The Review and Herald


May 15, 1894

The Oblation of Evil-Doers Is Vain


“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.” What could have come upon the sons of Aaron, that they should thus transgress the requirement of God? The sacred fire which God himself had kindled and preserved was at their hand. Direction had been given concerning it, and God had said: “The fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt-offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace-offerings. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” RH May 15, 1894, par. 1

It was from this altar that the fire for the censers should be taken to kindle the incense that was to ascend before God. But the sons of Aaron had not taken the required precaution, but had put upon the censer fire that was not called sacred or holy. The reason why they were so neglectful of God's requirement, was that they had been indulging in the drinking of wine, and were confused, and so far stupefied by its influence that they had no discernment as to what was the difference between the sacred and the common, the holy and the unclean. The wine had affected these young men who were officiating in a holy office, in the way it affects every one who indulges in its use. It had benumbed the moral sensibilities, and had confused in their minds the distinction between the sacred and the common. But the Lord made it manifest that he would have the distinction well defined. “And the Lord spake unto Aaron saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations: and that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; and that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.” RH May 15, 1894, par. 2

The two young men went into the tabernacle to offer this strange fire before the Lord while they were under the influence of drink; and “there went out a fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.” In the experience of these two young men, the Lord has set up a danger signal to warn the youth and those of mature age against the use of intoxicating liquors. There is no safety in tampering with wine. The voice of this history comes down along the lines of our times, warning every one that has any connection with the work of the Lord to beware of touching, tasting, or handling that which will contaminate the morals, deaden spiritual life, and bring confusion in regard to the difference between the sacred and the common. RH May 15, 1894, par. 3

A most serious and terrible punishment was visited upon these young men who dared to enter into the presence of the Lord in an intoxicated condition. They had been solemnly consecrated to the service of the sanctuary, and it was necessary to make an example of them before the children of Israel. But shall this history of God's dealing with them be passed over by us, as though it was a matter in which we have no concern? The Lord has manifested his displeasure with a course of this kind, and sets before us the principle which he would have us heed. Every one who is connected with the service of God is in sacred office, and the words that Jesus Christ spoke from the pillar of cloud and fire, are to be regarded and put into practice by us. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them.” RH May 15, 1894, par. 4

The Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the earth who are living in this time of peril and corruption. Ministers of the gospel have departed from the Lord, and those who profess the name of Christ are guilty of not holding aloft the banner of truth. Ministers are afraid to be open prohibitionists, and they hold their peace concerning the curse of drink, fearing lest their salaries should be diminished or their congregations offended. They fear lest, if they should speak forth Bible truth with power and clearness showing the line of distinction between the sacred and the common, they would lose their popularity; for there are large numbers who are enrolled as church-members who are receiving a revenue, either directly or indirectly, from the drink traffic. These people are not ignorant of the sin that they are committing. No one needs to be informed that the drink traffic is one that entails upon its victims, misery, shame, degradation, and death, with the eternal ruin of their souls. Those who reap a revenue, either directly or indirectly, from this traffic, are putting into the till the money which has come through the loss of souls of men. They know that the drink appetite lowers man to a condition below that of the brute creation. Have these church-goers a conscience? Have they not lost from their hearts all love of humanity? Has not the love of gain so paralyzed their senses that, like Nadab and Abihu, they have no remembrance of the “Thus saith the Lord”? His anger is not only kindled against winebibbers, but against him who opens the door of temptation to the poor, wretched creatures who have lost their moral power, and have destroyed their God-given manhood. His anger is kindled against those who seek to make their disreputable business attractive, and who use every possible enticement to lure souls into their saloons, in order that they may rob them of their money; for liquor-dealers give no equivalent, but only that which works a curse upon the victim of the drink habit, and spreads misery and crime in his household and neighborhood. RH May 15, 1894, par. 5

The heart-broken women who have inebriate husbands, if they do not die of cruel abuse or of outright horrible murder, do die from the effects of starvation, insufficient clothing, and a continual sense of degradation and shame through the poverty, want, and suffering that are consequent upon the drink habit. These poor women see their children suffering, despised, abused, debased. They see them hooted at because of their relation to their drunken fathers, and even the liquor-seller is not careful to refrain from adding insult to injury. Everything,—clothing, food, comfort, home, self-respect, happiness, and peace,—is swallowed up, and at last life itself is practically laid down, a sacrifice to the liquor-dealer. But every circumstance consequent upon this drink traffic is accurately traced in the ledger of heaven. RH May 15, 1894, par. 6

The churches that retain members who are connected with this liquor business, make themselves responsible for the transactions that occur through the drink traffic. The drunkard has no knowledge of what he is doing when under the influence of the maddening draught, and yet he who sells him that which makes him irresponsible, is protected by the law in his work of destruction. It is legal for him to rob the widow of the food she requires to sustain life. It is legal for him to entail starvation upon the family of his victim, to send helpless children into the streets to beg for a penny or to beseech for a morsel of bread. Day by day, month by month, year by year, these shameful scenes are reenacted, until the conscience of the liquor-dealer is seared as with a red-hot iron. The tears of suffering children, the agonized cry of the mother, only serve to exasperate the rum-seller. He knows not, nor cares, that the Lord has an account to settle with him. And when his victim is dead, his heart of stone is unmoved. He has not heeded the instruction. “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.” RH May 15, 1894, par. 7

The liquor-dealer will not hesitate to collect the debts of the drunkard from his suffering family, and will take the very necessaries from the home to pay the drink bill of the deceased husband and father. What is it to him if the children of the dead starve? He looks upon them as debased and ignorant creatures, who have been abused, kicked about, and degraded; and he has no care for their welfare. But the God that rules in the heavens has not lost sight of the first cause or the least effect of the inexpressible misery and debasement that have come upon the drunkard and his family. The ledger of heaven contains every item of the history. The world and the church may unite in eulogizing the man who has tempted the appetite, and answered the craving of the appetite he has helped to create; they may look with a smile upon him who has helped to debase a man who was formed in the image of God, until that image is virtually effaced; but God looks with a frown upon him, and writes his condemnation in the ledger of death. The world may have approval for the man who has gained wealth by degrading the human soul, by leading him down step by step in the path of shame and degradation; but God notes it all, and renders a just judgment. He may be termed by the world a good business man; but the Lord says, “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbor's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; that saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is ceiled with cedar, and painted with vermilion. Shalt thou reign, because thou closest* thyself in cedar? RH May 15, 1894, par. 8

This very man may make large donations to the church; but will God accept of the money that is wrung from the family of the drunkard? It is stained with the blood of souls, and the curse of God is upon it. God says, “For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt-offering.” The church may praise the liberality of one who gives such an offering; but were the eyes of the church-members anointed with heavenly eye-salve, they would not call good evil and iniquity righteousness. The Lord says, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me?....When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations. Incense is an abomination unto me.” “Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of Judgment?” RH May 15, 1894, par. 9