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“Faithful men, who were obedient to the promptings of God's Spirit and the teachings of His word, were to proclaim this warning [of 1] to the world. They were those who had taken heed to the ‘sure word of prophecy,’ the ‘light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise’ ( ). They had been seeking the knowledge of God more than all hid treasures, counting it ‘better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold’ ( ). And the Lord revealed to them the great things of the kingdom. ‘The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant’ ( ).”
The big question is: Why are God’s people in darkness? From the very outset of the gospel we have been privileged to have Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, in our midst! For a long time, the Lord has given us the invitation through the prophecy of“O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.” What or who is the light? I do hope we have accepted that this light consists of the messages that God has chosen to speak to us through the prophets, including the Lord’s messenger for the last days, Ellen G. White. And of course, we should also let Jesus Himself give us the answer, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” ( ). Jesus even went to the extent to declare to us, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” ( ).
Those followers of Christ who accept the light that God sends them must obey the voice of God speaking to them when there are many other voices crying out against it.
The servant of the Lord laid matters out very precisely, and this counsel was given, “It was not the scholarly theologians who had an understanding of this truth, and engaged in its proclamation. Had these faithful watchmen, diligently and prayerfully searching the Scriptures, they would have known the time of night; the prophecies would have opened to them the events about to take place. But they did not occupy this position, and the message was given by humbler men. Said Jesus: ‘Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you’ (2). Those who turn away from the light which God has given, or who neglect to seek it when it is within their reach, are left in darkness. But the Saviour declares: ‘He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life’ ( ). Whoever is with singleness of purpose seeking to do God's will, earnestly heeding the light already given, will receive greater light; to that soul some star of heavenly radiance will be sent to guide him into all truth.”
“God does not compel men to give up their unbelief. Before them are light and darkness, truth and error. It is for them to decide which they will accept. The human mind is endowed with power to discriminate between right and wrong. God designs that men shall not decide from impulse, but from weight of evidence, carefully comparing scripture with scripture. Had the Jews laid by their prejudice and compared written prophecy with the facts characterizing the life of Jesus, they would have perceived a beautiful harmony between the prophecies and their fulfillment in the life and ministry of the lowly Galilean.”3
The servant of the Lord explains: “Obedience to God brings the soul into agreement with the highest laws in the universe. It imparts dignity and true greatness to the humblest occupation where Christ can preside. It crowns the lowliest position in life with the highest honors, bringing men into alliance with God and binding up His interests with plans and purposes that have existence in the infinite mind from eternity.
“The Lord Jesus Christ has paid the price for you, not to secure a mere assent to the truth, but for heart service. He desires the homage of your soul. You cannot cease to believe that you ought to do the will of God. You can no more release yourself from the claims of duty than you can flee from the presence of God. It is only in obedience to God that you will realize true happiness.”4
“I have been shown that the greatest reason why the people of God are now found in this state of spiritual blindness is that they will not receive correction. Many have despised the reproofs and warnings given them. The True Witness condemns the lukewarm condition of the people of God, which gives Satan great power over them in this waiting, watching time. The selfish, the proud, and the lovers of sin are ever assailed with doubts. Satan has ability to suggest doubts and to devise objections to the pointed testimony that God sends, and many think it a virtue, a mark of intelligence in them, to be unbelieving and to question and quibble. Those who desire to doubt will have plenty of room. God does not propose to remove all occasion for unbelief. He gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and a teachable spirit, and all should decide from the weight of evidence.”5
“The word of the Lord, spoken through His servants, is received by many with questionings and fears. And many will defer their obedience to the warning and reproofs given, waiting till every shadow of uncertainty is removed from their minds. The unbelief that demands perfect knowledge will never yield to the evidence that God is pleased to give. He requires of His people faith that rests upon the weight of evidence, not upon perfect knowledge. Those followers of Christ who accept the light that God sends them must obey the voice of God speaking to them when there are many other voices crying out against it. It requires discernment to distinguish the voice of God.”6
The lesson that God has been giving to His people is ever the same, yet how difficult it is for us to comprehend the plain teaching! Allow me to journey back to the time of prophet Isaiah. Here we can see how personal, how intimate God wanted to get with us—especially when a serious warning comes into question. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate” ().
“The heavenly visitant bade the waiting messenger: ‘Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed’ ().
“The prophet's duty was plain; he was to lift his voice in protest against the prevailing evils. But he dreaded to undertake the work without some assurance of hope. . . .
“His burden of soul in behalf of erring Judah was not to be borne in vain. His mission was not to be wholly fruitless. Yet the evils that had been multiplying for many generations could not be removed in his day. Throughout his lifetime he must be a patient, courageous teacher—a prophet of hope as well as of doom. The divine purpose finally accomplished, the full fruitage of his efforts, and of the labors of all God's faithful messengers, would appear. A remnant should be saved. That this might be brought about, the messages of warning and entreaty were to be delivered to the rebellious, the Lord declared, "until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land" (verses 11, 12).”7
Is there a direct lesson for us today? The servant of the Lord makes it clear for us:
“The heavy judgments that were to befall the impenitent—war, exile, oppression, the loss of power and prestige among the nations— all these were to come in order that those who would recognize in them the hand of an offended God, might be led to repent. The ten tribes of the northern kingdom were soon to be scattered among the nations, and their cities left desolate; the destroying armies of hostile nations were to sweep over their land again and again; even Jerusalem was finally to fall, and Judah was to be carried away captive; yet the Promised Land was not to remain wholly forsaken forever. The assurance of the heavenly visitant to Isaiah was: ‘In it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof’ (verse 13).”8
How much clearer do we expect the Lord to be in showing us the things that He is about to bring upon the earth? It was by the rejection of heaven-sent light and unbelief and apostasy that caused the vision of God’s ancient people to be so blurred that they were unable to see the clear warnings. The servant of the Lord explains, “It is not the plan of God to compel men to yield their wicked unbelief. Before them are light and darkness, truth and error. It is for them to decide which to accept. The human mind is endowed with power to discriminate between right and wrong. God designs that men shall not decide from impulse, but from weight of evidence, carefully comparing scripture with scripture.”9
“We need a divine Teacher. In order that the world might not remain in darkness, in eternal spiritual night, God met us in Jesus Christ. Christ is ‘the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world’ (10). The light of the knowledge of the glory of God is revealed ‘in the face of Jesus Christ’ ( ). The light of Christ, illuminating our understanding, and shining upon the face of nature, enables us still to read the lesson of God's love in His created works.”
God would not have His people to remain in spiritual darkness. He has given us the three angels’ messages—yet these messages have become muffled in our hands. How? The servant of the Lord admonishes us, “There must be no toning down of the truth, no muffling of the message for this time. The third angel's message must be strengthened and confirmed. The eighteenth chapter of Revelation reveals the importance of presenting the truth in no measured terms but with boldness and power. . . . There has been too much beating about the bush in the proclamation of the third angel's message. The message has not been given as clearly and distinctly as it should have been.”11 So, fellow readers, this is why the “Light” that should be shining has almost become indistinguishable!
“The third angel's message is to be given with power. The power of the proclamation of the first and second messages is to be intensified in the third. In the Revelation John says of the heavenly messenger who unites with the third angel: ‘ I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice’ (12). We are in danger of giving the third angel's message in so indefinite a manner that it does not impress the people. So many other interests are brought in that the very message which should be proclaimed with power becomes tame and voiceless. . . . While the churches profess to believe in Christ, they are violating the law which Christ Himself proclaimed from Sinai. The Lord bids us: ‘Show My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins’ ( ). The trumpet is to give a certain sound.”
Fellow believers, we need to be the company the prophet Isaiah describes in. This light that God has given through inspiration is the very fundamental power that will bring us to the shore of eternity. Our confidence is to grow stronger in these sure words of prophecy, lest we fall back and sink as low as in the days before the reformation. God raised up the Reformers to arouse the inhabitants of earth from their deathlike slumber, and many turned away from their vanities and superstitions, from priests and penances, to serve the living God, to search in His holy word for truth as for hidden treasure. They began diligently to work the mine of truth, to clear away the rubbish of human opinion that had buried the precious jewels of light. But as soon as the work of reformation began, Satan with determined purpose sought the more zealously to bind the minds of people in superstition, errors, and traditions. Let us never forget that the neglected light is what identifies and guides us as the remnant church found in “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”—and we are to live that prophecy.
May the Lord help us to continue lifting the light entrusted to us higher and higher to bring the people to the true Light of the world. Amen.