Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 151, 1899

A Lesson from Israel’s Disobedience


October 30, 1899 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in 2BC 1017; 4BC 1144, 1146, 1156.

The covenant mercy of God led Him to interpose in behalf of His people Israel after their severe chastisement before their enemies. Israel had chosen to walk in her own wisdom and righteousness in the place of the wisdom and righteousness of God, and as a result her nation was ruined. God permitted them to suffer under a double yoke, that they might be humiliated and repent. But in their dispersion and captivity, the Jews were not left in a hopeless state. Encouragement was given them, for through this humiliation they were to be brought to seek the Lord. God gave to Isaiah a message for this people: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably unto Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received at the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” [Isaiah 40:1, 2.] 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 1

When the Jews were dispersed from Jerusalem, there were among them young men and women who were firm as a rock to principle, men and women who had not pursued a course to make the Lord ashamed to call them His people. These were sad at heart for the backsliding which they could not prevent. These innocent ones must suffer with the guilty; but God would give them strength sufficient for their day. It was to them that the message of encouragement was sent. The hope of the nation lay in these young men and maidens who would preserve their integrity. And in their captivity these obedient ones had an influence over their idolatrous companions. Had all who were taken captive held firmly to correct principles, they would have imparted light in every place where they were scattered. But they remained impenitent, and still heavier punishment came upon them. Their calamities were sent for their purification. God would bring them to the place where they would be instructed. 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 2

A future, complete restoration was offered to Israel in Christ, whose coming was to be heralded by one who would go forth in the spirit and power of Elias, saying, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” [Verses 3-5.] It was not the will of God that His people should pursue a course of unrighteousness, and thus bring upon them the contempt of the nations. He designed that they should be the praise of the whole earth. He greatly desired that this people whom He had brought up out of Egypt should show the superiority of those who keep the laws of His government. Obedience to the laws and statutes of His kingdom would exalt the nation, but disobedience would as surely bring about its downfall. 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 3

The first king of Israel proved a failure, because he set his will above the will of God. Through the prophet Samuel the Lord instructed Saul that as king of Israel his course of action must be one of strictest integrity. Then God would bless his government with prosperity. But Saul refused to make obedience to God his first consideration, and the principles of heaven the government of his conduct. He died in dishonor and despair. 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 4

Isaiah saw Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem amid the praises and rejoicing of the people. His prophetic words are eloquent in their simplicity: “O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength: lift it up: be not afraid: say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom.” [Verses 9-11.] 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 5

Inspiration is revealed in this record of Christ’s work. These closing chapters of the book of Isaiah should be diligently studied, for they are full of the gospel of Christ. They reveal to us that Israel was fully instructed in regard to the coming Saviour. Again the prophet exclaims, “Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.” [Isaiah 42:1, 2.] He will not be like the teachers of His day. The ostentation and show and parade of piety revealed in the priests and Pharisees are not His way. 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 6

“The bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged until he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.” [Verses 3, 4.] Christ saw the work of the priests and rulers. The very ones who needed help, the afflicted, the distressed, were treated with words of censure and rebuke, and He forebore to speak any word that would break the feeble reed. The dimly burning wick of faith and hope He would encourage, and not quench. He would feed His flock like a shepherd; He would gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom. 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 7

“Thus saith the Lord, He that created the heavens, and stretched them out: he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant for the people, for the light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that [are] in darkness out of the prison house. I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 8

“Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before the spring forth I will tell you of them. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare his praise in the islands.” [Verses 5-12.] 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 9

This work had been given to Israel, but they had neglected their God-appointed work. Had they been faithful in all parts of the Lord’s vineyard, souls would have been converted. The Lord’s praise would have been heard from the ends of the earth. From the wilderness and the cities thereof, and from the tops of the mountains, men would have shouted His praise, and told of His glory. 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 10

“I will bring the (spiritually) blind by a way that they knew not;” God declared, “I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” [Verse 16.] A great work is the Lord to do in the earth, and to every man He gives a part. The vineyard is the whole house of Israel. “We are laborers together with God,” the apostle says, “ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 11

To the first church God gave a special work. Christ was the Head of the church, the educator of Israel, and the instruction He then gave has come down from generation to generation to our time. To His covenant-keeping people today, God has given the care of His vineyard, and His faithful servants are those who administer His will and judgment in the earth. Those who do His will shall know of the doctrine. Men may be ignorant of a knowledge of God, but when they place themselves in connection with Him, they will know Him by a living experience. These will learn of the doctrine. 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 12

The issue of the battle does not rest upon the strength of mortal man. “The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.” [Isaiah 42:13.] In the power of Him who rides forth conquering and to conquer, weak, finite man may gain the victory. 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 13

God gives to His people lessons of deep importance, which they should never, never forget. He always has the needed instruction for them, if they have ears to hear and hearts to receive. Never are His people out of the mind of God. He always sends His messengers to warn them of their dangers, and to call them to repentance and conversion, that they may have the favor of God and the ministration of heavenly angels. 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 14

Whenever the set time for Zion’s enlargement has come, God has provided men and women to stand in their lot and place. God’s work for John the Baptist was to warn the people of God to turn from their sins to righteousness, and remove the obstacles which stood in the way of the Messiah’s work. At the appointed time John appeared, to call men to repentance and confession of sin. In his message the invitation was given [that was] represented by Christ in the parable of the two sons. Those who heard the call and obeyed are presented in the son who at first refused to obey but afterward repented and went. 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 15

Had God’s chosen people Israel stood in their appointed place, as the repositories of sacred, eternal truth, which was to come to the heathen world, Jerusalem would have stood to this day. But they were a rebellious people. And when God had done all that a God could do, even to the sending of His only begotten Son, they were so ignorant of the Scriptures and the power of God, that they refused the only help that could save them from ruin. “This is the heir,” they said, “come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” [Mark 12:7.] 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 16

God appointed Israel to be a light to the Gentiles, thus to call them back to their loyalty. But Israel herself became blind to the light, deaf to the messages sent to open her understanding. And Christ declared, “The kingdom of heaven shall be taken from you, and given to the Gentiles.” [See Matthew 21:43.] Now the test must come to all the people on the face of the earth. Those who go down to the sea are to have labor bestowed upon them. The salvation of God must be made known in the cities of the wilderness, and the workers today are called to do the work which Israel failed to do. God’s glory is to be revealed, His Word established, and Christ’s kingdom set up to give deliverance to the world. 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 17

“Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall rise upon thee, and his glory shall be soon upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. ... Whereas thou has been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. ... Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders: but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.” [Isaiah 60:1-3, 15, 18.] 14LtMs, Ms 151, 1899, par. 18