Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 78, 1897

The Blessing of Obedience


July 28, 1897

This manuscript is published in entirety in ST 09/22/1898, 02/08/1899, RH 12/13/1898, 12/20/1898, 12/27/1898. +Note

“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all commandments is, Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Christ’s answer was direct and explicit. Supreme love to God is an evidence that the truth is an abiding principle in the mind and heart. The second is like the first, said Christ; for it flows out of it, and is founded upon it: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” [Mark 12:28-31.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 1

“And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master thou hast said the truth; for there is one God; and there is none other but he: and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” [Verses 32, 33.] This response from one of the scribes, the plain statement of his convictions was more than the scribes and Pharisees expected to hear. Truth that condemned their own traditions and example had been expressed by Christ and voiced by one of their own number. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 2

When Jesus saw that the scribe had moral courage to speak the truth in the face of the frowning Pharisees, and that “he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any questions.” [Verse 34.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 3

The law of God, plainly defined by Christ, is not so many separate precepts, some of which are of great importance, while others are of small importance, and may be belittled and ignored. Our Lord presents the first four and the last six commandments as a divine whole. Under the two heads, love to God and love to our neighbor, a divine unity binds all the precepts together. By these two principles man’s character is tested, and he is shown to be obedient or disobedient. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 4

These two principles are immutable, as eternal as is the throne of God. Those who obey the first, loving God supremely, will pour out the riches of God’s goodness in love and compassion to his fellow men. This is a faith that works by love, and purifies the soul. This means far more than a mere acknowledgment of the truth, more than ceremonious worship, or the offering of sacrifices. Those who truly obey the law offer to God the whole service required by Him. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 5

In keeping God’s commandments there is great reward, even in this life. Our conscience does not condemn us. Our hearts are not at enmity with God, but at peace with Him! But self-love, self-exaltation, cannot in any way be acceptable to God. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 6

The grace of God, which, if received, leads to the practice of right things, is the line of demarcation between God’s children and the multitude that believe not. While one is brought into captivity to Christ, another is brought into captivity and bondage to the prince of darkness. He who has responded to the drawing of Christ is aglow with His love. He shows forth the praises of Him who has called him out of darkness into His marvelous light. He cannot help employing his talent of speech to show forth the grace which has been so abundantly bestowed on him. He has enlisted in the army of those who strive to advance the glory of God, and has thus become a channel of light. Willing and obedient, he is one of the number who are called by Inspiration, “a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” [1 Peter 2:9.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 7

With the peace and joy of those who thus serve God, there is always seen a godly fear, “lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” [Hebrews 4:1.] This sanctified fear is entirely proper. It is not a servile, cowardly fear; it is a dread to do anything that Christ will not approve. This fear regulates the Christian experience. Those who feel it sanctify the Lord in their hearts. They regard God with a reverence and love that leads to self-abasement. But their fear is very different from the terror of a slave, who lives in expectation of the lash. This genuine fear leads to firm reliance on God. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 8

The Pharisees Silenced

“Then began he to speak to the people this parable: A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of his vineyard; but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be that they will reverence him when they see him. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 9

“But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir, come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?” The Pharisees and priests answered, “He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid. And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? Whosoever shall fail upon that stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it will fall, it will grind him to powder.” [Luke 20:9-18.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 10

The Pharisees had watched Christ narrowly as He gave this parable. They were cut to the heart by His words, for they could not fail to see that He could read every purpose of the soul. To them, Christ’s words were a sign of His divine character; but they dreaded to hear them, because Christ told them the truth. They decided that Christ knew too much of their base practices to be allowed to live. They feared that He would lay before the people the wicked deeds they had committed, and the result would be that their popularity would cease. Therefore they planned to entrap Him in His words. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 11

In the parable of the vineyard Christ had exposed their deceptions, and had declared that the Lord of the vineyard would punish the Jewish nation with fearful severity. This people had treated His servants with contempt, injustice, and cruelty; the kingdom would be taken from them, and given to those who would obey its ruler. The scribes and Pharisees knew that this parable referred to them. It pointed them out as the very ones whose sentence they themselves had pronounced. They were filled with anger against Christ, and without farther delay they would have laid hands on Him, and silenced His voice, so that He would no longer annoy them. But they feared the people. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 12

Baffled thus far in their attempts to entrap Christ, the Pharisees took counsel with the Herodians. Having laid their plans, they sent forth spies, “which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.” [Verse 20.] They did not send the old Pharisees, whom Jesus had often met; but young men, who were ardent and zealous, and whom, they thought, Christ did not know. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 13

Feigning to be interested in a certain question, the spies of the Pharisees and Herodians approached Christ. With apparent sincerity, as though desiring to know their duty, they said, “Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly.” [Verse 21.] Had they been sincere, these words would have been a wonderful admission, but they were spoken to deceive. This testimony was true, however. The Pharisees did know that Christ said and taught rightly, and by their own testimony will they be judged. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 14

“Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar or no?” they continued. [Verse 22.] This was a question over which there was much contention. Many denied the right of the Romans to demand tribute. The Pharisees paid their taxes unwillingly. The spies decided to ask Christ this question, thinking that He would answer it by a simple Yea or Nay. And if he told them that it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar, He would be going contrary to the opinion of the Jewish nation, and would thus be put out of popular favor. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 15

Apparently those who asked this question, asked it honestly; and they thought that they had sufficiently disguised their purpose. But Jesus read their hearts as an open book, and sounded their hypocrisy. “Why tempt ye me?” He asked; thus giving them a sign they had not asked, by showing that He read their hidden purposes. They were still more confused when He said, “Show me a penny.” They brought it, and He asked them, “Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar’s.” Pointing to the inscription on the coin, Jesus said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s.” [Verses 23-25.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 16

Thus Christ rebuked the hypocrisy and presumption of the Pharisees, and His answer seemed so wise to the bystanders that they admired His tact and wisdom. Another evidence of the divine character was given the Jews. Christ’s reply was no evasion, but a candid answer to the question. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 17

Not only were the Pharisees rebuked by Christ’s words, but in many minds a vexed question was settled. For ever after they held to the right principle. And although many went away dissatisfied, they saw that the principle underlying the question had been laid out in straight lines. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 18

When the Pharisees heard Christ’s answer, “they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.” [Matthew 22:22.] They could not at that time satisfy their wrath, but they were determined to carry out their purposes. They were convinced against their will, but though they marvelled exceedingly at Christ’s wisdom, they would not yield <their pride and accept Christ.> And from that time evidence had no effect on their deep-rooted prejudice. They manifested bitter opposition and intense hatred against Christ. There was no more peace or rest for Him, for the cavilling of the priests was constant, and their plans and schemes to entrap Him were abundant. They set spies on His track, to report His movements. They though this was unknown to Christ, but He was much more accurately acquainted with their movements than were they with His. He know every step that would be taken, and every event that would take place. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 19

But in spite of the opposition of the priests, Christ kept His mission ever before Him. With a heart ever touched by human woe, He ministered to those around Him. His words were spoken with clearness, simplicity, and authority. His sermons were such as had never before been heard. His principles were so clearly and wisely inculcated that no one needed to make a misstep if they but followed Him, and kept His words. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 20

Words of Warning

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” [Matthew 23:37-39.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 21

This was the most solemn denunciation that had ever been uttered against Jerusalem. After denouncing the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders who worshiped the temple, but who were working with a hatred inspired by Satan to destroy the One who made the temple, in any way sacred, Christ bade adieu to the hallowed courts. He quitted the temple forever, declaring, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” [Verse 38.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 22

From henceforth Christ saw a cloud blacker than sackcloth hanging over the once-favored nation. Looking into the future, He saw the gates of Jerusalem burst open by the assaults of the Roman legions. He saw the walls <of purest marble,> that looked like walls of snow, broken, and the beautiful stones, which had been laid with artistic skill one upon another, torn down, so that not one was left standing. The strong to save had become strong to smite. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 23

Solemn judgments had been predicted against Jerusalem by the prophets. Its iniquity and crime had once caused it to be destroyed, and its people carried captive to Babylon. In their humiliation, many sought the Lord with repentance and confession. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 24

When they returned from captivity, there seemed for a time to be a reformation. “I will not contend forever,” God declared, “neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him; I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him, and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is afar off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him.” [Isaiah 57:16-19.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 25

But the leaders of the people did not remain converted. They did not, as faithful sentinels, keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. The Word of the Lord through His prophets was refused. Then God sent His only begotten Son with a message of mercy, calling on them to repent, but they refused to receive Him, and said, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” [Mark 12:7.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 26

The time of greatest responsibility for the Jewish nation was when Jesus was among them. This was the time of their greatest privilege and blessing. But Christ came to His own, and His own received Him not. By refusing every overture of mercy, by rejecting the Son of God, the Jewish people made themselves guilty of the greatest of all sins. Christ charges the whole nation with this sin. In rejecting My servants and prophets, He says, you have not only rejected them; you have rejected the Son of God, whose you are by creation and by redemption. Ye would none of My counsel, ye despised all My reproof. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 27

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, if thou art destroyed, thou thyself wilt be responsible. Ye would not come unto me, that ye might have life. I have offered you help, because I loved you. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that art sent unto you, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. You have refused the mercy and blessing I came to the world to bring. You have refused to see in Me a merciful Saviour, offering you redemption. When God’s heavy judgments fall upon you, you will still refuse to see in Me a sin-pardoning Saviour. You will one day long for a Deliverer who was once among you, but who you would not receive. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 28

“Ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” [Matthew 23:39.] When they see Him again, they will ask no sign. That day will not be to them a day of joy, although the acknowledgment will come from their lips with overwhelming power as they behold Him, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” When Christ shall come in power and great glory, they will bless Him whom they once cursed, but it will then be too late. Thus with power and authority our Lord reproved the Jewish people. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 29

Jerusalem was lost because of its obstinate refusal to acknowledge the truth. This is the condition of the world today. Men refuse to see the truth so plainly given in the Word of God. “Thus saith the Lord” is counted as of no account, while the words of men are given great authority. And as the inhabitants of Jerusalem were punished, so will those be punished who refuse the truth. God would have us realize that by the city of Jerusalem a world is represented. Christ’s utterances regarding the destruction of Jerusalem are ever to be connected with the more terrible destruction of the world. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 30

The disciples were unable to comprehend Christ’s words in reference to the temple. They called His attention to its massive stones, saying, “Master, what manner of stones, and what buildings have we here.” [Mark 13:1.] The stones of the temple were of the purest marble, of perfect whiteness, and the pillars supporting the porches were of massive dimensions. How such stones as these could be overthrown, the disciples could not comprehend. They could not understand Christ’s words, which doomed to destruction the mighty walls, a portion of which had withstood the devastation of armies. Their ideas were vague and it was difficult for the Lord to make His lessons intelligible to them. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 31

As Christ’s attention was called to the magnificence of the temple, what must have been the unuttered thoughts of that rejected One? The view before Him was indeed beautiful, but Christ said with sadness, “I see it all. The buildings are indeed wonderful. You point to these stones as apparently indestructible, but listen to my words. I tell you solemnly that the day will come when there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.” [See verse 2.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 32

Christ warned His disciples of the destruction of Jerusalem as well as of the temple. This event was foretold by Daniel. The oblations and sacrifices were no more of value, for type had reached antitype in the one great oblation. And when the great antitypical sacrifice was offered, the veil of the temple was rent in twain. Forty years after Christ uttered His prediction, His words were fulfilled to the letter. In the siege of Jerusalem, it is stated that more than a million people perished, while many were led into captivity. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 33

Christ’s words had been spoken in the hearing of a large number of people; but when He was again alone, Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to Him, saying, “Tell us when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” [Mark 13:3; Matthew 24:3.] Jesus did not answer His disciples by taking up separately the destruction of Jerusalem, and the last great day of His coming. He mingled the description of these two events. When Christ referred to the destruction of Jerusalem, His prophetic words reached beyond that event to the final conflagration that will take place in that day when the Lord rises out of His place to punish the world for their iniquity, when the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. This entire chapter is a warning to those who shall live in the last scenes of this earth’s history. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 34

Turning to His disciples, Christ said, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” [Verses 4, 5.] Many false Messiahs will appear, claiming to work miracles, and declaring that the time of the deliverance of the Jewish nation has come. These will mislead many. These words were fulfilled. Between the death of Christ and the siege of Jerusalem, many false Messiahs appeared. But this warning is given also to those who live in this age of the world. The same deceptions practiced prior to the destruction of Jerusalem will be practiced again. The same events that took place at the overthrow of Jerusalem will take place again. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 35

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass; but the end is not yet.” Prior to the destruction of Jerusalem men wrestled for the supremacy. Emperors were murdered. Those supposed to be standing in next to the throne were slain. There were rumors of wars, but no actual conflict. “All these things must come to pass,” said Christ, “but the end (of the Jewish nation as a nation) is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” [Verses 6-8.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 36

But, said Christ, as the Rabbis see these signs, they will proclaim that they are God’s judgments on the nations for holding in bondage His chosen nation. They will declare that these signs are the token of the advent of the Messiah. Be not deceived; they are the beginning of His judgments. The people have looked to themselves. They have not repented and been converted that I should heal them. The signs that they argue are tokens of their release from bondage are signs of their destruction. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 37

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” [Verses 9, 10.] All this the Christians suffered. Mothers and fathers betrayed their children; children betrayed their parents. Friends delivered their friends up to the Sanhedrin. Saul of Tarsus was exceeding bitter against all who believed in Christ until he himself was converted. He then began to preach Christ and Him crucified, and the Jews caused him and Silas to be whipped, and thrown into prison. The persecutors wrought out their purposes by killing Stephen, Paul, Peter, and other Christians. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 38

Through the apostles God gave the Jewish people a last opportunity to repent. He manifested Himself through His witnesses, in their arrest, in their trial, and in their imprisonment. Yet their judges pronounced on them the death sentence. They were men of whom the world was not worthy, and yet they were not allowed to live and serve the God whose they were by creation and by redemption. By killing them, the Jews crucified afresh the Son of God, who had given His servants words to speak and a tongue and voice with which to vindicate the truth, and acknowledge Him as the only begotten Son of God. In so doing, the Jews were not only abusing the men; they were abusing Christ in the person of His saints. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 39

So it will be again. Seventh-day Adventists will fight the battle over the seventh day Sabbath. The authorities in the United States <and in other countries> will rise up in their pride and power and make laws to restrict religious liberty, as the authorities in this country are doing. They will assume the right that is God’s alone, and like Nebuchadnezzar, will think they can force the conscience, which God only can control. Even now they are making a beginning which they will continue to carry forward till they reach a boundary over which they cannot step. God will interpose in behalf of His loyal, commandment-keeping people. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 40

Christ told His disciples that they would be delivered up to councils, but He told them also that they were not to be anxious as to how they might vindicate the truth, for He would give them a mouth and wisdom that all their adversaries could not gainsay nor resist. These words were fulfilled at the mock trial of Stephen, and at the trial of Paul, who made Felix tremble, as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 41

On every occasion that persecution takes place, the witnesses make decisions, either for Christ or against Him. Those who show sympathy for the men wrongly condemned, who are not bitter against them, show their attachment for Christ. Many will be offended because the principles of the truth cut directly across their practice <or their income.> Many will stumble and fall, apostatizing from the faith they once advocated. Many who have professed to love the truth will then show that they had no vital union with the true vine. They will be cut away, as branches that bear no fruit, and will be bound up with unbelievers, scoffers, and mockers. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 42

“Little children, it is the last time,” writes John, “and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that it might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” [1 John 2:18, 19.] Those who apostatize in time of trial, will, to secure their own safety, bear false witness, and betray their brethren. They will tell where they are concealed, putting the wolves on their track. Christ has warned us of this, that we may not be surprised at the unnatural and cruel course of friends and relatives. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 43

“And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many.” [Matthew 24:11.] False Christs did arise, deceiving the people, and leading great numbers into the desert. Magicians and sorcerers, claiming miraculous power, drew the people after them into the mountain solitudes. But this prophecy was spoken also for the last days. This sign is given as a sign of the second advent. Companies inspired by Satan will be formed to deceive and to delude. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 44

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” [Verses 12-14.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 45

“When ye therefore shall see the abomination spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: (let there be no presumptuous dallying;) let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days. But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.” [Verses 15-20.] This warning was given to be heeded forty years after, at the destruction of Jerusalem. The Christians obeyed this warning, and not a Christian perished in the destruction of the city. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 46

“Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.” [Verse 20.] Christ, who made the Sabbath, did not abolish it, nailing it to His cross. The Sabbath was not rendered null and void by the death of Christ. Christ’s death on Calvary’s cross is an unanswerable argument in favor of the changeless character of every precept of God’s holy law. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 47

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets,” Christ said, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” [Matthew 5:17.] As the head of the human family He lived every precept, every jot and every tittle, of the law. He lived that life in humanity that He requires His followers to live, and therefore there is no excuse for anyone to fail of reaching the standard of perfection. He emphasizes His words: “For verily, I say unto you, One jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.” [Verse 18.] As long as the heavens and the earth remain, so long will the Sabbath of the fourth commandment hold its claim upon the human family. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 48

The Sabbath was given to the world as the memorial of creation. At the beginning of the Sabbath command are the words, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, not thy stranger that is within thy gates.” Then the reason is given. “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” [Exodus 20:8-11.] The explanation is full, so that none need be left in darkness unless they choose darkness rather than light. This the world is doing today, just as the Jews chose darkness in regard to the message Christ came to bring to the world. And the apostasy of the Jewish nation represents the apostasy that will be made by the world in the last day. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 49

The Sabbath, sanctified and blessed by God, was designed as His great memorial of creation. It is ever to stand unmoved, a rock of offense to the Christian world, as was Christ to the Jewish nation. The Sabbath is the test today, as Christ was the test when He was in our world in human form. The rejection of the Son of God decided the eternal destiny of the Jews. So will the rejection of God’s holy memorial decide the fate of Christians. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 50

The professed people of God may ignore the Sabbath; they may trample it under their feet, but they cannot make it less binding upon them. No one has any excuse for accepting the rubbish that has been piled on the Sabbath of the Lord. No one has an excuse for accepting a human sabbath, created by him whom God designates as the man of sin, who shall think to change times and laws. He thinks to, but he does not do it; although he may think thus to show his supremacy above God. But he cannot change God’s law; this is God’s prerogative only. God is over all kings and rulers on the face of the earth. He is God, and beside Him there is none else. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 51

“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers, believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” [Matthew 24:23-27.] Here again the warning regarding Jerusalem is blended with the warning of the second advent. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 52

The disciples heard Christ’s words, but they did not then fully understand them. The Holy Spirit must guide them into all truth, bringing to their remembrance all things that Christ had said to them. They could not understand why He connected the perils of the overthrow of Jerusalem with the perils of His second advent. But those who live in this age may understand Christ’s general warning, and should appropriate it to the period where it belongs. The gospel must be carried to every kingdom under heaven, and then shall the end come. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 53

Christ knew that the disciples could not take in the representation He had given them in answer to their question, “When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” [Verse 3.] Christ knew the terrible future of the once chosen people of God, but He knew also that His disciples could not fully understand His description of the fearful scenes to be enacted at the destruction of Jerusalem. In His answer, the two events—the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world—are merged into one. It was in mercy to His disciples that Christ thus blended these two events, leaving them to study out the meaning for themselves. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 54

Christ had made every effort to keep His disciples informed in regard to the truth. He had given them every opportunity to know the truth. He had invited them to place their confidence in Him as their Messiah, and in His mission and work, but they had not yet a proper understanding of the nature of His kingdom. They were thrilled with distress as they listened to His lamentation over Jerusalem; but they did not realize the true meaning of His words. Had Christ opened to them future events as He saw them, they would have been unable to endure it. To the last they looked for a temporal kingdom, which was to be established at Jerusalem. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 55

Christ’s declaration of the scenes to be enacted at the destruction of Jerusalem, they associated with His personal coming, when He Himself would punish the Jews, but would also free them from the Roman bondage. He had told them definitely that He would come a second time, and probably His judgments would then fall upon those who rejected His love. He would then, they thought, lay low every stone in the building; for they believed that no earthly power could do this. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 56

But retribution was to fall before this on the apostate nation, which was still further to show its malignity to Christ by its treatment of His followers. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 57

From the destruction of Jerusalem, Christ passed on to a much greater event, the last link in the chain of this earth’s history—the coming of the Son of God in majesty and glory. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sin be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” [Verses 29-31.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 58

Christ gave special directions with regard to this event. “Now learn a parable of the fig tree,” He said. “When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation (the generation that see the signs) shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” [Verses 32-35.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 59

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” [Verse 36.] Christ stated plainly to His disciples that He Himself could not make known the day and hour of His second appearing. Had He been at liberty to make this time known, what need would there have been for Him to exhort them to maintain an attitude of constant expectancy, living and working and waiting as though each day was, not their own, but the Lord’s, cultivating fidelity, faith, and love, and purifying the soul through the truth? 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 60

Christ tells His disciples that the time of His appearing is involved in secrecy. There will be those who claim to know the time of that great event. Very earnest are they in mapping out the future, which the Lord has placed in a thick cloud, that the day, the month, and even the year may not be known. Notwithstanding the continued failures of these time setters, they still continue their work. But their reasoning is false, and the Lord has warned them off the ground they occupy, for the coming of the Son of man is God’s mystery. “Secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever.” [Deuteronomy 29:29.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 61

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” [Matthew 24:37-39.] God does not here bring to view a temporal millennium, a thousand years in which all are to prepare for eternity. He tells us that as it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of man comes again. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 62

How was it in Noah’s day? “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” [Genesis 6:5.] Had man co-operated with God, there would have been no Cain-worshipers. Abel’s example of obedience would have been followed. Men might have worked out the expressed will of God. They might have obeyed His law, and in obedience they would have found their safety and salvation. God and the heavenly universe would have helped them to retain the divine likeness. Longevity would have been preserved; and God would have delighted in the work of His hands. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 63

But the inhabitants of the antediluvian world turned from Jehovah, refusing to do His holy will. They followed their unholy imagination and perverted ideas. “And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, ... Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. ... And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die.” [Verses 12-14, 17.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 64

Remember the warning, “As the days of Noah were, so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.” [Matthew 24:37.] It was because of the wickedness of the inhabitants of the old world that they were destroyed; and today the world is following in the same way. It presents no flattering signs of millennial glory. Human law-makers open their law books and pronounce sentence against those who do not keep their laws. But those who frame and enforce these laws are themselves transgressors of God’s law, and their transgression is filling the earth with wickedness and moral pollution. Their betting, their horse racing, their gambling, their dissipation, their lustful practices, their untamable passions, are fast filling the world with violence. Bank failures ruin thousands of families. Widows are orphans are left to starve. And yet those in authority are making and enforcing laws to uphold the first day of the week, which God has given as a common working day. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 65

These law makers speak to those under their supervision, saying, Verily, the first day of the week ye shall keep, because it is the world’s sabbath. The churches keep this day as holy, and those under our supervision shall keep it also, because it is so enforced on our statute books. We have chosen Sunday as the Sabbath and therefore everyone must keep it. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 66

What is this day that is so universally exalted? It is a spurious Sabbath, a common working day. It is accepted in the place of the seventh day, which the Lord has sanctified and blessed, and the sure consequence of this course may be seen in the punishment which fell upon Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron. As priests of God, they had been commanded to offer always the fire of God’s own kindling, which was kept burning before God day and night. This law was ever to be observed. But Nadab and Abihu had used wine too freely. Their minds were not keen, but confused; and they were unable to distinguish between the sacred and the common. “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” [Leviticus 10:1, 2.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 67

The Lord has given directions regarding His Sabbath: “The Lord speak unto Moses saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: everyone that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whoso doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done, but the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh he rested, and was refreshed.” [Exodus 31:12-17.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 68

The statutes of the Lord are to be reverenced and obeyed. But those who strive to make His law a dead letter, He will certainly punish. God is supreme authority in all His requirements, and when His law is set aside as a matter of no consequence, the transgressor must surely bear the consequence of his own sin, though God bears long with him. 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 69

“Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise ruler, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and shall appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [Matthew 24:44-51.] 12LtMs, Ms 78, 1897, par. 70