Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 18

438/524

Ms 119, 1903

Lessons From Israel

NP

October 7, 1903 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in UL 294; 6BC 1081.

We may with profit study the record of the preparation made by the congregation of Israel for the hearing of the law. “In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel, Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto Myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.” [Exodus 19:1-5.] 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 1

Who, then, is to be regarded as the Ruler of the nations?—The Lord God Omnipotent. All kings, all rulers, all nations, are His, under His rule and government. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 2

“And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him.” [Verse 7.] 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 3

What was the response of the congregation, numbering more than a million people? 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 4

“All the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.” [Verse 8.] 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 5

Thus the children of Israel were denominated as a peculiar people. By a most solemn covenant they were pledged to be true to God. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 6

Then the people were bidden to prepare themselves to hear the law. On the morning of the third day the voice of God was heard. Speaking out of the thick darkness that enshrouded Him, as He stood upon the mount, surrounded by a retinue of angels, the Lord made known His law. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 7

God accompanied the proclamation of His law with manifestations of His power and glory, that His people might be impressed with a profound veneration for the Author of the law, the Creator of heaven and earth. He would also show to all men the sacredness, the importance, and the permanence of His law. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 8

The people of Israel were overwhelmed with terror. They shrank away from the mountain in fear and awe. The multitude cried out to Moses, “Speak thou with us, ... but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” [Exodus 20:19.] 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 9

The minds of the people, blinded and debased by slavery, were not prepared to appreciate fully the far-reaching principles of God’s ten precepts. That the obligations of the decalogue might be more fully understood and enforced, additional precepts were given, illustrating and applying the precepts of the ten commandments. Unlike the ten commandment, these were delivered privately to Moses, who was to communicate them to the people. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 10

Upon descending from the mountain, Moses “came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do. And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.” [Exodus 24:3-8.] 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 11

Thus by a most solemn service the children of Israel were once more set apart as a peculiar people. The sprinkling of the blood represented the shedding of the blood of Jesus, by which human beings are cleansed from sin. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 12

Once more the Lord has special words to speak to His people. In the thirty-first chapter of Exodus we read: 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 13

“The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a 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: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in 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 forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed. And He gave unto Moses, when He had made an end of communicating with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” [Verses 12-18.] 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 14

Obedience the Condition of Prosperity

“The Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto Him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day. Furthermore the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, and sware that I should not go over Jordan: ... but ye shall go over, and possess that good land. Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which He made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of anything which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee. For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. ... 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 15

“When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto His voice, ... He will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which He sware unto them. For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of the heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard it, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that the Lord He is God; there is none else beside Him. Out of heaven He made thee to hear His voice, that He might instruct thee; and upon earth He showed thee His great fire; and thou heardest His words out of the midst of the fire. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 16

“And because He loved thy fathers, therefore He chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in His sight with His mighty power out of Egypt; to drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day. Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord He is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath; there is none else. Thou shalt keep therefore His statutes, and His commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, forever.” [Deuteronomy 4:20-24, 30-40.] 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 17

“Behold, I set before thee this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day; and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.” [Deuteronomy 11:26-28.] 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 18

God’s Law

The law of God is a transcript of His character. Its holy precepts were spoken from Sinai with God’s own voice and written with His finger upon tables of stone. They stand forth alone, bearing the distinct, awful significance of their supreme importance. They mean life to the obedient and death to the disobedient. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 19

Through the ages God’s law has been preserved as the highest standard of morality. Not all the inventions of science or the imaginations of fruitful minds have been able to discover one essential duty not covered by this code. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 20

God’s law is the security of life and property and peace and happiness. It was given to secure our present and eternal good. The antediluvians transgressed this law, and the earth was destroyed by a flood. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 21

Let no man, by scientific presentations, lead minds away from the real to the imaginary. Let God be revealed in His true greatness. God calls for men who, in the midst of the idolatry offered to nature, will look from nature to nature’s God. God uses nature as one of His servants, to reveal His power. These things, the objects of His creation, show forth His handiwork. Of all that God has created, man, the crowning object of His creation, has the most greatly dishonored Him. In the judgment, human beings will stand before God ashamed and condemned, because, though given intellect and reason, power of speech, they would not obey God’s law. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 22

I am instructed to say that upon the ten commandments we are to build our characters. I am instructed to say to the members of our churches, With the Bible in your hands kneel before God, and ask Him to forgive you for allowing your imagination to fasten upon every subject your fancy may have called up, drawing your mind away to unreal things, from the lessons Christ came to give. When men bring in sophistry, and would mingle it with Scripture to prove its divinity, tell them you choose the words of Christ. Then you will make no mistakes. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 23

Satan has his students, and he is teaching them his methods of secrecy, teaching them how to do underhand work. His family is large. In his hands, crime has become a cruel science. To destroy is the motto of the arch-deceiver. Satan has laid many snares for unwary souls. There are those who have so long responded to his ingenious plans that they now seem to have no power to break the spell that is upon them. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 24

When the leaders of God’s people depart from principle, and bring dishonor on His cause, their sin is greater than the sin of those whose opportunities and privileges have been fewer. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 25

Again, a man is but a man. The words that fall from his lips are not to be regarded as coming from God. Unless God stands beside those in His service, and works with them, they are nothingness. For God’s people to put their trust in men and make flesh their arm is the height of folly. 18LtMs, Ms 119, 1903, par. 26