The Review and Herald

1766/1902

September 12, 1912

Patmos

(Concluded.)

EGW

The history of John affords a striking illustration of the way in which God can use aged workers. When John was exiled to the isle of Patmos, there were many who thought him to be past service, an old and broken reed, ready to fall at any time. But the Lord saw fit to use him still. Though banished from the scenes of his former labor, he did not cease to bear witness to the truth. Even in Patmos he made friends and converts. His was a message of joy, proclaiming a risen Saviour who on high was interceding for his people until he should return to take them to himself. And it was after John had grown old in the service of his Lord that he received more communications from heaven than he had received during the rest of his lifetime. RH September 12, 1912, par. 1

The most tender regard should be cherished for those whose life interest has been bound up with the work of God. These aged workers have stood faithful amid storm and trial. They may have infirmities, but they still possess talents that qualify them to stand in their place in God's cause. Though worn, and unable to bear the heavier burdens that younger men can and should carry, the counsel that they can give is of the highest value. RH September 12, 1912, par. 2

They may have made mistakes, but from their failures they have learned to avoid errors and dangers, and are they not therefore competent to give wise counsel? They have borne test and trial, and though they have lost some of their vigor, the Lord does not lay them aside. He gives them special grace and wisdom. RH September 12, 1912, par. 3

Those who have served their Master when the work went hard, who endured poverty, and remained faithful when there were few to stand for truth, are to be honored and respected. The Lord desires the younger laborers to gain wisdom, strength, and maturity by association with these faithful men. Let the younger men realize that in having such workers among them they are highly favored. Let them give them an honored place in their councils. RH September 12, 1912, par. 4

As those who have spent their lives in the service of Christ draw near to the close of their earthly ministry, they will be impressed by the Holy Spirit to recount the experiences that they have had in connection with his work. The record of his wonderful dealings with his people, of his great goodness in delivering them from trial, should be repeated to those newly come to the faith. God desires the old and tried laborers to stand in their place, doing their part to save men and women from being swept downward by the mighty current of evil. He desires them to keep the armor on till he bids them lay it down. RH September 12, 1912, par. 5

In the experience of the apostle John during his persecution, there is a lesson of wonderful strength and comfort for the people of God. God does not prevent the plottings of wicked men, but he causes their devices to work for good to those who in trial and conflict maintain their faith and loyalty. Often the gospel worker carries on his work amid storms of persecution, bitter opposition, and unjust reproach. At such times let him remember that the experience to be gained in the furnace of trial and affliction is worth more than all the pain it costs. Thus God brings his children near to him, that he may show them their weakness and his strength. He teaches them to lean on him. Thus he prepares them to meet emergencies, to fill positions of trust, and to accomplish the great purpose for which their powers were given them. RH September 12, 1912, par. 6

In all ages God's appointed witnesses have exposed themselves to reproach and persecution for the truth's sake. Joseph was maligned and persecuted because he preserved his virtue and integrity. David, the chosen messenger of God, was hunted like a beast of prey by his enemies. Daniel was cast into a den of lions because he was true to his allegiance to heaven. Job was deprived of his worldly possessions, and so afflicted in body that he was abhorred by his relatives and friends; yet he maintained his integrity. Jeremiah could not be deterred from speaking the words that God had given him to speak; and his testimony so enraged the king and princes that he was cast into a loathsome pit. Stephen was stoned because he preached Christ and him crucified. Paul was imprisoned, beaten with rods, stoned, and finally put to death because he was a faithful messenger for God to the Gentiles. And John was banished to the isle of Patmos “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” RH September 12, 1912, par. 7

These examples of human steadfastness bear witness to the faithfulness of God's promises,—of his abiding presence and sustaining grace. They testify to the power of faith to withstand the powers of the world. It is the work of faith to rest in God in the darkest hour, to feel, however sorely tried and tempest tossed, that our Father is at the helm. The eye of faith alone can look beyond the things of time to estimate aright the worth of eternal riches. RH September 12, 1912, par. 8

Jesus does not present to his followers the hope of attaining earthly glory and riches, of living a life free from trial. Instead, he calls upon them to follow him in the path of self-denial and reproach. He who came to redeem the world was opposed by the united forces of evil. In an unpitying confederacy, evil men and evil angels arrayed themselves against the Prince of Peace. His every word and act revealed divine compassion, yet his unlikeness to the world provoked the bitterest hostility. RH September 12, 1912, par. 9

So it will be with all who will live godly in Christ Jesus. Persecution and reproach await all who are imbued with the Spirit of Christ. The character of the persecution changes with the times, but the principle—the spirit that underlies it—is the same that has slain the chosen of the Lord ever since the days of Abel. RH September 12, 1912, par. 10

In all ages Satan has persecuted the people of God. He has tortured them and put them to death, but in dying they became conquerors. They bore witness to the power of One mightier than Satan. Wicked men may torture and kill the body, but they can not touch the life that is hid with Christ in God. They can incarcerate men and women in prison walls, but they can not bind the spirit. RH September 12, 1912, par. 11

Through trial and persecution the glory—the character—of God is revealed in his chosen ones. The believers in Christ, hated and persecuted by the world, are educated and disciplined in the school of Christ. On earth they walk in narrow paths; they are purified in the furnace of affliction. They follow Christ through sore conflicts; they endure self-denial, and experience bitter disappointments; but their experience teaches them the guilt and woe of sin, and they look upon it with abhorrence. Being partakers of Christ's sufferings, they can look beyond the gloom to the glory, saying, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” RH September 12, 1912, par. 12