The Review and Herald


May 2, 1899

An Example of Faithfulness—No. 1


The children of Israel were taken captive to Babylon because they separated from God, and no longer maintained the principles that had been given to keep them free from the methods and practises of the nations who dishonored God. The Lord could not give them prosperity, he could not fulfil his covenant with them, while they were untrue to the principles he had given them zealously to maintain. By their spirit and their actions they misrepresented his character, and he permitted them to be taken captive. Because of their separation from him, he humbled them. He left them to their own ways, and the innocent suffered with the guilty. RH May 2, 1899, par. 1

The Lord's chosen people proved themselves untrustworthy. They showed themselves to be selfish, scheming, dishonorable. But among the children of Israel there were Christian patriots, who were as true as steel to principle, and upon these loyal men the Lord looked with great pleasure. These were men who would not be corrupted by selfishness, who would not mar the work of God by following erroneous methods and practices, men who would honor God at the loss of all things. They had to suffer with the guilty, but in the providence of God their captivity at Babylon was the means of bringing them to the front, and their example of untarnished integrity shines with heaven's luster. RH May 2, 1899, par. 2

Nehemiah and Ezra are men of opportunity. The Lord had a special work for them to do. They were to call upon the people to consider their ways, and to see where they had made their mistake; for the Lord had not suffered his people to become powerless and confused and to be taken into captivity without a cause. The Lord especially blessed these men for standing up for the right. Nehemiah was not set apart as a priest or a prophet, but the Lord used him to do a special work. He was chosen as a leader of the people. But his fidelity to God did not depend upon his position. RH May 2, 1899, par. 3

The Lord will not allow his work to be hindered, even though the workmen may prove unworthy. God has men in reserve, prepared to meet the demand, that his work may be preserved from all contaminating influences. God will be honored and glorified. When the divine Spirit impresses the mind of the man appointed by God as fit for the work, he responds, saying, “Here am I; send me.” RH May 2, 1899, par. 4

God demonstrated to the people for whom he had done so much that he would not serve with their sins. He wrought, not through those who refused to serve him with singleness of purpose, who had corrupted their ways before him, but through Nehemiah; for he was registered in the books of heaven as a man. God has said, “Them that honor me I will honor.” Nehemiah showed himself to be a man whom God could use to put down false principles and to restore heaven-born principles; and God honored him. The Lord will use in his work men who are as true as steel to principle, who will not be swayed by the sophistries of those who have lost their spiritual eyesight. RH May 2, 1899, par. 5

Nehemiah was chosen by God because he was willing to co-operate with the Lord as a restorer. Falsehood and intrigue were used to pervert his integrity, but he would not be bribed. He refused to be corrupted by the devices of unprincipled men, who had been hired to do an evil work. He would not allow them to intimidate him into following a cowardly course. When he saw wrong principles being acted upon, he did not stand by as an onlooker, and by his silence give consent. He did not leave the people to conclude that he was standing on the wrong side. He took a firm, unyielding stand for the right. He would not lend one jot of influence to the perversion of the principles that God has established. Whatever the course others might pursue, he could say, “So did not I, because of the fear of God.” RH May 2, 1899, par. 6

In his work, Nehemiah kept the honor and glory of God ever in view. The governors that had been before him had dealt unjustly with the people, “and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bear rule over the people.” “But so did not I,” Nehemiah declared, “because of the fear of God.” RH May 2, 1899, par. 7

It was Nehemiah's aim to set the people right with God. He found the book of the law, and caused it to be read in the hearing of the people. “Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water-gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.... And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.... Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God.” RH May 2, 1899, par. 8

In the ninth chapter of Nehemiah the works of the Lord in behalf of his people are recorded. The sins of the people in turning from God are pointed out. These sins had separated them from God, and he had permitted them to be brought under the control of heathen nations. RH May 2, 1899, par. 9

This history has been recorded for our benefit. What has been will be, and we need to look to God for counsel. We must not trust to the counsel of men. We need increased discernment, that we may distinguish between truth and error. The history of the children of Israel shows the sure result of turning from Bible principles to the customs and practises of men. The Lord will not serve with any plans which gratify the selfishness of men, and blight his work. He will not give prosperity to devices that lead away from fidelity to his commandments. He demands that the talents lent to man shall be used in keeping his way, in doing justice and judgment, whether it be to break down or to restore and build up. God would not have us follow the wisdom of men who have disregarded his word, and made themselves a reproach by their practises and counsels. They have laid themselves as manacled victims on the altar of mammon, and the plainest, simplest principles of Christianity are disregarded by them. Satan triumphs; for the light of the Sun of Righteousness does not shine into their hearts. RH May 2, 1899, par. 10

We are to follow no false theories in regard to dealing with our brethren. The Lord needs men who are as firm as a rock to principle. We must have more than a pretense of righteousness; for we shall have to meet theories that can not bear the light of close inspection. They are not supported by a “Thus saith the Lord,” and should find no place in our work; for we are to represent God in character. RH May 2, 1899, par. 11

All who learn of Christ to be meek and lowly will be his witnesses. They have a living connection with him, and they will reveal the Christlikeness in the smallest things of life. Truth and righteousness will also be revealed in their most important actions; for “he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” Let all who claim to be Christians bear constantly a living testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus. From Christ, the source of living power, they will receive their message. RH May 2, 1899, par. 12