God's Mission, My Mission - Lesson Helps

2023 Quarter 4 Lesson 05 - Excuses to Avoid Mission

Sabbath Readings
28th of October

Excuses to Avoid Mission

Sunday Readings
29th of October

Our Excuses: Fear

Ellen G. White References

Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 265

Among the cities of the ancient world in the days of divided Israel one of the greatest was Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian realm. Founded on the fertile bank of the Tigris, soon after the dispersion from the tower of Babel, it had flourished through the centuries until it had become “an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.” Jonah 3:3.

In the time of its temporal prosperity Nineveh was a center of crime and wickedness. Inspiration has characterized it as “the bloody city, ... full of lies and robbery.” In figurative language the prophet Nahum compared the Ninevites to a cruel, ravenous lion. “Upon whom,” he inquired, “hath not thy wickedness passed continually?” Nahum 3:1, 19.

Yet Nineveh, wicked though it had become, was not wholly given over to evil. He who “beholdeth all the sons of men” (Psalm 33:13) and “seeth every precious thing” (Job 28:10) perceived in that city many who were reaching out after something better and higher, and who, if granted opportunity to learn of the living God, would put away their evil deeds and worship Him. And so in His wisdom God revealed Himself to them in an unmistakable manner, to lead them, if possible, to repentance.

The instrument chosen for this work was the prophet Jonah, the son of Amittai. To him came the word of the Lord, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me.” Jonah 1:1, 2

As the prophet thought of the difficulties and seeming impossibilities of this commission, he was tempted to question the wisdom of the call. From a human viewpoint it seemed as if nothing could be gained by proclaiming such a message in that proud city. He forgot for the moment that the God whom he served was all-wise and all-powerful. While he hesitated, still doubting, Satan overwhelmed him with discouragement. The prophet was seized with a great dread, and he “rose up to flee unto Tarshish.” Going to Joppa, and finding there a ship ready to sail, “he paid the fare thereof and went down into it, to go with them.” Verse 3.

In the charge given him, Jonah had been entrusted with a heavy responsibility; yet He who had bidden him go was able to sustain His servant and grant him success. Had the prophet obeyed unquestioningly, he would have been spared many bitter experiences, and would have been blessed abundantly. Yet in the hour of Jonah's despair the Lord did not desert him. Through a series of trials and strange providences, the prophet's confidence in God and in His infinite power to save was to be revived.

Monday Readings
30th of October

Our Excuses: False Views

Tuesday Readings
31st of October

Our Excuses: Inconvenience

Wednesday Readings
1st of November

Our Excuses: Uncomfortable Confrontations

Thursday Readings
2nd of November

Here Am I, Send Me

Friday Readings
3rd of November

Further Thought

Ellen G. White References

Ellen G. White, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, August 30, 1892

The solemn work of the gospel minister is to make all men see “what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God.” If one enters upon this work choosing the least self-sacrificing part of it, contenting himself with preaching, and leaving the work of ministering for some one else to do, he need not expect that his labors will be acceptable to God. Souls for whom Christ has died are perishing for want of well-directed personal labor; and when the minister is not willing to be a servant of the people, as Jesus has directed in his word, then he has mistaken his calling. Those who minister in the sacred desk should fall upon the Rock and be broken, that the Lord may put his superscription upon them and fashion them as vessels unto honor. If those engaged in the work of the ministry were indeed laborers together with God, we should see a solid and beautiful work wrought in all countries for the saving of the souls for whom Christ has died. 

God calls for consecrated men, who are willing to deny self. The work of the heavenly intelligences is constant and earnest; for they are intent upon drawing men to Jesus. This is the manner in which ministers should labor. Their message should be, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” In the ministration of angels, they do not labor so as to shut any soul out, but rather to gather them all in; but if the message of the gospel is to go to all men, human agents must co-operate with the angel workers. Divine and human agencies must combine in order to accomplish the great work of saving the souls of the lost. Man cannot work out his own salvation without divine aid, and God will not save him without willing, decided co-operation. Human agencies must be educated; they must become sufficient for this great work, and their growth and education depend upon their union with divine forces. God provides all the capabilities, all the talents, by which men may enter the work; but the highest development of the worker for God can never be attained without divine co-operation. Symmetry of character and the harmonious development of the work will be accomplished only through continual dependence upon God and earnest effort on the part of man; for the secret of our success and power as a people advocating advanced truth will be found in making direct, personal appeals to those who are interested, having unwavering reliance upon the Most High.

Satan and his angels are struggling for the mastery of the world, while the Prince of life and the angels of heaven are engaged in the battle, determined to rescue all those who would escape from the bondage of evil. God waits to see what those who have been enlightened by his truth will do. Again and again he has called for his ministers to be shepherds to the flock. He is now waiting for the co-operation of his human agents, waiting for the ministers to minister to the diseased lambs and sheep that are ready to die. O, will not the ministers of God, as obedient children, take up one line of work after another, as he presents it to them? Every herald of the gospel is to be a minister indeed. Every forgiven child of God is to be instructed by those who are laborers together with heaven, that he is to be a messenger to work in the same way as the Father and the Son are working, seeking to save the lost. Every Christian is to lift up Jesus, and say, Behold him; behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

The sacred responsibility rests upon the minister to watch for souls as one that must give an account. He must interest himself in the souls for whom he labors, finding out all that perplexes and troubles them and hinders them from walking in the light of the truth. Job says, “The cause that I knew not, I searched out.” This should be considered the important work of the ministry, even if it demands much painstaking effort and inconvenience. This is home missionary work, and it is in no case to be neglected; for eternal interests are here involved. The excuses of those who fail to do this work do not relieve them of the responsibility, and if they choose not to do this work, they neglect the souls for whom Christ died, neglect their God-given responsibility, and are registered in the books of heaven as unfaithful servants. Does the minister work as did the Master, to be a strength and a blessing to others, when he shuts himself away from those who need his help? Those who neglect personal intercourse with the people, become self-centered, and need this very experience of placing themselves in communication with their brethren, that they may understand their spiritual condition, and know how to feed the flock of God, giving to each his portion of meat in due season. Those who neglect this work make it manifest that they need moral renovation, and then they will see they have not carried the burden of the work.


Ellen G. White. Prophets and Kings, p. 266

As the prophet thought of the difficulties and seeming impossibilities of this commission, he was tempted to question the wisdom of the call. From a human viewpoint it seemed as if nothing could be gained by proclaiming such a message in that proud city. He forgot for the moment that the God whom he served was all-wise and all-powerful. While he hesitated, still doubting, Satan overwhelmed him with discouragement. The prophet was seized with a great dread, and he “rose up to flee unto Tarshish.” Going to Joppa, and finding there a ship ready to sail, “he paid the fare thereof and went down into it, to go with them.” Verse 3.

In the charge given him, Jonah had been entrusted with a heavy responsibility; yet He who had bidden him go was able to sustain His servant and grant him success. Had the prophet obeyed unquestioningly, he would have been spared many bitter experiences, and would have been blessed abundantly. Yet in the hour of Jonah's despair the Lord did not desert him. Through a series of trials and strange providences, the prophet's confidence in God and in His infinite power to save was to be revived.

If, when the call first came to him, Jonah had stopped to consider calmly, he might have known how foolish would be any effort on his part to escape the responsibility placed upon him. But not for long was he permitted to go on undisturbed in his mad flight. “The Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.” Verses 4, 5.

As the mariners were beseeching their heathen gods for help, the master of the ship, distressed beyond measure, sought out Jonah and said, “What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.” Verse 6.

But the prayers of the man who had turned aside from the path of duty brought no help. The mariners, impressed with the thought that the strange violence of the storm betokened the anger of their gods, proposed as a last resort the casting of lots, “that we may know,” they said, “for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; what is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?

“And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.

“Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

“Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

“Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech Thee, O Lord, we beseech Thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for Thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased Thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.

“Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly, and said:

“I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord,
And He heard me;
Out of the belly of hell cried I,
And Thou heardest my voice.

“For Thou hadst cast me into the deep,
In the midst of the seas;
And the floods compassed me about:
And Thy billows and Thy waves passed over me.

“Then I said, I am cast out of Thy sight;
Yet I will look again toward Thy holy temple.
The waters compassed me about,
Even to the soul:

“The depth closed me round about,
The weeds were wrapped about my head.
I went down to the bottoms of the mountains;
The earth with her bars was about me forever:

“Yet hast Thou brought up my life from corruption, O
Lord my God.
When my soul fainted within me I remembered the
Lord:
And my prayer came in unto Thee,
Into Thine holy temple.

“They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
But I will sacrifice unto Thee with the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay that that I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.” Verse 7 to 2:9.

At last Jonah had learned that “salvation belongeth unto the Lord.” Psalm 3:8. With penitence and a recognition of the saving grace of God, came deliverance. Jonah was released from the perils of the mighty deep and was cast upon the dry land.