The Divine Plan

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” Psalms 19:1–3.

Have you ever wondered why there are so many things in God’s creation that seem to be so similar? Take the similarity in construction of the solar system and of the atom. True, there are certain differences, but there are many basic principles that remain the same. Why?

Of course we know that it was the same Creator that created both the solar system and the atom. But couldn’t He have figured out different principles for different systems? Of course He could have.

But, besides all having the same Creator, we have a perfect Creator. And He created all things perfect. For many things there is only one perfect way of doing things. Thus, the perfect way of holding the solar system together is the same perfect way of holding the atom together.

Thus it is in our social nature. There are certain principles which God says were the very best for fulfilling social needs and thus He established the same principles in Heaven and on earth. The center of social life is the home and family.

“When the divine principles are recognized and obeyed in this relation, marriage is a blessing; it guards the purity and happiness of the race, it provides for man’s social needs, it elevates the physical, the intellectual, and the moral nature.” Adventist Home, 26.

The principles of the home are divine principles. They are principles that are found in heaven. When these principles are followed the home becomes a sanctified home.

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” Genesis 1:27.

Man is created in God’s image—not so much physically (for “He is a Spirit.” John 4:24), but mentally, socially and spiritually. In this article we are dealing with primarily the social and we are going to seek to find the ideal for our social nature by looking at the pattern and copying it.

It is important that we copy the pattern exactly, in every detail—just as Moses was admonished to do with the sanctuary. “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, ‘See,’ saith He,‘that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.’ ” Hebrews 8:5. If we will spend the time in communion with God and in studying the pattern (the heavenly family), our homes will become sanctified—or, a sanctuary.

To be sanctified means to be set apart for holy use. When a home is sanctified, it becomes a sanctuary for God to dwell in. Thus we find that many of heaven’s principles for our homes are demonstrated even in the earthly sanctuary that Moses pitched. When we start realizing these principles of our homes being copied after the pattern of heavenly things, the whole Bible takes on meaning for home and family improvement. “God would have our families symbols of the family in heaven.” Adventist Home, 17.

Now we will look at some of the heavenly principles that our homes are to be patterned after.

The #1 Principle: LOVE—of course

This must be the basis for anything that is copied after heavenly things for “God is love.” 1 John 4:8. But the point is, what is true love? Is it a feeling, sentimentalism, a physical act? What is love? And how is it displayed?

True love is a principle—a sanctified principle. (A sanctified principle is one which has been set apart or established by God.)

“True love is a high and holy principle, altogether different in character from that love which is awakened by impulse, and which suddenly dies when severely tested.” Adventist Home, 50.

“Sanctified principle should be the basis of every action [in the marriage relation].” Ibid., 122.

Love is a heaven established principle. This love principle is the good, old, heaven established principle of give and take! Not the give and take that we find in the world, but the give and take that is based on oneness with others—to give to others as though you were giving to yourself and to receive from others as though receiving from yourself (to appreciate the gift as though it had been you that had made the sacrifice.) The world’s counterfeit to this is a give and take that is based on selfishness.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12.

God demonstrates His love by giving and we demonstrate our love to Him by taking (or, in others words, by accepting His gifts and obeying His instructions.)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” John 3:16.

“If ye love Me, keep [accept] My commandments.” John 14:15.

The worldly, selfish way of giving commands is usually to bring glory and happiness to the commander. But Christ gave commands, instruction and Him-self, to bring happiness to the receiver.

“These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:11.

Another way of saying “giving and taking” is to say “leading and submitting.” Leadership and submission is a universal and divinely established (sanctified) plan. It is a law of all social relationships in the whole universe. It is also a law of Satan, but his is based on force and selfishness rather than on voluntary compliance and on love for the other person.

Circles of Love

As with the solar system and the atom, so the same circle of love that is manifested by guidance and submission between God and parents, is the same circle of love God intended should exist between parents and children. In fact, so similar is the relationship that God is called “our Father” and Christ, like a mother, brought us all into the world by His creative power.

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45.

“As one whom his mother com-forteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 66:13.

God’s relationship to us is like the ideal parent-child relationship. Therefore, to truly understand how to correctly raise a child, where would we turn to for our understanding?

“Parents are entitled to a degree of love and respect which is due to no other person. God Himself, who has placed upon them a responsibility for the souls committed to their charge, has ordained that during the earlier years of life parents shall stand in the place of God to their children. And he who rejects the rightful authority of his parents is rejecting the authority of God.” Adventist Home, 293.

Where the problem comes in is that sin has messed up the “circle of love” pattern. Parents have never learned to submit themselves but expect their children to submit. (They expect of their children that which they are not willing to do themselves.) And because they themselves have never experienced the loving guidance of God, they do not know how to exercise loving guidance over their children. So the children are placed at a double disadvantage—they neither witness the example of their parents submitting to God nor do they experience the loving guidance which would cause them to want to submit, which God alone can teach to the parents. You can learn all the theory you want, but if you do not have a “circle of love” relationship with God—you know nothing about raising children correctly.

To Obey God or Man?

“When children have unbelieving parents, and their commands contradict the requirements of Christ, then, painful though it may be, they must obey God and trust the consequences with Him.” Adventist Home, 293.

“He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Matthew 10:37.

“But,” someone may say, “I thought we just finished reading in Adventist Home, 293, that ‘parents shall stand in the place of God to their children.’ ” The sentences before that said “during the early years.” As soon as the child is old enough to develop a “circle of love” relationship of his own with God, then he becomes accountable to God personally.

Does this mean that the child is no longer under duty to be submissive to his parents? “‘Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’ This is the first commandment with promise. It is binding upon childhood and youth, upon the middle-aged and the aged. There is no period in life when children are excused from honoring their parents. This solemn obligation is binding upon every son and daughter.” Adventist Home, 292.

There should be no conflict between obeying God and obeying our parents. But because of sin this is not the case. As long as we can obey God, we are to obey our parents all of our lives. But in case there is a conflict between obeying God or our parents, we must obey God.

We submit the most completely to those we love the most. (In the worldly “circle of selfishness” people submit most completely to those whom they either fear the most or think they can benefit the most from.) If we truly love God the most, we will submit to Him.

Think through these texts in relationship to this question.

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29.

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Matthew 22:37, 38.

“He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Matthew 10:37.

Thought Question:

Does “obeying God rather than man” just involve keeping the Sabbath and paying tithe or could it involve the social, physical and mental aspects of life as well as the spiritual?

Let us illustrate the principle of submitting to God or to man by a worldly example:

Suppose we have a lineman who works on an assembly line and he takes his orders from the foreman. The foreman takes his orders from the boss of the company. If a lineman does not have any relationship with the boss and only knows what the foreman tells him, then the foreman stands in the place of the boss to the lineman and the lineman is responsible for only what the foreman tells him. This is the way a child is responsible to his parents as to God until he has a relationship of his own with God.

But now, suppose the boss becomes acquainted with the lineman and gives him a direct order contrary to what the foreman has said, now who is he responsible to? The boss himself. However, because the foreman may have been in disagreement with the boss on one point does not excuse the lineman for disobeying the foreman on every other account. And also, because the foreman himself may not be in perfect compliance with the boss on every point does that change the lineman’s relationship to the foreman (except where there is a direct conflict of orders)?

Submission from Love or Fear

There are three different types of relationship to God:

  1. Nonsubmission
  2. Submission from fear
  3. Submission from love

Whichever type of relationship a parent has toward God, his child will tend to have the same relationship.

“Parents should themselves be converted and know what it is to be in submission to God’s will, as little children, bringing into captivity their thoughts to the will of Jesus Christ, before they can rightly represent the government that God designed should exist in the family.” Adventist Home, 306.

Who Loves First?

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10.

Just as God loves us first and thereby wins our affection, just so the parent loves the child first and gains his trust, and the child in turn loves the parent and submits to his loving guidance. The parent does not bring the child home from the hospital and tell him “you submit to my control now—I’m going to show you that I am in control and you are going to obey the fifth commandment and obey me.” No! He showers him with love and soon the child is returning the parents affections and submitting to their loving guidance.

Husbands and Wives

“Now we are down to the real thing,” someone is going to say. Yet, we have been talking about the principles of husbands and wives this whole time. As we have noticed before, the same principles of relationships exist throughout the universe and apply to the husband and wife as well.

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Galatians 5:22–26.

“So,” says the wife, “I am in the same relationship to my husband as a child.” Some of the same principles apply (as they do throughout the rest of the universe) but there are some real differences. Namely, that the wife is equal with the husband; whereas, in the relationships we have been talking about up to this point, we have had superior versus inferior beings. God is superior to the parents and the parents are superior to the child.

In this day of “equal rights,” submission is not a popular word. Liberation is the battle cry. Equality itself is an old established Bible principle.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28.

“Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him. A part of man, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, she was his second self; showing the close union and the affectionate attachment that should exist in this relation.” Adventist Home, 25.

So how does equality fit in with this heaven ordained principle of guidance and submission as commanded in Ephesians 5:22–26? In the world, authority is based on superiority; but not so in heaven. Again, to understand this mystery we go to our heavenly pattern.

These are lines of authority for choices that involve more than one being. God has given freedom to all and no one is to be a robot. But for things to involve more than one being, there are the lines of authority and submission that God set up.

Another real difference between the relation of husband and wife and that of parent and child is that parents are raising the child and helping him to form right character principles. But the husband is not raising the wife; they are to become one and are equal—and both are to help each other in character development. The principle of government between the husband and wife is so they can live together unitedly, work harmoniously and so learn to fit into the government of heaven.

“Your life would be much happier if you did not feel that absolute authority is vested in you because you are a husband and father.” Adventist Home, 225.

“You have peculiar views in regard to managing your family. You exercise an independent, arbitrary power which permits no liberty of will around you. You think yourself sufficient to be head in your family and feel that your head is sufficient to move every member, as a machine is moved in the hands of the workmen. You dictate and assume authority. This displeases Heaven and grieves the pitying angels. You have conducted yourself in your family as though you alone were capable of self-government. It has offended you that your wife should venture to oppose your opinion or question your decisions.” Ibid., 226.

“You think too much of your opinion; you have taken extreme positions, and have not been willing that your wife’s judgment should have the weight it should in your family. You have not encouraged respect for your wife yourself nor educated your children to respect her judgment. You have not made her your equal, but have rather taken the reins of government and control into your own hands and held them with a firm grasp. You have not an affectionate, sympathetic disposition. These traits of character you need to cultivate if you want to be an overcomer and if you want the blessing of God in your family.” Ibid., 227.

In the Godhead, we notice that the Father and the Son counsel together and make joint decisions, but the Father is still the head. This is the kind of headship the husband is to be. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3.

Another difference between the husband-wife relationship and that of parent-child is that the husband and wife are not to keep any secrets from each other that they might share with someone else. They are to be united and as one flesh.

“The husband and wife should be all to each other. The wife should have no secrets to keep from her husband and let others know, and the husband should have no secrets to keep from his wife to relate to others.” Adventist Home, 177.

“For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth: and He will show Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.” John 5:20.

But many times there are things that are not revealed unto the children. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” John 16:12.

Angelic Submission

The angels demonstrate this same principle of guidance and submission that is demonstrated between the Father and Son and should be demonstrated between husband and wife.

“Angels work harmoniously. Perfect order characterizes all their movements. The more closely we imitate the harmony and order of the angelic host, the more successful will be the efforts of these heavenly agents in our behalf. . . . Subjection and thorough discipline mark the movements of the angelic host.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 649, 650.

The reason the angels work so harmoniously together, as though they were one, is because they have perfect submission. They have all learned perfect submission.

There was only one that refused to learn submission—Lucifer. But watch this—for those who say the wife is supposed to be subject unto the husband in all things even to disobeying God—what happened to the angels that remained subject unto Lucifer in his rebellion?

Submission is a principle learned by all the angels—and it must be learned by all of the family—not just the wife. Submission is a universal principle and it is just as much a principle for the husband to learn as for the wife to learn. The only difference is who they are immediately subject to. Never can perfect harmony reign in a home until every member learns the principle of submission.

Thought Question:

What if one family member has not learned submission—do the other members still have a duty to learn it?

Submission is a universal principle, and regardless of what any other member of the family may do, every member that ever makes it to heaven will have to learn the true principles of submission. Lack of submission to Christ forced the angels out of heaven and we are definitely not going to be taken there until we learn the principle.

But is submission hard? Not if the one doing the guiding has the love of Christ. Christ loved us enough to die for us—and that while we were yet sinners (before we had learned to submit). He even loves us enough to take us back and forgive us after we committed spiritual adultery against Him. Here are lessons for us all. (Note, however, that there is such a thing as an unpardonable sin.)

Learning the Principle

Guidance and submission is based on true love. It is the outworking of this heavenly principle. If we learn true love, guidance and submission will be the natural result.

“All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.” The Desire of Ages, 668.

When we learn of God, the submission of self will be but the carrying out of our own impulses. For guidance and submission to work it must be based on love and the only place we can learn true love is from God.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:7, 8.

If you want more love, where is the only place you can find it? Can you find it from Hollywood, from worldly marriage counsellors, from worldly books?

And secondly, if you do not know God, can you know love? Can a Hollywood producer who does not know God or a worldly marriage counsellor who does not know God know about true love?

But more importantly, can your spouse or child know true love without knowing God? And what are you doing, therefore, to encourage them in their daily devotional life? But most importantly of all, can you know true love without knowing God through a daily relationship with Him?

This principle of true love is one which we will be learning more about throughout eternity. And as long as we are in a family on earth, we can daily learn more of the joys of this principle.

“To gain a proper understanding of the marriage relation is the work of a lifetime. Those who marry enter a school from which they are never in this life to be graduated.” Adventist Home, 105.

But this growing experience can only come through a daily relationship with God: through daily devotions. “Continual devotion establishes so close a relation between Jesus and His disciple that the Christian becomes like Him in mind and character.” The Desire of Ages, 251.

This includes prayer, Bible and Spirit of Prophecy study and meditation. If you are not having this relationship, you do not as yet know true happiness in marriage! “But,” you say, “not very many people have daily devotions that amount to anything.” That is true, and that is why, “There is not one marriage in one hundred that results happily.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 504.

But you can be the “one.” You can enjoy this happiness. You can have it if you will daily learn from the pattern.

“The sweetest type of heaven is a home where the Spirit of the Lord presides. If the will of God is fulfilled, the husband and wife will respect each other and cultivate love and confidence.” The Adventist Home, 15.