Sermons and Talks, vol. 2


Chapter 33—Lessons From the Fifty-Eighth Chapter of Isaiah

Manuscript 8, 1904

[Sermon delivered by Ellen G. White at 11:30 a.m., Sabbath, January 23, 1904, in the Sanitarium Chapel, St. Helena, California.]

“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew My people their transgression, 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 ordinance of their God: they ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God” [Isaiah 58:1, 2]. 2SAT 249.1

God's professed people answered these words by the complaint: “Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and Thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and Thou takest no knowledge?” [verses 3]. 2SAT 249.2

The cause of their deplorable spiritual condition is given: “Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. 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. 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 to the Lord?” [verses 3-5]. 2SAT 249.3

The people seemed to have the impression that there was virtue in the appearance of humility. But it is only when the soul is, spiritually speaking, naturally inclined to humility before God, that the forms of worship are acceptable. 2SAT 249.4

The Lord desires every one of us to be decidedly in earnest. We cannot afford to make a mistake in spiritual matters. The life and death question with us is, “What shall I do that I may be saved, eternally saved?” “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life—a life that measures with the life of God?” This is a question that it becomes every one of us to consider carefully. 2SAT 249.5

We are not left to think that only this world is our home. Just before His crucifixion Christ said: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” He spoke these words to His disciples. They were troubled because they thought that their Master was about to leave them. Christ had told them that He would be taken by wicked hands, and crucified. Their hearts were filled with sorrow, and in His love for them Christ overlooked His own agony, and sought to relieve their burdened hearts by telling them of His purpose concerning them and of His final return: 2SAT 249.6

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” 2SAT 250.1

This is where every soul of us will desire to be. All who are sitting before me today will desire to be with Christ in His kingdom. It means something to us to have a home in the mansions that Christ is preparing for us. We cannot afford to make mistakes now; we cannot afford to make crooked paths for our feet, lest other weak souls be led astray. 2SAT 250.2

While living in this world, we are to be God's helping hand. Paul declared, “Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building” [1 Corinthians 3:9]. We are to cooperate with God in every measure that He desires to carry out. Are we fulfilling the purpose of the eternal God? Are we daily seeking to have the mind of Christ and to do His will in word and work? 2SAT 250.3

What a condition the human family is in today! Have you ever seen before such a time of confusion—of violence, of murder, theft, and every other kind of crime? In this time, where are we individually standing? 2SAT 250.4

In the fifty-eighth of Isaiah we have read of those who “fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness,” and we have learned that God will not accept such a fast. “Ye shall not fast as ye do this day,” He declares, “to make your voice to be heard on high” [Isaiah 58:4]. 2SAT 250.5

“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 to the Lord? 2SAT 250.6

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens [instead of binding them on], and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 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?” [verses 5-7]. “Then [after they do these works of mercy and necessity] shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward” [verse 8]. 2SAT 250.7

We are to put into practice the precepts of the law, and thus have righteousness before us; the rearward will be God's glory. The light of the righteousness of Christ will be our frontguard, and the glory of the Lord will be our rearward. Let us thank the Lord for this assistance. Let us constantly stand in a position where the Lord God of heaven can favor us. Let us consider that it is our high privilege to be in connection with God—to be His helping hand. 2SAT 250.8

In God's great plan for the redemption of a lost race, He has placed Himself under the necessity of using human agencies as His helping hand. He must have a helping hand, in order to reach humanity. He must have the cooperation of those who will be active, quick to see opportunities, quick to discern what must be done for their fellow men. 2SAT 251.1

Christ gave His life for sinful men and women. He desired to rescue the race from a life of transgression to a life of obedience and righteousness; and to those who accept Him as their Redeemer He offers the richest reward that Heaven can bestow—even the inheritance of life eternal. 2SAT 251.2

John, the beloved disciple, declares concerning his Lord: “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came into His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” [John 1:10-12]. 2SAT 251.3

Oh, that we might comprehend more fully the infinite price that has been paid for our redemption! Paul declares, “Ye are bought with a price”; and it is true, for the price paid is nothing less than the life of the only begotten Son of God. Let us all consider this. We may refuse the invitations that Christ sends to us; we may neglect His offer of pardon and peace; but still it remains a fact that every one of us has been bought with a price, even with the precious blood of the Son of God. Therefore, “Consider Him” [Hebrews 12:3]. 2SAT 251.4

You have cost much. “Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” That which you may regard as your own, is God's. Take care of His property. He has bought you with an infinite price. Your mind is His. What right has any person to abuse a body that belongs not to himself, but to the Lord Jesus Christ? What satisfaction can anyone take in gradually lessening the power of body and mind by selfish indulgence of any form? 2SAT 251.5

God has given to every human being a brain. He desires that it shall be used to His glory. By it, man is enabled to cooperate with God in efforts to save perishing fellow mortals. We have none too much brain power or reasoning faculties. We are to educate and train every power of mind and body—the human mechanism that Christ has bought—in order that we may put it to the best possible use. We are to do all we can to strengthen these powers; for God is pleased to have us become more and still more efficient colaborers with Him. 2SAT 251.6

Of those who do their part faithfully, it is said, “Ye are laborers together with God” [1 Corinthians 3:9]. Apart from divine aid, man can do very little; but the heavenly Father and His Son are ready to work through everyone who consecrates himself wholly on the altar of service. Every soul before me may cooperate with God, and labor for Him acceptably. The Lord desires us all to come into line. To every man He has given an appointed work, according to their several ability. 2SAT 252.1

In Exodus we read that at the time the Lord directed the Israelites to build a tabernacle in the wilderness, He gave certain men special ability, talent, and skill in devising, and then He appointed them to the work. He will deal with us in the same way. We are to use our brain power to the glory of God. And although we may have to begin in a very small way, He will bless us and multiply our talents as a reward for faithfulness. 2SAT 252.2

At the age of seventeen, when all my friends thought I was an invalid for life on account of a severe accident I had sustained in my girlhood, a heavenly visitant came and spoke to me, saying, “I have a message for you to bear.” “Why,” I thought, “there certainly must be a great mistake somewhere.” Again were spoken the words: “I have a message for you to bear. Write out for the people what I give you.” Up to that time my trembling hand had not been able to write a line. I replied, “I cannot do it; I cannot do it.” “Write! write!” were the words spoken once again. I took the pen and paper, and I began to write; and how much I have written since, it is impossible to estimate. The strength, the power, was of God. 2SAT 252.3

Since that time, the books that I have written have been published in many, many languages, and have gone to all parts of the earth. Just a short while ago I received word that a copy of one of my books had been graciously received by the queen of Germany, and that she had written a kind letter expressing her appreciation of the volume. To the Lord be all the praise. 2SAT 252.4

Of ourselves we can do nothing good. But it is our privilege to place ourselves in right relation to God, and to determine that by His help we will do our part in this work, to make it better. In the lives of those who humbly yet unfalteringly carry out this resolution, will be revealed the glory of God. I know this by experience. I have had no power of my own. I have realized that I must hang my helpless soul on Jesus Christ; and as the result of doing this, of praying and of believing, the salvation of God has gone before me, and the glory of the Lord has followed. 2SAT 252.5

I tell you that which I know, for your encouragement and comfort. Let us all place ourselves in right relation to God. What satisfaction is to be found in keeping pace with the fashion of this world? You have a better work to do. Fashion character. Use every ability, every nerve, every muscle, every thought, every action, to the glory of God. Then you will see, as you have never seen before, the salvation of God going before you. 2SAT 253.1

Oh, I have nought to complain of! The Lord has never failed me. I laid my husband in the grave 22 years ago; and several years afterward, when the decision was made that more missionaries must go to Australia to unite with the few who had been sent, we went there ourselves to strengthen the hands of our brethren, and to establish the work on right lines in this new center. There we did much pioneer work. 2SAT 253.2

We saw the great need for a school in which promising young men and young women could be trained for the Master's service; and we went right into the woods in New South Wales, purchased 1500 acres of land, and there established a training school away from the cities. The nearest city, Newcastle, was 25 miles distant; and Sydney, where we purchased most of our supplies, was about 75 miles south. As pioneers, we took hold of this work in earnest, doing all we could; and the power of God was with us at every step. We met with many discouragements, it is true; difficulties pressed in on the right hand and on the left; but the Lord blessed and prospered the efforts of the consecrated workers. 2SAT 253.3

Three years ago we returned to America. Others were sent to Australia to take our places. The work has continued to grow; prosperity has attended every effort. I wish you could read the letters that come to us. Doubtless you have heard of the dreadful drought that has caused famine in so many places in Australia during the past two years. Hundreds of thousands of sheep and cattle and horses have perished. In all the colonies, and especially in Queensland, the suffering and the financial loss have been great. 2SAT 253.4

But the spot that was chosen for our training school has had sufficient rainfall for good pasture land and bountiful crops; in fact, in legislative assemblies and in the newspapers of the great cities it has been specified as “the only green spot in all New South Wales.” 2SAT 253.5

Is not this remarkable? Has not the Lord blessed? From one of the reports received, we learn that last year 7000 pounds of honey of the best quality had been made on the school estate. Large quantities of vegetables have been raised, and the sale of the surplus has been a source of considerable revenue to the school. All this is very encouraging to us; for we took the wild land, and helped to bring it to its present fruitful state. To the Lord we ascribe all the praise. 2SAT 253.6

In every land and in every community there are many opportunities for helpful service. Even in these valleys in which we are now living, there are families that need help along spiritual lines. Look these ones up. Use your talent, your ability, by helping them. First give yourself to the Master; then He will work with you. To every man He gives his work. 2SAT 254.1

Sometimes it has been reported that I am trying to get rich. Some have written to us, inquiring, “Is not Mrs. White worth millions of dollars?” I am glad that I can say, “No.” I do not own in this world any place that is free from debt. Why? Because I see so much missionary work to be done. Under such circumstances, could I hoard money? No, indeed. I receive royalties from the sale of my books, but nearly all is spent in missionary work. 2SAT 254.2

The head of one of our publishing houses in a distant foreign land, upon hearing from others recently that I was in need of means, sent me a bill of exchange for $500, and in the letter accompanying the money he said that in return for the thousands upon thousands of dollars royalty that I had turned over to their mission field for the translation and distribution of new books and for the support of new missionary enterprises, they regarded the enclosed $500 as a very small token of their appreciation. They sent this because of their desire to help me in my time of special need; but heretofore I have given, for the support of the Lord's cause in foreign lands, all the royalties that come from the sale of my foreign books in Europe; and I intend to return this $500 as soon as I can free myself from debt. 2SAT 254.3

For the glory of God I will tell you that about four years ago He enabled me to finish writing a book on the parables of Jesus, and then He put it into my heart to give this book for the advancement of our denominational educational work. 2SAT 254.4

At that time some of our larger training schools and colleges were heavily in debt; but through the efforts of our people to sell this book and to devote the entire proceeds to the liquidation of these debts, more than $200,000 has already been raised and applied on the debts; and the good work is still going on. The success of this plan has been a source of great satisfaction to me. I am now completing another book, to be used in a similar way for other enterprises. 2SAT 254.5

But the financial gain is not the most encouraging feature to me. I love to dwell on the thought that the circulation of these books is bringing many souls into the truth. This thought makes my heart glad indeed. I have no time to sit down and mourn. I go right on with my work, and constantly keep writing, writing, writing. Early in the morning, when the rest of you are asleep, I am generally up, writing. 2SAT 255.1

Even affliction has not caused me to cease writing. Not long after going to Australia, I was stricken with disease. Because of the dampness of the houses, I suffered an attack of inflammatory rheumatism, which prostrated me for eleven months. At times I was in intense agony. I could sleep in one position for only about two hours, and then I had to be moved into another bed, where I could lie in another position. My rubber air mattress gave me very little relief, and I passed through periods of great suffering. 2SAT 255.2

But in spite of this, I did not cease my work. My right arm, from the elbow to the fingertips, was free from pain; the rest of the arm, the whole of the left arm, and both shoulders, could not be moved voluntarily. A framework was devised, and by the aid of this, during these eleven months, I wrote 2500 pages of letter paper, to send across the broad waters of the Pacific for publication in America. 2SAT 255.3

I feel so thankful to the Lord that He never disappoints me; that He gives me strength and grace. As I stood by the side of my dying husband, I placed my hand in his, and said, “Do you know me, husband?” He nodded. Said I, “All through the years I have allowed you to bear the business responsibilities, and to lead out in new enterprises. Now I promise you to be a pioneer myself.” And I added, “If you realize what I say, grasp my hand a little more firmly.” He did so; he could not speak. 2SAT 255.4

After my husband had been laid away in the grave, his friends thought of putting up a broken shaft as a monument. “Never!” said I, “never! He has done, singlehanded, the work of three men. Never shall a broken monument be placed over his grave!” 2SAT 255.5

Some of my friends urged me to pray that my husband might be raised to life. “We cannot spare Elder White; we cannot spare him,” they pleaded. “Do you think,” I answered, “that I would go to his grave to weep and mourn over him? I have a work to do. I have promised to take up his work, and to carry it forward; and I intend to do it.” 2SAT 255.6

God has helped me. Today I glorify His name in the presence of His people. I spent nearly ten years in Australia. A wonderful work has been done there, but more than twice as much could have been accomplished if we had had the men and the means that we should have had. We thank God, nevertheless, for His sustaining presence, and for what we can now see in that field as the result of the efforts put forth. 2SAT 255.7

But I must return to my text. As the result of observing the fast that the Lord has chosen—of loosing the bands of wickedness, of undoing the heavy burdens, of letting the oppressed go free, of feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, and clothing the naked—the prophet Isaiah declares: 2SAT 256.1

“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say: 2SAT 256.2

“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. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: 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. 2SAT 256.3

“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 58:8-14]. 2SAT 256.4

Let us keep in remembrance that we each have a work to do. No one can afford to use tobacco; no one can afford to drink liquor. We must keep the senses clear; we must keep the mind free from all obstruction. We have a work to do for the Master, and we cannot afford to be content with crippled ideas. We do not want our sensibilities to be so perverted that we shall do iniquity. We do not want to spoil the fragrance that through the Spirit and blessing of God we might be the means of bringing into the life of some other person. We want individually to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God. 2SAT 256.5

We are glad to have our friends come to this sanitarium. We desire that they shall cooperate with every effort that is made to restore them to perfect soundness physically. We desire that those who come for treatment shall understand that the Lord God of heaven has signified that this institution should be established to help suffering humanity—to break the power of disease. Many, many times we have seen the working of God's healing power through the natural restorative agencies that are used in these institutions. 2SAT 256.6

We are greatly encouraged by the words we hear from the sanitarium that has just been opened near Sydney, Australia. Among those who have come to that institution are some whose minds have been unbalanced. These unfortunate ones are placed on a plain, simple, nutritious diet; they are prayed for and with—and they realize that they are being prayed for; they are taught to look unto God, the mighty Restorer of the reasoning faculties. 2SAT 257.1

The most remarkable results follow. Tobacco and liquor-drinking habits are dropped very quickly. Reformation results in gradual recovery. The poor souls are unable to express fully their gratitude for restoration. 2SAT 257.2

God wants us to cooperate with Him. When we cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord, we shall be as happy a people as has ever been seen. The salvation of God will be revealed. To the patients I would say, Take hold earnestly, and unite your efforts with the efforts of those who are trying to help you. Believe that all heaven is desirous of your being in health, soul, body, and spirit. Believe that the heavenly angels are round about you, watching to do you good, for it is even so. 2SAT 257.3

We desire to see the power of God displayed in the restoration of suffering humanity. We have seen it in Australia and in many other countries. I have labored in many parts of the world, and in every place I have seen the salvation of God revealed. 2SAT 257.4

To the sick I would say: Be of good courage. God's eye is upon you. He desires to help you break every yoke. He does not desire you to bind yourself under the yoke of any unhealthful habit; and if you have done so, He desires you to break it. He will give you strength and courage and help sufficient to break from every evil habit. Oh, I feel so thankful for this! 2SAT 257.5

Many years ago, while my husband was still alive, we visited St. Helena, and helped to select the piece of land on which this sanitarium has been built. As my husband looked over the valley, he said, “Wife, if we ever have an institution here, we will build a house where from every window we can look upon the beautiful scenery that is all around us.” Ever since that time, I have looked upon this place with great delight. Those who come here may be benefited, and greatly blessed by the Lord, if they will cooperate with Him. True, you will feel keenly, at first, the deprivation that comes with the putting away of injurious habits; but reformation will result in restoration of health. I would choose health in preference to indulgence of appetite. 2SAT 257.6

We can do very much for ourselves and for our children. May God help us! We cost much to heaven, and we are worth too much to make it worthwhile to cling to our old habits and practices. Let us make the most of our privileges, and work with all our capabilities and powers. Then we shall see of the salvation of God. 2SAT 258.1

Again I would call your attention to the promise made to the obedient—to those who cooperate with God and do His will. 2SAT 258.2

“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 58:14]. 2SAT 258.3

There is a heaven for us to win, and there is a great “miserableness” for us to shun. None of us desire to be sick. None of us desire that this wonderful mechanism, the body, shall lie inactive, useless. We do not want to injure or ruin any part of this delicate mechanism. We have none too much brain power, at the best; and that which we have, we want to keep in the best possible condition, in order that we may plan with the Master, and He with us, to help our fellow human beings in suffering. 2SAT 258.4

We want to see the sick among us healed by the power of God. He cooperates with man in every reformation made. Let us take hold with Him. Climb, climb, for your souls’ sake climb the ladder of progress. First ascend the lower rounds, and then climb, climb, climb; for the topmost round rests upon the threshold of heaven. Angels of God are ascending and descending that ladder of shining brightness. You can ascend round by round, round by round, and finally step off into the kingdom of glory. 2SAT 258.5

Keep progressing upward, ever ascending higher and still higher. God will put it into your mind to do His will. He will give you strength and courage and hope and faith. You can reach the golden city. And when at last the gates are opened and the redeemed are welcomed in, you will see the King in His beauty, and He will greet you with the words, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” 2SAT 258.6

And how was this kingdom prepared? Our Lord of glory stepped down from His royal throne, and, laying aside His royal robe and kingly crown, He took upon Himself the garments of humanity, that, by standing at the head of humanity, He might give value to humanity, and enable us through His strength to become conquerors, sons of God, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ Jesus. 2SAT 258.7

Shall we not put to the test every muscle and sinew, in an effort to cooperate with God? Then we shall be victorious. Then we shall be ushered into the kingdom of everlasting glory. Then we will unite with the saints in casting our glittering crowns at the feet of our Redeemer. Then we will touch our golden harps and sing the song of redemption. 2SAT 259.1

I want to be there. I want to unite in this song, and I want you to unite in it. I want you to be there, that you may see the King in His beauty, His marvelous loveliness. God help us, is my prayer. 2SAT 259.2

[Turning to Brother Harmon]: Brother Harmon, we know what it meant to push the triumphs of the cross in the early days of the message. Now, disease is upon you, but God is helping you. Praise His holy name! We hope that you will yet be enabled to be where you will be comfortable, and where you may speak words to the glory of the Master. We praise the Lord for His goodness, His lovingkindness.—Ms 8, 1894 (MR 900.44). 2SAT 259.3

Ellen G. White Estate Washington, D. C. July, 1986. Entire Ms.