The Review and Herald


March 7, 1899

A Lesson from Israel's Sin—No. 1


God is no respecter of persons, but in every generation they that fear the Lord, and work righteousness, are accepted by him; while those who are murmuring, unbelieving, and rebellious will not have his favor. They will not have the blessings promised to those who love the truth, and walk in it. Those who have the light, and do not follow it, will find that their blessings will be changed into curses, and their mercies into judgments. God would have us learn humility and obedience as we read the history of ancient Israel, who were his chosen and peculiar people, but who brought their own destruction by following their own ways. RH March 7, 1899, par. 1

When the Lord called for Moses to come up into the mount, it was six days before he was received into the cloud, into the immediate presence of God. The top of the mount was all aglow with the glory of God. And yet, even while the children of Israel had this glory in their very sight, unbelief was so natural to them that they began to murmur because Moses was absent. While the glory of the Lord signified his presence upon the mountain, and their leader was in close converse with God, they should have been sanctifying themselves by close searching of heart, humiliation, and godly fear. But instead of this, the congregation demanded of Aaron to make them gods to go before them, and lead them back into Egypt. “Make us gods,” they said, “which shall go before us.” Though Moses was absent, the presence of the Lord remained; they were not forsaken. The manna continued to fall; they were fed by a divine hand morning and evening. The cloudy pillar by day, and the pillar of fire by night, signified the presence of God. The divine presence was not dependent upon the presence of Moses. But at the very time when he was pleading with the Lord in their behalf, they were rushing into shameful errors, into transgression of the law so recently given. RH March 7, 1899, par. 2

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people [he does not condescend to own them as his people], which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshiped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. RH March 7, 1899, par. 3

“And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people: now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” RH March 7, 1899, par. 4

What a trial of the faith of Moses was this! But he would not consent to leave the mount until his pleadings in behalf of Israel were heard, and his request that God would pardon them was granted: “And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? ... Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swearest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it forever. And the Lord repented of the evil which he had thought to do unto his people.” RH March 7, 1899, par. 5

This idolatry on the part of ancient Israel was an offense to God; but are there not idols just as offensive cherished in our families and in our churches today,—idols which have the same influence upon us as did the golden calf upon the Israelites? On the part of God's professed people there is a manifest disregard of the warnings given by Peter: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, and of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” RH March 7, 1899, par. 6

The time has come when we as a people should search ourselves to see what idols we are cherishing; when the shepherds of the flock should do faithful work as the sentinels of God. In dress, in speech, in deportment, we are to be a people distinct and separate from the world. “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” RH March 7, 1899, par. 7

God requires of his people a zeal according to knowledge. He desires them to be doers of the word. The outer appearance testifies of the inward working of the heart. The truth received into the heart accomplishes the transformation of the mind and heart and character. To Daniel the Lord revealed the condition of the inhabitants of the earth in these last days. “Many shall be purified,” he said, “and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” RH March 7, 1899, par. 8

This is a subject the comprehension of which will put to the stretch every spiritual sinew and muscle. There is a great work to be done for the members of the church, to wean them from their idols. The church-members have had great blessings; they have had the living oracles of God opened to their understanding; they have not been left in darkness and error, as those who are doing wickedly. Now God calls upon those who claim to believe the truth to show to the world its converting power on the heart and character, and to reveal to the world that they are of the number who are being purified, and made white, and tried. RH March 7, 1899, par. 9