Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2018
Romans 8:1; 7:15-25; Romans 7:1-14; John 20:19-23; Acts 20:6, 7; Daniel 7:23-25; Revelation 13:1-17
Israel recently condemned the Polish Parliament for passing a law that criminalizes those accusing the Polish nation of complicity in the Holocaust. “Israel opposes categorically the Polish Senate decision,” the Foreign Ministry said. “Israel views with utmost gravity any attempt to challenge historical truth. No law will change the facts.” The bill states, “Whoever claims, publicly and contrary to the facts, that the Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich, or for other felonies that constitute crimes against peace, crimes against humanity or war crimes, or whoever otherwise grossly diminishes the responsibility of the true perpetrators of said crimes—shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to 3 years.”
Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Center, slammed the law as “liable to blur historical truths due to limitations it places on expressions regarding the complicity of segments of the Polish population in crimes against Jews committed by its own people, either directly or indirectly, on Polish soil during the Holocaust.” Yad Vashem recognizes that the term “Polish death camps” is false, since Germany built and operated the Nazi extermination camps in occupied Poland. They say, however, the proper way to fight historical misrepresentations is “not by criminalizing these statements but by reinforcing educational activities.”
“This is part of a wider phenomenon,” Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren said. “What starts with Holocaust denial ends with the denial of our right to defend ourselves. There are red lines.” Halina Birenbaum, a Holocaust survivor and acclaimed Israeli author, called the new law “madness,” telling Israel’s Army Radio it was “ludicrous and disproportionate to what actually happened to Jews there.” Birenbaum, a member of the International Auschwitz Committee, said she was concerned the Polish government “might arrest me there for what I’m saying now.”1
No law will change the facts. Our lesson this week looks at an attempt to change facts through human efforts to manipulate God’s law. The most obvious bid to alter the historical facts found in God’s ten commandments is the attempted change of the Sabbath—although commandments two and ten are also distorted by some religious groups. Through a centuries-old campaign of misinformation and coercion, most of the Christian world now accepts Sunday as God’s ordained day of rest and worship.
The prophet Daniel predicted this attempted substitution centuries earlier when he revealed that a combined religious/secular power would “try to change the set times and the laws,” (Daniel 7:25). These may appear to be small revisions—erasing Poland’s role in the Holocaust and bumping the Sabbath to Sunday—but facts are facts. Those who live in denial of historical Scriptural realities will be confronted someday with the consequences of ignoring those details. God’s truth doesn’t bend to human attempts to play fast and loose with Biblical facts.
~ For Reflection
Connecting: Without looking at the colors, stick vivid-colored Post-It notes on each other’s foreheads. This is your “new” hair color. Mingle and tell each other one descriptor about the color, beginning this way: “Your hair is the color of... (my grandma’s hat, etc.)”. Try to figure out your color. Can you really change your hair color by simply declaring it so?
Sharing: Read Revelation 13:7. God gives this oppressing power authority to persecute Christians but also promises to never leave or forsake us. How do you reconcile the two?
1. The watching universe needs to see the extent of Satan’s brutality to be fully convinced that he is morally bankrupt.
2. We now know (after the fact) that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the gospel.
3. Just because Satan persecutes those who faithfully follow God’s laws doesn’t mean that God abandons them.
4. Just as the fruit of the tree in the garden was a test for Adam and Eve, so God has placed a test for us today: the true holy Sabbath versus the false.
5. With persecution comes the promise: the persecutor will be punished (verses 9-10).
Applying: An acquaintance regularly tries to convince you to abandon the seventh-day Sabbath for Sunday. What’s the best way to respond to this situation? Refute the arguments with Bible texts? Offer to have a comprehensive Bible study on the topic? Politely acknowledge his or her concern and try to remain friends?
Valuing: Seriously and prayerfully evaluate your own commitment to following all of God’s laws, including the Sabbath. Could you stand up to Satan’s attacks? Where will your strength come from?