August 22, 2010 – August 28, 2010
“Each of the ancient prophets spoke less for their own time than for ours. … their prophesying is in force for us. … Daniel, Isaiah, and Ezekiel … spoke of things that … reached down to the future, and to what should occur in these last days.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 338, 419, 420.
In our last lesson we viewed a prophetic landscape of potential devastation for modern Israel. In this lesson we continue to examine in more detail whether or not these prophecies fit modern Israel, how they fit, and the extent to which they fit.
1 If this has really been happening in the Seventh-day Adventist church; if the same sins that led to earlier captivities have been practiced with persistence, should we expect a different result? Should we expect that the SDA organization is about to be cleaned up, or expect to find it in a captivity that leads to its destruction?
Recall that in Christ’s day, the church could not be refurbished! The true Gospel, like new wine, had to be put into new wine bottles; the true gospel in new believers—a new church.
“Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’ … For if you thoroughly amend your ways … then I will cause you to dwell in this place … you trust in lying words … Will you … walk after other gods … and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’? … But go now to … Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people.” Jeremiah 7:4, 5, 7––10, 12.
“O town full of commotion … All your leaders have fled together; They have been captured. … Do not try to console me over the destruction of my people. The Lord, the Lord Almighty, has a day of tumult and trampling … City of David had many breaches in its defenses; … You counted the buildings in Jerusalem And tore down houses To strengthen the wall. … But you did not look to the One who made it, … The Lord, the Lord Almighty, Called you on that day to weep and to wail, To tear out your hair and put on sackcloth. But see, there is joy and revelry. … The Lord Almighty has revealed this in my hearing: ‘Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for,’ says the Lord, the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 22:2—-–4, 9–12, 14. [Emphasis supplied.]
“… a sword is sharpened … polished … to make a dreadful slaughter. … Should we then make mirth?” Ezekiel 21:9, 10.
“The Lord Jesus will always have a chosen people to serve Him. When the Jewish people rejected Christ, the Prince of life, He took from them the kingdom of God and gave it unto the Gentiles. God will continue to work on this principle with every branch of His work. When a church proves unfaithful to the word of the Lord, whatever their position may be, however high and sacred their calling, the Lord can no longer work with them. Others are then chosen to bear important responsibilities.” The Upward Look, 131.
“Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets Who make my people stray; Who chant ‘All is well’ … But who prepare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths: Therefore you shall have night without vision. … The sun shall go down on prophetic revelation … Now hear this, You rulers of the house of Israel [whose work is driven by money]. … They lean on the Lord, and say, ‘Is not the Lord among us? No harm can come upon us.’ Therefore Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins.” Micah 3:5, 6, 9, 11, 12.
Contemplate the duplicate warning found in Jeremiah 6:13–15 and 8:10–13.
“… prophets and priests alike, All practice deceit. They dress the wound of My people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace!’ they say. When there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No! They have no shame at all; They do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; They will be brought down when they are punished, says the Lord. ‘I will take away their harvest,’ declares the Lord. ‘There will be no grapes on the vine. There will be no figs on the tree, And their leaves will wither. What I have given them will be taken from them.’ ”
2 If God’s people are in what seems like a captivity, has it been acknowledged, recognized, prayed about, and acted on?
3 If the Seventh-day Adventist church continued to follow the history of ancient Israel, what might be the next sign of their demise?
For ancient Israel, their last warnings came from Jesus (Matthew 23), the Apostles (Acts 2) and Stephen (Acts 7). Their final demise was not apparent to many Jews until years later when it actually happened; when the Roman armies destroyed their city and church.
In the meantime and without any comprehension by ancient Israel, God’s true church, His new Israel had already carried the gospel to “every creature under heaven” (Colossians 1:23). Since the destruction of Jerusalem is a picture in miniature of the destruction of the world—does it not seem plausible that the Three Angels’ Messages could be completed while many Seventh-day Adventists are oblivious to the happening?
4 What about the promises of the glory and redemption of Israel?
The prophetic warnings of complete destruction for God’s professed people are stark, and have been presented in the straightforward bleakness that Scripture presents them. The reader may ask, What of the promised glory of Israel; aren’t these texts to be balanced with promises of restoration? What about those promises of restoration that are hiding in some of the ellipses above?
The prophet Jeremiah phrased this same question:
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Surely You have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, Saying, ‘You shall have peace,’ Whereas the sword reaches to the heart.” Jeremiah 4:10.
There are indeed precious promises of restoration for Israel. But; question: how does one balance a prophetic warning of utter destruction if certain conditions are met with anything? We will continue to examine this paradox as we move through this study on captivity. For now, the student is left with this reminder from our study on the captivity of Israel in Christ’s time:
An understanding of the parallel mingling of triumph/tragedy for the professed Jewish church and tragedy/triumph of the Christian church is critical to an understanding of Old Testament prophecy. The Old Testament prophecies themselves are, on a large scale, a grand parallel mingling of stunning triumph in the face of disaster and monumental defeat in the face of misplaced confidence. This history of the church in Christ’s time gives us the tools to understand how these seemingly contradictory prophecies can be fulfilled simultaneously. [Emphasis supplied.]
5 What about historic Seventh-day Adventists?
Well, what about them? Who are they exactly? Perhaps these have skillfully evaded the effects of captivity. Let’s review our position as historic Seventh-day Adventists:
Review and Discuss:
- There is almost no collective intelligence and action (in Ezra’s day, they rose up as “one man” to build).
- There are almost no shepherds (where are the Pastors?)
- Could the flocks be any more scattered?
- There are multiple winds of doctrine, with no unified defense.
- They possess multiple, disputed names.
- There is no temple (no organized church and few buildings).
- Despite many SDA schools, there are essentially none for God’s true remnant.
- The captivity-like dilemma has not been recognized for what it is.
- As in Jeremiah’s day, false prophesies abound.
- We do not see “eye-to-eye” (see Isaiah 52:8).
- As in Haggai’s time, we have left off building, turning our attention primarily to our country homes and gardens.
Let’s examine a few of these points:
God has appointed both individual and collective will to humans, and both are important. As historic Seventh-day Adventists, we have long exercised our muscle of individual will and action, while our muscle of collective will, intelligence, and action has nigh atrophied. In Heaven, the collective will to action is critical to success in the Great Controversy! What about our collective action? If we are to build, as God would have us build, we must have collective action and collective intelligence.
Let’s illustrate the importance of collective intelligence and action for God’s remnant by comparing our needs to evangelize and educate (rebuild the temple and the wall) with large scale projects in the secular world. There are millions of very talented, intelligent and industrious people in our world, but not a single one of them knows in full how to create and manage a major infrastructure project, build a jet plane or computer, or manage a monetary system. Nor can one person simply assign a specified amount of physical and mental energy to be expended by a group of people working separately and accomplish any of these projects. All of these projects require collective intelligence and action. If the secular world we live in was managed like our gospel work has been, we would all be hungry, tool-poor barterers the world over! The children of darkness are indeed wiser in their generation than the children of light on this point (Luke 16:8, 9).
God, in His infinite wisdom, has given to His church collective tasks in evangelism and education that simply cannot be met exclusively by exercising our talents individually! There are parts of our individual characters that simply cannot be properly developed unless we are at least attempting to work collectively. Unfortunately, many of us have been assuming otherwise. It is a key responsibility of each person in the church with secular employment to be a part of the collective intelligence and will to action that is needed so that gospel workers can be trained and hired!
Winds of Doctrine:
Let’s just focus on one area where the winds of false doctrine have been blowing: false prophesies; which are often coupled with nearly unbridled accusations against our governments.
Conservative Adventism, in general, is indeed ripe with prophesying today. Some truly have rushed in, where angels fear to tread. For example, we’ve been subjected to prophesying of dates for financial collapse, new money, martial law, and terrorism. Many within Adventism have thrown around specific prophetic predictions tied to years (and sometimes to specific dates) such as: 1979, 1981, 1987, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2009. At times we name drop worldly leaders to bolster the accuracy of our claims.
But when these prophecies are left unfulfilled—when Atlanta still stands, where is the repentance, the humility, and the apologies! As each predicted event passes its time unfulfilled, new predictions take their place! The writings of the prophets do indeed tell us with certainty that disaster, of unimaginable proportion, looms. And we have already begun to see the omens of the complete fulfillment of this. But where are the dates? Ellen White tells us that after 1844 we have “no more message based on time.” When will we believe and act on what is said? (Note, for example, that Ellen White foresaw both the great San Francisco earthquake and the destruction of very tall buildings in New York City—but did not tie dates to either event!)
But even worse yet is the fact that some have even dared to tie together the most solemn, life and death issues of the Three Angels’ Messages with these predictions! How can we possibly convince the world of the unerring nature of God’s law, when we publish it side-by-side with political gossip, especially when these conjectures are subsequently found to be in error! And how can we hope to educate political leaders about the great controversy when our time is consumed in criticizing all that is done or attempted by them? We do not have capital to both endlessly criticize and educate; we will often have to choose! Please see Testimonies, vol. 6, 394–397 on this point.
This lesson series is not devoted to studying winds of false doctrine. Had it been, the above example could have been followed by an examination of false doctrines that challenge the divinity of Jesus, the sanctuary, the Holy Spirit and a host of others.
Historic Seventh-day Adventists today have no unified identity.
Seeing Eye to Eye:
Note that Isaiah prophesied in chapter 52 that God’s people would see eye to eye when they were free from their captivity! Has that happened? Would this fact, alone, not indicate that we are in captivity?
Country Homes Come Before Church Building:
In Haggai’s time, God’s people had been called to return to re-build the temple. It was also their privilege to build their own homes, and cultivate their fields. But they had made their personal building and planting a greater priority than building the temple, and were severely rebuked for this. Their crops were cursed. We even find that God temporarily disowned them for this neglect. Today, I fear that many have placed the importance of preparing their property and gardens for the time of trouble ahead of plans to finish building the temple. This is not to say that this preparation is unimportant, but simply to say that we must understand the relative importance of these activities.
This is the message of the prophet Haggai: God’s people could have no success while the church was not complete, and they were not trying to do anything about it! God said that because of their slackness, they would continue to fail to receive rain and fail to produce fruit.
While we certainly hope that it is accurate to state that, in general, historic Seventh-day Adventists have not been party to the basest sins, the fact remains that the effects of a seeming captivity are felt far and wide. All of God’s people seem to be profoundly affected. And if it is not a captivity that we are experiencing, it certainly carries many of the same features.
Studies prepared by John T. Grosboll, PE. John T. is a mechanical engineer living near Vancouver, Washington. His secular employment includes several years of experience in primary metals and transportation-related industries. He, along with his wife Teresa, is actively involved in the work of the Historic Message Church in Portland, Oregon. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.