance to say amen and press the send button. In fact, friends, you'll bring joy to God when you send Him regular messages from your heart to His. So, why don't you talk to Him right now?


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