The Signs of the Times


February 26, 1902

A Lesson for Mothers


Notwithstanding all that God had wrought for His people in the wilderness, the children of Israel, after their settlement in Canaan, continued to walk in their own ways. “They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the Lord commanded them; but were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols; which were a snare unto them.... Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against His people, insomuch that He abhorred His own inheritance. And He gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them.” ST February 26, 1902, par. 1

While Israel was sorely harassed by the children of Ammon on the east, and the Philistines on the west, the Lord hearkened to the prayers of His people, and began to work for their deliverance. After eighteen years of oppression, they made war against the Ammonites, and effectually destroyed their power. But the backsliding and idolatrous people soon forgot the lesson that Divine Wisdom had so often sought to teach them. As they continued to depart from God, He permitted them still to be oppressed by their powerful enemies, the Philistines. ST February 26, 1902, par. 2

For forty years the children of Israel were constantly harassed, and at times completely subjugated, by this cruel and warlike nation. They had mingled with these idolaters, uniting with them in commerce, in pleasure, and even in worship, until they seemed to be identified with them in spirit and interest. Then these professed friends became their bitterest enemies, and sought by every means to accomplish their destruction. ST February 26, 1902, par. 3

There were still in Israel true-hearted men and women whose souls were filled with anguish because of the condition of the people. Their prayers of confession, penitence, and faith ascended without ceasing to God. He was not indifferent to their cries, and while there was apparently no response to them, He was preparing help for them. In all Israel there was not to be found a man through whom the Lord could work for the deliverance of His people. The erroneous education given to children, indulgence of appetite and conformity to the practises of heathenism, had greatly lessened physical and moral power. ST February 26, 1902, par. 4

Godly fathers and mothers looked with gloomy forebodings into the future. Many a mother had secretly cherished the hope that she might give to God and to Israel a son who should deliver His people. But as parents saw their children growing up with perverted appetites and uncontrolled passions, the inquiry arose, What will the end be? What part will these youth and children act in the great drama of life? In the hearts of some parents hope battled against fear; but in many others reigned only discouragement and despair. What could the mother do to avert the threatened evil? How banish the nameless terror that oppressed her soul? “Spare us, O God, spare us,” was the oft-repeated prayer. “Let not Thy people perish; let us not see our children a prey to the enemy.” ST February 26, 1902, par. 5

At this time the Lord appeared to the wife of Manoah, an Israelite of the tribe of Dan, and told her that she should have a son. He gave her special instruction concerning her own habits, and also for the treatment of her child. “Beware, I pray thee,” he said, “and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing.” He also directed that no razor should come on the head of the child; for he was to be consecrated to God as a Nazarite from his birth, and through him the Lord would begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines. ST February 26, 1902, par. 6

The woman sought her husband, and after describing the heavenly messenger she repeated his words. Then, fearful lest they should make some mistake in the important work committed to them, the husband prayed earnestly, “Let the man of God which Thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.” ST February 26, 1902, par. 7

In answer to this petition the angel again appeared, and Manoah's anxious inquiry was, “How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?” The previous instruction was repeated,—“Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware. She may not eat of anything that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; all that I commanded her let her observe.” ST February 26, 1902, par. 8

The words spoken to the wife of Manoah contain a truth that the mothers of today would do well to study. In speaking to this one mother, the Lord spoke to all the anxious, sorrowing mothers of that time, and to all the mothers of succeeding generations. Yes, every mother may understand her duty. She may know that the character of her children will depend vastly more upon her habits before their birth and her personal efforts after their birth, than upon external advantages or disadvantages. ST February 26, 1902, par. 9

“Let her beware,” the angel said. Let her stand prepared to resist temptation. Her appetites and passions are to be controlled by principle. Of every mother it may be said, “Let her beware.” There is something for her to shun, something for her to work against, if she fulfils God's purpose for her in giving her a child. If before the birth of her child she is unstable, if she is selfish, peevish, and exacting, the disposition of her child will bear the marks of her wrong course. Thus many children have received as a birthright almost unconquerable tendencies to evil. ST February 26, 1902, par. 10

But if she unswervingly adheres to the right, if she is kind, gentle, and unselfish, she will give her child these traits of character. ST February 26, 1902, par. 11

Very explicit was the command prohibiting the use of wine by the mother. Every drop of strong drink taken by her to gratify appetite endangers the physical, mental, and moral health of her offspring, and is a direct sin against her Creator. The command forbidding the use of strong drink was made by the One who made man, and who knows what is for his best good. Dare any one regard it with indifference? ST February 26, 1902, par. 12

Unwise advisers will urge upon the mother the gratification of every wish and impulse as essential to the well-being of her offspring. Such advice is false and mischievous. By the command of God Himself the mother is placed under the most solemn obligation to exercise self-control. Whose voice shall we heed—the voice of divine wisdom, or the voice of human superstition? ST February 26, 1902, par. 13

The mother who is a fit teacher for her children must, before their birth, form habits of self-denial and self-control; for she transmits to them her own qualities, her own strong or weak traits of character. The enemy of souls understands this matter much better than do many parents. He will bring temptation upon the mother, knowing that if she does not resist him, he can through her affect her child. The mother's only hope is in God. She may flee to Him for grace and strength. She will not seek help in vain. He will enable her to transmit to her offspring qualities that will help them to gain success in this life and to win eternal life. ST February 26, 1902, par. 14

Fathers as well as mothers are involved in this responsibility, and they too should seek earnestly for divine grace, that their influence may be such as God can approve. The inquiry of every father and mother should be, “What shall we do unto the child that shall be born?” By many the effect of prenatal influence has been lightly regarded; but the instruction sent from heaven to those Hebrew parents, and twice repeated in the most explicit and solemn manner, shows how the matter is looked upon by the Creator. ST February 26, 1902, par. 15

Mrs. E. G. White