Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)
Ms 51, 1898
The Hebrew Captives.
May 1, 1898
This manuscript is published in entirety in 12MR 120-123.
“And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.” [Daniel 9:3.] 13LtMs, Ms 51, 1898, par. 1
Daniel knew the value of prayer, its aim, and its object. The prayers which he and his three companions offered after being chosen by the king for the courts of Babylon received answers, which he acknowledged. But prayer is not understood as it should be. Our prayers are not to inform God of anything which He does not know. The Lord is acquainted with the secrets of every soul. Prayers need not be loud and long. The prayers that are offered to tell the Lord of all our wretchedness, when we do not feel wretched at all are the prayers of hypocrisy. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a humble and contrite spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the hearts of the contrite ones.” [Isaiah 57:15.] 13LtMs, Ms 51, 1898, par. 2
The Lord hears the contrite prayer. He reads the hidden thought. We may pray in secret, where no man can see or hear, and He who seeth in secret will hear and reward us openly. Prayer is not intended to work any change in God. It brings us into harmony with God. It is not to take the place of duty. The prayer offered ever so often and ever so earnestly will never be accepted by God in place of your tithe money. Prayer will not pay your debts to God. The servant of Jesus Christ is to pray and rely upon God as did Daniel in the courts of Babylon. 13LtMs, Ms 51, 1898, par. 3
The youth have an example in Daniel, and if they are true to principle and to duty they will be instructed as Daniel was. As the wisdom of the world viewed the matter, he and his three companions had every advantage secured to them. But here their first test was to come. Their principles must come into collision with the regulations and appointments of the king. They were to eat of the food placed upon his table and drink of his wine. Three years was this diet to last before their examination should take place, and then they were to be brought in before the king. 13LtMs, Ms 51, 1898, par. 4
But Daniel and his companions did not take the position that because their food and drink was of the king’s appointment it was their duty to partake of it. They prayed over the matter, and studied the Scriptures. Their education had been of such a character that they felt even in their captivity that God was their dependence. After careful consideration from cause to effect, we read that Daniel “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank. Therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” [Daniel 1:8.] 13LtMs, Ms 51, 1898, par. 5
This request was not preferred in a defiant spirit, but was solicited as a great favor. The appearance of Daniel and his companions was just like that which every youth’s should be. They were courteous, kind, respectful, possessing the grace of meekness and modesty. And now as Daniel and his fellows were brought to the test, they placed themselves fully on the side of righteousness and truth. They did not move capriciously, but intelligently. They decided that as flesh meats had not composed their diet in the past, neither should it come into their diet in the future. And as the use of wine had been prohibited to all those who should engage in the service of God, they determined that they would not partake of it. The fate of the sons of Aaron had been presented before them, and they knew that the use of wine would confuse their senses, that the indulgence of appetite would place them where their powers of discernment would become beclouded. Nadab and Abihu disobeyed the requirements of God and used the common fire in the place of the sacred. 13LtMs, Ms 51, 1898, par. 6
These particulars were placed on record in the history of the children of Israel as a warning to all youth to avoid all approach to customs and practices and indulgences that would dishonor God in any way. Daniel and his companions knew not what would be the result of their decision. They knew not but that it would cost them their lives, but they determined to keep the straight path of strict temperance, even in the courts of licentious Babylon. 13LtMs, Ms 51, 1898, par. 7
“And God brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” [Verse 9.] The good behavior of these youth obtained for them favor. They rested their case in the hands of God, following a discipline of self-denial and temperance in all things. And the Lord co-operated with Daniel and his fellows, the servants of the only true God. The Lord had the charge of these youth, because they prayed to Him and trusted in the Lord in regard to the course they should pursue, to do all that lay in their power to reveal the infinite superiority of the worship of the true God. 13LtMs, Ms 51, 1898, par. 8
There was another class of captives carried into Babylon. They were permitted to be torn from their homes and carried into a land of idolaters, because they were themselves constantly going into idolatry. The Lord let them have all they desired of the idolatrous practices of Babylon. The righteous with the unrighteous were taken away into a land where the name of Jehovah would not come to their ears, where songs of praise and thanksgiving to God would not be heard, where the miracle-working power of God would not be seen, and where prophets with messages of warning and reproof and counsel from God would be few and far between. 13LtMs, Ms 51, 1898, par. 9