O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Matthew 23:37, 38
These words of Christ to the priests and rulers struck terror to their hearts. Could it be that their magnificent temple would soon become a heap of ruins? As Jesus spoke these alarming words, in divine pity, He cast one more lingering look upon the temple and in a voice choked with anguish, Jesus exclaimed, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often would I have gathered thy children together…and ye would not.”
These words were part of the separation struggle of the long-suffering love of Christ. Israel as a nation had finally divorced herself from God. The natural branches of the olive tree were broken off. Jesus looking for the last time upon the interior of the temple, said with mournful pathos, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” God’s last day messenger wrote in 1882: “The glory of the Lord had departed from Israel.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 210.
In order to have a clear understanding of this statement, we need to first understand what “glory” is. God’s glory has always been equated with His character. In Eden, a glorious light enshrouded the holy pair, for they had been given a character pattern much like their Creator. They were to develop and improve their characters, to be fashioned like unto God’s character. But when they sinned, the glorious external light left and they were naked—a fit symbol of the loss of their God-like characters. But God did not forsake them. Immediately, the plan of salvation was activated and the work for character restoration was begun.
In Moses’ day, God proposed to visibly dwell with His people. This is why the Shekinah glory abode in the most holy place of the Sanctuary. Moses was so enraptured with this glory that he wanted to see God fully. He prayed, “I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory.” Exodus 33:18. And God answered, “I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by.” Exodus 33:22. “I will make all My goodness pass before thee.” Exodus 33:19. God’s glory is equated with His goodness—His character.
When Eli was the priest, the spirituality of the nation and the priesthood had become desperately corrupt. Eli’s sons thought that the ark would win a war with the Philistines. But Eli’s sons were killed and the ark captured. When Eli heard this tragic news, he fell backward, broke his neck and died.
The wife of Eli’s son, hearing that the ark was taken, gave premature birth to a son. As she died,she called the child “Ichabod,” which means “The glory is departed from Israel.” And indeed it had. For God’s character was no longer mirrored in the character of His people, but He did not forsake them. He raised up Samuel to lead His people back into a Christ-like experience.
Over and over through the centuries, God’s people deserted Him. But God never deserted His faithful few. When Solomon completed the temple in Jerusalem, God again visibly filled the temple with His glory. “The glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.” 1 Kings 8:11. This glory remained in the Holy of Holies until the days of Jeremiah, when the glory of the Lord departed from the temple.
This departure is described by God’s prophet as similar to Christ’s ascension to heaven after His resurrection. “As the place of His ascension, Jesus chose the spot so often hallowed by His presence while He dwelt among men. Not Mount Zion, the place of David’s city. Not Mount Moriah, the temple site was to be thus honored. There Christ had been mocked and rejected. There the waves of mercy, still returning in a stronger tide of love, had been beaten back by hearts as hard as rock. Thence Jesus, weary and heart burdened, had gone forth to find rest in the Mount of Olives. The holy Shekinah, in departing from the first temple, had stood upon the eastern mountain, as if loath to forsake the chosen city; so Christ stood upon Olivet, with yearning heart overlooking Jerusalem.” Desire of Ages, 829.
Jeremiah records why the temple was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar. “Thus saith the Lord; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.” Jeremiah 17:21, 22. At that time they were totally disregarding the Sabbath. They were carrying on business as usual.
“But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear,nor receive instruction . . . If ye will not hearken unto Me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” Jeremiah 17:23, 27.
Jeremiah sensed the coming destruction because of the apostasy in breaking the Sabbath. He removed the ark of God from the Sanctuary, hiding it in a cave. “Among the righteous still in Jerusalem, to whom had been made plain the divine purpose, were some who determined to place beyond the reach of ruthless hands the sacred ark containing the tables of stone on which had been traced the precepts of the decalogue. This they did. With mourning and sadness they secreted the ark in a cave, where it was to be hidden from the people of Israel and Judah because of their sins, and was to be no more restored to them. That sacred ark is yet hidden. It has never been disturbed since it was secreted.” Prophets and Kings, 453.
God called Ezekiel to be a prophet among the captives in Babylon. He describes the various stages through which the glory of the Lord passed as it left the doomed temple and the city of Jerusalem. In chapter one, Ezekiel was given a vision of God’s throne room in heaven where he saw “the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” Ezekiel 1:28.
Again in Ezekiel 3:23 he sees “The glory of the Lord.” Then in Chapter 5, he is given a message concerning the sins and abominations of God’s people and of the Jewish leaders who were defiling God’s earthly sanctuary in Jerusalem, so that he might understand why Jerusalem had been destroyed. In Chapter 8, Ezekiel beholds the glory of the Lord (verse 4). In spite of continued abominations, God had not taken His glory fully out of the sanctuary. But in Ezekiel 9, you read that God’s glory started to leave the sanctuary (verse 3). “And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub.”
Then in Ezekiel 10, the glory now stands over the threshold of the door. Then looking down over the courtyard, it passes over the doomed city. “And the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.” Ezekiel 10:19.
God is patient and merciful; reluctant to remove His glory from His rebellious people. Nevertheless, slowly and surely, the glory of God was removed. In Ezekiel 11, God shows Ezekiel why the glory of God was departing. In chapter 8, he saw twenty-five priests worshiping the sun right within the sanctuary of God.
“And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.” Ezekiel 8:16.
“And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountainwhich is on the east side of the city.” Ezekiel 11:23. This is exactly how Mrs. White describes it in The Desire of Ages, 829. The glory of God departed from the temple, and then the city, and finally from the people, never to return. Still, God did not utterly forsake this wayward people.
“Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations; for I will deliver My people . . .and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 13:23. Thus God delivered His faithful, a small remnant out of the hands of the oppressors. After the captivity, the temple was rebuilt. Some of the old men who had seen the glory of God displayed in the Most Holy temple, now wept at the lesser grandeur of the second temple, and because the Ark of the Covenant was missing. However, a greater glory had been promised. “The Shekinah had departed from the sanctuary but in the child of Bethlehem was veiled the glory before which angels bow.” The Desire of Ages, 52. Thus was fulfilled the words of Haggai 2:9: “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former.” But so few recognized the glory, in Jesus Christ, veiled in human flesh. He came to His own, but His own received Him not.
Once again the glory of God was to depart from His people and the city was again to be destroyed. As with the first temple, the second withdrawal of God’s glory was not abrupt but gradual, conducted in patience and in reluctance. “Alas for those who knew not the time of their visitation. Slowly and regretfully Christ left, forever, the precincts of the temple.” Ibid., 626. And the angel of mercy was about to fold her wings, never to return to the doomed city.
“Israel as a nation had divorced herself from God. The natural branches of the olive tree were broken off. Looking for the last time on the interior of the temple, Jesus said with mournful pathos, ‘Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.’ Hitherto He had called the temple His Father’s house; but now, as the Son of God should pass out from those walls, God’s presence would be withdrawn forever from the temple built to His glory. Henceforth its ceremonies would be meaningless, its services a mockery.” Ibid., 620.
After Christ’s crucifixion and His resurrection, He led His disciples to the crest of Olivet. Jesus lingered before departure, as did the Shekinah of old. Once again, the divine glory departed gradually. “The holy Shekinah in departing from the first temple, had stood upon the eastern mountain, as if loath to forsake the chosen city; so Christ stood upon Olivet, with yearning heart overlooking Jerusalem.” Ibid., 829. Christ will stand on the Mount of Olives when He returns after the thousand years of the millenium. “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south . . .And the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee.” Zechariah 14:4, 5.
Now that we have a better understanding of what God’s glory is, we can move on to see how it applies to our day. According to inspiration, what is God’s glory in our day? “The glory of God is the piety of its members for there is the hiding of Christ’s power.” Review and Herald, March 24, 1891. Will piety totally depart from the people of God in the end time? “A new life is coming from heaven and taking possession of all of God’s people. But divisions will come in the church. Two parties will be developed.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 114.
One group will contend for the faith and the other party will depart from the faith. “God never forsakes people or individuals until they forsake Him. Outward opposition will not cause the faith of God’s people, who are keeping His commandments, to become dim. The neglect to bring purity and truth into practice will grieve the Spirit of God and weaken them because God is not in their midst to bless. Internal corruption will bring the denunciations of God upon this people as it did upon Jerusalem . . . The least transgression of God’s law brings guilt upon the transgressor, and without earnest repentance and forsaking of sin he will surely become an apostate. If as a people we do not keep ourselves in the faith and not only advocate with pen and voice the commandments of God, but keep them every one, not violating a single precept knowingly, then weakness and ruin will come upon us.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 378.
“The little company who are standing in the light,” Testimonies, vol. 5, 209, remain faithful to God. They are like the five virgins who alone had the inward piety. We have been cautioned over and over, “Do not be content with superficial piety.” Sons and Daughters of God, 317.
“It is with reluctance that the Lord withdraws His presence from those who have been blessed with great light.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 212. “From those who have rejected truth, the light [the glory] of God has departed.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 17, 18. Spiritual declension in modern Israel has been long in developing. Today we express concern over ecumenism, but it was making inroads a hundred years ago. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 76.) God has always had His faithful few. There is no scriptural evidence that He has withdrawn His glory from them.
In the days of the first temple there were Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and a small group of others, who were faithful. They lived amid the glory of God in their piety. So it was in the days of Christ and in the days of the martyrs during the dark ages. And God will have a little company today who will become evident in His church triumphant. God’s light and glory will never depart from them. But this is not so with the majority. “When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 136.
“Those who have been regarded as worthy and righteous prove to be ringleaders in apostasy.”Ibid., 212. How sad!
Seventh-day Adventists correctly recognize Ezekiel 9 as describing the sealing of God’s people, soon to come. Few have studied chapter 8, describing the abominations which Ezekiel saw taking place in Jerusalem, God’s church. This was just prior to the departure of God’s glory.
The following is from a letter I received. “In my early years I can never remember hearing the word ‘Easter’ mentioned from the pulpit. Yet last Sabbath Pastor _________ announced, ‘This is the beginning of the Passion Week. And we must remember ‘Good Friday.’ There were Easter lilies and a wooden cross on the platform and some of the children marched down the center aisle with palms and placed them at the foot of the cross. Today our pastor was in the height of his glory with his two sessions of the pageant that he supervises each year in which the group of people wander about the neighborhood to places depicting various aspects of the Passion Week.
“Pastor ____________ sent out a letter to his members several weeks ago informing them that on April 5, noon to 2:00 p.m. the various pastors of the local churches, including a Catholic Priest would be at the ______ SDA Church to celebrate Good Friday and requested all the members to be present.”
Not only is Good Friday being celebrated in Adventist churches, as we see here, but many Adventist churches are even promoting Easter sunrise services. Many are in the out of doors, where the people await the rise of the sun over the horizon to begin their worship service—like the pagans as they worshipped the sun.
There are theologians among us who claim that they are not honoring the Sun god. They believe that they are honoring the resurrection of Jesus at the very moment that He arose from the grave. However, they have failed to read their Bible, which teaches that Jesus arose very early, while it was yet dark, and that the women who reached the tomb at sunrise, learned that He had already risen and departed. “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth,and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid Him.” John 20:1, 2.
Sunday sacredness is to be our final test. How sad to see Seventh-day Adventists joining in this form of ecumenism. This is nothing but modern Baal worship. Books now are being published on our presses preparing God’s people to keep Sunday. Such is the book, Beyond Belief, by Jack Sequierra, which states, on page 185, that the Sabbath-Sunday issue is not the final test: “The issue then in the final conflict will not be between two groups of Christians or even between two rest days, but between two opposing methods of salvation.” Of course, he is talking there about the New Theology against “legalism,” what he calls keeping God’s law.
The General Conference President teaches the same false concepts as Jack Sequierra. “If we consider Sabbath-keeping a requirement for salvation, we have turned the commandment on its head.” We Still Believe, 64, by Robert S. Folkenberg. Sabbath keeping is a requirement of God’s salvation. The New Theology is constantly avoiding the word “obedience” and preaching instead unconditional love. In the plan of salvation there is no such thing as unconditional love. The condition for eternal life is perfect obedience. (See Steps to Christ, 62.) “There will be, even among us, hirelings and wolves in sheep’s clothing who will persuade the flock of God to sacrifice unto other gods before the Lord. Youth who are not established, rooted and grounded in the truth, will be corrupted and drawn away by the blind leaders of the blind; and the ungodly. The despisers that wonder and perish, who despise the sovereignty of the Ancient of Days and place on the throne a false god…. These will be the agents in Satan’s hands to corrupt the faith of the unwary.” Selected Messages, vol. 3, 398.
“The Sabbath would be lightly regarded.” Testimony B, no. 7, 40. “The Lord has shown me clearly that the image to the beast will be formed before probation closes; for it is to be the great test for the people of God, by which their eternal destiny will be decided. This is the test that the people of God must have before they are sealed.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 80.
God will allow deceitful Hazeals to come in our midst to be a scourge to His people. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 79.) “But He will also not entrust the keeping of His flock to the proud andunfaithful shepherds.” (See Ibid., 80.) “The time is not far distant when the test [the Sunday law] will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us.” Ibid., 81.
These events are just before the Loud Cry and the beginning of the judgment of the living. This is when the glory of the Lord will have left the unfaithful majority of God’s people. Many leaders that we have looked up to for their brilliance will then go out in darkness and clouds of chaff will be blown away from the church when we thought all along that we were looking at piles of rich wheat. (See Ibid., 81.)
Multitudes of false brethren will be cut down as cumberers of the ground. (See Ibid.) The end result of all of this cleansing (shaking) will be that a little company of faithful will remain. God will not withdraw His glory from His pious ones. There will be no united church composed of wheat and tares during the outpouring of the seven last plagues. For the unfaithful will hardly be hiding within the purified church!
The slaughter depicted in Ezekiel 8 and 9 is wholly symbolic. No swords or guns will be used. When one receives the mark of the beast, it will be the sentence of eternal death. It will begin with the ancient men, the guardians of God’s people. They are likened to dumb dogs that would not bark to warn the people of the coming danger.
Three times the Bible records that there has been weeping over Jerusalem (which represents God’s church). First, Jeremiah, weeping over Jerusalem shortly before its first destruction. Second, Jesus wept over Jerusalem a few years before its second destruction. The third weeping over Jerusalem [God’s remnant church], will take place in our day in accordance with the sighing and crying foretold in Ezekiel 9, just before the sealing of God’s people. It will be done by a faithful few. (See Ibid., 210.)
The seal of God, we read, will never be placed upon the foreheads of those who are not ready. “The seal of God will be placed upon the foreheads of those only who sigh and cry for the abominations.” Ibid., 212. And where is this sighing and crying to take place? “Those that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the church.” Ibid., vol. 3, 267.
“The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 380. The chaff will be sifted out, leaving but a little company as a nucleus for the church triumphant. But God’s glory will not be with the majority. The majority forsake us.
Company after company will drop the standard of truth to desert the Lord’s army. (See Testimonies, vol. 8, 41.) But the small remnant does not fall. We have seen the promise that if we constantly behold God’s glory we can become changed into the Son’s image from glory to glory, from character to character, till we become like that which we adore. (See Manuscript 8A, 1888.)
“And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun.” Ezekiel 8:16. This will happen again in our church.
“The Lord reads the heart as an open book. The men who are not connected with God have done many things after the imagination of their evil hearts. The Lord declares concerning them, ‘They have turned unto Me their back and not their face, though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them; yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction.’ We are amid the perils of the last days, the time will soon come when the prophecy of Ezekiel 9 will be fulfilled . . . to the very letter.” 1888 Materials, 1303.
Let us have nothing to do with the ecumenical movement being encouraged by church leaders. “In churches and in large gatherings in the open air, ministers will urge upon the people the necessity of keeping the first day of the week.” Review and Herald, March 18, 1884. ahead for God’s remnant, be sure that you are living within the glory of God and keeping His commandments by His grace. Let it not be said of any of us, “Ichabod.” The glory of God has departed.