Vol. 4 Symbolic Code No. 10-12 (Texas--1938)
Oct. - Dec., 1938
MT. CARMEL CENTER
Lake Waco Texas
Lightening The Earth
THE CHURCH IN PROPHECY
As the church of today is conversant with past church history, but totally ignorant of the Divine prediction concerning herself, we, in an endeavor to enlighten her, shall set forth in this article the reason for her ignorance of the prophecies. But let us first refresh our minds by a brief review of the past before turning our attention to the future. In the following few paragraphs we shall see how completely the Lord has foretold to His church the course that she should, also the course that she would, follow, and the ultimate results in either case. Abraham, by the voice of prophecy, was informed that God had promised at some time to give him land the location of which was not then made known. Later he was told that he and his seed would sojourn in a strange land "four hundred and thirty years" before possessing the land of promise. When the fulness of this prophetic time came, even at the "self same day," Israel was led out of the land of Egypt. But because of their repeated rebellions the Lord did not see fit immediately to take them into the promised land; therefore, He made known to them that they must remain in the wilderness another forty years. At the end of this prophetic period of time, the children of Israel, by as great a miracle as when they crossed the Red Sea, crossed the Jordan and went into the land promised to them.
Neither did the Lord leave them in darkness while they were in the promised land, but rather He sent to them prophet after prophet, (2 Chron. 36:15), warning them of the consequent results that would befall them because of their depraved spiritual condition, and telling them that by their attitude toward the prophets, and by their demeanor, they were making their final decision either for or against themselves.
As they failed to turn from their evil course, the voice of prophecy declared that they were to be delivered into the hands of the Chaldeans and there to remain captive seventy years. At the close of that span of time, God, by the hand of Cyrus and Darius, the kings of Medo-Persia, again set His people free, and the kings commanded them to rebuild the temple and the holy city. (Ezra 1:1, 2). As the prophecies concerning the church were then fulfilled, God in His faithfulness, made known to His people that which was to take place within a period of "two thousand three hundred days" or years (Dan. 8:14), beginning at the time when the commandment was made to rebuild the city, and ending in 1844. Among the events that took place during that length of time were Christ's first coming and His crucifixion. (Dan. 9:26.)
Thus, these prophetic periods of time, linked one to another, carried us through history from the time of Abraham to 1844. But as we have referred to but a few of the prophecies, we might mention that there are many other prophetic events interwoven in the foregoing periods of time, such as the twelve hundred and sixty year period of Daniel 7:25, and the prophecies concerning the First-day Advent movement prior to 1844, etc., all of which shows that there has occurred nothing in church history of which the voice of prophecy has failed to speak.
As the prophecies connected with the First-day Advent movement and the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, are of greater importance to us than are any of the ethers, we shall treat of them more fully. However, as we are writing directly to Seventh-day Adventists, to explain the Scriptures with which they are already familiar is needless; therefore, we shall only refer to them and draw the lesson that God would have His people to know now.
In the tenth chapter of Revelation we read: "And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter." (Rev. 10:10.) This scripture is rightly interpreted by the denomination to be a perfectly fitting symbolic prophecy of the indescribable happiness and the crushing disappointment of the First-day Advent movement which declared prior to 1844 the truth of the "2300" day prophecy, whose followers believed what they preached, sold everything of this world's goods, and spent the proceeds for the preaching of the Gospel that others along with them might be ready for Christ's coming in the year 1844.
Hence, the thought of taking a flight through the starry heavens and entering through the pearly gates into the eternal city of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, where there is no sorrow, nor pain, nor death, was as sweet a thought to them as is honey to the taste of the tongue. Therefore, to John, the incident was symbolically represented by eating the little book--the Word of God--and by being as sweet as honey at the first. But as the set date passed into eternity, and the Lord Whom they expected to come, did not appear, they, as John, felt their inexpressible joy turn into the gall of bitterness.
Furthermore, as the verse following the one which refers to the disappointment, says, "Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings" (Rev. 10:11), it proves to be an accurate prophecy of the understanding and experience of the movement prior to 1844, for they thought that the Gospel work was then finished, and that probation had closed.
Therefore, the angel declared: "Thou must prophesy again;" that is, you have made a mistake, and now you must repeat the preaching of your message. Thus, the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, composed largely of those who had been First-day Adventists, arose to fulfill the heavenly commission while some of the First-day Adventists have maintained their own organization to this day.
Now our attention is called to the most important question: Could it be possible that the Scriptures should contain such a complete prophecy of the church to 1844 and contain none at all for her since then? All must honestly agree that to leave the church out of prophecy at any time is illogical and also impossible, for God has never left His people in darkness, and He surely would not do so now at the most important time in the world's history. Then why does the church of today know so much about the prophecies of the past and so little of the prophecies concerning her own destiny?
There are two great reasons for this mystery. The primal reason is given by the apostle Peter:
"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." (2 Peter 1:19.)
This scripture declares that prophecy is the more sure word, and that it is as a light that shines in a dark place, and that when it is understood it makes the subject so plain that its clearness is compared by Inspiration, as a "day star" in our hearts. However, the verses following say:
"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 Peter 1:20, 21); that is, had the Scriptures come by the will of man, then they could be interpreted by the will of man without the aid of the Spirit. But the fact that "holy men of God" received the Scriptures from the Spirit of God, and as it is impossible for man of himself to know the mind of the Holy Spirit, he cannot interpret the Scriptures without the Spirit's aid--he must, therefore, be inspired as verily as the ones to whom the Scriptures were given at the first.
This is attested by the fact that today we have thousands of isms which are the result of thousands of interpretations of the Scriptures, which proves that men have independently of the Spirit interpreted the Scriptures, for the Spirit of Prophecy does not, and cannot, give to one person one interpretation of scripture, and give to another another interpretation of the same scripture. Moreover since it is true that the Laodicean church does not know the prophecies concerning herself, it bears evidence that the Spirit of Prophecy is no longer active in the midst of her.
The second reason for her ignorance of "the more sure word of prophecy," is in that she esteems herself as being "rich, and increased with goods," and to "have need of nothing," whereas, the prophecies declare that she is "wretched, and miserableness, and poor, and blind, and naked:" and that she knows it not. (Rev. 3:17.) Hence, as the prophecies concerning her "wretched" spiritual condition, and the ultimate results (should she fail to acknowledge and repent of her spiritual poverty), are in direct opposition with her supposed spiritual prosperity, she only partially interprets or misinterprets, misapplies, or leaves them entirely alone.
In the following paragraph we will endeavor to prove that the church of today is repeating the mistakes which the church of the past committed. For an example, as the Pharisees of old rejected the Inspired interpretation of the Scriptures, and as they feared that the common people might see their mistakes, they killed the prophets to silence them. Consequently, they were left in spiritual darkness, and as they privately--without Inspiration--interpreted the Scriptures, they misunderstood and misapplied even the most simple portions of the Word of God, with the result that they crucified the very One for Whom they had expended millions of dollars in sacrifices, and served hundreds of years in ceremonial services.
"The little horn" of Daniel Seven is a well-defined prophecy of the Roman Hierarchy. This prophecy has been preached for many years, but the Romans have never accepted it although they have not been able to attach its fulfillment elsewhere, nor to remove the time of its application. Just as the prophecies which did not commend the deeds of the Jewish and of the Roman leaders were not understood by them, so the prophecies which point out the errors of the Protestant churches are likewise considered as great mysteries.
This lack of understanding is not because the prophecies are difficult to be understood, but because they reveal the facts which the churches are not only unwilling to admit, but also very zealous to cover up. Hence, the advocates of "the more sure word of prophecy" are met with opposition, hatred, and ridicule, while their adversaries declare that the prophecies are but sealed mysteries. Therefore, as a result, ignorance of the Scriptures prevails among the people everywhere.
Thus, while on the one hand the prophecies reveal the poverty, wretchedness, and miserableness of the church today, she on the other hand boasts of her supposed high attainments, and of being rich and increased with goods, and of having need of nothing. This prevailing condition makes impossible her interpreting correctly or accepting "the more sure word of prophecy. " Thus, she is repeating the mistakes of the Jews, the Romans, and the Protestants.
We shall now carefully compare the voice of prophecy with the voice of the church. According to the prophecies, the Seventh-day Adventist denomination was commissioned to "prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings." (Rev. 10:11.) The word "many" is a limited word--it does not mean all. Thus, the prophecy in no uncertain terms declares that the Gospel commission to the S.D.A. church does not extend to all the nations, but only to "many," showing that before the Gospel is proclaimed to all the nations, there must be another commission. This fact is attested also by the Spirit of Prophecy:
"God calls for a spiritual revival and a spiritual reformation. Unless this takes place, those who are lukewarm will continue to grow more abhorrent to the Lord, until He will refuse to acknowledge them as His children.
"A revival and a reformation must take place under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit."--"Christ Our Righteousness," p. 154. (Italics ours.)
"Clad in the armor of Christ's righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict. 'Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners,' she is to go forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer."--"Prophets and Kings," p. 725.
While the voice of prophecy on the one hand declares that there is to be a "reorganization" and then a commission for the church to go to all the nations, the voice of the church, without having any more authority for what it says than do the Sunday observers for their belief that Sunday is the correct day to keep, cries aloud that the Seventh-day Adventist organization is "going through," and the laity, as the laity of the nominal churches, do not ask for proof from "the more sure word of prophecy," but rather, blindly exclaims "amen" to the voice of man against the voice of God! At the same time, to keep them in darkness, they are told not to listen to any other voice lest they be deceived!
We as the Seventh-day Adventist denomination were commissioned to go to "many" nations, and to gather the hundred and forty-four thousand, the first fruits, as is clearly shown in Revelation 11:1, 2: "And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles."
The words "measure" and "number" are synonymous, for measuring must be accompanied by numbering. Moreover, as those who worship therein are people, they must be measured by numbering. Hence, from 1844 to the time of this prophetic "reformation and organization," is the measuring, or numbering time--the gathering of the 144,000, the first fruits, the twelve tribes, or those who worship inside the temple--whereas, "the porch that is without" is to be filled with the Gentiles--the second fruits, a great multitude which no man can number--who are to be gathered after the aforesaid reformation and reorganization is effected, just as it is stated in the Revelation. The revelator saw the 144,000 sealed and after that the great multitude. (Rev. 7:3 through 9.)
The Spirit of Prophecy declares that "only those who have withstood and overcome temptation in the strength of the Mighty One, will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming this message when it shall have swelled into the Loud Cry." (R. & H., Nov. 19, 1908.) This excerpt bears plain evidence that we are not now in the time of the Loud Cry, neither have we ever been, for the Loud Cry is to be proclaimed only by those who have overcome temptation, whereas, the message has been, and is now proclaimed by both sanctified and unsanctified ministers. Therefore, if the message in the time of the Loud Cry is to be proclaimed only by those who have overcome temptation, there must necessarily be a reformation, and it shall sift out all the unsanctified ministers. (5T p. 80; G.C. 424, 5.)
The more sure word of prophecy through the "gospel prophet" throws great light on the subject. We read:
"For by fire and by His sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many. And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard My fame, neither have seen My glory; and they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to My holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD." (Isa. 66:16, 19, 20.
The slaughter of the Lord here brought to view must take place in His church, for those who escape must be Christians, well acquainted with the Lord, otherwise they could not proclaim His fame and His glory. Moreover, as the Gentile nations will remain after the slaying takes place, and as they will be privileged to hear the Gospel, it proves that this slaughter of the Lord shall take place before the close of probation.
Still further, the Spirit of Prophecy writes that when the sealing of the 144,000 and the slaying of Ezekiel Nine is about to take place, the ministers will have betrayed their trust (5T 211), and as the message must be preached by a pure ministry, it again proves that this purification must take place just before the commencement of the Loud Cry, thus making possible the closing of the Gospel work by a reformed and reorganized movement, commissioned to go to all the nations rather than to "many."
Although we have merely touched the prophecies concerning the church of today, we already see that they are just as thorough as the prophecies concerning the church of the past, and that the three angels' messages will go through, but both, this system of organization and those who do not take heed now to overcome temptation, will perish in "the slain of the Lord."
There are many who do not see the necessity of reorganizing, though they see the need of a reformation. For this reason we shall add a few words of explanation.
As there would have been no need of a reformation had the church remained true, there would have been no need of reorganization had the church organized right and stayed right. But as the spirit of the world conquered the church, so the spirit of the world conquered the organization, which is unmistakably evidenced by the fact that both the medical and the educational departments of the denomination are now governed by the standards of the world. Therefore, rather than the church leading the world, the world is now leading the church; or, in other words, rather than the church being the head, as God designed, she has now become the tail; and instead of the world partaking of the spirit of the church, the church is partaking of the spirit of the world, thus cheating the world from receiving the heavenly light, and causing herself to go into darkness, dishonoring God and honoring mammon. Hence, the need of both reformation and reorganization, for how can God finish His work, bless His people, and save the world with a church organization that itself is seeking help from the world?
The Lord's having seen the course the church would pursue, has, for her benefit, so shaped the prophecies in an endeavor to awaken the church and to save her people. Hence, let us take heed to the sure Word of prophecy as it says: "Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts." (Heb. 4:7.)
TAKING THE REINS INTO HIS OWN HANDS
As most of our people hardly understand what the Spirit of Prophecy means by the statement: "The Lord shall take the reins in His Own Hands" ("Testimonies to Ministers," p. 300) we are writing the following paragraphs.
The foregoing prophetic statement reveals two definite things. First, that the Lord is not now holding the reins in His Own hands, and, second, that at some time He will do so. That is, as God is not now ruling the denomination through its present organization, He must reorganize it. Moreover, it is stated that God will do this by means so simple that even "the workers will be surprised;" that is, He is not going to start reorganizing the denomination by something great, something complicated, or something which the world calls wonderful, but rather by humble means, quietly, slowly, steadily, and as naturally as represented by the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31, 32), and also as the unnoticeable lump of leaven working in dough (verse 33), whereas, the workers will still want to "control the work, but they will lose out as grass is choked by the wheat
As God's taking the reins in His Own hands has been demonstrated in times past, none need remain ignorant of the method He will now employ to "perfect His work of righteousness," nor of the system He will use to rule over His Own.
In the days when Pharaoh reigned over God's people, the Lord did not send a great army, led by a general trained in the school of the world, to set them free, and to give Him a chance to rule over them, but he sent Moses, the simple means, with his shepherd's rod. To Pharaoh, this appeared so simple, so small, that he paid but little attention to that which was then taking place. Nevertheless, as he saw the leaven working in his kingdom, at times he became convinced that he should let Israel go, but as he viewed Moses' work, simple as it was, his heart hardened, and he said: "Ha, it cannot be of God, I will not let Israel go." This was repeated time and again. Then, finally, the blow came by the death of the first born, and there was a great cry throughout the land of Egypt as Israel went out. But as Pharaoh was not yet convinced that God had taken the reins in His Own hands, he and his army went to bring them back.
Therefore, God employed the Red Sea as a means to protect His people and as a means to destroy Pharaoh and his army. The Lord will work in no less miraculous a manner now to free His people from being ruled by a worldly organization. He will command the work Himself in the same manner as He did in Moses' and David's day.
Moreover, the voice of prophecy declares that: "the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king," and that "afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days." (Hos. 3:4, 5.) That is, ancient Israel was to be scattered among the nations and be a kingdom no more for "many days," but after the "many days," they are to return and again become a kingdom, and "seek the Lord their God and David their king." Therefore, as we are now living in the time of the returning of the 144,000, the twelve tribes, it is evident that they will at this time become a kingdom in the hand of the Lord God instead of being ruled by men through a common worldly organization.
In the days of Moses and in the days of David, when the Lord had the work in His Own hands, He spoke to the people through Moses and through David, and thus He ruled. In like manner will He, at this time, rule the work when He takes the reins in His Own hands.
In prophecy, God revealed to Ezekiel the injustice which, in the latter days, our time, would be done to God's people by their shepherds, and said: "I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it." (Ezek. 34:23, 24.) Thus Ezekiel was also told that the present system, an organization of many shepherds, will be replaced by a new one and be conducted by one shepherd instead of by many.
The people over whom the Lord is to take the reins in His Own hands, are, of course, only those who shall compose His kingdom. "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Therefore, the Lord's taking the reins in His Own hands is the beginning of the establishing of His everlasting kingdom, just prior to His visible coming in the clouds. Daniel also in vision witnessed this fact and declared to the king thus: "In the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." (Dan. 2:44.)
Note that the kingdom is set up not after the "days of these kings," but in their days, and that those kingdoms are to be broken by it. Therefore, although at first, and before the resurrection, the kingdom will not be completed with all its subjects, it will have its beginning before the second coming of Christ.
Christ's Own parable reveals this truth, for He says: "When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 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. Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matt. 25: 31 through 34, 41.)
It is generally understood that when Christ visibly appears, the nations will die by the brightness of His coming, and thus the wicked will have no chance for either the Lord to speak to them or they to speak to Him. Furthermore, according to the parable, He sits on the throne of His glory instead of sitting on the clouds as in 1 Thess. 4:17. Therefore, the throne of His glory is His kingdom where He, invisible to the nations, sits on the throne and gathers all nations before Him as recorded by the prophet Isaiah also, saying: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." (Isa. 2:2.)
The prophet Zechariah describes the case of the wicked and the conversion of the righteous in the following language: "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open Mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their God. In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.
In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the House of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." (Zech. 12:3 through 10.)
The taking of the reins in His Own hands is therefore in the time of the gathering of His people from among the nations, by the voice: "Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." (Rev. 18:4.)
When this voice shall be heard calling out God's people there shall be no sinners in His kingdom, neither shall the plagues fall there, for the saints are called out of Babylon because of the sins that are there and because the plagues are to fall upon all there.
In Matthew 13:49 is recorded the separation of the sinners from among God's people, for at that time, says Christ, the wicked are taken out from among the just, whereas, by the voice recorded in the Revelation, the righteous are taken out from among the wicked--the manner of the one separation being the opposite of the other--which fact proves that the Lord takes the reins in His Own hands before the commencement of the Loud Cry of Revelation 18:4.
Our danger at the present time does not lie in that which God has said He will do, for He is well able to handle the situation, but the great peril lies in that many of us are in danger of losing out by questioning and criticizing everything that arises in the unfolding of truth, criticizing the work and position of others, criticizing every branch of the work in which they have not themselves a part ("Testimonies for the Church," Volume 5, p. 690), instead of coming to the help of the Lord. Yes, some will attempt "to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world."--"Testimonies to Ministers," p. 300. Some go still farther by saying to the promised mouthpiece of God, "You are too earnest, you do not interpret the Scriptures in the proper way. Let me tell you how to teach your message."--"Testimonies to Ministers," p. 475.
Others, though not so dictatorial will not submit themselves to the leadership of God, for Jesus foresaw the class that "hated Him" and "sent a message after Him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us." (Luke 19:14.)
Therefore, because of their insubordination, Jesus has plainly told that at His appearing He shall command His servants, saying, "but those Mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before Me." (Luke 19:27.)
The parable makes it clear that through some man Jesus is to reign before His appearing, and that those who refuse to submit themselves to the one whom Jesus has chosen to represent Him shall lose out eternally.
Therefore, let no one by inaction or by some other way show a desire to defeat the prophetic word of God, but rather pray, for "Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock." (Ezekiel 36:37.).
"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" (Heb. 2:1 through 3.) "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief." (Heb. 3:1, 2, 18, 19.) "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." (Heb. 4:1.) "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stead fast unto the end; while it is said, Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?" (Heb. 3:12 through 17.)
"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but, being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise,
ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty, hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." (I Pet. 5:2 through 7.).
COUNSELS TO PARENTS -- PART 3
Recognizing the grievous proportions which the ever present parent-child problem has attained in the midst of Present Truth believers, "The Symbolic Code," in its July, 1937 issue, sounded the following alarm:
"'The parents are blind to the true state of their children, who have succeeded in entirely deceiving them. But those who have lost the control of their children are not pleased when others seek to control them, or to point out their defects for the purpose of correcting them.'--'Testimonies for the Church,' Vol. 4, p. 193.
"Perhaps Mt. Carmel is having to grapple with no problem so often and so vigorously as that brought to view in the concluding sentence of the last quotation."
As pointed and serious, however, as was this note of warning, it fell upon many deaf ears. Few profited by it, with the result that today the relation of parent, child, and institution presents itself as a far more aggravated and distressing problem than when first brought to attention. As a matter of fact, so swollen and infected has the sore now become because that it has poisoned the whole body, and has even caused the amputation of several members contaminated beyond remedy. Why this calamity? There is but one answer, and that is: many who profess Present Truth do not whole-heartedly believe and practice what is written in the Code. In truth, doubt and disbelief in the Code is in varying degrees, leavening our companies everywhere. And only a few, "a handful to the tribes," as it were, religiously attach face value to "this monthly visitor's" high and solemn affirmation that "it positively demands that the heralds of 'the great and dreadful day of the Lord,' who are under its jurisdiction, must strictly comply with all the requirements, instructions, and advice which it bears to them from time to time, adding nothing to or subtracting nothing from the message. It will not countenance those who ignore its divine authority, for the church is to be the light of the world, 'fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.'"
Apparently, though, neither a "thus saith the Lord" nor an "it is written" has as much effect nowadays upon the conscience of Present Truth believers and upon their "ideas and theories, habits and practices" as do the sentiments: "They say, " "I have heard" (T.M. 505), "I think."
Parents and parent-sympathizers, in especial, exhibit the most resisting and impenetrable Laodiceanism in this respect, being as impervious to the message's counsels, warnings, and entreaties, as a stone to water. For instance, you have repeatedly been told that, as parents, your ways of child training and discipline are not God's ways; that your ideas of love and kindness are false and baleful; that your blind love is naught but sentimentalism, and your indulgent kindness naught but cruelty. But who have believed what is written, and in fear and trembling diligently set to work to "convert and be healed" from these wrong ideas and theories, habits and practices, by which Satan binds the soul to his chariot wheel? Who, like David of old, when told, "thou art the man," have, with deep, impelling conviction confessed, "I have sinned against the Lord," and have then straightway and earnestly set about to "bring forth fruit meet for repentance" by first "confessing to (your) children, (your) unwise course in rearing them" (S.C., Vol. 3, Nos. 8-10, p. 3), and then by giving your "fullest cooperation (to) the school?"
How much wiser, nobler, and happier would you and your children be to confess your sinful opposition to God's light and His work, than to continue standing aloof, nursing imaginary or self-inflicted wounds, harboring grudges, petting grievances, and throwing stones at everything not to your liking, and at everyone with whom you do not agree in their efforts to educate and save your children.
By your unwise indulging and your ill-advised sympathizing, your neglect of restraining and lack of disciplining, you have already done your children an incalculable injury, which must cost them their souls and perhaps you, yours, unless a speedy, drastic, and thorough-going change of affairs takes place both with you and with them--unless, in fine, your ideas and theories of religion, of education, of discipline, of work, and your life's habits and practices undergo an immediate and radical transformation which will put you on the Lord's side in the great controversy between good and evil.
If as a Present Truth parent, you are one who would save yourself and your children, you will make haste to get yourselves at least spiritually out of the doomed cities, whose "pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness" will, eventually, only end in sadness as it did with Lot's wife in Sodom of old--turning your last fond and lingering gaze into a pillar of salt, as it were. Then once free in spirit from the deadly clutches of these cities, you will henceforth keep your children out of public school and will instruct them at home, bringing "them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" until they shall be prepared to matriculate in the Lord's school here at Mt. Carmel.
"Parents flock with their families to the cities, because they fancy it easier to obtain a livelihood there than in the country. The children having nothing to do when not in school, obtain a street education. From evil associates, they acquire habits of vice and dissipation. The parents see all this, but it will require a sacrifice to correct their error, and they stay where they are, until Satan gains full control of their children. Better sacrifice any and every worldly consideration than to imperil the precious souls committed to your care. They will be assailed by temptations, and should be taught to meet them; but it is your duty to cut off every influence, to break up every habit, to sunder every tie, that keeps you from the most free, open, and hearty committal of yourselves and your family to God.
Instead of the crowded city, seek some retired situation where your children will be, so far as possible shielded from temptation, and there train and educate them for usefulness. The prophet Ezekiel thus enumerates the causes that led to Sodom's sin and destruction: 'Pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hands of the poor and needy.' All who would escape the doom of Sodom, must shun the course that brought God's judgments upon that wicked city.
"My brethren, you are disregarding the most sacred claims of God, by your neglect to consecrate yourselves and your children to him. Many of you are reposing in false security, absorbed in selfish interests, and attracted by earthly treasures. You fear no evil. Danger seems a great way off. You will be deceived, deluded, to your eternal ruin, unless, you arouse, and with penitence and deep humiliation return unto the Lord.
* * *
"The deadly lethargy of the world is paralyzing your senses. Sin no longer appears repulsive, because you are blinded by Satan. The judgments of God are soon to be poured out upon the earth. 'Escape for thy life,' is the warning from the angels of God. Other voices are heard saying, 'Do not become excited; there is no cause for special alarm. Those who are at ease in Zion cry peace and safety, while Heaven, declares that swift destruction is about to come upon the transgressor. The young, the frivolous, the pleasure-loving consider these warnings as idle tales, and turn from them with a jest. Parents are inclined to think their children about right in the matter, and all sleep on at ease. Thus it was at the destruction of the old world, and when Sodom and Gomorrah were consumed by fire. On the night prior to their destruction, the cities of the plain rioted in pleasure. Lot was derided for his fears and warnings. But it was these scoffers that perished in the flames. That very night the door of mercy was forever closed to the wicked, careless inhabitants of Sodom.
"It is God who holds in His hands the destiny of souls. He will not always be mocked; He will not always be trifled with. Already His judgments are in the land. Fierce and awful tempests leave destruction and death in their wake. The devouring fire lays low the desolate forest and the crowded city. Storm and shipwreck await those who journey upon the deep. Accident and calamity threaten all who travel upon the land. Hurricanes, earthquakes, sword and famine, follow in quick succession. Yet the hearts of men are hardened. They recognize not the warning voice of God. They will not flee to the only refuge from the gathering storm.
"Many who have been placed upon the walls of Zion, to watch with eagle eye for the approach of danger, and lift the voice of warning, are themselves asleep.' The very ones who should be most active and vigilant in this hour of peril are neglecting their duty, and bringing upon themselves the blood of souls.
"My brethren, beware of the evil heart of unbelief. The word of God is plain and close in its restrictions; it interferes with your selfish indulgence; therefore you do not obey it. The testimonies of His Spirit call your attention to the Scriptures, point out your defects of character, and rebuke your sins; therefore you do not heed them. And to justify your carnal, ease-loving course, you begin to doubt whether the testimonies are from God. If you would obey their teachings, you would be assured of their divine origin. Remember, your unbelief does not affect their truthfulness."--"Testimonies for the Church," Vol., 5, pp. 232 through 234.
"Any one of the children of the Hebrews who was found in an Egyptian habitation was destroyed.
"This experience of the Israelites was written for the instruction of those who should live in the last days. Before the overflowing scourge shall come upon the dwellers of the earth, the Lord calls upon all who are Israelites indeed to prepare for that event. To parents He sends the warning cry, Gather your children into your own houses; gather them away from those who are disregarding the commandments of God, who are teaching and practicing evil. Get out of the large cities as fast as possible. Establish church schools. Give your children the word of God as the foundation of all their education.
This is full of beautiful lessons, and if pupils make it their study in the primary grade below, they will be prepared for the higher grade above....
"Where are your children? Are you educating them to discern and to escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust? Are you seeking to save their souls, or are you by your neglect aiding in their destruction?"--"Testimonies for the Church," Vol. 6, p. 195.
Mother and Father, Brother and Sister, do you really mean to escape "the overflowing scourge?" If you do, you will not one moment longer neglect or slight or disregard one ray of light, but will diligently restudy the Codes and quickly put into effect the solemn lessons, precepts, injunctions, reproofs, and warnings, which have been left unheeded as they have come from time to time. Thus, and thus only, will you so order your homes and your lives that you and your children may have a part in building the Lord's "camp" and in gathering the nations, and finally of experiencing the ineffable and transcendent joy of entering into that glorious rest that remaineth to the people of God!
JEALOUSLY AND FAULT-FINDING CONDEMNED
"It pains me to say that there are unruly tongues among church members. There are false tongues, that feed on mischief. There are sly, whispering tongues. There is tattling, impertinent meddling, adroit quizzing. Among the lovers of gossip, some are actuated by curiosity, others by jealousy, many by hatred against those through whom God has spoken to reprove them. All these discordant elements are at work. Some conceal their real sentiments, while others are eager to publish all they know, or even suspect, of evil against another.
"I saw that the very spirit of perjury, that would turn truth into falsehood, good into evil, and innocence into crime, is now active. Satan exults over the condition of God's professed people. While many are neglecting their own souls, they eagerly watch for an opportunity to criticize and condemn others. All have defects of character, and it is not hard to find something that jealousy can interpret to their injury. 'Now,' say these self-constituted judges, 'we have facts. We will fasten upon them an accusation from which they cannot clear themselves.' They wait for a fitting opportunity, and then produce their bundle of gossip, and bring forth their tidbits.
"In their efforts to carry a point, persons who have naturally a strong imagination, are in danger of deceiving themselves and deceiving others. They gather up unguarded expressions from another, not considering that words may be uttered hastily, and hence may not reflect the real sentiments of the speaker. But those unpremeditated remarks, often so trifling as to be unworthy of notice, are viewed through Satan's magnifying glass, pondered, and repeated, until mole hills become mountains. Separated from God, the surmisers of evil become the sport of temptation. They scarcely know the strength of their feelings or the effect of their words. While condemning the errors of others, they indulge far greater errors themselves. 'Consistency is a jewel'."--"Testimonies for the Church," Vol. 5, pp. 94, 95.
"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.)
God so loves us not because we are good, and have done Him no harm, but because He is a God of judgment, truth, and righteousness. There is no greater enemy against one than he who would kill another's only son. The world could have done no greater injury against God than what it did, and yet God still has mercy on us and treats us as His friends rather than as His enemies. No greater crime have we committed against another than the crime we have committed against God. Hence, we as Christians and subjects of His kingdom, ought to treat even our worst enemies as God treats us, forgiving one another as He forgives us, lest we be found among those evil servants who are represented in the following parable:
"Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had it on thee? And his lord was wroth,
and delivered him to the tormenters, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall My heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." (Matt. 18:23 through 35.)
Peter was a very zealous follower of Christ, but when Christ was on trial, Peter denied Him, and to make the multitude believe that he was not Christ's follower, he cursed and swore. Had Christ been like some of us, when He met Peter after His resurrection, He would have almost murdered him, but instead Christ had mercy on him, and loved him with as great a love as before. Instead of finding fault with him and advertising his evil deed to others, He said: "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." (John 21:15.).
Note here what Jesus would have us do. He did not demand repentance from Peter as some professed Christians do from their fellow-men. Neither did He discharge him from service because he had failed. Those who demand confession and repentance from those whom they suppose to be in wrong, are not following Christ's example, but instead they are imitating Satan. Satan accused Job before the Lord; charging Job with falsely following the Lord, and to prove his jealous suspicions true, he proceeded with cruelty. (Job 1.)
Should one Christian be wronged by another, or if he supposes a brother has wronged the Lord, he has no right to demand confession and repentance from the one whom he supposes to be in error. If he wishes to help the erring one, let him do it by love and kindness.
If two brethren are at variance, the one that is wise and a true follower of Christ, though not at fault at all, will ask the erring one to forgive him rather than to argue and wrangle to prove himself just and the other at fault. The following example is the one that all Christians ought to follow:
"Years ago, when the company of believers in the soon coming of Christ was very small, the Sabbath-keepers at Topsham, Maine, met for worship in the large kitchen in the home of Brother Stockbridge Howland. One Sabbath morning Brother Howland was absent. We were surprised at this, because he was always so punctual. Soon he came in, his face aglow, shining with the glory of God. 'Brethren' he said, 'I have found it. I have found that we can pursue a course of action regarding which the guarantee of God's word is; "Ye shall never fall." I am going to tell you about it.'
"He then told us that he had noticed that one brother, a poor fisherman, had been feeling that he was not as highly respected as he ought to be, and that Brother Howland and others thought themselves above him. This was not true, but it seemed true to him; and for several weeks he had not attended the meetings. So Brother Howland went to his house, and knelt before him, saying, 'My brother, forgive me. What is it that I have done?' The man took him by the arm, and tried to raise him to his feet. 'No,' said Brother Howland, 'what have you against me?' 'I have nothing against you.' 'But you must have,' said Brother Howland, 'because once we could speak to one another, but now you do not speak to me at all, and I want to know what is the matter.'
"'Get up, Brother Howland,' he said. 'No,' said Brother Howland, 'I will not.' 'Then I must get down,' he said, and he fell on his knees, and confessed how childish he had been and how many evil surmisings he had cherished. 'And now,' he said, 'I will put them all away.'
"As Brother Howland told this story, his face shone with the glory of the Lord. Just as he had finished, the fisherman and his family came in, and we had an excellent meeting.
"Suppose that some of us should follow the course pursued by Brother Howland. If when our brethren surmise evil, we would go to them, saying, 'Forgive me if I have done anything to harm you,' we might break the spell of Satan, and set our brethren free from their temptations. Do not let anything interpose between you and your brethren. If there is anything that you can do by sacrifice to clear away the rubbish of suspicion, do it. God wants us to love one another as brethren. He wants us to be pitiful and courteous. He wants us to educate ourselves to believe that our brethren love us, and to believe that Christ loves us. . Love begets love."--"Testimonies for the Church," Vol. 9, pp. 191 through 193.
Several years ago a friend passed away who owed me some money, and while the family was in grief, I tried to help them, and the mother of the deceased boy asked me if I would kindly telegraph to their relatives and tell them of the death, and she would pay me later. Then I asked her to give me the names and addresses. Most of the relatives lived about 2500 miles away. Several months later I presented the bill for payment, but was refused. However, what was the more painful was that I lost their friendship and they became my enemies rather than to remain friends. Later I called on the family who had not seen me for a long time, and when one of the ladies opened the door and saw me she was silent and appeared to be somewhat perplexed as to what she should do, but as I smilingly and in a friendly way, said to her, "I have come Sr -------, to find out how you are getting along,' etc., she invited me in, though coldly. After we had a short conversation together, I said to her, "I have come to ask You to forgive me for whatever wrong I may have done." She surprisingly said,
"You have done nothing." But I answered, "I must have done something, for we used to be good friends, and are not now." As I insisted to be forgiven, she said, "Well, you are forgiven." We then talked as friendly as before the barrier came between us and eclipsed our friendship, and I never mentioned the debt, neither did she ask me to forgive her, but she wanted to know about my business, and as I explained to her, she asked me to send her literature. Before leaving the house, and with her permission, I offered a prayer asking God to bless the whole family. Now, how can I hold the debt against her after the Lord has forgiven me of an untold greater debt than that which she owed me? Says Christ, "I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Matt. 5:44.) But one may say, "I can not do this." Very well, then, that one has judged himself unworthy of the kingdom and should no longer take the Lord's name in vain by calling himself a Christian. (See Exodus 20:7.)
How much good the literature will do her, as yet no one can tell, but there is one thing certain, and that is, if she be lost, she can not come to me in the judgment and say, "It was you who kept me away from the kingdom."
Regardless of how just one may consider himself and how unjust the other, both are alike, "for we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." When we condemn another, we actually condemn ourselves. "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matt. 7:1, 2.)"I will take you from among the heathen," says the Lord, "and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 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. 36:24-27.)
As the fulfillment of this scripture is yet future, it proves that at the present time everyone of us is unclean, and that none of us is walking in God's statutes and keeping or doing His judgments, for after the Lord takes us from among the heathen and into our own land, "then" He says, He will cleanse our hearts and cause us to walk in His statutes and keep His judgments. Hence, how can one talk about the sins of another without condemning himself? "This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." (John 15 :12.).
As no good mother talks about and advertises the evil deeds of her children, so also those who are true followers of Christ do not talk about and advertise the evil deeds of their brethren. This is an easy way for one to check up on himself, and find out whether he is keeping Christ's commandment or breaking it.
"It is the purpose of God that His children shall blend in unity. Do they not expect to live together in the same heaven? Is Christ divided against Himself? Will He give His people success before they sweep away the rubbish of evil-surmising and discord, before the laborers, with unity of purpose, devote heart and mind and strength to the work so holy in God's sight? Union brings strength; disunion weakness. United with one another, working together in harmony for the salvation of men, we shall indeed be 'laborers together with God.' Those who refuse to work in harmony greatly dishonor God. The enemy of souls delights to see them working at cross purposes with one another. Such ones need to cultivate brotherly love and tenderness of heart. If they could draw aside the curtain veiling the future, and see the result of their disunion, they would surely be led to repent.
"The world is looking with gratification at the disunion amongst Christians. Infidelity is well pleased. God calls for a change among His people. Union with Christ and with one another is our only safety in these last days. Let us not make it possible for Satan to point to our church members, saying: 'Behold how these people standing under the banner of Christ, hate one another. We have nothing to fear from them while they spend more strength fighting one another than in warfare with my forces.'
"After the descent of the Holy Spirit, the disciples went forth to proclaim a risen Saviour, their one desire the salvation of souls. They rejoiced in the sweetness of the communion with saints. They were tender, thoughtful, self-denying, willing to make any sacrifice for the truth's sake...
"But the early Christians began to look for defects in one another. Dwelling upon mistakes, giving place to unkind criticism, they lost sight of the Saviour, and of the great love He had revealed for sinners. They became more strict in regard to outward ceremonies, more particular about the theory of the faith, more severe in their criticisms. In their zeal to condemn others, they forgot their own errors. They forgot the lesson of brotherly love that Christ had taught. And, saddest of all, they were unconscious of their loss. They did not realize that happiness and joy were going out of their lives, and that soon they would walk in darkness, having shut the love of God out of their hearts."--"Testimonies for the Church," Vol. 8, pp. 240, 241.