The Youth’s Instructor



January 7, 1897

A Lesson From One of God's Prophets


The birth of John the Baptist had been foretold by prophets, and an angel was sent to notify Zacharias of the event. The heavenly messenger expressly enjoined upon the father to bring up the child with strictly temperate habits. Some may inquire why the Lord should be thus particular; but God, who made man, knew that Satan's most powerful temptations would be on the point of appetite. Through the indulgence of appetite, the physical, mental, and moral strength becomes enfeebled; and lest Zacharias should follow the prevailing custom, God sent an angel from the courts of heaven with directions for the training of this child of promise. It was necessary for him to have a simple, unstimulating diet, in order to prepare him to accomplish his sacred mission. And it is said of him: “The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts until the day of his showing unto Israel.” YI January 7, 1897, par. 1

John did not feel strong enough to stand the great pressure of temptation he would meet in mingling with society. He feared his character would be molded according to the prevailing customs of the Jews; and he chose to separate himself from the world, and make the wilderness his home. He denied himself the ordinary comforts of life; his food was simple; his clothing, a garment made of camel's hair, and confined about the waist by a leathern girdle. But although John passed his childhood and youth in the desert, he was not unreconciled to his life of hardship and seclusion. So far from being lonely, gloomy, or morose, he enjoyed his life of simplicity and retirement, and his temperate habits kept all his senses unperverted. YI January 7, 1897, par. 2

And John was not indolent. He was thus secluded from the world that he might secure a sound education from God's written word and the great book of nature. The mountains and perpetual hills, the ever-flowing brooks, were company for him. Through them he communed with God. Everything that surrounded him in his mountain home was to him a book of instruction, containing lessons of deepest importance in regard to the character, the benevolence, and the love of God. YI January 7, 1897, par. 3

John had a special work to do for God. He was to deal with the sins and follies of the people. In order to be fitted for this important public work, he must qualify himself in private by seeking heavenly knowledge. He must meditate and pray, and by studying become acquainted with the prophecies and the will of God. Away from the busy world, whose cares and alluring pleasures would divert his mind and pervert his thoughts and imaginings, he was shut up with God and nature. Here he would not be influenced by evil surroundings, his understanding would not be blinded, nor his spirit become familiar with wickedness. In the calm retirement of the wilderness, John became strong in spirit. By his strictly temperate habits he secured to himself physical, mental, and moral health. His discernment was clear, his judgment correct. YI January 7, 1897, par. 4

John accustomed himself to privations and hardships, that he might be able to stand among the people as unmoved by circumstances as the rocks and mountains of the wilderness that had surrounded him for thirty years. A great work was before him; and it was necessary that he should form a character that would not be swerved from right and duty by any surrounding influence. He was to lead out as a reformer, and by his abstemious life and plain dress rebuke the intemperate habits and sinful extravagance prevailing among the people. The indulgence of appetite, especially in the use of wine, was destroying the health and weakening the intellect, so that the people did not regard sin as offensive to God. His work required firmness and integrity; for he would have opposition to meet from those whose hearts were given to pleasure and the gratification of appetite. He was to reprove the wrong and vindicate the right. He was fitting himself to understand the peculiarities of human minds, and learning how to move hearts. YI January 7, 1897, par. 5

John was an example to the young people in these last days, to whom have been committed important and solemn truths. God would have them temperate in all things. He would have them see the necessity for the denial of appetite, for keeping their passions under the control of reason. This is necessary that they may have mental strength and clearness to discern between right and wrong, between truth and error. There is work for every one of them to do in the vineyard of the Lord, and he would have them fit themselves to act a useful part. YI January 7, 1897, par. 6

Mrs. E. G. White