"LET THERE BE LIGHT" Ministries
"LET THERE BE LIGHT"
Bible History of Separation--Part One
First Printing, 1995
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"LET THERE BE LIGHT"
Bible History of Separation--Part One
In the very beginning of this world, God laid down major principles of truth for His people to follow throughout all ages, even until the end of this world. These principles of truth have their foundation in the government of heaven, and God incorporated these into His creationary plan for this earth. So let us start at the very beginning, and see what these major principles of truth are.
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day." Genesis 1:1-5.
Let us take a closer look at these verses.
"In the beginning God." This Hebrew word for "God" is "Elohiym," and it means plural, or more than one. So "in the beginning Gods created the heaven and the earth."
As there were more than one God involved in creation, how many Gods were there? The Scriptures tell us that this world was created by the power of God the Father, through the Word of God the Son, and the creation command was carried out through God the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 3:9; Hebrews 1:10; Isaiah 40:13-14; Job 26:13). Then how many Gods were involved in creation? Three! Not three in one, or one in three: but three Gods. (For further Biblical and Spirit of Prophecy proof of this, please write for the booklet; "Godhead--One, Two, or Three Gods" at the address given in the front of this booklet).
Now the earth was without form, void, and full of darkness. The next thing was the Spirit of God beginning to move on the face of the waters. Light was then created in the midst of the darkness. The next thing that happened was; "God saw the light, that it was good." The Hebrew word for "saw" translates "to discern or perceive." So God discerned or perceived or understood the light to be good. And then God divided the light from its connection with the darkness.
Is there a spiritual application to what literally took place on the first day of creation? Yes. Paul states this very clearly:
"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6.
So Paul takes the literal occurrences on the very first day of creation, and applies it spiritually to the individual--proving there is a spiritual application. So let us go over these verses again, and look at them in the spiritual sense.
"The earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep." What would spiritually represent the earth? It would represent the heart soil; or the hearts of humanity. Christ used the parable of the sower--likening the different soils of the earth to the different types of individual's hearts or minds. So the earth, or the hearts of humanity, are "without form;" or are without a formed character in the image of Christ. They are "void" of knowledge of God's truth and His governing principles in their lives. And they are full of "darkness" instead of God's light.
The next thing that occurred was the Spirit began to move upon the face of the waters. Waters represent peoples (see Revelation 17:3). So the Holy Spirit begins to move upon, or prepare, the darkened hearts of humanity for something; which the next event in the first day of creation reveals.
God said "Let there be light," and light was created in that darkness. So God commands light to shine in the darkened hearts of individuals. But how is this accomplished? How does light shine in our hearts?
"The entrance of thy word giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." Psalms 119:130.
It is by the entrance of God's word into our darkened hearts and minds that gives us light.
God then "saw" this light: He perceived, He understood, He discerned that this light was good. And that is our duty also. When light shines in our hearts, we must understand if this light is good or not.
But how do we determine if this light is good? It is by knowledge and wisdom. But knowledge and wisdom from where? From the earth? No, because if we depend on the world's knowledge and wisdom, then we are the enemies of God (see James 4:4). Knowledge and wisdom from men? No, because if we depend on man's wisdom, we will be cursed (see Jeremiah 17:5). How about knowledge and wisdom from ourselves? No, because our own wisdom is foolishness with God (see 1 Corinthians 1:19-20, 3:19). Then knowledge and wisdom from where? It must be from God! We must have the knowledge and wisdom from above in order to understand if the light is good. And God promises His people that He will give us all the wisdom and knowledge we need, through His Holy Spirit, to understand what is good light--as long as we seek Him and do His will (see James 1:5; John 7:17, 14:26, 16:13; Testimonies to Ministers, p 119).
Once light begins to shine in our darkened hearts, we are to understand, perceive, and discern--through a study of God's will and His word--that this light is indeed good. We are to test this light according to God's specified directions:
"To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, there is no light in them." Isaiah 8:20.
So we are to test any light which comes to us by the Bible and the Testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit of Prophecy (see Revelation 19:10). We are not to accept any light as being good just on the promise of the individual who brought it to us, but we must know for ourselves through our own personal study if this light is indeed good. We must study God's word--the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy--to have all the wisdom and knowledge to determine if the light is good. But in studying God's word we must do it prayerfully, humbly, like a child--being "simple." If we are proud or lifted up, we will not gain a correct understanding of God's light of truth.
Once we have studied the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy to understand and perceive the light to be good, then what are we to do? The next thing that happened in creation was that God separated the light from its connection with the darkness. And we are to do the same. We are to take the truth, the light of God, and separate it away from having any connection with the darkness, so that there is a plain and distinct barrier--a wall of separation--between the two. Thus light would be clearly on one side of this wall of division, and darkness would be clearly on the other side. And once we understand the truth to be good, it also begins to show us error--or the opposite of truth.
Why did God command a separation or division to be between light and darkness? So that the two could not mix together. This was done so that any person could clearly see that there are two pathways, and only two pathways to choose from--one being truth, and the other being error. It would also show them exactly what side they were already standing on, and then they could choose to either move to the other side or stay put where they are. It brings them to make an intelligent decision about which side they are going to stand on and fight for in these last days.
Now if we were to draw on paper exactly what took place on the first day of creation between light and darkness, we would place light on one side of the paper, and darkness on the other side, and in between the two we would draw a line of division or separation. This is what God commanded there to be between light and darkness. So we would have light on one side of this line of separation, and darkness--or the opposite of light--on the other side. The light was pronounced to be good, and what is the opposite of good? Evil or bad. So we would also write "good" on the side of light, and "evil or bad" on the other side. Light is another word for truth. And what is the opposite of truth? Error or falsehood. So we would write truth on the side of light, and error or falsehood on the opposite side. We would continue to do this same process with all the following issues as well:
Obedience to God's will vs Disobedience to God's will
Righteousness vs Unrighteousness or sin or wickedness
Pure vs Corrupt
Converted to the Lord vs Unconverted to the Lord
Godly vs Ungodly
Clean vs Unclean
Loyalty to God vs Apostasy, rebellion, and treason
Believers vs Unbelievers
Followers of Jesus vs Followers of Satan
God's church vs Satan's synagogue or counterfeit of
Liberty and freedom from sin vs Bondage and captivity to sin
Jesus is the author of light, as well as its General; hence we would place His name at the top of the side of light. While Satan is the author of darkness, as well as its general; hence we would place his name at the top of the side of darkness.
So as we study God's word, light begins to shine in our darkened hearts or minds and is discerned to be good by the enlightenment of God's Holy Spirit. When we discern and understand it to be truth, then we are commanded by God to willingly separate this light from its connection with darkness so that the two are not mixed together anymore. As the truth is clearly placed on one side, and error clearly placed on the other side, with a separating wall in between, then we have the choice to follow the light--being clearly on the side of truth, or to follow the darkness--being clearly on the side of falsehood and error.
What if we find ourselves on the devils side of this line of demarcation? Will we be forced to move from Satan's side of the line to God's side? No. Because God does not accept forced offerings, and neither will He accept forced obedience! Our choice to leave is to be made from a free will--to willingly make the move and separate ourself from Satan's camp to be in God's camp. Every individual will be brought to make their decision to either be on Jesus' side of the line of demarcation, or on Satan's side. We have the freedom of choice as to whom we are going to follow. No one will be forced to side with Jesus. Jesus died on the cruel cross to save humanity their freedom of choice as to whom they will follow in these last days!
But who commanded a division, or a wall of separation between truth and error, light and darkness? Did man? No. God did right in the very beginning of this earth's history. This principle of a demarcation or a division between God's people and Satan's followers is directly from the Lord. These God-given principles are to govern the whole human family throughout the ages--especially during the very last days of this earth's history.
Christ knew this truth very well, and taught these principles when He was on this earth!
"Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:" Luke 12:51.
Division between what and what? Between light and darkness; between truth and error; between God's followers and Satan's followers. It was one of Christ's main missions while on this earth to separate the pure truths of God, which had been buried beneath the rubbish of custom and tradition, and placed them in their exalted position before the people.
Since God established these separation principles on the very first day of creation, is there to be any union or harmony between Christ's camp and Satan's camp? No. Then what is there to be?
"...light and darkness cannot harmonize. Between truth and error there is an irrepressible conflict. To uphold and defend the one is to attack and overthrow the other. Our Saviour Himself declared, 'I came not to send peace, but a sword.'" Spirit of Prophecy, vol 4, p 101.
"The line of separation must be distinctly marked between the obedient and the disobedient. There must be open and avowed enmity between the church and the serpent, between her seed and his seed." Signs of the Times, vol 2, p 315, col 1 (August 26, 1889).
There is to be no union what-so-ever between Christ's camp and Satan's camp; there is to be a warfare--a constant conflict between these two camps and their followers. There is to be no harmony at all, but an open controversy. And as the battle heats up and becomes more intense, it will grow into a great controversy.
Now which general is going to win this warfare and controversy? Christ. Satan is already a defeated foe. The devil will not and cannot win, although it will seem and appear that God's true church falls; but does it fall? No, it remains and triumphs in the end because it is thoroughly and unshakable connected with the truth.
Satan is already a defeated foe. Thus the hotter this battle becomes, the more people are awakened out of sleep to the realization of there being only two camps to choose from--the camp of truth, or the camp of error. And when this realization dawns on them, then more decisions are made for Christ, and people end up leaving Satan's camp and destruction, to join Christ's camp and eternal life. Hence the hotter this battle and controversy becomes, the more Satan loses captives to his kingdom. So Satan does not want to outwardly and openly attack the truth, because he loses. Then what is his battle plan? If we could know the battle plan of our enemy, then that is half the battle won in our favor. So what is Satan's battle plan?
Satan's battle plan is to try and unite these two camps together. To unite light with darkness, good with evil, truth with error, obedience with disobedience, righteousness with unrighteousness, pure with corrupt, converted with unconverted, clean with unclean, godly with ungodly, those loyal to God with those who are in apostasy, rebellion, and treason against God, believers with unbelievers, God's followers with Satan's followers, God's true church with Satan's synagogue. And if this occurs, then what happens? The warfare ceases; peace begins to reign between the two camps; people begin to fall back asleep, and Satan wins the warfare. So Satan's battle plan is to unite both groups together, so that the warfare ceases, and he wins.
But how does Satan accomplish this? He accomplishes this by attacking the wall of separation--the barrier between the two camps. If he can break this wall down, or cause a breach or a hole in it, then light and darkness are going to mingle; God's camp and Satan's camp are going to mix together. If this happens, then a union takes place, and the warfare ceases. Also if the two camps are mixed together, then there would no longer be two camps, but one, and many would end up choosing this unholy mixture as being the only church of God.
So what is Satan's battle plan, and how does he accomplish it?
"Satan is a powerful general. He had a long experience in the heavenly courts, and he knows how to mingle right sentiments and principles with evil....Thus he deceives men, and seeks to obliterate the line of demarcation between believers and unbelievers." Review and Herald, vol 4, p 307 col 3 (June 4, 1901).
"Christ speaks of the church over which Satan presides as the synagogue of Satan. Its members are the children of disobedience. They are those who choose to sin, who labor to make void the holy law of God. It is Satan's work to mingle evil with good, and to remove the distinction between good and evil. Christ would have a church that labors to separate the evil from the good..." SDA Bible Commentary, vol 7, p 958, col 1.
Thus as Satan is attacking and trying to tear down this wall of separation that God commands there to be between truth and error and the followers of these two camps, what are Christ's church and people supposed to be doing? Laboring to keep this barrier and wall of separation distinct, building it up, repairing any breaches, making this wall plain and clearly seen between the camp of God and the camp of Satan. This is what God would have all His people to do today!
"And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in." Isaiah 58:12.
Can you now see this battle and controversy going on a little more clearly? Satan's battle plan is to attack, tear down, and destroy this wall of separation so that the pure will unite with the corrupt. But if the pure unite with the corrupt, will they still remain pure? Will the pure retain their purity if they are in association, membership, or have any union with the corrupt?
"You are exhorted to touch not the unclean thing; for in touching this, you will yourself become unclean. It is impossible for you to unite with those who are corrupt, and still remain pure. 'What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial?' God and Christ and the heavenly host would have man know that if he unites with the corrupt, he will become corrupt." SDA Bible Commentary, vol 6, p 1102, col 2.
Is there any loopholes around the word "impossible"? No. So then any excuse that Satan can come up with to make you believe that it is possible for you to cross over the line of separation and unite with the corrupt and not become corrupted, would be a lie! God clearly states that it is an impossibility. But Satan wants you to believe that it is possible. Who are you going to believe? God? Or the father of lies?
God, in His infinite mercy, does not just give His people one line or one admonition regarding His will for them in this crucial issue, because He knows how deceptive the devil is over the minds of humanity--especially in these last days. So God again tells His people the same thing:
"We are exhorted, 'Touch not the unclean.' Those who associate with the impure, themselves become impure. If we choose the society of the ungodly, we shall be affected by their ungodliness. 'What communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial?'" Review and Herald, vol 2, p 255, col 2 (October 23, 1888).
Now there are three main principles which God established on the first day of creation and which He is trying to get His people to understand today.
What does light and truth have to do with? They deal with doctrine. Darkness, error, and falsehood also have to do with doctrine. What does obedience and righteousness have to do with? These deal with the character of the individual. Same with disobedience, unrighteousness, sin, and wickedness--dealing with the individual's character. What do those who are pure, converted, godly, clean, loyal, believers, followers of Jesus, and God's church have to do with? These would be groups, churches, organizations--or basically the corporate body. Same with those who are impure or corrupt, unconverted, ungodly, unclean, apostate or treasonous or rebellious, unbelievers, followers of Satan, and Satan's synagogue or the counterfeit of God's church--dealing with groups, churches, organizations, or basically the corporate body.
So there are three main principles which affect every aspect of our lives--our beliefs, our actions, and our associations. If we want to be completely on the side of Jesus--to be completely free and hid in Him--then we are to separate ourselves entirely from everything contaminated with Satan's camp and influence. We must separate entirely from false and fanatical doctrines, separate entirely from known sin in our character and life, and separate entirely from apostate, rebellious, and corrupt groups, churches, organizations--or corporate bodies. Until we would do this, we would not be completely free and hid in Jesus, and thus could not claim to be a child of God!
Christ and the devil have nothing in common, and the devil hath nothing in Christ (see John 4:30). As this is true, then in order for us to be completely hid in Christ, we can have nothing held in common with Satan, and the devil can have nothing in us. This wall of separation must have no holes or breaches in it in our experience, or we are contaminated with the devil's camp, and thus are out of Christ.
What if we were to be completely free from all corrupt corporate bodies or churches, were completely free from known sin in our life, but refused to separate false or fanatical doctrine out of our beliefs; would we be completely free in Jesus--being clearly on His side? No, because we would be breaching the wall of separation in the area of false doctrine. Thus we would not be completely hid in Christ, and we would not be accepted of God as His obedient child!
What if we were completely free from false and fanatical doctrine in our beliefs, were completely free from corrupt churches, but refused to give up all sin in our life; would we be completely free and on the side of Christ? No, because we would be on the devil's side of the wall in the area of character. Thus we would not be completely hid in Christ, or accepted of God as His obedient child!
But what if we were completely free from all known sin in our life and character, had no false or fanatical doctrines in our beliefs, but we were fellowshipping or had membership in a corrupt, apostate, and rebellious church; would we be completely free in Jesus and a part of God's true church? No, because we would be on the devil's side of the wall in the area of corrupt and apostate corporate bodies or churches. Thus we would not be completely hid in Christ, or accepted of God as His obedient child!
In order to be completely free and hid in Christ and fully accepted of God as His obedient child, we must be entirely separated from false and fanatical doctrine, entirely separated from known sin in our life and character, and entirely separated from all corrupt, apostate, and rebellious groups, churches, organizations--or corporate bodies. If we are not completely separated from Satan's camp in every area of his control, whether in doctrine, character, or corporate bodies, then we are not God's people!
Some may be tempted to think; "Why, this line of demarcation or separation is only made up; God is not the one who drew this line, but it is a line that man made up." But is God really the One who has drawn this line of separation between His people and the devil's followers, or did this message originate in the mind of men?
"The eternal God has drawn the line of distinction between the saints and the sinners, the converted and the unconverted. The two classes do not blend into each other imperceptibly, like the colors of the rainbow. They are to be as distinct as midday and midnight." Testimonies to Ministers, p 87.
Who commands all of God's people to willing separate from anything connected with Satan's camp? God does! And until we follow these heavenly principles, dropping all connection with any part of Satan's kingdom, refusing to even touch the unclean thing, then we are not God's people or a part of His true church, God is not our Father, and we are not on the pathway to heaven!
"The principles of God's government--the only principles that will endure from everlasting to everlasting--are to be followed by those who are seeking for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. The line of demarcation between those who serve God and those who serve Him not is to be kept clear and distinct." Manuscript Releases, vol 20, p 154.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
So after we have broken all connections with Satan's doctrine (no communion with darkness), and after we have eliminated all known sin from our life and character (no fellowship with unrighteousness), and after we have separated ourselves and dropped all membership and connection from all apostate and corrupt groups, churches, organizations or corporate bodies (no unequal yokes--no touching of the unclean thing), then and only then does God receive us into His true church and body--becoming our Father and God, and we His sons and daughters. This is not made up by men; but this message of truth comes directly from God--the Almighty.
"The line of demarcation between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not is becoming more and more distinct. This is as the Lord designs it should be." Upward Look, p 244.
God did not say that He would receive us while we were unequally yoked with unbelievers, or while we were having fellowship with unrighteousness, or while we were having communion with darkness, or while we were touching the unclean thing or church. But God said that He would only receive us after we have separated ourselves away from all these areas of Satan's camp and control.
How can Christ receive us as part of His faithful bride and church if we are still connected to the devil's kingdom of Babylon? He can't, because Christ and Belial have no concord or agreement together. So if we find that we are still breaching the wall of separation and are touching the unclean thing in any area of Satan's kingdom, then we are not God's children and He is not our Father and God! And we will continue to be Christ-less until we voluntarily and willingly separate ourselves from any area in which Satan controls.
This message does not originate with man, although some would like it to disappear. But it originated directly from God Himself--established on the first day of creation.
"The Lord Himself has established a separating wall...The servants of mammon make every effort to break down the barriers, and destroy the line of demarkation between the holy and the profane. Many of the professed followers of Christ are determined to break it down, and to maintain concord between Christ and Belial. But God has made this separation, and He will have it exist." Review and Herald, vol 1, p 389, col 2 (January 8, 1884).
God continues to try and get His people to understand this vital issue, and states:
"Can two walk together except they be agreed?" Amos 3:3.
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." Ephesians 5:11.
"Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord." Isaiah 52:11.
God says not to touch the unclean thing or woman, but to go out of the midst of her. What does this mean? A woman in Bible prophecy means a church. So the woman or church which God wants His people to go out of is not a pure church, but is a corrupt or unclean harlot church. God does not only want His people to go out from the unclean harlot church, but not even to touch her. How can we touch an unclean woman or a corrupt church?
We would be touching an unclean church by being connected to her. So we would be touching an unclean harlot church by being connected with, in union with, or members of, her. Thus by our membership in a corrupt and unclean church, we would be touching the unclean thing--which God tells His people not to do! So in order to obey God and touch not the unclean thing, we would not only have to separate our physical presence from a corrupt and apostate church, but we would also have to drop our membership from that harlot church in order to obey God and not be touching the unclean thing!
Those who refuse to drop their membership with the unclean harlot church, but remain connected with her--even if they did separate their physical presence and stopped attending the church--would still be considered one with her in uncleanness and harlotry!
"Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith He, shall be one flesh." 1 Corinthians 6:15-16.
So if we keep our membership within an harlot church, continuing to touch the unclean thing, then we are no longer two--but are linked together with the corrupt church as one body. What will happen if we continue finding rest within a corrupt church, and refuse to drop our membership and cease to be united with her? We will be destroyed right along with the polluted church!
"Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction." Micah 2:10.
Why is this so? Because of corporate responsibility: we become responsible for the sins of the corrupt church which we are in union and membership with, even though we did not literally commit them ourselves! This principle of truth is clearly taught in the Scriptures. (For further study in this area, please write for the study; "Understanding Corporate Responsibility" at the address given in the front of this booklet). Just for the sin of one man--Achan--the whole church was held responsible (see Joshua 7; Testimonies, vol 3, p 365, 369). Also for the sins of the church leadership, the whole corporate church--membership and all--would be held responsible (see Jeremiah 26:15; Testimonies, vol 4, p 491).
God will not hold any guilty of corporate responsibility while they are ignorant of this fact. Many have joined apostate and corrupt churches in ignorance of there being anything wrong. But when the truth is presented to them about the wicked fruits their church is producing, then they are no longer ignorant, and hence must make a choice to remain in union with, or to break all connection with, their corrupt church. If they choose to stay, then they become guilty of the sins of their church--becoming corporately responsible--and thus they will share in its destruction.
Why? Because you cannot walk in union with an impure church unless you agree to do so. Thus you agree to be in connection with all the sins of the church and a sharer in her punishment, or you would break that union by dropping your membership and association with her. This truth of corporate responsibility is one of the foundational principles contained in the message of the loud cry!
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Revelation 18:4.
That is why God wants His people to be completely separate from every area of Satan's camp, so that the wall of demarcation can be made plain and distinct between them and the devil. Thus they can escape destruction, and flee into the waiting arms of Jesus--to be completely free and hid in Him when the overflowing scourge shall pass through the land.
In fact, the more plain and distinct we make this wall of separation, the more we glorify God!
"The more visible the line of demarcation...the more the Lord is glorified." Spalding and Magan Collection, p 229.
In order to follow the will of our God, we must give up our own will, and follow where God should lead the way--even in the building up of this wall of separation! If we refuse to separate from false and fanatical doctrine, from all personal sin, and especially from all corporate sin--breaking all connection with anything that Satan controls, including the church we belong to--then we are not following God's will, but our own will. Why? It is only when we surrender our will to God that we will be able to clearly see His principles of truth established on the first day of creation, and be able to show our loyalty to Him by obeying these principles and separating! It is only when we show that we love and obey God more than ourselves, that we will be able to build up this wall of demarcation!
"There are two great principles, one of loyalty, the other of disloyalty....The line of demarcation between the obedient and the disobedient must be plain and distinct. We must have a firm determination to do the Lord's will at all times and in all places." My Life Today, p 73.
"...love is manifested in obedience. The line of demarcation will be plain and distinct between those who love God and keep His commandments, and those who love Him not and disregard His precepts." Testimonies, vol 6, p 91.
Now has God always required a willing separation from all three principle areas of Satan's camp--from false and fanatical doctrine, from unrighteousness in the character, and from corrupt and apostate groups, churches, and organizations? Yes. But right from the very beginning of this earth's history and through every age including today? Yes.
"Thus in every age, from the midst of apostasy and rebellion, God gathers out a people that are true to Him,--a people 'in whose heart is His law.'" Patriarch and Prophets, p 338.
This has always been God's will--to guide and govern His people from principles of truth established from the very beginning of creation. That is why God in His infinite wisdom laid down the creationary scheme of the first day to include all of these principles. Thus in every age these principles have governed God's people--including today and even into the future.
Many would admit that God has always required His people to separate from false doctrine and from personal sin throughout all ages, but they will deny that God has always called His people to separate from corrupt corporate bodies. Has God always required His people to willingly and physically separate themselves from their once chosen and pure church that chose to follow Satan and became corrupted? Has God always required this response from His true people in every single age? If so, then it would also be true with His people today. If our once chosen and pure church decided to follow Satan and became apostate and corrupt, then we could not remain physically or corporately connected with this church if we wanted to follow God's will and be His chosen people. So how do we answer this question?
The best way to answer this question is to examine Biblical history and see exactly what principles God led His people to follow throughout every age. Let us then start at the very beginning.
WAR IN HEAVEN
Where did sin originate? In the heart of Lucifer in heaven. Was there any excuse for sin to arise in Lucifer's heart? No. There was and is no excuse for sin whatsoever, and when we get to the judgment bar of God we will not be able to offer Him any excuse for our continued sinning. There will be no excuse that we can come up with for choosing to follow Satan and to remain a part of his camp.
Satan himself is called the mystery of iniquity (see Testimonies to Ministers, p 365). Satan began to spread his dissatisfaction with God and His government throughout the rest of the unfallen angels. Soon some of the angels began to discern, perceive, and understand that what was supposed to be good light coming to them from Satan was actually darkness. They began to discern which side was good, and which side was evil. Thus choices began to be made on which side they were going to stand on and fight for--either Christ or Satan.
God appealed to Lucifer for repentance, showing him the errors of his way, and trying to bring him back into complete harmony with His will. But Lucifer refused all overtures, and by his actions tells God, "I'm going to continue rebelling against You; I'm going to continue to draw as many of your angels to be on my side as I can, so that we can overthrow Your government."
What did God do next? He commanded that there was to be a clear division between Satan's camp and Christ's camp--between Satan and his followers, and Christ and His followers. And the conflict and warfare began.
Christ and His followers fought against Satan and His followers. And in this battle every single heavenly angel was brought to make their choice to either fight for and stand on God's side of the line, or Satan's side of the line.
Who won the battle? God and Christ. Satan and all of his followers were cast out of heaven, and a clear and distinct division was made. One group stood clearly upon the word of God, the other upon the sayings of the devil.
What would have happened if Satan would have been allowed to remain in heaven and would not have been cast out? He would have continued to spread his rebellion, corrupted more angels, and would have won more victories to his kingdom. But Satan's warfare did not cease.
Even though Satan was cast out of Heaven, he did not give up the warfare, but brought the same controversy--the same battle between light and darkness, between Christ and himself--down to this earth. And this battle will not end until every human being makes their decision for Christ or for Satan.
"The great controversy between truth and error, between Christ and Satan, is to increase in intensity to the close of this world's history." Spirit of Prophecy, vol 4, p 118.
This controversy between light and darkness had its beginning in heaven, and it will continue to increase in warfare to the very end of this world's history. Can you see why God established the very principles of truth He did on the very first day of creation? These precious principles of truth were to guide and show His people exactly where they were standing in this battle of the great controversy. Thus any one could know if they were following Jesus or following Satan by examining their lives by these principles of truth. (For further insight about this age, please read Spirit of Prophecy, vol 1, p 18-24, and I urge you to pay close attention to the different points of spiritual significance about what took place in heaven. Also read Ezekiel 28:12-19 and Revelation 12:7-9 which speaks about this same age.)
The next age we will examine is the creation of the earth, along with Adam and Eve.
ADAM AND EVE
Eve decided to leave the side of her husband and first love, and was beguiled into sin--becoming corrupted. This woman became a follower of Satan, joined his camp, and she became the most efficient medium that Satan could use to bring the downfall of her husband. So this woman decided to cross the barrier of separation, became beguiled into sin, and became Lucifer's most effective agent in causing the downfall of Adam.
What did Adam do when Eve came to him with the fruit of transgression in her hand, trying to persuade him with an eloquent message to join her? He first discerned that this message of so-called light was actually falsehood from Satan. He also perceived that his woman which he belonged to, was following Satan and not God. But now Adam is faced with the choice of obeying God and willingly separating himself from his disobedient and corrupt woman that he has become quite attached to, is very fond of her companionship, and loves a lot. He is faced with two choices--either obeying God and separating himself from the woman, or disobeying God and remaining connected with her, sharing her fate, being a partaker of her sin, and receiving judgment right along with her.
What did Adam do? He sadly chose to remain connected with his beloved woman, to disobey God, and to share her fate. In doing this he became corrupted, a partaker of her sin, and he received judgment right along with her. Adam showed that he loved this woman more than God. He loved the connection, companionship, and fellowship with the woman above following the will and ways of God. He refused to follow the principles that God laid down to guide and govern His creation, and fell into the bondage of the devil--becoming an enemy of God. Adam doubted that God could supply the place of the woman in his life, and did not exert the faith necessary to follow God's will instead of his own. And many today are following in Adam's footsteps regarding their woman or church! (For more spiritual insight, especially the mental wrestling occurring in Adam's mind over this issue, please read Spirit of Prophecy, vol 1, p 37-42.)
So we see the very same issues of the great controversy occurring during this first age of earth's history. We also see the failing of humanity to follow the three great principles of God's will of separation in their lives which He established even before they were created.
The next age we will examine is Noah and the flood.
NOAH AND THE FLOOD
The corporate body of the world was doomed for destruction by God. Probation had closed, but the individuals in that corporate body were to be tested to see if they wanted to share the fate of their corporate body, or if they wanted to obey God and come away from it and its destruction.
God commanded Noah to build an ark, and then commanded him to preach a saving message of mercy to any and all who would hear and obey. This message was a message of separation. God wanted all His people to willingly and physically leave their connection with the world--the corrupt corporate body they were connected to--and to enter into the ark and be saved.
Noah preached the truth and exposed falsehood, he preached righteousness and exposed unrighteousness, and he preached physical separation from a corrupt corporate body in order to be saved and become a part of God's true people and true church. And in preaching these three separation principles of truth, Noah was called "a preacher of righteousness" (see 2 Peter 2:5)!
The antediluvian people were plainly shown that they had to obey all three principles in order to completely perfect righteousness. If they only followed the first two principles, but refused to physically separate themselves from their corrupt corporate body, then they could not perfect righteousness completely, and thus could not be saved from the destruction of the flood.
Now when Noah was preaching a willing and physical separation from the corrupt corporate body of the world, that was doomed to be brought down to hell, and that all had to leave it in order to join God's people and church in the ark, what did those who rejected this message regard Noah as being? He was regarded as a deluded fanatic for preaching God's righteous message of separation. Noah was looked upon as being a well-meaning, but deluded minister because he preached the message of being completely separate from every area of Satan's camp. Because he preached that God wanted His true people to make the line of demarcation--the wall of separation--plain and distinct, he was denounced as being crazy.
What was Noah actually doing by preaching this God-given message? He was building up this wall of separation, repairing the breaches that had been made in it since Adam's generation. He was letting the people see exactly what God's will was in their generation, and exposing the deception which Satan had upon the people. And all made their choice either to separate from, or to remain connected with, the corrupt corporate body of the world. Thus the distinction was made plain, the wall of separation was again built up and seen in clarity.
Out of all the people of the world, how many obeyed this merciful and loving message of separation to God? A very, very small remnant in comparison with the vast majority. When the last person willingly separated from the corrupt corporate body and walked into the ark, probation closed for the whole world. Yet those who remained connected to the corporate body knew it not! And it was only after the last person had chosen to physically separate themselves from the corrupt body, that judgment fell. It was made clear that one group stood clearly upon a "Thus saith the Lord," the other upon the sayings of men. (For more spiritual insight about this particular age, please read Spirit of Prophecy, vol 1, p 69-74, and Genesis 6 & 7.)
The next age we will examine was during the time of Abraham.
Abraham lived in Ur of the Chaldees, which was Babylon, and which was a corrupted, idolatrous, religious, established nation. And what did God command Abraham to do?
"Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee." Genesis 12:1.
God had commanded Abraham to physically separate himself from his established, corrupted, religious nation, and from all those who refused to give up their sins and leave their corrupted nation--even if these were his immediate family.
What did Abraham do? Did he question God as to why he had to leave at that time? No. Did he delay to obey, waiting for the apostate people and nation which he belonged, to tell him to leave, or to kick him out and thus he would be obeying God? No. Abraham unquestionably obeyed God, and "went out, not knowing whither he went" (see Hebrews 11:8). God did not show him where to go, but commanded him to go out. And Abraham had to exert faith in God, and to trust Him to guide him after he took the first step in obedience. By his actions Abraham said; "Lord, I discern Your voice to be good, and I'm going to obey even though I don't know where to go. But since You have spoken, and You are an all-wise God, knowing much more than I do what is best for your people, I'm going to follow Your will and not my own, and I'm going to separate knowing that you will show me where to go."
Now did Abraham ever reconnect himself back to the corrupt religious nation that he had left? Did he ever return to Ur of the Chaldees? Not at all. And it was only him who had separated physically from all that was Babylon, or that was corrupted by Babylon, who received the covenant blessing!
Did Abraham receive the covenant blessing when he was a member of Ur of the Chaldees or Babylon? No. He had to first obey Jesus and separate from Babylon before he received the covenant blessing. All Abraham had was the promise of God's favor. But it was only upon condition of obedience that this promise was granted him.
"God selected Abraham as His messenger through whom to communicate light to the world. The word of God came to him, not with the presentation of flattering prospects in this life of large salary, of great appreciation and worldly honor. 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee,' was the divine message to Abraham. The patriarch obeyed, and 'went out, not knowing whither he went,' as God's light bearer, to keep His name alive in the earth. He forsook his country, his home, his relatives, and all pleasant associations connected with his early life, to become a pilgrim and a stranger....
"Before God can use him, Abraham must be separated from his former associations, that he may not be controlled by human influence or rely upon human aid. Now that he has become connected with God, this man must henceforth dwell among strangers. His character must be peculiar, differing form all the world. He could not even explain his course of action so as to be understood by his friends, for they were idolaters. Spiritual things must be spiritually discerned; therefore his motives and his actions were beyond the comprehension of his kindred and friends.
"Abrahams unquestioning obedience was one of the most striking instances of faith and reliance upon God to be found in the Sacred Record. With only the naked promise that his descendants should possess Canaan, without the least outward evidence, he followed on where God should lead, fully and sincerely complying with the conditions on his part, and confident that the Lord would faithfully perform His word. The patriarch went wherever God indicated his duty; he passed through wildernesses without terror; he went among idolatrous nations, with the one thought: 'God has spoken; I am obeying His voice; He will guide, He will protect me.'
"Just such faith and confidence as Abraham had the messengers of God need today. But many whom the Lord could use will not move onward, hearing and obeying the one Voice above all others. The connection with kindred and friends, the former habits and associations, too often have so great an influence upon God's servants that He can give them but little instruction, can communicate to them but little knowledge of His purposes; and often after a time He sets them aside and calls others in their place, whom he proves and tests in the same manner. The Lord would do much more for His servants if they were wholly consecrated to Him, esteeming His service above the ties of kindred and all others earthly associations." Testimonies, vol 4, p 523-24.
When did Abraham become God's lightbearer? After he left; meaning that he was not God's lightbearer while still a part of and connected with Babylon. God wanted Abraham to be His light bearer; but Abraham had to be tested first to see if he would obey God and no one else--including his own feelings.
Could God use Abraham while he was a part of Babylon--that corrupted religious nation which he was a member of? No. "Before God can use him, Abraham must be separated" from all that corrupting influence. When he left, not knowing wither he went, could he depend on any man or human influence to lead him in the right path? No. He had to depend upon God alone.
Abraham chose to willingly separate in obedience to God's will, and it was only after he separated from all that was connected with Satan's kingdom of Babylon, that he became connected with God! Was he to ever reconnect himself with any other established corrupted nation? No. There was to be a wall of separation between him and the rest of the Babylonians; he was to be a stranger, his character was to be peculiar--differing from all the rest.
In fact, when Abraham willingly separated his physical presence from his corrupted religious nation, he could not even explain this course of action as to be understood by his friends. They were saying, "Why are you separating yourself from us? Do you think you are more holy than us? Why not just stay where you are until you are asked to leave by the leaders, or they throw you out?" And the reason why few could understand Abraham's choice to willingly separate himself and brake all connections with his Babylonian religious nation and its membership was because they were idolaters. The vast majority could not understand the reason behind Abraham's actions because they were worshipping something else; such as their own ideas, or maybe their religious structure of Babylon, instead of worshipping God.
Thus by Abraham's unquestioning obedience to God's will, the line of demarcation was made plain and distinct between those who were following God's will, and those who were following Satan's will. One group were following the mind of God, the other the mind of men. The wall of separation was once again being built up, breaches were being repaired, and the attention of the people were again being called to examine it and then make their choice as to whom they were going to stand and fight for--either Christ or Satan. (For more insight, please read Spirit of Prophecy, vol 1, p 93; Genesis 12; and Hebrews 11:8-10, 15.)
The next individual we are going to investigate was contemporary with Abraham. But this individual chose to follow a different path than Abraham, and to act on different principles. This individual was Lot.
Lot was given the choice of where he wanted to connect himself. Sadly, he chose to connect himself with the apostate and corrupt corporate body of Sodom and Gomorrah, instead of dwelling with God in the wilderness.
When Lot joined himself with Sodom, it was already corrupt--but not yet fully and completely. Probation had not yet closed upon the corporate body. But as corruption breeds corruption, its vile tendrils spread throughout all the corporate membership and its outposts, until there were only a few righteous members left in the entire corporate body!
God then sent a most precious message to Lot--angel's messages--that probation had closed upon the corporate body, that it was to be brought down to hell and be destroyed, and that a physical separation out of it was an absolute necessity in order to be saved.
This message was a merciful message of love, and Lot perceived that this message was indeed good. He then began to preach this merciful and saving message of separation to those whom he knew and loved. When he preached this separation message, what did the people regard him as being? He was mocked and laughed at for preaching separation.
Lot's married daughters were influenced by their spouses, and they did not obey the message of separation; they chose to remained. Lot himself did not immediately and unquestionably obey God, but he hesitated from separating himself from his beloved city. And because he hesitated in obeying God, he lost all of his possessions. But not only this: because of his example of delay, his wife lost her life! If Lot would have obeyed without delay, his wife would have not been lost!
Yet even after they had separated, Lot's wife lost her life. Why? Because her heart was still connected to the corrupt corporate body of Sodom. Even though her physical presence was separate from it, her heart was still connected to it, and this caused her to be destroyed right along with the corporate body. She had not herself willingly made her decision to leave, but had been forced out--taken by the hand out of the doomed city. Hence her heart was still attached to the corporate body, even though she no longer attended it.
"In the twilight, two strangers drew near to the city gate....None could discern in those humble wayfarers the mighty heralds of divine judgment, and little dreamed the gay, careless multitude that in their treatment of these heavenly messengers that very night they would reach the climax of the guilt which doomed their proud city...
"That last night was marked by no greater sins than many others before it; but mercy, so long slighted, had at last ceased its pleading. The inhabitants of Sodom had passed the limits of divine forbearance,--'the hidden boundary between God's patience and his wrath.'...
"In all the cities of the plain, even ten righteous persons had not been found; but in answer to the patriarch's prayer, the one man who feared God was snatched from destruction. The command was given with startling vehemence: 'Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.' Hesitancy or delay now would be fatal. To cast one lingering look upon the devoted city, to tarry for one moment, from regret to leave so beautiful a home, would have cost them their life. The storm of divine judgment was only waiting that these poor fugitives might make their escape.
"But Lot, confused and terrified, pleaded that he could not do as he was required, lest some evil should overtake him and he should die. Living in that wicked city, in the midst of unbelief, his faith had grown dim. The Prince of heaven was by his side, yet he pleaded for his own life as though God, who had manifested such care and love for him, would not still preserve him. He should have trusted himself wholly to the divine Messenger, giving his will and his life into the Lord's hands without a doubt or a question. But like so many others, he endeavored to plan for himself: 'Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one. Oh let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.' The city here mentioned was Bela, afterward called Zoar. It was but a few miles from Sodom, and like it was corrupt and doomed to destruction....
"Again the solemn command was given to hasten, for the fiery storm would be delayed but a little longer. But one of the fugitives ventured to cast a look backward to the doomed city, and she became a monument of God's judgment. If Lot himself had manifested no hesitancy to obey the angel's warning, but had earnestly fled toward the mountains, without one word of pleading or remonstrance, his wife also would have made her escape. The influence of his example would have saved her from the sin that sealed her doom. But his hesitancy and delay caused her to lightly regard the divine warning. While her body was upon the plain, her heart clung to Sodom, and she perished with it. She rebelled against God because His judgments involved her possessions and her children in the ruin. Although so greatly favored in being called out of that wicked city, she felt that she was severely dealt with, because the wealth that it had taken years to accumulate must be left to destruction. Instead of thankfully accepting deliverance, she presumptuously looked back to desire the life of those who had rejected the divine warning. Her sins showed her to be unworthy of life, for the preservation for which she felt so little gratitude." Patriarch and Prophets, p 160-62.
What sealed the doom of the people individually? It was when they insulted and rejected the messengers of heaven. And what did these messengers of heaven bring them? A message to escape or to separate from a corrupt corporate body which had passed the point of God's forbearance.
But all made their choice to leave or stay, and the distinction was made plain. The wall of separation was repaired. And when the last person separated out of the corporate body, judgment fell. It was shown that one group were standing upon the message of God, the other upon another message.
Lot himself did not really understand the extent of the corruption and its influence upon all connected with it, and was not willing to separate from the big corporate structure of Sodom until the last possible moment to leave. Even then he did not want to completely sever all connection with the corrupt corporate body, but reasoned that he would reside in a smaller city or a little company--thinking that even though it was connected with Sodom and Gomorrah, it could not possibly be as corrupt. But this reasoning was to no avail, because Lot also had to separate himself from this smaller city; it was also corrupt and destined to be destroyed. Lot found out the principle that anything which touches corruption, becomes corrupted. If the heart of the corporate body becomes corrupt, then everything that is connected with it will also become corrupt.
Since Lot willingly chose to connect himself with the corrupt corporate body of Sodom and Gomorrah, was God going to protect him? No. Then why was Lot saved? Lot was only saved because of Abraham's fervent prayers, that the Lord would spare Lot and his family from destruction along with the wicked!
Now was Abraham connected with Sodom and Gomorrah? No. Was Abraham corrupted with any connection with a corrupted corporate body? No. He was completely separate from them all, and clean or pure in God's sight. So Lot, who willingly chose to abide in, and be a member of, the corrupt corporate body, was only saved because of the fervent prayer of a man that was not connected with corruption! (For further insight, please read Patriarch and Prophets, p 157-69, Genesis 19:1-38).
The next age we come to is during the Hebrew captivity, and the Exodus.
God commanded His people of Israel to willingly separate themselves from the corrupted religious corporate body of Egypt. And when the exodus took place, a distinction was made plain, the wall of separation was re-established between themselves and the corrupted nation. They were truly acting upon faith in God and His commands, as well as the principles that outline His government. One group stood upon the words of God, the other upon the traditions of men.
But many only separated themselves from Egypt out of fear of what judgments might befall them if they remained within; some left only because of the excitement of their friends or loved ones separating, others separated just from curiosity, and still others separated just to go along with the crowd. But in the cases of these individuals, God was not ruling and foremost in their thoughts, and there was no heart involvement in their decisions to leave. Hence among the true Israel of God, those who chose to separate themselves from the corrupt corporate body, there was a mixed multitude--made up of those who were not converted to God. And this mixed multitude made up the majority of all those who separated (see Patriarch and Prophets, p 281).
When trials and adversities came to test the faith of all who joined this separation movement, and to see who would continue to obey God's will, it was this company of the mixed multitude that were continually bringing in doubts, trouble, and dissension, and causing the people to lose faith in the Lord. The mixed-multitude were continually a snare to the true Israel of God. Some of the true and faithful were deceived into joining them in their doubting, unbelief, dissension, and in casting blame upon those whom no blame should have been cast upon. And it was the mixed-multitude who were continually receiving individual judgments from God. (See Patriarchs and Prophets, p 315-18).
The next event we will examine is during this same age, just after the Exodus from the corrupt corporate body of Egypt, with the separated people of God involving themselves in the Golden Calf apostasy.
THE GOLDEN CALF APOSTASY
The mixed multitude were the ones responsible for the instigation of, and the making of, the golden calf. The majority of Israel chose to follow the mixed multitude in apostatizing from God and worshipping this image of the beast or calf.
Because of this apostasy, God told Moses to separate himself from the midst of the corporate body of Israel so that He could destroy them. God wanted to destroy the whole congregation, but what did Moses do? He pled with God not to destroy all of the corporate body, because both good and bad people were mixed together. And what did God do? He basically told Moses; "I have heard thee regarding this, and I will delay My judgments for the time being."
God was delaying His judgments for one reason: He was giving an opportunity for His true people, that were members in this corrupt corporate body, and thus connected with and a part of this apostasy, a precious and merciful opportunity to do something.
"Mark the influence of their extremes and fanaticism in their service of the great master worker, Satan. As soon as the wicked one had the people under his control, there were exhibitions of a satanic character. The people ate and drank without a thought of God and His mercy, without a thought of the necessity of resisting the devil, who was leading them on to the most shameful deeds. The same spirit was manifested as at the sacrilegious feast of Belshazzar. There was glee and dancing, hilarity and singing, carried on to an infatuation that beguiled the senses; then the indulgence in inordinate, lustful affections--all this mingled in that disgraceful scene. God had been dishonored; His people had become a shame in the sight of the heathen. Judgments were about to fall on that infatuated, besotted multitude. Yet God in His mercy gave them opportunity to forsake their sins.
"Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, 'Who is on the Lord's side?' The trumpeters caught up the words, and sounded them through the trumpet. 'Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.' All who were repentant had the privilege of taking their stand beside Moses." Testimonies to Ministers, p 102.
Who is on the Lord's side, let him come--let him willingly separate himself out of that apostate corporate body of the church, and come to the side of Christ. No one was forced to leave. No one was kicked out. The message was not to stay in the apostasy until the apostate church and its leadership told you it was O.K. now to leave. But the message was to willingly separate yourself from the midst of the apostasy and from the corporate body of those worshipping the golden calf, in order to join the Lord and His true people or church.
In this apostasy of the golden calf, the line of demarcation between God's people and Satan's people--between sin and righteousness, between light and darkness--was broken down, and all were mixed together. God could bear no longer with this apostasy, and was going to destroy the whole church. Moses was being tested to see if he really loved the true people of God or the honest ones, or if he was going to let them be destroyed along with the wicked. Moses pled for the Lord not to destroy the whole church. Then God said that He had heard Moses, and would give His true people an opportunity to show themselves separate from the apostasy before judgment fell.
Now was Moses the only one calling for a physical separation from this apostate and rebellious church? No. "The trumpeters caught up the words, and sounded them through the trumpet. 'Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me.'"
So it was a particular and certain sound that the trumpeters were giving? And what was that certain sound? Separate yourself from the midst of false doctrine, unrighteousness, corruption, and apostasy that is in your midst. So it was not only Moses who gave the call for God's true people to show themselves separate from the apostasy, but other individuals joined Moses in sounding these words of God to all the congregation.
Where was Moses standing when he made this call for separation? He was standing right in the gate of the camp. So there was a call for a division to occur within the camp of Israel--within the corporate body. Thus two different groups were being formed within the camp. One group choosing to stand with the apostasy and its leaders, the other choosing to show themselves distinct from the apostasy--standing in the very outskirts of the church.
God gave every church member ample precious time for all to make their decisions as to which group they would join and stand with. (See Review and Herald, vol 5, p 496). All who were going to leave the apostasy had left. And when the last person left, judgment fell.
Those who chose to stay in the apostasy were made up of three different classes of people. The first class were those who were going to rebel regardless of what God said through His messengers. The next class were those who knew that the apostasy was wrong, but they had friends and loved ones who chose to remain in the apostasy, so they chose to remain there also. And the last class were those that saw the apostasy, and they also had loved ones in there. Yet they had already decided there were going to leave, but they didn't act quickly enough. They delayed their obedience, waited too long, and were caught in the judgments. They perished along with the wicked because they did not show themselves separate from the wicked.
But not all of the people who separated from the apostasy, and joined the Lord and His obedient people in the outskirts of the corrupt body, were truly following the Lord. So God was forced to test the whole group further.
Because of the Golden Calf apostasy, God's tabernacle, or His true church--where His presence was found--was removed from being connected in any way with the camp of Israel, and was taken out into the wilderness!
"The Lord directed Moses to move His tent a far off from the encampment of Israel, thus giving expression to the people that He had separated Himself from them." Signs of the Times, vol 1, p 160 col 2 (May 27, 1880) (see also Exodus 33:7).
This was not the tent of Moses which was moved into the wilderness, but was God's tent--the tabernacle of His presence. God's presence was removed from having any connection whatsoever with the corporate body and church of Israel because of this G.C. or Golden Calf apostasy. So now there are two churches--one is the church in the wilderness, and the other is the camp or church of Israel. Which one is God's true church? It would have to be the church out in the wilderness. Why? Because God's presence would be there, and it is only the presence of Christ that can constitute a church of Christ!
"God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. 'Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them' (Matt. 18:20). Where Christ is even among the humble few, this is Christ's church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church." Upward Look, p 315.
With God's presence separated from the corporate body and church of Israel, God then tells Moses to command all who were truly repentant in their connection with the G.C. apostasy, to humble themselves, and in the sight of all Israel to willingly walk out of their camp or church--to disconnect themselves from the corporate body--and go to His true church in the wilderness.
"Moses required all who truly penitent and humble in view of their transgression to manifest it by separating themselves from the congregation. In the sight of all Israel they were to repair to the tabernacle and He would plead with God to forgive their transgression and receive them back to His favor." Signs of the Times, vol 1, p 160 col 2 (May 27, 1880).
So it was not just enough to show oneself separate from the apostasy, and yet still remain connected with the corporate body. God required His true people to have no connection what-so-ever with the corporate body, to separate completely from it, and to join His church in the wilderness. Only those who obeyed and humbled themselves and willingly separated from the camp and church of Israel, were received back into God's favor becoming His children and people once again. Those who refused to obey God's command and remained connected with the church, showed themselves not to be followers of God.
So even though they had willingly separated themselves from the G.C. apostasy, they chose to remain connected with the corporate body, and thus were not part of God's true church! Thus the distinction was made plain. The wall of separation was made distinct. One group stood upon the word of God, the other upon the word of men.
For more information on the apostasy of the Golden Calf, write this Ministry for the booklet titled: The Golden Calf Apostasy.
The next event we will examine is shortly after the G.C. apostasy, dealing with Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
THE KORAH, DATHAN, and ABIRAM REBELLION
Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and 250 leaders in Israel had chosen to rebel and apostatize from God and His chosen prophet or messenger, and had covertly gained the sympathies of the majority of the church body. This history of the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram is strikingly similar with Satan's rebellion in heaven!
Open rebellion soon became manifested when Korah saw that he had enough people enlisted on his side. God tells Moses to separate himself from this rebellious house because He was going to destroy the whole church. But what did Moses do? Moses again interceded for the people saying, Lord, please do not destroy the righteous along with the wicked. God said that He had heard Moses regarding this also, and would hold His judgment for the time being.
What was God's purpose in doing this? He wanted to give all His people a chance to show themselves completely separate from the rebellion and not to be destroyed along with them.
Moses then called for a willing physical separation from the camp of the rebellious and apostate--from the tents of Korah, Dathan, Abiram and their company. The Bible reveals that Dathan and Abiram and their families were destroyed, but it does not say that Korah's family were destroyed.
Korah's family decided not to stand with him, but instead they obeyed God's call for separation and left Korah standing in the door of his tent (see Numbers 26:10-11). Korah's family heard the message, they discerned the light and truth in it, they discerned that Korah was following Satan, and, even though it was hard to leave those they loved, they had enough faith in God to obey Him. But Dathan and Abiram's family came and stood right in the tent along with them. Their presence signifying that they were going to stand on the side of the rebellious, even though they never said a word in support.
All were given an opportunity to physically separate themselves from the corruption, or to remain a part of it--thus becoming partakers of their sins and receiving the same judgment along with them. The distinction was made plain, the wall of separation was again reestablished. One group were standing upon God's word, the other upon the shaky ground of man's word. And after the last person left, judgment fell. The earth opened her mouth, and all the rebellious and apostate were destroyed along with those who chose to remain within the camp. (For further insights please read Patriarchs and Prophets, p 395-400 and Numbers 16:1-33).
The next age of history that we will examine is during the time of Eli and his sons.
ELI, HOPHNI, and PHINEAS
"The sons of Eli, instead of realizing the solemnity of this symbolic service [of the sanctuary], only thought how they could make it a means of self-indulgence....
"This irreverence on the part of the priests soon robbed the service of its holy and solemn significance, and the people 'abhorred the offering of the Lord.' The great anti-typical sacrifice to which they were to look forward, was no longer recognized. 'Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord.'
"These unfaithful priests also transgressed God's law and dishonored their sacred office by their vile and degrading practices; yet they continued to pollute by their presence the tabernacle of God." Patriarch and Prophets, p 576-77.
This corruption and apostasy was practiced by the highest leaders in the very headquarters of the church. Many of the church members saw the corruption, and abhorred it. They, of course, chose to have nothing to do with it, and took the following course.
"Many of the people, filled with indignation at the corrupt course of Hophni and Phineas, ceased to come up to the appointed place of worship. Thus the service which God had ordained was despised and neglected because associated with the sins of wicked men, while those whose hearts were inclined to evil were emboldened in sin. Ungodliness, profligacy, and even idolatry prevailed to a fearful extent." Patriarch and Prophets, p 577.
Because of the corruption at the heart of the work, this began to spread and affect the membership of the church. Thus many who saw the corruption did not want to have any connection with it, and chose to separate themselves. But because they stopped going to this corrupt church, did they cease to worship God? Not at all. They simply began having church in their homes!
"As the men of Israel witnessed the corrupt course of the priests, they thought it safer for their families not to come up to the appointed place of worship. Many went from Shiloh with their peace disturbed, their indignation aroused, until they at last determined to offer their sacrifices themselves, concluding that this would be as fully acceptable to God, as to sanction in any manner the abominations practiced in the sanctuary." SDA Bible Commentary, vol 2, p 1010 col 2.
These honest and faithful people of God showed themselves completely separate from false doctrine, from unrighteousness and wickedness, and from the corrupt course of their church leaders. They did not forsake God, but offered their sacrifices themselves, worshipping God according to His directions in their very homes. They did this, not to try to show themselves more holy than their apostate brethren, but because they did not want to sanction in any manner--especially by their presence--the abominations that were being practiced in their church. And yes, we can sanction sin by just remaining among the wicked!
"We should never give sanction to sin by our words or our deeds, our silence or our presence." Desire of Ages, p 152.
So these followers of God separated their physical presence, and ceased attending any of their synagogues or churches, but held church in their homes. They did not want to sanction with their presence the sin and the abominations being practiced in their church by its highest leadership. Thus the line of demarcation was made plain and distinct by God's people showing themselves separate from sin and sinners. One group were doing the will of God, the other were doing their own will.
The next age we will examine is during the time of Jeremiah.
God called Jeremiah as His watchman and messenger "to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down" established nations and kingdoms before any could be built up or planted (Jeremiah 1:5, 10). But how was their destruction to be accomplished? By the attack of another defenced city and kingdom (Jeremiah 1:18), being the messenger of the Lord speaking the words of the Lord (Jeremiah 1:9, 6:17)!
All these nations and kingdoms worshipped a god or gods, thus making them religious nations and kingdoms. But to which established religious nation and kingdom in particular was to be rooted out and pulled down and destroyed and thrown down? The very one in which the Lord himself had established and carefully built up and planted to be His own--Jerusalem, along with all the cities (outposts) connected with her (Jeremiah 1:15). The whole land (kingdom) was to be destroyed, including its king (main ruler or president), its princes (leaders), its priests (ministers), and its people (members (1:18)). Of course they all would fight against the Lord's messenger, to try and defend and save their own established kingdom, but they would not be able to prevail nor win because the Lord was not with them, but with His messenger (1:19). Why? Because of "all their wickedness," who forsook God--the One whom they professed to worship and obey--and formed another god out of the works of their own hands and worshipped it instead (1:16).
How did they become this way? What lead up to the necessity of destroying the once pure church of God and its whole religious kingdom? Lets review some of their history from the book of Jeremiah.
God called His people out of Egypt (a corrupted religious nation in which all were held captive under man's influence) to join Him in the wilderness, and all who wanted to follow and obey God went out after Him into the wilderness--a land not sown or established (Jeremiah 2:2). No man passed through nor dwelt here (2:6) so the only one they could look to and depend upon would be the Lord. God told them that all who would continue to obey His voice and do all His commandments would continue to be His people and He would be their God (11:4). Because they obeyed these conditions, they became "holiness unto the Lord, and the firstfruits of His increase" in this new land (2:3), and God was able to perform His oath or covenant with them because they did obey (11:5).
God became their Husband (31:32) and they became married unto Him or His bride (3:14). But they gradually forgot that they were sacredly joined unto the Lord, and turned their backs and not their faces to Him (2:27). They departed from their Husband (3:20) and became a harlot by committing adultery and uniting themselves with many lovers (3:1-2, 6). Because of this, they fell into confusion (3:25).
God, in love and mercy, called to His wayward woman to come back to His side as a faithful wife and stop her harlotrous love affair (3:1, 22). He was calling them to obtain the "new covenant" experience (4:3-4, 14) which they had failed to obtain before (2:19, 9:26). They were only putting on an outward show--living a lie--by outwardly confessing the Lord (with their mouths) while they had forsaken Him inwardly (reins--12:2, 5:1-2). Did His chosen people--His wife or church--return to His side, stopping their harlotrous love affair? NO (3:7)! They rejected God's words and His law (6:19), and refused to be ashamed or even to blush for all their wickedness (6:15). So God withheld the showers and the latter rain from them (3:3).
Since they had forsaken God--their Fountain or Source of Living Waters (truth--2:13), and no showers or latter rain was coming upon them, they had nothing at all with which to quench their thirst. In this dry condition, did they now stop their rebellion against God and look to Him for help in relieving them of their thirst? No. They built cisterns to try and hold other water (2:13). But where did they go to obtain this other water?
They ran back to Egypt and to Babylon (Assyria) to try and quench their thirst by drinking up and storing their dark and torpid waters (doctrines--2:18). But they continued to remain dry and thirsty, and could not seem to get enough of this new water to satisfy them because their cisterns were broken (2:13). So, because they forsook God and refused to return to their Fountain of Living Waters, a never ending scenario was initiated of continually going back to Egypt and Babylon to receive of their dark waters, yet discovering that they never seemed to have enough with which to quench their thirst and satisfy them. But did this maddening thirsty condition cause them to return to God and stop being an harlot?
They continued on in harlotry (2:25), going beyond the wickedness of all the other harlots--rising above them in wickedness (5:28--thus becoming their leader in doing evil and the worst harlot of all), and even taught others to become just like they already were (2:33, 3:13).
No one, not even God Himself, could turn them from their stubborn way (2:24, 5:13). And even Judah--a sister to Israel (her larger northern counterpart of 10 tribes or divisions), yet not a part of her--committed harlotry also (3:8). She was the more treacherous of the two because they put on the pretense of following the Lord with all their heart or having the "new covenant" experience, yet it was just a big farce and a put-on (3:10). In God's sight, Israel (church) was more justified than her sister Judah (self-supporting institutions--3:11).
God's once pure church became a den of thieves (7:11). Her pastors, that merchandised in the souls of men, had become the snares of Satan (the fowler) to trap, enslave, and destroy their people (5:26, 12:10), and their crown became broken (2:16). The church had become corrupt and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird (12:9, 5:27), and would also be a hold (den) for dragons (9:11). It was even called "the great city" (22:8), and in her was found the blood of prophets (2:30) and of the innocent saints (2:34, 19:4). All those connected with her were also a partaker of her sins being corporately responsible (2:29, 6:27-28, 26:15).
Because of all this, God was preparing for a separation to take place out of the midst of Jerusalem (6:1) so that His people could come out of their corrupted religious nation, which was holding them captive under the influence of men, to go through the wilderness experience and again see and feel their need of God (3:14-19). God had bore long with their continued wickedness but could not bear forever (6:11-12). Some thought that by living a righteous example within Jerusalem that many would be led to follow their example, but this did not occur because of the great wickedness in the midst of the church (6:29). They had run to Egypt and to Babylon to receive and drink up their dark waters (doctrines) and now the church itself had become a source of dark waters spewing forth to others (6:7). Thus the truth (pure living water) was perished and cut off in their midst (7:28).
All the while that the church was practicing their abominable wickedness, they were claiming that they had done nothing wrong, that they were sinless and innocent, and that they were pure and clean and not polluted (2:21-23, 35). They were also claiming that the Lord would not reject them as His people, and that His anger would not fall upon them (5:12). But God did reject them as His people (6:30)! He divorced Himself from His once faithful wife and church (3:8).
Yet was heard the lying voices of the false prophets (leaders) and the ministers (priests) of the church saying "Peace, peace, we are still God's chosen people and His only church. Do not be afraid, we shall never have to leave this place" (7:4, 5:14). But God had said, "If ye thoroughly amend your ways and you doings, and continue to do good, them I will cause you to dwell in this place and not to leave it" (7:5-7). But they had forgotten that it was only on the condition of obedience to God and His words, and an acknowledging and forsaking of sins, that God's promises would be fulfilled to them, and they could not remain His people and church without being removed (3:12-13, 4:1).
Because of all the evil being unashamedly and continually practiced, God forsook His once pure church and separated Himself from His once obedience people (12:7). He even hated them (12:8). Yet, the people would not know this (8:7). The priests and church supporters were falsely prophesying, from the imagination of their own hearts, saying, "Because God has seen fit to deposit His holy oracles (law) with only our religious nation (8:8), then the prophetic destiny of this church is that it will go through safely unto the end (23:16-17). There is peace and victory prophesied for our church, not evil. So all this talk of separation and destruction is certainly not so" (8:10-11). But God had said that they were not going through to heaven, but would be cast down (7:14, 8:12).
All the wickedness that was being committed by the church was not because they were deceived into committing it, but it was being committed willingly: there was a conspiracy against God to do all this wickedness (11:9-10). And because of it, the whole land became desolate (12:10-11, 23:15). All the guilt and darkness of the whole land was laid at the door of the church and to those within its doors.
God, out of His infinite love and mercy, tried again to get the membership to understand the true condition of their church. He tells them that they are as a clay potter's vessel in His hands (18:1-6); that no matter what promises were made to them, if they continued to do evil and not to obey the Lord, that He would not fulfill any of the promises because they are conditional--requiring obedience in order to have them fulfilled (18:9-10). God had tried to get His people to repent, but they refused to do anything that God told them to do (32:23). They thought that they had gone to far in iniquity to return and repent and said, "There is no hope" and continued on in wickedness (18:11-12). They ignored God's pleadings and continued to lead others away from the ancient paths--those truths (pillars) given to them in the beginning (18:15). Yet, they still believed that God was in their wicked midst, that their priests were speaking the truth, that their wise men were giving honest counsel and guidance, and that God would still speak through their leaders making them as the voice of God to the people (18:18). They deceived themselves into believing that God's face was ever watching over them, being turned in favor towards them and their church, while they themselves had turned their backs and not their faces to Him (32:33). But the real truth was that God's face was turned away from them and His back was towards them (18:17, 33:5). Too many abominations had been practiced within the church (32:34), they had rebelled too long and had passed the boundary, and God cast His once pure and chosen people out of His presence (52:3). The church and its members were prophetically destined to be destroyed from being before the holy face of God (32:26-32).
God commanded that the clay potter's vessel, which represented the whole church, be cast down and broken, signifying that the church could never be made whole again (19:10-11). It would continue to do wickedness until it was destroyed. Their sin was written with a pen of iron which had a diamond point (17:1), and the names of those still connected with the church were not written in heaven above, but in the earth beneath (17:13).
The majority of the church refused to give ear to God's words through His messenger, or to even see what fruits were being produced by their beloved church. They were blindly trusting in the lying words of their leaders (7:8), and were content because they loved to have it so (5:31). Some were hoping that the words of their leaders would come true and all the wickedness would end, but there was no chance of a reformation back to God from within the church (13:23). It would not go from bad to good, but would continue to go from bad to worse (evil to evil--8:5, 9:3). And even Jeremiah himself was contemplating completely separating from them (9:2). He had already separated himself from their committee meetings, and would not attend their church services or assemblies (16:8, 15:17) unless God specifically told him to go and speak directly with the people (17:19).
The church members prayed to God that He would change His mind and again favor them as His people, thinking that God was still in their midst (14:7-9). But God did not accept them back as His people (14:10), and He refused to hear any prayers or intercession for them (14:11). Yet, the church leaders were saying just the opposite (14:13), and God warned all who would hear of the deceit and falsehoods being spoken by those false watchmen (14:14-15).
Many of the people still refused to believe or acknowledge the word of the Lord that He had really rejected and cast them off as His people. Others, hoping that such a thing had not occurred, and out of fear and astonishment that such a thing might be, prayed again to God, confessing their sins and pleading for Him to change His mind and not break His covenant with them (14:19-22). Did God hear this prayer and accept them back as His people? No! God was weary of their repentance (15:6) and He had determined that separation was necessary--they would have to got forth from their church (15:1).
Needless to say, the majority flatly refused to obey the word of the Lord through His messenger. They would rather fight against God and His will, than to willingly separate themselves from their beloved church. Others wanted to find a way to excuse themselves, and tried to raise doubts in other minds as to the necessity of separation, by saying; "If we do separate, whither shall we go forth" (15:2)? God's answer to this was--(15:2).
But there were a faithful few who heard and found these words of God, and they ate them up and rejoiced to be able to follow the expressed will of God instead of following the expressed will of man or their own will (15:16). These remnant willingly and gladly obeyed, separating themselves from their wicked church, returned to God (15:17), and it was well with them (15:11). God brought them back as His people and they were able to stand before Him (15:19). God's command to them was, "Let the people come to thee for the truth, but do not return to the church to teach them" (15:19). And though the church leaders and supporters would do all in their power to come against them and their separation message, yet they would not be able to prevail or to stop the message from going farther, because God was with His remnant to defend and save them (15:20-21).
Those who trusted in men, who had told them to stay instead of to separate, were cursed (17:5). They trusted to human reasoning, thinking they were clinging to the truth and to sound logic and theory (17:9), and this led them to believe the lie that they were right and God's messenger was wrong. So they began to persecute God's messenger to try and stop his God-given message of separation in order to save their church (17:18).
God's messenger was beat and jailed (20:1-2) overnight (20:3) by those who were preaching lies and working the hardest to discredit his message in the eyes of the people (20:1, 6). God's messenger had even tried to forbear giving the message, but it was as a fire in the bones, and had to be spoken so that all could hear and then decide (20:7-9). Even those who were supposedly his so-called friends were watching his every word to try and twist him up and prevail against him, seeking revenge upon him for saying such things about them and their church (20:10). But their beloved church was irrevocably destined to destruction, and all its money, labors, and membership were to be taken into Babylon to be controlled by Babylon (20:4-5).
Thus the whole church, and all those who were in any way connected with her, would become a part of Babylon, and no one--not even God Himself--would prevent this from happening (21:4-6). The voice of mirth and gladness would be heard no more at all in the church. Neither would the sound of the millstone be heard anymore in her. And the light of a candle would shine no more at all in her. And the voice of the Bridegroom and of His bride (being both outside) would be heard no more at all in her (25:10, 16:9).
The king asked Jeremiah to pray to God for His help, but no prayer was offered, for God would not hear (21:1-3). God had already told them three times before not to pray for this people (7:16, 11:11, 11:14). The church would continue to slip and slide in darkness, being driven on in wickedness until it fell (23:12). But God, in His great and infinite love and mercy, provided the people with a way of escape from being destroyed. They must willingly separate themselves from their church, or be destroyed along with their beloved church (21:8-9)! So, "the way of life (separation), and the way of death (remaining)" was clearly laid out before all, and all were tested as to whom they would obey--God or man.
Both God's messenger and the false prophets were preaching to the people. The words spoken by God's messenger were words like fire, which lightened up the hearts of those which heard them--breaking through their darkened hearts of stone and showing them the correct path to take in order to be with God (23:29). While the false shepherds were preaching falsehoods, causing their people to err from the way of truth (23:31-32), and were doing all they could to steal away the words of God's true watchman from the people (23:30). Obedience to either message decided whether you would become wheat, or worthless chaff (23:28). So, eternal life depended on which message was followed and obeyed!
Those who obeyed God would have to separate willingly from their wicked and God-forsaken church "for their good" (23:5). God would not forsake these, because He had promised to build them up and plant them, making His "new covenant" with them to be their God and they His people--writing His law within their hearts. And it was only those who obeyed and separated, and lived this "new covenant," who would be God's children and His chosen people (24:6-7)--bearing good fruit like figs (24:5). Whereas, those who chose to obey the false message of their lying watchmen, refusing to separate from their beloved church--thus disobeying God--would bear fruit like evil and rotten figs, which would be of no use to anyone to be destroyed (24:8-10).
Both messages became more bold and decided. God's messenger spoke clearly to all the church membership that, because of their wickedness, their church and its whole structure would fall and be broken down--becoming completely desolate--as was Shiloh (26:2-7). God's covenant and glory and presence would be entirely removed from them (as was the ark from Shiloh (see Psalms 78:60-61, 1 Samuel 4:3, 11)), and this once pure and chosen church and people would become a part of Babylon (27:12, 32:3, 28), and be established in Babylon (29:5-6, 28)! While the false watchmen and church supporters were lying in God's name, proclaiming that God's favor was still with them and there was no need to separate because their beloved church was prophetically destined to never become a part of, nor ever be established in, Babylon, and would not become desolate or be destroyed (27:14-17). They were making the membership to trust in a blatant lie (28:15), and were teaching them rebellion against God's will and command (28:16). They loved their wicked church so much, and wanted so badly for God to change His mind and favor them again, that they caused themselves to dream dreams that these things were really true--thus they deceived themselves, and others were caused to believe the lie (29:8-9).
Then Jeremiah, after the army of Babylon unexpectedly withdrew its forces at a time when everything seemed favorable for an immediate attack, separated himself out of the church in the eyes of the people (37:12). He separated himself at a time when the church was claiming victory over their foes, and seemed at peace and favored of God once again, which made the messages of the false watchman appear to be correct. Thus those who had chosen to stay with the church, were more entrenched in the delusion, while those who had already separated, or were thinking of it, were tested as to their faith and trust in God and His words.
Because Jeremiah had separated himself in the eyes of the people, the church leaders became angry, beat him, and threw him into prison, refusing to let him remove himself completely from the church--trying to keep their people from following his example, if not his message (37:13-15). All who worshipped and loved their wicked and corrupt church above God, came against the messenger and demanded his death for saying such blasphemous words against them and their church (26:8-11). The church leadership especially wanted to kill him for speaking such things, because the faith and hope of the people in the church was weakening (38:4). They believed that the messenger could not really be seeking the welfare of the people by calling them out, and telling them that their beloved church would be connected to Babylon (38:2-4).
You see, both God and the leadership were trying to save "the church." God was trying, by mercy and truth, to save His church of faithful people from being destroyed by calling them out for their good. While the leadership were trying, by lies and force, to save their church from being destroyed by keeping the people within supposedly for their good. Thus a life and death controversy, between God's message of truth and Satan's message of falsehood, was full blown. Separation out of the church was a chance for life, but remaining connected with her was certain death (21:8-9). All had the chance to hear and obey, and all made their decision to leave or stay.
Babylon captured the church, and broke down her walls and pillars--one by one--removing everything that was sacred and holy (52:13-14, 17-23). When they were finished, the church, to all who would see, had a completely different look than it did in the beginning. The people in that generation were now under the rule, control, and leadership of Babylon. Even the heathen could see and comprehend that it was by the continued disobedience to God and His will, that the church, and those who clung to her, were destroyed eternally from what they once were (40:2-3). Thus God's once pure and chosen church and people were completely desolate, and a part of Babylon (25:9-11).
This not only occurred to the church and its cities (outposts) connected to her, but also occurred to all the other religious nations and kingdoms (churches) in the whole land (25:26)! The once chosen church of God, along with all the other established churches, had drunken of the wine of the wrath of Babylon's iniquity (25:15-18). They all--not excepting one--had drunk from the cup, and all became drunken (25:19-26). All were full of vomit (spue) and filthiness, and there was not a single established church that was clean or pure (25:27). Every single established church in the whole world had fallen to Babylon, and was what made up the kingdom of Babylon, including the membership of these churches (27:2-6, 28:14)!
Because of all the abominations being practiced in the midst of the church (44:2-4), and in the land (44:22), God's once pure and chosen church and people were the first to have God's wrath and destruction fall upon them, and then it fell upon all the rest of the churches (nations (25:29)). God rewarded His once pure and chosen church and people double for their sins (16:18, 17:18), and the fowls that flew in the midst of heaven came and gathered themselves together to feast upon their flesh (19:7).
The king of God's once chosen church didn't escape either. He had led the church membership to follow his example of rebellion and disobedience to God and His will. He refused to separate from the church, and when it was too late, tried to, in order to escape the punishment. But he did not escape. He was captured by Babylon (39:4-5), judgment was pronounced upon him (39:5), and he saw his own children and others destroyed before him (39:6). He eyes were then put out--becoming blind--and was bound with chains and became established in and a part of Babylon (39:7). But because he was blind, he never saw that he was really in Babylon (52:11)!
So, the way of life--separation, and the way of death--remaining connected and a member in, was clearly shown to all who would see and hear. And all made their decision on which side of the wall of division they would eternally stand on, and whom they would fight against--God or Satan. One group chose to follow God and to stand upon His word, while the other chose to disobey God and to stand upon the word of man.
The next age deals with Ezra and Nehemiah.
EZRA and NEHEMIAH
God's people and church were taken captive by, and completely controlled by, Babylon--a corrupted religious nation. It was God's purpose that three generations after every religious nation (church) in the whole world had become captured by, connected to, ruled by, and a part of Babylon (Jeremiah 27:7), that He would call out of Babylon (being all churches) any who wanted to be His people once again (Jeremiah 27:22, 29:10-14, 30:3). During their seventy year captivity they became established in, ruled by, and a part of Babylon (see Jeremiah 27:12; 33:3 ,28; 29:5, 6, 28; 37:9).
Before the captivity, Jerusalem was the only place with which the people were to come and worship God. Three times a year all God's people were to assemble at Jerusalem to worship God. While they were only commanded to be at Jerusalem three times a year, where did they worship God during the other Sabbaths of the year? They worshipped God in their homes. But while they were in Babylon, the church leaders established many churches or synagogues throughout the whole realm, so that the people didn't have to meet in their homes anymore to worship God. They could just go to their nearest synagogue and worship God. And so home churches died out while the people were in Babylon.
So even though Babylon had complete control over God's people and its church leaders, and even though all their churches or synagogues were established in and a part of Babylon, by the people worshipping in the Babylonian churches, they were led to believe that their church system of religion and their leaders were not really under the control of Babylon but were back under the control of God once again. And soon the majority fell back into the position of peace and safety, ease and happiness, falling asleep instead of continually being on guard to keep themselves separate from becoming corrupted by the Babylonish doctrines and teachings that were all around them.
But did God leave His honest ones to remain corrupted by being a part of Babylon? No. After three generations, the rebellious and wicked, who originally had been carried to Babylon, would be dead, and a new group of individuals would be tested to see whom they really wanted to follow--God, or man. After three generations of being connected to, ruled by, and established in Babylon, God would call any who wanted to be His people to willingly separate out of Babylon--including all of their synagogues and churches. In mercy, God was again calling for all of His people to come out of their corrupted Babylonian churches, and enter into a wilderness experience where He alone would be their leader and where His grace was only to be found (see Jeremiah 31:1-2).
God would, because of His infinite love and mercy, call and draw any who would not resist Him to separate (31:3). His purpose was that He would again build up only these as His mount Zion (31:4-6) and remnant people (31:7). He would become a Father to only those who separated from Babylon, which was made up of all the religious nations--including God's once chosen church. All nations--not excepting one--they all were what made up Babylon, and only those people who separated themselves from their Babylonish church, coming solely to the Lord, would be accepted back as God's chosen people once again (31:8-9, 32:37-41, 33:6-11).
God was calling for the line of demarcation to be made distinct once again between His followers and Satan's followers. And when the time had fully come, God raised up Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah, Haggai, and others as His messengers to preach His message of separation. All of God's true people were to make the distinction plain by separating from all their established churches in Babylon. God was calling His people to separate completely from them all, not just to leave one and connect themselves with another, but to leave them all.
This separation was to be a willing choice, not a forced obedience. God's people were not told to wait for the Babylonian churches to kick them out. They were to make a willing choice to obey and leave, or to disobey and stay.
What was the purpose for the necessity of this separation? It was so the people would connect and unite themselves only to God, and work to build up His kingdom once again. And it was only those that fully separated themselves who had this glorious privilege to become a part of, and to establish, God's kingdom in the earth. These were the only people whom God would trust to show forth His grace and glory to all the world.
This merciful message of willful separation from the church in Babylon went far and wide, and many were aroused by this loving call. This message was not just given once, but it was given many times from different messengers of the Lord--like Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah, etc.
But after the time passed, many had become quite comfortable, and had grown at ease while being connected to Babylon. They did not want their peace to be broken, and refused to separate from their babylonish churches when the call came to them. It was found that, out of all the people who heard the call to separate and become God's special people once again, only a small remnant had willingly obeyed (Ezra 8:1-14). The majority had chosen to disobey God's will and had failed their test.
It was also discovered that none of the sons of Levi--those ministers especially dedicated to follow all the will and commands of God--had, at first, separated themselves in obedience to their God (Ezra 8:15). Although a few did willingly separate themselves at the last opportunity to do so (Ezra 8:16-20), their lack of prompt obedience had caused others to follow their example of disobedience. They had failed at a time when the influence of a prompt decision to accompany those who had separated, would have led others to follow their example of obedience and to also separate. But their strange indifference is a sad revelation of the real attitude towards God's purpose for His people.
"There was pressing need of men of God to act as teachers of the people. And besides, the Jews remaining in Babylon were in danger of having their religious liberty restricted....The time had come when it was perilous for them to dwell longer in the midst of heathen influences. In view of these changed conditions the priests in Babylon should have been quick to discern in the issuance of the decree, a special call to them to return to Jerusalem....
"The sons of Levi failed at a time when the influence of a decision to accompany their brethren would have led others to follow their example. Their strange indifference is a sad revelation of the attitude of the Israelites in Babylon towards God's purpose for His people.
"Once more Ezra appealed to the Levites, sending them an urgent invitation to unite with this company. To emphasize the importance of quick action, he sent with his written plea several of his 'chief men' and 'men of understanding.' Ezra 7:28; 8:16.
"While the travellers tarried with Ezra, these trusted messengers hastened back with the plea, 'Bring unto us ministers for the house of our God.' Ezra 8:17. The appeal was heeded; some who had been halting, made final decision to return. In all, about forty priests and two hundred and twenty Nethanim--men upon whom Ezra could rely as wise ministers and good teachers and helpers--were brought to the camp....
"Faith in the power of the living God would be strengthened if the Israelites themselves should now reveal implicit faith in her divine leader. They therefore determined to put their trust wholly in Him. They would ask for no guard of soldiers. They would give the heathen no occasion to ascribe to the strength of man the glory that belongs to God alone. They could not afford to arouse in the minds of their heathen friends one doubt as to the sincerity of their dependence upon God as His people. Strength would be gained, not through wealth, not through the power and influence of idolatrous men, but through the favor of God. Only by keeping the law of the Lord before them, and striving to obey it, would they be protected." Prophets and Kings, 614-16.
How many chose to willingly obey God and separate? About fifty thousand obeyed. But in comparison with all the multitude in Babylon, it was but a small remnant (see Prophets and Kings, p 598).
This call for willing and complete separation was given many times. But those which heard the first call and didn't respond, heard the second call also, and then the third call, etc. And as each time they heard the call, but ignored or refused it, their willingness to obey God's will and this message of mercy became less and less impressionable. These became more and more determined against obeying it, as they continued to hear more and more calls to separate, until they flatly refused to obey (see Prophets and Kings, p 598-600).
But the distinction was made plain between God's true people and Satan's true people; one group stood upon the word of God, the other upon the sayings of men. The wall of separation was again re-established, the breaches were being made up and repaired. But sadly, it was found that the majority of all those who professed to obey God had instead chosen to disobey Him and His will. They had failed their great test, and were forever lost!
The rest of this study is continued in Part Two of: