“There is a time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance.”
There is a time for everything. The devil has been very successful at this present time in getting people so confused that they laugh when they should cry, and they cry when they should laugh. This is very common in our society.
When I was a child, everybody understood that when you went to a funeral, that was the time to mourn. Today, it is announced at funerals that those attending are there to have a celebration, which is completely out of context. A funeral is not the time to have a celebration. The Bible speaks of death as an enemy, of which Jesus came to destroy and there is no Biblical record of anybody having a celebration at a funeral. When Jesus attended Lazarus’ funeral, Jesus did not laugh; He wept. People in this generation today are very confused—a funeral is not a time to laugh; it is a time to weep.
Consider the situation written about in Isaiah 22:12, 13: “In that day the Lord God of Hosts called for weeping and for mourning, For baldness and for girding with sackcloth. But instead, joy and gladness, Slaying oxen and killing sheep, Eating meat and drinking wine: Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
The Lord said for that situation it is time to be mourning but the people said we are going to have a celebration. And the Lord said to go ahead. Then He said, “That your iniquity will not be forgiven until the day of your death.” Verse 14. In other words, you just passed sentence on yourselves.
There is a time for joy and gladness but there is also a time to mourn. We have just read how dangerous it is when people decide they are going to laugh when God says it is time to mourn.
If God were to make a lament, would it be time to mourn or to laugh? It would be time to mourn, because God always does the right thing at the right time.
Matthew 23:33–39 describes God lamenting. Jesus, speaking to the leaders of the Jewish church, says, “Serpents, and brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, Then on you will come all of the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar [II Chronicles 24]. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you are not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate [spoken as He departed from the temple for the last time]; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord [after the millennium at the resurrection of the wicked]!”
Another example of God’s lament is found in Luke 19:41–44: “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially this in your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you do not know the times of your visitation.’ ”
It says there that as Jesus saw the city, He wept over it. Looking into the future He saw the destruction of Jerusalem, but that was not all He saw. The destruction of Jerusalem was a type of the end of the world.
In The Review and Herald, October 8, 1901, Ellen White wrote: “When the Saviour saw in the Jewish people a nation divorced from God, He saw also a professed Christian Church united to the world and the papacy. And as He stood upon Olivet, weeping over Jerusalem till the sun sank behind the western hills, so He is weeping over and pleading with sinners in these last moments of time. Soon He will say to the angels who are holding the four winds, ‘Let the plagues loose; let darkness, destruction, and death come upon the transgressors of my law.’ Will He be obliged to say to those who have had great light and knowledge, as He said to the Jews, ‘If thou hadst known, even thou at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes’ [Luke 19:42]?”
As Jesus wept over Jerusalem, “He saw also a professed Christian Church united to the world and the papacy.” It is alarming to look around and see how Seventh-day Adventists are becoming afraid to be different. We want to be accepted so much that we are willing to do anything to be accepted by the World Council of Churches, by the government, or by other churches. The danger of this is that just as all of the other churches are becoming united with the papacy, eventually, so will we be united.
Ellen White, in vision, saw what was going to happen in Adventism in the last years of this world’s history. “In His Word the Lord declared what He would do for Israel if they would obey His voice. But the leaders of the people yielded to the temptations of Satan, and God could not give them the blessings He designed them to have, because they did not obey His voice but listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 379.
God promised Israel many blessings if they would obey His voice. Ellen White said the leaders, instead of obeying God, listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer. Because the leaders in the past were listening to the voice and policy of Lucifer, God could not do for them all that He wanted to.
This is what is going to happen in the future. “This experience, [the leaders of God’s people not obeying His voice but listening to the voice and policy of Lucifer] will be repeated in the last years of the history of the people of God, who have been established by His grace and power.” Ibid.
Remember what happened to them? Because God could not do for them what He wanted to because the leaders listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer and did not obey, they had to go into captivity. This experience is going to be repeated in the last years of the history of the people of God who have been established by His grace and power.
These people are Seventh-day Adventists. She goes on to say, “Men whom He has greatly honored will in the closing scenes of this earth’s history pattern after ancient Israel.” Ibid. Then is quoted Hebrews 3:7–13 and Mrs. White continues saying, “Bear this in mind. History is being repeated. The perils that God’s people encountered in past ages, they will encounter again, intensified. Satan has obtained influence over men whom God has honored above all human intelligence, as He honored Solomon.” Ibid., 380. Then she quotes Hebrews 2:1–3.
God’s lament in the Old Testament is found in Deuteronomy 5:29. God is speaking to Moses and He says, “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all of My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” God lamented that if they would only have listened, they would have been spared what they ultimately had to go through. Moses saw the children of Israel being taken into captivity. The Lord did not want that to happen but they would not listen. Moses also saw in vision before he died the children of Israel being brought under the power of Rome.
In Deuteronomy 32:29 God says, “Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, That they would consider their latter end!” In verse 28 God laments that His people do not understand. He says, “Oh, I wish they were wise.”
The wise are going to shine as the stars forever. The children of Israel went out of Egypt with 600,000 men. Of those men, only two were wise and went into the land of Canaan. Noah prayed and preached for 120 years, but only eight people entered into the ark. In all of history, the wise have always been few in number. When the world comes to an end, are you going to be one of those who are wise and heed the warnings, or are you going to be part of the big majority? This is a question we all must ask ourselves. Am I one of the few wise ones? The Bible says that great men are not always wise (Job 32:9).
Some Principles of Wisdom
“Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; The righteous walk in them, But transgressors stumble in them.” Hosea 14:9.
If you are wise, you already know that the ways of God are right. Foolish people do not know that.
Job 28:12–28 asks this question: Where can you find wisdom? It seems to be hidden from everybody. You cannot buy it and people do not have it. Death and destruction say they have heard a report about it. How are you going to get it? God knows what it is. If you want to get started it says, “ ‘The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ” Verse 28. That expression is found in more than one place in the Bible. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.” Psalm 111:10.
The fear of the Lord is wisdom. Moses taught the children of Israel the statutes and judgments in Deuteronomy 4:5. Then in verse 6 he says, “Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the people who will hear all these statutes, and will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ ”
Moses said if you keep the statutes and the laws that the Lord has given me to give to you, the whole world will find out that you are a wise and understanding people. When you study history and compare the laws that Moses gave to the children of Israel with the laws of the other nations at that time, you will find out right away how superior were the Laws of God.
Wisdom is something that cries out to people. The Bible describes that in a number of different places. In Proverbs 8:1 it says, “Does not wisdom cry out, And understanding lift up her voice?” Verse 7: “My mouth will speak truth; Wickedness is an abomination to my lips.” Verse 8: “All the words of my mouth are with righteousness; Nothing crooked or perverse is in them.” Verse 11: “For wisdom is better than rubies, And all the things one can desire cannot be compared with her.” Verses 35, 36: “Whoever finds me finds life, And obtains favor from the Lord; But he who sins against me wrongs their own soul; All those who hate me love death.”
Wisdom was with God from the beginning. There never was a time when that wisdom did not exist [verses 22, 23]. Solomon says this same thing in Ecclesiastes 7:12, that if you get wisdom it will do something for you that riches will not do. It says, “For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.” If you get wisdom you will have life, eternal life.
Where is all wisdom? The Bible says wisdom is hidden. You cannot buy it. “The knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and Christ, in whom are hidden all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2, last part. Christ has been manifested to the people of this world, not only as the Son of God, but as the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30).
All the wisdom in the universe is hidden in the Father and the Son. Where and how do we get this wisdom?
Matthew 25:1–13 is a description of the experience of the church, God’s people, who are living in the evening of earth’s history. Here Jesus is talking about His church in the last days and He said that there were some who were wise and some who were foolish. These were all virgins and all had a pure faith and they all had a lamp which represents the Bible. In Psalm 119:105 it says, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” These virgins are all people who have a pure faith and they have the Bible and they know the truth. The difference was that the wise virgins took extra oil. The foolish virgins also had some oil but they did not take any extra and they were not prepared for an emergency.
There was a great delay. These virgins were not expecting the wedding to be between 12:00 and 1:00 in the morning; they were expecting it to be a lot sooner than that. The wise virgins were prepared for an emergency and had extra oil. Zechariah 4:1–14 tells us that the oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the fuel, the power, which makes it possible for your light to shine.
The difference between those who were wise and those who were foolish is that the wise had the Holy Spirit and the foolish did not. Does that give you and me cause to pause?
The foolish virgins went to church and they were known as commandment keepers. They were known as people who had a pure faith. They were known as people who were waiting for the bridegroom to come but when He finally arrives they are not ready, because they do not have the Holy Spirit.
We need a wisdom that you cannot get from this world. The Bible says that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. It is possible to get all the wisdom of this world and yet not be ready for Jesus to come. You can know Greek, Hebrew, church history and systematic theology and all about the Bible and still not be ready for Jesus to come. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that makes faith real. A lamp with oil sheds light but if there is no oil, there is no light.
When the Holy Spirit dwells within, you will become wise; not necessarily what the world calls wise because the Lord says the world’s wisdom is foolishness with Him. If you want to be wise and understand what to do and when to do it in this, the most deceptive time in earth’s history, then you must have the Holy Spirit or you will be among the foolish virgins.
Paul says in I Corinthians 12:7, 8, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit.” The Spirit ordains for certain people in the church to receive special gifts and the first gift that Paul mentions is the gift of wisdom.
This is a gift that everybody in the church can receive because it says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5. The way to become wise is simply to ask.
As we are approaching the end of earth’s history, the whole universe is looking down at this world to find out something that God’s true church is going to reveal. What is it that God’s true church is going to reveal to the whole universe?
In Ephesians 3:8–11 Paul says,
“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul said that the many sided (manifold) wisdom of God is going to be made known even to principalities and powers in heavenly places by the church.
Even though the early church, the Ephesians church, had all this information, they didn’t do it. The early church predicted it, the apostles predicted it and Jesus predicted it and as the apostles died away the early church tobogganed into apostasy. For ages, people in heaven and people on this earth in the church have asked the question, “How is this ever going to happen?”
In the time of the Protestant reformation, people looked around at the church and said, How is the manifold wisdom of God going to be revealed to the people in heaven through this? The people said that the church needs to be revived. Even the pope, bishops and theologians said it. In fact, at the Council of Constance in 1414 one of the major things of concern was to bring revival and reformation to the church because they said the church was in a terrible condition.
The best thing that Council could figure out to do was to burn John Huss at the stake, demonstrating the church’s method of trying to bring revival and reformation. They said that Huss was a troublemaker and when you study religious history, God has had this problem with His professed people over and over again.
In 1888 the leaders in the Adventist church looked for a way to have a revival and reformation. They said they had a couple of troublemakers named Jones and Waggoner. They decided not to let Jones preach in an Adventist church, but Ellen White said God had sent these men to the Adventist church with their message of reformation. Because the church would not let him speak in an Adventist church, when Jones was in Battle Creek Mrs. White and others had to rent a hall so he could speak.
Anywhere you go today and talk to God’s professed people they will tell you of the need for revival and reformation. When God sends somebody to bring it, they try to get rid of them. God’s professed people today are going through a terrible shaking and people are asking if the church will ever survive.
Only the wise will survive, and the wise are the people who know that God’s ways are right. If God says something, they will do it and if He says not to do something, they will not do it. The wise have that figured out. Are you one of the wise?
The wise have the Holy Spirit to interpret the Bible so are able to see the spiritual meanings. Other people read and do not understand. There are theologians all over the world, who have spent their whole lives studying church history, Hebrew, Greek and theology and do not even know that Jesus is coming again. It does not matter how much you study; if the Holy Spirit does not enlighten your mind, you will not be among the wise. Real wisdom comes from God through the enlightenment of His Holy Spirit. Will you be among the wise? At the end of this world’s history Ellen White says there is going to be a group of people who will reveal the character of Jesus Christ fully. This is an astonishing statement and it is possible to be one of those people. This group will be in the minority. Remember, Jesus said that in the end it will be like the days of Noah and the days of Lot, but there will be a group of people who will become like Jesus Christ. They will have that heavenly wisdom and will understand how to live.
Am I becoming wise? The Bible describes what wisdom is. Listed below are some characteristics of wisdom:
- A person who is wise is humble (Proverbs 11:2).
- A person who is really wise understands what to do (Proverbs 10:23; Proverbs 14:8; Proverbs 14:33).
- A person who is really wise obtains counsel (Proverbs 13:10).
- A person who is wise is a person who has experience. In Job 12:12 it says that wisdom is with aged people. Why? Because they have had more experience than the young people. There is no mechanism by which you can take the wisdom of age and put it into a young person.
In this world a lot of people think that if you are over 30 you are over the hill. If this world did not have some people who were over 30 for some advice and counsel and understanding, we would be a lot worse off than we are now.
Even now, some in the Adventist church think that you can put a young person in charge of anything and if anybody goes against that they are accused of opposing the young people. The Bible and Spirit of Prophecy are very clear that a more mature person is needed than those without experience. You cannot become wise when you are just 15 or 20 years old. To become wise it requires experience and experience takes time.
The children of Israel had rulers and they called them the elders and that term is still used today. The word elder means an old man.
A person who is really wise will build on the rock (Matthew 7:24). When the Lord tells a wise person something, he will realize that God has lived a lot longer than he has and so He has a lot more wisdom. If God tells him something he will listen even if he cannot figure it out. A wise child will realize that his/her parents have more experience and heed their counsel. A wise person builds on the rock and listens to what the Lord says and obeys. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; And he who wins souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30. He who wins souls is wise. Nobody is going to heaven alone. If you are one of God’s children, God will use you to win at least one other person and most of the time He will use you to win many more than one. If you are not involved in doing anything for outreach to help other people or to help somebody else find salvation, Ellen White says you are not even written down in the book as a Christian. You may go to church but if you are not doing anything to win anybody to Christ, you are not a Christian. You are not wise at all.
There are people without any education or training and who are in obscure areas of the world who are reaching out. If you are wise you will be doing something to reach out to somebody.
- The Bible says that the words of a wise person are gracious.
- A wise person does not practice partiality. They do not treat rich people and poor people differently. Ellen White says that Jesus makes no difference between His friends and His enemies. To me that is one of the most astonishing statements in the Spirit of Prophecy. He will love you and try to appeal to you and try to win you (The Desire of Ages, 86).
- A wise person will contend with foolishness. In the book of Proverbs there are many descriptions of what folly and foolishness is. A wise person will contend with foolishness and not just sit around and watch it (Proverbs 29:9). No practicing of partiality can be found in Proverbs 23.
- A wise person holds his feelings back; he just does not tell you everything that is on his mind (Proverbs 29:11).
Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: (316) 788-5559.