What was God’s first question to fallen man? It is found in Genesis 3:8, 9: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ ”
Adam responds in verse 10, “… I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Having sinned, the garment of light that had clothed Adam and Eve since their creation had left them. They were able to see themselves now in their newfound naked and sinful condition. Sin had created fear, shame, and loneliness in Adam and Eve, and they had hidden from God.
God then asked Adam how he knew he was naked, “ ‘Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ ” Sadly, a sinner for just a short time, Adam used the now age-old argument of blame and self-justification. “… ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ ” Verses 11, 12
Eve blamed the serpent. Adam blamed Eve and then he blamed God. But it is interesting to note that even as he blamed Eve for his choice, it was because of his love for her that he chose to eat the fruit. Ellen White says, “[Adam] understood the high destiny opened to the human race should they remain faithful to God. Yet all these blessings were lost sight of in the fear of losing that one gift which in his eyes outvalued every other. Love, gratitude, loyalty to the Creator—all were overborne by love to Eve. She was a part of himself, and he could not endure the thought of separation. … He resolved to share her fate; if she must die, he would die with her.” Patriarch and Prophets, 56, 57
And then came justification: “After all, he reasoned, might not the words of the wise serpent be true? Eve was before him, as beautiful and apparently as innocent as before this act of disobedience. She expressed greater love for him than before. No sign of death appeared in her, and he decided to brave the consequences. He seized the fruit and quickly ate.” Ibid.
Fault-finding, blame, justification, fear of being in the presence of God, all exist still today, and God still asks the question, “Where are you?” This is a very important question because many people really do not know where they are, and they need to find out.
God has a message for the people of the last days. “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen … . For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.’ And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.’ ” Revelation 18:1–4
More detailed descriptions of Babylon are found in Revelation 14, 17 and 18. Babylon is described as a harlot woman dressed in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls. She holds a golden cup in her hand filled with abominations and the uncleanness of her fornication. Babylon is a mother church, or mother of harlots, because she has daughter churches, all of whom take part in her wickedness. She has drunk of the blood of the saints and martyrs. She sits as a great, world-wide power, and all the nations of the earth have drunk of her abominations and participated in her sins.
Nations, churches, individuals all believe they know where they are, but really, they don’t. We need to understand how easily it can happen to any church, nation, or person.
Paul says, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2. He is jealous for the Corinthian church because he has presented the church to Christ as a virgin bride. But then he says in verses 3 and 4, “… I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” Simply put, a church must keep Christ first in its affections.
James says, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:4
Repeatedly the apostles and Bible prophets tell God’s people that they are to be married to Christ. “ ‘Return, O backsliding children,’ says the Lord; ‘for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.’ ” Jeremiah 3:14. The church is to be a spouse to one husband, Jesus Christ Himself. Speaking of Christ and the church, Paul says they are to be one flesh (Ephesians 5:31). Claiming to be a part of God’s church but following another is adultery, as seen in Ezekiel chapters 16 and 23.
“The unfaithfulness of the church to Christ in permitting her confidence and affection to be turned from Him, and allowing the love of worldly things to occupy the soul, is likened to the violation of the marriage vow. The sin of Israel in departing from the Lord is presented under this figure … ‘But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown.’ ‘As a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord;’ ‘as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!’ Ezekiel 16:8, 13–15, 32; Jeremiah 3:20.” The Great Controversy, 381, 382
The Bible tells about the development of the Antichrist power, but also the image of the Antichrist power in the last days. We need to be absolutely clear on what that is and how it comes about. “The image is made by the two-horned beast, and is an image to the beast. It is also called an image of the beast. Then to learn what the image is like and how it is to be formed, we must study the characteristics of the beast itself—the papacy.
“When the early church became corrupted by departing from the simplicity of the gospel and accepting heathen rites and customs, she lost the Spirit and power of God; and in order to control the consciences of the people, she sought the support of the secular power. The result was the papacy, a church that controlled the power of the state and employed it to further her own ends, especially for the punishment of ‘heresy.’ In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends.” Ibid., 443
Ellen White clearly states that any church that has corrupted itself by seeking the support of worldly civil powers to enforce its institutions, its will, and its teachings, has become a harlot church. That church will not be permitted at the marriage supper of the Lamb, because no harlot will be allowed to enter.
We are living in a time when the image of the beast is being formed. Let me be clear, if a church is utilizing the support of secular powers by going to the courts to pass judgements in its behalf or pressuring the legislature or hiring lobbyists to influence legislators to make laws that favor its position, then that is spiritual harlotry, and that church has become a harlot church. If a church uses its tithe in support of these types of activities and if that church does not repent and forsake its spiritual harlotry, it has formed an image to the beast and will not go to the marriage feast of the Lamb. Anyone attending and supporting a church like that will not be able to attend either, unless they leave that church.
The New Testament describes Jesus over and over as our High Priest, and the church is described as His bride. But what kind of bride can the High Priest take? Leviticus 21:13, 14 describes the type of woman that the high priest officiating in the earthly temple or tabernacle can and cannot take as his wife: “And he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow or a divorced woman or a defiled woman or a harlot—these he shall not marry; but he shall take a virgin of his own people as wife.” Jesus is our High Priest and He cannot take a church as His bride who is practicing harlotry.
“Where are you?” God’s question is the same to mankind today as it was in the Garden of Eden. Someone might say “I know I belong to an organization that is in open sin, but I do not participate in it, so I’m all right.”
Yes, people today believe that though they are part of an organization that is committing open sin, if they themselves do not participate in the sin, then it is all right for them to remain in that organization. Let’s look at this more closely in a couple of specific points.
“The time is fast coming when the controlling power of the labor unions will be very oppressive. …
“Men have confederated to oppose the Lord of hosts. These confederacies will continue until Christ shall leave His place of intercession before the mercy seat, and shall put on the garments of vengeance. … Professed saints and avowed unbelievers take their stand with these parties.
“The trades unions will be one of the agencies that will bring upon this earth the time of trouble such as has not been since the world began.
“The work of the people of God is to prepare for the events of the future, which will soon come upon them with blinding force. In the world gigantic monopolies will be formed. Men will bind themselves together in unions that will wrap them in the folds of the enemy. A few men will combine to grasp all the means to be obtained in certain lines of business. Trades unions will be formed and those who refuse to join these unions will be marked men.
“The trades unions and confederacies of the world are a snare. Keep out of them, and away from them, brethren. Have nothing to do with them. …
“But erelong there will be such strife and confusion in the cities, that those who wish to leave them will not be able. …
“We are not to unite with secret societies or with trades unions. …
“These unions are one of the signs of the last days. Men are binding up in bundles ready to be burned. They may be church members, but while they belong to these unions, they cannot possibly keep the commandments of God; for to belong to these unions means to disregard the entire decalogue.
“ ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.’ Luke 10:27. These words sum up the whole duty of man. They mean the consecration of the whole being, body, soul, and spirit, to God’s service. How can men obey these words, and at the same time pledge themselves to support that which deprives their neighbors of freedom of action? And how can men obey these words, and form combinations that rob the poorer classes of the advantages which justly belong to them, preventing them from buying or selling, except under certain conditions?
“Those who claim to be the children of God are in no case to bind up with the labor unions that are formed or that shall be formed. This the Lord forbids. Cannot those who study the prophecies see and understand what is before us?” Selected Messages, Book 2, 141–144
Friends, the Spirit of Prophecy says that belonging to a union means that a person will disregard the entire decalogue, because the organization itself disregards it. According to what we just read above, the Lord says a person who belongs to a union or a church that seeks the support and power of the civil government to enforce its doctrine is a member of a harlot church and a commandment breaker in the books of heaven and that person will not receive the seal of God.
“The Lord’s injunction, ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers’ (2 Corinthians 6:14), refers not only to the marriage of Christians with the ungodly, but to all alliances in which the parties are brought into intimate association, and in which there is need of harmony in spirit and action. …
“The only correct standard of character is the holy law of God, and it is impossible for those who make that law the rule of life to unite in confidence and cordial brotherhood with those who turn the truth of God into a lie, and regard the authority of God as a thing of nought.
“Those who fear God cannot choose the ungodly for companions, and be themselves unharmed. In these societies they are brought under the influence of worldly principles and customs, and through the power of association and habit the mind becomes more and more conformed to the worldling’s standard. Oh, it is an easy thing, by association with the world, to catch their spirit, to be molded by their views of things, so that we do not discern the preciousness of Jesus and the truth. And just to the degree that the spirit of the world dwells in our heart, it will control our life.
“When men are not under the control of the word and the Spirit of God, they are captives of Satan, and we know not to what lengths he may lead them in sin. The patriarch Jacob beheld those who take pleasure in wickedness. He saw what would be the result of association with them, and in the Spirit he explained, ‘O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united’ (Genesis 49:6). He lifts up the danger signal, to warn every soul against such associations. The apostle Paul echoes the warning: ‘Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness’ (Ephesians 5:11). ‘Be not deceived: Evil company doth corrupt good manners’ (1 Corinthians 15:33, R.V.).
“These societies, that are not controlled by the love and fear of God, will not be found true and upright toward man. Many of their transactions are contrary to justice and equity. He who is of too pure eyes to behold evil will not, cannot, be a party to many things that take place in these associations. …
“Of course all this is denied by the members of these bodies. But God looks beneath the pleasant, attractive appearance, to the secret, underlying motives and the real working of the association. While some of them claim to make the word of God in a certain sense the basis of their organization, they depart far from the principles of righteousness. The vows imposed by some of these orders require the taking of human life when the secrets of the order are divulged. Members are also pledged, under certain circumstances to clear the guilty from deserved punishment. Toward those who work against the order, they are required to pursue a course that is not at all in harmony with the law of God. …
“Fraud runs all through these secret associations, and none can be bound up with them and be free men before God and heaven. …
“In the revelation of His righteous judgments, God will break up all these associations; and when the judgment shall sit and the books be opened, there will be revealed the unChristlikeness of the whole confederacy. Those who choose to unite with these secret societies are paying homage to idols as senseless and as powerless to bless and save the soul as are the gods of the Hindus. …
“These societies offer some advantages which from a human point of view appear like great blessings, but not so when judged by the Lord’s measurement. Behind their apparent advantages are concealed satanic agencies. …
“Christians must sever every tie that binds them to these secret orders that are not under the control of God. They cannot be loyal to these organizations and loyal to God.” Ibid., 121, 127–132
“Those who stand under the bloodstained banner of Prince Immanuel cannot be united with the Free Masons or with any secret organization. The seal of the living God will not be placed upon anyone who maintains such a connection after the light of truth has shone upon his pathway.” Ibid., 140
Ellen White writes repeatedly that we must break away from these churches and organizations. The Bible says to “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 6:17
Not all people are in Babylon or a harlot church; some are in Egypt, even some Adventists.
“I am filled with sadness when I think of our condition as a people. The Lord has not closed heaven to us, but our own course of continual backsliding has separated us from God. …
“The church has turned back from following Christ her Leader, and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. Yet few are alarmed or astonished at their want of spiritual power.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 217
The Bible says to come out of Egypt. What is the land of Egypt and what does it mean to be in Egypt?
- Egypt is a land of bondage. “And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.’ ” Exodus 20:1, 2. When speaking to the Jews, Jesus said, “ ‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.’ ” John 8:32. The Jews said they were Abraham’s descendants and had never been in bondage. We know from the Bible that this was not true. So Jesus said, “ ‘Most assuredly I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.’” Verses 34–36. If your will is in bondage to sin, then you are in Egypt.
Every person, Ellen White writes, finds in himself a “bent to evil, a force which, unaided, he cannot resist.” Education, 29
- Egypt is a land of darkness. False teachings are taught by false teachers, sin abounds, people do not love their brother, and hearts have become hard.
Most of the world today is in darkness. Jesus said, “ ‘And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.’ ” John 3:19. Paul said that Christians are to put off the works of darkness and put on the garment of light.
- Egypt is also a land of sensuality. “And the children of Israel said to them, ‘Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’” Exodus 16:3. Freed from the bondage of Egypt and receiving the food of angels, they sat in the wilderness and cried for the flesh pots of Egypt. Ellen White adds, “We have been going back to Egypt rather than on to Canaan. Shall we not reverse the order of things?” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 319.
They also had learned many different forms of entertainment while in Egypt that went directly contrary to the law of God, entertainment that included immodesty and ultimately fornication (Exodus 32:23–25).
Egypt is a place where you eat as you like, whenever you want, and indulge in all kinds of sensual pleasures without limit.
- Egypt is a land of wealth and prosperity. It is for this reason that so many in the world would prefer to live in Egypt. Remember the story of the rich young ruler? After he went away sorrowful, unable to part with his wealth, Jesus said, “‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ ” Matthew 19:23, 24
- Egypt is a land where men do not acknowledge the God of heaven. The world may admit that God exists, but they do not acknowledge His sovereignty or right to control and direct our lives. Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord … .” Exodus 5:2. Egypt is a land of unbelief. The world believes in worldly philosophy, and they put their trust in what man can do.
Isaiah wrote to the people of his day, “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God … .” Isaiah 31:3. And Jeremiah pronounces a curse on the one who puts his trust in the arm of flesh: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:5
“Where are you?” God is asking each of us this question. He knows where we are, but do we? Are we in Babylon or a harlot church seeking support from the secular powers? Are we associated with some secret society that claims Christianity, but is violating the ten commandments? Or are we in Egypt, in bondage and darkness, participating in sensual pleasures, wealth and prosperity, denying the sovereignty of God over our life? Are we trusting man rather than God?
“ ‘Return, O backsliding children.’ ” Jeremiah 3:14. God says that He will take us out of Babylon, out of that harlot church or secret society. He says that He will deliver us from Egypt and its sensual and idolatrous influences. Do we desire deliverance? Then our answer to His question must be “Deliver us, Lord. Deliver us.” [Emphasis supplied.]
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.