Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 18

325/524

Ms 9, 1903

Written for Our Admonition

NP

1903

Portions of this manuscript are published in OHC 81; 17MR 29.

The book of Deuteronomy should be carefully studied by those living on the earth today. It contains a record of the instruction given to Moses to give to the children of Israel. In it the law is repeated. At the time that the instruction that it contains was given, the people of Israel were encamped beside the Jordan. All but two of the adults who had left Egypt had died in the wilderness. Now the generation that had arisen during the forty years of journeying were about to pass over the Jordan to receive their inheritance in the promised land. But they must first hear from the lips of Moses the instruction given him by the Lord for them. The words of the law must be repeated to them, and they must hear again the conditions upon which they were to enter into and take possession of the promised land. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 1

The law of God was often to be repeated to the people. That its precepts might not become a strange thing, they were to be kept before the people and were ever to be exalted and honored by them. Parents were to read the law to their children, teaching it to them line upon line, precept upon precept. And on public occasions, the law was to be read in the hearing of all the people. Upon obedience to this law depended the prosperity of Israel. If the people were obedient, it would bring them life; if disobedient, death. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 2

“These be the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red Sea. ... The Lord our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount; turn ye, and take your journey, and go into the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates. Behold, I have set the land before you; go in, and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them. And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone; the Lord your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. ... How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously; ... but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s; and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it. And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.” [Deuteronomy 1:1, 6-10, 12-18.] 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 3

Moses gave the people to understand that he did not desire to monopolize the honor of government. Of all the men of Israel, he was the best qualified to be the leader of the people. But he realized that he must have counsellors with whom to share the responsibilities of the work. “I cannot bear these burdens alone,” he declared. [See Numbers 11:14.] Wise, God-fearing men were to be chosen to work with him, and they were to remain in their position of trust as long as they gave evidence that they were loyal and faithful. These men were to show favor to no one and they were not to do one wrong action in order to gain favor. They were never to accept bribes or to allow themselves to be overawed by evil men. In all their decisions equity was to govern. They were to be “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.” [Exodus 18:21.] 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 4

These chosen were appointed rulers over the people—rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, and rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. Speaking of their appointment, Moses declared: “I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the cause between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. And the cause that is too hard for you, bring it to me, and I will hear it. And I commanded you at that time all the things that you should do.” [Deuteronomy 1:16-18.] 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 5

And the people had agreed to the plans outlined by Moses and had promised to follow the Lord’s directions. Why then had they worked contrary to their agreement, arousing mutiny and discontent? Why had they murmured and complained, as if they were hardly dealt with? They had complained of Moses, as if he were treating them harshly, when he was seeking in every way to make their journeyings in the wilderness a school of preparation and training. Obedience to God’s commands, co-operation with Him in carrying out His plans, was essential for their present and future good, yea, for their eternal welfare. But they had been rebellious and disobedient. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 6

Speaking of their conduct in the wilderness, Moses said, “And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, [as the Lord our God commanded us; and we came to Kadeshbarnea. And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites,] which the Lord our God doth give us. Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee; go up, and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 7

“And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search out the land and bring us word again by what way we must come up, and into what cities we shall come. And the saying pleased me well; and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe, and they turned, and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eschol, and searched it out. And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the Lord God doth give us. Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandments of the Lord your God; and ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the Lord hated us, He hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us. Whither shall we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.” [Verses 19-28.] 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 8

It was upon the very borders of the promised land that the people had broken forth into rebellion. The spies had returned from Canaan with their hearts filled with unbelief, and their wicked murmurings had set the hearts of all the people in rebellion. Disaffection is quickly awakened in hearts that are unsanctified. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 9

“Then said I unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them. The Lord your God, which goeth before you, He shall fight for you, according to all that He did for you in Egypt, before your eyes; and in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bare his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place. Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God, who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to show you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day. And the Lord heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying, Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord. Also the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou shalt not go in thither.” [Verses 29-37.] 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 10

The time to which Moses refers when the Lord was angry with him was when the stream that for so many years had supplied the people with water ceased to flow. It was the Lord’s purpose to test His people. He would prove whether they would trust His providence or imitate the unbelief of their fathers. Before God permitted them to enter Canaan, they must show that they believed His promise. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 11

But no sooner was the cry of water heard in the encampment than the people forgot one who for so many years had supplied their wants, and instead of turning to God for help, they murmured against Him, in their desperation exclaiming, “Would to God we had died when our brethren died before the Lord.” [Numbers 20:3.] 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 12

Their cries were directed against Moses and Aaron: “Why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us unto this evil place? It is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.” [Verses 4, 5.] 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 13

The leaders went to the door of the tabernacle and fell upon their faces. Again the glory of the Lord appeared, and Moses was directed, “Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall bring forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock.” [Verse 8.] 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 14

The two brothers went on before the multitude, Moses with the rod of God in his hand. They were now aged men. Long had they borne with the rebellion and obstinacy of Israel; but now, at last, even the patience of Moses gave way. “Hear now, ye rebels,” he cried, “must we bring you water out of this rock?” and instead of speaking to the rock, as God had commanded him, he smote it twice with the rod. [Verses 10, 11.] 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 15

Moses had spoken from irritated feeling; his words were an expression of human passion rather than of holy indignation because God had been dishonored. “Hear now, ye rebels,” he said. [Verse 10.] This accusation was true, but even truth is not to be spoken in passion or impatience. Moses, in taking it upon himself to accuse the people, grieved the Spirit of God, and wrought the people only harm. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 16

Bitter and deeply humiliating was the judgment immediately pronounced. “The Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed Me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.” [Verse 12.] With rebellious Israel they must die before crossing the Jordan. Had Moses and Aaron been cherishing self-esteem, or indulging a passionate spirit, their guilt would have been far greater. But they were not chargeable with wilful or deliberate sin; they had been overcome by a sudden temptation, and their contrition was immediate and heartfelt. The Lord accepted their repentance, though because of the harm their sin might do among the people He could not remit punishment. God forgave Moses, but he could not grant him that which he so greatly longed for—a home in the promised land. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 17

Will those who today occupy positions of trust in the Lord’s work stop and think what it means to become angry, to show a spirit unworthy a leader of God’s people? There are those in God’s service who have given way to anger and who do not feel the repentance that Moses felt. These men have long braced themselves to follow their unprincipled course of action and have gone on from one wrong to another. And there are murmurers in the churches who easily lose their self-control. If everything does not move to please them they become irritated and provoke one another to evil. They have not the light and love of God in their souls, and if their track is crossed, they give loose rein to their unsanctified, irritable spirit. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 18

I have been instructed to present this before our people and to urge them to make diligent work for repentance. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 19

The instruction given to the children of Israel is for us also. Happy will be the church when the members study the directions given to the Israelites during their journeyings in the wilderness. In this instruction are specified the virtues that the church in the wilderness must have in order to be approved of God. The church of today has had far greater light. She should stand on vantage ground, cherishing the pure, holy principles that God declared man must follow in his dealings with his fellow men, if he would grow in grace and wisdom, and [they] be honored as obedient subjects. Only by following these principles can we adorn the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 20

The importance of the law of God, and Christ’s relation to it, are to be presented before those who have placed themselves under Satan’s banner, full of self-importance and self-sufficiency. In a wicked world God’s servants are to obey the principles of His government—by their righteousness, testifying that fallen man can obey the law of God and, through obedience, become His sons and daughters. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 21

Christ is our Leader. Clothing His divinity with humanity, He humbled Himself, that He might stand in person at the head of the human race. He laid aside His kingly crown and yielded up His high position as Commander of the angels, who loved to do His bidding. For our sakes He became poor that through His humiliation and poverty human beings might be made rich—heirs to an eternal weight of glory. The Saviour came to the world in lowliness and lived as a man among men. On all points except sin, divinity was to touch humanity. Living on this earth as a man among men, Christ answered the question, “Can man keep the law of God?” He was tempted in all points like as man is tempted, “yet without sin.” [Hebrews 4:15.] He was tempted that He might know how to succor those that should afterward be tempted. He became a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” [Isaiah 53:5.] He gave Himself to the world as a spiritual teacher, a genuine medical missionary. O that our medical workers realized what privileges they have. They would know by practical experience what it means to hear and obey the invitation, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.] 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 22

Christ came to our world to teach men what is meant by genuine religion—the religion that will make men and women lights in the world. He offers all power to form a true, noble character. The converted man rejoices that he has a Saviour who is so mighty. He is a partaker of the divine nature. His repentance is not a farce, but a reality, and the fruit of it appears in Christlike words and deeds. Every day, every hour, he reveals faith in his Sin-bearer. Love, hope, longsuffering, patience, kindness are revealed in his life. In self-denial he lifts the cross and follows Jesus. He is a representative of the Saviour. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 23

“Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known My ways. So I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” [Hebrews 3:7-13.] 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 24

Mark the words “deceitfulness of sin.” [Verse 13.] Satan always presents his temptations under the guise of goodness. Beware that you yield not to them. One violation of straightforward truthfulness prepares the way for the second violation, and wrongs are repeated until the heart of unbelief becomes hardened and the conscience loses its sensitiveness. Let us humble our hearts before God and ask Him to forgive us for speaking words of unbelief, words that cast a reflection on Him who is too wise to err and too good to do harm. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 25

“We are made partakers with God, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast until the end, while it is said, Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke; howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 26

“Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. ... Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have an high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” [Hebrews 3:14-19; 4:1, 2, 11-16.] 18LtMs, Ms 9, 1903, par. 27