“Determined men, inspired and urged on by the first great rebel, would have resisted any interference with their plans or their evil course. In the place of the divine precepts they would have substituted laws framed in accordance with the desires of their selfish hearts, in order that they might carry out their purposes.” Review and Herald, December 10, 1903.
God is love.’ 1 John 4:16. His nature, His law, is love. It ever has been; it ever will be. ‘The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,’ whose ‘ways are everlasting,’ changeth not. With Him ‘is no variableness neither shadow of turning.’ Isaiah 57:15; Habakkuk 3:6; James 1:17.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 33.
Long before the creation of this earth and long before sin entered the courts of heaven, the Father and the Son made a covenant to meet and solve the sin problem. Christ offered to become man’s substitute and to die in his place, paying the penalty of eternal death demanded by the law.
The moment rebellion arose, the plan of salvation was placed in motion. In this and future articles we will trace the reformations that were instituted throughout history—God’s attempt to purify a people so they may be restored to the original condition as they came from His hand. It has been said that, “God will purify the church.” We will look at some of the recorded incidents where reform was begun and trace them to their conclusion to ascertain whether the reformation begun was successful or not.
“The plan for our redemption was not an afterthought, a plan formulated after the fall of Adam. It was a revelation of ‘the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal.’ Romans 16:25, R. V. It was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the foundation of God’s throne. From the beginning, God and Christ knew of the apostasy of Satan, and of the fall of man through the deceptive power of the apostate. God did not ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence, and made provision to meet the terrible emergency. So great was His love for the world, that He covenanted to give His only-begotten Son, ‘that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16.” The Desire of Ages, 22.
The great love of God was manifested in the creation of “heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is.” Exodus 20:11. Lucifer complained that Christ was honored above him, therefore, God was unfair and a tyrant. “Little by little Lucifer came to indulge the desire for exaltation. The Scripture says, ‘Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.’ Ezekiel 28:17. ‘Thou hast said in thine heart, . . . I will exalt my throne above the stars of God . . . I will be like the Most High.’ Isaiah 14:13, 14. Though all his glory was from God, this mighty angel came to regard it as pertaining to himself. Not content with his position, though honored above the heavenly host, he ventured to covet homage due only to the Creator.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 35.
The result of his rebellion was exclusion from the heavenly host. Lucifer, along with one third of the angels who had made their decision to follow him, was cast out of heaven. We humans have the same problem that Lucifer had. We think that we are important and wish for exaltation of self, just as he did, and if we do not recognize our pride and surrender our will to God, we will end up in the same lake of fire with the devil. Pride gets in the way so that God cannot use us as He wishes to. We tend to defend our position, because we are right and the other person is wrong.
“Satan’s rebellion was to be a lesson to the universe through all coming ages—a perpetual testimony to the nature of sin and its terrible results. The working out of Satan’s rule, its effects upon both men and angels, would show what must be the fruit of setting aside the divine authority. It would testify that with the existence of God’s government is bound up the well-being of all the creatures He has made. Thus the history of this terrible experiment of rebellion was to be a perpetual safeguard to all holy beings, to prevent them from committing sin, and suffering its penalty.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 42, 43.
Lucifer continued his rebellious actions by coming to earth and tempting Eve with great success, in spite of the fact that she and Adam had been warned about him. She in turn induced Adam to partake of the forbidden fruit. As sinful human beings, Adam and Eve each began to blame the other for their problem. When sin is pointed out in the church, immediately people become defensive and accuse the person who pointed out the errors as being critical and divisive. Due to their sin, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden and the earth was cursed. But before they were put out, they were given the promise of a way of escape from the final retribution demanded by the Law. A Saviour was promised who would redeem the fallen human race.
Immediately after the fall of man, a reformation was begun by God to restore man to his rightful position. “The plan of redemption was arranged in the councils between the Father and the Son. Then Christ pledged Himself to render an account for man if he proved disloyal. He pledged Himself to make an atonement, which would unite every believing soul to God. He who lays His sins upon the substitute and surety, thus becoming a partaker of the divine nature, can unite with the apostle in saying: ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.’ ‘That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.’ In His infinite love Christ devised the plan of salvation. This plan He stands ready to fulfill in behalf of all who will co-operate with Him. In their behalf He says to the Father, Do not impute their sins to them, but lay them on Me. Be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities remember no more. They have accepted My merits, and made peace with Me; and they shall make peace with Me. My righteousness is theirs, and for My sake bless them with all spiritual blessings.” Review and Herald, May 28, 1908.
Man Must Cooperate
In order for the plan of salvation to be successful, man must cooperate with God by complete submission to His will. Jesus said, “I can of Mine own self do nothing . . . I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.” John 5:30. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5.
Seth and Enoch are two men who submitted their wills to the will of God. In spite of the prevailing iniquity that abounded in their time, these men maintained a close connection with God. They had a holy mission to accomplish, that is, to develop a righteous character and to teach the lesson of godliness to men of their time, as well as to future generations. They were reformers of the highest order. Enoch reproved sin and proclaimed that judgments would be poured out upon those who refused to obey the commands of God. His servants are to bare a similar message in the last days. “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” Isaiah 58:1. “Satan with all his angels has come down with great power, to work with every conceivable deception to counterwork the work of God. The Lord has a message for His people. This message will be borne, whether men will accept or reject it.” Manuscript 36, 1897.
God is trying to reform His church, but He cannot bring this about unless we individually surrender fully to Him and follow Jesus, allowing the Holy Spirit to direct our lives. It does not pay for man to attempt to do things his way or to lean on the arm of flesh. Jeremiah warns us, “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:5. Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1.
There are many examples of men who think to fulfill God’s commands their own way. Cain is one example. God said to bring a lamb as an offering, but Cain decided to bring the offering he thought was best. His offering was not accepted and because of that he became angry and ultimately slew his brother. God attempted to reach Cain’s heart and bring about a reform in his life, but he refused to submit to the requirements of Divinity. God will not force us to obey Him, but we will suffer the consequences of our decisions if we choose our way. Cain lost his soul because of his choice to “do it his way.”
In sparing the life of Cain, it was demonstrated what the end result would be of allowing the unrepentant sinner to live forever. It was revealed that the sentence of death pronounced upon the transgressor of God’s law was both just and merciful. “It will be seen that all who have forsaken the divine precepts have placed themselves on the side of Satan, in warfare against Christ. When the prince of this world shall be judged, and all that have united with him shall share his fate, the whole universe as witnesses to the sentence will declare, ‘Just and true are thy ways, Thou King of saints.’ Revelation 15:3.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 79.
Even though the world was in its infancy, the heart of man had become so degraded and evil that God could not allow these men to continue to live. “He said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth.’ He declared that His Spirit should not always strive with the guilty race. If they did not cease to pollute with their sins the world and its rich treasures, He would blot them from His creation, and would destroy the things with which He had delighted to bless them.” Ibid., 92.
Before He does anything to correct a bad situation, God always warns people ahead of time. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7. God sent Noah to warn the world of a coming flood upon the earth. He spent the next one hundred and twenty years not only warning the world of what was coming, but he also built an ark inviting all to enter with him into the ark to escape the judgments of God upon an unrepentant generation. Unfortunately, all that were alive when the flood came refused to listen and repent, and continued their round of pleasure and merriment until the flood came and swept them all away.
Are we so busy with our everyday duties that we do not have time to stop and take a look at where we are and what we are doing? It is necessary that we arrange our priorities making God first in our lives. We need to get serious about our lives and where we are headed. What is more important, eternal life on the earth made new, or the pleasures of sin for a season? God is waiting for a people that will reflect perfectly His character, and then He will come and take us home.
After the flood God started over again. He told Noah to “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” Genesis 9:1. The Lord made a covenant with Noah by setting a bow in the clouds, indicating that there would never again be a universal flood. It was the Divine purpose that man would take dominion of the earth once again and fulfill God’s plan for the peopling of this world by those who would obey His Law and live without sin. The Lord waits for the same kind of people today to represent Him to the world.
Alas, the inhabitants of this planet followed in the footsteps of the antediluvians in their downward trek on the broad path to destruction. “But no sooner was the earth repeopled than men resumed their hostility to God and heaven. They transmitted their enmity to their posterity, as though the art and device of misleading men, and causing them to continue the unnatural warfare, was a sacred legacy.” Letter 4, 1896.
We come now to another people who desired to have their way. Nimrod and his descendants would make a name for themselves by building a tower and a city. “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.” Genesis 11:4. “This confederacy was born of rebellion against God. The dwellers on the plain of Shinar established their kingdom for selfexaltation, not for the glory of God. Had they succeeded, a mighty power would have borne sway, banishing righteousness, and inaugurating a new religion. The world would have been demoralized. The mixture of religious ideas with erroneous theories would have resulted in closing the door to peace, happiness, and security. These suppositions, erroneous theories, carried out and perfected, would have directed minds from allegiance to the divine statues, and the law of Jehovah would have been ignored and forgotten. Determined men, inspired and urged on by the first great rebel, would have resisted any interference with their plans or their evil course. In the place of the divine precepts they would have substituted laws framed in accordance with the desires of their selfish hearts, in order that they might carry out their purposes.” Review and Herald, December 10, 1903.
The Lord had told men to scatter over the earth, but mankind disobeyed the word of God. Once again God intervenes to stop man in his determination to have his own way. Only this time there was not a universal destruction, only the knocking down of a part of the tower and confounding of the language.
When Jesus comes the second time, He will destroy the wicked from off the face of the earth by the brightness of His coming. But the righteous will be preserved from the destruction that takes place all around them. God will be their refuge. “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee.” Psalm 91:9, 10. May we make Christ our refuge and strength in the days that lie ahead.