THE LAODICEANS PERISH WITHOUT THE “MESSAGE TO THE LAODICEANS”
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF,
MINISTER OF D. SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS
SABBATH, DECEMBER 27, 1947
MT. CARMEL CHAPEL
Rev. 3:15-17 – I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
“What greater deception can come upon human minds than a confidence that they are right, when they are all wrong! The message of the True Witness finds the people of God in a sad deception, yet honest in that deception. They know not that their condition is deplorable in the sight of God. While those addressed are flattering themselves that they are in an exalted spiritual condition, the message of the True Witness breaks their security by the startling denunciation of their true condition of spiritual blindness, poverty, and wretchedness. The testimony, so cutting and severe, cannot be a mistake, for it is the True Witness who speaks, and his testimony must be correct.” – Testimonies, Vol. 3, pp. 252-253.
When people are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked as are the Laodiceans, and do not know it, then the only title that can be given them is “Deceived,” yet ironically the Laodiceans are the people most fearful of being deceived! They think themselves in need of nothing, although the Lord Himself says that they are in need of everything. They think themselves rich and increased with goods. What goods? – Not money, I am sure, for right along we hear them calling for money, even begging for it.
It is with supposedly sufficient Bible Truth that they are satisfied. They are confident that they have all the revealed Truth they need to take them through to the Kingdom. This is their great deception. They do not know their great need of Truth now while the Church is about to enter upon the final phase of her work. They do not realize that this next phase of the Church’s work cannot be carried on with her old phase of Truth. The Church now can no more do without the additional message (Early Writings, pg. 277) than could she at the closing of the Old Testament era have entered the Christian dispensation with the Old Testament ceremonial Truth isolated from the Gospel.
But, sad to say, to speak to the Laodiceans of more Truth than what they already have is to incur their greatest displeasure: and the idea that they need no more Truth, that they have it all, and that someone is always trying to deceive them, has been drilled into them as deeply as it can be drilled. This has made them prejudiced and suspicious of everyone who dares approach them with something new. This is what puts them in as bad a position as the Jews of old. Plain it is that if the Laodiceans choose thus to remain lukewarm, satisfied in their deception, they shall be spued out and forever left without hope.
Rev. 3:18 – I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
The gold tried in the fire obviously represents inspired Truth for this time, the only truth that saves, the only kind God would sell. And what can be the white raiment which the True Witness urges them to buy, if not the righteousness of Christ?
And what must one do to obtain these? – We shall find the answer in–
Mic. 6:5 – O My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the Lord.
Here we are admonished to remember Balak’s question and Balaam’s answer if we would know the righteousness of the Lord. Let us turn to–
Num. 24:17-24 – I shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come He that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city. And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever. And he looked on the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock. Nevertheless the Kenite shall be wasted, until Asshur shall carry thee away captive. And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this! And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever.
Obviously this is a prophecy of Christ having taken “the reins in His own hands.” Testimonies to Ministers, pg. 300. Such is His Righteousness that we are urged to know. Concretely speaking, knowing the righteousness of Christ is knowing whole-heartedly that in the latter days He is to take the Scepter, that He is to reign; that at the outset He is to smite the “corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth”; that Edom and Seir shall be a possession for His enemies; that Israel shall do valiantly; that He shall have dominion, and so on. According to Scripture, this is our righteousness of Christ if we know it. And he who realizes that the reign of Christ and His kingdom is not something intangible, not something imaginary floating in space, as it were, somewhere across hell, but a real thing, as real as any of the kingdoms today, will immediately inquire, as did the Apostle Paul, “What wilt Thou have me to do Lord?” This we shall again see from the prophecy of Micah–
Mic. 6:6, 7 – Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
This inquiry by the people in the unfolding of this scripture reveals what they think would be most pleasing to the Lord. They think a gift of some kind from material things is perhaps the most acceptable gift they can offer for the remission of their sins. We with our own eyes actually see this very thing throughout our churches. This same condition obtained in the days of Christ’s first advent: The Jews were very particular about paying tithe even on the minutest item of income, on such as mint, anise, and cummin, but they omitted “the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” Matt. 23:23. Honest tithing was to their credit, said the Lord, but tithing should never replace judgment, mercy, and faith. This same answer comes to us today through the prophet Micah:
Micah 6:8 – He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Once having caught the vision of the great need for revival and reformation, God’s people are willing to do almost anything, even to sacrificing their first-born.
For further information Inspiration advises–
Verse 9 – …Hear ye the rod, and Who hath appointed it.”
These are God’s answers to the question, “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?”
Since we are asked to do “justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with [our] God,” it must be that we as a people are not practicing these things, that there is dishonesty, inconsiderateness, and pride. We are glad, though, that we are not hopelessly condemned for our iniquities, but that we are invited to give them up, to forsake them, if we expect to stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb.
Through the prophet Ezekiel we are shown wherein we abuse the gift of mercy and justice:
Ezek. 34:21, 22, 31 – Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; therefore will I save My flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle…. And ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God.
The diseased, the weak, are of course those who are less influential, and for one reason or another are unable to hold their own. These are pushed and horned out by the stronger, the unjust and unmerciful class, the class who control the work. This class is nevertheless eventually to be judged.
There is but one safe course to pursue if we would find favor with the Lord, and that course is out lined by the prophet Isaiah:
Isa. 7:21, 22 – And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep; and it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give that he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.
Imagine one cow and two sheep supplying with butter and honey all who are left in the land! Since a literal cow and two sheep could not possibly do this, we must agree that they are symbolical of something which is not only capable of producing an abundance of milk, but is able also to preserve the lives of its patrons.
There is but one thing that consists of three such parts (two sheep and a young cow) that is capable of keeping the world alive, and that is the Bible – unfolded by the Spirit of Prophecy, the Spirit that leads into all Truth. The two sheep, not being young, and two of a kind, must be symbolical of the Bible Itself, both Old and New Testaments. The cow being young and larger in size, is obviously symbolical of something of later origin, and more voluminous than the Bible itself. Hence it is none other than the published works of the everliving Spirit of Prophecy – the inspired interpretation of the Scriptures.
Those that are left in the land, therefore, when Christ takes His scepter to reign, are those who live on the butter and honey which only the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy can supply. All others are to perish with the modern Edomites and Moabites.
In the same symbolical prophecy we are shown that Christ Himself learned the difference between right and wrong by studying the Scriptures:
Isa. 7:14, 15 – Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
No one would deny, as mentioned in our last week’s study, that this is a prophecy of Christ’s first advent. And as we have the record that His diet was not of dairy butter and of bee honey, not restricted as was John the Baptist’s, also by the fact that no literal butter and honey has the efficacy of compelling anyone to choose the good and to refuse the evil, it all proves that the “butter and honey” are symbolical of the Word of God, that Christ Himself learned from the Scriptures to choose the good and to refuse the evil.
Here you see that one needs a daily supply of spiritual butter and honey if he is to sustain his spiritual life. That is, yesterday’s meal could not take the place of the meal today – no, no more than Noah’s inspired message for his day, can take the place of the inspired message of the Kingdom today.
Only the Heaven-sent message for today can save the people of today. This is just as real and as true and as logical as it is to say that the living cannot be judged with the message of the judgment of the Dead. Yes, “blessed is that…faithful and wise servant, whom His Lord hath made ruler over His household, to give them meat in due season.” Matt. 24:45, 46.
To further realize that we need to study in order to recognize the abominations that surround us, and to know how to avoid them, I shall read from Testimonies to Ministers, pg. 445:
“This sealing of the servants of God [the 144,000] is the same that was shown to Ezekiel in vision. John also had been a witness of this most startling revelation.”
Ezek. 9:4-6 – And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others He said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.
When the day approaches for this scripture to be fulfilled, then its truth must be the “meat in due season” for the people at that time. Nothing else can take its place. And so we see that as Nineveh was spared by the message to it, so the Laodiceans can only be saved by the “Message to the Laodiceans.”
From the following we see that the message to the Laodiceans is to bear fruit, that many will learn to choose the good and to refuse the evil:
“In the time when his wrath shall go forth in judgments, these humble, devoted followers of Christ will be distinguished from the rest of the world by their soul-anguish, which is expressed in lamentation and weeping, reproofs and warnings. While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God’s honor and a love for souls, will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any. Their righteous souls are vexed day by day with the unholy works and conversation of the unrighteous. They are powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity, and hence they are filled with grief and alarm. They mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church.” – Testimonies, Vol. 5, pg. 210.
Since we now clearly see that the Laodiceans perish without the message to the Laodiceans, we should hold fast to the Truth for this time, and win our crown of life, and in addition to it we shall be credited with a good harvest of souls and with the commendation “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Matt. 25:23.