SDA LAYMAN'S MINISTRY
"Precious light is to shine forth from the Word of God, and let no one presume to dictate what shall or what shall not be brought before the people in the messages of enlightenment that He shall send, and so quench the Spirit of God. Whatever may be his position of authority, no one has a right to shut away the light from the people. When a message comes in the name of the Lord to His people, no one may excuse himself from an investigation of its claims. No one can afford to stand back in an attitude of indifference and self-confidence, and say: "I know what is truth. I am satisfied with my position. I have set my stakes, and I will not be moved away from my position, whatever may come. I will not listen to the message of this messenger; for I know that it can not be truth." It was from pursuing this very course that the popular churches were left in partial darkness, and that is why the messages of heaven have not reached them." Testimonies on Sabbath-School Work p. 65.
"Different periods in the history of the church have each been marked by the development of some special truth, adapted to the necessities of God's people at that time. Every new truth has made its way against hatred and opposition; those who were blessed with its light were tempted and tried. The Lord gives a special truth for the people in an emergency. Who dare refuse to publish it?" Great Controversy p. 609.
"Opposition is the lot of all whom God employs to present truths specially applicable to their time. There was a present truth in the days of Luther,--a truth at that time of special importance; there is a present truth for the church today." Great Controversy p. 143.
"Our responsibility is greater than was that of our ancestors. We are accountable for the light which they received, and which was handed down as an inheritance for us, and we are accountable also for the additional light which is now shining upon us from the word of God." Great Controversy p. 164.
The Laymen's Movement In Prophecy
The Lord employed the use of parables many times to portray precious truths and to impress them upon the mind. ". . . Christ had truths to present which the people were unprepared to accept or even to understand. For this reason also He taught them in parables. By connecting His teaching with the scenes of life, experience, or nature, He secured their attention and impressed their hearts. Afterward, as they looked upon the objects that illustrated His lessons, they recalled the words of the divine Teacher. To minds that were open to the Holy Spirit, the significance of the Saviour's teaching unfolded more and more. Mysteries grew clear, and that which had been hard to grasp became evident." Christ's Object Lessons p. 21.
The Prodigal Son.
"In the parable of the prodigal son," (as recorded in Luke 15: 11-24) "is presented the Lord's dealing with those who have once known the Father's love, but who have allowed the tempter to lead them captive at his will." Christ's Object Lessons, p. 198. In the parable of the prodigal son are represented those who have backslidden from the faith.
According to the parable, the father's youngest son requested his part of the inheritance. He then left for a far distant place. There he lived riotously until all his money was wasted. Being penniless, he was forced to find employment. However it was very difficult to find a job as there was a famine in the land. At last he found employment with a raiser of hogs. His job was to feed the swine. Evidently his pay was not even sufficient to feed himself as the Scripture says: "And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him." Luke 15:16.
These circumstances brought him to his senses. He reasoned to himself that his father's servants were faring better than he. He said: "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry." Luke 15:18-24.
The Lord's heartrending plea to us today is: "Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" Ezekiel 33:11.
There is in the Bible another story holding virtually the same lesson and encouragement as does the story of the prodigal son. It illustrates the prodigal-like experience of God's church from the time of ancient Israel to the present time. We find this in the prophecy of Hosea chapters 1 and 2. Let us turn now to Hosea chapter 1.
"The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord." Hosea 1:1-2
The prophet Hosea was commanded to take a wife of whoredoms for no other reason than to portray the sad and abominable condition which then obtained in Israel. This marriage is, of course, only visionary just as the prophet Ezekiel's lying 40 days on one side, and 390 days on the other side (Ezek. 4:4-6, See Study Titled--"Our Forty Year Wilderness Wanderings.")
We know this could not have been a literal marriage as the Lord would never command his prophet to marry an improper woman which would be contradictory to His command to: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" 2 Cor. 6:14. The Lord gave this illustration or allegory for the sole purpose of illustrating the repulsiveness of Israel's unfaithfulness to Him and the final outcome.
Many times the Scriptures refer to God's church as a woman. See Jer. 6:2, 2 Cor. 11:2. In Hosea, chapter 1, the woman whom Hosea was told to marry represents God's church in her youth---apostate Israel, and Hosea represents God who is the husband of the church.
The Rejection Of The Ten-Tribe Kingdom.
"So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son. And the Lord said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel." Hosea 1:3-5
The first-born son of the prophet's visionary marriage, you see, was named Jezreel in order to foreshadow that which was to befall the nation---predicting not only the termination of the kingdom, but also the very place in which its army was to be defeated---in the valley of Jezreel. To break the bow would mean to break the nation's military strength. The Jezreel of whose blood ancient Israel was charged guilty was figurative of the prophets whom Israel rejected and killed. Thus it is that ancient Israel---the ten-tribe kingdom met defeat in the Valley of Jezreel, which by interpretation is the valley of the slain prophets. See: 2 Kings 10:11 & Prophets & Kings p. 126.
"And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away." Hosea 1:6.
This child's name was to denote the complete destruction of the house of Israel, the ten-tribe kingdom. This destruction, we know, was accomplished by the king of Assyria, who scattered the people throughout the cities of the Medes. The history of this is found in 2 Kings 18:11---"And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes:" The Spirit of Prophecy in commenting on this says: "'The Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,' with others of the inhabitants of 'Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali' (1 Chronicles 5:26; 2 Kings 15:29), were scattered among the heathen in lands far removed from Palestine.
"The city and nation fell, and the broken remnant of the ten tribes were carried away captive and scattered in the provinces of the Assyrian realm." Prophets and Kings pp. 287. 291.
"But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen." Hosea 1:7.
The Lord promised to spare the house of Judah from the invasion of the king of Assyria. The history of this incident is recorded in 2 Kings 19:35-- "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses."
The Rejection Of The Two-Tribe Kingdom. "Not My People".
"Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God." Hosea 1:8-9.
The name of the third child was to signify that though Israel and Judah were God's chosen people, the day was fast approaching in which they would no longer be called His people. The fulfillment of this phase of the prophecy brings us to the Christian era when the Jews as a nation were rejected because of their rejection of the Son of God.
The Christian Era.
"Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God." Hosea 1:10.
In spite of the calamities that were to overtake the children of Israel, they were to become very numerous. And when they are thus greatly multiplied, they are again to be called the sons of God. And so here we see a prophecy of the rebellion of God's people and God's rejection of them, as well as their repentance and re-acceptance by Him.
The Lost Tribes.
Let us here for a moment discuss the titles "Judah" and "Israel." When superficially read these titles are as a rule misconstrued and made to mean only the identified Jews. But we must not be superficial readers and thinkers. Let us be deep Bible students. Now, everyone knows that the identified Jews of today are but a handful-certainly not as the sands of the sea. The innumerable children of Israel, therefore, cannot be the unbelieving Jews of today. Besides, the identified Jews of today are not the descendants of the ten-tribe kingdom, but of the two-tribe kingdom. Who, then, is this multitude of people referred to in Hosea's prophecy?
We must not overlook the fact that the Gospel of Christ divided the house of Judah into two sects---Jewish and Christian, that the Christian church for about four years after the resurrection of Christ consisted practically only of Jews. Plainly, then, the original Christians were full-blooded Jews,---the Christian church is only a branch of the Jewish church, but they and their descendants have, through the years, lost their racial identity. Then, too, the descendants of both Israel and Judah who through the years of captivity lost their identity as did the Jews who embraced Christianity, according to prophecy, must also have greatly multiplied. Plainly, then, many who are taken as Gentiles, are but unidentified descendants of ancient Judah, Israel, and the Jewish Christians. The Christian church herself is, as we have seen, a Jewish-Christian church.
These descendants of Jacob, who were assimilated by the Gentile nations, therefore, were to multiply as the sand of the sea. They are the ones who, after becoming Christians, are again called the sons of the living God.
Of those who first embraced the Christian faith, the Apostle Peter speaks thus: "Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." 1 Peter 2:10.
And the Apostle John says: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" John 1:12.
Now we see that the prophecy of Hosea 1 begins with the house of Israel and Judah, and brings us down through the stream of time to the Christian era. Continuing with the same family illustration, and pointing to the Christian era, the Lord commands:
Hosea 2:1--"Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah."
Here we see that the names of the two children of chapter 1 are again mentioned, but the first two letters of each name have been dropped: Lo-ruhamah has become Ruhamah, and Lo-Ammi has become Ammi As the letters lo - mean "no mercy" and "not my people" (see Bible margin Hosea 1:6,9) we see here in chapter two the Lord's re-acceptance of His people, not as a nation, but as individuals who accepted the Christian faith. Now the fact that these are the brother and sister of Jezreel, bears out the truth that the one whom the Lord commands to speak to them, is Jezreel, the firstborn of the three. He is to deliver the message to his brethren, Ammi and Ruhamah. The names, Ruhamah and Ammi, represent a brother and a sister (singular), but in commissioning Jezreel to speak to them the Lord designates them in the plural,---"brethren" and "sisters," embracing the entire church membership.
The Laymen's Movement.
Now, what is it all about?---It is not too difficult to see. The one to whom God speaks, Jezreel, represents God's messenger---His mouth-piece. His brother and sister, Ammi and Ruhamah, can only represent the church membership, both male and female. In actuality Jezreel must deliver God's message to them. And here is the message:
"Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts." Hosea 2:2
The fact that God Himself calls the prophet Hosea's wife His own wife, reveals that she represents the church, that Hosea represents God, and that while Jezreel represents the mouthpiece of God, Ammi and Ruhamah represents the church membership. In childhood (Hosea 1), they represent the Old Testament church, the Hebrews, but in their youth, having their names altered, (Hosea 2), they represent the New Testament church, the Christians.
A Great Reformatory Movement.
Now that the laity, at the command of God are through a messenger to plead with the church, therefore, the reformation here called forth is sponsored by Inspiration and carried out by the laity. The servant of the Lord years ago foretold of this glorious event when she said: "I have been deeply impressed by scenes that have recently passed before me in the night season. There seemed to be a great movement -- a work of revival -- going forward in many places. Our people were moving into line, responding to God's call. My brethren, the Lord is speaking to us. Shall we not heed His voice? Shall we not trim our lamps, and act like men who look for their Lord to come? The time is one that calls for light-bearing, for action." Life Sketches p. 425.
This is the long expected revival and reformation to the Laodiceans, and hence a laymen's movement called forth by the revived Spirit of Prophecy. "There is hope for our churches if they will heed the message given to the Laodiceans (MS 139, 1903)." 7 Bible Commentary p. 966, E.G. White.
The Reason for The Reformation.
According to this prophecy, the Lord is charging our Denomination with "whoredom," with having illicit connections with the world. This lewdness she must give up if she is to obtain favor with God. Being charged with having illicit connections with the world is not implying that our church is a part of Babylon (See: Testimonies to Ministers pp. 58-62), but that she has become worldly.
"Who can truthfully say: "Our gold is tried in the fire; our garments are unspotted by the world"? I saw our Instructor pointing to the garments of so-called righteousness. Stripping them off, He laid bare the defilement beneath. Then He said to me: "Can you not see how they have pretentiously covered up their defilement and rottenness of character? 'How is the faithful city become an harlot!' My Father's house is made a house of merchandise, a place whence the divine presence and glory have departed! For this cause there is weakness, and strength is lacking.'" Testimonies, Vol. 8 p. 250.
"The time has come for earnest and powerful efforts to rid the church of the slime and filth which is tarnishing her purity. The church of Christ is called to be a holy, powerful people, a name and praise in all the earth.
"The standard must be elevated. The work must have a higher mold. There must be a coming out from the customs and practices of the world and being separate. There must be a coming up upon a higher platform by both ministers and people. There must be much more of Jesus and His meekness, His lowliness, His humility, His self-denial, His purity, His true goodness and nobility of character, brought into the experience and characters of all who claim to be acting any part in the sacred work of God." Testimonies to Ministers pp . 450, 451-452 .
"The church cannot measure herself by the world nor by the opinion of men nor by what she once was. Her faith and her position in the world as they now are must be compared with what they would have been if her course had been continually onward and upward. The church will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary. If her moral character and spiritual state do not correspond with the benefits and blessings God has conferred upon her, she will be found wanting." Testimonies, Vol. 5 p. 83. (See also Testimonies, Vol. 8 p. 247.)
The servant of the Lord continues on with the sad comment of our condition in these words: "I am filled with sadness when I think of our condition as a people. The Lord has not closed heaven to us, but our own course of continual backsliding has separated us from God. Pride, covetousness, and love of the world have lived in the heart without fear of banishment or condemnation. Grievous and presumptuous sins have dwelt among us. And yet the general opinion is that the church is flourishing and that peace and spiritual prosperity are in all her borders.
"The church has turned back from following Christ her Leader and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. Yet few are alarmed or astonished at their want of spiritual power. Doubt, and even disbelief of the testimonies of the Spirit of God, is leavening our churches everywhere. Satan would have it thus. Ministers who preach self instead of Christ would have it thus. The testimonies are unread and unappreciated. God has spoken to you. Light has been shining from His word and from the testimonies, and both have been slighted and disregarded. The result is apparent in the lack of purity and devotion and earnest faith among us." Testimonies, Vol . 5 p. 217.
These are not man's words, you understand, but God's. And should we not be grateful that He is doing everything He can to save us? The church must repent, says the Lord:
"Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink." Hosea 2:3-5.
We sometimes boast of gain in membership, but God charges that many of those brought in are illegitimate children! The Spirit of Prophecy warned us of this danger many years ago: "While the Lord brings into the church those who are truly converted, Satan at the same time brings persons who are not converted into its fellowship. While Christ is sowing the good seed, Satan is sowing the tares. There are two opposing influences continually exerted on the members of the church. One influence is working for the purification of the church, and the other for the corrupting of the people of God." Testimonies to Ministers p. 46.
"Only when the Church is composed of pure, unselfish members, can it fulfill God's purpose. Too much hasty work is done in adding names to the church roll. Serious defects are seen in the characters of some who join the church. Those who admit them say, We will first get them into the church, and then reform them. But this is a mistake. The very first work to be done is the work of reform. Pray with them, talk with them, but do not allow them to unite with God's people in church relationship until they give decided evidence that the Spirit of God is working on their hearts.
"Many of those whose names are registered on the church books are not Christians. They have not a genuine experience. . . " Review & Herald, May 21, 1901.
"The accession of members who have not been renewed in heart and reformed in life is a source of weakness to the church. This fact is often ignored. Some ministers and churches are so desirous of securing an increase of numbers that they do not bear faithful testimony against unchristian habits and practices." Evangelism p. 319.
"The Lord does not now work to bring many souls into the truth, because of the church members who have never been converted and those who were once converted but who have backslidden. What influence would these unconsecrated members have on new converts? Would they not make of no effect the God-given message which His people are to bear?" Testimonies, Vol. 6 p. 371.
This same situation existed with the early Christian church as the Spirit of Prophecy says: "To secure converts, the exalted standard of the Christian faith was lowered, and as the result 'a pagan flood, flowing into the church, carried with it its customs, practices, and idols.' . . . As the Christian religion secured the favor and support of secular rulers, it was nominally accepted by multitudes; but while in appearance Christians, many 'remained in substance pagans, especially worshipping in secret their idols.'
"Has not the same process been repeated in nearly every church calling itself Protestant? As the founders, those who possessed the true spirit of reform, pass away, their descendants come forward and 'new-model the cause.' While blindly clinging to the creed of their fathers and refusing to accept any truth in advance of what they saw, the children of the reformers depart widely from their example of humility, self-denial, and renunciation of the world. Thus 'the first simplicity disappears.' A worldly flood, flowing into the church, carries 'with it its customs, practices, and idols.'" Great Controversy p. 385.
"There is chaff among us and this is why we are so weak." Testimonies, Vol. 1 p. 288.
The church has gone after the world because she mistakenly thinks that her support comes from worldlings, from her "lovers."
"Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths." Hosea 2:6.
Here we see that the church proposes, but that God disposes; her plans do not work out as expected-she loses her way as does a ship without chart or compass drifting at sea.
"The facts concerning the real condition of the professed people of God, speak more loudly than their profession, and make it evident that some power has cut the cable that anchored them to the Eternal Rock, and that they are drifting away to sea, without chart or compass." Review and Herald, July 24, 1888.
"Some power, it is declared, had cut the cable that anchored the church to the Eternal Rock, and its members were drifting away to sea without chart or compass. What situation could be more alarming than this? What more convincing reason could be given to show the need of turning with all the heart to Him who alone is able to hold us fast?" Christ Our Righteousness, pp. 36,37.
"And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now." Hosea 2:7.
Again we see that trials and adverse circumstances are for our good, for thus is the church brought to her right senses. The only way that He can then save her and bring her back to Him, is to withdraw His helping hand from her until she finds herself grounded on a reef of her own folly, with the fierce waves of retribution beating over her sides. Then only will she respond to His voice.
The Spirit of Prophecy tells us that our church will actually experience this as it says: "Unless the church, which is now being leavened with her own backsliding, shall repent and be converted, she will eat of the fruit of her own doing, until she shall abhor herself. When she resists the evil and chooses the good, when she seeks God with all humility and reaches her high calling in Christ, standing on the platform of eternal truth and by faith laying hold upon the attainments prepared for her, she will be healed. She will appear in her God-given simplicity and purity, separate from earthly entanglements, showing that the truth has made her free indeed. Then her members will indeed be the chosen of God, His representatives." Testimonies, Vol. 8 pp. 250,251.
"For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand. I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her Sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them." Hosea 2:8-12.
From these verses we see that it was just such a departure from God that caused the church in her early Christian era to lose her path and all her possessions, including her feast days, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
This is exactly what happened when the "Dark Ages" of religion began. The Pagans in whose clutches the church fell were no more to blame for the church's going into darkness than were the Chaldeans of destroying Judah and her temple. The real blame falls on the church herself. And this should be a lasting lesson to all of us, that we should never again have illicit connection with the world, should never depart from the Lord. (See Great Controversy pp. 384, 385. )
The Wilderness Experience.
Now, let us read what other experiences the church was to go through:
"And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the Lord. Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her." Hosea 2:13,14.
This prediction was made over a thousand years before she lost her vineyards, and before she "fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days." Rev. 12:6. But while she was there in fugitive retreat from her own I and, God spoke "comfortably unto her." In other words, she, like the wayward prodigal, had to have a bitter experience, longing again For home, before the Lord could do anything for her. Thus at the end of her exile, His overtures of love and mercy were to strike in her a truly responsive chord.
Notice that the Lord visits the church not when she is in good spiritual standing with Him, but when she is in her greatest idolatry. Indeed, He could not visit her at a more opportune time, because only when she is in greatest darkness can she possibly discern light. And her condition, you know, can never improve unless He should call on her. Thus it was in John the Baptist's day, also when the Protestant reformation came, and thus it is today. God knows how to save. Saving is His chief concern.
We generally think of idolaters as somebody who bows down to an image, but the Spirit of Prophecy tells us that even some Sabbath-keepers are idolaters as it says: ". . .Modern Israel are in greater danger of forgetting God and being led into idolatry than were His ancient people. Many idols are worshiped, even by professed Sabbathkeepers. . . ." Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 609. An idol is anything we put before God.
The Valley Of Achor---Her Door Of Hope.
And what is God's promise now to His church?
"And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt." Hosea 2:15.
This verse should clarify the truth concretely that Hosea's wife represents God's church beginning with the Exodus movement "in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the Egypt," and on down to the time of her complete restoration. This could not possibly be Hosea's literal wife as this covers a period of several centuries.
The Achans Removed.
If the valley of Achor is to be a door of hope to her, what else could it be but what is was in Joshua's time---the removal of the Achans of today From her midst (Hos. 2:15)? Indeed, this is her only hope---in fact, even more so than it was in the day of Israel's defeat at Ai, which was the gate to the Promised Land.
The Spirit of Prophecy in commenting on this says: "I was shown that the manner of Achan's confession was similar to the confessions that some among us have made and will make.
They hide their wrongs and refuse to make a voluntary confession until God searches them out, and then they acknowledge their sins. A few persons pass on in a course of wrong until they become hardened. They may even know that the church is burdened, as Achan knew that Israel were made weak before their enemies because of his guilt. Yet their consciences do not condemn them. They will not relieve the church by humbling their proud, rebellious hearts before God and putting away their wrongs. God's displeasure is upon His people, and He will not manifest His power in the midst of them while sins exist among them and are fostered by those in responsible positions.
"Those who work in the fear of God to rid the church of hindrances and to correct grievous wrongs, that the people of God may see the necessity of abhorring sin and may prosper in purity, and that the name of God may be glorified, will ever meet with resisting influences from the unconsecrated. Zephaniah thus describes the true state of this class and the terrible judgments that will come upon them:
"'And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil." "The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.'" Testimonies, Vol. 3, pp. 270,271.
"If the presence of one Achan was sufficient to weaken the whole camp of Israel, can we be surprised at the little success which attends our efforts when every church and almost every family has its Achan?" Testimonies. Vol. 5 pp. 157
"There is chaff among us, and this is why we are so weak. " Testimonies, Vol. 1 p. 288.
"The sin must be removed before God's Spirit can come in. I don't care where it is nor who it is, whether you have been a minister for a score of years, or whether you are the sinner just being awakened to the first-sense of guilt. Sin is sin everywhere; and it is sin that must be taken away before God can come in;" General Conference Bulletin 1893 p. 188.
"I have been shown that God here illustrates how He regards sin among those who profess to be His commandment-keeping people. . . .If the sins of the people are passed over by those in responsible positions, His frown will be upon them, and the people of God, as a body, will be held responsible for those sins." Testimonies, Vol. 3. p. 265.
"Achans in camp are cowards in action, and the defeat of All will surely follow.
"Now we can clearly see why there must be a sifting of God's people before the loud cry can be given. The cause of weakness must first be removed before valiant service can be expected in the field. A Gideon's band is mightier than the hosts of Midian. God's people will never be prepared to attack the sins of Babylon as long as the principle of Babylon is in their hearts. Therefore the giving of the loud cry must be preceded by a message to God's people. which will accomplish an entire separation from Babylon. . . The messenger must unite the fervor of Jeremiah with the fearlessness of Elijah." Review and Herald, Feb. 4, 1902 J.A. Brunson.
The Spirit of Prophecy describes this purging as a "terrible ordeal, " as it says: "The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out--the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place. None but those who have been overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony will be found with the loyal and true, without spot or stain of sin, without guile in their mouths." 2 Selected Messages p. 380.
The servant of the Lord left on record an account of just how this purging is to be done. "He who presides over His church and the destinies of nations is carrying forward the last work to be accomplished for this world. To His angels He gives the commission to execute His judgments. Let the ministers awake, let them take in the situation. The work of judgment begins at the sanctuary. "And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brazen altar." Read Ezekiel 9:2-7. The command is, "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." Saith God. "I will recompense their way upon their head."' Testimonies to Ministers pp. 431,432 Read also Testimonies, Vol. 5 p. 211.
The servant of the Lord goes on to tell us that it is actually the angels that do the separating. "The time of the harvest will fully determine the character of the two classes specified under the figure of the tares and the wheat. The work of separation is given to the angels of God, and not committed into the hands of any man." Testimonies to Ministers p. 47.
"As we near the judgment, all will manifest their true character, and it will be made plain to what company they belong. The sieve is moving. Let us not say: Stay Thy hand, O God. The church must be purged, and it will be." Testimonies, Vol. 1 p. 100.
For a more detailed explanation of this purging or cleansing please review Study #4, Ezekiel 9, literal or Spiritual?
Mother And Father Reunited.
Now let us go back to Hosea, chapter 2, and see what happens to God's church after the Achans are purged out:
"And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali." Hosea 2:16.
So it is that after the hypocrites and sinners are taken out the way, the church shall no longer call the Saviour Baali (Lord), but she shall call him Ishi (Husband). The significance is that then He will truly be her husband, she will not be following after her other lovers-the world. Today the church as a body does not have that close relationship to Him as a bride does to her husband. It is more like a relationship that one has to some great personality. Yes, rather than be her lord, God is indeed to be her husband, for one can have lords many, but only one husband.
Names Of Ballim Forgotten.
"For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name." Hosea 2:17.
The names of Baalim are significant of persons possessing selfish characters such as Balaam's teachers of religion, prophets who would rather curse Israel than lose the opportunity of monetary gain, or of some other foolish, selfish promotion that exalts and flatters. Such shall then no longer be known by their lordly, high and exalted titles.
When the Church is thus purged of all her idols, then will she find eternal peace. Then the church militant, will become the church Triumphant. (See Testimonies to Ministers pp. 45, 47.) "The work is soon to close. The members of the church militant who have proved faithful will become the church triumphant.-- Letter 32, 1892." Evangelism p. 707.
Peace Restored In The Home Again.
"And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord. And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel." Hosea 2:18-22.
The Spirit of Prophecy in commenting on these verses says, "In the last days of this earth's history, God's covenant with His commandment-keeping people is to be renewed. "In that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. And I will betroth thee unto Me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord.
"And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her unto Me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not My people, Thou art My people; and they shall say, Thou art my God." Verses 18-23.
""In that day" "the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, . . . shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth." Isaiah 10:20. From "every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" there will be some who will gladly respond to the message, "Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come." They will turn from every idol that binds them to earth, and will "worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." They will free themselves from every entanglement and will stand before the world as monuments of God's mercy. Obedient to the divine requirements, they will be recognized by angels and by men as those that have kept "the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14:6,7,12." Prophets and Kings pp. 299-300. See also Rev. 7:9.
The Earth Shall Hear God's Voice.
These verses (Hos. 2:18-22) plainly show that God's presence will in that day be in His church, that even the heavens will-be listening to God's voice while He speaks to His people here on earth. The earth shall also hear the "corn, and the wine, and the oil;" that is, the earth shall hear the Truth---Truth that satisfies the soul as does wholesome, and nourishing food.
Other Scriptures point out this same glorious truth. "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." Habakkuk 2:14.
During the time of the Loud Cry the Scriptures portray the earth as being full of light: "And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory." Rev. 18:1.
"The Loud Cry. --During the loud cry, the church, aided by the providential interpositions of her exalted Lord, will diffuse the knowledge of salvation so abundantly that light will be communicated to every city and town. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of salvation. So abundantly will the renewing Spirit of God have crowned with success the intensely active agencies, that the light of present truth will be seen flashing everywhere.-- Review and Herald, Oct. 13, 1904." Evangelism, pp. 694.
Moreover, not only the corn, the wine, and the oil---the whole Truth---but Jezreel, too, shall the earth hear. Plainly, all these promises are to be fulfilled during probationary time, for they cannot do the earth any good after probationary time is exhausted.
God's People Multiplied.
Now for the last verse of Hosea, chapter 2.
"And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God." Hosea 2:23.
The promise, "I will sow (multiply) her unto me in the earth," bears further substantiation that there is to be an ingathering of souls after the purification. Hence Jezreel's message accomplishes all this before the final close of probation---that for the world.
This evidence upon evidence makes clear that after the 144,000 are sealed and separated from among the tares in the church, God "will send . . . them unto the nations," where "they shall declare" His "glory among the Gentiles. And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations. . .in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord." Isaiah 66:19,20 (see also Rev. 7:9.)
Thus in the closing work for the world, when the last great harvest shall be gathered in---during the time of the Loud Cry---the church will be " . . . '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.
Let us now review our study by following the chart on pp. 16, 17. Here we see Jezreel, Lo-ruhumah, and Lo-ammi as little children pictorially representing the kingdom of Israel and Judah in their calamities, a complete but brief history of the Old Testament church and her people.
Then we see that the letters "Lo" are dropped from the names Ruhamah and Ammi, denoting a change of names-Jews called Christians,---meaning "mercy" and "My people" instead of "no mercy" and "not My people." Jezreel's name though, remains the same, and as he represents God's messengers in all times, this shows that they are the descendants of Jacob and therefore we must hear and obey them.
The family as little children representing the people of the Old Testament church, and as youth representing the New Testament church, show that spiritual growth has been made through the stream of time, as was shown in the prophecy of Ezekiel 4, concerning the truths that were restored during the reformation (see Study #12, "Our Fourth Years Wilderness Wanderings"), that these children are now grown, able to take "strong meat," and truly to be the reformers to the church, and the missionaries to the world.
We also see that the same mother and the same father, along with the same children, represent both the Old and New Testament churches; that the descendants of Jacob in reality are the old olive tree (Rom. 11:24), that the only way the Gentiles can get into the kingdom is for them to be grafted into the old olive tree. Jew or Gentile, all must join it if they are to be in the kingdom. This can be done only by our own consent and action now while the Spirit is pleading with us, and while the Lord stands ready to do the work. No one need be excluded. No one need remain a lukewarm Laodicean unless he so chooses. Our hope is that all will chose life rather than death.
Next we see that the church as portrayed in Hosea's prophecy is composed of a Father, a mother, and of sons and daughter, that the Father is God; that the wife is the ministry (those who bring in converts); that the children are the laity. We see also that the church (woman) was married to the Lord in her youth, "in the day she came up out of the land of Egypt", as the Spirit of Prophecy says: "Soon after the encampment at Sinai, Moses was called up into the mountain to meet with God. . . Israel was now to be taken into a close and peculiar relation to the Most High---to be incorporated as a church and a nation under the government of God." Patriarchs and Prophets p. 303.
From What Walk Of Life Would We Expect This Antitypical Jezreel (God's Mouthpiece for Today) To Come From?
"God never selected as a prophet either the high priest or any other great personage; but ordinarily He chose low and despised men, once even the shepherd Amos. In every age, the saints have had to reprove the great, kings, princes, priests, and wise men, at the peril of their lives. . . ." Great Controversy pp. 142,143.
"But the Holy Spirit will, from time to time, reveal the truth through its own chosen agencies; and no man, not even a priest or ruler, has a right to say, You shall not give publicity to your opinions, because I do not believe them. That wonderful "I" may attempt to put down the Holy Spirit's teaching. Men may for a time attempt to smother it and kill it; but that will not make error truth, or truth error." Testimonies to Ministers p. 70.
Elder A.T. Jones made this statement in 1893: "That, (the 1888 experience) however, is but a sample. There will be things to come that will be more surprising than that was to those at Minneapolis,---more surprising than anything we have yet seen. And, brethren, we will be required to receive and preach that truth. But unless you and I have every fiber of that spirit rooted out of our hearts, we will treat that message and the messenger by whom it is sent, as God declared we have treated this other message." General Conference Bulletin, 1893 p. 185.
From the foregoing facts we must conclude then that the knowledgeable student of the Scriptures would not be expecting the-Jezreel of today to come from the generally expected channels.
Why Doesn't The Lord Generally Choose Men Of Learning & High Position To Lead Out In Reform Movements?
"The reason why He does not oftener choose men of learning and high position to lead out in reform movements is that they trust to their creeds, theories, and theological systems, and feel no need to be taught of God." Great Controversy p . 456.
"Those who have trusted to intellect, genius, or talent will not then stand at the head of rank and file. They did not keep pace with the light. Those who have proved themselves unfaithful will not then be entrusted with the flock. In the last solemn work few great men will be engaged. They are self-sufficient, independent of God, and He cannot use them. The Lord has faithful servants, who in the shaking, testing time will be disclosed to view." Testimonies. Vol. 5, pp. 80,81.
Upon What Principle Should We Accept Any Truth?
"Those who allow prejudice to bar the mind against the reception of truth cannot receive the divine enlightenment. Yet, when a view of Scripture is presented, many do not ask, Is it true--in harmony with God's word? but, By whom is it advocated? and unless it comes through the very channel that pleases them, they do not accept it.
"The Lord often works where we least expect Him; He surprises us by revealing His power through instruments of His own choice, while He passes by the men to whom we have looked as those through whom light should come. God desires us to receive the truth upon its own merits--because it is truth." Testimonies to Ministers pp. 105,106.
"No matter by whom light is sent, we should open our hearts to receive it with the meekness of Christ. But many do not do this. When a controverted point is presented, they pour in question after question, without admitting a point when it is well sustained. O, may we act as men who want light!
"The Lord sends light to us to prove what manner of spirit we are of. We are not to deceive ourselves." Gospel Workers, pp. 301,302.
One who entrusts to another the investigation of a message from the Lord, is making flesh his arm, and thus is foolishly acting as without a mind of his own. And "the mind that depends upon the judgment of others is certain, sooner or later, to be misled." Education p. 231.
Why Can We Not Put Explicit Trust In Anyone when It Comes To Matters Of Eternal Interest?
"We must not trust to others to search the Scriptures for us. Some of our leading brethren have frequently taken their position on the wrong side; and if God would send a message and wait for these older brethren to open the way for its advancement, it would never reach the people.
"A great work is to be done, and God sees that our leading men have need of more light, that they may unite with the messengers whom He sends to accomplish the work that He designs shall be done. The Lord has raised up messengers, and endued them with His Spirit, and has said, "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.". . . Let no one run the risk of interposing between the people and the message of Heaven. This message will go to the people; and if there were no voice among men to give it, the very stones would cry out." Gospel Workers pp. 303 304.
"But beware of rejecting that which is truth. The great danger with our people has been that of depending upon men and making flesh their arm. Those who have not been in the habit of searching the Bible for themselves, or weighing evidence, have confidence in the leading men and accept the decisions they make; and thus many will reject the very messages God sends to His people, if these leading brethren do not accept them.
"No one should claim that he has all the light there is for God's people. The Lord will not tolerate this. He has said, "I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." Even if all our leading men should refuse light and truth, that door will still remain open. The Lord will raise up men who will give the people the message for this time." Testimonies to Ministers pp. 106-107.
"In the manifestation of that power which lightens the earth with the glory of God, they will see only something which in their blindness they think dangerous, something which will arouse their fears, and they will brace themselves to resist it. Because the Lord does not work according to their ideas and expectations, they will oppose the work. "Why," they say, "should not we know the Spirit of God, when we have been in the work so many years?" Review and Herald, Dec. 23, 1890.
What Was One Of The Greatest Arguments Against William Miller's Movement?
"To William Miller and his co-laborers it was given to preach the warning in America. . . .
"There were comparatively few ministers, however, who would accept this message; therefore it was largely committed to humble laymen. Farmers left their fields, mechanics their tools, traders their merchandise, professional men their positions; and yet the number of workers was small in comparison with the work to be accomplished." Great Controversy pp. 368.
"The fact that the message was, to a great extent, preached by laymen, was urged as an instrument against it. As of old, the plain testimony of God's word was met with the inquiry:
"Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed?"' Great Controversy pp. 380.
"Light must come to the people through agents whom God shall choose, who will give the note of warning, that none may be in ignorance of the purposes of God or the devices of Satan. At the great heart of the work, Satan will use his hellish arts to the utmost. He will seek in every possible way to interpose himself between the people and God, and shut away the light that God would have come to his children." Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Dec. 24, 1889.
May we as God's remnant church be willing to accept truth through whatever channels the Lord shall choose.
Whom Will The Lord Choose To Finish His Work?
"Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed. As the time comes for it to be given with greatest power, the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the training of literary institutions." Great Controversy p. 606.
"But the Lord will use in the accomplishment of His work means that we do not now see. He will raise up from among the common people, men and women to do His work, even as of old He called fishermen to be his disciples. There will soon be an awakening that will surprise many. Those who do not realize the necessity of what is to be done, will be passed by, and the heavenly messengers will work with those who are called the common people, fitting them to carry the truth to many places. Now is the time for us to awake and do what we can." The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, pp. 319.
"God will move upon men in humble positions to declare the message of present truth. Many such will be seen hastening hither and thither, constrained by the Spirit of God to give the light to those in darkness. The truth is as a fire in their bones, filling them with a burning desire to enlighten those who sit in darkness. Many, even among the uneducated, will proclaim the word of the Lord. Children will be impelled by the Holy Spirit to go forth to declare the message of heaven. The Spirit will be poured out upon those who yield to His promptings. Casting off man's binding rules and cautious movements, they will join the army of the Lord.
"In the future, men in the common walks of life will be impressed by the Spirit of the Lord to leave their ordinary employment and go forth to proclaim the last message of mercy." Testimonies, Vol. 7 pp. 26,27.
It is not our intention to cast reflection upon the present leadership of the church as we are well aware of the fact that the Lord has His faithful people among the ministry as well as the laity. However, we must not fail to conceal any of the truths that the servant of the Lord has left on record for us.
What Truly Makes One Great In God's Sight?
"Only those who have a personal connection with the Source of wisdom are able to understand or explain the Scriptures. Men who have little of the learning of the schools are sometimes called to declare the truth, not because they are unlearned, but because they are not too self-sufficient to be taught of God. They learn in the school of Christ, and their humility and obedience make them great. In committing to them a knowledge of His truth, God confers upon them an honor, in comparison with which earthly honor and human greatness sink into insignificance." Great Controversy p. 456.
"Time is short, and what you do must be done quickly. Resolve to redeem the time. Seek not your own pleasure. Rouse yourself! Take hold of the work with a new purpose of heart. The Lord will open the way before you. Make every possible effort to work in Christ's lines, in meekness and lowliness, relying upon Him for strength. Understand the work the Lord gives you to do, and, trusting in God, you will be enabled to go on from strength to strength, from grace to grace. You will be enabled to work diligently, perseveringly, for your people while the day lasts; for the night cometh in which no man shall work." Testimonies, Vol . 9 p . 200.
The Lord's heartrending plea to His church today is: "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." Rev. 2:4-5.
How glorious it is to know that God will have a remnant from His church that will return to their first love, and this revival and reformation brought forth by this laymen's movement shall accomplish its given work. And as a result the purified church of God shall live happily in peace and safety forevermore!
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