TEXT FOR PRAYER
The Broad Way Is A Deception
I shall read from “The Mount of Blessing,” beginning on page 199, with the first paragraph–
“But the way to life is narrow; and the entrance strait. If you cling to any besetting sin, you will find the way too narrow for you to enter. Your own ways, your own will, your evil habits and practices, must be given up if you would keep the way of the Lord…. All along the road that leads to death there are pains and penalties, there are sorrows and disappointments, there are warnings not to go on…. It is true that Satan’s path is made to appear attractive, but it is all a deception; in the way of evil there are bitter remorse and cankering care. We may think it pleasant to follow pride and worldly ambition; but the end is pain and sorrow. Selfish plans may present flattering promises, and hold out the hope of enjoyment; but we shall find that our happiness is poisoned, and our life embittered by hopes that center in self….”
We need to pray this afternoon for a realization that with our sins we cannot enter the Highway of Holiness (Isa. 35:8- 10). No, not with our evil habits and practices. These must be discarded if our ultimate end is to be in Paradise. We need to know that though the broad way appears flowery, it is only a camouflage. It appears strewn with roses, but underneath are thorns – sorrows, pains and disappointments of all kinds. We are to pray that we get a vision of the necessity to depart from the highway on which the born after the flesh travel and get on the highway which the born after the spirit travel.
Our subject for this afternoon is found in Isaiah, chapter 52. We shall begin with the first verse.
Isa. 52:1 – “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.”
At the time this awakening call goes forth throughout the land, Inspiration announces that the harvest time has arrived for the angels to put out and to keep out of Zion and Jerusalem the uncircumcised and the unclean, a work which Inspiration variously entitles: (1) cleansing of the sanctuary (Dan. 8:14), (2) purify the sons of Levi (Mal. 3:1-3), (3) purification of the church (“Testimonies,” Vol. 5, pg. 80), (4) Judgment in the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17), (5) harvest (Matt. 13:30), casting out the bad fish from among the good fish (Matt. 13:47, 48), separating the sheep from the goats, – the Judgment for the Living.
The sinners, we know, have always been and are still among God’s people. That the fulfillment of this Scripture, therefore, is in the very near future, is shown from the fact that the truth of this chapter is now unsealed and carried to the church, endeavoring to awaken the people of God and to impress them with the fact that soon the harvest will commence – first separating the firstfruits, the 144,000 from “the house of God,” then to be followed by the second fruits from all nations (Rev. 7:9); the scripture also shows that the sinners will no longer walk with the saints and that the harvest ends the world (Matt. 13:39). Stop, think, and read over again Isaiah fifty-one and fifty-two. Do not pass hastily over this life and death subject.
Who is the Lord calling to awake? – Zion and Jerusalem. Why not the house of Judah, the house of Israel, or some other? Who is Zion? and who is Jerusalem? Here are the answers: In Isaiah’s time Jerusalem was the capital city of the kingdom of Judah, and on Zion stood the palace of the kings. And what could they antitypically represent? – Comparatively speaking, “Capital Hill,” the nation’s executive mansion of the United States (“the Whitehouse”), we might call the Zion of the United States; and the capital city of the nation, Washington D.C., we might call the Jerusalem of the United States.
The Lord, however, is not addressing the United States, and as Zion and Jerusalem are in this instance personified, their counterparts therefore are as follows: The General Conference, the “Capital” of the denomination must be the Zion of today; and the local conferences, the under-rulers, must be the Jerusalem of today. Who, then, is asleep and is being called to “Awake?” – The General Conference and the local conferences, – the executive branches of the denomination! And if they were not asleep, why would Inspiration be calling them to “awake?” Moreover is it not true that they are blind to these scriptures? They treat them as if they were not in the Bible at all. Does it not look to you that their preaching of having the whole Truth, the last message, of being in need of nothing more, is but self-deception? Is not the message of the Judgment for the Living the last instead of the Judgment for the Dead? And is not the former ever so much more important than the latter?
The statement, “Put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem,” plainly shows that Zion is weak, and that Jerusalem is either naked or clothed with filthy, ugly garments. Now to transpose these terms from their figurative setting to the actual, what could “strength” stand for if not for faith in the fulfillment of these prophecies? The Master said that without faith you can do nothing, but with it you can remove mountains. Faith, therefore, is what Zion and Jerusalem need today. Faith itself is as invisible as air, but when put into action it can remove even greater obstacles than air can remove when it is put into action. Though we cannot see wind, we can feel it and see the results of its power. So it is with faith.
Next to consider are the garments. The garment of a person is the first thing that attracts the eye. The “beautiful garment,” therefore, must represent something which transforms the appearance of the wearer from being spiritually ugly and filthy in appearance to being spiritually beautiful and admirable. What then, can it represent other than true Christian character, – goodness, love, mercy, and justice, – that which is visible and which makes a person likeable and truly a respectable Christian.
The “strength” and the “garment,” together, therefore, are nothing less than the righteousness of Christ – faith’s action and its results. These are the prerequisites which Zion and Jerusalem of today need.
These they need now because “henceforth…the uncircumcised and the unclean” – the unbelieving and the unforgiven sinners, those who do not have the “beautiful garment” on, shall be bound in bundles for the fire, no more to be found among the saints.
Verse 2 – “Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.”
Zion and Jerusalem of today are not only naked, but they are filthy: they lie down in the dust, as it were, are still in captivity and do not even know it! And so the daughters of Zion and Jerusalem, the denomination as a whole, is asked to arise from the dust, and to sit on her throne, to free herself from the yoke of her captivity, the bands of her neck. She needs to realize that the day of her redemption is now here, and that she is now to be made free, never again to be ruled by men.
Verse 3 – “For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.”
As this verse needs no comment, let us proceed with–
Verses 4, 5 – “For thus saith the Lord God, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that My people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord; and My name continually every day is blasphemed.”
These verses remind Zion and Jerusalem of today that they are oppressing the laity no less than the Egyptian masters and the Assyrian lords oppressed the children of Israel. They make God’s people howl, and thus they blaspheme His name and keep His people from coming in contact with God’s Truth for this time.
Verse 6 – “Therefore My people shall know My name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am He that doth speak: behold, it is I.”
Because God’s people are mis-ruled, mislead, and abused, and His name blasphemed, He declares that He will not leave them in ignorance: He promises that regardless how hard the carnal rulers of unsifted Zion and Jerusalem try to keep the people in ignorance of this sifting message, He will, in spite of it, cause His people to hear and to know that it is He speaking, not an enemy as they are told.
What does God think of this message and of His messengers? Let us read–
Verse 7 – “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”
What better tidings than these would a people want while in their captivity? If this message, the Kingdom of God (the church purified), is not a message of peace and security, then tell us what Inspiration means by saying that the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the calf and the lion, shall lie down together, “and a little child shall lead them.” “And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.” Isa. 11:6; 33:24.
Verse 8 – “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.”
All God’s servants shall together, and with joy, exalt His message (the Voice), because when the Lord again brings Zion they shall see eye to eye. What a difference between Zion’s watchmen of tomorrow, and her watchmen of today among whom hardly two actually see eye to eye! “Only those who have withstood temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming it [the Third Angel’s Message] when it shall have swelled into the Loud Cry.” – “Review and Herald,” Nov. 19, 1908.
Verses 9, 10 – “Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”
When these things take place, then all the earth shall see the salvation of our God. But now let us hear His counsel as to what He would have us do:
Verse 11 – “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.”
Those who bear God’s Truth must be clean; they must be freed from every cord that binds them to the things of this world.
Verse 12 – “For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.”
Our going into the land of our fathers, we are here told, is not to be in fearful haste or flight, because the Lord Himself shall go before us, and He shall be behind us.
Verses 13, 14 – “Behold, My servant shall deal prudently, He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.”
These verses, as you know, have long been applied to the Lord. He nevertheless, does not do all these things personally, but He does them through His messengers. Now note, in verse 13 we are told that the Lord is greatly exalted, whereas in verse 14 we are told His visage was marred and His form more than the sons of men. “He hath no form nor comeliness;…no beauty that we should desire Him.” Isa. 53:2. Why? – The only answer that can be given to the question, is this: God knows that the people’s sinful nature urges them to make idols of men. They easily fall for men who can put forth a good front. They act as though they were baptized in the names of these modern Pauls and Apolloes. They are followers of pride and pomp rather than followers of God and His progressive Truth. To break them away from this folly, God sends His Truth through unsuspected ones. Thus contrary to their liking and expectation it is written that the Lord had no form nor comeliness; but in spite of it, He shall “be exalted and extolled, and be very high.”
Verse 15 – “So shall He sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at Him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.”
He is to sprinkle (cleanse – Ezek. 36:25) many nations. Those who will not turn away from following the pride of man will be led to fall in the ditch, so to speak. Every vain person shall drop out through the “sieve of vanity,” but the followers of Truth and righteousness shall live forever. None of these things have ever been told to any. It is, therefore, very important to stop, watch, and listen, to diligently follow Truth Itself. Know that the vain make display of themselves, of their achievements, and especially of their religion. Know that they do this in order to draw the hearts of their audiences to themselves, to get a following, to exert their influence, to put something over. The Pharisees in Christ’s day were very proficient in this heart-stealing profession. They prayed on the corners of the streets to be seen by men, and thus they deceived them beyond reclamation.
“Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with His anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue as a devouring fire: and His breath [His message for today] as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.” Isa. 30:27, 28.
Ancient Israel wanted the tallest man in the land to be their king, and they got him. He would have led them into ruin, though, had it not been for the ruddy and unpretentious David who delivered them from the Philistine army and from their giant.
It is a common practice among Christians to make idols of men. This is recognized even by the ministry of other denominations. A certain minister, speaking on “Religion in Life,” told his radio audience that he stopped at a service station to refill his tank one day. While there, the attendant thought that the minister’s voice sounded familiar, and asked: “Are you the man I have been listening to every morning on the radio?” As soon as the attendant heard the minister say yes, he emphatically retorted: “I am disappointed in you; I thought I was listening to a preacher about six feet tall, weighing not less than two hundred pounds, but now I see you are only a little runt.” This practice is typical among Christians.
BRIEFLY TO SUMMARIZE OUR STUDY: We see that the time of purification of the church is at hand; that Zion (the General Conference) and Jerusalem (the local conferences) are called to “awake,” so that the daughter of Zion, the church, might be clothed with the righteousness of Christ; that she is weak; that she has not the righteousness of Christ; that the day of her redemption is now at hand; that she is to be freed from man’s rule and from hypocrisy; that Zion and Jerusalem as they are today, are no less oppressing the laity than were the Assyrian lords oppressing the children of ancient Israel; that God will not leave His people in ignorance; that they shall know it is He speaking, not an enemy as they are made to believe; that the message of the Kingdom of God is a message of comfort; that His faithful servants shall exalt His message (the Voice); that after Zion and Jerusalem awake they shall see “eye to eye,” and only those who have withstood temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will have a part in proclaiming this message in the Loud Cry (“Review and Herald,” Nov. 19, 1908); that then all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God; that God sends His Truth, not through those who are exalted and idolized by men, but through unsuspected servants; that those who do not turn from man shall fall, whereas the followers of Truth and righteousness shall live forever; that it is a sacred duty of all Truth-bearers to proclaim the message to all the brethren, for if they be not awakened now, they may sleep on forever.
In order to bring to all this unspeakable joy of God’s promises, the expectation of the ages, these studies are published and sent without charge or obligation to all who wish to have them. Send your name and address to The Universal Publishing Association, see address back cover.
Don’t Miss Out On This
If you have not already sent for your copy of the publicized and much discussed little 96-page health book (The Entering Wedge) that has made the big stir throughout the Adventist world and that has put The E. W. Society in the limelight, do not miss it if your health, home, and happiness mean something to you. In our opinion this book is the best we have ever seen on the subject. We actually feel that it is God-sent, and that a copy of it should be in every home. We are informed that you may now obtain it without the coupon. Send your name, address, and the name of the church to which you belong (you are requested to print), as noted on back cover page.