The Signs of the Times


August 24, 1882

A Doomed People


After delivering the reproof at Gilgal, Samuel had little intercourse with the king of Israel. Saul resented the prophet's stern rebuke, and avoided him as far as possible; and Samuel did not intrude his presence or his counsel. But the Lord commanded him to bear another message to the king. God purposed again to work through Saul, to destroy the enemies of Israel. ST August 24, 1882, par. 1

Obeying this command, the prophet reminded him that he had been commissioned by the Lord to anoint him king, and that he still spoke by the same authority. Then he declared the divine message. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not.” ST August 24, 1882, par. 2

The Amalekites were a wandering people inhabiting the wilderness to the south of Palestine, between that country and Egypt. Like most of the neighboring tribes, they were idolaters, and bitter enemies of Israel. Soon after the exodus they attacked the Israelites in the desert of Rephidim, but were signally defeated by Joshua. The Amalekites were not among the nations whose lands were granted to Israel, nor had they received any injury from them. This assault was, therefore, wholly unprovoked. It was also most cowardly and cruel; the foe, not daring to risk an open encounter with the Hebrews, had attacked and slain those who from feebleness and exhaustion had fallen behind the body of the host. ST August 24, 1882, par. 3

Moses was commanded to preserve a record of the battle, and also of the final doom of that idolatrous people, as pronounced by God himself: “I will blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven, because [marginal reading] the hand of Amalek is against the throne of Jehovah.” The Lord of all the earth had fixed his throne in Israel, and had shown his glorious power and majesty in bringing the chosen people from their bondage in Egypt. When Amalek made an assault upon them, he attacked the throne of God, who determined to vindicate his authority, as a warning to all future generations. ST August 24, 1882, par. 4

After denouncing judgments against the Amalekites, the Lord waited long for them to turn from their evil ways; but they went on in sin until their iniquity had reached its height, till their day of probation ended, and divine justice demanded their destruction. That wicked people were dwelling in God's world, the house which he had prepared for his faithful, obedient children. Yet they appropriated his gifts to their own use, without one thought of the Giver. The more blessings he poured upon them, the more boldly they transgressed against him. Thus they continued to pervert his blessings and abuse his mercy. They strengthened their souls in iniquity, but God kept silence; and they said in their hearts. “How doth God know? and is there knowledge with the Most High? “But the dark record of their crimes was constantly passing up to Heaven. There is a limit beyond which men may not go on in sin, ST August 24, 1882, par. 5

“A hidden boundary between
God's mercy and his wrath.”
ST August 24, 1882, par. 6

When that limit had been passed, God arose in his indignation to put them out of the house which they had polluted. ST August 24, 1882, par. 7

Our gracious God still bears long with the impenitent. He gives them light from Heaven, that they may understand the holiness of his character, and the justice of his requirements. He calls them to repentance, and assures them of his willingness to forgive. But if they continue to reject his mercy, the mandate goes forth devoting them to destruction. ST August 24, 1882, par. 8

Thus was it with Sodom. Behold the fairest city of the plain, set in a garden of beauty. To human vision it is a scene of quietness and security. The fertile fields are clothed with harvests. There is an abundance for the supply of every want, almost without labor. The distant hills are covered with flocks. The merchants of the East bring their treasures from afar. The people live for pleasure and make one long holiday of the year. ST August 24, 1882, par. 9

Idleness and riches are their curse. They are absorbed in worldly pursuits and sensual gratification. Yet no visible token of God's wrath hangs over the devoted city. Their last day is like many others that have come and gone. Their last night is marked by no greater sins than many others before it. But mercy, so long rejected, ceases at last her pleadings. The fires of divine vengeance are kindled in the vale of Siddim. The beautiful but guilty Sodom becomes a desolation, a place never to be built up or inhabited. ST August 24, 1882, par. 10

The flames which consumed the cities of the plain shed their warning light down even to our time. They bid us shun the sins that brought destruction upon the ungodly at that day. ST August 24, 1882, par. 11

God requires the service of all his creatures. Everything in nature obeys his will. The measureless heavens are ablaze with his glory. Of all that he has created upon the earth, only man rebels against the Creator. Puny, erring men, the creatures of an hour, dare to enter into controversy with the Eternal, the Source of all wisdom and all power. They who are constantly dependent upon God's bounty, dare to spurn the Hand whence all their blessings flow. There is no ingratitude so sinful, no blindness so complete, as that of men who refuse to acknowledge their obligation to their God. ST August 24, 1882, par. 12

Not only are men dwellers in God's great house, and partakers of his bounties, but they are the objects of his unceasing care and love. He makes it their privilege, through the righteousness of Christ, to call him Father. They may ask infinite blessings without exhausting the treasures of his grace. In their ignorance they may be guided by the counsels of unerring wisdom. In calamity they may shelter themselves beneath the shadow of his throne, and find safety in his secret place. ST August 24, 1882, par. 13

This mighty God pledges his immutable word that those who love and trust him shall not want any good thing. But he declares that he will surely punish the transgressors of his law. The wickedness of the race is not forgotten nor overlooked because God does not at once visit them with judgments. Each century of profligacy and rebellion is treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath. ST August 24, 1882, par. 14

When the scribes and Pharisees rejected the teachings of Christ, he bade them fill up the iniquity of their fathers, that it might be time for God to work; that the message of glad tidings might be given to others, who would joyfully receive it. When at last the divine forbearance was exhausted, God's wrath fell signally upon a people who had rejected so great light. ST August 24, 1882, par. 15

The Lord does not delight in vengeance, though he executes judgment upon the transgressors of his law. He is forced to do this, to preserve the inhabitants of the earth from utter depravity and ruin. In order to save some, he must cut off those who have become hardened in sin. Says the prophet Isaiah: “The Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work, and bring to pass his act, his strange act.” The work of wrath and destruction is indeed a strange, unwelcome work for Him who is infinite in love. ST August 24, 1882, par. 16

Again, the divine message comes to Ezekiel: “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” The very fact of God's unwillingness to punish sinners shows the enormity of the sins that call forth his judgments. And yet to every transgressor of his holy law is addressed that earnest, pleading call, “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” ST August 24, 1882, par. 17

The records of sacred history declare, that while God is a God of justice, strict to mark iniquity, and strong to punish the sinner, he is also a God of truth, compassion, and abundant mercy. While he visits judgments upon the transgressors of his law and the enemies of his people, he will protect those who respect his statutes and show kindness to his chosen. ST August 24, 1882, par. 18

When he commanded that a war of extermination be waged against Amalek, he also directed that the Kenites, who dwell among them, should be spared, because they had shown mercy to Israel in their distress. Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, and a prince among the Kenites, had joined Israel soon after the latter came out of Egypt. His presence and counsel at that time was of great value to the Hebrews. Moses afterward urged Hobab, the son of Jethro, to accompany them in their journeyings through the wilderness, saying: “We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you. Come thou with us, and we will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.” ST August 24, 1882, par. 19

Hobab declined, choosing to live in his own country and among his own people. But Moses knew that his brother-in-law was well acquainted with the country through which they were to pass, and that he could greatly assist them in their journey. He therefore earnestly entreated: “Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes. And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the Lord shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee.” Hobab consented to this; but the journeyings of Israel over, he and his followers forsook the neighborhood of the towns, and betook themselves to freer air, to the wilderness of Judah, on the southern border of Canaan. ST August 24, 1882, par. 20

The promise of special protection and friendship given by Moses to the Kenites, was made by the direction of the Lord. Hence when Saul was commanded to destroy the Amalekites, special directions were given that the Kenites should be spared. Jethro and his family had been devoted worshipers of the true God; but though the Kenites were still friendly to Israel, and acknowledged the living God as the ruler of the earth, their religion had become corrupted with idolatry. After this time they degenerated more and more into heathenism, and their influence became a snare to the Hebrews. Hence they were finally visited with divine judgments. ST August 24, 1882, par. 21

Balaam, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, foretold the destruction of both the Kenites and the Amalekites: “When he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable and said, Amalek was the first of the nations, but his latter end shall be that he perish forever. And he looked on the Kenites and took up this parable, and said, Strong is thy dwelling-place, and thou puttest thy rest in a rock. Nevertheless, the Kenites shall be wasted, until Asshur shall carry thee away captive. And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this!” ST August 24, 1882, par. 22