The Review and Herald

945/1902

August 2, 1898

“Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord”

EGW

In John the Baptist, God raised up a messenger to prepare the way of the Lord. He was to bear to the world an unflinching testimony, reproving and denouncing sin. In announcing John's mission and work, the angel said: “He shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” RH August 2, 1898, par. 1

John had not been educated in the schools of the rabbis. He had obtained no human scholarship. God and nature had been his teachers. The forerunner of Christ did not expose himself to evil conversation and the corrupting influences of the world. He chose to have his home in the wilderness, where, by studying the book of nature, he could become acquainted with the character of God, and preserve the sacred sense of his majesty. RH August 2, 1898, par. 2

To prepare the way before Christ, one was needed who, like the prophets of old, could summon the degenerate nation to repentance, and the voice of John was lifted up like a trumpet. His commission was, “Show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” He presented no long arguments, no fine-spun theories, elaborately delivered in their “first,” “secondly,” and “thirdly.” Pure, native eloquence was revealed; every word carried with it certainty and truth. RH August 2, 1898, par. 3

All went forth into the wilderness to hear him. Unlearned peasants and fishermen came from the surrounding country. The Roman soldiers from the barracks of Herod came to hear him. Chieftains came, with their swords at their sides, to put down anything that savored of rebellion. The avaricious tax-gatherers came from the regions round about; and from the Sanhedrin came the phylacteried priests. All listened as if spellbound; and all, even the Pharisee, the Sadducee, and the cold, unimpressible scoffer, came away with the sneer gone, and cut to the heart with a sense of their sins. RH August 2, 1898, par. 4

John called every class to repentance. He met sin with open rebuke in men of humble occupation and in men of high degree. He declared the truth to kings and nobles, whether they would hear or reject it. And kings and nobles, Pharisees and Sadducees, Roman soldiers, officers trained in all court etiquette, and wily, calculating tax-gatherers and world-renowned men listened to his words. They had confidence in his plain statements, and were convicted of sin. RH August 2, 1898, par. 5

“And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” RH August 2, 1898, par. 6

“Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?” Did the Baptist say, Leave your toil and custom-houses?—No; he said to them, “Exact no more than that which is appointed you.” If they were tax-gatherers still, they could hold just weights and balances of truth in their hands. They could reform in those things that savored of dishonesty and oppression. RH August 2, 1898, par. 7

“And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” RH August 2, 1898, par. 8

To the Pharisees and Sadducees he said, “Begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father.” Your claims are not of the least value. They will not impart to you pure principles and holiness of character. Your ceremonial sacrifices possess no value unless you discern in them the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. By turning from God's requirements, and following your own perverted ideas, you have lost those characteristics which would constitute you children of Abraham. Pointing to the rocks in wild confusion around him, he said: “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” “And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” RH August 2, 1898, par. 9

Through this messenger of God, even Herod Antipas had his last opportunity to hear the truth. The opportunity came for John to speak face to face with the royal commandment-breaker. He spoke to Herod in regard to his marriage with Herodias, saying, “It is not lawful for thee to have her.” He spoke to the king of a future retribution, when God would judge every man according to his works. John made no reference to the laws of men, but he pointed the people to the statutes given by the Lord God of heaven. RH August 2, 1898, par. 10

Herod heard the straightforward reproof of his character and life practise, and he knew it to be the truth. He knew the Baptist to be a just and holy man; but while he respected his frankness, he did not love his practical godliness. And for his reproof of the wicked king, John lost his liberty and his life. “Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.” RH August 2, 1898, par. 11

In this age, just prior to the second coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven, God calls for men who will prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. Just such a work as that of John is to be carried on in these last days. The Lord has given messages to his people, through the instruments he has chosen, and he would have all give heed to the admonitions and warnings he sends. The message preceding the public ministry of Christ was: Repent, publicans and sinners; repent, Pharisees and Sadducees; “repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Our message is not to be one of peace and safety. As a people who believe in Christ's soon appearing, we have a message to bear,—“Prepare to meet thy God.” We are to lift up the standard, and bear the third angel's message. Our message must be as direct as was the message of John. He rebuked kings for their iniquity. Notwithstanding that his life was in peril, the truth did not languish upon his lips. And our work in this age must be as faithfully done. RH August 2, 1898, par. 12

The inhabitants of the world at this time are represented by the dwellers upon the earth at the time of the flood. The wickedness of the antediluvians is plainly stated: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” God became weary of this people, whose thoughts were only of sinful pleasure and indulgence. They sought not the counsel of him who had created them, nor cared to do his will. The rebuke of God was upon them, because they followed the imagination of their own hearts; and there was violence in the land. “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.... And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” RH August 2, 1898, par. 13

In his teachings, Christ referred to this: “But as the days of Noe were,” he said, “so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” RH August 2, 1898, par. 14

Look at the picture which the world presents today. Dishonesty, fraud, and bankruptcies, violence and bloodshed, exist on every hand. The widows and the fatherless are robbed of their all. Plays, horse-races, and amusements of every kind occupy the mind. In the church, sins have become fashionable. They are glossed over and excused. The right hand of fellowship is given to the very men who bring in false theories and sentiments. Thus the discernment and sensibilities have become deadened as to what constitutes right principles. Conscience has become insensible to the counsel and reproofs which have been given. The light given, calling to repentance, has been shut out by the thick cloud of unbelief and opposition brought in by human plans and human inventions. RH August 2, 1898, par. 15

The inhabitants of the antediluvian world had the warning given them prior to their overthrow; but the warning was not heeded. They refused to listen to the words of Noah; they mocked at his message. Righteous men lived in that generation. Before the destruction of the antediluvian world, Enoch bore his testimony unflinchingly. And in prophetic vision he saw the condition of the world at the present time. He said: “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” RH August 2, 1898, par. 16

“These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.” RH August 2, 1898, par. 17

It is loving earnestness that God requires at this time. Ministers may have but little learning from books; but if they do the best they can with their talents; if they work as they have opportunity; if they clothe their utterances in the plainest and most simple language; if they walk in carefulness and humility, seeking for heavenly wisdom; if they work for God from the heart, actuated by love for Christ and the souls for whom Christ has died, they will be listened to by men of even superior ability and talents. There will be a charm in the simplicity of the truths they present. RH August 2, 1898, par. 18

The men who have spent long terms in the study of books are not all revealing in their lives that earnest ministry which is essential for this time. Some do not have a simple, straightforward testimony. Among ministers there is a need of the infusion of the Spirit of God. The prayerful, earnest appeals that come from the heart of the whole-hearted messenger, will create conviction. It will not need the learned men to do this; for often they depend more on their own learning than upon their knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. All who know the only true and living God will know Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, and they will preach Christ and him crucified. RH August 2, 1898, par. 19