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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1913
(Vol. 90, #1)
Sin-burdened, struggling souls, Jesus in his glorified humanity has ascended into the heavens to make intercession for us. "For we have not an high priest which can not be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace." We should be continually looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; for by beholding him we shall be changed into his image, our character will be made like his. We should rejoice that all judgment is given unto the Son, because in his humanity he has become acquainted with all the difficulties that beset humanity.
To be sanctified is to become a partaker of the divine nature, catching the spirit and mind of Jesus, ever learning in the school of Christ. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." It is impossible for any of us by our own power or our own efforts to work this change in ourselves. It is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, which Jesus said he would send into the world, that changes our character into the image of Christ; and when this is accomplished, we reflect as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord. That is, the character of the one who thus beholds Christ is so like his that one looking at him sees Christ's own character shining out as from a mirror. Imperceptibly to ourselves, we are changed day by day from our own ways and will into the ways and will of Christ, into the loveliness of his character. Thus we grow up into Christ, and unconsciously reflect his image.
Professed Christians keep altogether too near the lowlands of earth. Their eyes are trained to see only commonplace things, and their minds dwell upon the things their eyes behold. Their religious experience is often shallow and unsatisfying, and their words are light and valueless. How can such reflect the image of Christ? How can they send forth the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness into all the dark places of the earth? To be a Christian is to be Christlike.
Enoch kept the Lord ever before him, and the Inspired Word says that he "walked with God." He made Christ his constant companion. He was in the world, and performed his duties to the world; but he was ever under the influence of Jesus. He reflected Christ's character, exhibiting the same qualities in goodness, mercy, tender compassion, sympathy, forbearance, meekness, humility, and love. His association with Christ day by day transformed him into the image of him with whom he was so intimately connected. Day by day he was growing away from his own way into Christ's way, the heavenly, the divine, in his thoughts and feelings. He was constantly inquiring, "Is this the way of the Lord?" His was a constant growth, and he had fellowship with the Father and the Son. This is genuine sanctification.
Many who claim to be sanctified become boisterous, passionate, and wholly unlike Christ in words and deportment, if their will is crossed. These show that they are not what they claim to be. The more closely one views Christ, the less disposed will he be to make high claims to holiness. He will have a humble opinion of himself and of his own goodness, but Christ will be revealed in his character.
Christ said, "It is expedient for you that I go away." No one could then have any preference because of his location or personal contact with Christ. The Saviour would be accessible to all alike, spiritually, and in this sense he would be nearer to us all than if he had not ascended on high. Now all may be equally favored by beholding him and reflecting his character. The eye of faith sees him ever present, in all his goodness, grace, forbearance, courtesy, and love, those spiritual and divine attributes. And as we behold, we are changed into his likeness.
Christ is soon coming in the clouds of heaven, and we must be prepared to meet him, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing. We are now to accept the invitation of Christ. He says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." The words of Christ to Nicodemus are of practical value to us today: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
The converting power of God must be upon our hearts. We must study the life of Christ, and imitate the divine Pattern. We must dwell upon the perfection of his character, and be changed into his image. No one will enter the kingdom of God unless his passions are subdued, unless his will is brought into captivity to the will of Christ.
Heaven is free from all sin, from all defilement and impurity; and if we would live in its atmosphere; if we would behold the glory of Christ, we must be pure in heart, perfect in character through his grace and righteousness. We must not be taken up with pleasure and amusement, but be fitting up for the glorious mansions Christ has gone to prepare for us. If we are faithful, seeking to bless others, and patient in well-doing, at his coming Christ will crown us with glory, honor, and immortality.
Prophecy reveals the fact that we are nearing the end of all things, and the people of God are to be the light of the world. In character and life we are to make manifest the requirement of God in humanity; and in order to do this, we must gather up the rays of divine light from the Bible, and let them shine forth to those who are in darkness. Christ must abide in our hearts by faith, that we may know and teach the way to heaven. "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever."
Christ is soon coming in glory, and when his majesty is revealed, the world will wish that they had his favor. At that time we shall all desire a place in the mansions of heaven; but those who do not confess Christ now in word, in life, in character, can not expect that he will confess them then before his Father and the holy angels. By those who have denied him, the cry will be raised, even to the mountains, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
O, how happy will be all those who have made themselves ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb, who are robed in the righteousness of Christ, and reflect his lovely image! They will have on the pure white linen which is the righteousness of the saints, and Christ will lead them by the side of living waters; God will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and they will have the life that runs parallel with the life of God. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #3)
Love, the basis of creation and of redemption, is the basis of true education. This is made plain in the law that God has given as the guide of life. The first and great commandment is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." Mark 12:30,31. To love him, the infinite, the omniscient one, with the whole strength and mind and heart, means the highest development of every power. It means that in the whole being--the body, the mind, as well as the soul--the image of God is to be restored.
Like the first is the second commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The law of love calls for the devotion of body, mind, and soul to the service of God and our fellow men. And this service, while making us a blessing to others, brings the greatest blessing to ourselves. Unselfishness underlies all true development. Through unselfish service we receive the highest culture of every faculty.
Lucifer in heaven desired to be first in power and authority; he wanted to be God, to have the rulership of heaven; and to this end he won many of the angels to his side. When with his rebel host he was cast out from the courts of God, the work of rebellion and self-seeking was continued on earth. Through the temptation to self-indulgence and ambition, Satan accomplished the fall of our first parents; and from that time to the present the gratification of human ambition and the indulgence of selfish hopes and desires have proved the ruin of mankind.
Under God, Adam was to stand at the head of the earthly family, to maintain the principles of the heavenly family. This would have brought peace and happiness. But the law that none "liveth to himself" Satan was determined to oppose. He desired to live for self. He sought to make himself a center of influence. It was this that had incited rebellion in heaven, and it was man's acceptance of this principle that brought sin on earth. When Adam sinned, man broke away from the heaven-ordained center. A demon became the central power in the world. Where God's throne should have been, Satan placed his throne. The world laid its homage, as a willing offering, at the feet of the enemy.
The transgression of God's law brought woe and death in its train. Through disobedience man's powers were perverted, and selfishness took the place of love. His nature became so weakened that it was impossible for him to resist the power of evil; and the tempter saw being fulfilled his purpose to thwart the divine plan of man's creation, and fill the earth with misery and desolation. Men had chosen a ruler who chained them to his car as captives.
The Remedy.--Looking upon man, God saw his desperate rebellion, and he devised a remedy. Christ was his gift to the world for man's reconcilement. The Son of God was appointed to come to this earth to take humanity, and by his own example be a great educating power among men. His experience in man's behalf was to enable men to resist Satan's power. He came to mold character and to give mental power, to shed abroad the beams of true education, that the true aim of life might not be lost sight of. The sons of men had had a practical knowledge of evil; Christ came to the world to show them that he had planted for them the tree of life, the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations.
Christ's life on earth teaches that to obtain the higher education does not mean to gain popularity, to secure worldly advantage, to have all the temporal wants abundantly supplied, and to be honored by the titled and wealthy of earth. The Prince of life left the heavenly courts, laid off his royal robe and kingly crown, and clothed his divinity with humanity. He suffered the inconveniences of poverty, that he might discern the needs of the poor,--he who by his divine power could supply the needs of a hungry multitude. Not to wear the gorgeous robes of the high priest, not to possess the riches of the Gentiles, did he come to this earth, but to minister to the suffering and the needy. His life rebukes all self-seeking. As he went about doing good, he made plain the character of God's law and the nature of his service.
Christ might have opened to men the deepest truths of science. He might have unlocked mysteries that have required many centuries of toil and study to penetrate. He might have made suggestions in scientific lines that till the close of time would have afforded food for thought and stimulus for invention. But he did not do this. He said nothing to gratify curiosity or to stimulate selfish ambition. He did not deal in abstract theories, but in that which is essential to the development of character, that which will enlarge man's capacity for knowing God, and increase his power to do good.
Instead of directing the people to study men's theories about God, his word, or his works, Christ taught them to behold him as manifested in his works, in his word, and by his providences. He brought their minds in contact with the mind of the Infinite. He unfolded principles that struck at the root of selfishness.
Those who are ignorant of education as it was taught and exemplified in the life of Christ are ignorant of what constitutes the higher education. His life of humiliation and death of shame paid the redemption price for every soul. He gave himself for the uplifting of the fallen and the sinful. Can we imagine an education higher than that to be gained in cooperation with him?
To every one Christ gives the command, Go work today in my vineyard for the glory of my name. Represent before a world laden with corruption the blessedness of true education. The weary, the heavy laden, the brokenhearted, the perplexed--point them to Christ, the source of all strength, all life, all hope. To teachers the word is spoken, Be faithful minutemen. Seek for the higher education, for entire conformity to the will of God. You will surely reap the reward that comes from its reception. As you place yourselves where you can be recipients of the blessing of God, the name of the Lord will be magnified through you.
Not lip service, not profession, but a humble, devoted life, is that for which God is seeking. Teachers and students are to know by experience what it means to live consecrated lives, which reveal the sacred principles that are the basis of Christian character. Those who give themselves to learn the way and will of God are receiving the highest education that it is possible for mortals to receive. They are building their experience not on the sophistries of the world, but upon principles that are eternal.
It is the privilege of every student to take the life and teachings of Christ as his daily study. Christian education means the acceptance, in sentiment and principle, of the teachings of the Saviour. It includes a daily, conscientious walking in the footsteps of Christ, who consented to come to the world in the form of humanity that he might give to the human race a power that they could gain by no other means. What was that power?--The power to take the teachings of Christ and follow them to the letter. In his resistance of evil and his labor for others, Christ gave to men an example of the highest education.
He revealed God to his disciples in a way that wrought in their hearts a special work, such as he has long been urging us to allow him to do in our hearts. There are many who in dwelling so largely on theory have lost sight of the living power of the Saviour's example. They have lost sight of him as the self-denying, humble worker. What they need is to behold Jesus. Daily they need the fresh revealing of his presence. They need to follow more closely his example of self-renunciation and sacrifice.
We need the experience that Paul had when he wrote: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal. 2:20.
The kingdom of God and of Jesus Christ expressed in character is the very highest education. It is the key that opens the portals of the heavenly city. This knowledge it is God's purpose that all who put on Christ shall possess. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #4)
What shall our children read? This is a serious question, and one that demands a serious answer. It troubles me to see in Sabbath-keeping families periodicals and newspapers containing continued stories, which leave no impressions for good on the minds of children and youth. I have watched those whose taste for fiction was thus cultivated. They have had the privilege of listening to the truth, of becoming acquainted with the reasons of our faith; but they have grown to mature years destitute of true piety and practical godliness. They manifest no devotion, and reflect no heavenly light upon their associates to lead them to the Fount of all true knowledge.
It is during the first years of a child's life that his mind is most susceptible to impressions, either good or evil. During these years decided progress is made either in a right direction or in a wrong one. On one hand, much worthless information may be gained; on the other, much solid, valuable knowledge. The strength of intellect, the substantial knowledge gained, are possessions which the gold of Ophir could not buy. Their price is above gold or silver.
The kind of education that fits the youth for practical life, they naturally do not choose. They urge their desires, their likes and dislikes, their preferences and inclinations; but if parents have correct views of God, of the truth, and of the influences and associations that should surround their children, they will feel that upon them rests the God-given responsibility of carefully guiding the inexperienced youth.
Many youth are eager for books. They read anything that they can obtain. I appeal to the parents of such children to control their desire for reading. Do not permit upon your tables the magazines and newspapers in which are found love-stories. Supply their places with books that will help the youth to put into their character building the very best material,--the love and fear of God, the knowledge of Christ. Encourage your children to store the mind with valuable knowledge, to let that which is good occupy the soul and control its powers, leaving no place for low, debasing thoughts. Restrict the desire for reading matter that does not furnish good food for the mind. The money expended for story magazines may not seem much, but it is too much to spend for that which gives so much that is misleading and so little that is good in return. Those who are in God's service should spend neither time nor money in light reading.
Worthless Reading.--The world is deluged with books that might better be consumed than circulated. Books on sensational topics, published and circulated as a money making scheme, might better never be read by the youth. There is a satanic fascination in such books. The heart sickening recital of crimes and atrocities has a bewitching power upon many, exciting them to see what they can do to bring themselves into notice, even by the wickedest deeds. Even the enormities, the cruelties, the licentious practises portrayed in some of the strictly historical writings, have acted as leaven on many minds, leading to the commission of similar acts.
Books that delineate the satanic practises of human beings are giving publicity to evil. These horrible particulars need not be lived over, and none who believe the truth for this time should act a part in perpetuating the memory of them. When the intellect is fed and stimulated by this depraved food, the thoughts become impure and sensual.
There is another class of books--love stories and frivolous, exciting tales--which are a curse to every one who reads them, even though the author may attach a good moral. Often religious statements are woven all through these books; but in most cases Satan is but clothed in angel robes, to deceive and allure the unsuspicious. The practise of story reading is one of the means employed by Satan to destroy souls. It produces a false, unhealthy excitement, fevers the imagination, unfits the mind for usefulness, and disqualifies it for any spiritual exercise. It weans the soul from prayer and the love of spiritual things.
Readers of frivolous, exciting tales become unfitted for the duties of practical life. They live in an unreal world. I have watched children who have been allowed to make a practise of reading such stories. Whether at home or abroad, they were restless, dreamy, unable to converse except upon the most commonplace subjects. Religious thought and conversation were entirely foreign to their minds. With the cultivation of an appetite for sensational stories, the mental taste is perverted, and the mind is not satisfied unless fed upon this unwholesome food. I can think of no more fitting name for those who indulge in such reading than mental inebriates. Intemperate habits of reading have an effect upon the brain similar to that which intemperate habits of eating and drinking have upon the body.
Those who indulge the habit of racing through an exciting story are simply crippling their mental strength, and disqualifying their minds for vigorous thought and research. Some youth, and even some of mature age, have been afflicted with paralysis from no other cause than excess in reading. The nerve power of the brain was kept constantly excited, until the delicate machinery became worn, and refused to act. Some of its fine mechanism gave way, and paralysis was the result.
There are men and women now in the decline of life who have never recovered from the effects of intemperance in reading. The habit formed in early years grew with their growth and strengthened with their strength. Their determined efforts to overcome the sin of abusing the intellect were partially successful; but many have never recovered the vigor of mind that God bestowed upon them.
Infidel Authors.--Another source of danger against which we should be constantly on guard, is the reading of infidel authors. Such works are inspired by the enemy of truth, and no one can read them without imperiling his soul. It is true that some who are affected by them may finally recover; but all who tamper with their evil influence place themselves on Satan's ground, and he makes the most of his advantage. As they invite his temptations, they have not wisdom to discern or strength to resist them. With a fascinating, bewitching power, unbelief and infidelity fasten themselves upon the mind.
We are constantly surrounded by unbelief. The very atmosphere seems charged with it. Only by constant effort can we resist its power. Those who value their salvation should shun infidel writings as they would shun the leprosy. (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #5)
Preoccupy the Soil.--The best way to prevent the growth of evil is to preoccupy the soil. Instead of recommending your children to read "Robinson Crusoe," or fascinating stories of real life, such as "Uncle Tom's Cabin," open the Scriptures to them, and spend some time each day in reading and studying God's Word. The mental tastes must be disciplined and educated with the greatest care. Parents must begin early to unfold the Scriptures to the expanding minds of their children, that proper habits of thought may be formed.
No efforts should be spared to establish right habits of study. If the mind wanders, bring it back. If the intellectual and moral tastes have been perverted by overwrought and exciting tales of fiction, so that there is a disinclination to apply the mind, there is a battle to be fought to overcome this habit. A love for fictitious reading should be overcome at once. Rigid rules should be enforced to hold the mind in the proper channel.
Between an uncultivated field and an untrained mind there is a striking similarity. In the minds of children and youth the enemy sows tares, and unless parents keep watchful guard, these will spring up to bear their evil fruit. Unceasing care is needed in cultivating the soil of the mind, and sowing it with the precious seed of Bible truth. Children should be taught to reject trashy, exciting tales, and to turn to sensible reading, which will lead the mind to take an interest in Bible story, history, and argument. Reading that will throw light upon the Sacred volume and quicken the desire to study it, is not dangerous, but beneficial.
The Sabbath-School Lesson.--The Sabbath school affords to parents and children an opportunity for the study of God's Word. But in order for them to gain that benefit which they should gain in the Sabbath school, both parents and children should devote time to the study of the lesson, seeking to obtain a thorough knowledge of the facts presented, and also of the spiritual truths which these facts are designed to teach. We should especially impress upon the minds of the youth the importance of seeking the full significance of the scripture under consideration.
Parents, set apart a little time each day for the study of the Sabbath school lesson with your children. Give up the social visit, if need be, rather than sacrifice the hour devoted to the lessons of sacred history. Parents as well as children will receive benefit from this study. Let the more important passages of Scripture connected with the lesson be committed to memory, not as a task, but as a privilege. Though at first the memory may be defective, it will gain strength by exercise, so that after a time one will delight thus to treasure up the words of truth. And the habit will prove a most valuable aid to spiritual growth.
The Home Reading Circle.--Let our people show that they have a live interest in medical missionary work. Let them prepare themselves for usefulness by studying the literature that has been prepared for our instruction on these subjects. This work deserves much more attention and appreciation than it has received. Those who study and practise the principles of right living will be greatly blessed, both physically and spiritually. An understanding of the philosophy of health is a safeguard against many of the ever increasing evils.
Fathers and mothers, obtain all the help you can from the study of our books and publications. Take time to read to your children from the health books, as well as from the books treating more particularly on religious subjects. Teach them the importance of caring for the body, the house they live in. Form a home reading circle, in which every member of the family shall lay aside the busy cares of the day and unite in study. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, take up this work heartily, and see if the church in the home will not be greatly improved. Especially will the youth who have been accustomed to reading novels and cheap story books, receive benefit from joining in the evening family study. Young men and women, read the literature that will give you true knowledge, and that will be a help to the entire family.
The Bible.--Above all, take time to read the Bible--the Book of books. A daily study of the Scriptures has a sanctifying, uplifting influence upon the mind. Bind the Holy Volume to your hearts. It will prove to you a friend and a guide in perplexity.
Both old and young neglect the Bible. They do not make it their study, the rule of their life. Especially are the young guilty of this neglect. Most of them find time to read other books, but the Book that points out the way to eternal life is not daily studied. Idle stories are attentively read, while the Bible is neglected. This Book is our guide to a higher, holier life. The youth would pronounce it the most interesting book they ever read, had not their imagination been perverted by the reading of fictitious stories.
Youthful minds fail to reach their noblest development when they neglect the highest source of wisdom--the Word of God. That we are in God's world, in the presence of the Creator; that we are made in his likeness; that he watches over us and loves us and cares for us,--these are wonderful themes for thought, and lead the mind into broad, exalted fields of meditation. He who opens mind and heart to the contemplation of such themes as these, will never be satisfied with trivial, sensational subjects.
The importance of seeking a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures can hardly be estimated. "Given by inspiration of God," able to make us "wise unto salvation," rendering the man of God "perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:15-17), the Bible has the highest claim to our reverent attention. We should not be satisfied with a superficial knowledge, but should seek to learn the full meaning of the words of truth, to drink deep of the spirit of the holy oracles. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #6)
Although Peter and John were chosen disciples of Christ, and were counted among the twelve, they were still imperfect in character. Peter was of a zealous, ardent temperament, and ever manifested great earnestness in the cause of Christ. At one time the disciples were on the sea, and the record declares that the ship was in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves, for the wind was contrary; "and in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
This incident illustrates much of the character of impulsive Peter. Faith and unbelief were blended in his words and actions. He said, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." The Lord had assured the disciples, "It is I; be not afraid." And when Peter saw the waves around him, saw the boisterous winds, he forgot the power of his Lord, and began to sink; but at his cry of weakness, Jesus was at his side to grasp his outstretched hand, and lift him from the billows.
When the Lord sought to prepare the minds of his disciples for their last great trial in his betrayal and crucifixion, Peter felt that he could not bear to have the words of the Lord fulfilled; and, stirred with indignation at the thought of the injustice so soon to come upon Christ and his followers, he exclaimed, "Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee." The impression which Christ desired to make upon the minds of his followers was one directly opposed to the impression that Peter's words would make, and he rebuked his disciple with the sternest rebuke that ever fell from his lips. He said, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
Although Peter had been long with the Master, he had a very imperfect conception of the plan of salvation. He did not desire to see the cross in the work of Christ; but it was through the cross that life and hope were to come to dying men.
When Jesus had spoken of his death, declaring that all his disciples would be offended because of him, Peter had said, "Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended." He assured his Lord that he would go with him both to prison and to death; but Jesus knew Peter much better than the disciple knew himself, and he said to him, "Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice."
At the very first trial, Peter failed. While Jesus was bowed in agony in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter was sleeping with the other disciples, and could not watch with his suffering Lord one hour. The thrice repeated prayer was uttered that the bitter cup of woe might pass from the Saviour. Borne down with superhuman agony, Jesus staggered to his disciples, longing for human sympathy; but he found that instead of watching they were sleeping. From his quivering lips came the mild rebuke to Peter, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour?" Then he framed this tender excuse: "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Jesus had said many things concerning the hour of trial that was to come upon his disciples when he should be made the object of mockery and reproach. He had told them, "All ye shall be offended because of me." But the disciples could not believe that they would manifest such unfaithfulness, and Peter especially had assured the Master that he would never leave him, but would be true to him even if it should lead him to prison and to death.
When Jesus was actually in the hands of the armed men, where were the boastful disciples?--They had fled. Even Peter was in the rear, far from his suffering Lord. When the cruel trial began in the judgment hall, had Jesus a defender in the ardent Peter? Was he then by the side of his deserted Lord?--No, but with those who were mocking and reviling. It is true that Peter had a deep interest in the trial, and he did desire to be at the side of his Lord; but he could not endure the scorn, the reproach, that would fall upon him if he should take his place as a disciple of Christ. When one of the women of the palace said to Peter, "Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee," he denied before all the company, saying, "I know not what thou sayest." He who had made so confident a statement of his fidelity to Christ, now denied his Lord at the question of a maid in the palace. Did he now move nearer to his Lord?--No; he pushed his way out to the porch, seeking to escape the prying eyes of the enemies of his Lord; but again he was recognized, and another said to him, "This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth." And again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the man." Peter was irritated that he could not find an escape from the eyes of his enemies, and he returned to the hall, where he could better view the trial, but he stood among the mockers and revilers of Christ. The third time he was recognized, and they said to him, "Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee." Peter had been ready to take up arms in defense of Christ, but to acknowledge the Lord when he was the object of scorn and derision was more than he had courage to do. He was a moral coward, and with curses and oaths he denied that he knew his Master.
Peter had been warned of this temptation; but he did not realize his danger, and therefore had not prepared himself for the trial. He had been filled with self-confidence, and deemed that he was able to withstand any temptation, assuring the Lord that though all others should be offended, he would be ready to go with him to prison and to death. When he took his stand with the revilers of Christ, he placed himself on the enemy's ground, and he fell.
At his third denial of his Lord the cock crew, and Jesus turned his eyes upon Peter with a look of peculiar sadness, and the words that Christ had spoken to him came quickly to his mind. All through his life the memory of that look was with Peter. His sinful boasting, his Lord's warning, his denial of the Saviour, all came to him like a flash of lightning; and casting one pitiful look upon his suffering, insulted Lord, he hurried away from the sound of false accusation and reproach, rushed from the palace, plunged into the darkness, and weeping bitterly, hurried to Gethsemane. He began to see himself as he really was. Memory was alive, and his sins were pictured before him in all their heinous light. Peter threw himself on the spot where a few hours before Jesus had prayed and wept in agony, and there the disciple prayed as he never before had prayed. With deep repentance and terrible remorse he pleaded for forgiveness, and he rose a converted man; but he felt that although Jesus would forgive him, he could never forgive himself.
Jesus knew all the sorrow and remorse of his erring disciple; and when the heavenly messengers appeared to the women at the sepulcher, they told them of Christ's resurrection, and bade them tell the disciples and Peter that he went before them into Galilee. How eagerly did Peter receive this word of love and compassion! He knew that his Lord still thought of him, still loved him, and he took this message as a sign of forgiveness.
After his resurrection, Jesus showed himself to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, "and on this wise showed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea." When the disciples came to land, they found that Jesus had prepared them fish and bread. "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."
In the answers that Peter gave to the Lord's thrice repeated question, a different spirit is manifested from what we find in the boastful assurances before the crucifixion of Christ. Peter was a converted man, and showed in his life that transforming grace had taken possession of his heart. As firm as a rock, he ever after stood up boldly to witness for Christ. Jesus had said to Peter, "Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Peter had severe trials to pass through, but although he was called to go to prison and to death for Christ's sake, never again did he waver from his allegiance. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #7)
There has been altogether too little attention paid to our children and youth, and they have failed to develop as they should in the Christian life, because the church members have not looked upon them with tenderness and sympathy, desiring that they might be advanced in the divine life.
In our large churches very much might be done for the youth. Shall they have less special labor, or shall fewer inducements be held out to them to become full-grown Christians--men and women in Christ Jesus--than were afforded them in the denominations which they have left for the truth's sake? Shall they be left to drift hither and thither, to become discouraged, and to fall into temptations that are lurking everywhere to catch their unwary feet? If they err and fall from the steadfastness of their integrity, do the members of the church who have neglected to care for the lambs, censure and blame them, and magnify their failures? Are their shortcomings talked of and exposed to others, and are they left in discouragement and despair?
The work that lies next to our church members is to become interested in our youth; for they need kindness, patience, tenderness, line upon line, precept upon precept. O, where are the fathers and mothers in Israel? There ought to be a large number who are stewards of the grace of Christ, who feel not merely a casual but a special interest in the young. There ought to be those whose hearts are touched by the pitiable situation in which our youth are placed, and who realize that Satan is working by every conceivable device to draw them into his net.
God requires that the church arouse from her lethargy, and see what is the manner of service demanded of her at this time of peril. The lambs of the flock must be fed. The Lord of heaven is looking on to see who is doing the work he would have done for the children and youth. The eyes of our brethren and sisters should be anointed with heavenly eyesalve, that they may discern the necessities of the time. We must be aroused to see what needs to be done in Christ's spiritual vineyard, and go to work.
A Liberal Education to Be Provided.--As a people who claim to have advanced light, we are to devise ways and means by which to bring forth a corps of educated workmen for the various departments of the work of God. We need a well-disciplined, cultivated class of young men and women in our sanitariums, in the medical missionary work, in the offices of publication, in the conferences of different States, and in the field at large. We need young men and women who have high intellectual culture, in order that they may do the best work for the Lord. We have done something toward reaching this standard, but still we are far behind where we should be.
As a church, as individuals, if we would stand clear in the judgment, we must make more liberal efforts for the training of our young people, that they may be better fitted for the various branches of the great work committed to our hands. We should lay wise plans, in order that the ingenious minds of those who have talent may be strengthened and disciplined, and polished after the highest order, that the work of Christ may not be hindered for lack of skilful laborers who will do their work with earnestness and fidelity.
All to Be Trained.--The church is asleep, and does not realize the magnitude of this matter of educating the children and youth. "Why," says one, "what is the need of being so particular to educate our youth thoroughly? It seems to me that if you take a few who have decided to follow a literary calling or some other calling that requires a certain discipline, and give due attention to them, that is all that is necessary. It is not required that the whole mass of our youth be so well trained. Will not this answer every essential requirement?" I answer, No, most decidedly not.
What selection should we be able to make out of the numbers of our youth? How could we tell who would be the most promising, who would render the best service to God? In our judgment we might do as did Samuel when he was sent to find the anointed of the Lord, and look upon the outward appearance. When the noble sons of Jesse passed before him, and his eye rested upon the handsome countenance and fine stature of the eldest son, to Samuel it seemed that the anointed of the Lord was before him. But the Lord said to him, "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." Not one of these noble looking sons of Jesse would the Lord accept. But when David, the youngest son, a mere youth, was called from the field, and passed before Samuel, the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him: for this is he." 1 Sam. 16:7, 12.
Who can determine which one of a family will prove to be efficient in the work of God? There should be general education of all its members, and all our youth should be permitted to have the blessings and privileges of an education at our schools, that they may be inspired to become laborers together with God. They all need an education, that they may be fitted for usefulness, qualified for places of responsibility in both private and public life. There is a great necessity of making plans that there may be a large number of competent workers, and many should fit themselves as teachers, that others may be trained and disciplined for the great work of the future.
A Fund for School Work.--The church should take in the situation, and by their influence and means seek to bring about this much desired end. Let a fund be created by generous contributions for the establishment of schools for the advancement of educational work. We need men well trained, well educated, to work in the interests of the churches. They should present the fact that we can not trust our youth to go to seminaries and colleges established by other denominations, that we must gather them in where their religious training will not be neglected.
High Aims.--God would not have us in any sense behind in educational work. Our colleges should be far in advance in the highest kind of education. If we do not have schools, our youth will attend other seminaries and colleges, and will be exposed to infidel sentiments, to cavilings and questionings concerning the inspiration of the Bible. There is a great deal of talk concerning higher education, and many suppose that higher education consists wholly in an education in science and literature; but this is not all. The highest education includes the knowledge of the Word of God, and is comprehended in the words, "That they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." John 17:3.
The highest class of education is that which will give such knowledge and discipline as will lead to the best development of character, and will fit the soul for that life which measures with the life of God. Eternity is not to be lost out of our reckoning. The highest education is that which will teach our children and youth the science of Christianity, which will give them an experimental knowledge of God's ways, and will impart to them the lessons that Christ gave to his disciples of the paternal character of God.
"Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this that he understandeth and knoweth me." Jer. 9:23, 24. Let us seek to follow the counsel of God in all things; for he is infinite in wisdom. Though we have come short of doing what we might have done for our youth and children in the past, let us now repent, and redeem the time.
The Responsibility of Church Members.--There is no work more important than the education of our youth. I am glad that we have institutions where they can be separated from the corrupting influences so prevalent in the schools of the present day. Our brethren and sisters should be thankful that in the providence of God our colleges have been established, and should stand ready to sustain them by their means. Every influence should be brought to bear to educate the youth and to elevate their morals. They should be trained to have courage to resist the tide of moral pollution in this degenerate age. With a firm hold upon divine power, they may stand in society to mold and fashion, rather than to be fashioned after the world's model.
When the youth come to our colleges, they should not be made to feel that they have come among strangers who do not care for their souls. We must guard them, fighting back Satan that he shall not take them out of our arms. There should be fathers and mothers in Israel who will watch for their souls as they that must give an account. Brethren and sisters, do not hold yourselves aloof from the youth, as if you had no particular concern or responsibility for them. You who have long professed to be Christians have a work to do, patiently and kindly to lead them in the right way. You should show them that you love them because they are younger members of the Lord's family, the purchase of his blood.
The future of society will be determined by the youth of today. Satan is making earnest, persevering efforts to corrupt the mind and debase the character of every youth; and shall we who have more experience stand as mere spectators, and see him accomplish his purpose without hindrance? Let us stand at our post as minutemen, to work for these youth, and through the help of God to hold them back from the pit of destruction. In the parable, while men slept the enemy sowed tares; and while you, my brethren and sisters, are unconscious of his work, Satan is gathering an army of youth under his banner; and he exults, for through them he carries on his warfare against God.
The Teacher's Privilege.--The teachers in our schools have a heavy responsibility to bear. They must be in words and character what they wish their students to be,--men and women who fear God and work righteousness. If they are acquainted with the way themselves, they can train the youth to walk in it. They will not only educate them in the sciences, but will train them to have moral independence, to work for Jesus, and to take up burdens in his cause.
Teachers, what opportunities are yours! What a privilege is within your reach of molding the minds and characters of the youth under your charge! What a joy it will be to you to meet them around the great white throne, and to know that you have done what you could to fit them for immortality! If your work stands the test of the great day, like sweetest music will fall upon your ears the benediction of the Master, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Matt. 25:21.
In the great harvest field there is abundance of work for all, and those who neglect to do what they can, will be found guilty before God. Let us work for time and for eternity. Let us work with all the powers that God has bestowed upon us, and he will bless our well directed efforts.
The Saviour longs to save the young. He would rejoice to see them around his throne, clothed in the spotless robes of his righteousness. He is waiting to place upon their heads the crown of life, and to hear their happy voices join in ascribing honor and glory and majesty to God and the Lamb in the song of victory that shall echo and reecho through the courts of heaven. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #8)
The people of God have allowed many things to come in between their souls and God, and their thoughts of God have been far below what it is their privilege to have. They are not on the high vantage ground where God would have them, and they should realize this keenly, that they may repent and turn to God with all the heart. It is sad to think that though they have professed the truth for these many years, many have failed to understand how to take God at his word, that they may be strengthened in the time of temptation.
Temptation will come upon all the children of God. James writes: "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." The Word does not say that we are to count it all joy when we fall under temptation, but when we fall into temptation. It is not necessary to fall under temptation, for temptation comes upon us for the trying of our faith. And the trying of our faith worketh patience, not fretfulness and murmuring. If we put our trust in Jesus, he will keep us at all times, and will be our strength and shield. We are to learn valuable lessons from our trials. Paul says: "We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
Many seem to think that it is impossible not to fall under temptation, that they have no power to overcome; and they sin against God with their lips, talking discouragement and doubt, instead of faith and courage. Christ was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. He said, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." What does this mean?--It means that the prince of evil could find no vantage ground in Christ for his temptation; and so it may be with us. "For we have not a high priest which can not be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
As a people we are looking for the coming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven, and how carefully should we examine our hearts, that we may know whether or not we are in the faith. There seems to be a mist before the eyes of many, for they fail to discern spiritual things, and do not recognize the workings of Satan to entrap their souls. Christians are not to be the slaves of passion: they are to be controlled by the Spirit of God. But many become the sport of the enemy, because when temptation comes they do not rest in Jesus, but worry themselves out of his arms, and in perplexity lose all their faith and courage. They do not remember that Jesus has helped them out of difficulties in the past, that his grace is sufficient for the daily trials, and that he can help in the present trouble. We make failures in our little, daily difficulties, and allow them to irritate and vex us; we fall under them, and so make stumbling blocks for ourselves and others. But blessings of the greatest importance are to result from the patient endurance of these daily vexations, for we are to gain strength to bear greater difficulties. Satan will press upon us the most severe temptations, and we must learn to come to God in any and every emergency, as a child would come to its parents.
We profess to be Bible Christians, and we are not left in the dark to take step after step in uncertainty. We are to know where we are going. We can not be in darkness if we are following Christ as our leader; for he says, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." When the way seems beset with difficulty and clouded with darkness, we must believe that there is light ahead, and not turn to the right or left, but press forward, notwithstanding all our trials and temptations.
Take courage, tempted soul, for the Lord knoweth them that are his. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." Keep talking faith, and the victory is yours; for "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." Jesus has said we should not walk in darkness, but should have the light of life, and we believe it. We are to keep talking of the light, to keep praying and believing, and the light will break upon us when our faith has been tried and patience has had its perfect work.
We are not to be like the man who said, "I have prayed and prayed, but I do not receive." A companion said to him, "Let us pray together, then, and claim the promise of God." So they bowed in prayer; but when they rose from their knees, the man said, "I don't feel any different, and I didn't expect I should." This is the way that many present themselves before God; they would be surprised if God should answer their prayers. They do not expect the Lord to answer their prayers, nor think that the Lord will hear them, and their petitions are in vain; for they go away as they came. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #9)
We must have faith in God. "He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Our faith is to be tried by trials and temptations, that patience may have her perfect work and we may be perfect, wanting nothing. We know nothing about the strength of our faith until it is tried. You may not understand the way in which God is leading you, you may not be filled with joy, but may be in heaviness because of temptation; but in all this it is your privilege to say, "I believe the Lord will give me the things I have asked for. I can and will trust God." When you have done this, be thankful, knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience. Do not become restless, full of faultfinding, under the test and proving of God. Do not fret and talk discouragement and grieve the Holy Spirit of God from you. That which you sow, you will reap; and you will not find that a harvest of doubt is a pleasant thing to reap. You must be careful what kind of seed you sow, for it will bear a harvest after its kind. Talk light and faith and hope, and educate yourself to see light when God reveals it to you.
"But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." If you feel that you lack wisdom in this, plead the promise of God. He says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." Come to God with all your needs. Don't go to others with your trials and temptations; God alone can help you. If you fulfil the conditions of God's promises, the promises will be fulfilled to you. If your mind is stayed upon God, you will not go from a state of ecstasy to the valley of despondency when trial and temptation come upon you. You will not talk doubt and gloom to others. You will not say, "I do not know about this or that. I do not feel happy. I am not sure that we have the truth." You will not do this, for you will have an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast. When we talk discouragement and gloom, Satan listens with fiendish joy; for it pleases him to know that he has brought you into his bondage. Satan can not read our thoughts, but he can see our actions, hear our words; and from his long knowledge of the human family, he can shape his temptations to take advantage of our weak points of character. And how often do we let him into the secret of how he may obtain the victory over us. O, that we might control our words and actions! How strong we would become if our words were of such an order that we would not be ashamed to meet the record of them in the day of judgment. How different will they appear in the day of God from what they seem when we utter them.
What harm is wrought in the family circle by the utterance of impatient words; for the impatient utterance of one leads another to retort in the same spirit and manner. Then come words of retaliation, words of self-justification, and it is by such words that a heavy, galling yoke is manufactured for your neck; for all these bitter words will come back in a baleful harvest to your soul. Those who indulge in such language will experience shame, loss of self-respect, loss of self-confidence, and will have bitter remorse and regret that they allowed themselves to lose self-control and speak in this way. How much better would it be if words of this character were never spoken. How much better to have the oil of grace in the heart, to be able to pass by all provocation, and bear all things with Christlike meekness and forbearance.
Home religion is greatly needed, and our words in the home should be of a right character, or our testimonies in the church will amount to nothing. Unless you manifest meekness, kindness, and courtesy in your home, your religion will be in vain. If there were more genuine home religion, there would be more power in the church. We may have a great deal more faith than we now have, by living up to the light God has given. Says the apostle, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." As you would believe in a friend, so you are to trust God. If your friend has never denied your requests, you will not doubt his promise to favor you in some new desire. You are to believe that Jesus knows just what you need, and will supply all your wants; so you can go on in faith, saying, "I have laid my burden upon the Lord, and I will not lay it upon any human being. God will hear and answer my prayers." Satan may say, "You do not feel any better, you are just as miserable as ever." But tell him you believe that God will do just as he has said, and rest your whole weight on his promise.
We must have a practical faith, a faith which works by love and purifies the soul. This genuine faith has a purifying, refining influence upon the Christian's character. Those who have this faith will not be careless and rough in word or deportment. They will realize that they are of value in the sight of God, his sons and daughters, and they will be circumspect in deportment, careful in habits and dress. They will realize that they are a spectacle unto men and angels, and will feel the necessity of having a pure mind, of speaking choice words, and acting in a refined manner. They will keep before them the fact that they are preparing for the society of the heavenly angels.
Brethren and sisters, do not let every one know your thoughts and emotions. Do not manifest impatience; keep yourself under control, master yourself. Satan will take advantage if you give him the least chance. You must fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life. You may gain one victory, but this is not enough; you must gain victory after victory, going from strength to strength. We are to occupy some place in the Lord's spiritual temple, and the important question is not as to whether you are a large or small stone, but whether you have submitted yourself to God that he may polish you, and make you emit light for his glory. If we are in the Lord's temple, we must emit light. Are we permitting the heavenly Builder to hew, square, and polish us? Have we faith to rest in him?
We must have a faith that is not dwarfed and sickly, but one in keeping with the great truth committed to us. O let us come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty! We have a truth that will sanctify the soul, if we will only allow it to work in us and make us holy. Shall we be sanctified through the truth? May God help us to let his grace and light into our souls. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #10)
The True Education.--It is not necessary that our medical missionaries follow the precise track marked out by medical men of the world. They do not need to administer drugs to the sick. They do not need to follow the drug medication in order to have influence in their work. The message was given me that if they would consecrate themselves to the Lord, if they would seek to obtain under men ordained of God a thorough knowledge of their work, the Lord would make them skilful. Some of our medical missionaries have supposed that a medical training according to the plans of worldly schools is essential to their success. To those who have thought that the only way to success is by being taught by worldly men and by pursuing a course that is sanctioned by worldly men, I would now say, Put away such ideas. This is a mistake that should be corrected. It is a dangerous thing to catch the spirit of the world; the popularity which such a course invites, will bring into the work a spirit which the Word of God can not sanction. It is a lack of faith in the power of God that leads our physicians to lean so much on the arm of the law, and to trust so much to the influence of worldly powers. The true medical missionary will be wise in the treatment of the sick, using the remedies that nature provides. And then he will look to Christ as the true healer of diseases. The principles of health reform brought into the life of the patient, the use of nature's remedies, and the cooperation of divine agencies in behalf of the suffering, will bring success.
I am instructed to say that in our educational work there is to be no compromise in order to meet the world's standards. God's commandment-keeping people are not to unite with the world to carry various lines of work according to worldly plans and worldly wisdom.
Our people are now being tested as to whether they will obtain their wisdom from the greatest Teacher the world ever knew, or seek the god of Ekron. Let us determine that we will not be tied by so much as a thread to the educational policies of those who do not discern the voice of God, and who will not harken to his commandments.
Shall we represent before the world that our physicians must follow the pattern of the world before they can be qualified to act as successful physicians? This is the question that is now testing the faith of some of our brethren. Let not any of our brethren displease the Lord by advocating in their assemblies the idea that we need to obtain from unbelievers a higher education than that specified by the Lord.
The representation of the Great Teacher is to be considered an all-sufficient revelation. Those in our ranks who qualify as physicians are to receive only such education as is in harmony with these divine truths. Some have advised that students should, after taking some work at Loma Linda, complete their medical education in worldly colleges. But this is not in harmony with the Lord's plan. God is our wisdom, our sanctification, and our righteousness. Facilities should be provided at Loma Linda, that the necessary instruction in medical lines may be given by instructors who fear the Lord, and who are in harmony with his plans for the treatment of the sick.
I have not a word to say in favor of the world's ideas of higher education in any school that we shall organize for training physicians. There is danger of such physicians attaching themselves to worldly institutions, and working under the ministrations of worldly doctors. Satan is giving his orders to those whom he has led to depart from the faith. I would now advise that none of our young people attach themselves to worldly medical institutions in hope of gaining better success, or stronger influence as physicians. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #13)
"Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Important lessons are presented to us in the experience of Elijah. When upon Mt. Carmel he offered the prayer for rain, his faith was tested, but he persevered in making known his request unto God. Six times he prayed earnestly, and yet there was no sign that his petition was granted, but with a strong faith he urged his plea to the throne of grace. Had he given up in discouragement at the sixth time, his prayer would have not been answered but he persevered till the answer came. We have a God whose ear is not closed to our petitions; and if we prove his word, he will honor our faith. He wants us to have all our interests interwoven with his interests, and then he can safely bless us; for we shall not then take glory to self when the blessing is ours, but shall render all the praise to God. God does not always answer our prayers the first time we call upon him; for should he do this, we might take it for granted that we had a right to all the blessings and favors he bestowed upon us. Instead of searching our hearts to see if any evil was entertained by us, any sin indulged, we should become careless, and fail to realize our dependence upon him and our need of his help.
Elijah humbled himself until he was in a condition where he would not take the glory to himself. This is the condition upon which the Lord hears prayer, for then we shall give the praise to him. The custom of offering praise to men is one that results in great evil. One praises another, and thus men are led to feel that glory and honor belong to them. When you exalt man, you lay a snare for his soul, and do just as Satan would have you. You should praise God with all your heart, soul, might, mind, and strength; for God alone is worthy to be glorified. If we should realize that our salvation cost the infinite price of the life of the Son of God, we should have more humble views of self. Our Saviour knew that there was no hope of redemption for us except through him, and he came to the world to be wounded for our transgressions, to be bruised for our iniquities, to bear our chastisement, that through his stripes we might be healed.
In order to exalt the Lord as we should, we must have genuine faith, which will lead us to render obedience to the law of God. There are many who claim to have faith in God, but it is a faith that does not work; and the apostle says, "Faith without works is dead." It is of like character with the faith possessed by the evil angels, for they "believe and tremble." We must have the faith of the Bible,--the faith that works by love, and purifies the soul. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #14)
"Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded." Young men are not to be lovers of pleasure, seekers for amusement, ready to squander time and money and influence in selfish gratification; but they are to cultivate sobriety and godliness. They should seek each day to realize that they are now in the sowing time, and that the harvest reaped will be according to the seed sown. Young men should form their plans of life with thoughtful deliberation, and subject their conduct to criticism, as they seek for integrity of heart and action that will stand the test of the judgment. They should be willing to receive counsel from those of experience, that they may be fortified to stand in the perils that will beset their pathway. They will be exposed to influences which will lead them away from fidelity to God, unless they ever keep a realization of their responsibilities.
God wants the youth to become men of earnest mind, to be prepared for action in his noble work, and fitted to bear responsibilities. God calls for young men with hearts uncorrupted, strong and brave, and determined to fight manfully in the struggle before them, that they may glorify God and bless humanity. If the youth would but make the Bible their study, would but calm their impetuous desires, and listen to the voice of their Creator and Redeemer, they would not only be at peace with God, but would find themselves ennobled and elevated. It will be for your eternal interest, my young friend, to give heed to the instructions in the Word of God, for they are of inestimable importance to you.
I entreat you to be wise, and consider what will be the result of leading a wild life, uncontrolled by the Spirit of God. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption." For your soul's sake, for Christ's sake, who gave himself to save you from ruin, pause on the threshold of your life, and weigh well your responsibilities, your opportunities, your possibilities. God has given you an opportunity to fill a high destiny. Your influence may tell for the truth of God; you may be a colaborer with God in the great work of human redemption.
John says: "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." O that young men might appreciate the high destiny to which they are called! Ponder well the paths of your feet. Begin your work with high and holy purpose, and be determined that through the power of the grace of God you will not diverge from the path of rectitude. If you begin to go in a wrong direction, every step will be fraught with peril and disaster, and you will go on straying from the path of truth, safety, and success. You need your intellect strengthened, your moral energies quickened, by divine power. The cause of God demands the highest powers of the being, and there is urgent need in many fields for young men of literary qualifications. There is need of men who can be trusted to labor in extensive fields that are now white to the harvest. Young men of ordinary ability who give themselves wholly to God, who are uncorrupted by vice and impurity, will be successful, and will be enabled to do a great work for God. Let young men heed the admonition and be sober-minded.
How many youth have wasted their God-given strength in folly and dissipation! How many painful histories rise before me of youth who have become mere wrecks of humanity, mentally, morally, physically, because of indulgence in vicious habits! Their constitutions are ruined, their life usefulness greatly impaired, because of indulgence in unlawful pleasures. I entreat of you, careless, reckless youth of today, be converted and become laborers together with God. Let it be the study of your life to bless and save others. If you seek help from God, his power working in you will bring to naught all opposing powers, and you will become sanctified through the truth.
Sin is alarmingly prevalent among the youth of today, but let it be your purpose to do what you can to rescue souls from the power of Satan. Carry light wherever you go; show that you have strength of purpose, that you are not a person of indecision, easily swayed by the persuasions of evil associates. Do not yield a ready assent to the suggestions of those who dishonor God, but rather seek to reform, reclaim, and rescue souls from evil. Resort to prayer, persuade in meekness and lowliness of spirit those who oppose themselves. One soul saved from error and brought under the banner of Christ, will cause joy in heaven, and place a star in your crown of rejoicing. A soul saved will, through his godly influence, bring other souls to a knowledge of salvation, and thus the work will multiply, and only the revealings of the day of judgment will make manifest the extent of the work. Do not hesitate to work for the Lord because you think you can do but little. Do your little with fidelity, for God will work with your efforts. He will write your name in the book of life as one worthy to enter into the joy of the Lord. Let us earnestly entreat the Lord that laborers may be raised up, for the fields are white to the harvest; the harvest is great, and the laborers are few. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #15)
Our churches are languishing for the want of wholehearted, self-denying workers. Our smaller churches are losing their vitality because their members do not seek to work for those around them. God can work with few as well as with many, but personal responsibility does not seem to be comprehended as it should be by the members of our churches. Can God bless the church that is indolent and selfish? O rouse, my brethren and sisters, and come to Christ, and he will give you life. God has given to each one his work, and hours are as precious jewels to be treasured and improved for the glory of God. Although we should not move rashly, we must not stand in idleness, but go forward as lightbearers for Christ. God would have his followers men and women of undaunted determination and resolution. They are to be as lights in the world, making those with whom they come in contact wiser, purer, happier.
Young men should have broad ideas, wise plans, that they may make the most of their opportunities, catch the inspiration and courage that animated the apostles. John says, "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one." An elevated standard is presented before the youth, and God is inviting them to come into real service for him. Truehearted young men who delight to be learners in the school of Christ can do a great work for the Master if they will only give heed to the command of the Captain as it sounds down along the lines of our time, "Quit you like men, be strong." You are to be men who will walk humbly with God, who will stand before him in your God-given manhood, free from impurity, free from all contamination from the sensuality that is corrupting this age. You must be men who will despise all falsity and wickedness, who will dare to be true and brave, holding aloft the bloodstained banner of Prince Immanuel. Your talents will increase as you use them for the Master, and they will be esteemed precious by him who has bought them with an infinite price. Do not sit down and neglect to do anything, simply because you can not do some great thing, but do whatever your hands find to do, with thoroughness and energy.
We each have some power of influence. Men are led to change their plans in temporal matters by the influence of others who approach them in a judicious manner, presenting reasons for such a change. Men lead others to confide in them, to trust their judgment, and to shape their course of action in a different way from what they would otherwise do, simply because of personal influence. Why not use this power of influence to persuade them in matters that pertain to their eternal interests? Use your influence in persuading men to believe the truths of the Bible. Work for God as earnestly in this matter as in things that concern this life; as you exercised your power in society in earthly things, now exercise your power to stay the tide of corruption that is flooding the world. You can save your fellow men from leading a life of sin and unhappiness. Do not wait for better opportunities; work now, while it is called today. Just where you are, take hold of your opportunities. Those who have a heart to work will find openings all around them; for such will be praying and watching for opportunities, and when these appear, they will seize upon them, and make the most of them. The faithful improvement of small openings will prepare the way for a larger work.
Christ is calling for volunteers to enlist under his standard, and bear the banner of the cross before the world. The church is languishing for the help of young men who will bear a courageous testimony, who will with their ardent zeal stir up the sluggish energies of God's people, and so increase the power of the church in the world. Young men are wanted who will resist the tide of worldliness, and lift a voice of warning against taking the first steps in immorality and vice.
But first the young men who would serve God and give themselves to his work, must cleanse the soul temple of all impurity, and enthrone Christ in the heart; then they will be enabled to put energy into their Christian effort, and will manifest enthusiastic zeal in persuading men to be reconciled to Christ. Will not our young men respond to the invitation of Christ, and answer, "Here am I; send me"? Young men, press to the front, and identify yourselves as laborers together with Christ, taking up the work where he left it, to carry it on to its completion.
We have a most solemn message to bear to the world, and how circumspect should be our conduct, how unblamable our example. If through our influence souls are led astray, the loss will be placed to our account. We shall not only suffer because of our own rejection of Christ, but because our impenitence encouraged others to continue in transgression. The Lord will help all who feel their need of help, who seek him earnestly for strength and divine guidance. Those who will purify their hearts by obeying the truth will be used of God in accomplishing great good. Those who have the love of God in the heart will show it by corresponding works; for they will let their light shine forth in deeds of truth and goodness. "A city that is set on a hill can not be hid." I appeal to you, my brethren and sisters, have root in yourselves. Let your souls be riveted to the eternal Rock. God is not mocked; he knows those who are his. Our profession of truth will not save us; we must be sanctified through the truth. Christ said, "Thy word is truth." We must study the Bible, comparing scripture with scripture. A mere reading through of the Bible will not be sufficient. The heart must be opened to understand what saith the Scriptures in regard to duty. We must have a calm, steady faith, and that moral courage which Jesus alone can impart to us, that we may be strengthened for trial and prepared for duty. We need living faith that we may be closely united with God; for only in this way shall we be able to make a success of the Christian life and be a blessing to others. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #17)
True Christians will be Christlike. The Redeemer clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to our world--a world seared and marred by the curse of sin, a vale of darkness and woe--to accomplish a great work, as he announced in the synagogue of Nazareth: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Each church member is to be a representative of the character and spirit of Christ. By precept and example the essential elements of a true, healthy, influential Christianity are to be revealed. Christ should be constantly set forth as the fountain of life, mercy, and love.
Brethren, have we any truth in advance of others? Is its influence on our character of any worth to us? When we bring that truth into our hearts, weave it into our characters, carry out its sanctifying principles in our daily lives, we show that we believe it to be worth defending, and that we will individually contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. We shall look to Jesus and catch his spirit. In this age the mind is inclined to lose sight of Jesus, and what is the result?--The tenderness of Christ is not cherished, and hearts are hard and unfeeling. Were Christ on earth today his solemn rebuke would be upon many who profess to be Christians, who have entered into church fellowship, because they do not have the mind of Jesus, are not meek and lowly of heart. When self is exalted there can not be a ready sympathy with the poor and lowly and oppressed.
By beholding we become changed. Through close study and earnest contemplation of the character of Christ, his image is reflected in our own lives, and a higher tone is imparted to the spirituality of the church. If the truth of God has not transformed our characters into the likeness of Christ, all our professed knowledge of him and the truth is but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.
"Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I can not away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
Let all who claim to keep the commandments of God, look well to this matter, and see if there are not reasons why they do not have more of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. How many have lifted up their souls unto vanity! They think themselves exalted in the favor of God, but they neglect the needy, they turn a deaf ear to the calls of the oppressed, and speak sharp, cutting words to those who need altogether different treatment. Thus they offend God daily by their hardness of heart. These afflicted ones have claims upon the sympathies and the interest of their fellow men. They have a right to expect help, comfort, and Christlike love. But this is not what they receive. Every neglect of God's suffering ones is written in the books of heaven as if shown to Christ himself. Let every member of the church closely examine his heart and investigate his course of action to see if these are in harmony with the spirit and work of Jesus; for if not, what can he say when he stands before the Judge of all the earth? Can the Lord say to him, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world?" (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #18)
Christ has identified his interest with that of suffering humanity; and while he is neglected in the person of his afflicted ones, all our assemblies, all our appointed meetings, all the machinery that is set in operation to advance the cause of God, will be of little avail. This "ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." "Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting."
All who are to be saints in heaven will first be saints upon the earth. They will not follow the sparks of their own kindling, they will not work for praise nor speak words of vanity, nor put forth the finger in condemnation and oppression; but they will follow the Light of Life, diffuse light, comfort, hope, and courage to the very ones who need help, and not censure and reproach.
Has the truth of God been committed to us? Then let us seek to advance it in every way possible. More is expected of us than we have done; our works should correspond to the light which God has given us; they should advance accordingly. The rich, clear light that has been shining upon our pathway has placed us on vantage ground; and we should improve every opportunity to do good. Christ came from the royal courts of heaven to seek and save the lost, and this is to be our work. The zeal which we manifest in this direction will show the measure of our love for Jesus and our fellow men, of our efficiency and missionary spirit.
To every member of the church is committed a work, and his sanctification will be seen in the efficiency, the unselfishness, the zeal and purity and intelligence, with which he does the work. The cause of humanity and religion must not retrograde. Progress is expected of those who have received great light and have many advantages.
The church must be a working church if it would be a living church. It should not be content merely to hold its own against the opposing forces of sin and error, not be content to advance with dilatory step, but it should bear the yoke of Christ, and keep step with the leader, gaining new recruits along the way.
When we are truly Christ's, our hearts will be full of meekness, gentleness, and kindness, because Jesus has forgiven our sins. As obedient children we shall receive and cherish the precepts he has given, and shall attend to the ordinances he has instituted. We shall be seeking constantly to obtain a knowledge of him. His example will be our rule of life. Those who are Christ's disciples will take the work where he left it, and carry it forward in his name. They will copy the words, the spirit, the practices, of none but him. Their eye is upon the Captain of their salvation. His will is their law. And as they advance, they catch more and clearer views of his countenance, of his character, of his glory. They do not cling to self, but hold fast his word, which is spirit and life. "If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." They reduce their knowledge of his will to practise. They hear and do the things that Jesus teaches.
In the church is work for all who love God and keep his commandments. The profession one may make is not certain evidence that he is a Christian. The words he may speak give no surety that he is a converted man. Hear the words of Christ: "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?" Unless the daily life conforms to the will and works of Christ, no one can establish a claim to be a child of God, an heir of heaven. There is a legal religion, which the Pharisees had, but such a religion does not give to the world a Christlike example; it does not represent Christ's character. Those who have Christ abiding in the heart will work the works of Christ. Such are entitled to all the promises of his Word. Becoming one with Christ, they do the will of God, and exhibit the riches of his grace. "Then shalt thou call, and the Lord will answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am." O, precious promise! "And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." In marked contrast to the murmuring and complaining of the wicked, the servants of God will sing: "I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of thy mouth. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord. Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off." Then let not a semblance of pride or self-importance be cherished, for it will crowd Jesus out of the heart, and the vacuum will be filled with the attributes of Satan. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #19)
The faith essential for salvation is not mere nominal faith, but an abiding principle, deriving vital power from Christ. It will lead the soul to feel the love of Christ to such a degree that the character will be refined, purified, ennobled. This faith in Christ is not merely an impulse, but a power that works by love and purifies the soul. It accomplishes something, bringing the soul under discipline, elevating it from defilement, and bringing it into connection with Christ, till it appropriates his virtue to the soul's need. This is saving faith.
There are many who claim to have faith, but how shall we know that it is genuine? The Lord has given us a test by which we may prove our profession and the profession of others. The prophet says, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." John declares, "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." This test applies to those who have been enlightened in regard to the claims of God's law. The principles of the Bible must be brought into everyday life, to enlighten conscience and regulate the conduct.
If heavenly light is welcomed by the soul, grace will be given to adorn the character, to dignify the nature, and to fit man for the society of the angels of heaven. Every temptation may be conquered through the strength of Christ. God desires us to have pure characters; purity is power, but sin is weakness and ruin.
Christ has said, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." Christ came to our world, and for our sake he became a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He suffered reproach, he was despised and rejected of men. He died a shameful death upon the cross, that we might have eternal life; and shall we dare to flatter ourselves that we may follow a course of sin, choosing our own way, shunning the cross, avoiding reproach and self-denial, and yet have a home in the kingdom of heaven?--No; through faith in Christ we must render obedience to all requirements of God; through his merits we may be elevated to keep God's commandments.
Exceeding great and precious promises have been given unto us, whereby we may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust. We must appropriate these promises to ourselves that we may overcome unbelief and get the victory over every besetment, perfecting a character that will meet the approval of heaven. We are very anxious to appear well in the sight of men, but of how much greater importance is it that we stand approved in the presence of God!
Day by day we are to fight the good fight of faith. Day by day God will give us our work; and though we can not see the end from the beginning, we are to examine ourselves daily to see if we are in the path of righteousness. We must strive to overcome, looking unto Jesus; for in every temptation he will be at our side to give us the victory. Every day should come to us as the last day in which we may be privileged to work for God, and much of it must be given to prayer that we may work in the strength of Christ. This is the way in which Enoch walked with God, warning and condemning the world by manifesting before them a righteous character.
We profess to believe that Christ is soon coming to the earth, and a solemn responsibility rests upon us; for a lost world is to be warned of the hastening judgment. We must not lay off our responsibility; we must carry the burden of the work. Self must be out of sight, and Christ must appear; as faithful, obedient children we must follow the light, and reflect its precious rays to others. We must be living epistles, known and read of all men. If we are to be cleansed, both soul and body, we can not afford to be slothful and negligent. Christ is coming, the third angel's message must be proclaimed to the world; for it brings light upon the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. O, could we realize how all heaven is interested in the salvation of the world, we should rouse up with holy zeal to be followers of Jesus! Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #20)
When Christ left the world, he gave to his disciples the work of carrying the gospel. The professed followers of Christ are held responsible for the warning of the world. How are we doing this solemn work committed to us? We must humble ourselves before God, and not follow the ideas of men. We must come before the world, speaking the words of God, that the world may know that God has sent us, and that heaven's mold is upon the work. O, we must grow up into a glorious temple in the Lord! The enemy will come in, and try to draw our minds away from the important work to be done for this time. He will seek to keep us engaged on trivial matters, to make us think that it is our province to criticize and condemn others; but our work is to deal faithfully with our own souls. We must search our hearts and see if we are right in the sight of God. Peter said to Christ in regard to John, "Lord, and what shall this man do?" But the Lord answered him, "What is that to thee? follow thou me." We each have a work to do for ourselves, and while we are criticizing others, we are neglecting the most important work of all.
The great crisis is before us, and every one is to act as if his own soul was at stake. The most important question of all is, How shall I save my soul, for which Christ died? How shall I be holy as he is holy? It is time to be seeking for the forgiveness of your sins, for the assurance that your names are written in the Lamb's book of life. Let every one realize that he is not his own, but has been bought with a price, even with the blood of the Son of God.
Live by the day for Christ. Seek to be a victor just for this one day; for you do not know that you have another day to live. Confess your sins today. You have the promises of pardon.
The Lord says, "Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me." God is in earnest with us. He has borne long and patiently with us, and the light that has shone upon us from the throne of his glory will not lessen our responsibility, but, if we fail to improve it, will leave us without excuse. God will not be trifled with. You may ask, What shall I do to advance the light of truth? I answer, Work humbly for God; do not exalt yourself, but remember that you are standing upon holy ground. We are living in the last days, and the great question is, How shall I stand before God? Every one is responsible for the light he has received. What have you done with the light of heaven? Have you put it under a bushel?
There is a great work to be done; for we are to reach the people with the divine light of truth, not in our own way, but through the power and Spirit of God. God will use us as instruments in his hand, if we will yield ourselves to him. O, that all may make the effort essential to win eternal life! Every soul is precious in the sight of God. He declares by the prophet, "I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." This preciousness will be wrought in the soul that is connected with Christ; but our own ways must be abandoned, our own thoughts must be put away. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #22)
"Elmshaven," Sanitarium, Cal., May 4, 1913.--To those assembled in General Conference, Greeting.--My Dear Brethren: "Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
"Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish."
"We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 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. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
It is the privilege of our representative men in attendance at the General Conference to cherish a spirit of hopefulness and courage. My brethren, the Saviour has revealed himself to you in manifold ways; he has filled your heart with the sunlight of his presence while you have labored in distant lands and in the home land; he has kept you through dangers seen and unseen; and now, as you meet once more with your brethren in council, it is your privilege to be glad in the Lord, and to rejoice in the knowledge of his sustaining grace. Let his love take possession of mind and heart. Guard against becoming overwearied, careworn, depressed. Bear an uplifting testimony. Turn your eyes away from that which is dark and discouraging, and behold Jesus, our great Leader, under whose watchful supervision the cause of present truth, to which we are giving our lives and our all, is destined to triumph gloriously.
The attitude that our representative men maintain during the Conference will have a telling influence upon all throughout the field, as well as upon the delegates themselves. O, let it be seen, my brethren, that Jesus is abiding in the heart, sustaining, strengthening, comforting! It is your privilege to be endowed, from day to day, with a rich measure of his Holy Spirit, and to have broadened views of the importance and scope of the message we are proclaiming to the world. The Lord is willing to reveal to you wondrous things out of his law. Wait before him with humility of heart. Pray most earnestly for an understanding of the times in which we live, for a fuller conception of his purpose, and for increased efficiency in soul saving.
Often in the night season I am bidden to urge our brethren in responsible positions to make earnest effort to follow on to know the lord more perfectly. When our workers realize as they should the importance of the times in which we live, there will be seen a determined purpose to be on the Lord's side, and they will become in truth laborers together with God. When they consecrate heart and soul to the service of God, they will find that an experience deeper than any they have yet obtained is essential if they would triumph over all sin.
It will be well for us to consider what is soon to come upon the earth. This is no time for trifling or self-seeking. If the times in which we are living fail to impress our minds seriously, what can reach us? Do not the Scriptures call for a more pure and holy work than we have yet seen?
Men of clear understanding are needed now. God calls upon those who are willing to be controlled by the Holy Spirit to lead out in a work of thorough reformation. I see a crisis before us, and the Lord calls for his laborers to come into line. Every soul should now stand in a position of deeper, truer consecration to God than during the years that have passed.
During the General Conference of 1909, a work should have been done in the hearts of those in attendance that was not done. Hours should have been given up to heart-searching, which would have led to the breaking up of the fallow ground of the hearts of those who were at the meeting. This would have given them insight to understand the work so essential to be done by them in repentance and confession. But, though opportunities were given for confession of sin, for heartfelt repentance, and for a decided reformation, thorough work was not done. Some felt the influence of the Holy Spirit, and responded; but all did not yield to this influence. The minds of some were running in forbidden channels. Had there been on the part of all in the assembly a humbling of heart, there would have been manifested a wonderful blessing.
For a number of months after the close of that meeting, I bore a heavy burden, and urged upon the attention of the brethren in responsibility those things which the Lord was instructing me to set before them plainly. Finally some of those in positions of trust in connection with the general work, after much prayer and careful study of the various messages given, ventured to undertake by faith the work called for,-- a work they could not fully understand; and as they went forward in the fear of God, they received rich blessing.
It has brought great rejoicing to my heart to see the marvelous transformations that have been wrought in the lives of some who thus chose to advance by faith in the way of the Lord, rather than to follow a way of their own choosing. Had those brethren in responsibility continued to view matters in a false light, they would have created a condition of things that would sadly have marred the work; but when they heeded the instruction that was sent and sought the Lord, God brought them into the full light, and enabled them to render acceptable service and to bring about spiritual reformations.
When the Lord sets his hand to prepare the way before his ministers, it is their duty to follow where he directs. He will never forsake nor leave in uncertainty those who follow his leadings with full purpose of heart.
"I rejoice," my brethren, "that I have confidence in you in all things." And while I still feel the deepest anxiety over the attitude that some are taking toward important measures connected with the development of the cause of God in the earth, yet I have strong faith in the workers throughout the field, and believe that as they meet together and humble themselves before the Lord and consecrate themselves anew to his service, they will be enabled to do his will. There are some who do not even now view matters in the right light, but these may learn to see eye to eye with their coworkers, and may avoid making serious mistakes, by earnestly seeking the Lord at this time, and by submitting their wills wholly to the will of God.
I have been deeply impressed by scenes that have recently passed before me in the night season. There seemed to be a great movement--a work of revival--going forward in many places. Our people were moving into line, responding to God's call. My brethren, the Lord is speaking to us. Shall we not heed his voice? Shall we not trim our lamps, and act like men who look for their Lord to come? The time is one that calls for lightbearing for action.
"I therefore...beseech you," brethren, "that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ellen G. White.
(Vol. 90, #24)
Recently in the night season, my mind was impressed by the Holy Spirit with the thought that if the Lord is coming as soon as we believe he is, we ought to be even more active than we have been in years past in getting the truth before the people.
In this connection, my mind reverted to the activity of the advent believers in 1843 and 1844. At that time there was much house-to-house visitation, and untiring efforts were made to warn the people of the things that are spoken of in God's Word. We should be putting forth even greater effort than was put forth by those who proclaimed the first angel's message so faithfully. We are rapidly approaching the end of this earth's history; and as we realize that Jesus is indeed coming soon, we shall be aroused to labor as never before. We are bidden to sound an alarm to the people. And in our own lives we are to show forth the power of truth and righteousness. The world is soon to meet the great Lawgiver over his broken law. Those only who turn from transgression to obedience, can hope for pardon and peace.
We are to raise the banner on which is inscribed, "The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Obedience to God's law is the great issue. Let it not be put out of sight. We must strive to arouse church members, and those who make no profession, to see and obey the claims of the law of Heaven. We are to magnify this law and make it honorable.
Christ has commissioned us to sow the seeds of truth, and to urge upon our people the importance of the work to be done by those who are living amidst the closing scenes of this earth's history. As the words of truth are proclaimed in the highways and the byways, there is to be a revelation of the working of the Spirit of God on human hearts.
O, how much good might be accomplished if all who have the truth, the word of life, would labor for the enlightenment of those who have it not! When the Samaritans came to Christ at the call of the Samaritan woman, Christ spoke of them to his disciples as a field of grain ready for harvesting. "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?" he said, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." Christ abode with the Samaritans for two days; for they were hungry to hear the truth. And what busy days they were! As a result of those days of labor, "many more believed on him because of his own word." This was their testimony: "We have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world."
Who among God's professing people will take up this sacred work, and labor for the souls who are perishing for lack of knowledge? The world must be warned. Many places are pointed out to me as in need of consecrated, faithful, untiring effort. Christ is opening the hearts and minds of many in our large cities. These need the truths of God's Word; and if we will come into a sacred nearness with Christ, and will seek to draw near to these people, impressions for good will be made. We need to wake up, and enter into sympathy with Christ and with our fellow men. The large and small cities, and places nigh and afar off, are to be worked, and worked intelligently. Never draw back. The Lord will make the right impressions upon hearts, if we will work in unison with his Spirit.
I have words of encouragement for you, my brethren. We are to move forward in faith and hope, expecting large things from God. The enemy will seek in every way to hinder the efforts that are being made to advance the truth, but in the strength of the Lord you may gain success. Let no discouraging words be spoken, but only such words as will tend to strengthen and sustain your fellow workers.
I long to be personally engaged in earnest work in the field, and I should most assuredly be engaged in more public labor did I not believe that at my age it is not wise to presume on one's physical strength. I have a work to do in communicating to the church and to the world the light that has been entrusted to me from time to time all through the years during which the third angel's message has been proclaimed. My heart is filled with a most earnest desire to place the truth before all who can be reached. And I am still acting a part in preparing matter for publication. But I have to move very carefully, lest I place myself where I cannot write at all. I know not how long I may live, but I am not suffering as much healthwise as I might expect.
Following the General Conference of 1909, I spent several weeks attending campmeetings and other general gatherings, and visiting various institutions, in New England, the Central States, and the Middle West.
Upon returning to my home in California, I took up anew the work of preparing matter for the press. During the past four years I have written comparatively few letters. What strength I have had has been given mostly to the completion of important book work.
Occasionally I have attended meetings, and have visited institutions in California, but the greater portion of the time since the last General Conference has been spent in manuscript work at my country home, "Elmshaven," near St. Helena.
I am thankful that the Lord is sparing my life to work a little longer on my books. O, that I had strength to do all that I see ought to be done! I pray that he may impart to me wisdom, that the truths our people so much need may be presented clearly and acceptably. I am encouraged to believe that God will enable me to do this.
My interest in the general work is still as deep as ever, and I greatly desire that the cause of present truth shall steadily advance in all parts of the world. But I find it advisable not to attempt much public work while my book work demands my supervision. I have some of the best of workers--those who in the providence of God connected with me in Australia, with others who have united with me since my return to America. I thank the Lord for these helpers. We are all very busy, doing our best to prepare matter for publication. I want the light of truth to go to every place, that it may enlighten those now ignorant of the reasons of our faith. On some days my eyes trouble me, and I suffer considerable pain in them. But I praise the Lord that he preserves my sight. It would not be strange if at my age I could not use my eyes at all.
I am more thankful than I can express for the uplifting of the Spirit of the Lord, for the comfort and grace that he continues to give me, and that he grants me strength and opportunity to impart courage and help to his people. As long as the Lord spares my life, I will be faithful and true to him, seeking to do his will and to glorify his name. May the Lord increase my faith, that I may follow on to know him, and to do his will more perfectly. Good is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.
I greatly desire that the old soldiers of the cross, those grown gray in the Master's service, shall continue to bear their testimony right to the point, in order that those younger in the faith may understand that the messages which the Lord gave us in the past are very important at this stage of the earth's history. Our past experience has not lost one jot of its force.
Let all be careful not to discourage the pioneers, nor cause them to feel that there is little they can do. Their influence may still be mightily exerted in the work of the Lord. The testimony of the aged ministers will ever be a help and a blessing to the church. God will watch over his tried and faithful standard bearers, night and day, until the time comes for them to lay off their armor. Let them be assured that they are under the protecting care of Him who never slumbers nor sleeps; that they are watched over by unwearied sentinels. Knowing this, and realizing that they are abiding in Christ, they may rest trustfully in the providences of God.
I pray earnestly that the work we do at this time shall impress itself deeply on heart and mind and soul. Perplexities will increase; but let us, as believers in God, encourage one another. Let us not lower the standard, but keep it lifted high, looking to him who is the author and finisher of our faith. When in the night season I am unable to sleep, I lift my heart in prayer to God, and he strengthens me, and gives me the assurance that he is with his ministering servants in the home field and in distant lands. I am encouraged and blessed as I realize that the God of Israel is still guiding his people, and that he will continue to be with them, even to the end.
I am instructed to say to our ministering brethren, Let the messages that come from your lips be charged with the power of the Spirit of God. If ever there was a time when we needed the special guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is now. We need a thorough consecration. It is fully time that we gave to the world a demonstration of the power of God in our own lives and in our ministry.
The Lord desires to see the work of proclaiming the third angel's message carried forward with increasing efficiency. As he has worked in all ages to give victories to his people, so in this age he longs to carry to a triumphant fulfilment his purposes for his church. He bids his believing saints to advance unitedly, going from strength to greater strength, from faith to increased assurance and confidence in the truth and righteousness of his cause.
We are to stand firm as a rock to the principles of the Word of God, remembering that God is with us to give us strength to meet each new experience. Let us ever maintain in our lives the principles of righteousness, that we may go forward from strength to strength in the name of the Lord. We are to hold as very sacred the faith that has been substantiated by the instruction and approval of the Spirit of God from our earliest experience until the present time. We are to cherish as very precious the work that the Lord has been carrying forward through his commandment-keeping people, and which, through the power of his grace, will grow stronger and more efficient as time advances. The enemy is seeking to becloud the discernment of God's people, and to weaken their efficiency, but if they will labor as the Spirit of God shall direct, he will open doors of opportunity before them for the work of building up the old waste places. Their experience will be one of constant growth, until the Lord shall descend from heaven with power and great glory to set his seal of final triumph upon his faithful ones.
The work that lies before us is one that will put to the stretch every power of the human being. It will call for the exercise of strong faith and constant vigilance. At times the difficulties that we shall meet will be most disheartening. The very greatness of the task will appall us. And yet, with God's help, his servants will finally triumph. "Wherefore," my brethren, "I desire that ye faint not" because of the trying experiences that are before you. Jesus will be with you; he will go before you by his Holy Spirit, preparing the way; and he will be your helper in every emergency.
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." Ellen G. White.
(Vol. 90, #25)
Sanitarium, Cal., Feb. 20, 1913.--To the workers in the message. Last night I seemed to be in earnest conversation with some of our brethren who seemed to be unable to take a broad view of the work that God desired them to do. Some in their efforts were going beyond that which was wise and prudent, while others were falling short of that which was required of them. I was trying to make these brethren understand the necessity of carrying the work forward intelligently, so that one worker would not tear down the work that another was endeavoring to build up.
This morning after dressing, I began to look over a collection of manuscripts that lay on my office table. The first on which my eye fell was one in which were laid down principles that lie at the foundation of all successful efforts for souls,--principles that every worker needs prayerfully and carefully to study. Again and again I have been impressed to write that which, if studied under the direction of the Holy Spirit, would enable our brethren to take right views of their privileges and responsibilities. But unless these principles are so studied, they cannot be worked out in the experience. Unless there is a united drawing with God, unless those in positions of leadership lift up their hearts to heaven, confessing their defects of character, and pleading for help to reach a higher standard, they will not discern their own spiritual needs, nor strive successfully for higher attainments.
Because a worker does not see the importance of a fellow worker's efforts, he should not pull back and make the work go hard. Every laborer should now be working with zeal and energy, pressing onward and upward. There should be no such thing as backsliding from the light that has guided us for so many years. God is calling upon his people to reach a higher standard of spirituality, to work unitedly. Much of the work being accomplished in the cause of present truth would require not more than half the labor that it now demands if the workers would come unitedly to the help of the Lord, lending their courage and zeal, their faith and influence, to the building up of whatever enterprise is called for.
A sad mistake is made when workers take up some work that God has not set them, and carry it forward as if that were the plan of the Lord. The result is disappointment; and when the realization comes that they have been in error, it is often the case that the workers fall into discouragement, and go off on a line that leads directly away from the reformations that God desires to see wrought.
There is a great work to be done, and we do not half realize its sacredness, nor appreciate its uplifting influence on the lives that are yielded to its fashioning. We are to learn to take God at his word, for thus only can we carry out his purposes. There should be no holding back on the part of any. With all the light that has been given us, we cannot truthfully say, "We did not understand his will." Let there be a drawing together, every one lifting in spiritual lines. Let us manifest a godlike earnestness of purpose instead of taking an attitude of careless indifference. The indifference manifested by some discourages those who are trying to do faithful work.
Not all are pursuing a course of indifference. There are some who are reviewing their past mistakes, and are learning from these mistakes the lessons that God would teach them. They are making close examination of self. These workers are studying their own lives in the light of Christ's perfect example, and are becoming changed into the same image.
Our ministers have some experiences to gain that have not yet been gained, standards to reach higher than those yet attained. They have lessons to learn of personal ministry for souls. There is a special work to be done for the newly converted. Do not think when these have embraced the doctrines of the message that you can leave them there. Many have thus been left in spiritual darkness; they know not how to go forward. Go to these souls; pray with them; lift them up. Do not rest until you see that they are striving to reach the standard that God's Word sets for his children.
We talk much about the truth; but unless we live the truth, unless we ourselves are reaching its standard, and helping others to reach it, our work will not have the approval of Heaven.
We do not realize how untiring are Satan's efforts to sap our spirituality. He is working mightily that the people of God may be only half converted. Then self will swell to large proportions, and there will be no revelation to the world of the transforming power of God. If this power does not rest upon God's people and move them to sanctified action, they cannot do the work in the earth that has been shown us must be done. Without this power, they will not realize their responsibility as his representatives in a world of unbelief. Ellen G. White.
(Vol. 90, #27)
"Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead." 1 Kings 11:43.
Soon after his accession to the throne, Rehoboam went to Shechem, where he expected to receive formal recognition of authority from all the tribes. "To Shechem were all Israel come to make him king."
Among those present was Jeroboam, the son of Nebat,--the same Jeroboam who during Solomon's reign had been known as "a mighty man of valor," and to whom the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite had delivered the startling message, "Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee."
The prophet had spoken plainly regarding the necessity for a division of the kingdom. God had declared that this division must take place, because "they have forsaken me, and have worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father." The kingdom was not to be divided, however, before the close of Solomon's reign. "I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand," the Lord declared through his prophet; "but I will make him a prince all the days of his life for David my servant's sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes: but I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes."
To Solomon himself, as well as to Jeroboam, the Lord had revealed the sure result of apostasy. "Forasmuch as . . . thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, . . ." was the message of the prophet, "I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son."
It was this prophecy of impending ruin that had awakened the apostate king as from a dream, and had led him to repent, and to seek to stay, so far as possible, the terrible tide of evil that during the later years of his reign had been rising high and still higher. But at the time of his repentance, only a few years of life remained to him, and he could not hope to avert the consequences of long years of wrongdoing. His course of evil had set in operation influences that afterward he could never fully control.
Especially was this the case in the training of the children born to him through marriage with idolatrous women. Rehoboam, the son whom Solomon chose to be his successor, had received from his mother, an Ammonitess, a stamp of character that led him to look upon sin as desirable. At times he endeavored to serve God, and was granted a measure of prosperity; but he was not steadfast, and at last he yielded to the influences for evil that had surrounded him from infancy.
At the meeting in Shechem, at the very beginning of his reign, Rehoboam might have taken a course that would have inspired confidence in his ability to stand at the head of the nation. If he had shown a willingness to keep ever before him the welfare of his subjects, the people would have accepted him as a wise ruler. But in this hour of opportunity, failing to reason from cause to effect, he forever weakened his influence over a large portion of the people.
The tribes had long suffered grievous wrongs under the oppressive measures of their former ruler. The extravagance of Solomon's reign during his apostasy had led him to tax the people heavily, and to require of them much menial service. They now felt that they could no longer bear so many burdens, and before going forward with the coronation of a new ruler, the leading men from among the tribes determined to ascertain whether or not it was the purpose of Solomon's son to lessen these burdens. "So Jeroboam and all Israel came and spake to Rehoboam, saying, Thy father made our yoke grievous; now therefore ease thou somewhat the grievous servitude of thy father, and his heavy yoke that he put upon us, and we will serve thee."
Desiring to take counsel with his advisers before outlining his policy, Rehoboam said to the men of Israel, "Come again unto me after three days. And the people departed.
"And King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men that had stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, saying, What counsel give ye me to return answer to this people? And they spake unto him, saying, If thou be kind to this people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be thy servants forever."
Rehoboam then "consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him: and he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken unto me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter?
"And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them. My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins. And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
"So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day. . . . And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him; and spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions."
"The king harkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the Lord, that he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
"So when all Israel saw that the king harkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.
"But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them." (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #28)
Rehoboam made a mistake at Shechem that was irreparable. Unwise and unfeeling in the exercise of power, he and his chosen counselors revealed the pride of position and authority. Had they understood God's purpose concerning Israel, they would have listened to the request of the people for decided reforms in the administration of government. But instead of following a plan in harmony with God's purpose, they announced their intention of perpetuating and adding to the evils introduced in Solomon's reign.
The Lord did not allow Rehoboam to carry out the policy he proposed to follow. Among the tribes were many thousands who had become thoroughly aroused over the oppressive measures of Solomon's reign, and these now felt that they could not do otherwise than rebel against the house of David. In doing this, they acted in harmony with the prediction of the prophet concerning the rending of the kingdom. Thenceforth the twelve tribes of Israel were divided, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin forming the lower kingdom of Judah, under the rulership of Rehoboam, and the ten northern tribes forming the kingdom of Israel, with Jeroboam as their ruler.
When Rehoboam saw the tribes withdrawing their allegiance from him, he was aroused to action. Through one of the influential men of his kingdom, "Adoram, who was over the tribute," he made an effort to conciliate them. But the ambassador of peace received treatment which bore witness to the feeling against Rehoboam. "All Israel stoned him with stones, that he died." Startled by this evidence of the strength of the revolt, "King Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem."
At Jerusalem, "he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. But the word of the Lord came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying, Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house: for this thing is from me. They harkened therefore to the word of the Lord, and returned to depart, according to the word of the Lord."
For three years after his return to Jerusalem, Rehoboam tried to profit by his sad experience at the beginning of his reign; and in this effort he was prospered. He "built cities for defense in Judah," and "fortified the strongholds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine." He was careful to make these fortified cities "exceeding strong." But it is not in these measures that the secret of Judah's prosperity lay during these first years of Rehoboam's reign. It was their recognition of the God of heaven as the supreme ruler that placed them on vantage ground. To their number were added many God-fearing men from the northern tribes. "Out of all the tribes of Israel," the record reads, "such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers. So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon."
Well would it have been for Rehoboam had he and his associates and all Judah remained faithful to the true God. But the pen of inspiration has traced the sad record of Solomon's successor as one who also led his people into the way of apostasy. Naturally idolatrous, headstrong, confident, self-willed, nevertheless had he placed his trust wholly in God, Rehoboam would have developed strength of character, faith in God, and submission to the divine requirements. But as time passed, the king began to put his trust in the power of position and in the strongholds that he had fortified. Little by little he gave way to inherited weaknesses, until he threw his influence wholly on the side of idolatry. "It came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him."
Sad and full of significance are the words, "And all Israel with him." The people whom God had chosen to stand as a light to the surrounding nations, turned from their source of strength, and sought to become like the nations about them. As it was with Solomon, so it was with Rehoboam. The influence of their wrong example led many astray. And as it was with them, so to a greater or less degree is it with every one who gives himself up to work evil. The influence of wrongdoing is not confined to the doer. "None of us liveth to himself." None perish alone in their iniquity. Every life is either a light to brighten and cheer the path of others, or as a desolating tempest to destroy. We lead others either upward to happiness and immortal life or downward to sorrow and eternal ruin. And if by our acts we strengthen or force into activity the evil powers of those around us, we share their sin.
God did not allow this terrible apostasy to remain unpunished. "In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the Lord, with twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt. . . . And he took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem. Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah, that were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said unto them, Thus saith the Lord, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak."
The people had not yet gone to such lengths in apostasy that they despised the judgments of God. In the losses sustained by the invasion of Shishak they recognized the hand of God, and for a time they humbled themselves. "The Lord is righteous," they declared.
"And when the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.
"So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made. Instead of which King Rehoboam made shields of brass, and committed them to the hands of the chief of the guard, that kept the entrance of the king's house. And when the king entered into the house of the Lord, the guard came and fetched them, and brought them again into the guard chamber. And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the Lord turned from him, that he would not destroy him altogether: and also in Judah things went well."
But as the hand of affliction was removed, and the nation prospered once more, many forgot their fears, and turned again to idolatry. Among these was King Rehoboam himself. Humbled as he had been by the calamity that befell him from Egypt, he failed to make this experience a decisive turning point in his life. Forgetting the lesson that God had endeavored to teach him, he relapsed into the sins that had brought the judgments of God on the nation.
The glory of the kingdom that had been ruled over by David and Solomon had departed, and there remained only a semblance of the former greatness. After a few inglorious years, during which the king "did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord," "Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David: and Abijah his son reigned in his stead." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #29)
Placed on the throne by the ten tribes who had rebelled against the house of David, Jeroboam was in a position to do much toward bringing about a spiritual reformation in his kingdom. Had he used his influence in strengthening the confidence of the people in the God of heaven as their Supreme Ruler, he might have encouraged multitudes to seek after righteousness. Under the rulership of Solomon, he had revealed discretion, aptitude, and sound judgment; and the knowledge of spiritual things that he had gained during years of faithful service he could have used to bring untold blessings to those who had chosen him as their leader. But instead of advancing in the way of righteousness, he failed to make God his trust. Of him it is written:--
"Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: if this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
"Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan."
"And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi." The Levites generally refused to serve; and the king was compelled to elevate to the priesthood of his false religion men from "the lowest of the people." Many who remained true to God, fled to Jerusalem, where they might worship in harmony with the divine requirements.
"Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made."
The king's bold defiance of God and his worship was not allowed to pass unrebuked. Even while Jeroboam was officiating at the dedication of the altar, and burning incense, there appeared before him a "man of God" from the kingdom of Judah, sent to denounce him for presuming to introduce new forms of worship. The prophet "cried against the altar, . . . and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.
"And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the Lord hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out." And immediately the altar "was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord."
On seeing this, Jeroboam was filled with a spirit of defiance against God, and he attempted to restrain the one who had delivered the message. In wrath "he put forth his hand from the altar," and cried out, "Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him."
Terror-stricken, the king appealed to the prophet to intercede with God in his behalf. "Entreat now the face of the Lord thy God," he pleaded, "and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the Lord, and the king's hand was restored him again, and became as it was before."
Vain had been Jeroboam's effort to invest with solemnity the dedication of a strange altar, respect for which would have led to disrespect for the worship of Jehovah in the temple at Jerusalem. By the message of the prophet, the king of Israel should have been led to repentance. His wicked purpose to lead the hearts of the people away from the true worship of God, should have been renounced. But angered by the interruption, he hardened his heart, and determined to follow the way of his own choosing. It was this that led him to repudiate the message and to attempt to arrest the messenger.
At the time of the feast at Bethel, the hearts of the Israelites were not fully hardened. Many were susceptible to the influence of the Holy Spirit. The Lord designed that those who were taking rapid steps in apostasy should be checked in their course before it would be too late. In mercy he sent his messenger to reveal to king and people what the outworking of this apostasy would be. The rending of the altar was a symbol of God's displeasure over the abomination that was being wrought in Israel.
The Lord seeks to save, not to destroy. He delights not in the death of sinners. "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked." By warnings and entreaties he calls the wayward to cease from their evildoing, and to turn to him, and live. He gives his chosen messengers a holy boldness, that those who hear may fear and be brought to repentance. How firmly this man of God rebuked the king! And this firmness was essential; for in no other way could the existing evils have been rebuked. The Lord gave his servant boldness, that an abiding impression might made on those who heard. The messengers of the Lord are never to fear the face of man, but are to stand unflinchingly for the truth. So long as they put their trust in God, they need not fear; for he who gives them their commission gives them also the assurance of his protecting care.
Having delivered his message, the prophet was about to return, when Jeroboam said to him, "Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward."
"If thou wilt give me half thine house," the prophet replied, "I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place: for so was it charged me by the word of the Lord, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #30)
Well would it have been for the prophet had he adhered to his purpose to return to Judah without delay. While traveling homeward by another route, he was overtaken by an aged man who claimed to be a prophet, and who made false representations to the man of God, declaring, "I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water." Again and again the lie was repeated, and the invitation urged, until the man of God allowed himself to be persuaded to return.
Because the prophet allowed himself to take a course contrary to the path of duty, God permitted him to be destroyed. While he and the one who had invited him to return to Bethel were sitting together at the table, the inspiration of the Almighty came upon the false prophet, "and he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee, . . . thy carcass shall not come unto the sepulcher of thy fathers."
This terrible sentence was swiftly followed by its execution. "It came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass. . . . And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcass was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcass. And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcass cast in the way, . . . and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt. And . . . he said, It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the Lord."
The penalty that overtook the messenger of God was a still further evidence of the truth of the prophecy uttered over the altar. If, after disobeying the word of the Lord, the prophet had gone on in safety, the king would have used this fact to vindicate his own disobedience. In the rent altar, in his palsied arm, and in the terrible fate of the prophet, Jeroboam should have discerned the swift displeasure of an offended God, and should have taken warning not to persist in wrongdoing.
But none of thee judgments brought him to repentance. "Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places." Thus he not only sinned greatly himself, but he "made Israel to sin." "This thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth."
Toward the close of a troubled reign of twenty-two years, Jeroboam met with a disastrous defeat in a war with Abijah, the successor of Rehoboam. "Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah: and the Lord struck him, and he died."
The apostasy that became so prevalent in Israel during Jeroboam's reign, resulted finally in the utter ruin of the kingdom. Before the death of Jeroboam, the result of this apostasy was foretold by Ahijah, the aged prophet at Shiloh, who many years before had predicted the elevation of Jeroboam to the throne. The prophet now declared: "The Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the Lord to anger. And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin."
Yet the Lord did not give Israel up without first doing everything that could possibly be done to lead them back to their allegiance to him. Lovingly, patiently, through long, dark years when ruler after ruler stood up in bold defiance of Heaven and led Israel deeper and still deeper into idolatry, God sent message after message to his backslidden people. Through his prophets he gave them every opportunity to stay the tide of apostasy, and to return to him. It was during these years that Elijah and Elisha lived and labored, and that the tender appeals of Hosea and Amos and Obadiah were made. Even in the darkest hours, there were some who remained true to the God of heaven, and in the midst of idolatry lived blameless lives.
Thus it has been in every age and in every land. The world has never been left without witnesses to the mighty power of God to save from sin. And in the closing scenes of this earth's history, when iniquity will have reached a height never before attained, it will still be possible to say of the remnant people who have remained true to God, "Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #31)
From the time of Jeroboam's death to Elijah's appearance before Ahab, the people of Israel suffered a steady spiritual decline, until they became as idolatrous as many of the surrounding heathen. Ruled by men who did not fear Jehovah and who encouraged strange forms of worship, the larger number of the people rapidly lost sight of the God of Israel, and adopted many of the practises of idol worship.
Nadab, the son of Jeroboam, occupied the throne of Israel for only a few months. During his reign "he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin." His career of evil was suddenly stopped by a conspiracy headed by Baasha, one of his generals, to gain control of the government. Nadab was killed, with all the house of Jeroboam, "according unto the saying of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite: because of the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, by his provocation wherewith he provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger."
Thus perished the house of Jeroboam. The idolatrous forms of worship introduced had brought upon the guilty offenders swift retribution; and yet the rulers who followed--Baasha, Elah, Zimri, and Omri--during a period of nearly forty years, refused to repent, but "did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin."
During the greater part of this long time of apostasy in Israel, Asa was ruling in the kingdom of Judah. For many years "Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God: for he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves: and commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment. Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him."
The faith of Asa was put to a severe test when "Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots," invaded his kingdom. In this crisis Asa did not put his trust in the "fenced cities in Judah" that he had built, with "walls, and towers, gates, and bars," nor in the strength of his carefully trained army, "that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand," all of whom were "mighty men of valor." The king realized that his strength was in God. When he went out to meet the Ethiopian, and set his forces in battle array, he "cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee."
This prayer of faith was signally answered. "The Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the Lord, and before his host."
As the victorious armies of Judah and Benjamin were returning to Jerusalem, "the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: and he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you." "Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded."
As he heard these words, Asa took courage, and soon he led out in a second reformation in Judah. He "put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from Mt. Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the Lord, that was before the porch of the Lord."
"And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. And they offered unto the Lord the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep. And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; that whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. And they sware unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the Lord gave them rest round about."
Asa's long record of faithful service was marred by some mistakes made at times when he failed to put his trust fully in God. When, at one time, the king of Israel entered the kingdom of Judah, and seized Ramah, a fortified city only five miles from Jerusalem, Asa sought deliverance by forming an alliance with Benhadad, king of Syria. This failure to trust God alone in time of need was sternly rebuked by Hanani, the prophet, who appeared before Asa with the message:--
"Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars."
Instead of humbling himself before God because of this mistake, "Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time."
"In the thirty and ninth year of his reign," Asa was "diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians." The king died in the forty-first year of his reign, and was succeeded by Jehoshaphat his son. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #32)
Two years before the death of Asa, Ahab began to rule in the kingdom of Israel. From the beginning, his reign was marked by terrible apostasy. His father, Omri, the founder of Samaria, "wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him," but the sins of Ahab were even greater. He "did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him," acting "as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat." Not content with encouraging strange forms of religious service, he boldly led the people into the grossest heathenism by setting aside the worship of Jehovah for Baal worship.
Taking to wife "Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians" and high priest of Baal, Ahab "served Baal, and worshiped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria."
Not only did Ahab introduce Baal worship at the capital city, but under the leadership of Jezebel he erected heathen altars in many high places, where in the shelter of surrounding groves the priests and others connected with this seductive form of idolatry exerted their baleful influence, until well-nigh all Israel were following after Baal. "There was none like unto Ahab," the record reads, who "did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel."
Ahab was weak in moral power. His union by marriage with an idolatrous woman of decided character and positive temperament, resulted disastrously both to himself and to the nation. Unprincipled, and with no high standard of rightdoing, his character was easily molded by the determined spirit of Jezebel. Because of his selfish nature, he was incapable of appreciating the mercies of God to Israel, and his own obligations as the guardian and leader of a chosen people.
Under the blighting influence of Ahab's rule, Israel wandered far from the living God, and corrupted their ways before him. For many years they had been losing their sense of reverence and godly fear; and now it seemed as if there were none who dared expose their lives by openly standing forth in opposition to the prevailing blasphemy of everything sacred. The dark shadow of apostasy covered the whole land, and images of Baal and Ashtoreth were everywhere to be seen. Idolatrous temples and consecrated groves, wherein the works of men's hands were placed to be worshiped, were multiplied. The air was polluted with the smoke of the sacrifices offered to false gods. Hill and vale resounded with the drunken cries of a heathen priesthood who sacrificed to the sun, and moon, and stars. Guided and urged on by king and priests, the people drank iniquity like water, and sported in shameful riot.
Through the influence of Jezebel and her impious priests, the people were taught that the idol gods that had been set up were deities, ruling the elements of earth, fire and water, by their mystic power. All the bounties of heaven,--the running brooks, the streams of living water, the gentle dew, the showers of rain which refreshed the earth and caused the fields to bring forth abundantly,--all these were ascribed to the favor of Baal and Ashtoreth. The people forgot that the hills and valleys, the streams and fountains, were in the hand of the living God; that he controlled the sun, the clouds of heaven, and all the elements of nature. They forgot that in the wilderness, in the day of Israel's need, he had listened to the prayers of Moses, and that in obedience to his word living waters gushed from the smitten rock. The benefits which God gave to his people called forth from them no gratitude to the Giver.
Through faithful messengers the Lord sent the apostate king and people repeated warnings; but in vain were these words of reproof uttered. In vain did the inspired messengers assert Jehovah's right to be the only God in Israel. In vain did they exalt the laws he had entrusted to them. Captivated by the gorgeous display and the fascinating rites of idol worship, the people followed the example of the king and his court, and gave themselves up to the intoxicating, degrading pleasures of a sensual worship.. In their blind folly they chose to reject God and his worship. The light so graciously given them, despised and rejected, had indeed become darkness. The fine gold had become dim.
Alas! how had the glory of Israel departed! Never before had the chosen people of God fallen so low in apostasy. Of the prophets of Baal there were "four hundred and fifty," besides four hundred "prophets of the groves," all of whom were supported by Jezebel. Nothing short of the miracle working power of God could preserve the nation from utter destruction. Israel had voluntarily separated herself from Jehovah, yet the Lord in compassion still yearned after those who have been led into sin, and he was about to send to them one of the mightiest of his prophets, through whom many were to be led back to their allegiance to the God of their fathers. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #32)
God expects personal service from every one to whom he has entrusted a knowledge of the truth for this time. Not all can go as missionaries to foreign lands, but all can be home missionaries in their families and neighborhoods.
There are many ways in which church members may give the message to those around them. One of the most successful is by living helpful, unselfish, Christian lives. Those who are fighting the battle at great odds may be refreshed and strengthened by little attentions which cost nothing.
My brother, my sister, what are you doing for Christ? Are you seeking to be a blessing to others? Are your lips uttering words of kindness, sympathy, and love? Are you putting forth earnest efforts to win others to the Saviour?
It is a mystery that there are not hundreds at work where now there is but one. The heavenly universe is astonished at the apathy, the coldness, the listlessness, of those who profess to be sons and daughters of God. For years the work has been kept before us, but many have been asleep.
Our Lesson Book.--Christ's work is to be our example. Constantly he went about doing good. In the temple and in the synagogues, in the streets of the cities, in the marketplace and the workshop, by the seaside and among the hills, he preached the gospel and healed the sick. His life was one of unselfish service, and it is to be our lesson book.
Human beings have no right to think that there is a limit to the efforts that they are to make in the work of soul saving. Did Christ ever become weary in his work? Did he ever draw back from sacrifice and hardship? Church members are to put forth the continuous, persevering efforts that he put forth.
Comparatively little missionary work is done; and what is the result? The truths that Christ gave are not taught. Many of God's people are not growing in grace. Many are in an unpleasant, complaining frame of mind. Those who are not helping others to see the importance of the truth for this time, must feel dissatisfied with themselves. Satan takes advantage of this feature in their experience and leads them to criticize and find fault.
A Place for Every One.--The Lord has a place for every one in his great plan. Talents that are not needed are not bestowed. Suppose that the talent is small. God has a place for it, and that one talent, if faithfully used, will do the very work God designs that it should do. The talents of the humble cottager are needed in the house-to-house labor, and can accomplish more in this work than brilliant gifts.
The Lord is calling upon his people to take up different lines of work. Those in the highways and byways of life are to hear the gospel message. Church members are to do evangelistic work in the homes of their neighbors who have not yet received full evidence of the truth for this time.
The presentation of the truth, in love and simplicity from house to house, is in harmony with the instruction that Christ gave his disciples when he sent them out on their first missionary tour. By songs of praise, by humble, heartfelt prayers, many will be reached. The divine Worker will be present to send conviction to hearts.
Different Lines of Service.--By lending or selling books, by distributing papers, and by holding Bible readings, our lay members could do much in their own neighborhoods. Filled with love for souls, they could proclaim the message with such power that many would be converted.
Allow no opportunity to pass unimproved. Visit the sick and suffering, and show a kindly interest in them. If possible do something to make them more comfortable. Through this means you can reach their hearts and speak a word for Christ.
There is a wide field for service for women as well as for men. The efficient cook, the seamstress, the nurse,--the help of all is needed. Let the members of poor households be taught how to cook, how to make and mend their own clothing, how to nurse the sick, how to care properly for the home. Even the children should be taught to do some little errand of love and mercy for those less fortunate than themselves.
Other lines of usefulness will open before those who are willing to do the duty nearest them. It is not learned, eloquent speakers that are needed now, but humble, Christlike men and women.
Work disinterestedly, lovingly, patiently, for all with whom you are brought in contact. Show no impatience. Utter not one unkind word. Let the love of Christ be in your hearts, the law of kindness on your lips.
In the work of scattering our publications, we can speak of a Saviour's love from a warm and throbbing heart. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #33)
Ever since the death of Solomon the evil of idolatry had been spreading among the Israelites. The glory of the earlier years of Solomon's reign had made a profound impression on the heathen world, and many had been led to worship Jehovah. But the apostasy that followed the division of the kingdom caused the name of the God of Israel to be dishonored in the eyes of the heathen. In the days of Ahab the tide of corruption threatened to overflow the land like a flood. No barrier, it seemed, could prevail against its ruinous influence, or prevent the torrent of idolatry from sweeping all before it.
By the adoption of the shameless worship of Baal and Ashtoreth in the time of Ahab, the chosen nation forfeited all claim to the protecting care of Jehovah. In every direction they had reared the altar of profanity, before which prophets and loyal men, servants of the God of heaven, had poured out their blood. The moral atmosphere was clouded with the smoke of national idolatry. So deep, so widespread was the apostasy that only by means of terrible judgments could the purposes of God for Israel be fulfilled.
It was at this time that Elijah was sent, as God's chosen messenger, to the people of Israel. Elijah was not called from a high station in life or from a city of renown, to take his place in the work of God. He was born among the mountains of Gilead, east of the Jordan, and came from a nation that was overspread with the abominations of the Amorites. But he entered upon his work with the word of faith and power on his lips, and his whole life was devoted to the work of reform. His was the voice of one crying in the wilderness to rebuke sin and press back the tide of evil. And while he came to the people as a reprover of sin, his message offered the balm of Gilead to the sin-sick souls of all who desired to be healed.
As Elijah saw Israel going deeper and deeper into idolatry, his soul was distressed and his indignation aroused. God had done great things for his people. He had delivered them from the Egyptians, and brought them through the Red Sea and the wilderness into the promised land. As the prophet beheld the widespread unbelief that was fast separating the chosen people from the Source of their strength, he was overwhelmed with sorrow. In anguish he besought God to arrest them in their wicked course, to bring upon them, if need be, the judgments of Heaven, that they might be led to see in its true light their departure from Heaven. He longed to see them brought to repentance before they would go to such lengths in evildoing as to provoke the Lord to destroy them utterly.
Elijah's prayer was answered. Appeal, remonstrance, and warning had failed to bring Israel to repentance. The time had come when God must speak to them by means of judgments. The worshipers of Baal claimed that the treasures of heaven, the dew and the rain, came not from Jehovah, but from the ruling forces of nature. The priests of Baal taught that it was through the creative energy of the sun that the earth was enriched and made to bring forth abundantly. That Israel might be shown the folly of trusting to the power of Baal for temporal blessings, the curse of God was to rest heavily upon the polluted land. Until Israel should turn to him with repentance, and acknowledge him as the source of all blessing, there would fall upon the land neither dew nor rain.
To Elijah was entrusted the mission of delivering to Ahab Heaven's message of judgment. He did not seek to be the Lord's messenger; the word of the Lord came to him. And jealous for the honor of God's cause, he did not hesitate to obey the divine summons, though to obey seemed to invite swift destruction at the hand of the wicked king. The prophet set out at once, and traveled night and day until he reached Samaria. On reaching the palace, he solicited no admission, nor waited to be formally announced. Clad in the coarse garments usually worn by the prophets of that time, he passed the guards, apparently unnoticed, and stood for a moment before the astonished king.
Elijah made no apology for his abrupt appearance. A greater than the ruler of Israel had commissioned him to speak, and lifting his hand toward heaven, he solemnly affirmed by the living God that the judgments of the Most High were about to fall upon Israel. "There shall not be dew nor rain these years," he declared, "but according to my word."
It was only by the exercise of strong faith in the unfailing power of God's word that Elijah delivered his message. Without implicit confidence in the One whom he served, he would never have appeared before Ahab. On his way to Samaria, he had passed by ever-flowing streams, hills covered with verdure, and stately forests that seemed beyond the reach of drought. Everything on which the eye rested was clothed with beauty. Elijah might have wondered how the streams that had never ceased their flow could become dry, or how the hills and valleys could be burned with drought. But he gave no place to unbelief. He fully believed that God would humble apostate Israel, and that through judgments they would be brought to repentance. The fiat of Heaven had gone forth; God's word could not fail; and at the peril of his life Elijah fearlessly fulfilled his commission.
Like a thunderbolt from a clear sky the message of impending judgment, so unexpected, so terrible, fell upon the ears of the wicked king. He was paralyzed by its suddenness. Before he could recover from his astonishment or frame a reply, Elijah disappeared, taking with him the key of heaven.
Without waiting to see the effect of his message, Elijah went as suddenly as he had come. His it was to utter the word of woe; this accomplished, he immediately withdrew. His word had locked up the treasures of heaven, and his word only could open them again.
No sooner had Elijah left the presence of Ahab than the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee."
Ahab did not realize that the prophet had left his presence unrebuked until the man of God had gone beyond recall. He made diligent inquiry concerning Elijah, but the prophet was not to be found. When Ahab told Jezebel of the message of Elijah, she was very angry, and lost no time in conferring with the priests of Baal, who united with her in cursing the prophet of Jehovah and defying the wrath of Heaven. The tidings of Elijah's denunciation of the sins of Israel, and his prophecy of swift-coming punishment, spread throughout the land, arousing the fears of some and the scorn and ridicule of many. (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #34)
The prophet's words went into immediate effect. Those who were at first inclined to scoff at the thought of calamity, soon had occasion for serious reflection; for after a few months the earth, unrefreshed by dew or rain, became dry, and vegetation began to wither. As time passed, streams that had never been known to fail, began to decrease, and the brooks to dry up. Yet the people were urged by their leaders to have confidence in the power of Baal, and to set aside as idle words the prophecy of Elijah..
The priests insisted that it was through the power of Baal that the showers of rain fell. Fear not the God of Elijah, nor tremble at his word, they urged; it is Baal who brings forth the harvest in its season, and provides for man and beast. The idols of wood and stone, representing him, should still be worshipped.
God's message to Ahab gave Jezebel and her priests and all the followers of Baal and Ashtoreth opportunity to test the power of their gods, and to prove the word of Elijah false. Against the assurances of hundreds of idolatrous priests, the prophecy of Elijah stood alone. His words had locked heaven. If, notwithstanding his declaration, Baal could still give dew and rain, causing the streams to continue to flow and vegetation to flourish, then let the king of Israel worship him, and the people say that he is God.
Determined to keep the people in deception, the prophets of Baal continue to offer sacrifices to their gods and to call upon them night and day to refresh the earth. With costly offerings the priests attempt to appease the anger of their gods; with a zeal and a perseverance worthy of a better cause they linger round their pagan altars, and pray earnestly for rain. Night after night, throughout the doomed land, their cries and entreaties arise. But no clouds appear in the heavens by day to hide the burning rays of the sun. No dew nor rain refreshes the thirsty earth. The word of the Lord stands unchanged by anything the priests of Baal can do.
A year passes, and yet there is no rain. The earth is parched as if with fire. The scorching heat of the sun destroys what little vegetation has survived. Streams dry up, and lowing herds and bleating flocks wander hither and thither in distress. Once flourishing fields have become like burning desert sands,--a desolate waste. The groves dedicated to idol worship are leafless; the forest trees, gaunt skeletons of nature, afford no shade. The air is dry and suffocating; dust storms blind the eyes and nearly stop the breath. Once prosperous cities and villages have become places of mourning. Hunger and thirst are telling upon man and beast with fearful mortality. Famine, with all its horrors, comes closer and still closer.
Yet, notwithstanding these evidences of God's power, Israel repented not, nor learned the lesson that God would have them learn. They did not see that he who created nature controls her laws, and can make of them instruments of blessing or of destruction. Proud-hearted, enamored of their false worship, they were unwilling to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, and they began to cast about for some other cause to which to attribute their sufferings.
Jezebel utterly refused to recognize the drought as a judgment from Jehovah. Unyielding in her determination to defy the God of heaven, she and nearly the whole of Israel united in denouncing Elijah as the cause of all their misery. Had he not borne testimony against their forms of worship? If only he could be put out of the way, she urged, the anger of their gods would be appeased, and their troubles would end.
Urged on by the queen, Ahab instituted a most diligent search for the hiding place of the prophet. To all the surrounding nations, far and near, he sent messengers to seek for the man whom he hated, yet feared; and in his anxiety to make the search as thorough as possible, he required of these kingdoms and nations an oath that they knew nothing of the whereabouts of the prophet. But the search was in vain. The prophet was safe from the malice of a king whose course had brought upon the land the denunciation of an offended God.
Failing in her purpose to destroy Elijah, Jezebel determined to avenge herself by slaying all the prophets of the Lord in Israel. Not one who claimed to be a prophet of the Lord should live. The infuriated woman carried out her purpose in the massacre of many of God's servants. Not all, however, perished. Obadiah, the governor of Ahab's house, yet faithful to God, "took a hundred prophets," and at the risk of his own life, "hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water."
The second year of famine passed, and still the pitiless heavens gave no sign of rain. Drought and famine continued their devastation throughout the kingdom. Fathers and mothers, powerless to relieve the sufferings of their children, were forced to see them die. Yet still apostate Israel refused to humble their hearts before God, and continued to murmur against the man by whose word these terrible judgments had been brought upon them. They seemed unable to discern, in their suffering and distress, a call to repentance. They failed to see in their calamity a divine interposition to save them from taking the fatal step beyond the boundary of Heaven's forgiveness.
The apostasy of Israel was an evil more dreadful than all the multiplied horrors of famine. God was seeking to free the people from their delusion, and lead them to understand their accountability to the One to whom they owed their life and all things. He was trying to help them to recover their lost faith, and he must needs bring upon them great affliction. "The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy." "Though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men."
"Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?" "Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? for I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye." "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
God has sent messengers to Israel appealing to them to return to their allegiance. Had they heeded these appeals, had they turned from Baal to the living God, Elijah's message of judgment would never have been given. But the warnings that might have been a savor of life unto life, proved to them a savor of death unto death. They allowed the words of God's messengers to wound their pride, and their hatred was aroused against these messengers, and particularly against Elijah. In the face of calamity, they stood firm in their idolatry, and looked upon the prophet as the cause of all their troubles. Thus they added to the guilt that had brought the judgments of Heaven upon the land. If Elijah had been in their power, they would gladly have delivered him to Jezebel,--as if by silencing his voice they could stay the fulfillment of his words!
For stricken Israel there was but one remedy,--a turning away from the sins that had brought upon them the chastening hand of the Almighty, and a turning to the Lord with full purpose of heart. To them had been given the assurance, "If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." It was to bring to pass this blessed result that God continued to withhold from them the dew and the rain until a decided reformation should take place. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #35)
For a time after appearing before Ahab, Elijah remained hidden in the mountains by the brook Cherith. There he was fed morning and evening by an angel from heaven. Later on when, because of the continued drought, the brook became dry, God sent his servant to find refuge in a heathen land. "Arise," he bade him, "get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee."
This woman was not an Israelite. She had never had the privileges and blessings that the chosen people of God had enjoyed; but she had walked in all the light that was shining on her pathway. And now when there was no safety for Elijah in the land of Israel, God sent him to this woman to find an asylum in her home.
"So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there, gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand."
In this poverty stricken home the famine pressed sore; and the pitifully meager fare seemed about to fail. The coming of Elijah on the very day when the widow feared that she must give up the struggle to sustain life, tested to the utmost her faith in the power of the living God to provide for her necessities. But even in her dire extremity, she bore witness of her faith in the presence of the stranger, who was now asking her to share her last morsel with him.
In response to Elijah's request for food and drink, she said, "As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse; and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die." "Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth."
No greater test of faith than this could have been required. The widow had hitherto treated all strangers with kindness and liberality. Now, giving no thought to the suffering that might result to herself and child, but trusting in the God of Israel to supply her needs, she met this supreme test of hospitality by doing "according to the saying of Elijah."
Wonderful was the hospitality shown to God's prophet by this Phoenician woman, and wonderfully were her faith and generosity rewarded. "She, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.
"And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. . . . And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord. . . . And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came unto him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See thy son liveth. And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth."
The widow of Sarepta shared her morsel with Elijah, and in return her life and that of her son were preserved. And to all who in time of trial and want give sympathy and assistance to others more needy, God has promised great blessing. He has not changed. His power is no less now than in the days of Elijah. And no less sure now than when spoken by our Saviour is the promise, "He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward."
"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." These words have lost none of their force through the lapse of time. Our Heavenly Father still continues to place in the pathway of his children opportunities that are blessings in disguise; and those who improve these opportunities find great joy. "If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not."
To his faithful servants today Christ says, "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." No act of kindness shown in his name will fail to be recognized and rewarded. And in the same tender recognition Christ includes even the feeblest and lowliest of the family of God. "Whosoever shall give to drink," he says, "unto one of these little ones,"--those who are as children in their faith and their knowledge of Christ,--"a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #36)
Through the long years of drought and famine, Elijah prayed earnestly that the hearts of Israel might be turned from idolatry to allegiance to God. Patiently the prophet waited, while the hand of the Lord rested heavily on the land. As he saw evidences of suffering and want multiplying on every hand, Elijah's heart was wrung with sorrow, and he longed for power to bring about a reformation quickly. But God himself had taken matters in charge, and all that his servant could do was to pray in faith and await the time for decided action.
For many years Israel had been following a way of their own choosing. The apostasy prevailing in Ahab's day was the result of more than a century of evildoing. Step by step, year after year, Israel had been departing from the right way. Generation after generation had refused to make straight paths for their feet, and at last the great majority of the people yielded themselves to the leadership of the powers of darkness.
About a century had passed since, under the rulership of King David, Israel had joyfully united in chanting hymns of praise to the Most High, in recognition of their entire dependence on him for daily mercies. Listen to their words of adoration as then they sang:--"O God of our salvation;...Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice. Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: Thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly; thou causest rain to descend into the furrows thereof: Thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; And thy paths drop fatness. They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness; And the little hills rejoice on every side. The pastures are clothed with flocks; The valleys also are covered over with corn; They shout for joy, they also sing."
Israel had then recognized God as the One who "laid the foundations of the earth." In the expression of their faith they had sung:-- "Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: The waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; At the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys--Unto the place which thou hast founded for them. Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; That they turn not again to cover the earth."
It is by the mighty power of the Infinite One that the elements of nature in earth and sea and sky are kept within bounds. And these elements he uses for the happiness of his creatures. "His good treasure" is freely opened "to give the rain ... in his season, and to bless all the work" of man's hands.--"He sendeth the springs into the valleys, Which run among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field: The wild asses quench their thirst. By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, Which sing among the branches. He watereth the hills from his chambers: The earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, And herb for the service of man: That he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, And oil to make his face to shine, And bread which strengtheneth man's heart. . . . "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: The earth is full of thy riches. So is the great and wide sea, Wherein are things creeping innumerable, Both small and great beasts. . . . These wait all upon thee; That thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather: "Thou openest thine hand, They are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, They are troubled: Thou takest away their breath, They die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: And thou renewest the face of the earth."
Israel had indeed had cause for rejoicing. The land to which the Lord had brought them was a land flowing with milk and honey. During the wilderness wandering, God had assured them he was guiding them to a country where they need never suffer for lack of rain. "The land; whither thou goest in to possess it," he told them "is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: but the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: a land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year."
The promise of abundance of rain was given on condition of obedience. "It shall come to pass," the Lord declared, "if they shall harken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.
"Take heed to yourselves," the Lord admonished his people, "that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; and then the Lord's wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you."
"If thou wilt not harken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes," the Israelites had been warned, "thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron. The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed."
Well would it have been with Israel had they heeded the injunction, "Lay up these words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #37)
For three years Elijah was hunted from city to city, and from nation to nation. At the mandate of Ahab, many had given their oath of honor that the strange prophet could not be found. Yet the search was continued; for Jezebel and the prophets of Baal hated Elijah with a deadly hatred, and they spared no effort to bring him within reach of their power. And still there was no rain.
At last, "after many days," the word of the Lord came to Elijah, "Go, show thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth."
In obedience to the command, Elijah "went to show himself unto Ahab." About the time that the prophet set forth on his journey to Samaria, Ahab proposed to Obadiah, the governor of his household, that they make thorough search for springs and brooks of water, in the hope of finding pasture for their starving flocks and herds. Even in the royal court the effect of the long continued drought was keenly felt. The king, now thoroughly concerned over the outlook for his household, decided to unite personally with his servant in a search for some favored spots where pasture might be had. "So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself."
"As Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah?"
During the apostasy of Israel, Obadiah had remained faithful to God. His master, the king, had been unable to turn him from his allegiance to the living God. Now he was honored with a commission from Elijah, who said, "Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here."
Greatly terrified, Obadiah exclaimed, "What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me?" To take such a message as this to Ahab was to court certain death. "As the Lord thy God liveth," he explained to the prophet, "there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me."
Earnestly Obadiah pleaded with the prophet not to urge him. "I thy servant," he argued, "fear the Lord from my youth. Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord, how I hid an hundred men of the Lord's prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here; and he shall slay me."
With a solemn oath Elijah promised Obadiah that his errand would not be in vain. "As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand," he declared, "I will surely show myself unto him today." Thus assured, "Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him."
With astonishment mingled with terror the king listened to the message from the man whom he feared and hated, and for whom he had sought so untiringly. Ahab well knew that Elijah would not endanger his life merely for the sake of meeting him. Could it be possible that the prophet was about to utter another woe on Israel? The king's heart was seized with dread. He remembered the withered arm of Jeroboam. He could not avoid obeying the summons, neither dared he lift up his hand against the messenger of God. And so, accompanied by a bodyguard of soldiers, the trembling monarch went to meet the prophet.
The king and the prophet stand face to face. Though Ahab is filled with passionate hatred, yet in the presence of Elijah he seems unmanned, powerless. In his first faltering words he unconsciously reveals the inmost feelings of his heart. "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" he asks. In his heart, Ahab knew that it was by the word of God that the heavens had become as brass, yet he sought to cast upon the prophet the blame for the heavy judgments resting on the land.
It is natural for the wrongdoer to hold the messengers of God responsible for the calamities that come as the sure result of a departure from the way of righteousness. Those who place themselves in Satan's power are unable to see things as God sees them. When the mirror of truth is held up before them, they become indignant at the thought of receiving reproof. Blinded by sin, they refuse to repent, and feel that God's servants have turned against them and are worthy of severest censure.
Standing in conscious innocence before Ahab, Elijah makes no attempt to excuse himself or to flatter the king. Nor does he seek to evade the king's wrath by the good news that the drought is almost over. He has no apology to offer. Indignant, and jealous for the honor of God, he casts back the imputation of Ahab, fearlessly declaring to the king that it is his sins and the sins of his fathers that have brought upon Israel this terrible calamity. "I have not troubled Israel," Elijah boldly asserts, "but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim."
Today there is need of the voice of stern rebuke; for grievous sins have separated the people from God. Infidelity is fast becoming fashionable. "We will not have this man to reign over us," is the language of thousands. The smooth sermons so often preached make no lasting impression. The trumpet does not give a certain sound. Men are not cut to the heart by the plain, sharp truths of God's Word.
There are many professed Christians who, if they should express their real feelings would say, What need is there of speaking so plainly? They might as well ask, Why need John the Baptist have said to the Pharisees, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Why need he have provoked the anger of Herodias by telling Herod that it was unlawful for him to live with his brother's wife? The forerunner of Christ lost his life by his plain speaking. Why could he not have moved along without incurring the displeasure of those who were living in sin?
So men who should be standing as faithful guardians of God's law have argued till policy has taken the place of faithfulness, and sin is allowed to go unreproved. When will the voice of faithful rebuke be heard once more in the church?
"Thou art the man," Nathan said to David. These words are seldom heard in the pulpits of today, seldom seen in the public press. If they were not so rare, we should see more of the power of God revealed among men. The Lord's messengers should not complain of their efforts being without fruit, until they repent of their own love for approbation, and their desire to please men, which lead them to suppress the truth.
Those ministers who are men-pleasers, who cry, Peace, peace, when God has not spoken peace, might well humble their hearts before God, asking pardon for their insincerity and lack of moral courage. It is not from love for their neighbor that they smooth down the message entrusted to them, but because they are self-indulgent and ease-loving. True love seeks first the honor of God and the salvation of souls. Those who have this love will not evade the truth to save themselves from the unpleasant results of plain speaking. When souls are in peril, they will not consider self, but will speak the word given them to speak, refusing to excuse or palliate evil.
Would that every minister might realize the sacredness of his office and the holiness of his work, and show the courage that Elijah showed. As divinely appointed messengers, ministers are in a position of awful responsibility. They are to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering. In Christ's stead they are to labor as stewards of the mysteries of Heaven, encouraging the obedient, and warning the disobedient. With them worldly policy is to have no weight. Never are they to swerve from the path in which Jesus has bidden them walk. They are to go forward in faith, remembering that they are surrounded with a cloud of witnesses. They are not to speak their own words, but words which One greater than the potentates of earth has bidden them to speak. Their message is to be, "Thus saith the Lord." God calls for men like Elijah, Nathan, and John the Baptist,--men who will bear his message with faithfulness, regardless of the consequences,--men who will speak the truth bravely, though it call for the sacrifice of all they have.
God cannot use men who in time of peril, when the strength, courage, and influence of all are needed, are afraid to take a firm stand for the right. He calls for men who will do faithful battle against wrong, warring against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. It is to such as these that he will speak the words: "Well done, good and faithful servant; . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #37)
The strength of an army is measured largely by the efficiency of the men in the ranks. A wise general instructs his officers to train every soldier for active service. He seeks to develop the highest efficiency on the part of all. If he were to depend on his officers alone, he could never expect to conduct a successful campaign. He counts on loyal and untiring service from every man in his army. The responsibility rests largely upon the men in the ranks.
And so it is in the army of Prince Immanuel. Our General, who has never lost a battle, expects willing, faithful service from every one who has enlisted under his banner. In the closing controversy now waging between the forces for good and the hosts of evil, he expects all, laymen as well as ministers, to take part. All who have enlisted as his soldiers are to render faithful service as minutemen, with a keen sense of the responsibility resting upon them individually.
Those who have the spiritual oversight of the churches should devise ways and means by which an opportunity may be given to every member of the church to act some part in God's work. Too often in the past this has not been done. Plans have not been clearly laid and fully carried out whereby the talents of all might be employed in active service. There are but few who realize how much has been lost because of this.
The leaders in God's cause, as wise generals, are to lay plans for advance moves all along the line. In their planning they are to give special study to the work that can be done by the laity for their friends and neighbors. The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our membership rally to the work, and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #38)
Standing before Ahab, Elijah demanded that all Israel be assembled to meet him and the prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth on Mt. Carmel. "Send," he commanded Ahab, "and gather to me all Israel upon Mt. Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table."
The command was issued by one who seemed to stand in the very presence of Jehovah; and Ahab obeyed at once, as if the prophet were monarch and the king a subject. Swift messengers were sent throughout the kingdom with the summons to meet Elijah and the prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth. In every town and village the people prepared to assemble on Carmel at the appointed time. As they journeyed toward the place, the hearts of many were filled with strange forebodings. Something unusual was about to happen; else why this summons to meet Elijah? What new calamity was about to fall upon the people and the land?
Before the drought, Mt. Carmel had been a place of beauty, its streams fed from never-failing springs, and its fertile slopes covered with fair flowers and flourishing groves. But now its beauty languished under a withering curse. The altars erected to the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth stood now in leafless groves. On the summit of one of the highest ridges, in sharp contrast with these, was the brokendown altar of Jehovah.
Carmel overlooked a wide expanse of country, and could be seen from a large part of the kingdom of Israel. At the foot of the mount there were vantage points from which could be seen much of what took place above. God had been signally dishonored by the idolatrous worship carried on under cover of its wooded heights; and Elijah chose this elevation as the most conspicuous place to display God's power and vindicate the honor of his name.
Early on the morning of the day appointed, the hosts of apostate Israel, in eager expectancy, gather near the top of the mountain. Jezebel's prophets march up in opposing array. In regal pomp the king appears and takes his position at the head of the priests; and the idolaters shout his welcome. But there is apprehension in the hearts of the priests as they remember that at the word of the prophet, Israel for three years has been destitute of dew and rain. Some fearful crisis is at hand, they feel sure.. The gods in whom they have trusted have been unable to prove Elijah a false prophet. To their frantic cries, their prayers, their tears, their humiliation, their revolting ceremonies, their costly and ceaseless sacrifices, the objects of their worship have been strangely indifferent.
Standing Alone for God.--Facing King Ahab and the false prophets, and surrounded by the assembled hosts of Israel, Elijah stands, the only one who has appeared to vindicate the honor of Jehovah. He whom the whole kingdom has charged with its weight of woe is now before them, seemingly without support, either human or divine; apparently defenseless in the presence of the men of war, the prophets of Baal, the monarch of Israel, and the surrounding thousands. But Elijah is not alone. Above and around him are the protecting hosts of heaven,--angels that excel in strength. Realizing his source of power, Elijah could say, "The Lord is with me as a mighty, terrible One: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten."
In that vast multitude the prophet is undaunted. Unashamed and unterrified, he stands before the people, his countenance lighted with an awful solemnity. In anxious expectancy the people wait for him to speak. Looking first upon the brokendown altar of Jehovah and then upon the multitude, Elijah cries out in clear, trumpetlike tones, "How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him."
The people answer him not a word. Not one in that vast assembly dare utter a word for God, not one dare reveal loyalty to Jehovah. Like a dark cloud, deception and blindness had covered Israel. Not all at once had this fatal apostasy closed about them; but gradually, as from time to time they had refused to heed the words of warning and reproof that the Lord sent them. Each departure from rightdoing, each refusal to repent, had deepened their guilt, and driven them farther from Heaven. And now, in this crisis, they refused to take their stand for God.
God abhors indifference and disloyalty in a time of crisis in his work. The whole universe is watching with inexpressible interest the closing scenes of the great controversy between good and evil. The people of God are nearing the borders of the eternal world; what is of more importance to them than that they be loyal to the God of heaven? All through the ages, God has had moral heroes, and he has them now; those who, like Joseph and Elijah and Daniel, are not ashamed to acknowledge themselves his peculiar people. Such men make their wills and plans subordinate to the law of God. For love of him, they count not their lives dear unto themselves. Their work is to catch the light from the Word, and let it shine forth to the world in clear, steady rays. Fidelity to God is their motto.
The Lord prepares his messages to fit the times and occasions in which they are given. Sometimes his messengers are bidden to sound an alarm day and night, as did John the Baptist, who proclaimed to the assembled multitudes, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." Then, again, he inspires men of action; men who will not be swerved from the straight line of duty, but who with divine energy will inquire, "Who is on the Lord's side?"--men who will not stop merely with the inquiry, but who will demand that those who choose to identify themselves with the people of God shall step forward and reveal unmistakably their allegiance to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
While Israel on Carmel doubt and hesitate, the voice of Elijah again breaks the silence: "I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under; and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God."
The proposal of Elijah is so reasonable that the people dare not evade it, so they find courage to answer, "It is well spoken." The prophets of Baal dare not lift their voices in dissent; and addressing them, Elijah commands, "Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under."
With terror in their guilty hearts, though outwardly bold and defiant, the false priests prepare their altar, laying on the wood and the victim; and then they begin their incantations. Their shrill cries reecho through the forests and the surrounding heights, as they call on the name of their god, saying, "O Baal, hear us!" The priests gather about their altar, and with leaping and writhing and screaming, and with tearing of the hair and cutting of the flesh, they beseech their god to help them.
The morning passes, noon comes, and yet there is no evidence that Baal, whom the priests serve with frenzy and apparent sincerity, hears the cries of his deluded followers. There is no voice, no reply to their frantic prayers. The sacrifice remains unconsumed.
As they continue their frenzied devotions, the crafty priests are continually trying to devise some means by which they may kindle a fire upon the altar, and lead the people to believe that the fire has come direct from Baal. But Elijah watches every movement, and the priests, hoping against hope for some opportunity to deceive, continue to carry on the senseless ceremonies.
"It came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #39)
Gladly would Satan come to the help of those whom he has deceived, and who are devoted to his service. Gladly would he send the lightning to kindle their sacrifice. But Jehovah has set Satan's bounds, restrained his power, and not all the enemy's devices can convey one spark to Baal's altar.
At last their voices hoarse with shouting, their garments stained with blood from self-inflicted wounds, the priests become desperate. With unabated excitement, they now mingle with their pleadings terrible cursings of their sun god, and Elijah continues to watch intently; for he knows that if by any device the priests should succeed in kindling their altar fire, he would instantly be torn in pieces.
Evening draws on. The prophets of Baal are weary, faint, confused. One suggests one thing, and another something else, until finally they cease their efforts. Their shrieks and curses no longer resound over Carmel. In despair they retire from the contest.
All day long the people have witnessed the demonstrations of the baffled priests. They have beheld their wild leaping round the altar, as if they would grasp the burning rays from the sun to serve their purpose. They have looked with horror on the frightful self-inflicted mutilations of the priests, and have had opportunity to reflect on the follies of idol worship. Many in the throng are weary of the exhibitions of demonism, and they now await with deepest interest the movements of Elijah.
It is the hour of the evening sacrifice, and Elijah says to the people, "Come near unto me." As they tremblingly draw near, he turns to the brokendown altar where once men worshiped the God of heaven, and repairs it. To him this heap of ruins is more precious than all the magnificent altars of heathendom.
In the reconstruction of this ancient altar, Elijah reveals his respect for the covenant that the Lord had made with Israel when they crossed the Jordan into the promised land. Choosing "twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, . . . he built an altar in the name of the Lord."
The disappointed priests of Baal, exhausted by their vain efforts, wait to see what Elijah will do. They hate the prophet for proposing a test that has exposed the weakness and inefficiency of their gods; and they fear his power. The people, fearful also, and almost breathless with expectancy, watch while Elijah continues his preparations. The calm demeanor of the prophet stands out in sharp contrast with the fanatical, senseless frenzy of the followers of Baal.
The altar completed, the prophet makes about it a trench. Having put the wood in order and prepared the bullock, he lays the victim on the altar, and commands the people to flood the sacrifice and the altar with water. "Fill four barrels," he directed, "and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water."
A Call to Repentance.--Reminding the people of the long continued apostasy that has awakened the wrath of Jehovah, Elijah calls upon them to humble their hearts and turn to the God of their fathers, that the curse upon the land of Israel may be removed. Then bowing reverently before the unseen God, he raises his hands toward heaven, and offers a simple prayer. Baal's priests have screamed and foamed and leaped, from early morning until late in the afternoon; but as Elijah prays, no senseless shrieks resound over Carmel's height. He prays as if he knew Jehovah was there, a witness to the scene, a listener to his appeal. The prophets of Baal had prayed wildly, incoherently. Elijah prays simply and fervently, asking God to show his superiority over Baal, that Israel may be led to turn to him.
"Lord," the prophet pleads, "let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again."
A silence, oppressive in its solemnity, rests upon all. The priests of Baal tremble with terror. Conscious of their guilt, they look for swift retribution.
No sooner is the prayer of Elijah ended than flames of fire, like brilliant flashes of lightning, descend from heaven upon the upreared altar, consuming the sacrifice, licking up the water in the trench, and consuming even the stones of the altar. The brilliancy of the blaze illumines the mountain and dazzles the eyes of the multitude. In the valleys below, where many are watching in anxious suspense the movements of those above, the descent of fire is clearly seen. All are amazed at the sight. It recalls to their minds the pillar of fire which at the Red Sea separated the children of Israel from the Egyptian host.
The people on the mount prostrate themselves in awe before the unseen God. They dare not continue to look upon the heaven sent fire. They fear that they themselves will be consumed; and convicted of their duty to acknowledge the God of Elijah as the God of their fathers, to whom they owe allegiance, they cry out together as with one voice, "The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God." With startling distinctness the cry resounds over the mountain and echoes in the plain below. At last Israel is aroused, undeceived, penitent. At last the people see how greatly they have dishonored God. The character of Baal worship, in contrast with the reasonable service required by the true God, stands fully revealed. They recognize God's justice and mercy in withholding the dew and the rain until they have been brought to confess his name. They are ready now to admit that the God of Elijah is above every idol.
The priests of Baal witness with consternation the wonderful revelation of Jehovah's power. Yet even in their discomfiture and in the presence of divine glory, they refuse to repent of their evildoing. They would still remain the prophets of Baal. Thus they show themselves ripe for destruction. That repentant Israel may be protected from the allurements of those who have taught them to worship Baal, Elijah is directed by the Lord to destroy these false teachers. The anger of the people has already been aroused against these leaders in transgression, and when Elijah gives the command, "Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape," they are ready to obey his word. They seize the priests, and take them to the brook Kishon, and there, with his own hand, Elijah slays these idolatrous priests, allowing none to live. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #40)
All that was in his power to do to remove the cause of Israel's apostasy, the prophet Elijah had done. He had executed the judgments of God upon the false prophets. He had set before the people their apostasy; he had called upon them to humble their hearts and turn to God. The people had confessed their sins and acknowledged the God of Israel as the living God. Now his curse was to be withdrawn, and his blessings renewed. The land was to be refreshed with rain. "Get thee up, eat and drink," Elijah said to Ahab; "for there is a sound of abundance of rain."
Then the prophet went up to the top of Carmel to pray. Throughout the day he had unflinchingly performed the will of God, and now, his work ended, he humbly bowed down, "his face between his knees," and interceded with God for penitent Israel.
When Elijah had bidden Ahab prepare for rain, he had no outward evidence that the showers were about to fall. He saw no clouds in the heavens, heard no thunder. He spoke the word that the Spirit of the Lord moved him to speak. He did everything in his power to show his faith in the word of God, then he prayed for the outpouring that God had promised.
Again and again Elijah sent his servant to a point overlooking the Mediterranean, to see if there was any visible token that God had heard his prayer. Each time the servant returned with the word, "There is nothing." The prophet did not become impatient or lose faith, but continued his earnest pleading. For the sixth time the servant returned with the word that there was no sign of rain in the heavens. Undaunted, Elijah sent him forth once more; and this time the servant returned with the word, "Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand."
This was enough. Elijah did not wait for the heavens to gather blackness. In that small cloud he beheld an abundance of rain; and he acted in harmony with his faith, sending his servant quickly to Ahab with the message, "Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not."
It was because Elijah was a man of large faith that God could use him in this grave crisis in the history of Israel. As he prayed, his faith reached out and grasped the promises of heaven; and he persevered in prayer until his petitions were answered. He did not wait for the full evidence that God had heard him, but was willing to venture all on the slightest token of his favor. The Scripture says of him, "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months."
It is faith such as this that is needed in the world today,--faith that will lay hold on the promises of God's Word, refusing to let go until Heaven hears. It is faith that connects us with Heaven and brings us strength for coping with the powers of darkness. Through faith God's children have "subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, . . . stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." And through faith we today are to reach the heights that God desires us to gain. "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."
Faith is an element of prevailing prayer. "He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." "If we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." With the persevering faith of Jacob, with the unyielding persistence of Elijah, we may present our petitions to the Father, claiming all that he has promised. The honor of his throne is staked for the fulfilment of his word.
The shades of night were gathering about Mt. Carmel as Ahab prepared for the descent. "It came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel." As he journeyed toward the royal city through the darkness and the blinding rain, Ahab was unable to see his way before him. Elijah, as the prophet of God, had that day humiliated Ahab before his subjects, had slain his idolatrous priests, but he still acknowledged him as Israel's king. Now as an act of homage, and strengthened by the power of God, he ran before the royal chariot, guiding the king to the entrance of the city.
In this gracious act of God's messenger to a wicked king is a lesson for all who claim to be servants of God, but who are exalted in their own estimation. There are those who feel above performing duties that to them appear menial. They hesitate to perform needful service, fearing that they will be found doing the work of a servant. These have much to learn from the example of Elijah. By his word the treasures of heaven were for three years withheld from the earth. He was signally honored of God as, in answer to his prayer on Carmel, fire flashed from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. His hand executed the judgment of God in slaying hundreds of idolatrous prophets; and his petition for rain had been granted. And yet, after the signal triumphs of the day, he was willing to perform the service of a menial, to run before the chariot of Ahab for many miles in the darkness and the storm. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #41)
Standing but a step from his heavenly throne, Christ gave the commission to his disciples. "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth," he said. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations." "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Again and again the words were repeated that the disciples might grasp their significance. Upon all the inhabitants of the earth, high and low, rich and poor, was the light of heaven to shine in clear, strong rays. The disciples were to be colaborers with their Redeemer in the work of saving the world.
The commission had been given to the twelve when Christ met with them in the upper chamber; but it is now to be given to a larger number. At the meeting on a mountain in Galilee, all the believers who could be called together were assembled.
Christ's words on the mountainside were the announcement that his sacrifice in behalf of man was full and complete. The conditions of the atonement had been fulfilled; the work for which he came to this world had been accomplished. He was on his way to the throne of God, to be honored by angels, principalities, and powers. He had entered upon his mediatorial work. Clothed with boundless authority, he gave his commission to the disciples: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
Christ commissioned his disciples to do the work he had left in their hands, beginning at Jerusalem. Jerusalem had been the scene of his amazing condescension for the human race. There he had suffered, been rejected and condemned. The land of Judea was his birthplace. There, clad in the garb of humanity, he had walked with men, and few had discerned how near heaven came to the earth when Jesus was among them. At Jerusalem the work of the disciples must begin.
But the work was not to stop here. It was to be extended to the earth's remotest bounds. To his disciples Christ said: You have been witnesses of my life of self-sacrifice in behalf of the world. You have witnessed my labors for Israel. Although they would not come unto me that they might have life, although priests and rulers have done unto me as they listed, although they have rejected me as the Scripture foretold, they shall have still another opportunity of accepting the Son of God. You have seen that all who come to me confessing their sins, I freely receive. He that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. All who will, may be reconciled to God, and receive everlasting life. To you, my disciples, I commit this message of mercy. It is to be given to Israel first, and then to all nations, tongues, and peoples. It is to be given to Jews and Gentiles. All who believe are to be gathered into one church.
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit the disciples were to receive a marvelous power. Their testimony was to be confirmed by signs and wonders. Miracles would be wrought, not only by the apostles, but by those who received their message. Jesus said, "In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
The disciples were to begin their work where they were. The hardest and most unpromising field was not to be passed by. So every one of Christ's workers is to begin where he is. In our own families may be souls hungry for sympathy, starving for the bread of life. There may be children to be trained for Christ. There are heathen at our very doors. Let us do faithfully the work that is nearest. Then let our efforts be extended as far as God's hand may lead the way. The work of many may appear to be restricted by circumstances; but wherever it is, if performed with faith and diligence it will be felt to the uttermost parts of the earth. Christ's work when upon earth appeared to be confined to a narrow field, but multitudes from all lands heard his message. God often uses the simplest means to accomplish the greatest results. It is his plan that every part of his work shall depend on every other part, as a wheel within a wheel, all acting in harmony. The humblest worker, moved by the Holy Spirit, will touch invisible chords, whose vibrations will ring to the ends of the earth, and make melody through eternal ages.
But the command, "Go ye into all the world," is not to be lost sight of. We are called upon to lift our eyes to the "regions beyond." Christ tears away the wall of partition, the dividing prejudice of nationality, and teaches love for all the human family. He lifts men from the narrow circle which their selfishness prescribes; he abolishes all territorial lines and artificial distinctions of society. He makes no difference between neighbors and strangers, friends and enemies. He teaches us to look upon every needy soul as our brother, and the world as our field.
In the commission to his disciples, Christ not only outlined their work, but gave them their message. Teach the people, he said, "to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." The disciples were to teach what Christ had taught. That which he had spoken, not only in person, but through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament, is here included. Human teaching is shut out. There is no place for tradition, for man's theories and conclusions, or for church legislation. No laws ordained by ecclesiastical authority are included in the commission. None of these are Christ's servants to teach. "The law and the prophets," with the record of his own words and deeds, are the treasure committed to the disciples to be given to the world. Christ's name is their watchword, their badge of distinction, their bond of union, the authority for their course of action, and the source of their success. Nothing that does not bear his superscription is to be recognized in his kingdom.
The first disciples went forth preaching the word. They revealed Christ in their lives; and the Lord worked with them, "confirming the word with signs following." These disciples prepared themselves for their work. Before the day of Pentecost they met together, and put away all differences. They were of one accord. The believed Christ's promise that the blessing would be given, and they prayed in faith. They did not ask for a blessing for themselves merely; they were weighted with the burden for the salvation of souls. The gospel was to be carried to the uttermost parts of the earth, and they claimed the endowment of power that Christ had promised. Then it was that the Holy Spirit was poured out, and thousands were converted in a day.
The Saviour longs to manifest his grace and stamp his character on the whole world. It is his purchased possession, and he desires to make men free, and pure, and holy. Though Satan works to hinder this purpose, yet through the blood shed for the world there are triumphs to be achieved that will bring glory to God and the Lamb. Christ will not be satisfied till the victory is complete, and "he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #42)
At the gate of Jezreel, Elijah and Ahab separated. Choosing to remain outside the walls, the prophet wrapped himself in his mantle, and lay down upon the bare earth to sleep. The king, passing within, soon reached the shelter of his palace, and there related to his wife the wonderful events of the day, and the marvelous revelation of divine power that had proved to Israel that Jehovah was the true God and Elijah his chosen messenger. As Ahab told the queen of the slaying of the idolatrous prophets, Jezebel, hardened and impenitent, became infuriated. She refused to recognize in the events on Mt. Carmel the overruling providence of God, and, still defiant, she boldly declared that Elijah should die.
That night a messenger aroused the weary prophet, and delivered to him the word of Jezebel: "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time."
It would seem that after showing on Carmel courage so undaunted, after triumphing over king and priests and people, Elijah could never afterward give way to despondency, nor be awed into timidity. But he who had been blessed with so many evidences of God's loving care, was not above the frailties of mankind, and in this dark hour his faith and courage forsook him. Bewildered, he started from his slumber. The rain was pouring from the heavens, and darkness was on every side. Forgetting that three years before, God had directed his course to a place of refuge from the hatred of Jezebel and the search of Ahab, the prophet now lost sight of God's protecting care, and fled for his life. Leaving his servant at Beersheba, he "went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree."
Elijah should not have fled from his post of duty. He should have met the threat of Jezebel with an appeal for protection to the One who had commissioned him to do the work he had done. He should have told the messenger that the God in whom he trusted would protect him against the hatred of the queen. Only a short time had passed since he had witnessed a wonderful manifestation of God's power, and this should have given him assurance that he would not now be forsaken. Had he remained where he was, had he made God his refuge and strength, standing steadfast for the truth, the Lord would have shielded him from harm. He would have given him another signal victory by sending his judgments on Jezebel; and the impression made on the king and the people would have wrought a great reformation.
However courageous and successful a man may be in the performance of a special work, unless he looks constantly to God when circumstances arise to test his faith he will lose his courage. Even after God has given him marked tokens of his power, after he has been strengthened to do God's work, he will fail unless he trusts implicitly in Omnipotence.
Elijah had expected much from the miracle wrought on Carmel, and his disappointment was keen. He had hoped that after this signal display of God's power, Jezebel would no longer have influence over the mind of Ahab, and that there would be a speedy reform throughout Israel. All day on Carmel's height he had toiled without food. When he had guided the chariot of Ahab to the gate of Jezreel, his courage was strong.
But the reaction which frequently follows high faith and glorious success was pressing upon Elijah. He feared that the reformation begun on Carmel might not be lasting. Depression seized him. He had been exalted to Pisgah's top; now he was in the valley. While under the inspiration of the Almighty, he had stood the severest trial of faith; but in this time of discouragement, with Jezebel's threatening message sounding in his ears, and Satan still apparently prevailing through the plotting of this wicked woman, he lost his hold on God. He had been exalted above measure, and the reaction was tremendous. Forgetting God, he fled, going on and on until he found himself in a dreary waste, alone.
Utterly wearied, he sat down to rest under a juniper tree. And sitting there, he requested for himself that he might die. "It is enough; now, O Lord," he said, "take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." A fugitive, far from the homes of men, his spirits crushed by bitter disappointment, he desired never to look upon the faces of men again. At last, utterly exhausted, he fell asleep.
Into the experience of all there come times of disappointment and discouragement, days when sorrow is the portion, and it is hard to believe that God is still the kind benefactor of his earthborn children,--days when troubles harass the soul till death seems preferable to life. It is at such times that many lose their hold on God, and are brought into the slavery of doubt, the bondage of unbelief. Could we at such times discern with spiritual sight the meaning of God's providences, we should see angels of God seeking to save us from ourselves, striving to plant our feet upon a foundation more firm than the everlasting hills; and new faith, new life, would spring into being.
The faithful Job, in the day of his affliction and darkness, declared:--"Let the day perish wherein I was born." "Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed, And my calamity laid in the balances together!" "Oh that I might have my request; And that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to destroy me; That he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! Then should I yet have comfort." "I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. . . . My soul chooseth . . . death rather than my life. I loathe it; I would not live alway: Let me alone; For my days are vanity."
But though weary of life, Job was not allowed to die. To him were pointed out the possibilities of the future, and there was given to him the message of hope:--"Thou shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear: Because thou shalt forget thy misery, And remember it as waters that pass away: And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; Thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning. And thou shalt be secure, Because there is hope; . . . Thou shalt lie down, And none shall make thee afraid."
From the depths of discouragement and despondency Job rose to the heights of implicit trust in the mercy and the saving power of God. Triumphantly he declared:--"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: . . . He also shall be my salvation." "I know that my Redeemer liveth, And that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, Yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, And mine eyes shall behold, and not another."
"The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind," and revealed to his servant the might of his power. When Job caught a glimpse of his Creator, he abhorred himself, and repented in dust and ashes. Then the Lord was able to bless him abundantly, and to make his last years the best of his life.
Hope and courage are essential to perfect service in the work of God. These are the fruit of faith. Despondency is sinful and unreasonable. God is able and willing more abundantly to bestow upon his servants the strength they need for test and trial. The plans of the enemies of his work may seem to be well laid and firmly established; but God can overthrow the strongest of these. And this he does in his own time and way, when he sees that the faith has been sufficiently tested.
For the disheartened there is one remedy--faith, prayer work. Faith and activity will impart assurance and satisfaction that will increase day by day. In the darkest days, when appearances seem most forbidding, fear not. Have faith in God. He knows your every need. He has all power. His infinite love and compassion never weary. Fear not that he will not fulfil his promise. He is eternal truth. Never will he change the covenant he has made with those who love him. And he will bestow upon his faithful servants the measure of efficiency that their need demands. Said the tried apostle Paul: "He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. . . . Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
Did God forsake Elijah? O, no! he loved him no less when he felt forsaken of God and man than when, in answer to his prayer, fire flashed from heaven and illuminated the mountaintop. As Elijah slept, a soft touch and a pleasant voice awoke him. He started up in terror, as if to flee, fearing that the enemy had discovered him. But the pitying face bending over him was not the face of an enemy, but of a friend. God had sent an angel from heaven with food for his servant. "Arise and eat," the angel said. "And he looked, and behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head."
After Elijah had partaken of the refreshment prepared for him, he slept again. A second time the angel came. Touching the exhausted man, he said, with pitying tenderness: "Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink;" and in the strength of that food he was able to journey "forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God," where he found refuge in a cave. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #42)
With every age God's plan deepens and widens to embrace the world. God's instrumentalities, his lightbearers, are to adjust their movements to his progressive plans. They are to embrace new territory. The churches are to be wide-awake, moving with the force of Omnipotence because they move in harmony with God's purpose. A spirit of greater devotion must be shown by the churches. They must labor with greater zeal for the promulgation of the last message to be given to the world. They are to seize every opportunity for blessing a world in darkness.
Missions at home and missions abroad demand far greater consideration than has been given them. While the church, in comparison with the past years, has made some advance, yet in comparison with what she should be, in comparison with the great sacrifice made in Gethsemane and on the cross of Calvary, she is far behind in the greatest work ever given to mortals.
Christ came to our world to teach us the importance of missionary effort. The world was his field of missionary toil. He came from heaven to take his position at the head of a fallen race. Humanity and divinity united in order that all might be done that was essential for the complete recovery of sinners. The reproach of indolence will never be wiped away from the church till every one who believes the truth is willing to labor as did the self-sacrificing Redeemer.
Christ's work is an example to all who go forth as missionaries. It is the model for all missionary endeavor. It calls for unreserved surrender,for the consecration of time and talents. It demands that we return to God the goods he has entrusted to us, with the interest that has come to us as we have traded upon them. All is to be put into the cause to advance the work Christ came into this world to do.
It is impossible for the man who believes in Christ to see the work that needs to be done, and yet do nothing. Daily we are to receive from heaven the healing balm of God's grace to impart to the needy and suffering. Christ's followers are to learn of the woes of the poor in their immediate vicinity, and seek to bring them relief. Those who have a dark and disagreeable life are the very ones whom we should bid to hope, because Christ is their Saviour. Are there not those who can go from house to house, from family to family, and repeat the A B C of true Christian experience?
Let Christ be your text. In all your labor, let it appear that you know Jesus. Present his purity and saving grace, so that those for whom you labor may, by beholding, be changed into the divine image. The chain that is let down from the throne of God is long enough to reach to the lowest depths of sin. Hold up a sin-pardoning Saviour before the lost and lonely, for Jesus has made divine intercession in their behalf. He is able to lift them from the pit of sin, that they may be acknowledged as the children of God, heirs with Christ to an immortal inheritance. They may have the life that measures with the life of God.
If all would work in Christ's lines, much would be done to change the conditions that now exist among the poor and distressed. Pure and undefiled religion would shine forth as a bright light. It would induce its advocates to go forth into the highways and byways of life. It would lead them to help the suffering near by, and enable them to go forth into the wilderness to seek and to save the lost.
We need men who will become leaders in home and foreign missionary enterprises,--men whose sympathies are not congealed, but whose hearts go out to the perishing. The ice that surrounds souls needs to be melted, that every believer may realize that he is his brother's keeper. Then men and women will go forth to help their neighbors see the truth and serve God with acceptable service. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #43)
Elijah's retreat on Mt. Horeb, though hidden from man, was known to God. As the prophet had brooded over Israel's unreadiness to return to God, and over Jezebel's continued influence over Ahab, his faith and courage had fled. But he was not left to struggle alone with the powers of darkness.
Through a mighty angel the word of the Lord came to him, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" In bitterness of soul, Elijah mourned out his complaint: "I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword: and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
Calling upon the prophet to leave the cave in which he had hidden, the angel bade him stand before the Lord on the mount, and listen to his word. As Elijah obeyed, "behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave." His petulance was silenced, his spirit softened and subdued. He now knew that a quiet trust, a firm reliance on God, would ever find for him a present help in time of need.
Not by a mighty manifestation of divine power, but by "a still small voice," God chose to reveal himself to his servant. Thus he desired to teach Elijah that it is not always the work that makes the greatest demonstration that is most successful in accomplishing God's purpose. While Elijah waited for the revelation of the Lord, a devouring fire swept by: but God was not in the flame. A tempest rolled, and the lightnings flashed; but God was not in all this. Then there came a still small voice, and the prophet covered his head before the presence of the Lord.
It is not always the most learned presentation of truth that convicts and converts the soul. Not by eloquence or logic men's hearts are reached, but by the sweet influences of the Holy Spirit, which operate quietly yet surely in transforming and developing character. It is the still, small voice of the Spirit of God that has power to change the heart.
"What doest thou here, Elijah?" the voice inquired; and again the prophet answered, "I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
The Lord assured Elijah that the wrongdoers in Israel should not go unpunished. There was stern work to be done, that all might be given opportunity to take their position on the side of the true God. Elijah himself was to return to Israel, and share with others the burden of bringing about a reformation. Some were to be especially chosen to fulfil the divine purpose in the punishment of the idolatrous kingdom.
"Go," the Lord commanded Elijah,"return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: and Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the word of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay."
Elijah had thought that he alone in Israel was a worshiper of the true God. But he who reads the hearts of all, revealed to the prophet that there were many in Israel who, through the years of apostasy, had remained true to him. "I have left me," God said, "seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him."
There are many lessons to be drawn from Elijah's experience during these days of discouragement and apparent defeat,--lessons invaluable to the servants of God in this age, marked as it is by general departure from right. The apostasy prevailing today is similar to that which in the prophet's day overspread Israel. In the exaltation of the human above the divine, in the praise of popular leaders, in the worship of mammon, and in the placing of the teachings of science above the truths of revelation, multitudes today are following Baal. Doubt and unbelief are exercising their baleful influence over mind and heart, and many are substituting for the oracles of God the theories of men. It is publicly taught that we have reached a time when human reason should be exalted above the teachings of the Word. The law of God, the divine standard of righteousness, is declared to be of no effect. The enemy of all truth is working with deceptive power to cause men and women to place human institutions where God should be, and to forget that which was ordained for the happiness and salvation of mankind.
Yet this apostasy, widespread as it is, is not universal. Not all in the world are lawless and sinful; not all have taken sides with the enemy. God has many thousands who have not bowed the knee to Baal, many who long to understand more fully in regard to Christ and the law, many who are hoping against hope that Jesus will soon come to end the reign of sin and death. And there are many who are worshiping Baal ignorantly, with whom the Spirit of God is striving.
These need the personal help of those who have learned to know God and the power of his word. In such a time as this, every child of God should be actively engaged in helping others. As those who have an understanding of Bible truth try to seek out the men and women who are longing for light, angels of God will attend them. And where angels go, none need fear to move forward. As a result of the faithful efforts of consecrated workers, many will be turned from idolatry to the worship of the living God. Many will cease to pay homage to manmade institutions, and will take their stand fearlessly on the side of God and his law.
Much depends on the unceasing activity of those who are true and loyal, and Satan puts forth every possible effort to thwart the divine purpose to be wrought out through them. He causes some to lose sight of their high and holy mission, and to become satisfied with the pleasures of this life. He leads them to settle down at ease, or, for the sake of greater worldly advantages, to remove from places where they might be a power for good. Others he causes to flee in discouragement from duty because of opposition or persecution. (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #44)
To Elijah, in his place of hiding, the Lord said, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" I sent you to Samaria with a message to Ahab; I sent you to the brook Cherith, and afterward to the widow of Sarepta. I commissioned you to return to Israel and to stand before the idolatrous priests on Carmel; and I girded you with strength to guide the chariot of the king to the gate of Jezreel. But who sent you on this hasty flight into the wilderness? What errand have you here?
So, to every child of God not actively engaged in service whose voice the enemy of souls, no matter by what means, has succeeded in silencing, the question is addressed, What doest thou here? I commissioned you to go into all the world and preach the gospel, to prepare a people for the day of God. Why are you here? Who sent you?
The joy set before Christ, the joy that sustained him through sacrifice and suffering, was the joy of seeing sinners saved. This should be the joy of every Christian, the spur to his ambition. Those who realize, even in a limited degree, what redemption means to them and to their fellow men, will comprehend in some measure the vast needs of humanity. Their hearts will be moved to compassion as they see the moral and spiritual destitution of thousands who are under the shadow of a terrible doom, in comparison with which physical suffering fades into nothingness.
Of families, as of individuals, the question is asked, What doest thou here? In many churches there are families well instructed in the truths of God's Word who might widen the sphere of their influence by moving to places in need of the ministry that they are capable of giving. God calls for Christian families to go into the dark places of the earth, and work wisely and perseveringly for those who are enshrouded in spiritual gloom. To answer this call requires self-sacrifice. While many are waiting to have every obstacle removed, souls are dying, without hope and without God. For the sake of worldly advantage, for the sake of acquiring scientific knowledge, men are willing to venture into pestilential regions, and endure hardship and privation. Where are those who are willing to do as much for the sake of telling others of the Saviour?
"The love of Christ constraineth us," the apostle Peter declared. This was the motive that impelled the zealous disciple in his arduous labors in the cause of the gospel. It was the impulse that moved the great apostle Paul. And no less is the need today that the followers of Christ feel the same constraining power and respond to its influence with the same zeal and devotion.
If under trying circumstances, men of spiritual power, pressed beyond measure, become discouraged and desponding, if at times they see nothing desirable in life, that they should choose it, this is nothing strange or new. One of the mightiest of prophets fled for his life before the rage of an infuriated woman. A fugitive, weary and travel worn, bitter disappointment crushing his spirits, he asked that he might die. To all who, spending their lives in self-sacrificing labor, are tempted to give way to despondency and distrust, the experience of Elijah of Mt. Horeb should bring hope and courage in the assurance of God's watchful care, his love, and his power.
When men see their zeal for God's cause misunderstood or unappreciated, their counsels and reproofs slighted, their efforts to do a work of reform repaid with hatred and opposition; when they see those from whom they have a right to expect help and support, adding to their burdens, let them study anew the work of Elijah and the experience he gained on Horeb. It was when hope was gone, and his lifework seemed threatened with defeat, that the prophet learned one of the deepest lessons of his life. In the hour of his greatest weakness he learned the need and the possibility of trusting God under circumstances the most forbidding. Never would Heaven forsake him while he maintained his integrity.
It is at the time of greatest weakness that Satan assails the soul with the fiercest temptations. It was thus that he hoped to prevail over the Son of God; for by this policy he had gained many victories over man. When the willpower weakened and faith failed, then those who had stood long and valiantly for the right yielded to temptation. Moses, wearied with the faithlessness and rebellion of the Israelites during the forty years of wandering, lost for a moment his hold on infinite power. He failed just on the borders of the promised land. So with Elijah. He who had stood undaunted before Ahab, who throughout that terrible day on Carmel had stood before the whole nation of Israel, the sole witness to the true God, in a moment of weariness allowed the fear of death to overcome his faith.
And so it is today. When we are encompassed with doubt, perplexed by circumstances, or afflicted by poverty or distress, Satan seeks to shake our confidence in God. It is then that he arrays before us our mistakes and tempts us to distrust God, to question his love. He hopes to discourage the soul, and break our hold on God; for he knows that once he succeeds in separating us from the source of our strength, he is sure of his prey.
Those who, standing in the front of the conflict, are impelled by the Spirit of God to do a special work, will frequently feel a reaction when the pressure is removed. Despondency may shake the most heroic faith, and weaken the most steadfast will. But God understands, and he still pities and loves his servants. He reads the motives and the purposes of the heart. To wait patiently, to trust when everything looks dark, is the lesson that every leader in God's work needs to learn. Heaven will not fail them in their day of adversity. Nothing is apparently more helpless yet really more invincible than the soul that feels its nothingness and relies wholly on God.
Not alone for men in positions of large responsibility is the lesson of Elijah's experience in learning anew how to trust God in the hour of trial. He who was Elijah's strength is strong to uphold every struggling child of his, no matter how weak. Of every one he expects loyalty, and to every one he grants power according to the need. In his own strength man is strengthless; but in the might of God he may be strong to overcome evil and to help others to overcome. Satan can never gain advantage of him who makes God his defense. "Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. . . . In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory."
Fellow Christian, Satan knows your weakness; therefore cling to Jesus. Abiding in God's love, you may stand every test. The righteousness of Christ alone can give you power to stand against the tide of evil that is sweeping over the world. Bring faith into your experience. Faith lightens every burden, relieves every weariness. Providences that are now mysterious you may solve by continued trust in God. It is when God's people see no way of advance, when the Red Sea is before them and the pursuing army behind, that God bids them go forward. Thus he tests their faith. When such experiences come to you, go forward, trusting in Christ. Walk by faith in the path he marks out. Trials will come; but go forward. This will strengthen your faith in God, and fit you for service. The records of sacred history are written not merely that we might read and wonder, but that the same faith which wrought in God's servants of old may work in us. In no less marked a manner than he wrought then will he work now wherever there are hearts of faith to be channels of his power.
To us, as to Peter, the word is spoken, "Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." Christ will never abandon those for whom he has died. We may leave him, and be overwhelmed with temptation; but Christ can never turn from one for whom he has paid the ransom of his own life. Could our spiritual vision be quickened, we should see souls bowed under oppression and burdened with grief, pressed as a cart beneath sheaves, and ready to die in discouragement. We should see angels flying quickly to the aid of these tempted ones. They force back the hosts of evil that encompass these souls, and place their feet on the sure foundation. The battles waging between the two armies are as real as those fought by the armies of this world, and on the issue of the spiritual conflict eternal destinies depend.
In the vision of the prophet Ezekiel there was the appearance of a hand beneath the wings of the cherubim. This is to teach God's servants that it is divine power that gives success. Those whom God employs as his messengers are not to feel that his work is dependent on them. Finite beings are not left to carry this burden of responsibility. He who slumbers not, who in every crisis has been the strength and dependence of his people, will carry out his eternal purpose. He will thwart the designs of wicked men, and will bring to confusion the counsels of those who plot mischief against his people. He who is the King, the Lord of hosts, sitteth between the cherubim, and amidst the strife and tumult of nations he guards his children still. When the strongholds of kings shall be overthrown, when the arrows of wrath shall strike through the hearts of his enemies, his people will be safe in his hands.
"Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: . . . in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #45)
Through the long centuries that have passed since Elijah's time, the record of his lifework has brought inspiration and courage to those who have been called to stand for the right in the midst of apostasy. And for us, "upon whom the ends of the world are come," it has special significance. History is being repeated. The world today has its Ahabs and its Jezebels. The present age is one of idolatry as verily as was that in which Elijah lived. No outward shrines may be visible, there may be no image for the eye to rest upon, yet thousands are following after the gods of this world,--after riches, fame, pleasure, and the pleasing fables that permit man to follow the inclinations of the unregenerate heart. Multitudes have a wrong conception of God and of his attributes, and are as truly serving a false god as were the worshipers of Baal. Many, even of those who claim to be Christians, have allied themselves with influences that are unalterably opposed to God and his truth. Thus they are led to turn away from the divine and exalt the human.
The prevailing spirit of our time is one of infidelity and apostasy,--a spirit of avowed illumination because of a knowledge of truth, but in reality of the blindest presumption. Human theories are exalted, and placed where God and his law should be. Satan tempts men and women to disobey, with the promise that in disobedience they will find liberty and freedom that will make them as gods. There is seen a spirit of opposition to the plain word of God, of idolatrous exaltation of human wisdom above divine revelation. Men have allowed their minds to become so darkened and confused by conformity to worldly customs and worldly influences that they seem to have lost all power to discriminate between light and darkness, truth and error. So far have they departed from the right way that they hold the opinions of a few philosophers, so called, to be more trustworthy than the truths of the Bible. The entreaties and promises of God's Word, its threatenings against disobedience and idolatry,--all are powerless to melt their hearts. A faith such as actuated Paul, Peter, and John, they regard as old-fashioned, mystical, and unworthy of the intelligence of modern thinkers.
In the beginning God gave his law to mankind as a means of attaining happiness and eternal life. Satan's only hope of thwarting the purpose of God is to lead men and women to disobey this law; and his constant effort has been to misrepresent its teachings and belittle its importance. His masterstroke has been an attempt to change the law itself, so as to lead men to violate its precepts while professing to obey it.
One writer has likened the attempt to change the law of God to an ancient mischievous practise of turning in a wrong direction a signpost erected at an important junction where two roads met. The perplexity and misery which this practise often caused were great.
A signpost was erected by God for those journeying through this world. One arm of this signpost pointed out willing obedience to the Creator as the road to felicity and life, while the other arm indicated disobedience as the path to misery and death. The way to happiness was as clearly defined as was the way the city of refuge under the Jewish dispensation. But in an evil hour for our race, the great enemy of all good turned the signpost round, so that ever since multitudes have mistaken the way.
Through Moses the Lord instructed the Israelites: "Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed." Ex. 31:13-17.
In these words the Lord clearly defined obedience as the way to the city of God; but the man of sin has changed the signpost, making it point in the wrong direction. He has set up a false sabbath, and has caused men and women to think that by resting on it they were obeying the command of the Creator.
God has declared that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord. When "the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them," he exalted this day as a memorial of his creative work. Resting on the seventh day "from all his work which he had made," "God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it."
At the time of the exodus from Egypt, the Sabbath institution was brought prominently before the people of God. While they were still in bondage, their taskmasters had attempted to force them to labor on the Sabbath by increasing the amount of work required each week. And again and again the conditions of labor had been made harder and more exacting. But the Israelites were delivered from bondage, and brought to a place where they might observe unmolested all the precepts of Jehovah. At Sinai the law was given, and a copy of it, on two tables of stone, "written with the finger of God," was delivered to Moses. And through nearly forty years of wandering, the Israelites were constantly reminded of God's appointed rest day, by the withholding of the manna every seventh day and the miraculous preservation of the double portion that fell on the preparation day.
Before entering the promised land, the Israelites were admonished by Moses to "keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it." Deut. 5:12. The Lord designed that by a faithful observance of the Sabbath command, Israel should keep in mind their accountability to him as their Creator and their Redeemer. While they kept the Sabbath in the proper spirit, there could exist no idolatry. But should the claims of this precept be set aside as no longer binding, the Creator would be forgotten, and men would worship other gods.
"I gave them my Sabbaths," God declared, "to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them." But "they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my Sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols." Eze. 20:12, 16. And in his appeal to them to return to him, he called their attention anew to the importance of keeping the Sabbath holy. "I am the Lord your God," he said, "walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and hallow my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God." Verses 19, 20.
In his terrible arraignment of Judah for her continual apostasy, the Lord declared, "Thou . . . hast profaned my Sabbaths." The priests, he said, "have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths."
"Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads." Eze. 22:8, 26, 31.
At the restoration of Jerusalem, in the days of Nehemiah, Sabbath-breaking was met with the stern inquiry, "Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath." Neh. 13:18.
Christ during his ministry on this earth emphasized the binding claims of the Sabbath, in all his teaching showing reverence for the institution he himself had given. In the days of Christ, the Sabbath had become so perverted that its observance reflected the character of selfish and arbitrary men, rather than the character of God. Christ set aside the false teaching by which those who claimed to know God had misrepresented him. Although the rabbis followed him with merciless hostility, he did not even appear to conform to their requirements, but went straight forward keeping the Sabbath according to the law of God.
In unmistakable language he testified to his regard for this law. "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets," he said; "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:17-19. (To be concluded.) ) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #45)
If all would realize the necessity of doing to the utmost of their ability in the work of God, having a deep love for souls, feeling the burden of the work upon them, we should see hundreds engaged as active workers who have hitherto been dull and uninterested, accomplishing nothing. They have felt that there was nothing of importance in this tract and missionary work--nothing worthy of their special interest. Yet it is a fact that the circulation of our papers is doing even a greater work than the living preacher can do. All can do something. Some can do more than others, but all should become intelligent as to how they can work most successfully and methodically in spreading the light of truth, by scattering our publications. We meet with old and young who profess to be children of God, yet who have not grown an inch for years. A Christian indeed will grow in knowledge of the truth; and as he is sanctified through the truth, he will become more and more like Jesus, and more desirous to save souls, the purchase of his blood.
Our sisters have been too willing to excuse themselves from bearing responsibilities which require thought and close application of the mind; yet this is the very discipline they need to perfect Christian experience. They may be workers in the missionary field, having a personal interest in the distribution of tracts and papers which correctly represent our faith. All cannot go abroad to labor, but all can do something at home. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #46)
(Reading for Sabbath, December 20.)--The time of Jesus' betrayal, suffering, and crucifixion was drawing near; and as the disciples gathered about him, the Lord unfolded to them the mournful events that were about to take place. As they listened, their hearts were filled with sorrow, and to comfort them he spoke these tender words, "Let not your heart be troubled. . . . I will come again, and receive you unto myself." He directed their minds from the scenes of sorrow before them to the mansions of heaven and the reunion that would take place in the kingdom of God. "I go to prepare a place for you," he declared. Though he must ascend to the Father, his work for those he loved was not to end. He went to prepare homes for those who, for his sake, were to be pilgrims and strangers on the earth.
After his resurrection, Christ led the disciples out as far as Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. "And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." And as he went, angels gave to the sorrowing disciples the assurance, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
The great truth of Christ's second coming is ever to be kept before the church. "Let your loins be girded about," we are admonished, "and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. . . . Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not."
Because we do not know the exact hour of Christ's coming, we are commanded to watch. "Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching." Those who watch for the Lord's return do not wait in idle expectancy. They purify their hearts by obedience to the truth. With vigilant watching they unite earnest working. Because they know that the Lord is at the door, their zeal is quickened to cooperate with divine intelligences in working for the salvation of souls. These are the faithful and wise servants, who give to the Lord's household their portion of meat in due season. They are declaring the truth that is now specially applicable. As Enoch, Abraham, and Moses each declared the truth for his time, so will Christ's servants now give the special warning for their generation.
Now is the time to prepare for the coming of our Lord. Readiness to meet him cannot be attained in a moment's time. Preparatory to that solemn scene there must be vigilant waiting and watching, combined with earnest work. So God's children glorify him. Amid the busy scenes of life their voices will be heard speaking words of encouragement, faith, and hope. All they have and are is consecrated to the Master's service.
But like the dwellers in Sodom, those who refuse to serve God will be awakened only when it is too late. As the sun rose for the last time upon the cities of the plain, the people thought to begin another day of godless riot. All were eagerly planning their business or their pleasure, and the messenger of God was derided for his fears and his warnings. Suddenly as a peal of thunder from an unclouded sky fell balls of fire on the doomed capital.
"So shall also the coming of the Son of man be." The people will be eating and drinking, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage, until the wrath of God shall be poured out without mixture of mercy. Men have been taught by their ministers to believe that the coming of Christ is to be spiritual, or is to take place in the distant future, and the message of his soon return has been denounced as fanaticism or heresy. Skepticism and "science falsely so called" have undermined faith in the Bible. The multitudes are striving to forget God, and they eagerly accept fables, that they may pursue the path of self-indulgence undisturbed. The people are hurrying to and fro, the lovers of pleasure intent upon amusement, the money-makers seeking wealth; and all are saying, Where is the promise of his coming?
The Jews misinterpreted and misapplied the Word of God, and they knew not the time of their visitation. The years of the ministry of Christ and his apostles--the precious last years of grace to the chosen people--they spent in plotting the destruction of the Lord's messengers. Earthly ambitions absorbed them, and the offer of the spiritual kingdom came to them in vain. So today the kingdom of this world absorbs men's thoughts, and there are few who take heed to the rapidly fulfilling prophecies, and the tokens of the swift-coming kingdom of God.
Christ tells us when the day of his kingdom shall be ushered in. He does not say that all the world will be converted, but that "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." By giving the gospel to the world, it is in our power to hasten the coming of the day of God. Had the church of Christ done her appointed work as the Lord ordained, the whole world would before this have been warned, and the Lord Jesus would have come to the earth in power and great glory.
Living power must attend the message of Christ's second appearing. We must not rest until we see many souls converted to the blessed hope of the Lord's return. In the days of the apostles the message that they bore wrought a real work, turning souls from idols to serve the living God. The work to be done today is just as real, and the truth is just as much truth; only we are to give the message with as much more earnestness as the coming of the Lord is nearer. The message for this time is positive, simple, and of the deepest importance. We must act like men and women who believe it. Waiting, watching, working, praying, warning the world--this is our work.
When Christ came to this earth the first time, he came in lowliness and obscurity, and his life here was one of suffering and poverty. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Men hid as it were their faces from him, and at the last they crucified him. Still bearing humanity he ascended to heaven, triumphant and victorious. He has taken the blood of the atonement, sprinkled it upon the mercy seat and his own garments, and blessed the people. Soon he will appear the second time to declare that there is no more sacrifice for sin.
At his second coming all will be changed. Not as a prisoner surrounded by a rabble will men see him, but as heaven's King. Christ will come in his own glory, in the glory of his Father, and in the glory of the holy angels. Ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of angels, the beautiful, triumphant sons of God, possessing surpassing loveliness and glory, will escort him on his way. In the place of a crown of thorns, he will wear a crown of glory--a crown within a crown. In the place of that old purple robe, he will be clothed in a garment of whitest white, "so as no fuller on earth can white" it. And on his vesture and on his thigh a name will be written, "King of kings, and Lord of lords."
Then the last trump will sound, the voice of God will speak, and the whole earth, from the summits of the loftiest mountains to the lowest recesses of the deepest mines, will hear that voice. It will be heard in the dungeons of men, in the caverns of the deep, in the rocks and caves of the earth, and it will be obeyed. It is the same voice that said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,"--the same voice that said, "Thy sins be forgiven thee." And those who obeyed that voice when it said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me," will now hear the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." To them that voice will mean rest, peace, and everlasting life. They will recognize it as the voice of the One who has been touched with the feeling of their infirmities.
And those who pierced the Saviour, those who scourged and crucified him, will also be raised, to behold him whom they mocked and despised coming in the clouds of heaven, attended by the angelic host. Before the priests and rulers will rise the scene in the judgment hall. Every circumstance will appear as if written in letters of fire. Then those who prayed, "His blood be on us, and on our children," will receive the answer to their prayer. Then those who have chosen to war against God will know and understand what they, poor, feeble, finite beings, have been fighting against. In agony and horror they will cry to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
While the world is plunged in darkness, there will be light in every dwelling of the saints. They will catch the first light of his second appearing. The unsullied light will shine from his splendor, and Christ the Redeemer will be admired by all who have served him. While the wicked flee from his presence, Christ's followers will rejoice. The patriarch Job, looking down to the time of Christ's second advent, said: "Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not a stranger." To his faithful followers Christ has been a daily companion, a familiar friend. They have lived in close, constant communion with God. Upon them the glory of the Lord has risen. In them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ has been reflected. Now they rejoice in the undimmed rays of the brightness and glory of the King in his majesty. They are prepared for the communion of heaven; for they have heaven in their hearts.
With uplifted heads, with the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness shining upon them, with rejoicing that their redemption draweth nigh, they go forth to meet the Bridegroom, saying, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us."
"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. . . . And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb." "He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful."
More than eighteen hundred years have passed since the Saviour gave the promise of his coming. Throughout the centuries his words have filled with courage the hearts of his faithful ones. The promise has not yet been fulfilled the Lifegiver's voice has not yet called the sleeping saints from their graves; but none the less sure is the word that has been spoken. In his own time God will fulfill his word. Shall any become weary now? Shall we lose our hold on faith when we are so near the eternal world? Shall any say, The city is a great way off?--No, no. A little longer, and we shall see the King in his beauty. A little longer, and he will wipe all tears from our eyes. A little longer, and he will present us "faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy."
All heaven is astir, engaged in preparing for the day of God's vengeance, the day of Zion's deliverance. The time of tarrying is almost ended. The pilgrims and strangers who have so long been seeking a better country are almost home. I feel as if I must cry aloud, Homeward bound! Rapidly we are nearing the time when Christ will come to gather his redeemed to himself. Then by innumerable voices will be sung the song, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God."
"The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
"Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless."
(Here let the offering for missions be gathered. The isolated believers who read this should send their gifts to their church or conference treasury.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #47)
During the Christian dispensation the great enemy of man's happiness has made the Sabbath of the fourth commandment an object of special attack. Satan says: "I will work at cross purposes with God. I will empower my followers to set aside God's memorial, the seventh-day Sabbath. Thus I will show the world that the day sanctified and blessed by God has been changed. That day shall not live in the minds of the people. I will obliterate the memory of it. I will place in its stead a day that does not bear the credentials of God, a day that cannot be a sign between God and his people. I will lead those who accept this day to place upon it the sanctity that God placed upon the seventh day.
"Through my vicegerent I will exalt myself. The first day will be extolled, and the Protestant world will receive this spurious sabbath as genuine. Through the non-observance of the Sabbath that God instituted I will bring his law into contempt. The words, `A sign between Me and you throughout your generations,' I will make to serve on the side of my sabbath.
"Thus the world will become mine I will be the ruler of the earth, the prince of the world. I will so control the minds under my power that God's Sabbath will be a special object of contempt. A sign? I will make the observance of the seventh day a sign of disloyalty to the authorities of earth. Human laws will be made so stringent that men and women will not dare to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. For fear of wanting food and clothing they will join with the world in transgressing God's law. The earth will be wholly under my dominion."
Through the setting up of a false sabbath the enemy has succeeded in turning the signboard around, so that it points toward the path of disobedience. He has insulted Jehovah by attempting to set aside a plain "Thus saith the Lord." He has thought to change times and laws. But has he really succeeded in changing God's law? The words of the thirty-first chapter of Exodus are the answer. He who is the same yesterday, today, and forever has declared of the seventh-day Sabbath: "It is a sign between me and you throughout your generations." "It is a sign. . . . forever." Ex. 31:13, 17.
The changed signpost is pointing the wrong way, but God has not changed. He is still the mighty God of Israel. "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity." And he is just as jealous for his law now as he was in the days of Ahab and Elijah.
But how that law is disregarded! This is a truth-hating, Bible-neglecting, froward generation. Many do not hesitate to sneer at the Word of God; those who believe that Word just as it reads are held up to ridicule. Jesus sees the world filled with ingratitude, formalism, insincerity, pride, and apostasy. He sees his love despised, his law rejected, his ambassadors treated with indifference. Jesus has spoken by mercies, but these mercies have been unacknowledged; he has spoken by warnings, but these warnings have been unheeded. The temple courts of the human soul have been turned into places of unholy traffic. Selfishness, envy, pride, malice--all are cherished.
Behold the world today, in open rebellion against God. Behold the disregard of the Sabbath commandment. Behold the growing contempt for law and order, directly traceable to a violation of the plain commands of Jehovah. Behold the violence and crime that have resulted from a turning aside from the path of obedience. Behold the wretchedness and misery of multitudes who worship at the shrine of idols, and who seek in vain for happiness and peace.
Behold also the daring impiety of those who, while enacting laws to safeguard the supposed sanctity of the first day of the week at the same time are making laws legalizing the liquor traffic. Wise above that which is written, they attempt to coerce the consciences of men, while lending their sanction to a curse that brutalizes and destroys the beings created in the image of God. It is Satan himself who inspires such legislation. He well knows that the curse of God will rest on those who exalt human enactments above the divine; and he does all in his power to lead men into the broad road that ends in destruction.
It is a terrible thing to place a sabbath of man's devising where the Lord's memorial of creation should be. It is a terrible thing for men to arrogate to themselves the power to set aside the day that God has declared holy and put in its place a common working day. And it is still more terrible to try to compel men to respect and reverence this day, while at the same time those who thus try to enforce its observance are trampling under their feet the seventh-day Sabbath.
So long have men worshiped human opinions and human institutions that almost the whole world is following after idols. And he who has endeavored to change God's law is using every deceptive artifice to induce men and women to array themselves against God and against the sign by which the righteous are known. But the Lord will not always suffer his law to be broken and despised with impunity. There is a time coming when "the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day." Skepticism may treat the claims of God's law with jests, scoffing, and denial. The spirit of worldliness may contaminate the many and control the few; the cause of God may hold its ground only by great exertion and continual sacrifice, yet in the end it will triumph gloriously.
In the closing work of God in the earth the standard of his law will be exalted. False religion may prevail, iniquity abound, the love of many wax cold, the cross of Calvary be lost sight of, and darkness, like the pall of death, may spread over the world. The whole force of the popular current may be turned against the truth, plot after plot may be formed to overthrow the people of God; but in the hour of greatest peril the God of Elijah will raise up human instrumentalities to bear a message that will not be silenced. In the great cities of the land, and in the places where men have gone to the greatest lengths in speaking against the Most High, the voice of stern rebuke will be heard. Boldly will men of God's appointment denounce the union of the church with the world. Fearlessly they will call upon men and women to turn from the observance of a manmade institution to the observance of the true Sabbath. "Fear God, and give glory to him," they will proclaim to every nation; "for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. . . . If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation."
God has not altered the thing that has gone out of his lips. His word will stand fast forever, as unalterable as his throne. At the judgment, when every case shall be decided in the courts of heaven, this covenant will be brought forth, plainly written with the finger of God. The world will be arraigned before the bar of Infinite Justice to receive sentence.
Today, as in the days of Elijah, the line of demarcation between God's commandment-keeping people and the worshipers of false gods is clearly drawn. "How long halt ye between two opinions?" Elijah cried; "if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him." 1 Kings 18:21. And the message for today is, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen." "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." Rev. 18:2, 4, 5.
The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The observance of the false sabbath will be urged upon us. The contest will be between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. Those who step by step have yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will then yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment and death. At this time the gold will be separated from the dross. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliance will then go out in darkness. Those who have assumed the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ's righteousness, will then appear in the shame of their own nakedness.
Among earth's inhabitants, scattered in every land, there are those who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Like the stars of heaven, which appear only at night, these faithful ones will shine forth when darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people. In heathen Africa, in the Catholic lands of Europe and of South America, in China, in India, in the islands of the sea, and in all the dark corners of the earth, God has in reserve a firmament of chosen ones that will yet shine forth amidst the darkness, revealing clearly to an apostate world the transforming power of obedience to his law. Even now they are appearing in every nation, among every tongue and people, and in the hour of deepest apostasy, when Satan's supreme effort is made to "cause all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond," to receive under penalty of death the sign of allegiance to a false rest day, these faithful ones, "blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke," will "shine as lights in the world." The darker the night the more brilliantly will they shine.
What strange work Elijah would have done in numbering Israel at the time when God's judgments were falling upon the backsliding people! He could count only one on the Lord's side. But when he said, " I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life," the word of the Lord surprised him, "Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal."
Then let no man attempt to number Israel today, but let every one have a heart of flesh, a heart of tender sympathy, a heart that, like the heart of Christ, reaches out for the salvation of a lost world. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #49)
Among the cities of the ancient world, one of the greatest was Nineveh, on the fertile bank of the Tigris, over two hundred miles to the northward of Babylon. Founded about the time of the dispersion from the tower of Babel, it had become "an exceeding great city of three days' journey." Jonah 3:3. In the days of divided Israel it was the capital of the Assyrian realm.
Nineveh, in the time of its greatest temporal prosperity, was a center of crime and wickedness. Inspiration declared it to be "the bloody city . . . full of lies and robbery." Nahum 3:1. Those in a position to know, acknowledged that one of the leading characteristics of its inhabitants was violence. Jonah 3:8. In figurative language the prophet Nahum compared the Ninevites to a cruel, ravenous lion, who "did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin." Nahum 2:12. "Upon whom," the prophet inquired, "hath not thy wickedness passed continually?" Nahum 3:19.
Notwithstanding this prevalence of iniquity, He who is "no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34) perceived in that city many who were reaching out after something better and higher, and who, if granted opportunity to hear messages of warning and entreaty, would gladly put away their evil deeds, and turn to the living God. And so in his wisdom he revealed himself to them in an unmistakable manner, to lead them, if possible, to repentance.
The instrumentality chose of God for this work was Jonah, the son of Amittai, to whom came "the word of the Lord, . . . saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me." Jonah 1:1, 2.
As the nature of this commission, with all its difficulties and seeming impossibilities, loomed up before Jonah, he began to question the wisdom of the call. As he questioned, he forgot that the God whom he served was all-wise and all-powerful, and he began to doubt whether he should undertake to carry out such a commission. While he hesitated, still doubting, Satan overwhelmed him with discouragement. Seized with a great dread, he "rose up to flee unto Tarshish." Going down to Joppa, and finding there a ship ready to sail, "he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish." Jonah 1:3.
The responsibility placed upon Jonah, in the charge given him to warn the inhabitants of Nineveh, was indeed great; yet he who had bidden him go was well able to sustain his servant and give him success. Had he obeyed unquestioningly, he would have been spared many bitter experiences, and would have been abundantly blessed. However, the Lord did not desert him in this hour of fearful despair, but led him through a series of trials that revived his confidence in God's power to save, and renewed his determination to obey at any personal sacrifice.
"The Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.
"And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?
"And he said unto them, I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
"Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
"Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee.
"So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.
"Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.
"Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly and said,--"I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, And he heard me; Out of the belly of hell cried I, And thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; And the floods compassed me about: All thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; Yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: The depth closed me round about, The weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; The earth with her bars was about me forever: Yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: And my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities--Forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord." Jonah 1:4-17; 2:1-9.
At last Jonah had learned that "Salvation belongeth unto the Lord." Ps. 3:8. "Truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel." Jer. 3:23. Men have sold themselves to the enemy of all righteousness. They cannot redeem themselves. Only by accepting Christ as a personal Saviour can human beings be delivered from the power of the enemy.
Man's pride would lead him to seek for salvation in some other way than that devised by God. He is unwilling to be accounted as nothing, unwilling to recognize Christ as the only one who can save to the uttermost. But of Christ it is written, "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." "In all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." The one word written above the life that Christ lived in this world in behalf of the fallen race, is "Salvation."
With penitence and a recognition of the saving grace of God, comes deliverance. Jonah was released from the perils surrounding him in the mighty deep, and cast upon the dry land. (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #50)
Once more the servant of God was entrusted with the commission to warn Nineveh. "The word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee." This time he did not stop to question or doubt, but obeyed unhesitatingly. He "arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord." Jonah 3:1-3.
As he entered the great city, he began at once to "cry against" it as he had been bidden. Lifting up his voice in warning, he declared, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." From street to street he went, all the while sounding this terrible note of warning.
God's message was not given in vain. The warning rang through the streets of the godless city, and was passed from lip to lip, until all the inhabitants had heard the startling pronouncement. The Spirit of God pressed the message home to the heart, and caused multitudes to tremble because of their sins, and to repent in great humiliation.
"The people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything: let them not feed, nor drink water: but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?" Jonah 3:5-9.
As kings and nobles, with the common people, the high and the low, "repented at the preaching of Jonas" (Matt. 12:41), and united in crying to the God of heaven, his mercy was granted them. He "saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not." Their doom was averted, the God of Israel was exalted and honored throughout the heathen world, and his law was revered.
In this crisis, Jonah should have been the first to rejoice because of God's amazing grace; but, instead, he allowed his mind to dwell upon the possibility of his being regarded as a false prophet. Jealous of his reputation among men, he lost sight of the infinitely greater value of the souls in that wretched city. The compassion shown by God toward the repentant Ninevites "displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry." "Was not this my saying," he inquired of the Lord, "when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil." Jonah 4:1, 2.
When Jonah learned of God's purpose to spare the city that had corrupted its ways before him, he should have cooperated heartily in this merciful design. But he yielded, to his inclination to question and doubt, and, as the result, was once more overwhelmed with discouragement, and lost sight of the interests of others in his concern over himself. He felt as if he would rather die than live to see the wicked city spared; and in his dissatisfaction he exclaimed, "Now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.
"Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry? So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city. And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd."
Then the Lord gave Jonah and object lesson. He "prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.
"Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night; and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" Jonah 4:3-11.
Though confused, humiliated, and unable to understand God's purpose in sparing Nineveh, Jonah nevertheless had fulfilled the commission given him to warn that great city. The event predicted did not come to pass, yet the message of warning was none the less from God. And it accomplished the purpose God designed it should. The glory of his grace was revealed among the heathen, and when those who had long been sitting "in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron," "cried unto the Lord in their trouble, . . . he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder." "He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." Ps. 107:10, 13, 14, 20.
The Saviour, while on earth, recognized the preaching of Jonah as a sign to the Ninevites, as Christ's preaching was a sign to the Jews. "The men of Nineveh," he declared, "shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here." Matt. 12:41. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #50)
The commission that Christ gave to his disciples was not merely for the building up of his cause in a few places. Every nation in the earth was to have the light of sacred truth. The churches that have not been lightbearers to some needy part of the Lord's vineyard have failed to fulfill the commission of Christ.
Had the money and labor that have been given to the cause in other lands been confined to the work in the home land, the church would have lost materially in spiritual life. God has been honored by the work that has been done for the people in distant lands. We must increase our liberalities to missions. And while we increase our labor and gifts for foreign fields, we must not neglect the work that needs to be done at home.
Our field is the world. Repeat it again and again: Our field is the world. We rejoice for those who have made a willing offering of their property to the Lord. We encourage all to help with their means in the cause of God. Christians who are fully awake to the needs of the work will not spend the Lord's money needlessly. They will consider the great missionary field to be worked, and, viewing their obligations in the light of the cross of Calvary, they will consider no sacrifice too great to make for him who gave his life for the life of the world.
The Lord is calling upon his people to take up different lines of missionary work. Church members are to do evangelistic work in the homes of their friends and neighbors who have not received full evidence of the truth. The presentation of the truth in love and sympathy, from house to house, is in harmony with the instruction that Christ gave to his disciples when he sent them out on their first missionary tour. By songs of praise to God, by humble, heartfelt prayers, by simple presentation of Bible truth in the family circle, many will be reached. The divine Worker will be present to send conviction to hearts. "I am with you alway," is his promise. With the assurance of the abiding presence of such a helper, we may labor with faith and hope and courage.
All who surrender themselves to God in unselfish service for humanity are in cooperation with the Lord of glory. This thought sweetens all toil, it braces the will, it nerves the spirit for whatever may befall. Working with unselfish heart, ennobled by being partakers of Christ's sufferings, sharing his sympathies, they help swell the tide of his joy, and bring honor and praise to his exalted name.
Precious are God's promises to those who minister in his name. He says, "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily." Thy light shall "rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #51)
"In the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel," "Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah." Until called to the throne at the age of thirty-five, Jehoshaphat had before him the example of his father Asa, who in nearly every crisis had done "that which was right in the eyes of the Lord." Jehoshaphat profited by his early training. During his prosperous reign of twenty-five years he sought to walk "in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from, it doing that which was right in the eyes of the Lord."
In his effort to rule wisely, Jehoshaphat was troubled over the attitude of some of his subjects toward idolatrous practises. As yet, many of the people "had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers." They "offered and burnt incense yet in the high places;" and the king did not at once destroy these heathen shrines.
Jehoshaphat himself was loyal to God. He "sought not unto Baalim; but sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel." Because of his integrity, the Lord was with him, and "stablished the kingdom in his hand."
"All Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honor in abundance. And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord." As time passed, and reformations were wrought, the king "took away the high places and groves out of Judah." "And the remnant of the sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa, he took out of the land."
Throughout the kingdom of Judah, the people were in need of instruction in the law of God. In an understanding of this law lay their safeguard against evils that had hitherto wrought apostasy and rebellion; by conforming their lives to its requirements they would become loyal, law abiding subjects. Knowing this, Jehoshaphat took steps to insure to his people thorough instruction in the oracles of God. The princes in charge of the different portions of his realm were directed to arrange for the faithful ministry of teaching priests. By royal appointment these instructors, working under the direct supervision of the princes, "went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people." And as the people endeavored to understand God's requirements and to put away transgression, a religious revival was brought about.
To this wise provision for the spiritual needs of his subjects, Jehoshaphat owed much of his prosperity as a ruler.
Righteousness does indeed exalt nations as well as individuals. In obedience to God's law there is life. In conformity to his requirements there is a transforming power that brings peace and good will among men. If the teachings of God's Word were made the controlling influence in the life of every man and woman, if mind and heart were brought under its restraining power, the evils that now exist in national and social life would find no place. From every home would go forth an influence that would make men and women a power on the side of truth and righteousness.
In the Bible the will of God is revealed. The truths of the Word of God are the utterances of the Most High. He who makes these truths a part of his life becomes in every sense a new creature. He is not given new mental powers, but the darkness that through ignorance and sin has clouded the understanding, is removed. The words, "A new heart also will I give you," mean, "A new mind will I give you." A change of heart is always attended by a clear conviction of Christian duty, an understanding of truth. He who gives the Scriptures close, prayerful attention will gain clear comprehension and sound judgment, as if in turning to God he had reached a higher plane of intelligence.
The Bible contains the principles that lie at the foundation of all true greatness, all true prosperity, whether for the individual or for the nation. The nation that gives free room for the circulation of the Scriptures opens the way for the minds of the people to develop and expand. The reading of the Scriptures causes light to shine into the darkness. As the Word of God is searched, lifegiving truths are found. In the lives of those who heed its teachings there will be an undercurrent of happiness that will bless all with whom they are brought in contact.
For many years Jehoshaphat was allowed to live in peace, unmolested by the surrounding nations. "The fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the land that were round about Judah." From Philistia he received tribute money and presents; from Arabia, large flocks of sheep and goats. "Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store. . . . Men of war, mighty men of valor, . . . waited on the king, beside those whom the king put in the fenced cities throughout all Judah." Blessed with "riches and honor in abundance," he was enabled to wield a mighty influence for truth and righteousness. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 90, #52)
Some years after coming to the throne, Jehoshaphat, now in the height of his prosperity, consented to the marriage of his son Jehoram to Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. By this union there was formed between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel an alliance which was not in the order of God, and which in times of crises brought disaster to the king of Judah and to many of his subjects.
On one occasion, Jehoshaphat visited the king of Israel at Samaria. In honor of his royal guest, "Ahab killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance, and for the people that he had with him;" and against his better judgment, Jehoshaphat was persuaded to unite with Ahab in an effort to regain from the Syrians by force of arms Ramoth, one of the old cities of refuge, which, Ahab declared, rightfully belonged to the Israelites.
Jehoshaphat had rashly promised to join the king of Israel in his war against the Syrians; but before setting out, he desired to know the will of God concerning the undertaking. "Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord today," he said to Ahab. In response to the request, Ahab called together four hundred of the false prophets of Samaria, and said to them, "Shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for God will deliver it into the king's hand." But Jeshoshaphat was not satisfied. "Is there not here a prophet of the Lord," he asked, "that we might inquire of him?" Ahab answered, "There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil." Jehoshaphat was firm in his request that the man of God be called; and upon appearing before them and being adjured by Ahab to tell "nothing but that which is true, in the name of the Lord," Micaiah said, "I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace."
The words of the prophet should have been enough to show the kings that their project was not favored by Heaven; but neither ruler felt inclined to heed the warning. Ahab had marked out his course, and he was determined to follow it. Jehoshaphat in a moment of weakness had said, "We will be with thee in the war," and he was reluctant to withdraw his forces after promising help. "So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead."
During the battle that followed, Ahab was shot by an arrow, and at eventide he died. "There went a proclamation throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his own country." Thus was fulfilled the word of the prophet.
From this disastrous battle Jehoshaphat returned to Jerusalem. As he approached the city, "Jehu the son of Hanani the seer" met him with the reproof: "Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God."
The later years of Jehoshaphat's reign were largely devoted to an effort to bring about further reforms throughout the land of Judah. The king "went out again through the people from Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the Lord God of their fathers."
One important step in this work was the establishment and maintenance of efficient courts of justice. The king "set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts."
The judicial system in Judah was perfected by the founding of a court of appeal at Jerusalem, where Jehoshaphat "set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the Lord, and for controversies."
The king solemnly charged these judges to be faithful. "Thus shalt ye do in the fear of the Lord, faithfully, and with a perfect heart," he declared to them. "And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the Lord, and so wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass.
"And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lord; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king's matters: also the Levites shall be officers before you.
"Deal courageously, and the Lord shall be with the good."
In his careful safeguarding of the rights and liberties of his subjects, Jehoshaphat emphasized the consideration that every member of the human family receives from the God of justice, who rules over all. "God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods." And those who are appointed to act as judges, under him, are to "defend the poor and fatherless;" they are to "do justice to the afflicted and needy," and "rid them out of the hand of the wicked." Mrs. E. G. White.