SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (EGW)

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Chapter 6

16 (ch. 9:16). Manufactured Religion Not Life and Light—There are times before us that will try the souls of men, and there will be need of watchfulness, of the right kind of fasting. This will not be like the fasting of the Pharisees. Their seasons of fasting were occasions of outward ceremony. They did not humble their hearts before God. They were filled with bitterness, envy, malice, strife, selfishness, and self-righteousness. While their heads were bowed in pretended humiliation, they were covetous, full of self-esteem, self-importance. They were oppressive, exacting, proud in spirit. 5BC 1086.1

Everything in the Jewish service had been misinterpreted and misapplied. The purpose of the sacrificial offerings had been perverted. They were to symbolize Christ and His mission, that when He should come in the flesh, the world might recognize God in Him, and accept Him as the world's Redeemer. But their lack of true heart service for God had blinded the Jews to a knowledge of God. Exactions and ceremonies and traditions were the sum total of their religion. 5BC 1086.2

The Pharisees had yet to learn that righteousness exalts a nation, that form and ceremony cannot take the place of righteousness. Christ was teaching the people as verily when enshrouded in the pillar of cloud as when seated on the mount. The same compassionate consideration for the poor was enjoined as in the lessons given to the disciples. But the responsibility of every individual in the sight of God, His mercy, love, and compassion, were not included in the lessons given to the people by the rulers in Israel. Said Christ, “No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.” The truth, the life, the light, which should characterize true godliness could not be united with the manufactured religion of the Pharisees (Manuscript 3, 1898). 5BC 1086.3

24 (Luke 16:13; James 4:4). Double-minded Men Satan's Allies—[Matthew 6:24 quoted.] Those who begin their Christian life by being half and half, will at last be found enlisted on the enemy's side, whatever may have been their first intentions. And to be an apostate, a traitor to the cause of God, is more serious than death; for it means the loss of eternal life. 5BC 1086.4

Double-minded men and women are Satan's best allies. Whatever favorable opinion they may have of themselves, they are dissemblers. All who are loyal to God and the truth must stand firmly for the right because it is right. To yoke up with those who are unconsecrated, and yet be loyal to the truth, is simply impossible. We cannot unite with those who are serving themselves, who are working on worldly plans, and not lose our connection with the heavenly Counselor. We may recover ourselves from the snare of the enemy, but we are bruised and wounded, and our experience is dwarfed (The Review and Herald, April 19, 1898). 5BC 1086.5

28, 29. Toil Cannot Duplicate Simplicity—Here He shows that notwithstanding that persons may toil with weariness to make themselves objects of admiration, that which they value so highly will not bear comparison with the flowers of the field. Even these simple flowers, with God's adornment, would outvie in loveliness the gorgeous apparel of Solomon (Manuscript 153, 1903). 5BC 1086.6

An Idea of God's Regard—If the lilies of the field are objects upon which the great Master Artist has bestowed care, making them so beautiful that they outrival the glory of Solomon, the greatest king that ever wielded a scepter; if the grass of the field is made into a beautiful carpet for the earth, can we form any idea of the regard which God bestows upon man, who was formed in His image (Letter 4, 1896)? 5BC 1086.7

Every Flower Expresses Love—The great Master Artist calls our attention to the soulless flowers of the field, pointing out the beautiful tints and the wonderful variety of shades one flower may possess. Thus God has revealed His skill and care. Thus He would show the great love He has for every human being. 5BC 1086.8

Every flower is an expression of the love of God (Letter 24, 1899). 5BC 1086.9

The flowers of the field, in their endless variety, are always ministering to the delight of the children of men. God Himself nourishes every root, that He may express His love to all who will be softened and subdued by the works of His hands. We need no artificial display. God's love is represented by the beautiful things of His creation. These things mean more than many suppose (Letter 84, 1900). 5BC 1087.1

28-30. A Lesson of Faith—Notwithstanding the curse was pronounced upon the earth that it should bring forth thorns and thistles, there is a flower upon the thistle. The world is not all sorrow and misery. God's great book of nature is open for us to study, and from it we are to gain more exalted ideas of His greatness and unexcelled love and glory. He who laid the foundation of the earth, who garnished the heavens and marshaled the stars in their order, He who has clothed the earth with a living carpet, and beautified it with lovely flowers of every shade and variety, would have His children appreciate His works, and delight in the simple, quiet beauty with which He has adorned their earthly home. 5BC 1087.2

Christ sought to draw the attention of His disciples away from the artificial to the natural: “If God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Why did not our heavenly Father carpet the earth with brown or gray? He chose the color that was most restful, the most acceptable to the senses. How it cheers the heart and refreshes the weary spirit to look upon the earth, clad in its garments of living green! Without this covering the air would be filled with dust, and the earth would appear like a desert. Every spire of grass, every opening bud and blooming flower is a token of God's love, and should teach us a lesson of faith and trust in Him. Christ calls our attention to their natural loveliness, and assures us that the most gorgeous array of the greatest king that ever wielded an earthly scepter was not equal to that worn by the humblest flower. You who are sighing for the artificial splendor which wealth alone can purchase, for costly paintings, furniture, and dress, listen to the voice of the divine Teacher. He points you to the flower of the field, the simple design of which cannot be equaled by human skill (The Review and Herald, October 27, 1885). 5BC 1087.3