Thoughts on Desire of Ages Part 2

Posted Feb 05, 2011 by Michael Ebens in Devotional - Blog Hits: 2,315

This blog continues on from the one I wrote last week, Thoughts on Desire of Ages Part 1.

During the last week I've increased how much I've been listening to. As a result, I'm now far behind in taking notes of my thoughts (I'm up to chapter 25 I think). But anyway, here's the next three.


Chapter 5 - The Dedication

This chapter speaks of when Christ was dedicated, and when Simeon and Anna came and confirmed that He was the saviour.

What meaning then was attached to Christ's presentation! But the priest did not see through the veil; he did not read the mystery beyond. The presentation of infants was a common scene. Day after day the priest received the redemption money as the babes were presented to the Lord. Day after day he went through the routine of his work, giving little heed to the parents or children, unless he saw some indication of the wealth or high rank of the parents. Joseph and Mary were poor; and when they came with their child, the priests saw only a man and woman dressed as Galileans, and in the humblest garments. There was nothing in their appearance to attract attention, and they presented only the offering made by the poorer classes. {DA 52.1}

The priest went through the ceremony of his official work. He took the child in his arms, and held it up before the altar. After handing it back to its mother, he inscribed the name "Jesus" on the roll of the first-born. Little did he think, as the babe lay in his arms, that it was the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory. The priest did not think that this babe was the One of whom Moses had written, "A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you." Acts 3:22. He did not think that this babe was He whose glory Moses had asked to see. But One greater than Moses lay in the priest's arms; and when he enrolled the child's name, he was enrolling the name of One who was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy. That name was to be its death warrant; for the system of sacrifices and offerings was waxing old; the type had almost reached its antitype, the shadow its substance. {DA 52.2}

It's interesting to see how the priest had the saviour of the world, the Son of God, the King of kings, in his hands, and he didn't even know it. As Ellen White says, the only thing that would make him think more highly than usual of the parents is if there was some sign of wealth or rank (outward things) about them. It's just like the world today, all people think about is the outward things; they try to become "beautiful" on the outside, while letting their insides rot away.

As Simeon enters the temple, he sees a family presenting their first-born son before the priest. Their appearance bespeaks poverty; but Simeon understands the warnings of the Spirit, and he is deeply impressed that the infant being presented to the Lord is the Consolation of Israel, the One he has longed to see. To the astonished priest, Simeon appears like a man enraptured. The child has been returned to Mary, and he takes it in his arms and presents it to God, while a joy that he has never before felt enters his soul. As he lifts the infant Saviour toward heaven, he says, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel." {DA 55.2}
Anna also, a prophetess, came in and confirmed Simeon's testimony concerning Christ. As Simeon spoke, her face lighted up with the glory of God, and she poured out her heartfelt thanks that she had been permitted to behold Christ the Lord. {DA 55.4}

That would have been quite an amazing thing to witness. Two people suddenly come into the temple and confirm that this is the saviour. I wonder what the priest was thinking, Ellen White (in this book anyway) only says "the astonished priest". I wonder whether he seriously contemplated the words spoken by Simeon and Anna. How ignorant he would have been if he didn't.


Chapter 6 - "We Have Seen His Star"

This chapter tells of the wise men who came to Jesus after His birth, how Herod killed all the two year old boys, and how Joseph, Mary, and Jesus escaped to Egypt.

The light of God is ever shining amid the darkness of heathenism. As these magi studied the starry heavens, and sought to fathom the mystery hidden in their bright paths, they beheld the glory of the Creator. Seeking clearer knowledge, they turned to the Hebrew Scriptures. In their own land were treasured prophetic writings that predicted the coming of a divine teacher. Balaam belonged to the magicians, though at one time a prophet of God; by the Holy Spirit he had foretold the prosperity of Israel and the appearing of the Messiah; and his prophecies had been handed down by tradition from century to century. But in the Old Testament the Saviour's advent was more clearly revealed. The magi learned with joy that His coming was near, and that the whole world was to be filled with a knowledge of the glory of the Lord. {DA 59.3}

It's interesting how God uses the so deemed "unbelievers" to do greater things than the so called "believers". These wise men were in a better position than the Jews, because they were not proud, ignorant, and unwilling to diligently study the scriptures. They responded to God's spirit and were blessed for it.

Herod suspected the priests of plotting with the strangers to excite a popular tumult and unseat him from the throne. He concealed his mistrust, however, determined to thwart their schemes by superior cunning. Summoning the chief priests and the scribes, he questioned them as to the teaching of their sacred books in regard to the place of the Messiah's birth. {DA 61.3}

This quote (and a few others in the chapter) gave me more of an insight as to what was going in Herod's mind. At the time there was a large hatred of the romans, and Herod knew that he was not on the throne because of the people. These things made Herod afraid, fear leads to insecurity, which creates tyrants. This is showed in this quote:

Herod in Jerusalem impatiently awaited the return of the wise men. As time passed, and they did not appear, his suspicions were roused. The unwillingness of the rabbis to point out the Messiah's birthplace seemed to indicate that they had penetrated his design, and that the magi had purposely avoided him. He was maddened at the thought. Craft had failed, but there was left the resort to force. He would make an example of this child-king. Those haughty Jews should see what they might expect in their attempts to place a monarch on the throne.{DA 65.3}

What Herod thought the Jews were trying to do was only based on assumptions. Sure, they did want to get rid of the romans, but they weren't planning to do anything special with Jesus at this time. Herod was acting selfishly, and in order to insure his place on the throne would not challenged, he decided to kill all the boys under two years old in the hope that he would get Jesus in the process.


Chapter 7 - As a Child

This chapter is plain marvellous. It tells of Jesus' time in Nazareth. It speaks of how He lived His life while, and of His character. There is so much guidance for people today in this chapter, as Jesus is the perfect example.

I won't spend too long on this one, because Dad has asked me to do a full assignment on this chapter, mainly on the character of Christ as portrayed in this chapter.

One thing that really impressed me was this:

The child Jesus did not receive instruction in the synagogue schools. His mother was His first human teacher. From her lips and from the scrolls of the prophets, He learned of heavenly things. The very words which He Himself had spoken to Moses for Israel He was now taught at His mother's knee. As He advanced from childhood to youth, He did not seek the schools of the rabbis. He needed not the education to be obtained from such sources; for God was His instructor. {DA 70.1}

I find it amazing that what He had spoken to Moses and other men in the old testament, He was now taught by His mother. What a humble spirit! It also says in DA 70.2, "He who had made all things studied the lessons which His own hand had written in earth and sea and sky."