Lesson Seventeen


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Memory Verse: Numbers 14:18
Further Study: Jonah 1-4; Jeremiah 36; 38:1-13; Prophets and Kings, 367-378; 407-476; 265-278; The Bible Story, vol. 5, pp. 150-153; 177-187; vol. 6, pp. 177-184

Roger Boisjoly was a rocket engineer for Morton Thiokol, a NASA contractor. In 1985, Boisjoly discovered that if exposed to unusually cold conditions the O-ring seal on the booster rockets of the space shuttle could fail. He immediately wrote a memo to the vice-president of engineering: “It is my honest and very real fear that if we do not take immediate action to dedicate a team to solve the problem . . . then we stand in jeopardy of losing a [space shuttle] flight.” In essence, he was telling them if the seals failed, the shuttle would explode. But nothing was done, and no one heeded the warning.

Nothing was done, and no one heeded the warning. 

One wouldn’t think cold temperatures would be a problem in Florida, but the forecast for the morning of January 28, 1986, when the Challenger space shuttle would launch, predicted a temperature potentially as low as 30°F. A space shuttle had never taken off in temperatures that low. Boisjoly and his colleagues argued and fought for hours with NASA to delay the takeoff, but they were overruled.

The Challenger lifted off as expected and for a moment the engineers were relieved. Seconds later, the space shuttle exploded just as predicted killing all aboard including Christa McAuliffe, a New Hampshire teacher. It is one of the memorable events in American history as it happened while many, including students, watched live on television. “I’m very angry that nobody listened,” Boisjoly told an NPR reporter in 1987. “We were talking to the right people who had the power to stop that launch.”

Jeremiah urged Judah to return to God or face destruction. 

Like Boisjoly, Jeremiah urged Judah to return to God or face destruction. For 40 years, he spoke to leaders, but they threw him in prison. The king asked for his counsel secretly. The king initially acted, but wasn’t brave enough to continue to stand against public opinion. Jeremiah was a messenger sent directly by God to save His people, but he was ignored. When no one listened to Boisjoly, the Challenger exploded. When no one listened to Jeremiah, Jerusalem was ultimately destroyed.

Roger Boisjoly was never the same after the Challenger accident. Although he did all he could to stop the launch he felt responsible for the disaster. He spent the rest of his life visiting engineering schools impressing upon students the importance of following the data and making wise decisions in spite of the circumstances.

We also have a message to deliver today.  

Like the Bible prophets who were each given an important message, we also have one to deliver today. It is as urgent as the one given NASA almost 40 years ago. We can be Jeremiahs and Jonahs in our families, neighborhoods, and communities. Let’s choose to follow right even when it’s difficult. Let’s persistently live as witnesses for our faith, even when no one may appear to listen. Let’s continue to sound the alarm: Turn to Jesus and live. Together let’s renew others, so that one day, we will all be ready to meet Jesus when He comes again.

Digging Deeper 

While not part of our lesson this week, the book of Jeremiah is worth studying. His message from God was an odd one—surrender to Babylon and you will live. It was unusual because there were definitely moments in Judah’s history, some as recent as King Hezekiah, where God stepped in and saved the city. So, Jeremiah’s message didn’t seem in line with what had happened before even though he gave all evidence of being God’s prophet. 

Listen to these words:

“And you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: “If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, to heed the words of My servants the prophets whom I sent to you, both rising up early and sending them (but you have not heeded), then I will make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.” ’ ” (Jeremiah 26:4-6)

Those listening to these words would know exactly what was being said, although the meaning might be lost on us. Notice the reference to “Shiloh.” This references the time of Eli, when the Philistines overran Israel, killed 30,000, and took the Ark of the Covenant. This entire tragedy stemmed from the fact that the religious leader (Eli) allowed his sons (the priests) to commit sin upon sin within the temple service and the community. Israel thought that God would give them victory even though they weren’t worshiping Him or honoring His name. The message of Jeremiah was the same. The leadership and the people needed to repent, or calamity would strike, this time in the form of the Babylonian army.

Making it Real

Seventh-day Adventists firmly believe in the Bible prophets. But they also support the prophetic inspiration of Ellen G. White. She has written on hundreds of topics including marriage, family, parenting, health, and other inspirational writing leading people to Jesus. White makes this statement:

“Satan is . . . constantly pressing in the spurious—to lead away from the truth. The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. . . . Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God’s remnant people in the true testimony” (Selected Message, vol. 1, p. 48)

The testimonies referenced means the inspired writings. Notice she doesn’t say that Satan will have people reject her writings, but simply ignore them. As an Adventist (or non-Adventist), have you read a book by Ellen White lately? If not, why not select one today and discover some inspiration. You can find all her books at egwwritings.org.


Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.


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