Longing for God in Zion

Lesson 11, 1st Quarter March 9-15, 2024.

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Sabbath Afternoon, March 9

Memory Text:

“My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” KJV — Psalm 84:2

“There is need of prayer,—most earnest, fervent, agonizing prayer,—such prayer as David offered when he exclaimed: ‘As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.’ ‘I have longed after thy precepts;’ ‘I have longed for thy salvation.’ ‘My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.’ ‘My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments.’ [Psalm 42:1; 119:40, 174; 84:2; 119:20.] This is the spirit of wrestling prayer, such as was possessed by the royal psalmist. Daniel prayed to God, not exalting himself or claiming any goodness: ‘O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God.’ [Daniel 9:19.] This is what James calls the effectual, fervent prayer. Of Christ it is said, ‘And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly.’ [Luke 22:44.] In what contrast to this intercession by the Majesty of heaven are the feeble, heartless prayers that are offered to God. Many are content with lip-service, and but few have a sincere, earnest, affectionate longing after God.” GW92 35.3

Sunday, March 10

A Day in your courts is better than a Thousand

Read Psalm 84:1-12. Why does the psalmist long to dwell in the sanctuary? Who else can be blessed by the sanctuary?

“Oh, why does not the church of Christ arise, and put on her beautiful garments? Why does she not shine? The great reason of such feeble Christianity is that those who claim to believe the truth have so little knowledge of Christ, and so low an estimate of what He will be to them, and what they may be to Him. We have the most solemn, weighty truths ever committed to mortals. Were our words, our thoughts, our actions purer and elevated, more in accordance with the holy faith we profess, we should view our responsibilities in a far different light. How solemn, how sacred, they would appear! We should have a deeper sense of our obligations, and should make it our constant aim to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Earthly, temporal things would be subordinate to the heavenly and eternal.” PrT August 16, 1894, par. 1

“When we are in affliction, we need the grace of Christ to sustain us. You may have a calm and sweet trust in God. The Word of God is the bread of life. You may feed upon its rich promises. I have prayed for you especially this morning, that your soul may have a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit; that you may sit together with Christ in heavenly places, casting all your care upon Him who careth for you; that Satan with his temptations may not separate you from the love of Christ Jesus your Lord. 18LtMs, Lt 93, 1903, par. 7

“You are one of God’s older children. Your children are His little children. Your husband is the priest of the household. You may lean your soul upon his deep affection. If you are separated, you can write to each other. When you write to him, say that I am praying for you both. I have received for him the comforting assurance that the Lord will be His Helper and will keep him by His power. ‘Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.’ ‘For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.’ [Psalm 84:5, 11, 12.] Christ’s righteousness will go before him, and he will be guided from above.” 18LtMs, Lt 93, 1903, par. 8

Monday, March 11

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem

Read Psalm 122:1-9. What are the sentiments of the worshippers upon their arrival to Jerusalem? What do they hope to find in Jerusalem? What is the main prayer of God’s people?

“Miriam, the sister of Moses that once led the women of Israel with timbrels, saying, ‘Sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously’ [Exodus 15:21], the children of Israel for fifteen hundred years wove their wonderful experience into song. They chanted the grand Hebrew psalms with the same reverence and devotion which inspired the composer of the sacred melody. They exalted God; they brought their experience into history and elevated the marvelous works of God. The angels’ visits to the fathers and His revelations to the prophets were all brought into their songs, celebrating the majesty and power and wonderful works of Jehovah. At the sound of the signal trumpet and the music of the cymbals, the voices of praise and thanksgiving came from thousands of voices, ‘I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.’ Psalm 122:1, 2. In these caravans marching to the holy city, not one went empty handed. Fruits from their produce in field and garden, and offerings of every kind, were borne by the worshipers. The fairest and the choicest of everything was taken to be presented as a gift to Jehovah in the sanctuary. Devotion to God was the order of all who visited the sanctuary. This should be the case with us. When these pilgrims arrived upon the surrounding hills in sight of the holy city, they looked with reverential awe down upon the living mass of people who like themselves were winding their way to the temple. As they saw the smoke of the incense ascending and heard the trumpets of the Levites heralding the break of day, the people caught the inspiration of the hour and broke forth into sacred songs. ‘Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north.’ Psalm 48:1. ‘Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.’ Psalm 122:7. ‘Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord.’ Psalm 118:19. ‘I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people, in the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem.’ Psalm 116:18, 19. ‘Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy good.’ Psalm 122:9.” 4LtMs, Ms 23, 1886, par. 2

Tuesday, March 12

Zion, the Home of all Nations

Read Psalm 87:1-7. What makes Zion such an essential place? What are the glorious things that are spoken of Zion?

“As soon as David was established on the throne of Israel he began to seek a more appropriate location for the capital of his realm. Twenty miles from Hebron a place was selected as the future metropolis of the kingdom. Before Joshua had led the armies of Israel over Jordan it had been called Salem. Near this place Abraham had proved his loyalty to God. Eight hundred years before the coronation of David it had been the home of Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. It held a central and elevated position in the country and was protected by an environment of hills. Being on the border between Benjamin and Judah, it was in close proximity to Ephraim and was easy of access to the other tribes. PP 703.1

“In order to secure this location the Hebrews must dispossess a remnant of the Canaanites, who held a fortified position on the mountains of Zion and Moriah. This stronghold was called Jebus, and its inhabitants were known as Jebusites. For centuries Jebus had been looked upon as impregnable; but it was besieged and taken by the Hebrews under the command of Joab, who, as the reward of his valor, was made commander-in-chief of the armies of Israel. Jebus now became the national capital, and its heathen name was changed to Jerusalem.” PP 703.2

The people of God are called ‘the light of the world, a city set upon a hill that cannot be hid.’ [Matthew 5:14.] ‘Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.’ ‘God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved.’ [Psalm 87:3; 46:5.] The Sun of Righteousness has risen upon the church, and it is the duty of the church to shine. Those who are connected with Christ will grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, to the full stature of men and women. It is the privilege of every soul to make advancement. No one is to be an idler in the vineyard. 7LtMs, Ms 13, 1892, par. 8

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” KJV — Isaiah 2:2-4

Wednesday, March 13

Safety and Peace of Zion

Read Psalm 46:1-11. How is the world poetically depicted here? What is God’s response to violence and destruction in the world?

“If happiness is drawn from outside sources and not from the Divine Fount, it will be as changeable as varying circumstances can make it; but the peace of Christ is a constant and abiding peace. It does not depend on any circumstance in life, on the amount of worldly goods, or the number of earthly friends. Christ is the fountain of living waters, and happiness and peace drawn from Him will never fail, for He is a well-spring of life. Those who trust in Him can say: ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.... There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High’ (Psalm 46:1-4). FW 88.2

“Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.” KJV — Micah 3:12

“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” KJV — Micah 4:1-5

First the kingdom of Judah was to be dissolved – Zion plowed as a field and Jerusalem reduced to heaps.

Then in the latter days it is to be re-established, and exalted above the kingdoms of the Gentiles.

Third, when it is thus “established,” many nations are to go into it, and even to invite one another to go there to be taught the Lord’s way and to walk in His paths. This is to be so because the “law is to go forth of Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” 

Fourth, the Lord is to judge from Zion, and from there He is to rebuke strong nations afar off. Those who accept His rebuke are to beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. The nations that join the Kingdom of the Lord are never again to lift up a sword against a nation, nor will they learn war any more. No longer will they need armament, for they are to be protected by a “wall of fire.” Zech. 2:5. Every man is to sit under his own fig tree, and none is to make him afraid, “for the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.”

Fifth, everyone of those who do not go to Jerusalem, and who do not disarm, shall walk in the name of his own false god. But all who join the kingdom of Judah shall walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.

Thursday, March 14

Immovable like Mount Zion

Read Psalm 125:1-5. How are those who trust God portrayed here? How are the righteous tempted? What is the lesson for us?

They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever. Psalm 125:1, 2. LHU 228.1

It was the cross, that instrument of shame and torture, which brought hope and salvation to the world. The disciples were but humble men, without wealth, and with no weapon but the word of God; yet in Christ's strength they went forth to tell the wonderful story of the manger and the cross, and to triumph over all opposition. Without earthly honor or recognition, they were heroes of faith. From their lips came words of divine eloquence that shook the world. LHU 228.2

The benefit that truth is to us depends not so much on the knowledge we gain by study as on the purity of our purpose and the earnestness of our faith. Merely to read the instruction given in the Word of God is not enough. We are to read with meditation and prayer, filled with an earnest desire to be helped and blessed. And the truth we learn must be applied to the daily experience. Those who have a true realization of the subtlety of Satan’s devices for these last days will walk with fear and trembling, in great humility, at every step seeking divine guidance. Angels of God will instruct them. The Holy Spirit opens to the humble and contrite in heart the rich treasures of truth. A fountain has been opened for Judah and Jerusalem, in which we may wash and be clean. He who will purify his soul by obeying the truth will see and appreciate the love and mercy with which God has strewn the pathway of his children. He will realize that the paths of human devising lead to eternal ruin. 16LtMs, Lt 69, 1901, par. 15

Friday, March 15

Further Thought

“O, it is such a pity that Satan has so many helpers in those who ought to act as Christ’s helping hand in encouraging the youth to reach a high standard. Those who should be a power in bringing souls to the truth are allowing Satan to use them to spoil the religious experience of those with whom they associate. Their hearts are tainted, corrupted, and defiled. Adulterers in heart, they lead astray those who have no suspicion that thus Satan is working to destroy them.” 16LtMs, Lt 69, 1901, par. 13

“‘All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. ... Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished. By mercy and truth iniquity is purged, and by the fear of the Lord men depart from iniquity. When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.’ [Proverbs 16:2, 3, 5-7.] ‘Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in heart. As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity; but peace shall be upon Israel.’” [Psalm 125:4, 5.] 16LtMs, Lt 69, 1901, par. 14