TEXT FOR PRAYER
Faith And Prayer
“Through faith in Christ, every deficiency of character may be supplied, every defilement cleansed, every fault corrected, every excellence developed.
‘Ye are complete in Him.’
“Prayer and faith are closely allied, and they need to be studied together. In the prayer of faith there is a divine science; it is a science that every one who would make his life work a success must understand. Christ says, ‘What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.’ He makes it plain that our asking must be according to God’s will; we must ask for the things that He has promised, and whatever we receive must be used in doing His will. The conditions met, the promise is unequivocal.
“For the pardon of sin, for the Holy Spirit, for a Christlike temper for wisdom and strength to do His work, for any gift He has promised, we may ask; then we are to believe that we receive, and return thanks to God that we have received.
“We need look for no outward evidence of the blessing. The gift is in the promise, and we may go about our work assured that what God has promised he is able to perform, and that the gift, which we already possess, will be realized when we need it most.” – Education, pp. 257, 258.
True Christianity is a growth. It is plant-like. Christ Himself is represented as a Branch (Isa. 11:1), and His kingdom as a mustard seed (Matt. 13:31, 32) which after it is planted becomes a tree, the greatest of its kind. But since the literal tree must necessarily feed on physical food, likewise the spiritual tree must necessarily feed on spiritual food, on such as the Branch Itself was fed:
“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.” Isa. 7:14, 15.
Surely all of us agree that this passage of Scripture is a forecast of the Emmanuel of Matthew 1:23 – Christ at His first advent. The fact, however, that Christ ate all manner of lawful food, and was even accused of being a “gluttonous man, and a winebibber” (Luke 7:34), eating with “publicans and sinners” (Mark 2:16), makes it transparently clear that this diet of “butter and honey” is not literal. Moreover, the fact that butter and honey possess absolutely no virtue to endue one with wisdom and will to choose the good and to refuse the evil, no, no more than do other articles of food, shows conclusively that this “butter and honey” are figurative of something special, just as the fly and the bee of Isaiah 7:18 are figurative of Egypt and Assyria. And of what else could it be but of spiritual food, the kind that builds up moral character, that makes one “refuse the evil, and choose the good?” And from what source other than the Scriptures could such food come? And what else, moreover, could the honey represent but the sweet Spirit of God that blesses everyone’s sincere study of and simple faith in the Word?
Manifestly, therefore, this butter-and-honey symbolism infallibly tells us that Immanuel, Christ, was enabled to discern and to overcome sin by His study of the Bible – by digesting Its contents and allowing them to become a part of Him. This was His sweetest delight, as the symbolical honey reveals. Thus it was that “He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of” (John 4:32), and, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matt. 4:4.
Accordingly, the truth is evident that Christianity is a spiritual plant, feeding on the Word of God as unfolded by the sweet Spirit of Truth. Consequently if Christ our Examplar thuswise “increased in wisdom…, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52), then it is even more essential that we, His followers, live on the same Word, on the same butter and honey, if we are to possess true, life-sustaining, life-preserving Christianity. Indeed we are told precisely that in the next verses of Isaiah’s prophecy:
“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 he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.” Isa. 7:21, 22.
In these verses Inspiration directs our attention to three butter-producing creatures – two sheep and a young cow, and forewarns that only those who eat of their products will have the right to live in “the land” – in the land of God’s people. None others, no, not another one, will be there.
Since, therefore, only those who eat of the butter, those who thus learn to refuse the evil and to choose the good, are to be permitted to live in the holy land, all the more obvious it is that the butter is figurative of spiritual food. And since its source of supply is the two sheep and the young cow, it is of absolute necessity that we explore in the realm of this Bible symbolism to find what they are.
The two sheep, of a kind and not young, are manifestly symbolical of the Old and New Testaments, the Word, which enables its recipients to “choose the good and to refuse the evil.” And the cow being young, and therefore of later origin than the sheep, and its also being of larger size than they, it can accordingly only be figurative of inspired writings of later origin and of greater volume than the Bible Itself. The only such besides the Bible are those which bring to us “the testimony of Jesus:….for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy” (Rev. 19:10) – the inspired interpretation of the Scriptures.
It is also to be noted that this butter and this honey are produced in the Christian era, in the time when both sheep, both Testaments, are in existence, and also in the time when the Spirit of Prophecy is at work.
And what is the Spirit of prophecy? – The same chapter and verse give the answer:
“And I fell at his feet,” at the feet of the one who unfolded the prophecy to John, “to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Rev. 19:10.
Here it is seen that as the prophecies were unfolded to John by one of his brethren, thereby was revealed to him the Testimony of Jesus, the Spirit of Prophecy. Plainly, then, an inspired servant of God who bears a message to his brethren, bears the Testimony of Jesus to them. To illustrate: Suppose the Lord Jesus communicated a personal message to you by a messenger, would not His message be His testimony to you? And should God endow the messenger with the gift of His Spirit to unfold to you the prophecies which are in the Scriptures, would he not be coming to you with the Spirit of Prophecy?
Thus it is clear that the “Testimony of Jesus” and “the Spirit of Prophecy” are synonymous terms for a timely message sent from God – “meat in due season.” The Spirit of prophecy, therefore, is God’s means of communicating from Heaven directly to His church on earth, as well as of unfolding the sealed prophecies to her.
As we have already seen that the two sheep are symbolical of the Old and New Testaments, we now see also that the “young cow” is symbolical of the inspired interpretations of the Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy in our day. It is now obvious that the product of these three creatures necessarily must become our spiritual diet if we expect to be “left” and permitted to live in the Holy Land, and that there is no use of our thinking to abide the judgment in some other way. And if there remain any doubt about this, then consider please what the Apostle Peter says on the subject:
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Pet. 1:19-21.
Did you mark what Inspiration says? It plainly declares that the Scriptures are not privately interpreted – not without the Spirit of God in the man, not by the man alone, and not without God’s own appointment. And the reason given, you note, is the very fact that prophecy did not come by the will of man, but by the will of the Spirit, through “holy men of God.” This, brethren, is Heaven’s law and order. And who are we to change it? To put your trust in private interpretation is therefore to barter your soul to man. Concerning such a perilous practice, the Lord commands:
“Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” Isa. 2:22.
As revealed truth is unfolded only by the Spirit of Truth at a given time, then for one to reject such revelation, “meat in due season” (Matt. 24:45), is indeed to sin “against the Holy Ghost.” Matt. 12:31.
Since it now is clear as sunlight that the ever-unfolding, Inspired interpretation of the Scriptures is the ever-living Spirit of Prophecy, the eyes of the church at work (1 Sam. 9:9), then to be without these spiritual eyes is to try to walk, as it were, in dense darkness.
The science of the process finds close analogy in that of the universally used electric current. Electricity goes into action only when the live wire (the positive) comes in contact with the ground wire (the negative). So it is that the church’s contact with God’s chosen instrument (the ground wire) fused to the Spirit of God (the live wire) – which together represent the positive and the negative – is what electrifies the church, and thus opens the line of communication between the church and Heaven.
In the logic of this illustration, it follows that Jesus Christ is the great dynamo, and the Father the power thereof. When, therefore, the whole church, not a member excluded, connects herself with Heaven’s Power House, then the earth will be lightened with the glory of the angel (Rev. 18:1). (For this very reason the “laying on the hands” is the Biblical method of transmitting the Spirit of God from one person to another.) Consequently a church not having this vital connection with Heaven is a spiritually dead church, one which is bound to be “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Rev. 3:17. Hence likewise is every individual who is not in contact with the church. Only this power enables the individual church member to choose the good and to refuse the evil, and to go through the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Accordingly, it is now seen anew that what is applicable to the church as a body, is applicable to the individual members of it.
The obvious conclusion from these scriptural facts is that the only people who will be spared and permitted to live in the Holy Land during the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5) are those who make it their chief business and habit to feast with delight (as the “honey” denotes) on the product of these three butter-producing creatures.
The calamity which is to befall those who refuse the butter and honey, and the deliverance which is to come to those who feed upon it, is depicted by the Revelator in another figure:
“And the earth helped the woman [church], and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood [the wicked] which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [with those that are spared], which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ….for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.” Rev. 12:16, 17; 19:10.
This passage reveals that the remnant, those who are left after the earth swallows the dragon’s flood which is now threatening to do away with the woman (the ever-living church), are the ones who as a group keep the commandments of God, and have “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” It is then, not now, that the remnant as a body truly keeps the commandments of God, still has the Spirit of prophecy in its midst, and is the remnant in fact, and no longer merely in prospect or in theory.
Since this separation of the “tares” from among the “wheat” – “the harvest” – is one and the same work with the Judgment of the living, then the only difference between the Judgment of the dead and the judgment of the living is that in the former the names of the wicked are removed from the books above, whereas in the latter the wicked are bodily swept away from among the living members of the Church. Not only the prophecies and parables here considered, but also the type (the atonement – Lev. 23:27, 29), including Early Writings, pg. 118 and Testimonies to Ministers, pg. 234, teach the same truth.
This is what the cleansing of the sanctuary (Dan. 8:14) is; this is what the antitypical atonement is (The Great Controversy, pp. 399-402; 420-422; 428-430); this is what the judgment of the living is; this is what the purification of the church is (Testimonies, Vol. 5, pg. 80). This is what brings the end of the world; and this is what restores eternity to Christianity.
Under the particular care of a never-erring “Husbandman,” Christianity, as we have already seen, is a combination of both the human and the Divine. Moreover, with the use of the spiritual butter and honey, the saints are enabled to live a fruitful and useful life even now, and thuswise they are to survive the judgments of God.
So it is that while Christ Himself learned to refuse the evil and to choose the good by the use of this butter and honey, His followers who are now making sure to be left living and to be taken to the Holy Land, will even there, we are told, feast on the product of the three aforementioned butter-producing creatures.
Here it becomes pertinent to inquire how early in the course of time did the spirit of Christianity originate:
“God, Who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, Whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds.” Heb. 1:1, 2.
This scripture reveals that Christ is not only our Saviour but our Creator as well; that He created not only our world but all other worlds too; and that He is one with the Father. It is for this reason that “God (the Father) said (to the son), let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” – Gen. 1:26. And while the Exodus Movement was afoot, all “did…drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Cor. 10:4.
Clearly, then, since the personality now called Christ, has been with God’s people even from the dawn of history, during Old as well as New Testament times, Christianity on earth identifies Itself with the beginning of creation.
So Christianity which began with creation, Christ points out, is to the world what the hen is to her little chicks: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Matt. 23:37, 38.
Christianity, moreover, is like a mother, “for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” Isa. 66:8.
Christianity, furthermore, is like a father, “for I know him,” says the Lord, “that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.” Gen. 18:19.
Christianity, still further, is like a water well, for “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him,” said Christ, “shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14.
Christianity is also like salt, for “Ye are the salt of the earth:” declared Christ, “but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Matt. 5:13.
Christianity, again, is likewise like unto a good home: “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Isa. 54:11-13.
Most essentially, Christianity is love: “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.” Eph. 5:2.
“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Matt. 22:39. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
In addition, Christianity is like the wind: no one except God and the “born again” know either whence they come or where they go, for “the wind christianity bloweth where it listeth, and thou the not-born again hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so imperceptible to the unborn again is every one that is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8.
Accordingly, it is impossible for the non-Christian to know what real Christianity is. For this very reason the Scriptures emphatically warn: “…but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand.” Dan. 12:10. Let the sinner, therefore, renounce his sin, pray for the Spirit of Truth, and then understanding will come to him. “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon Him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isa. 55:6-9.
But Christianity is still more than all these. It is bread for the hungry, a home for the outcast, a wardrobe for the naked, a physician and an inn for the sick. In short, it is everything to everybody in the household of God. And here is the challenge to its adherents:
“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” Isa. 58:7.
This challenge, Brother, Sister, cannot be met unless all wisely help in whatsoever capacity possible, remembering that no effort but that which demands a sacrifice, is rewarded. Because she gave her all, her living, the poor widow’s (Mark 12:41-44) two mites did more than the dollars of the rich could ever do. Too, the widow of Serepta, used her last drop of oil and her last scoop of flour to feed the prophet of God, with no hope of ever getting more, but with only the prospect of starving, not sparing even her own son. To the contrary, though, her cruse of oil and her sack of flour never went empty (1 Kings 17:12, 15, 16), and she and her son lived on.
Abraham became the father of the faithful and a friend of God because he offered on the sacrificial altar his best and his all – his only son (Gen. 22:1-13).
In his day, Joseph became the world’s saviour, and second only to Pharaoh, because for chastity’s sake he sacrificed his masterly position for a prison cell (Gen. 39:7-20).
Moses became the greatest emancipator and general of all time because he sacrificed the greatest throne in his day for the freedom of his brethren (Heb. 11:24, 25; Ex. 3:10).
Job’s possessions and family were doubled because he patiently bore his afflictions in honor of God (Job 42:10).
Samuel became prophet, priest, and judge because of his faithfulness to his Divinely-appointed master, Eli (1 Sam. 2:18; 3:18; 7:6).
Elijah was translated for choosing to be a fugitive for Reformation’s sake (2 Kings 2:1, 11).
Elisha was given a double portion of the Spirit of God, for burning all the bridges behind him in his stepping into the prophetic office to which he was called. Yes, he made it impossible for himself to go back to farming. Moreover, he faithfully ministered to Elijah night and day, and kept an eye on him until the “flying saucer” alighted to pick him up, and until he disappeared from sight (2 Kings 2:9-15).
David was made a king for risking his own life to save the life of God’s people (1 Sam. 19:5; 2 Sam. 2:4).
Solomon became the wisest and the richest of all kings, for choosing above all else the gift of wisdom to judge God’s people righteously (1 Kings 3:11-13).
The Apostles were rewarded in having their names engraved on the foundations of the Holy and Eternal City, because they counted not their lives dear for the gospel’s sake (Rev. 21:14).
Luther became the father of Protestantism, for esteeming the Reformation of greater importance than his own life.
Henry Ford became the richest man in the world in his time, for trying to do for labor and for the poorer masses of the world more than did all his competitors.
Thus rises the great pyramid of historical fact that the men who have made the greatest success of life are those whose efforts have been centered, not in selfish interests, but in blessing others. No one has as yet been able to change this law. Why should we, then, play the fool by trying to change it? Whatsoever your aim in life may be, if you want success, then let your efforts be directed for the good of humanity rather than for the good of self. Christ’s own admonition is: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matt. 6:33.
Brother, Sister, no longer be heathen or Gentile; be Christian through and through. Be not like the self-centered, the proud, and the worldly-minded, for the competitive way ends in fool’s paradise. It is the highway to hell. Shun it. Ponder the terrible pronouncement against the greedy shepherds of the day (Ezek. 34).
And now, turning back to Isaiah 58, we find that when Christianity fully awakes to this great necessity and does something about it, “then,” promises the Lord, “shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; 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 noon day: 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.” Isa. 58:8-11.
Now the manifest truth is that if time should last, and if we are to stay in the pathway of true Christianity where the light shines, then all must do something about this badly neglected work of caring for the needy, for it cannot be accomplished from one central location, but must necessarily be localized to every state and country wherever the message of the hour takes “root downward and bears fruit upward.” Isa. 37:31.
“Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me.” Matt. 25:34-36.
Our duty, though, is to heed not only this injunction, but all that Inspiration has set before us. All of it must become a part of our beings, as does the food we eat, if we are to enjoy all God promises, and to become heirs of the Kingdom eternal. This is the bright side of the picture.
But, sadly, there is also the dark side. Close up in the foreground is the patriarch Lot. His selfishly choosing for himself all the fertile land of the plain, and leaving the barren hills for his elderly uncle, Abraham, did not yield him the fruit he expected. Even though he prospered for a while, yet when he was finally through with Sodom, he went out the poorest of the poor (Gen. 19:15-17).
Pharaoh and his great men, endeavoring to keep the people of God in slavery forever, were engulfed by the Red sea, and buried alive in the midst of it (Ex. 14:22, 23, 38).
For cheating Naboth out of his vineyard and for taking his life, Ahab, king of Israel, and all his household, died at the edge of the sword (1 Kings 21).
Those who cast the three Hebrews into the fiery furnace, were themselves destroyed by its flames (Dan. 3:22), just as those selfish, greedy, cruel men who threw Daniel into the lion’s den, were themselves finally devoured by the hungry beasts (Dan. 6:24).
Haman erected gallows upon which to swing Mordecai, but ended up swinging upon them himself (Esther 7:10).
For taking to himself the glory and credit for his great speech, Herod was eaten by worms (Acts 12:23).
For the price of a few paltry coins, Judas betrayed his Master unto death, and then, mocked to madness by that woeful wage, he turned upon himself the greedy and treacherous hand which took it, and therewith brought himself to an accursed and violent end and a pauper’s grave, even before Christ was nailed on the cross (Matt. 27:5; Acts 1:18).
Indeed “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.” Rev. 13:10.
Thus the immutable law of retribution still exacts an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Oh! so verily true, whatsoever one sows, that shall he also reap (Gal. 6:7).
These outstanding examples merely touch the scroll of history. Thousands of others might be added, to say nothing of the countless unrecorded ones since the dawn of time.
Thus in this all-revealing beam of Heaven’s great searchlight of truth are clearly set apart the “two ways for travelers” – the false way, pretentious and loose and broad, which the many are traveling unto destruction; and the true way, unpretentious and strait and narrow, which the few are traveling unto life. With both ways now standing flooded with light from beginning to end, the traveler is able to see the entire length of each way, and therefore to know what to expect by traveling the one or the other. Why not, then, choose to go the way which leads to life, security, and happiness, and forever shun the one which leads to sorrow, poverty, and death? Why longer fool oneself in venturing to obtain God’s faithful promises by running from a lo here to a lo there, from this quack to that one? Why not go after life’s blessings in God’s way? Of course all God’s ways are contrary to man’s, but if they were not, how much better would they be than our own? “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.” Isa. 55:8.
Finally, matured Christianity is the image of God, in His people when they are full-grown; – when they are gathered one by one out of all nations and brought into “their own land” (Ezek. 34:11-13); where and when their blood is cleansed, their stony hearts taken from them, and hearts of flesh with the law of God engraved thereon are given them in victorious and jubilant exchange; when they all know and serve the Lord; for declares the scripture: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.” Ezek. 36:26, 27. Thus it is they are then and there made ready for translation.
Which now will it be with us – the way glorious or inglorious, of serving God and others, or Satan and self? To serve God and mankind is noble, but to serve Satan and self is base. Shall we not, then, gladly choose to feast on God’s butter and honey so that we may know the difference between good and evil, and learn to choose the good and to refuse the evil? Shall we choose to be spared from destruction, and to be taken to “the glorious land”? God forbid that any turn down His most gracious invitation. It is now up to each to either take hold of or to miss what Christianity has for him. I plead with you to make it your chief business to obtain the promised blessings, that you may escape the destruction of the wicked, of the unbelieving and doubting, and be “left” forever to enjoy the promise:
“And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:… And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain…. For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody…. Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” Isa. 4:3, 6; 51:3, 11.