Basic theme: Revelation 19-22
The changes to the Teacher’s Edition of the Adult Sabbath School Study Guide (known popularly as the Sabbath School Quarterly) for January to March 2019 were fairly minimal except for one major omission. I will review the changes that were interesting or substantive.
In the Lesson Themes part of the Overview, there are six themes, only one of which had any elaboration beyond the title. That is probably why my one elaboration (“The meaning of the “’new’ earth” for Lesson Theme I) was removed.
Under Main Themes I of the Commentary section, the second paragraph was removed. I include it here for your consideration. “Related to this, it is interesting that Genesis 1 describes the creation of the original earth as a recycling project rather than something built from nothing (Gen. 1:2-3). In conclusion, the total evidence related to the new earth falls short of certainty on this matter. What we do know is that God is not indebted to pre-existing matter, yet He seems rather fond of recycling.” I don’t know whether this was simply removed to save space or whether some part of it was offensive in some way. Let me know what you think.
In Main Themes II the word “metaphorical” was added to “souls under the altar.” I think that addition was a good idea. Minor edits in Main Themes III through VI were either OK or improved my original.
In Life Application 1 I wrote “While there will be no conversions in heaven, there will be an ongoing need for personal and relational growth.” This was changed to “There will be a need for coming to terms with the fact that some are there and some are not.” I think that is true, but I suspect there is even more. People will not only have to deal with who is missing, they will also likely have to deal with who is there. Imagine a concentration camp guard at Auschwitz is converted afterward and meets one or more of his Jewish victims in heaven. Do you think there might need to be some relational processing going on between them before either is fully ready to enjoy eternity? The leaves of the Tree of Life will be for the healing of the nations. Physical healing? I suspect not. More likely emotional and relational healing is in view. I can understand that such considerations may be considered too speculative for an “official” study guide, but I suspect there may be some healthy discussion about anyway that this week, so I thought I should share this perspective.
I think you can see that editing the Sabbath School lessons and their Teacher’s Editions is a challenging task. One cannot simply utilize editorial skills and Bible knowledge, there is a whole world of expectations to satisfy, both from central leadership and from the wider field of pastors and lay people. Today anyone can have a “bully pulpit” and attract a small or large segment of followers from around the church. Such groups exert pressure and sometimes affect editorial decisions. Although the results are sometimes (some would say often) disappointing from a scholarly perspective, I respect the process. As regards my own Teacher’s Edition, the outcome is probably the best that could have been expected.
Again, for those who don’t have access to the standard printed edition of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide or the Teacher’s Edition for this quarter, you can access them online week by week at https://www.absg.adventist.org/. My original pre-edited Teacher’s Edition manuscript for this week is provided in the previous blog. You can also download audio of me teaching the lesson ahead of time each week at http://pineknoll.org/sabbath-school-lessons.
Consider the word “therapy”(healing) concerning the leaves of the Tree of Life, and it’s purpose. From Gen 3:22 we learn that Adam required the Tree of Life for immortality. I believe it will be no different in the new earth, and that eating of this tree demonstrates our continual reliance upon the power of God for life. Without this tree, the redeemed, who are now restored to Adam’s perfect health and symmetry before he fell, who required the “service” of this life-giving gift of God. This is a physical tree, and the former separations we experience in this life, holiness/Godliness is the cure for what is a spiritual(not physical) ill.