Sunday, April 24, 2016

This week's lesson (April 23-29): the Seen and Unseen War

We know now that in the early years of the twentieth century this world was being watched closely by intelligences greater than man's, and yet as mortal as his own. We know now that as human beings busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.

With infinite complacence people went to and fro over the earth about their little affairs, serene in the assurance of their dominion over this small, spinning fragment of solar driftwood which, by chance or design, man has inherited out of the dark mystery of Time and Space.

Yet across an immense ethereal gulf, minds that are to our minds as ours are to the beasts in the jungle, intellects vast, cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.

Okay, so it’s the opening lines from The War of the Worlds – not The Great Controversy; the author is H. G. Wells, and not E. G. White.

Still, it’s worth remembering that “all the world’s a stage” with ETs out there lurking in the audience . . . well, it’s not going to strike everybody as good news.

Add to this the fact that we really don’t know who or what is out there watching. Take angels, for instance – both fallen and unfallen. Do they live on other worlds? Do they have bodies? Do they have mass, a charge, or spin? Say “yes,” and you’ve just answered the question of “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.” Say “no,” and you’re left with the question of just exactly what these creatures might be.*

Finally, it’s worth remembering that a fascination with angels is often the sign of a bankrupt theology. Angels give us a way to be “spiritual,” after all, without having to mess around with God – reason enough for the current interest in them . . . and reason enough for Paul to warn us off such things in Colossians 2:18.

All of which is why I’d recommend you be real careful with the theme of this week’s lesson. In fact, I’d recommend you stick with the examples in Matthew 11:4-6 -- the examples of Christ healing the sick, raising the dead, and preaching good news to the poor.  
Talk about the Adversary, yes. 
Bring up the example we provide to Unfallen Worlds, yes.
But focus on Christ's forgiveness and power to save.
Even if the whole Universe is watching, after all, there’s only One Person in the audience who really matters. 

*Just so you know: if you believe that angels do have mass, then the answer is "one." If you believe that angels don't have mass, then an infinite number of angels can dance on the head of a pin. Charge and spin, however, don't seem to make a difference.

This is adapted from my commentary on the  Sabbath School lesson 
for June 29, 2006 

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