The Review and Herald


October 13, 1891

Isaiah's Warning


“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinances of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labors. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.” RH October 13, 1891, par. 1

The people whom the prophet is commanded to warn are blinded, under a deception. They have a form of godliness, and regard themselves as entitled to special favor and blessing, because they make a high profession and keep up a round of religious service. This nourishes their self-complacency, and they feel as the young man felt who came to Christ, claiming to have kept all the commandments, and asked, “What lack I yet?” Jesus put his finger upon the plague spot of the young man's soul, when he answered, “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” This young man flattered himself that he was keeping all the commandments of God; but was he?—No. He did not love God supremely; for he loved his wealth, which was given him only in trust, more than he loved God; and he did not love his neighbors as himself; for he was not willing to distribute his riches among them. He loved his property more than he loved the souls for whom Christ was ready to sacrifice his own life. RH October 13, 1891, par. 2

The young man had asked, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” in his self-complacency, thinking that the Lord would commend him for his righteousness. He could not see that he lacked anything. But the Lord Jesus read his heart as an open book; he saw what the young man did not see. Jesus laid bare the defects in his character. He showed that the young man did not love God supremely. Had he done this, he would have loved his neighbor as himself. Ignorant of the far-reaching claims of the law of God, he thought he had kept all the commandments from his youth up. As the Saviour showed him his lack, how gladly should he have accepted the conditions on which his earthly treasure might be exchanged for an enduring substance in the heavens! But he went away sorrowful. RH October 13, 1891, par. 3

Here was demonstrated his lack of reverence for Christ, and of real faith in him. Had he truly believed him to be the Son of God, he would have accepted his words as divine authority. Like Peter, John, and many other disciples, he would have unhesitatingly obeyed the word, “Come, follow me.” Jesus knew that if the young ruler followed him, he would practice his self-denial and self-sacrifice, and would lay hold by faith on the realities of the unseen world. The young man was sorrowful that he could not have both worlds, but he decided that he could not renounce the earthly for the heavenly, and thus he departed from Christ. How many are doing as did this young man,—holding fast the things precious to them, and losing the eternal weight of glory? RH October 13, 1891, par. 4

The house of Jacob, at the time this warning was given to Isaiah, appeared to be a very zealous people, seeking God daily, and delighting to know his ways; but in reality they were filled with presumptuous self-confidence. They were not walking in the truth. Goodness, mercy, and love were not practiced. While presenting an appearance of sorrow for their sins, they were cherishing pride and avarice. At the very time when they were showing such outward humiliation, they would exact hard labor from those under them or in their employ. They placed a high estimate on all the good that they had done, but a very low estimate on the services of others. They despised and oppressed the poor. And their fasting only gave them a higher opinion of their own goodness. RH October 13, 1891, par. 5

There are sins of this same character among us today, and they bring the rebuke of God upon his church. Wherever such sins are found, seasons of fasting and prayer are indeed necessary; but they must be accompanied with sincere repentance and decided reformation. Without such contrition of soul, these seasons only increase the guilt of the wrong-doer. The Lord has specified the fast he has chosen, the one he will accept. It is that which bears fruit to his glory, in repentance, in devotion, in true piety. “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” RH October 13, 1891, par. 6

In the fast that God has chosen, mercy, tenderness, and compassion will be exercised. Avarice will be put away, and fraud and oppression will be repented of and renounced. All the authority and influence will be used to help the poor and oppressed. If this were the condition of the world, it would no more be a proverb, “Truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter;” “he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey.” But with Job we might say, “I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.” Again he says, “If I did despise the cause of my man-servant or of my maid-servant, when they contended with me; what then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? ... If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; ... if I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering; if his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; if I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate: then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone. For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.” If this same fear, and this love of righteousness, were in our churches now, what a transformation there would be! RH October 13, 1891, par. 7

“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; and the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.... And they that be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations, and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” RH October 13, 1891, par. 8

Here are given the characteristics of those who shall be reformers, who will bear the banner of the third angel's message, those who avow themselves God's commandment-keeping people, and who honor God, and are earnestly engaged, in the sight of all the universe, in building up the old waste places. Who is it that calls them, The repairers of the breach, The restorers of paths to dwell in?—It is God. Their names are registered in heaven as reformers, restorers, as raising the foundations of many generations. RH October 13, 1891, par. 9