Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

Ms 36, 1896

Obedience the Condition of Success


December 9, 1896

Portions of this manuscript are published in TDG 352; 3MR 186-187; CTr 180.

The strength of nations and of individuals is not found in the opportunities and facilities that appear to make them invincible; it is not found in their boasted greatness. That which alone can make them great or strong, is the power and purpose of God. They themselves, by their attitude toward His purpose decide their own destiny. 11LtMs, Ms 36, 1896, par. 1

Human histories relate man’s achievements, his victories in battle, his success in climbing to worldly greatness. God’s history describes man as heaven views him. In the divine records all his merit is seen to consist in his obedience to God’s requirements. His disobedience is faithfully chronicled as meriting the punishment he will surely receive. In the light of eternity it will be seen that God deals with men in accordance with the momentous question of obedience or disobedience. 11LtMs, Ms 36, 1896, par. 2

Hundreds of years before a people has come upon the stage of action, the prophetic pen, under the dictation of the Holy Spirit, has traced its history. The prophet Daniel described the kingdoms that would rise and fall. Interpreting to the king of Babylon the dream of the great image, he declared to Nebuchadnezzar that his kingdom should be superseded. His greatness and power in God’s world would have its day, and a second kingdom should arise which also should have its period of test and trial as to whether the people would exalt the one Ruler, the only true God. Not doing this, their glory would fade away, and a third kingdom would occupy their place. Proved by obedience or disobedience, this also would pass away; and a fourth strong as iron, was to subdue the nations of the world. This Word, opened by the infinite God to finite man, recorded on the prophetic page, and traced on the pages of history, declares that God is the ruling power. He changeth the times and the seasons, He removeth kings and setteth up kings, to fulfil His own purpose. 11LtMs, Ms 36, 1896, par. 3

Under King Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon was the richest and most powerful kingdom on the earth. Its riches and splendor have been faintly portrayed by Inspiration. But when God’s time had come, that kingdom of pride and power, ruled by men of the highest intellect, was broken, shattered, helpless. Christ has declared, “Without me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] Illustrious statesmen did not regard themselves as dependent upon God. They thought that they themselves had created all their grandeur and exaltation. But when God speaks, they are as the grass that groweth up, and the flower of the grass that fadeth away. The Word and will of God alone liveth and endureth forever. 11LtMs, Ms 36, 1896, par. 4

The voice of God, heard in past ages, is sounding down along the line from century to century, through generations that have come on the stage of action and passed away. Shall God speak, and His voice not be respected? What power mapped out all this history, that nations, one after another, should fill in their predicted time and place, unconsciously witnessing to the truth of which they themselves knew not the meaning? 11LtMs, Ms 36, 1896, par. 5

History and prophecy testify that the God of the whole earth revealeth secrets through His chosen light-bearers to the world. A skeptical world, talking and writing of higher education, is prating of things which they do not understand. They do not see that true higher education comprehends a more perfect knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. There are few who understand that all true human science is from the God of science, and that God demonstrates to the world that He is king over all. 11LtMs, Ms 36, 1896, par. 6

Nebuchadnezzar, through his terrible humiliation in the loss of his reason, was brought to see his own weakness, and to acknowledge the supremacy of the living God. He declared, “At the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing. And he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? ... Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the king of heaven, all whose works are truth and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.” [Daniel 4:34, 35, 37.] 11LtMs, Ms 36, 1896, par. 7

To every man, God has assigned a place in His great plan. By truth or falsehood, by folly or wisdom, each is fulfilling a purpose, bringing about certain results. And each, according as he chooses obedience or disobedience, is deciding his own eternal destiny. To every one is given freedom to act, and upon everyone rests the responsibility of his own actions. But our words and actions must pass the test of God’s high standard, or we shall be bound up with the wicked, to receive an eternal retribution. 11LtMs, Ms 36, 1896, par. 8

The centuries have their mission. Every moment has its work. Each is passing into eternity with its burden: Well done, thou good and faithful servant, or Woe to the wicked and slothful servant. God is still dealing with earthly kingdoms. He is in the great cities. His eyes behold, his eyelids try the doing of the children of men. We are not to say, God was, but [say], God is. He sees the very sparrows’ fall, the leaf that falls from the tree, and the king who is dethroned. All are under the control of the Infinite One. All around is changing. Cities and nations are being measured by the plummet in the hand of God. He never makes a mistake. He reads correctly. Everything earthly is unsettled, but the truth abides forever. 11LtMs, Ms 36, 1896, par. 9

In the eyes of the world, those who serve God may appear weak. They may be apparently sinking beneath the billows; but with the next billow they are seen rising nearer to their haven. “I give unto them eternal life,” saith our Lord, “and none shall be able to pluck them out of my hand.” [John 10:28.] Though kings shall be cast down, and nations removed, the souls that through faith link themselves with God’s purposes shall abide forever. “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” [Daniel 12:3.] 11LtMs, Ms 36, 1896, par. 10