Seventh-Day Adventists/Writing in the dust

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Question
Dear Sal:

What do you think Jesus was writing in the dust in John 8? I have often wondered about that, but whenever I ask I'm told that we don't know. I understand that humans can't know everything, but are there no possibilities? Since you know the Bible so well I was hoping you could at least give me an educated guess.

Thanks,
Janice

Answer
Dear Sister Janice:

This is a very intriguing question. Thank you for asking it. It is true that John did not tell us what Jesus wrote; therefore, I can only conjecture. However, I hope that what I propose will be a better answer than, "We don't know." First let's look at the passage concerning the Woman Caught in Adultery.

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. 7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11).


Jesus wrote on the ground twice (see vs. 6 & 8). There are any number of theories as to what he wrote. One theory is that Jesus wrote down the sins of the woman's accusers. Perhaps secret sins that condemned them just as surely as the woman's sin condemned her.  

My favorite of the theories is that the first time Jesus wrote in the dirt he wrote a verse from the Prophet Jeremiah.

"O Lord, the hope of Israel,
All who forsake You shall be ashamed.
Those who depart from Me
Shall be written in the earth,
Because they have forsaken the Lord,
The fountain of living waters” (17:13).

When the scribes and the Pharisees didn't get his point and persisted Jesus knelt down for a second time and wrote their names under the Scriptural quote.  This caused them to realize that Jesus was accusing them of forsaking God by their shameful actions. The oldest who was presumably the wisest realized this first and left. The other accussers would soon follow being convicted in their hearts. "Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst" (John 8:9). I like this theory best because it incorporates Jesus as the fountain of living waters a fact John has just related in the previous chapter.

"On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'” (John 7:37-38; cf. 4:10-14).

Also this event occurred during the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (cf. 7:2, 10, 37). During the feast a ceremony occurred where a pitcher of water was taken from the pool of Siloam and poured out by the altar in the temple. This is another reference to water with a special purpose. Further the Feast of Tabernacles was instituted during the Israelites exile in the desert (cf. Leviticus 23:33, 42-43). During this time Israel received water miraculously from a rock (see Exodus 17:1-7; cf. Deuteronomy 8:15; Psalms 78:15; 105:41). Again a special water image (see also John 13:4-8; 19:34; Revelation 7:17). So for these reasons I favor the theory that sees Jesus writing in the dust something related to special water.

"O Lord, the hope of Israel,
All who forsake You shall be ashamed.
Those who depart from Me
Shall be written in the earth,
Because they have forsaken the Lord,
The fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 17:13).

"On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'” (John 7:37-38).

I pray that you found my answer helpful.


Thanks again for the very interesting question.

A Happy Thanksgiving to You & Yours,
Brother Sal

(All Scriptural quotations in this answer were taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible.)

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Sal

Expertise

I am privileged to be able to offer an alternative insight into the complicated world of Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) theology. I will rely heavily on the Bible, but will also consider history and use logic in exposing deficiencies in SDA teachings. I would ask anyone who is considering becoming a SDA or if you are already in the SDA church, but are searching for the truth, to please allow me to offer a different explanation for the claims of the SDA. Remember : "The truth will set you free" (John 8:32). I can answer your questions pertaining to the beliefs and history of the SDA. I am not able to answer questions concerning spirituality or church discipline.

Experience

I have extensively studied the theology of the Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) for a number of years. I have many books and tape sets produced by experts in this field of study. I have debated current members of the SDA church. I have a great desire to help these people see the truth.

Education/Credentials
M.S. degree in Food, Nutrition, and Dietetics

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