Apple, Woman, Seed

Nature is filled with astounding beauty, and within this beauty we find astounding truths. Bound up in the simplicity of an apple tree, for example, is a remarkable truth about identity and purpose. Where does the apple tree come from? A seed. But not just any seed. It comes from the apple seed, which has a distinctness from all other seeds. That seed will specifically grow into an apple tree, which has a purpose to produce, without deviation or distraction, only one fruit throughout its entire lifetime: Apples.

The identity of the seed determines its purpose, and thus the two – identity and purpose – are inseparably linked. As we see this truth illustrated in nature, the same truth is also illustrated in Scripture through the wondrous life of Christ.  

After the introduction of sin into the world by the transgression of our first parents in the Garden of Eden, God gave mankind a promise: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.[1] Jesus would be the promised Seed coming from Eve that would destroy Satan. Before His conception, the Savior’s identity was made known. In Isaiah 7:14, the prophetic word predicted His birth: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (KJV) Prior to Christ’s birth, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.”[2] 

The Scriptures are abundant with examples that signify the connection of one’s name with their identity. When the Lord appeared to Abram and promised that He would make him a father of many nations, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which meant ‘father of a multitude’. After successfully wrestling with the Lord in humiliation and repentance for his deceptive past life, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel – ‘God prevails’. When God gave these men new names, a promise was also given with which these men were to now identify themselves. And so, who is Jesus? One of His names, Immanuel, meaning ‘God with us’, and another, Jesus, taken from the name Joshua, ‘Jehovah is salvation’, are not only promises of God but also truly reveal His identity: The God of creation dwelling with man, as a man.

But as the identity and purpose of the apple seed are one, what was the purpose of Christ’s life tied to His name? In the words of Jesus Himself, He stated, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”[3] From the pen of inspiration, Ellen White states, “From the days of eternity the Lord Jesus Christ was one with the Father; He was the “image of God,” the image of His greatness and majesty, “the outshining of His glory.” It was to manifest this glory that He came to our world. To this sin-darkened earth He came to reveal the light of God’s love, – to be “God with us.” Therefore it was prophesied of Him, “His name shall be called Immanuel.”[4] How did He accomplish this, this manifestation of the glory of the Father? “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.”[5] By coming from the seed of the woman as God in the flesh in order to preach and teach the good news of the kingdom of God, and living a life of selfless, sacrificial service for the salvation of man, Christ accomplished His purpose of glorifying the Father in heaven.

A prophetic identity and a prophetic purpose.

So as in nature, as in Scripture, it is apparent: Identity and purpose are inseparable. What is the difficulty then, in applying this also to ourselves as Seventh-day Adventists?

Within the Seventh-day Adventist name is revealed the very core of the movement to which we belong. As the early Advent movement commenced with the enthusiastic preaching of the prophetic little book of Daniel and a proclamation that Christ’s return was imminent, the Advent group was sorely disappointed when Jesus did not return on October 22, 1844 as expected. But this was not a cause for defeat, for Jesus had already predicted their disappointment in the book of Revelation: And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”[6] 

Though they mistook the date marking the beginning of the investigative judgment with the Second Coming of Christ, and the message they preached of His return was sweet in their mouth, but bitter in the belly when He did not pierce through the clouds as they hoped, the movement borne out of that disappointment was given a prophetic word: “thou must prophesy again.”

That movement – which became the Seventh-Day Adventist Church – has a name that communicates two distinctive truths: The law of God, including the seventh-day Sabbath, as binding upon man as a revelation of the love of God, and the nearness of the second Advent of Christ. Our name, therefore, encompasses our identity: A church rooted in Scripture, upholding God’s commands, that is earnestly looking forward to the soon return of Jesus.

So it follows, as with Jesus: We must have a prophetic purpose.

The first of the Three Angels’ Messages in Revelation 14 declares, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.[7] 

This message brings the gospel and a call to glorify God because the hour of His judgment is come, as was discovered by the early Adventists that October 22, 1844 marked the beginning of the investigative judgment. It is a message to worship the Creator God, who made the world in six days and crowned his work with Sabbath rest. It is a message that, at the end of the third angel’s message, prepares the world for the return of Christ: “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.[8] 

Just as Christ’s purpose to glorify God was accomplished by His message and His life of service, so as Seventh-day Adventists, the tailored gospel message that we bear to the world at the end of time, as well as our life of unselfish service towards others, serves to glorify our Father in heaven.

But how do you and I go about embracing our prophetic identity and purpose in true practicality as young people?

We may look at ourselves and think: I’ve never been formally trained to preach or give Bible studies, I’m not qualified to do the work of giving the gospel, I don’t have experience in sharing my faith, I’m not a pastor or a Bible worker. The list can go on, and on, and on…forever.

If any of these kinds of thoughts are in your mind, God has a word for you:

“In this closing work of the gospel there is a vast field to be occupied; and, more than ever before, the work is to enlist helpers from the common people. Both the youth and those older in years will be called from the field, from the vineyard, and from the workshop, and sent forth by the Master to give His message. Many of these have had little opportunity for education; but Christ sees in them qualifications that will enable them to fulfill His purpose. If they put their hearts into the work, and continue to be learners, He will fit them to labor for Him.”[9] 

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t studied theology at an Adventist university. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been to a Bible college or received formal training to share your faith. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a pastor or a Bible worker. It doesn’t even matter if you see yourself as an individual lacking talent or ‘personality’. Whether you study engineering or music, business or fine arts, science or journalism, God has a critical work for you.

Every reason to disqualify oneself for witnessing, I used against myself: I don’t fully understand my faith; I’m not charismatic or particularly engaging; I’ve never been trained; I’ve never been mentored; I lack talent and capability; I’ve never successfully led anyone to Christ. At 21 years old, newly converted into the Seventh-day Adventist Church that I ironically grew up in, I didn’t have much to offer. All I saw were my liabilities, lack of experience, lack of training, lack of knowledge, and lacking capabilities.

But it’s not about what we see in ourselves – it’s about what Christ sees we can become.

But it’s not about what we see in ourselves – it’s about what Christ sees we can become. And with all of our liabilities and shortcomings, regardless of our background or future uncertainties, Jesus is calling us – each of us – to work directly under Him.

The only question to ask yourself now is: What opportunities are right next to me? What can I find to do in the home, at school, at work, among friends, among family? As we prayerfully take up the duty which lies nearest (it might even start with doing the dishes or cleaning your room), God will open, door by door, further opportunities for growth and development.

Relentlessly pursuing a relationship with Christ – taking time to study His message and asking God daily to teach us how to carry out our prophetic purpose – gives us assurance of His faithful promise. Jesus will personally fit us, teach us, and train us, according to His wonderful ways and His great hand of providence, to labor not only for Him, but in a mysterious and marvelous way, to labor with Him. 

What’s keeping you from living out your God-given purpose today?

[1] Gen. 3:15
[2] Luke 1:30-31 (KJV)
[3] John 17:4 (KJV)
[4] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1898), 19.
[5] Matt. 4:23 (KJV)
[6] Rev. 10:10-11 (KJV)
[7] Rev. 14:6-7 (KJV)
[8] Rev. 14:15 (KJV)
[9] Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1903), 269.

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