The Signs of the Times


July 19, 1899

Unbelieving Israel


There are many who have received the idea that the Jewish age was one of darkness, superstition, and ignorance, that repentance and faith and divine enlightenment were reserved for the Gospel dispensation, that these had no part in the Hebrew religion, which, they claim, consisted only in forms and ceremonies. A greater deception than this could not exist. The Hebrew nation was taken into close relation to God, as a peculiar people, a holy nation. The Lord gave to Israel evidences of His presence, that they might fear His name and obey His voice, and that they might know that He was leading them to the promised land. The power of God, which was revealed in so remarkable a manner in their deliverance from Egypt, was seen from time to time through all their journeyings. ST July 19, 1899, par. 1

And in these manifestations and revelations God was uplifting Israel from a demoralized condition. Great changes were to be wrought in this disorganized people; for oppression and servitude and idolatrous association had molded their habits, their appetites, and their characters. ST July 19, 1899, par. 2

The Lord had promised Israel that if they would obey His commandments, He would supply their necessities by His miraculous power. But the Hebrews were not willing to submit to the directions and restrictions of the Lord. They wanted their own way. They desired to follow the leadings of their own minds and be controlled by their own judgment. ST July 19, 1899, par. 3

The Lord heard their murmurings, and the divine presence was revealed in so remarkable a manner that they were afraid. A voice was heard from the glory, bidding Moses and Aaron draw near to the cloudy pillar where Christ was enshrouded. And the Lord talked with Moses and Aaron, and the Israelites heard His voice telling them that He had heard their murmurings. They heard Him promise that they should have what their appetites craved,—bread in the morning, and flesh in the evening. In all His dealings with them, God was seeking to teach His people that it was not Moses with whom they were finding fault, but that their murmurings were directed against their divine Leader. ST July 19, 1899, par. 4

The Christian world, who today look upon the Jewish nation as under the curse of God, should inquire, Why did the Lord let His judgments fall upon Israel in so signal a manner?—It was because they had rejected the great light given to them since the day of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. It was because God revealed to them His will by prophets and by holy men, and they walked in their own ways. ST July 19, 1899, par. 5

Their calamities did not come because they kept the law of God, but because they disregarded that law. God had told them that if they did not obey His commandments, He could not keep His covenant with them. The history of the Israelites is portrayed for our warning. They had great light and exalted privileges; yet they did not live up to that light nor appreciate their advantages, and their light became darkness. They walked in the light of their own eyes, instead of following the leadings of God. Their history is given for the benefit of those who live in these last days, that we may avoid following the same example of unbelief. The apostle Paul says: “We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him?” ST July 19, 1899, par. 6

In these last days God has brought to His people a knowledge of His law. A flood of light has been poured upon the New Testament, revealing the truths of the Old. God has brought out from the world and from the church a people whom He has made the depositaries of His law. They are to teach that that law must be obeyed if men would enter into life. To those who keep His commandments He will be a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, to lighten and lead the way in the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. ST July 19, 1899, par. 7

In keeping the commandments, we have the assurance that there is great reward, and no earthly consideration should induce Christians to refuse to lift the cross in keeping all of God's commandments. Riches, ease, pleasure, ambition, and worldly honors are as dross that will perish in the fires of the last days. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Better far obtain a knowledge of God's will through an understanding of His word than have the praise of men and the honor of the world. ST July 19, 1899, par. 8

There is a great similarity between our history and that of the children of Israel. God led His people from Egypt into the wilderness, where they could keep His law and obey His voice. The Egyptians, who had no regard for the Lord, were encamped close by them; yet what was to the Israelites a great flood of light, illuminating the whole camp, and shedding brightness upon the path before them, was to the hosts of Pharaoh a wall of clouds, making blacker the darkness of the night. To us as a people has been committed the law of God. To those who obey them, the commandments of God are as a pillar of fire, lighting and leading the way to eternal salvation. But to those who disregard them they are as the clouds of night. ST July 19, 1899, par. 9

“Go forward,” God said to Israel, when the flowing waters of the Red Sea blocked their passage as they moved out in the path which Providence had indicated. As they placed their feet in the waters of the sea, they did what the Lord required of them. They did not see what God would do next. They did not see the broad path opened for them by the power of God until they manifested their faith by moving forward. And then God's power was revealed. The waters on either side were piled up like a wall, leaving an open path before them. ST July 19, 1899, par. 10

The voice of God bidding His faithful ones go forward, frequently tries their faith to the uttermost; but we must not seek for some object upon which to hang our doubts and unbelief. If we wait until every shadow of uncertainty is removed, we shall never plant our feet upon the platform of eternal truth. Those who will not follow the light because some things are not entirely clear to their understanding, will never believe the truth. Faith is not certainty; it is “the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” ST July 19, 1899, par. 11

God will do marvelous things for those who trust in Him. It is because His professed people trust so much to their own wisdom, and do not give the Lord an opportunity to reveal His power in their behalf, that they have not more strength. He will help His believing children in every emergency, if they will place their entire confidence in Him. He will work mightily for a faithful people who obey His word without questioning or doubt. ST July 19, 1899, par. 12

Mrs. E. G. White