Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)
Ms 27, 1898
The Pure in Heart Shall See God.
February 18, 1898
Formerly Undated Ms 86. Portions of this manuscript are published in 5BC 1114.
The Lord draws near to those who draw near to Him, who pray earnestly for light and knowledge. The rest of the world, occupied and hurried with their own interests, are not prepared to recognize God. The first beams of light in regard to the first advent of Christ were given to the pure and simple in the Jewish nation, those who were willing to receive the light, and who were waiting to catch the first gleams of knowledge in regard to the Messiah’s coming. The priests and rulers, lofty in their own estimation, were unprepared to understand the teaching of the Scriptures in regard to Christ’s coming. But there were a few souls, lofty in the true sense of the word, who possessed high-minded spirituality. These were searching the Scriptures earnestly to know when Christ should appear. 13LtMs, Ms 27, 1898, par. 1
Among the number who were waiting and watching for Christ’s appearance, were Zacharias and Elisabeth. We read of them, “They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” [Luke 1:6.] Zacharias was engaged in the temple service. The inspired Record declares that he possessed inward piety, and that his outward life was in perfect accord with his inner life. He was upright in his dealings with his fellow men, and conscientious in the discharge of his religious duties. While moral depravity existed all around him, among the Pharisees, the Levitical priesthood, the publicans and sinners, Zacharias stood, as a lofty cedar of Lebanon, unshaken in carrying out the right. 13LtMs, Ms 27, 1898, par. 2
Throughout his married life, Zacharias had prayed for a son. He and his wife were now old, and as yet their prayer had remained unanswered; but he murmured not. God had not forgotten. He had His appointed time for answering this prayer, and when the case seemed hopeless, Zacharias received his answer. 13LtMs, Ms 27, 1898, par. 3
“It came to pass that when he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.” [Verses 8, 9.] Daily, morning and evening, incense was offered on the golden altar in the sacred place. While this was being done, the people waited in the outer court, praying and confessing their sins, until the priest should come out and dismiss them with his blessing. 13LtMs, Ms 27, 1898, par. 4
As Zacharias entered the holy place, and performed the required service with solemn reverence, another form appeared, standing between the altar and the table of shewbread. It was Gabriel, the mighty messenger of God. When Zacharias saw the angel, “he was troubled, and fear fell on him.” But Gabriel had concealed his glory, and he said, “Fear not, Zacharias; for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink.” [Verses 12-15.] Let us think of this charge. Wine and strong drink are barriers in the way of service to God; and John was to be educated in true temperance. 13LtMs, Ms 27, 1898, par. 5
“And he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb; and many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” [Verses 15-17.] 13LtMs, Ms 27, 1898, par. 6
This message was apparently an impossibility, and Zacharias said, “Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God: and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.” [Verses 18-20.] 13LtMs, Ms 27, 1898, par. 7
“And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple.” [Verses 21, 22.] As the penalty of his unbelief, a temporary dumbness came upon him, and when he went out of the temple to the congregation, he could only spread out his hands and look up to heaven. He could not pronounce the usual benediction. 13LtMs, Ms 27, 1898, par. 8
But the answer had come. God had not forgotten the prayer of His servants. He had written it in His record book, to be answered in His own good time. Looking at outward appearances, Zacharias and Elisabeth had buried their hopes, but the Lord had not forgotten. He knew of the long years of disappointment, and when His own name could best be glorified, their son was born. How tender, how kind, how full of love and compassion, is the great heart of infinite love. God gave Zacharias as a son no ordinary person, but one who should hold a high place in His work, and from whom the light from heaven should shine in clear, distinct rays. 13LtMs, Ms 27, 1898, par. 9
In the order of God’s providence, Bethlehem was the birthplace of the Prince of life, whose glory shall fill the whole earth, and whose dominion shall endure throughout all generations. He came to bring a message of mercy to our world, to uplift all that cast down, and to gladden the waste places of the earth. 13LtMs, Ms 27, 1898, par. 10