OPENING PRAYER THOUGHT
I shall read from The Mount of Blessing, page 147, paragraphs 1 to 3. These paragraphs are based on the scripture, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.”
MB., p. 147 – “The people who listened to the words of Christ, were still anxiously watching for some announcement of the earthly kingdom. While Jesus was opening to them the treasures of heaven, the question uppermost in many minds was, How will a connection with Him advance our prospects in the world? Jesus shows that in making the things of the world their supreme anxiety, they were like the heathen nations about them, living as if there were no God, whose tender care is over His creatures.
“…‘Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.’… Open your hearts to receive this kingdom, and make its service your highest interest. Though it is a spiritual kingdom, fear not that your needs for this life will be uncared for. If you give yourself to God’s service, He who has all power in heaven and earth will provide for your needs.
“Jesus does not release us from the necessity of effort, but He teaches that we are to make Him first and last and best in everything. We are to engage in no business, follow no pursuit, seek no pleasure, that would hinder the outworking of His righteousness in our character and life. Whatever we do, is to be done heartily, as unto the Lord.”
Let us now kneel and pray that we may make the advancement of the Kingdom our highest interest; that we may let no pursuit interfere with our wholeheartedly serving the Lord; and wholeheartedly believe that the Lord will provide for all our needs. Only then we shall not fear the future.
THE WAY BACK TO EDEN
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF
MINISTER OF DAVIDIAN 7TH-DAY ADVENTISTS
SABBATH, AUGUST 3, 1946
Gen. 3:17 – “And unto Adam He said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.”
After Adam fell into sin, what did the Lord say to him? – “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, hast done what you ought not, and hast eaten of the fruit which I forbade you to eat, for this cause, cursed is the ground, not against you, but for your sake.”
Error, being the opposite of Truth, would have said, “Blessed is the ground for thy sake.” And instead of saying, “In sorrow shalt thou eat all the days of thy life,” Error would have said, “In pleasure shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.” In other words, while God pronounces a curse, Satan under the same circumstances pronounces a blessing. So it is that the world, naturally being tuned to Satan’s speech, expects to live in pleasure all its days. Nevertheless, it is having plenty of sorrow. Plenty of it.
Verse 18 – “Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.”
The Devil, of course, would have said, “Roses and flowers shall it bring unto thee.” And rather than commanding, “Thou shalt eat the herbs of the field,” he would have said “Thou shalt eat of everything you find in the field.” True, he does not say so in a book, but he does say it in the hearts of all living, and they zealously obey his voice.
Verse 19 – “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
Satan would have said: “In pleasure shalt thou eat bread until, in the process of evolution, thou become as God; for out of an insignificant atom wert thou taken, and unto a mighty God shalt thou evolve if thou continue on and on.
What did God say, though? – “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread all the days of thy life; that is, for your own sake you are now to have hardship in making a living, and you might just as well reconcile yourself to it.” Although such was not man’s lot before he sinned, it became his lot as soon as he was taken out of the Garden, as soon as he earned the curse.
“But,” you ask, “why did God purpose that all of us should go through hardship and sorrow before we are taken back into Eden? If He is to take us back, why did He not do it in the beginning, in Adam’s days?” – The answer to all these questions is found in
Luke 15:11-13 – “And He said, A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.”
The story is that there were two sons in the family. The older one chose to remain home, but the younger one chose to go away. And you know what happened shortly afterwards: The younger son wasted all his substance in riotous living.
I am sure that the father knew beforehand that his son was headed for hardship. He loved him and longed to spare the youth from shame, sorrow and hard trial that he was headed for. The very fact that on the boy’s return, the father met him while yet a long way off, and made a banquet for him, even after he had wasted his father’s substance and disgraced the family name, is evidence enough that the father loved the boy supremely. The boy was allowed to leave home only because nothing but experience of his own could ever demonstrate his folly, and prove the father’s love for him.
What forced the boy to dislike home? – It was his desire to live riotously. No boy or girl under the same circumstances runs away from home except for the hope of gaining freedom and to practice riotous living, to do at will what the carnal heart longs to do.
There may be a great deal of temporary fun in prodigality but it only ends in humiliation and disrepute. If the prodigal were living in our day, what do you suppose he would do to start out on the highway of fun, to have a good time? – The first thing he would do for sure would be to buy, if possible, an automobile, fine clothes, a diamond ring, a sparkling stickpin, and a wrist watch. Oh, yes, he would not neglect to put a flower in his lapel and a silk handkerchief in his pocket. There may be nothing wrong in having some of these things, but it certainly is not commendable or even good taste to adorn oneself with everything that can be put on. It is, to say the least, ridiculous to deck oneself in peacock fashion.
And whom would the wayward boy take for rides? – The girls, of course. And where would they go? – Not where the preachers go, and not to church, either.
Verse 14 – “And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.”
If you spend all you have and all you earn, you too, will sooner or later have famine. Providence brought the famine in order to bring the boy to “himself,” to his senses. Indeed, no boy runs away from home when he is himself; and, conversely, neither does he return home understandingly before he comes to himself. Thus he learns his lesson, but at what a cost! At what a cost!
Verses 15, 16 – “And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.”
The prodigal obtained a job all right, but it did not “fill the bill,” he was still in want.
Verses 17-19 – “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of they hired servants.”
He finally discovered that he had been playing the fool, and so he began to reason with himself about going back home, saying, “Just think how many servants are in my father’s house and they all have plenty. Why should I perish with hunger? But, what shall I say when I get there?” Having come to himself, he felt, of course, that he must say just the right thing, the thing that would commend him to Heaven as well as to earth.
Had that boy taken his father’s counsel in the first place, he would not have had to be humiliated. And what a humiliation! And what a lesson, too, not only for the young, but for the old also. Yes, there are thousands, young and old alike, who learn great lessons, but they often pay a tremendous price only because they are ever listening to the “humbug” of the Devil. Why are they so easily carried away with his allurements? – Only because his attractive bait appeals to man’s selfish and sinful nature.
The prodigal’s humiliation awaits all the young who do not profit by the counsel of the older, and all the older who do not profit by the counsel of the Lord. This is one of the laws of God which no one has ever been able to dodge.
The prodigal’s experience now answers the questions, Why did God remove Adam out of the Garden? Since God has to forgive him some day anyway, why did He not forgive him shortly after his fall and take him back to Eden? Why could not all mankind have been thus saved from going through misery and death before going back to Eden?
Had God allowed Adam and Eve to remain in the Garden after they had sinned and continued to have access to the “tree of life,” He would have thereby perpetuated their sinful lives in their sinful state. What a terrible thing that would have been – sinners having to live for ever and ever! And had He spared them and their descendants from going through hardships and death, they could no more have come to realize what life of sin is, no, no more than could the prodigal before going through licentiousness, bankruptcy, hard labor and poverty.
“But,” you say, “If the Lord could not have brought Adam and Eve into the Garden before first passing through death and the resurrection, did He have to curse the ground and cause them to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow?” And why did He have to cause them to eat their bread in sorrow for 6,000 years? – Because all who are ever to enter the Kingdom, get back into Eden, must first come to themselves as did the prodigal, for all must be brought to realize that everything away from the Garden is nothing more than swine’s husks.
Because work is essential and because sinners by nature dislike work, the thorns and thistles were created to compel them to go to work for a living. If we leave the obnoxious weeds in the ground, and spend our time having fun, they will choke out the crops, and we, like the prodigal, will have famine. Thus, no work, no eat. God Who knows what is best for us has made it that we earn our living the hard way, to work all day long with but little rest.
Those who come to themselves, to them work is pleasure. Only fools hate work.
Before the modern machinery was invented farmers were not so troubled with pestilence as they now are. But just as the machinery increased and improved, so the bugs did, too. And for what reason? – To still keep us working and thus out of mischief.
When I came to the United States some years ago, I saw all manner of machinery, machinery that did a great amount of work in a short time. But along with these conveniences, what else did I see? – I saw thistles and thorns multiplied a thousand fold, and pestilence of all kinds devouring the crops.
In the Old Country we did not have machinery, but we never had to spray any vegetation. Why? – Because working without machinery the people were busy as it was. If they had had to fight pestilence too, and nothing with which to fight it, then they could have raised nothing and would have had to starve. Thus it is seen that if the machinery frees us of work, God sends the bugs to put us back to work.
The Lord commanded that we should with sweat earn our living, but He knew that most of us would not do so if we did not have to. And He also knew that if we did not have much to do, we would get into mischief, into riotous living, and consequently never come to ourselves, and never go back to Eden. He therefore cursed the ground for our good.
Moreover, to the woman who sits down and does but little to keep up her home, God brings the bed bugs and roaches, the mice and the rats, the flies and the ants, the lice and the fleas, and the mosquitoes, too. These will put her to working inside and out if anything will.
Were it not for the pests, what would man be! God, you see, made all these things for a good purpose but in spite of the pests’ urging sluggers to get up and start moving, still some prefer to live as pigs! Why wait until He sends His great army of pests? Why not take His counsel, keep busy, and do what you can to make others happy, to make the world better than it is, to let it know that you are in it to do it good, not to be burden upon it? Then the angels will delight to encamp round about you, and the Lord Himself will come and sup with you.
If we make God’s business our business, His kingdom our home, then all the other things which we are striving for and worrying about will be supplied to us in great abundance. Let us, then, no longer be Christians outwardly and Gentiles at heart, but rather let us be without “guile in our mouths” and with “palms in our hands.”
Why did mankind have to wait six thousand years before he could return to Eden? – Because it takes that long to get a large enough number of repentant prodigals, prodigals who have come to themselves, who realize that it is better to be a door keeper in the Father’s home than to be sunk in so-called fun away from His home. God is not taking any of us back into Eden in the state of mind we were born with. No, no more than He took Adam back into Eden in his fallen state. All must come to themselves. “…Affliction shall not rise up the second time.” Nah. 1:9.
Now we can see why it is easier for a camel to go through the needle’s eye than it is for a rich man to get into the Kingdom. Only the prodigals who through experience realize that this world is not their Father’s house, only those who start back to Eden with the same kind of mind and with the same kind of confession as that of the prodigal are to make up the Kingdom.
Moreover, when the children of Israel went into the land of Egypt, they made a fine living in Goshen. They lived like kings. Yes, they had even much better living than the best of the Egyptians. God knew, though, that if when the time neared for their deliverance they continued to live like kings, if everything continued to be as easy for them as it had been while Joseph was living, they never, never would make up their minds to go back to the promised land. So it was that Providential trying circumstances were brought to cause them to cry day and night for deliverance. Then they were ready to go. To make sure, though, that they all would leave Egypt, the Lord permitted the Egyptian taskmasters to lash their backs and to make their labor extra hard while Moses was in the land. Likewise must the love of the world be beaten out of us, too, if we are ever to start out for our Eden home.
If you boys and girls want to have riotous living, you can have it. Indeed, there is more to be had today than there was to be had in the days of the original prodigal. But remember that if you ever get back to our Eden home you must pay the same price he paid. There is to be no free ticket for any, old or young.
Eccles. 4:5 – “The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.”
The fool folds his hands together; he despises work. He eats his own flesh: Rather than work, he will even stay hungry, causing his stomach to draw on his reserve fat, and thus be becomes steadily thinner. Who wants to be a fool?
Eccles. 7:2 – “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men: and the living will lay it to his heart.”
The house of feasting brings the end of all men who live for fun, for riotous living. “The living will lay it to his heart.” Those, then, who do not lay it to heart are not really living, and they need to be revived.
Verse 3 – “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.”
If you indulge in “fun,” then your heart will someday be made sad, but if your heart is sad, it will be made glad. Only a fool chooses to be in the house of mirth. As for me, I would rather be in the house of mourning, “suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” Heb. 11:25.
There were two men who went into partnership after the Lord asked them to move into another land far from their homeland. There they became rich. In fact, they became so rich that they had to separate into two companies.
The one who chose to live in the hills, who chose to make his living the hard way, proved to be the wiser. But the one who chose to live in the plains, where he could make an easy living, proved to be exceedingly foolish. The latter was the younger, too, you know. He pitched his tent toward Sodom, and the longer he looked at the city, the closer he drew to it. Finally he decided to move his tent right into it where he could see it all with ease.
He became a great man, perhaps the mayor of the city as some think, and that thus it was there he sat at the gate of Sodom. Most likely, though, he sat there waiting for strangers to invite home. True, Lot’s family had exciting, riotous living among the Sodomites, but the fun did not last forever, and Lot overnight lost everything he ever possessed; he came out the poorest of the poor. Lot, you see paid high for his fun, and if you want to pay such a price for your fun, you may do as he did.
The man from whose writings we are now reading was and still is, you know, the wisest man the world has ever had. Now, what did he say the fool does? – The fool goes into the house of mirth. Do you want to profit by the experience of others? Do you want to take the wise man’s counsel? If you do, then wisdom rests with you.
Eccles. 10:18 – “By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.”
The slothful man’s house decays, his house rots before he even has it finished, or before he has it repaired. He is late in everything – a bad habit for one to get into. When you drive out into the country, along the roadside you will notice that the houses which are badly run down and unkempt, are the houses of those whom you see on the porches rocking away time when they should be working. But you will hardly see anyone sitting idle around the houses that are well cared for. If you see people at all, you will see them doing something. What are you doing, Brother, Sister? – Do you know the way back to Eden? Let us again turn to Ecclesiastes.
Eccles. 3:17 – “I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.”
God is to judge the wicked and the righteous, because there is a time for every purpose and every work. Everyone is to give an account for his time as well as for his deeds.
Eccles 8:6 – “Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.”
Because there is a time for every purpose and every work, there is therefore to be a time of judgment for both in the church and in the world. And because there is a time and a season for every purpose, the misery of man is increased if he does not heed this Divine law. He must do everything on time, lest his miseries increase.
Prov. 6:6 – “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.”
The man, a student; the little ant a teacher! What a humiliating statement against the idler!
Verses 7, 8 – “Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.”
The ant knows what to do and when to do it and does it. It never fails to make a living though it has no boss. Were you to go down into its house, you would find provisions for more than the season requires. It knows when harvest comes, and knows how to make the most of it. If a man fails to do as the ant, if he fails to take notice of the time and of the season, then his miseries shall certainly increase.
Had this counsel come from men, we would perhaps not need it; but it came from God, from Him Who has control of everything. He knows your life from the time you are born to the time you die. He knows what kind of life you are to go through. You may cause yourself to have to go the prodigal’s way, but how much better if you do not. The best for you is to go the Father’s way.
Ever remember that there are only two master minds in the world – the mind of God and the mind of Satan. We, as sinners, are born with the mind of Satan, and it stays with us until we are born again, born of the Spirit and with the mind of God. To do right, then, we must do the opposite of what our natural minds tell us, and we shall then be doing what the mind of God is striving to make us do.
The young people know what you adults are doing. They know how much you think about God and His Kingdom. They know how much you think of this place and of His work. Since they know all that, and much more, then it is time for all of us to realize that we cannot lead the children closer to God’s objectives than we ourselves are; we cannot inspire in them faith and zeal in anything while we ourselves do not have it.
I do hope that those who are headed for the prodigal’s way, may come to themselves before a miserable experience comes to them.
Thus is the way back to Eden clearly charted for everyone that comes into this world.