Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9 (1894)


Ms 11, 1894

Sermon/Thoughts on Isaiah 58

Brighton, Australia

February 10, 1894

See probable variant Ms 11b, 1894. This manuscript is published in entirety in 5MR 36-48.

(Isaiah 58): “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinances of their God: they ask of me the ordinance of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.” [Verses 1, 2.] They seek Christ just the same as though they had not forsaken Him. This is a people that seek God as though they were seeking Him in obedience to Him. That is just how they seek the Lord. “They ask of me the ordinance of justice.” That is the danger, and that is where the Pharisees stumbled. They looked at their outward forms and ceremonies, and their outward performances of worship. And the Pharisees expected that those outward ceremonies would certainly recommend them to Christ, but He showed them that they did not have the spirit of meekness and lowliness that Christ had. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 1

Now He says, “Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.” [Verse 4.] Here is a voice that God bids shall be heard on high, and there are voices that they make to be heard on high, and it is not the voice that gives the trumpet the certain sound. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 2

“Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast and an acceptable day unto the Lord?” [Verse 5.] As though the Lord would take great pleasure in that. That is not the kind of bowing down that He has a pleasure in. “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and that ye break every yoke?” [Verse 6.] Here is something that is a work to a purpose. Let us see what it is. “To loose the bands of wickedness, and undo the heavy burdens.” Now here is the very thing in work that the Lord accepts. Why? You say, “I have heard that we are not saved for our good works.” No, but we will not be saved without them. You cannot depend upon your good works for salvation. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 3

We must have a living dependence upon a living God. And when there is a living connection with a living God, Christ abides in the heart by living faith, and the human agent works after Christ’s life. He is going to change our life and character, speaking the words that Christ speaks, revealing the character that Christ reveals. And if trials come to us we will not manifest a rebellious spirit. The opportunities will present themselves to every one of us, because we see oppression and unkindness, and because we see burdens that would be thrown upon us, and let self come in and exhibit itself. We let self arise. We want to put the trials in their <right> place, and where is it? 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 4

Christ says to everyone that is weary and heavy laden, “Come to Me.” And what? “Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.” [Matthew 11:28, 29.] And notwithstanding the crush of conflict that we shall have to pass through if we accept the truth of heavenly origin, there is meekness and lowliness in <every move.> Hide in Jesus Christ. Our life and character is hid with Christ in God, so we cannot afford to let any impulse of passion control our words or control our actions, but we must keep the Saviour’s example ever before us, and we must do just as Jesus would have done under similar circumstances, and we are not to be revengeful. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 5

Now the work that is before us we want clearly to understand. It is a work of mercy, a work of love, a work just in Christ’s lines—just as Christ worked. He says that the nobleman went on a long journey and to every man he gave his work. [Luke 19:12.] The human agent is to co-operate with the divine. To every one his work, and this is Christ’s work. It is not the man’s work. He is not to feel that all he has to do is to attend to his own individual self. No, there is a broader field. He is to “occupy till I come” [Verse 13], and what is it “to occupy?” To be laborers together with God. Therefore it is of the greatest consequence that we understand in clear lines what it is to be laborers together with God. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 6

We must be imbued with the Spirit of Christ. We cannot labor with God merely from our intellect or our education. We cannot buy the grace of God with money; we cannot buy it with eloquence; we cannot buy it with the power of our intellect. It is God’s to begin with. Does any of it belong to us? No, it is received by us from above. We are to occupy to the very best knowledge that we have, and sense our responsibility, and let our light shine through us to those that are around us, and in doing that we are doing the work of God. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 7

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” [Isaiah 58:6.] How are we to do it though? It is to present the obedience to Jesus Christ. And when we present the perfection that there is in His requirements, in His commandments, in His law, we are presenting that which will loose the bands of wickedness, and in the place of making men fast, in the place of shackling them with sin, it will loose the bands of wickedness, and those that are oppressed by the enemy. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 8

Who is the enemy? Who is observing us on the right and on the left? It is the one who rebelled against the law of God in heaven. It is the one that fell because of his disloyalty, and when we work in his lines we are fastening the shackles of oppression. “His servants ye are to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey.” [Romans 6:16.] If it is Christ you obey you are free, because he came to make us free. If we are on Christ’s side we stand under the blood-stained banner of Jesus Christ. The blood-stained banner of Prince Emmanuel testifies that we are free, made free in Jesus Christ because He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for all who shall believe on His name. That is the freedom that we want. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 9

“To let the oppressed go free.” [Isaiah 58:6.] What can we say to them? We can show them that obedience to the requirements of Jesus Christ is freedom, liberty, and salvation. It is indeed the perfection of Jesus Christ revealed in our world in His character. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 10

“And that ye break every yoke.” [Verse 6.] We do not want to be bound any more, no matter who it is or what it is. There is our God [whom] we must serve, a God [who] requires our service. Nothing must come in between that God and our souls, because our souls are of infinite value, and we cannot hang them on the ministers. We cannot trust our salvation to them. We must search the Scriptures for ourselves and know what they teach. We must obey what God says. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 11

“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” [Verse 7.] How can you do this? By not living extravagantly yourself. By not using every dollar that you have to make yourself a place in the earth, but honor the Lord God of Heaven by showing that you esteem the purchase of His blood. You are to show that you estimate humanity from God’s standpoint. Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and we are to feel indeed that He has died to purchase humanity, to give us freedom and liberty which can be given only through Him. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 12

Now let us see what the Spirit of God led His representative on earth to do, what the character of His mission was. He says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” [Luke 4:18.] How? Why, He found when He came here that the truth was so mixed with error that He had to take away the traditions and maxims, and to remove the rubbish, and take the truth, which had served in the enemy’s lines to strengthen error and bring error before the people, rescue it [truth] from error and restore it to the native loveliness of its character, and then let that truth stand before the people. The oldest error may be pled for because of its age; it may be hoary with age, but that does not make error truth. No, it does not change error into truth. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 13

The Jews held their customs received from tradition and repeated from age to age and from generation to generation, and they kept accumulating until He says to them, “Ye are blind.” “Ye are both ignorant of the Scriptures and of the power of God.” [Matthew 23:17; 22:29.] What was the matter? Why they had taught tradition for the commandments of God. That is not the way to do. What did Christ come to present? He says, “The recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” [Luke 4:18.] Now you can see that that is in perfect harmony with what we have been reading. “When thou seest the naked that thou cover him.” [Isaiah 58:7.] What are you doing if you have the glorious light of truth? What are you doing if God has chosen you to be a peculiar people, a royal people, a holy people? You are to show forth the power of Him who hath called you out of darkness, out of blindness, into His marvelous light. Well, if God lets His light shine upon you, do not let your mouth be stopped. Do not let anybody put a falsehood in your mouth because of tradition. Speaking the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 14

Let the Spirit of God speak for Itself. Do not mix in self, and your own ideas and your own opinions. You want to present the truth as it is in Christ, and when you do that let the truth make its own impressions. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 15

“And that ye hide not thyself from thine own flesh.” [Verse 7.] How much of that there is. There is a little church in Denver where they do not let anyone in if they do any work, and so of course Christ does not come in because He set us the example by working in a carpenter’s shop. They exclude everyone. There was a seamstress taken in by a noble family, and [the people in the church] were highly offended and talked with them. To think that they should let one worker come in! Have they got a secluded Heaven? They are hiding themselves from their own flesh. Do just as Jesus did. What did He do? He took a position with the poor. He preached the gospel to the poor in such simple language that they could advance the truth in every line. What does it say in the Scriptures? 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 16

Christ sent out a message, “Come to My supper.” The preparation is made, come to My supper. But they would not hear it. What was the matter? What had they got to do? One said, “I have bought a piece of ground and cannot come,” and another said, “I have a yoke of oxen,” and another, “I have married a wife,” and Christ was angry, and He said, “Go out into the highways and compel them to come in.” [Luke 14:18-23.] How? Were they to take and shackle them? They were to let the bright rays of light shine right upon them in clear, steady lines that they should follow the words of Jesus. “And I, if I be lifted up ..., will draw all men unto me.” [John 12:32.] Do you draw them unto Him? That is the very work that is to be done. Let us draw. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 17

Shall we go to the highest? Yes, go to the highest powers in the earth and say, “We have got a truth which will satisfy everyone of you. You are not satisfied. This is a truth so large and expansive and so deep that it will meet every want that you have.” Present to them the precious truth. There are many in palaces that do not know what is the matter with them. Paul had converts in Caesar’s household. He did not tell them to come out, but when it came to the point where they could not honor God and stay there, they had a perfect right to change their position, as Christ had the right to take the children of Israel out of Egypt in order that they might keep the Sabbath and have the Lord of heaven exalted before them. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 18

Hide not yourself from your own flesh. Go to work right where you are among any people [where] there is work to do. “Lift up your eyes,” says Christ, “and look.” [John 4:35.] Why? For the fields are ripe and ready for harvest. What is interposing? Men interpose themselves right between the people and Christ. They are working in the lines of the enemy instead of in the light and power of truth, and the God of Heaven must see in the human agent the power that says, “Come, for all things are ready.” [Luke 14:17.] That is what we want. We want to give the people food. They are hungry. We do not want the froth; we do not want the fables, but we want the Word of the infinite God. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 19

Christ says, “Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood ye have no part with me.” [See John 6:53.] What is it to eat His flesh? When the disciples heard that, they were offended. They did not discern spiritual things. He says, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” [Verse 63.] It is to be doers of the Word. Do you think we are going to let people come in with their maxims and customs and blind our eyes? We have a work to do, to go to the people who have souls to lose or souls to save. What are the terms of salvation? “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” [Matthew 4:10.] This we will keep ever before us. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 20

Let us see what comes of not being self-centered, and not taking time to brood over our ailments and afflictions. We will take time to consider that there is somebody in the world besides ourselves, and we will begin to work in Christ’s lines; our spirits will become animated and His righteousness will go before us. Then if ye do these things “thy light shall break forth as the morning, and thy health shall spring forth speedily.” [Isaiah 58:8.] And it is a double health. It is not only bodily health, but spiritual health and power, spiritual sinew and muscle. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 21

“Thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee: and the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward”—the righteousness of Jesus Christ. [Verse 8.] He has taken away our sins because we have repented of our transgression of the law of God. Our sin is taken away and in its place the righteousness of God is imputed unto us. Here the vacuum is supplied by blessing of God. That is what supplies the place. “Thy righteousness shall go before thee.” Jesus Christ our righteousness. “And the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.” If the righteousness of God goes before in the path that we travel, we have got a most glorious wake behind [us]. God’s people are blessed. They stand out distinguished by light and love and power, and the world sees that there is somebody [who] will work according to the law of God. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 22

“Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day: And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” [Verses 9-11.] That is what we want, to call and the Lord shall answer. “Thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.” He responds to [our call], and says, “What shall I do for you?” He will give you the very thing that your soul hungers after. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 23

“If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity.” [Verse 9.] It is not only the body, but the soul that is expressed in this work. How many we see whose light is in obscurity. O, if I could find Jesus. I have letters come to me saying, “How shall I find Jesus? I have prayed, but I do not get any answer to my prayer.” Christ says, “If ye do these things, I will answer. I am with you. I am right by your side.” What can we suppose is the reason that we are in obscurity? The light is shining, and here Christ says, “Then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day.” [Verse 10.] Let us thank God. Let a gratitude offering come up to God. “And the Lord shall guide thee continually.” If His words to us continue we are not in darkness. “And the Lord shall guide thee continually and satisfy thy soul in drought ... thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” [Verse 11.] [For] everyone that trusts in Jesus and drinks the water that He gives them, it shall be in them “as a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.” [John 4:14.] Let us see what work we have to do. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 24

“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places.” What is the matter? Do you see any waste places down here in 1894? “Thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations.” What is the matter? Is the foundation gone? “And thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” They will be called among the heavenly intelligences, “the repairers of the breach, the restorers of paths to dwell in.” “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable, and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord, and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” [Isaiah 58:12-14.] 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 25

Now we have to understand what the breach is. Look at the fourth commandment. We have assembled here today to acknowledge that the Lord created the heaven and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day, and sanctified and blessed the seventh day, and set it apart for man to observe. In observing that day, we erect a memorial which is to call God to mind and keep Him in remembrance as the only true and living God to be worshiped by human intelligences. He created the heavens and the earth and He has given us a memorial, even the observance of the seventh day—not the first day. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 26

Here comes up a power under the control of Satan that puts up the first day to be observed. God calls him the man of sin because he has perpetuated transgression. [2 Thessalonians 2:3.] He [Satan] has taken his side to be on the right hand of the first sinner that ever existed. We do not want to be on his side. Here is the breach that it is to be made and it has been a breach for years. Shall we let it always be a breach? “Well,” some say, “why do you always talk about the Sabbath? Why don’t you talk about Christ.” Suppose in the enclosure a length of fence was broken down. If we were building that length would you ask why we paid so much attention to that part? What is it? [It is] the Sabbath of the fourth commandment that is broken down. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 27

The foundation of many generations is the seventh-day Sabbath of the Lord our God. “This is the sign,” He says in the 31st chapter of Exodus, “this is the sign between me and [you] throughout your generations forever.” [Verses 13, 17.] Well now, what is the matter? They have broken it down, and the world has taken the liberty to take a day that has no sacredness, no sanctity, and they all worship that as the Sabbath. It is a spurious sabbath. God does not accept it. And they worship God as though they had not departed from His ordinances, but they have. Shall we accept this child of Papacy? The Protestant world has taken it, the Protestant world has cradled it, the Protestant world has nourished it, but shall we take it as divine, when God says, “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work.” [Exodus 20:9.] What shall we do? Work at that broken down line of fence “Thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations, and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” [Isaiah 58:12.] 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 28

Will you please carry that home with you, and read and search and find out about the breach, because everyone of you want to become intelligent in faith and doctrine, that you may “give to every man that asketh of you a reason of the faith that is in you.” [1 Peter 3:15.] Let us seek the Lord that we may find Him. He wants us to seek Him. God help us to come right to the point, and every one of us be employed in lifting up the Sabbath which has been trampled under the feet of man, and a spurious one put in its place. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 29

You will always find Satan on the side of the oppressor. God does not oppress. God does not bring [people] in by persecution, for He has let them live all this time, but when Satan gets the lines in his hands, he takes the spurious sabbath and sets it up against the perfection of Christ and [says] you have got to keep it. That is the spirit of persecution, and oppression and bondage. It goes right with the spurious sabbath that has not one syllable for its sanctity in the Word of God. “If you do not keep Sunday, you shall not buy or sell.” And not only that, but they work their oppression in every way possible, but thank God, He lives. He lived in the days of the apostles when the priests said, “Do not preach any more in the name of Jesus Christ.” [Acts 4:17.] 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 30

Somebody else’s law was to come in there and show that God had a government. He sent His angel and said, “Go and tell Peter to go and make known my words.” And when they came for Peter, lo, he was not there. And one came and said, He is in the temple preaching. And they sent officers to bring him without violence, and they brought him before the council. They said to him, “Why do you teach in his name?” But Peter answered and said, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken to you more than to God, judge thee.” [Acts 5:19-29; 4:19.] 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 31

God help us that our eyes may be anointed with the eyesalve that we may see. “He will cause [you] to ride on the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father.” [Isaiah 58:14.] Let us hide under the promise, and let us find refuge in Jesus Christ. He will establish us in truth and righteousness and the glory of the Lord shall be our rereward. 9LtMs, Ms 11, 1894, par. 32