The Review and Herald

467/1902

December 18, 1888

David's Prayer

[Delivered at Battle Creek, Mich., December 8, 1888.]

EGW

Text: “It is time for thee, Lord, to work, for they have made void thy law. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.” Psalm 119:126, 127. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 1

There was a time during David's reign over the kingdom of Israel, when he saw that special contempt was shown for the law of God. But what influence did this have upon him? Did it have the effect to sweep him into the current, so that he shared the same distrust in the law of Jehovah, and manifested the contempt that was revealed by those around him?—It had an entirely different influence. He saw that the disregard of the law of Jehovah brought moral desolation instead of increased piety, devotion, and love for God. God seemed to be put out of their minds; and the picture presented was not a pleasant one to the king and prophet of God. He beheld the influences that resulted from the transgression of the law of God, and it quickened his zeal, earnestness, and devotion, so that he felt urged to elevate the standard of righteousness, and hold it high amid the people, instead of uniting with them in transgression. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 2

If David thus marked the depravity of his time, and attributed it to the neglect of keeping the law of God, may we not interpret the increasing depravity, and the prevalence of iniquity in our world today, to the universal scorn shown for God's law? From generation to generation, from age to age, there has been a growing disrespect and contempt for the law of Jehovah. And when we come to our time, as we near the close of this world's history, there is a depravity existing everywhere, which reveals the fact that the law of God is made void, and that there is not in the minds and hearts of the people a yearning desire that God should reveal himself. “It is time for thee, Lord, to work; for they have made void thy law.” RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 3

What should be the attitude of the people of God at the present time? We see this growing contempt for the law of God revealed everywhere; and the outlook for the future is perilous for those who love that law, for they stand in marked contrast to those who are showing it such contempt. The secular and the Christian world seem to have joined hands in this matter, and all are trampling under foot the law of Jehovah. Why is it that today, as we look around us, we see so few youth whose moral sensibilities can be aroused? We are forced to admit that it is next to impossible to get them to appreciate the claims that high Heaven has upon them. How difficult it is for them to see the sinfulness of sin, and to realize that God has made an infinite sacrifice in giving his Son to come into our world, that man might have another trial, notwithstanding his transgression of the law. God was, in the beginning, dishonored by the holy pair in Eden, because they held the word of Satan above the word of God. This is the difficulty with the people today. If they would take God's word just as it reads, and have reverence for it, and receive the sacred oracles of God as his voice, there would be a growing regard for the law of Jehovah. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 4

God has a law which governs the intellects of all the holy beings in his universe, and this law is designed to govern the inhabitants of this world. Christ died that the human family might be brought back to their allegiance to God. He was their only hope of redemption. He did not suffer and die on Calvary's cross to annul the law, because he would thus be the administrator of sin by perpetuating transgression. If the law of God could have been changed, or one precept of it altered to meet man's fallen condition, then the Son of God need not have come into our world and died. But because the law of God was changeless in its character; because not one principle of it, not even a jot or a tittle, could be dishonored and swept away, God consented to let his Son take upon himself the results of man's transgression of that law, thus making it possible for man to be pardoned, and to become obedient to all God's commandments. It is the righteousness and perfection of his Son, who takes upon himself our sins, our defects, our weaknesses, which God accepts; and through faith in the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour we are prisoners of hope. Christ's righteousness becomes our righteousness, if we sustain a living connection with him. Then we cease to transgress the holy law of God, and become partakers of the divine nature. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 5

A time is coming when the law of God is, in a special sense, to be made void in our land. The rulers of our nation will, by legislative enactments, enforce the Sunday law, and thus God's people be brought into great peril. When our nation, in its legislative councils, shall enact laws to bind the consciences of men in regard to their religious privileges, enforcing Sunday observance, and bringing oppressive power to bear against those who keep the seventh-day Sabbath, the law of God will, to all intents and purposes, be made void in our land; and national apostasy will be followed by national ruin. We see that those who are now keeping the commandments of God need to bestir themselves, that they may obtain the special help which God alone can give them. They should work more earnestly to delay as long as possible the threatened calamity. If, in our land of boasted freedom, a Protestant government should sacrifice every principle which enters into its Constitution, and propagate papal falsehood and delusion, well may we plead, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work, for they have made void thy law.” Some may think that because it has been revealed in prophecy that our nation shall restrict the consciences of men, it must surely come; and that if we make an effort to preserve our liberty, we shall be acting the part of unfaithful servants, and thus come under the condemnation of God. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 6

This peril now threatens the people of God; and what are we going to do? Can we not assist in lifting the standard, and in calling to the front those who have a regard for their religious rights and privileges? God calls upon us to awake. We know the end is near. We know that the prophecies are fast fulfilling which show that we are living in the close of this world's history. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 7

John was shown the last work for this time (Revelation 14:9-12), and he saw a people of whom he says, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” John tells us what was opened to him in vision: “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament.” This vision represents a people whose attention was called to the sanctuary in heaven. There John saw the ark of God, containing the tables of stone whereon was engraven the law of God; and this people have been seeking to be in harmony with heaven by keeping all God's commandments. There has been great opposition because they have respected the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, which by the secular and religious world has been ignored. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 8

Now God speaks to us from Sinai's mount: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy; six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” It is the only commandment which is prefaced with a “remember,” as though God had said, “Do not forget it.” He has given to man the Sabbath as a memorial of creation. Man is to obey his command, and as he observes this memorial, the mind will be directed to the living God, who created the heavens and the earth. If man had always remembered to keep holy the Sabbath, there would never have been an atheist or an infidel in our world; but Satan has made an effort to keep God out of the mind, and has worked his plans so as to accomplish this; and having banished God from the memory of man, he puts himself, if possible, in the place of God, and even goes so far as to exalt himself above God, in compelling the consciences of men, which God has never done. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 9

We are now keeping the seventh day,—the very day God has told us to keep,—and are here assembled on it for religious worship. The papacy has brought in another day, a common working day, and established it in opposition to the Sabbath of the Lord. This he has done so that men shall not see or understand what are the sacred claims of God resting upon them. Well, what are we to do about it? Are we going to let the enemy make us captives, so that we shall not pay respect and reverence to God's holy day? Notwithstanding the fact that nearly the whole Protestant world have taken this child of the papacy, and cradled and nursed it, and given it prominence, it is our privilege and duty to keep holy the Sabbath of Jehovah. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 10

Prophecy tells us that the man of sin, the papacy, was to change times and laws; and because we are not, with the whole world, accepting a spurious Sabbath for the genuine, persecution will be poured out upon us. And it is fast coming to that point when we shall see the power of the oppressive hand brought against our religious liberty, and have our right disputed to keep the day that God has blessed, and given to the world as a memorial of his creative work. Shall we therefore honor a day which has no foundation in God's word, an institution of the papacy, and trample on the holy day that Jehovah has blessed, and set apart for man? John, looking down to the close of this world's history, saw a class who kept the commandments of God, and had the faith of Jesus. I want to be among that number; I want to be on God's side of the question. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 11

We see that efforts are being made to restrict our religious liberties. The Sunday question is now assuming large proportions. An amendment to our Constitution is being urged in Congress, and when it is obtained, oppression must follow. I want to ask, Are you awake to this matter? and do you realize that the night cometh, when no man can work? Have you had that intensity of zeal, and that piety and devotion, which will enable you to stand when oppression is brought upon you? It does not seem possible to us now that any should have to stand alone; but if God has ever spoken by me, the time will come when we shall be brought before councils and before thousands for his name's sake, and each one will have to give the reason of his faith. Then will come the severest criticism upon every position that has been taken for the truth. We need, then, to study the word of God, that we may know why we believe the doctrines we advocate. We must critically search the living oracles of Jehovah. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 12

The means we are devoting to our comfort here, the time that we allow to go to waste, ought to be devoted to the charge that God has given us: “Search the Scriptures;” and much time should be spent in prayer to God, that our garments, the robes of character, the inmost adornment, may be washed in the blood of the Lamb. But this cannot be, unless we keep the commandments of God in verity and truth; and unless we are awake to the times in which we are living, we shall be unfaithful servants. Obedience to the law of God will give protection from his wrath. We need now to pray for strength from heaven, to press back this movement that is being made in our country, and we should do everything on our part to preserve our liberties, and our right to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 13

Has the Protestant world stopped to look back at the suffering caused by popery in attempting to bind men's reason, so that they should not worship God as seemed right to them? Can they not see how the Roman Church has exercised her revengeful and cruel power? Those who would not bow to her mandates had to endure the prison and the stake, torture and death. And when those were swept away who would not bow their conscience to any but the God of heaven, others would spring up to fill the ranks, and lift the standard of religious liberty and right. And now this nation,—the greatest nation of earth,—under whose government we are blessed with every religious and temporal advantage; which has been the recipient of unrivaled mercies; which Providence has watched over and shielded; by which the standard of liberty and religious freedom has been lifted,—will it follow the course of the papacy, and make void God's law? And shall we sit with folded hands, and do nothing in this crisis? Shall we let this Religious Amendment movement come in, and shut us away from our privileges and rights, because we keep the commandments of God? God help us to arouse from the stupor that has hung over us for years! There are more souls to be saved, and a far greater work to be done in warning our world, than has yet been accomplished. We should seek God, especially that his grace and his power may be revealed in behalf of his people. We believe that God lives. We do not think the time specified in prophecy, when our liberties should be restricted, has fully come. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 14

Revelation 7:1, says: “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.” It seems that the breaking loose of the four winds is about to take place. Verses 2, 3: “And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 15

Here was a work to be done before the angels should let go the four winds; and if we shall awake to what is transpiring right around us, we must admit that we are not ready for the contest and the perplexities which are to be brought upon us, after the decree shall go forth. We are to cry to the God of heaven in earnest, united prayer, for the angels to hold the four winds till missionaries shall be sent to all parts of the world, till we have proclaimed the warning against disobedience to the law of Jehovah, and against worshiping the beast and his image. The claims of God's law must be made known to the inhabitants of the earth. This is our work; but every conceivable thing that the enemy can do will be done to hinder the people of God from awaking. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 16

The Lord bids us to watch; for we read that while men slept, the enemy sowed tares in the field. The work of these National Reformers has been done in a deceptive, underhanded way, to sweep in the whole Christian world, if possible; and if they shall carry this move to its result, and we are brought into straitened places, what are we to do? I beg of you, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to awake out of sleep. God always co-operates with man in the carrying out of divine plans. Christ came to our world for the purpose of bringing to man moral power to combine with his human efforts, and that he might place divine strength within the reach of weak humanity. Every time that Jesus overcame the temptations of the enemy in behalf of man, he elevated man in the scale of moral value with God. But it is impossible to discern between the human and the divine without the enlightenment of the Spirit of God. It is next to impossible for human beings to separate the sacred from the common,—the divine from the human,—notwithstanding discerning power is in our midst. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 17

God is working for his people, that they may not be left in darkness. He would have us anoint our eyes with eye-salve, that we may discern between the workings of the powers of darkness and the movings of the Spirit of God. We must not give our attention to unimportant things; we need to become acquainted with the Scriptures as we have never done before. They are the rock upon which we are to stand, for everything that is revealed is for us and for our children. We can study the Bible, and understand the fulfillment of prophecy, and everything that has to do with the law of God, and Christ's sacrifice in connection with the law of God; and we can, as did Paul, go from house to house, teaching repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Why repentance toward God?—Because the sinner has broken God's law, and he must repent and come back to obedience of it. He is to show to the world that there is a moral law which is the great standard of righteousness, and that Satan would break it down, if possible, and have man erect a standard of his own. God's word is sure standing fast forever; and as we look into that mirror, we see the defects of our characters. Will any stand before God's mirror, and because it shows them their defects, say that it is not true? We should not, as soon as our defects are pointed out, go away and forget what manner of persons we are; we must plead the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour by living faith, that pardon may be written opposite our names. We must wash our robes of character, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 18

When Christ went away, he gave to every man his work. This rests upon every one of us. If God should speak to you, he would say as he did to Elijah, “What doest thou here?” God did not tell you to leave your small churches, to come and settle down in this large church, where your gift is swallowed up. I ask, “Is there no missionary work for you to engage in?” May the God of heaven stir up your minds and hearts. This work does not rest alone with the ministers; but every man is to search the Scriptures for himself, that he may give a reason of the hope that is within him with meekness and fear. Even though you have no great breadth of intellect, you can tell the simple story of the cross. There is a field before you in the home, in the neighborhood, in the city, and in the church; and it is this very work that God wants you to do. The people of God should arise and put on the armor. When all do this, we shall not see such congregations as we see here today. There are scores of you who could take your Bibles, and, without inquiring if it will be easy, bear reproaches for his name, that you may obtain eternal life. When the Lord shall come and ask, “What improvement have you made of your talent? have you put it out to usury that it might increase more and more?” what will you answer the Master, if you have sat at ease, and done nothing to win souls to Christ? RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 19

We each have a duty to perform. The light of Heaven has revealed to us that every one who would take upon himself this work, would have the blessing of God, and thus the light of truth be reflected across the pathway of others. “What doest thou here, Elijah?” Who sent you here, that you might come into this large church, to be a burden instead of a shining light, as you should be? A living church is a working church. Here you sit under the light of Heaven, and give out no rays of light to those who are in darkness; and yet you seem to be content, and do not appreciate your blessings, because you are not awake. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 20

We need not go to foreign lands to become missionaries. All around us are fields white already to the harvest. Do not be inactive now. God calls upon you in Battle Creek who are dying of spiritual sloth, to go out into the highways and hedges, and labor so earnestly and interestedly that you will compel men to come to the light of truth. Let there be a moving out of Battle Creek, even though it be at a sacrifice. Go where you may be a blessing to others. Go where you can be a help in some weak church. Shake off your spiritual lethargy. Work with all your powers to save perishing souls; and the heavenly benediction will fall upon you; and you will finally hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 21

You do not appreciate or practice the truth of God. When you go to work for the Master in earnest, we shall not hear so many complaining, “Oh, I wish I knew whether I were a Christian or not.” When you do the works of a Christian, you will have the witness that your ways please God. You must not be dependent upon a happy flight of feeling in your service to God. That is not the evidence that decides whether you are a Christian or not. The religion of Jesus Christ is a living principle within us, and every power and every faculty must be in subjection to the will of God. We are not our own; we are bought with a price. Christ says we are laborers together with God. But how many souls are you laboring to bring to the Master? There is a great and important work to be done to prepare a people to stand in the day of the Lord; and may God help us to do this work to his acceptance. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 22

We read in Isaiah 8:12, 13: “Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” What is the burden of the work required of the people of God at this time? Is there nothing for you to do? Has the Master given your no part to act in his vineyard?—Yes, all have a work to do. “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.” This is the work to be done by the people of God. “And I will wait upon the Lord that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me [converts to the truth] are for signs and for wonders in Israel, from the Lord of hosts which dwelleth in Mount Zion. And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and that mutter, should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 23

A correct understanding of “what saith the Scriptures” in regard to the state of the dead is essential for this time. God's word declares that the dead know not anything, their hatred and love have alike perished. We must come to the sure word of prophecy for our authority. Unless we are intelligent in the Scriptures, may we not, when this mighty miracle-working power of Satan is manifested in our world, be deceived and call it the workings of God; for the word of God declares that, if it were possible, the very elect should be deceived. Unless we are rooted and grounded in the truth, we shall be swept away by Satan's delusive snares. We must cling to our Bibles. If Satan can make you believe that there are things in the word of God that are not inspired, he will then be prepared to ensnare your soul. We shall have no assurance, no certainty, at the very time we need to know what is truth. Our feet should be shod with the preparation of the gospel, and the truth of God should be our shield and buckler. We must know for ourselves that we have the truth of God. Therefore let no one entertain the question whether this or that portion of the word of God is inspired. Go to work; gird on the armor of Christ's righteousness. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 24

Satan came as an angel of light in the wilderness of temptation to deceive Christ; and he does not come to man in a hideous form, as he is sometimes represented, but as an angel of light. He will come personating Jesus Christ, working mighty miracles; and men will fall down and worship him as Jesus Christ. We shall be commanded to worship this being, whom the world will glorify as Christ. What shall we do?—Tell them that Christ has warned us against just such a foe, who is man's worst enemy, yet who claims to be God; and that when Christ shall make his appearance, it will be with power and great glory, accompanied by ten thousand times ten thousand angels and thousands of thousands; and that when he shall come, we shall know his voice. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 25

If you are walking humbly with God, you will understand the truth, and the preparation necessary to be made for this time. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever.” If you believe this, and walk out by faith, you will be saved in the kingdom of glory. We should not try to know the “whys” and “wherefores” of everything, but be content to know the simplicity of godliness. Jesus Christ has laid the plan of salvation, and opened the way before us, clear and distinct, that even the simplest who desire the truth, may find it. Special forces of darkness are at work to encircle us, and to take away our liberty of conscience. The mouths of those who have not kept pace with the work are closed, and they do not know what to say; but we who have been waiting and watching for the appearing of our Saviour, are not taken by surprise. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 26

Are there not men and women in this congregation who have a work to do for the Master? Are there not those here who should go into new places and work as missionaries? We need missionaries at home; and we need missionaries who will go out into new fields, and see what they can do. Trade upon your one talent or two talents. Although your talents may be limited, God will accept them. Why bury them in the earth? Go to work, and do your best, and God will give you some fruit for your labor. O, I would rather come to the Master with garnered sheaves than to have treasures of gold and of silver. Give me souls as the fruit of my labor; and I will not ask for convenience or ease in this world. Are there not men and women here whom God will call to give an account for the ability he has lent them? There are souls for whom you are to work; there are youth with whom you are to plead. There is work to be done in the temperance line; and here you sit, from Sabbath to Sabbath, listening to the truth, while souls are perishing around you. Why not let the light which God has given you shine on the pathway of others? I beg you to consider this matter seriously. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 27

Get ready for the week of prayer by humbling your hearts before God. Though you have yet no sheaves to bring to the Master, you can go to work even at the eleventh hour, and God will help you. Be in earnest; pray and work, and work and pray; and then act as though success depended upon your efforts. Do to the best of your ability, and God will co-operate with you. You ought to work with all the powers of your being. Awake! awake! I pray you. “Arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” Go out and do your little, and he will increase your capabilities, and you may keep growing in grace, and in the love of the truth. The more you use your talents, the more they will increase. We are drawing near the close of probation. We should put our talents out to the exchangers, that when the Master comes, he may receive our talents as his own; but he will return to us again both principal and interest. May the God of heaven place your feet upon the eternal Rock. I beg of you to be followers of Jesus Christ, and to bring many sheaves to the Master. RH December 18, 1888, Art. A, par. 28