God Never Quits He Keeps Appealing

As Seventh-day Adventists, we could identify with Samson, in particular regarding young Seventh-day Adventists who have been raised in the Adventist faith and teachings, but who like Samson, have come to a point in their life where they have said, “That’s it. I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to live my life, I just want,” as Samson said, “to please myself well.” There are several reasons why this is happening:

  • Compromise
  • Legalism
  • Turned off or hurt by the church
  • They just decide to leave
  • Trials, heartache, loss or trauma

None of these are a good reason to leave Jesus because He is true and faithful to us whether we are faithful to Him or not, but some people leave for one or a combination of these reasons.

“Had Samson obeyed the divine commands as faithfully as his parents had done, his would have been a nobler and happier destiny. But association with idolaters corrupted him. The town of Zorah being near the country of the Philistines, Samson came to mingle with them on friendly terms. Thus in his youth intimacies sprang up, the influence of which darkened his whole life. A young woman dwelling in the Philistine town of Timnath engaged Samson’s affections, and he determined to make her his wife. To his God-fearing parents, who endeavored to dissuade him from his purpose, his only answer was ‘She pleaseth me well’ (Judges 14:3, last part). The parents at last yielded to his wishes, and the marriage took place.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 562.

Some people say this is where Samson’s parents went wrong; they compromised. Telling his parents to arrange the marriage was merely a formality. Samson was a grown man. Had they said no, he would most probably still have done it. Samson’s parents simply recognized that they weren’t going to change his mind. This left the door open so that he could return if things didn’t turn out as planned. It is an example to us as well for our children, to return rather than being too embarrassed or afraid to seek us out at a time they need us most. We should tell them if we do not agree with their decision, but we need to recognize that it is their choice to make and yet be available should they need us. One thing we can be sure of, Samson’s parents did not stop praying for their son, and we also should continue to pray for our children, interceding with God on their behalf.

Ultimately our children have a mind and a conscience of their own. They have the liberty as free moral agents when they become adults to make their own decisions. As parents, we are not responsible for those decisions. When children begin to make their own decisions, to do their “own thing,” they are responsible for their own choices and their own lives. We are only responsible to confess and repent of our own shortcomings.

If a young person has left the church for any one or all of the five reasons listed above, we all need to know something about God: He does not give up. You can’t just simply ignore Him and His calling for your life, because He will leave no stone unturned until He has given you every opportunity to return. You can leave, you can please yourself, you can watch what you want, go where you want, wear what you want, marry who you want, but ultimately God will say to you, “Let’s try this one more time.” That is the God that we serve.

Samson’s parents were unable to change his mind. Then is stated one of the most interesting verses in the Bible. It says, “His father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel” (Judges 14:4 KJV).

As we look at this story in Judges 14 and 15, we find God’s people are in apostasy. As a result, God allows the enemy to overcome them. The children of Israel cry out to Him to save them, and God raises up a deliverer. Samson was a judge among the Israelites and was meant to be an example for the people. God had a mission laid out for him, a purpose to deliver the Israelites from the dominion of the Philistines, the enemies of God.

Every chapter in the book of Judges tells about a judge who had a mission, except for chapter 9 which tells us about Abimelech who was not a judge, but a usurper. Ehud, Othniel, Gideon, Deborah, and Jephthah each had a mission that they fulfilled. But in Judges 14 and 15 we find a judge who is called from birth with miraculous powers, in the spirit of God, a Nazarite consecrated to be the deliverer of God’s people. And what was his mission? To get married.

So looking at these two chapters, we will be looking at Samson’s life as it relates to Judges 14:4. Was Samson fulfilling God’s mission for him at this time? No. Does God want us to marry people who are not of our faith? No. So how could this be of the Lord?

The Bible tells us that God’s ways are not our ways. “ ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. … So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it’ ” (Isaiah 55:8, 9, 11). So even if we blunder, God’s purposes will still be fulfilled.

Looking at Isaiah 55:11 from The Bible in Basic English (BBE) translation, it says, “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth: it will not come back to Me with nothing done, but it will give effect to My purpose, and do that for which I have sent it.” God’s purposes are not limited by you and me. He wants us to cooperate with Him and co-labor with Him, but even if we refuse, things will still work out according to His will.

We see clearly from Samson’s experience that we can be in line with God’s will and fulfill His purpose in cooperation with Him or we can indirectly be used by Him to fulfill His purpose. And this is where we find Samson. If you are a young person trying to live your own life and leave out the things that you learned as a young Adventist, this is the experience you will have.

“Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done” (Judges 14:5, 6 KJV).

There are some things that we need to stress here. First of all, Samson was walking alone through the vineyards having separated from his parents somewhere along the journey. According to the Nazarite vows he was not to have anything to do with wine, but here he is walking through the vineyard. Then he is attacked by a lion. The Bible says, “… your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8, last part). So we see Samson walking in a place where he should not be walking and then the lion appears, but notice how he overcomes the lion. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him and that is when he had the power. “ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). In order to overcome temptation, even if on temptation’s ground, you need the Spirit of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “… but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Claim that promise when you fall into hard times. God is powerful and if you trust in Him, even in the worst circumstances, He can show you what He can do in your life, just as we see here.

Returning to the story, several months later Samson is on his way to Timnath to be married. He decides to stop at the vineyard to see what has happened to the lion he killed. The lion is now nothing but bones, but bees have made a hive in the bones and Samson scoops out some honey to eat and he took some to give to his parents. This lion is an unclean, dead thing and to touch it was a violation of his Nazarite vow. You will also recall that Samson had not told his parents that he had killed the lion. Samson repeatedly shows himself to be an intemperate man; though strong physically, he was morally weak.

Samson’s decision to marry the woman from Timnath was not a wise one. Remember, God’s instructions to Israel when they went into the promised land, “When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites … and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly” (Deuteronomy 7:1–4).

There is a valid reason why the Bible tells us not to have close association with friends or family who are not interested in or who despise spiritual things. It says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:33). How often do we surround ourselves with people who have no desire to know God, no desire for the Word believing that we will witness to them, but instead we are influenced by them, and our standard of holiness is lowered just like Samson? Booker T. Washington said, “Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than to be in bad company.”

“At his marriage feast Samson was brought into familiar association with those who hated the God of Israel. Whoever voluntarily enters into such relations will feel it necessary to conform, to some degree, to the habits and customs of his companions. The time thus spent is worse than wasted. Thoughts are entertained and words are spoken that tend to break down the strongholds of principle and to weaken the citadel of the soul.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 563. This will happen to all of us. We are drawn to and influenced by the things arounds us. We are not strong enough to resist and very subtly, we become demoralized by those with whom we associate.

Associating with these Philistine fellows, Samson bragged showing them what an intelligent guy he was by giving them a riddle. If they were not able to answer the riddle, then they would have to give him some clothing, but if they were able to find the answer to the riddle, then he would give them the clothing. Here was the riddle:

“Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet” (Judges 14:14).

Of course, this riddle was about the lion Samson had killed and the honey in the lion’s bones, but the Philistines were unable to figure it out. Not wanting to lose, they demanded Samson’s new wife to find out the answer to the riddle or they would kill her and her family. She begged Samson to tell her the answer, but he refused. Becoming very insistent because she had been threatened, she said, “ ‘You only hate me! You do not love me! You have posed a riddle to the sons of my people, but you have not explained it to me’ ” (Judges 14:16). Samson told her that he had not even told his parents, so why would he tell her? But, “Now she had wept on him for seven days while the feast lasted. And it happened on the seventh day [because he had no peace] that he told her, because she pressed him so much. Then she explained the riddle to the sons of her people” (Judges 14:17). Then the Philistines came to him with the answer to the riddle. “And he said to them: ‘If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would have not solved my riddle’ ” (Judges 14:18, last part)!

So what is all this really about? Let’s think about it: Samson was a Nazarite, a judge, from birth given a special mission or purpose by God to deliver the Israelites out of the hands of His enemies, the Philistines, but what was Samson doing? He was associating with the enemy, taking a wife from among them. At that moment he had no interest at all in God’s plan. He associated with the enemy, he gave them a riddle, made a bet with them and then felt betrayed when they did wrong to him. Then, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house” (Judges 14:19 KJV). This is the first mention of Samson doing anything against the Philistines and what was his reason? He had to pay a debt. He felt betrayed, he was angry, so he killed 30 men from Ashkelon to give their clothes as payment for the debt and went home.

Time passed and Samson determined to see his wife again. But her father, believing that Samson had completely forsaken her, gave her as wife to Samson’s friend and offered him her younger sister. His response is found in Judges 15:3–5 KJV: “Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure [or hurt]. And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between the two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.”

This was an agricultural society and losing the corn in the fields, the vineyards and olives might not mean a lot to us today, but that is how people then survived. By Samson’s actions, their livelihood is ruined. We do not know how many people may have died from famine because of what Samson had done.

So, let’s take a closer look at why Samson did this. The father of Samson’s wife had given her to another man because Samson had left and the father thought he would not be coming back. Samson left because he felt betrayed when his wife had pressured him to give her the answer to the riddle when her life and the lives of her family were being threatened. But ultimately, if Samson had not chosen to befriend the Philistines and marry a Philistine woman, none of this would have happened in the first place. So who was really to blame for this and all the terrible consequences?

The Philistines, realizing that Samson was responsible for the destruction because his wife had been given to another man, went where the woman and her father were and burned the whole house down killing them inside. “And Samson said unto them, ‘Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.’ And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam” (Judges 15:7, 8 KJV).

Do we see Samson consulting with God before he does any of these things? Has he asked as David did when he said, “Lord, shall I go up, shall I not go up. Shall I forebear?” No. He killed 30 men in Ashkelon, then he destroyed the crops and the economy of one of the Philistine cities which would result in many deaths and killed a great number of people. As a result, his wife and her family are horrifically killed by her own people. So what are we seeing here? Samson was not thinking of God at all. His sole desire was to please himself and seek revenge for the slights and betrayals that he had suffered. Yet, he was indirectly fulfilling God’s mission for him as the deliverer of Israel.

By this time the Philistines were really upset and they went down to Judah to find him. They told the people of Judah, “ ‘We have come up to arrest Samson, to do to him as he has done to us’ ” (Judges 15:9, 10, last part).  How did the people of Israel respond? Three thousand of Samson’s own people came to him at Etam and said, “ ‘Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? What is this you have done to us?’ … ‘We have come down to arrest you, that we may deliver you into the hand of the Philistines’ ” (Judges 15:11, 12). Not wanting to harm his own people, he allowed them to take him as long as they swore not to kill him themselves. They bound him with two new ropes and took him to the Philistines.

We need to understand from Samson’s story that if God has a purpose for your life, you cannot escape it. Samson’s whole issue at this point was “ ‘As they did to me, so I have done to them’ ” (verse 11). Is there anything about the Lord here on his mind? No. That’s the reason he was in this situation. He wasn’t interested in doing God’s will, he just wanted to please himself. Even still, God’s will was fulfilled.

The Bible then says in Judges 15:14, “The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands.” Samson took the jawbone of a donkey and again takes revenge on the Philistines killing a thousand men. “Then Samson said: ‘With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps, with the jawbone of a donkey I have slain a thousand men!’ And so it was, when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand, and called that place Ramath Lehi” (Judges 15:16, 17). Samson gave himself the glory for what he had done.

So what happened to finally make Samson see that he was not in control of his life? Verse 18, first part, says, “Then he became very thirsty, so he cried out to the Lord.” For the first time in this entire story that you see Samson call on the Lord. Continuing in verse 18, “ ‘You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant; and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?’ ” Samson still sounded a bit arrogant, but God knew his heart and answered his prayer, cleaving a hollow place so that water would come gushing out (verse 19). Without water, Samson would have died. He thought he was so mighty and strong, but he realized he had a need. When he called on God, God filled that need. After he drank his fill, he renamed the place where he had killed all the Philistines from Ramath Lehi (the lifting up of the jawbone) to En Hakkore (fountain of one calling).

As the dust settled, the screaming stopped, the clanking of armor died down and the survivors had all run away, Samson looked around and realized that the very thing he had been running from had found him anyway and everything he had wanted, he had lost. He had been running for so long and finally he realized the very thing he had wanted nothing to do with was the one thing he couldn’t get away from – the purpose God had for his life.

Friends, if you have fallen off the path, given up, or felt like you have no purpose anymore because of compromise, legalism, apostasy in your church, or because you wanted to see what the world was like, or because of trial or trauma, you will finally realize that the Lord’s way is always better. His purpose for you is for you to love Him with all your heart, soul and mind, to love your neighbor as yourself and to go home with Him. That is His purpose for all of us.

Jesus, I love You and I want to be Your child,

but for now I’m busy, will You come back in a while.

I’m sorry, Lord, but for now I have other things to do.

It’s just in the plans I’ve made, I’ve made no time for You.

How many times have you pushed the Lord aside

to make room for your foolish, earthly pride?


Time and time, God waits for you to open up to Him,

but instead of giving Him our hearts, we cast Him out again.

Jesus, I’m sorry, Lord, for the way that I have been.

Pushing you aside for things that always seem to win.


Now my eyes are open, Lord, and I can see Your light

shining on my pathway to eternal life.

His desire is to save us, and He will not leave one stone unturned until He has given us every opportunity to make that decision.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor Damien Jenkins was raised in a non-religious home, but at the age of 18 was introduced to the Gospel and his life was forever changed. Today he is pastor of the Water of Life Free Seventh-day Adventist church in Hohenwald, Tennessee. He enjoys apologetics, Bible history, expounding on the topic of righteousness by faith and making the Bible simple and easy to understand.

Purpose and Pleasure

If this Covid-19 pandemic has done anything good, it would be the opportunity to be together as a family. Too often, the cares and demands of the world: making a living, the care and upkeep of the physical dwelling, even participation in church activities and responsibilities, have made us unaware of the needs within our own home. As a minister of the gospel, I spend my time tending to the needs of others, so when our ability to freely move about was restricted and I had the opportunity to spend more time with my family, I was able to more clearly see the needs of my own house and my own life.

We hear so many things these days about the end of time, the mark of the beast, the slow erosion of religious liberty, forces in the background manipulating everything in the world; and they cause us concern. But as a Seventh-day Adventist parent, we often hear the words we never want to hear from a child. “Dad. Mom. I already know all this stuff. I’ve heard it my whole life. I get it about love, but this is all over my head and I just want to live my life, hang out with my friends, do and be what I want.”

The first thought is, what did I do wrong? Young people losing or leaving their faith and the church is happening throughout Adventism. God has a message for us. He has a purpose for your life, youth and adult. And we can find that message in one of the most familiar stories in the Bible. Beginning in Judges 13, we find the story of Samson, a young man for whom God had a purpose, but who had his own ideas about how he wanted to live his life. The story of Samson is one both of tragedy and redemption.

Judges 13:1–5 says, “Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years. Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, ‘Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.’ ”

Then we see that Manoah and his wife sought the messenger and asked God to send him again so that Manoah might hear the instructions that had earlier been given to his wife regarding their son. He returns and at first they believe He is a prophet, but as the conversation continues, Manoah and his wife realize that the Angel of the Lord who has delivered this message to them is actually the Son of God; that through Him, they have been speaking with God (Judges 13:22). Finally, in Judges 13:24 and 25 we read, “So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him … .”

As a Nazarite, an individual would be consecrated to God and a vow taken to commit himself for a holy purpose. Numbers 6:3, 4 gives us a clear understanding of the life of a Nazarite. It says, “… he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink; he shall drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from similar drink; neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from seed to skin.” The Nazarite was held to a higher standard regarding diet much like Seventh-day Adventists today. Continuing in Numbers 6, “All the days of the vow of his separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. All the days that he separates himself to the Lord he shall not go near a dead body … he shall be holy to the Lord” (verses 5, 6, 8).

Judges 13:5, 6 and Numbers 6:5 confirm,  that Samson’s hair was divided into seven locks and was not to be cut, as a Nazarite’s hair was a sign of his consecration to God. The seven locks is a parallel to the seventh-day Sabbath which is a sign of consecration of those who keep it. God’s purpose for Samson was that he would begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

So, we find that from the day Samson was born, he was consecrated to the Lord for a holy purpose. He took a vow of commitment to that purpose. He refrained from strong drink and ate according to a specific diet. Also, his hair was never to be cut as a sign of his consecration to God. It is likely that he was reminded daily of his holy purpose, not just by his parents, but by his diet, the length of his hair and by the fact that he could not partake in certain things. He knew he was to deliver his people from the Philistines. A weighty expectation to live with.

As Samson grew, he began to associate with the Philistines and friendships developed. When he became a young man, he was well aware of the Nazarite vow he had taken and the restrictions that accompanied that vow, but he began to look around and the world looked inviting. He began to socialize more with the Philistines when a young woman came to his attention in the city of Timnah whom he determined should become his wife.

Samson went to his parents and said, “ ‘I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife’ ” (Judges 14:2).

His parents’ response, found in verse 3, was, “ ‘Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?’ And Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me, for she pleases me well.’ ”

“Just as he was entering upon manhood, the time when he must execute his divine mission—the time above all others when he should have been true to God—Samson connected himself with the enemies of Israel. He did not ask whether he could better glorify God when united with the object of his choice, or whether he was placing himself in a position where he could not fulfill the purpose to be accomplished by his life.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 563.

Samson’s only interest was in pleasing himself. “To all who seek first to honor Him, God has promised wisdom; but there is no promise to those who are bent upon self-pleasing.” Ibid.

Though his parents tried to dissuade him, Samson was determined to go his own way, so Manoah and his wife yielded to his wishes and he married the woman from Timnah.

Friends, consider how Samson is an example of what is happening in the Seventh-day Adventist Church today, primarily with our young people. As children of God, we also are called to be separate, consecrated for a holy purpose. 1 John 3:1 tells us, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”

In addition, notice what we find in 1 Peter 1:15: “… but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” We have been called to be holy in our conversation and lifestyle. We read further, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Here is a picture of God calling Christians to be separate from the world like the Nazarites of the Old Testament.

Luke 4:18 and 19 tells us what our mission is. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” This is the same message Jesus gave to the apostles in Matthew 28:19 and 20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” This is a God-given commission for His people.

As God’s people, we have been instructed regarding our diet (see Revelation 22:2). We have been given the Sabbath day as a holy day, consecrated and set apart to commune with God (see Ezekiel 20:12). Samson was strong because he did not cut his hair, but his strength was not in his hair, rather in his relationship with and obedience to God. It is the same with the Sabbath. The power is not in the Sabbath, but in our relationship with God and that we obey His commandment to keep the seventh day holy. Our purpose is to love God and love man; and in loving and serving Him, we will desire to love and serve others (see Matthew 22:37–39). Once we know what God has done for us, we will want to share it with others. The more time we spend with Christ, the more feelings and affections we will have for other people.

We are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and spirit and when we do this, when He is in our hearts, then His purpose for our lives will become our pleasure. We will seek to fulfill His purpose for our lives. Without Him in our hearts, we will love the things that turn us from His purpose. There are so many things that can and will distract us from doing God’s purpose, if we allow it. This is particularly so for young people.

We preach the three angels’ messages found in Revelation 14:6–12 warning people of the coming judgment. We preach about Babylon and prophecy, the seal of God and the mark of the beast. We raise our children with the Bible. We have camp meetings, Revelation seminars, evangelistic meetings. We live a temperate lifestyle. We keep the Sabbath. We provide biblical instruction to our children and diligently work to raise them to follow and obey the Lord. But even with all of this, everything that is available to them, they do something that seems so contrary to what we would expect.

Let me give you an example. We have all heard the name J. P. Morgan. His father, Junius Spencer Morgan was a financial businessman who learned and trained under the house of Rothschild. His purpose and intention for his son was to make him a better financial investment businessman than he was himself. Did he succeed? Yes, he did. The father was responsible for how the son presented himself. This is a worldly example. How much more then, as Christians, are we responsible for how our children are raised?

We live in a broken world and because of that, there are broken homes, so this may not apply to everyone in the strictest sense. Not all homes have the privilege of having two parents in the household, but in those homes where both parents are present, we need to be diligent that we are taking advantage of the opportunity of being in touch with our children, of connecting with them.

There are Adventist parents who come to the pastor or Sabbath School teacher because they are having trouble with their child and expect the pastor or teacher to fix the problem. The question to be asked is, “What are you, the parents, doing?” Many fathers and mothers place the responsibility of seeing their child converted into the hands of others. Do not depend on others to do the work of training your children in the way that they should go. Follow the example of Manoah and his wife before and after the birth of Samson, be responsible for your own life and relationship with God and bear the responsibility toward your children, with prayer and searching for God’s guidance in their lives as well.

We must heed the guidance provided in The Adventist Home, page 190, “Some parents do not understand their children and are not really acquainted with them. There is often a great distance between parents and children. If the parents would enter more fully into the feelings of their children and draw out what is in their hearts, it would have a beneficial influence upon them.

“The father and the mother should work together in full sympathy with each other. They should make themselves companions to their children.

“Parents should study the best and most successful manner of winning the love and confidence of their children, that they may lead them in the right path. They should reflect the sunshine of love upon the household.”

We must encourage and commend our children. As Adventists, we tend to focus on all the don’ts and when a child does something right, our feeling is, that’s what they were supposed to do. We seem to feel that encouragement and commendation are bad, but notice what it says, “Young children love companionship and can seldom enjoy themselves alone. They yearn for sympathy and tenderness. That which they enjoy they think will please mother also, and it is natural for them to go to her with their little joys and sorrows. The mother should not wound their sensitive hearts by treating with indifference matters that, though trifling to her, are of great importance to them. Her sympathy and approval are precious. An approving glance, a word of encouragement or commendation, will be like sunshine in their hearts, often making the whole day happy.

“Parents should encourage their children to confide in them and unburden to them their heart griefs, their little daily annoyances and trials.

“Kindly instruct them and bind them to your hearts. It is a critical time for children. Influences will be thrown around them to wean them from you which you must counteract. Teach them to make you their confidant. Let them whisper in your ear their trials and joys.

“Children would be saved from many evils if they would be more familiar with their parents. Parents should encourage in their children a disposition to be open and frank with them, to come to them with their difficulties and, when they are perplexed as to what course is right, to lay the matter just as they view it before the parents and ask their advice.” The Adventist Home, 190, 191.

This also requires that the father and mother are connected, individually, with God, and by God’s grace, to each other. Without this, there will only be discord and strife. There are books and many other resources that can be of help. I strongly recommend The Adventist Home.

We must ask ourselves these questions: How much time do I spend praying for my spouse? How much time do I spend praying for my children? How often do I interact with them and ask them how they are feeling, how they are doing? If your response is, “Not enough,” then a change must be made. We must make ourselves available to our children, even be vulnerable. Let them see that you struggle with weakness just as they do.

Do not imagine that there is no help at all from your church family. Older individuals with more life experience and married couples can be guardians and a help to young people. Even the pastor and teacher can help, but the responsibility of the salvation of your children belongs to you.

Following are four reasons that I believe explain why young people are losing and leaving their faith.

  1. Compromise – Is there compromise in your home? If so, it is likely that as your children grow they will begin to do things they have observed rather than as they were taught. For example, have you violated the edges of the Sabbath by heading to an activity or event that is not acceptable for the Sabbath rest and before the Sabbath hours are completely passed?
  2. Legalism/Too much head knowledge – We have so much powerful information/doctrine that is stimulating to the mind. The Seventh-day Adventist teachings really grab the intellect. But the danger is that we can fill our young people with so much head knowledge, yet we leave out the Giver and the Teacher of the doctrine. There is nothing wrong with knowledge and doctrine, but if what you teach does not lead your children to a relationship with God that changes the heart and mind, then it is meaningless.
  3. Turned off by the Church – How often do we observe that God’s people are not perfect? Gossiping, backbiting, church politics, hypocrisy; all these things can simply wear out a person. These may be legitimate reasons to become disillusioned by your church, but they are not real reasons to leave.
  4. They Just Decide to Leave – This probably surprises us the most, mainly because the general feeling is that if our children do not stay in the faith, we must have done something wrong. Let me ask a question: Can you think of a single case in the history of the world, after sin entered, that there were perfect parents? No, not one. But here is another question: When Lucifer sinned, what did God do wrong? Parents do the best they can. They raise their children to love the Saviour. They encourage them to read the Bible and learn its promises. God gave us all a free will. You can train your children while you can, but when they reach a certain age, they choose for themselves. Too many parents carry the burden that because their children have left the faith, it must be their fault in some way when it is simply that many Adventist young people choose to do as they please.

Let’s look again at Samson. “And he came up and told his father and his mother, and said, ‘I have seen a woman in Timnah … Get her for me, for she pleases me well.’ ” Samson was clear on the purpose God had for him. He had lived his whole life as a Nazarite, but he chose to follow his own desires. He was not considering what would bring glory to God or if he was placing himself in a position where he would be unable to fulfill that purpose.

Maybe you relate to the story of Samson. Maybe you are a parent watching your child potentially throwing his or her life away on frivolous pursuits. Maybe you are a child who is turned off by the church or is just tired of all the knowledge and strictness of the faith. You need to know that it was God’s pleasure to die for you. Hebrews 12:2 says, “… looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” His pleasure was to fulfill His purpose in saving you and me. You, too, can have pleasure in following His purpose for your life.

I am reminded of a song written years ago by Keith Green. He lived a life of rock and roll, but God changed his heart. Maybe this is you.

My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to You and dead to me

But what can be done
For an old heart like mine
Soften it up
With oil and wine
The oil is You
Your Spirit of love
Please wash me anew
With the wine of Your blood

My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to You and dead to me

We must ask the Lord to help us see that doing what is outside His will, will hurt us. But when we do what pleases Him, we will never go wrong.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor Damien Jenkins was raised in a non-religious home, but at the age of 18 was introduced to the Gospel and his life was forever changed. Today he is pastor of the Water of Life Free Seventh-day Adventist church in Hohenwald, TN. He enjoys apologetics, Bible history, expounding on the topic of righteousness by faith and making the Bible simple and easy to understand.

Bible Study Guides – Guidance for Home Educators

August 16 – 22, 2020

Key Text

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4).

Study Help: Child Guidance, 17–25, 119–136.


“What the parents are, that, to a great extent, the children will be. The physical conditions of the parents, their dispositions and appetites, their mental and moral tendencies, are, to a greater or less degree, reproduced in their children.” The Ministry of Healing, 371.



  • What responsibility rests on parents as the first educators of children? Deuteronomy 6:6–9.

Note: “As a preparation for teaching His precepts, God commands that they be hidden in the hearts of the parents. ‘These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart,’ He says; ‘and thou shalt teach them diligently’ (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7). In order to interest our children in the Bible, we ourselves must be interested in it. To awaken in them a love for its study, we must love it.” Education, 187.

  • Who was instrumental in establishing the faith of Timothy? 2 Timothy 1:5. What vital role do mothers play in every facet of education?

Note: “Especially does responsibility rest upon the mother. She, by whose lifeblood the child is nourished and its physical frame built up, imparts to it also mental and spiritual influences that tend to the shaping of mind and character.” The Ministry of Healing, 372.



  • With the examples of Abraham and Lot before us, what considerations should take precedence in the choice of a home? Genesis 13:11, 12.

Note: “In choosing a home, God would have us consider, first of all, the moral and religious influences that will surround us and our families. …

“Instead of dwelling where only the works of men can be seen, where the sights and sounds frequently suggest thoughts of evil, where turmoil and confusion bring weariness and disquietude, go where you can look upon the works of God. Find rest of spirit in the beauty and quietude and peace of nature. …

“The home of our first parents was to be a pattern for other homes as their children should go forth to occupy the earth. … The blue heavens were its dome; the earth, with its delicate flowers and carpet of living green, was its floor; and the leafy branches of the goodly trees were its canopy. Its walls were hung with the most magnificent adornings—the handiwork of the great Master Artist. In the surroundings of the holy pair was a lesson for all time—that true happiness is found, not in the indulgence of pride and luxury, but in communion with God through His created works.” The Adventist Home, 131, 132.

  • What choice of location did John the Baptist make in view of his mission? Matthew 3:1.

Note: “John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, received his early training from his parents. The greater portion of his life was spent in the wilderness. … It was John’s choice to forego the enjoyments and luxuries of city life for the stern discipline of the wilderness. Here his surroundings were favorable to habits of simplicity and self-denial.” The Adventist Home, 133.

“There is not one family in a hundred who will be improved physically, mentally, or spiritually, by residing in the city.” Country Living, 13.

“Parents can secure small homes in the country, with land for cultivation where they can have orchards and where they can raise vegetables and small fruits. … God will help His people to find such homes outside of the cities.” Medical Ministry, 310.



  • Whom has God ordained to be the child’s first teachers? Proverbs 1:8.

Note: “Parents should be the only teachers of their children until they have reached eight or ten years of age. As fast as their minds can comprehend it, the parents should open before them God’s great book of nature. The mother should have less love for the artificial in her house and in the preparation of her dress for display, and should find time to cultivate, in herself and in her children, a love for the beautiful buds and opening flowers. By calling the attention of her children to their different colors and variety of forms, she can make them acquainted with God, who made all the beautiful things which attract and delight them. She can lead their minds up to their Creator and awaken in their young hearts a love for their heavenly Father, who has manifested so great love for them. Parents can associate God with all His created works. The only schoolroom for children from eight to ten years of age should be in the open air amid the opening flowers and nature’s beautiful scenery. And their only textbook should be the treasures of nature. These lessons, imprinted upon the minds of young children amid the pleasant, attractive scenes of nature, will not be soon forgotten.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 137.

“In His wisdom the Lord has decreed that the family shall be the greatest of all educational agencies. It is in the home that the education of the child is to begin. Here is his first school.” The Adventist Home, 182.

  • What counsel should encourage parents to educate their own children as long as possible? Psalm 34:13, 14.

Note: “Some fathers and mothers are so indifferent, so careless, that they think it makes no difference whether their children attend a church school or a public school. ‘We are in the world,’ they say, ‘and we cannot get out of it.’ But, parents, we can get a good way out of the world, if we choose to do so. We can avoid seeing many of the evils that are multiplying so fast in these last days. We can avoid hearing about much of the wickedness and crime that exist.” The Adventist Home, 406.

“Neither the church school nor the college affords the opportunities for establishing a child’s character building upon the right foundation that are afforded in the home.” Child Guidance, 170.



  • How are parents to educate their children in order to best prepare them to be responsible adults? Proverbs 22:6.

Note: “Children as well as parents have important duties in the home. They should be taught that they are a part of the home firm. They are fed and clothed and loved and cared for; and they should respond to these many mercies by bearing their share of the home burdens and bringing all the happiness possible into the family of which they are members.

“Let every mother teach her children that they are members of the family firm and must bear their share of the responsibilities of this firm. Every member of the family should bear these responsibilities as faithfully as church members bear the responsibilities of church relationships.

“Let the children know that they are helping father and mother by doing little errands. Give them some work to do for you, and tell them that afterward they can have a time to play.

“Children have active minds, and they need to be employed in lifting the burdens of practical life. … They should never be left to pick up their own employment. Parents should control this matter themselves.” The Adventist Home, 282.

“Allow them to help you in every way they can, and show them that you appreciate their help. Let them feel that they are a part of the family firm. Teach them to use their minds as much as possible, so to plan their work that they may do it quickly and thoroughly.” Child Guidance, 126.

  • What character trait is essential for usefulness? Proverbs 22:29.

Note: “One of the surest safeguards of the young is useful occupation. Children who are trained to industrious habits, so that all their hours are usefully and pleasantly employed … are in little danger of forming vicious habits or associations. …

“Habits of industry and thoroughness will be an untold blessing to the youth in the larger school of life, upon which they must enter as they grow older.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 122, 123.



  • How does the Bible describe the sacred work of heads of families? Psalm 128; Isaiah 8:18.

Note: “Parents, you carry responsibilities that no one can bear for you. As long as you live, you are accountable to God to keep His way. … Parents who make the word of God their guide, and who realize how much their children depend upon them for the characters they form, will set an example that it will be safe for their children to follow.” The Adventist Home, 187.

“After the minister has done all he can do for the church by faithful, affectionate admonition, patient discipline, and fervent prayer to reclaim and save the soul, yet is not successful, the fathers and mothers often blame him because their children are not converted, when it may be because of their own neglect. The burden rests with the parents; and will they take up the work that God has entrusted to them, and with fidelity perform it?” Testimonies, vol. 5, 495.

“Do not depend upon the teachers of the Sabbath school to do your work of training your children in the way they should go. The Sabbath school is a great blessing; it may help you in your work, but it can never take your place. God has given to all fathers and mothers the responsibility of bringing their children to Jesus, teaching them how to pray and believe in the word of God.” The Adventist Home, 189.



1    Why are parents considered the primary educators of children?

2    How is the environment of the home related to the work of education?

3    What are the potential results of young children spending every day away from home?

4    How is the home education central to usefulness for the rest of your life?

5    Why are some parents tempted to blame the church for their own failures?

© 2019, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Message to Parents

Recently there have been repeatedly given to me messages of warning and instruction to parents, pointing out the need of diligent effort, and of seeking the Lord with close searching of heart and with earnestness of purpose. God desires us as a people to stand in a position where we shall honor Him; and we can do this only as we humble our hearts before God, bringing ourselves and our families into right relation to Him. We are safe only when we stand under the broad shield of Omnipotence. Only there can God work through us to will and to do of His good pleasure, as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

The Lord desires to see both the youth and those older brought into a sacred nearness to Himself. Christ is not here in person, as in the days of His earthly ministry, to teach the youth; but it is the privilege of parents and teachers so to represent Christ in word and character that the light of heaven will shine into the hearts of the youth, and many will be converted to Christ.

Parents have a great and important work before them. With an eye single to the glory of God, they must work to fashion the characters of their children after the perfect pattern. Who is this pattern?—It is the Son of God. Christ came to this world as a human being, that He might by His example teach men and women how to bring their lives into conformity to the will of God. He speaks to fathers and mothers, saying, “Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Christ is to be the teacher of those who must train the youth. The law of the Lord is to be their rule of life, for this law is to be written on the hearts of the youth, or they will never obey the truth of God’s word. All the will must be yielded to God; He demands entire obedience. If the youth will learn of Him, Christ will impart to them the knowledge and wisdom needed to serve Him acceptably.

Fathers and mothers, how can I find words to describe your great responsibility! By the character you reveal before your children you are educating them to serve God or to serve self. Then offer to heaven your earnest prayers for the aid of the Holy Spirit, that your hearts may be sanctified, and that the course you pursue may honor God and win your children to Christ. It should give to parents a sense of the solemnity and sacredness of their task, when they realize that by careless speech or action they may lead their children astray.

Parents need the guardianship of God and His Word. If they do not heed the counsels of the Word of God, if they do not make the Bible the man of their counsel, the rule of their life, their children will grow careless and will walk in paths of disobedience and unbelief. Christ lived a life of toil and self-denial, and died a death of shame, that He might give an example of the spirit that should inspire and control His followers. As in their home life parents strive to be Christ-like, heavenly influences will be shed abroad in the lives of their family.

In every Christian home God should be honored by the morning and evening sacrifices of praise and prayer. Every morning and evening earnest prayers should ascend to God for His blessing and guidance. Will the Lord of heaven pass by such homes, and leave no blessing there?—Nay, verily. Angels hear the offering of praise and the prayer of faith, and they bear the petitions to Him who ministers in the sanctuary for His people, and pleads His merits in their behalf. True prayer takes hold upon Omnipotence, and gives men the victory. Upon his knees the Christian obtains strength to resist temptation.

As laborers together with God, parents, you are to carry out His plans for your children. This will call for continual watch-care, unceasing effort; for the enemy of souls is on the alert to lead them astray. So long as you live, your responsibility for them will not end. Your interest in their spiritual welfare must be deep and constant. But by your ministry for them, in cooperation with the Spirit of God, they may be led to see God’s purpose for them, and to accept His will for the disposition of their lives. Who can estimate the value of faithful work in the home? In the midst of difficulties and unceasing care, it is the privilege of parents to look forward to the joys of eternity, and by the eye of faith behold the reward of the faithful.

Until every member of your family is united with you in the faith, do not feel that you can relax your efforts. Through the pleasures and ambitions of the world, the enemy is working to draw the youth into his ranks, and he has much success. As we approach nearer to the close of time, he will invent every possible attraction to draw their minds into worldly channels. At this time we need a pure and undefiled religion. And if parents will make the training of their children their chief work, God will give them increased ability.

God calls us to come out from the world and be separate. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” Christ declared. If we are indulging habits that unfit us for a place in the kingdom of heaven, let us in Christ’s strength overcome these habits. By our example of surrender to the will of God, we are to teach our children that if they would inherit eternal life, they must consecrate their lives to Him. If we share the joys of the redeemed in the future life, we must give no place in this life to foolishness and pride and vanity. We are to be overcomers over everything that wars against the principles of the kingdom of God.

We need to seek for a true understanding of how to train our children for the future life. At this time when wickedness is constantly increasing, we cannot afford to be careless or negligent. Our children are God’s property. Shall we let them depart from the paths of righteousness, and make no effort to save them? They have eternal life to win; eternal death to shun; and it is ours to help them to choose the good and resist the evil. When they learn to welcome the spirit of Christ into their hearts, the salvation of God will be seen in their lives.

It is sometimes essential to correct children; when this is necessary, do it in love. Show them that you punish them, not because you like to, but because you fear not to do so, lest they continue to cherish evils in their lives. Parents and children need the softening, subduing influence of the Holy Spirit of God. Often we do more to provoke than to win. Let your methods be of a character that they will create love. Love begets love. Do not scold. This will work counter to the results which God desires to see accomplished. An exhibition of passion on your part will never cure your child’s evil temper. Talk kindly with the children. Pray with them, and teach them how to pray for themselves. They will not forget these experiences, and the blessing of God will rest upon such instruction, leading the hearts of the children to Christ. The Lord wants you to lay hold of eternal things, and to have an experience in Christian development that will be marked by those with whom you associate. It is your privilege to give to the world a representation of the transforming grace of Christ that will cause them to wonder.

When children realize that their parents are trying to help them, they will bend their energies in the right direction. And to the children who have right instruction in the home, the advantages of our schools will be greater than to those who are allowed to grow up without spiritual help at home.

Do not be turned away from your God-given work by the fleeting and unsatisfying pleasures that the world can offer. Parents have no time to spend in parties of pleasure while their children are left to the temptations of the enemy. Say to those who invite you to join them in worldly pleasure, God has given me the work of training my children for eternity. I want them to stand by my side to help me, and I want to help them to accomplish all that they are capable of accomplishing through faith in Christ and His Word. I want to take my children with me to the city of God, to be crowned with immortal life. I want them to sing His praises in the earth made new. I cannot serve the world and accomplish this work.

Do not neglect your children for visitors. Your children should not be left to themselves because company has come to your home. Let your friends understand that your first attention belongs to your children, and that you cannot engage in pleasures that will divert your mind from the interest you should exercise in their behalf. You cannot afford to let any time pass unimproved. You cannot afford to let your children go hither and thither without guardianship or control. The solemn work given to you to do can be neglected only at eternal loss, but the reward for faithful effort is greater than human minds can compute. In winning heaven your children win an inheritance whose value is above that of any earthly possession. Great will be your satisfaction and reward in the future life when you see your children enjoying eternal pleasures, which might have been denied them, had you by the indulgence of self in this life withheld the advantages to be gained by an education in right principles and practice.

Do not spend your time in chatting on the trifling subjects of dress and fashion. Talk of the heavenly dress, the spotless robe of Christ’s righteousness, which all must wear who stand in confidence before the throne of God. Talk to your friends of the truth and the requirements of God’s Word. As you make use of the knowledge you have, God will give you increased light.

We are facing events that closely precede the coming of the Lord. At this time it behooves us to be faithful, to guard well our words and actions. Let us not trifle with eternal realities. Those who would be prepared for the coming of Christ must make diligent work for eternity. They have no time to lose; for the end of all things is at hand. Let heart and mind be sanctified by the truths of the Word. Give evidence that you are preparing for the solemn events of eternity.

Will fathers and mothers work wisely for their children, helping them to form righteous characters? You with your children are to prepare to graduate to the higher grades of the school above. Then educate yourselves daily away from every tendency and practise that would unfit you to pass the test of the great examination day. Let it be seen by those with whom you associate that Christ is your pattern in all things.

Let the instruction you give your children be simple, and be sure that it is clearly understood. The lessons that you learn from the Word you are to present to their young minds so plainly that they will understand. By simple lessons drawn from the Word of God and their own experience you may teach them how to conform their lives to the highest standard. They may learn, even in childhood and youth, to live thoughtful, earnest lives, that will yield a rich harvest of good.

As united rulers of the home kingdom, let the father and the mother show kindness and courtesy to each other. Never should their deportment militate against the precepts they seek to inculcate. Parents, be in earnest in seeking to perfect in your children true wisdom,—the wisdom of righteousness. If you would do this, you must set them an example worthy of imitation. Should you be remiss in this respect, and your children fail in meeting the standard of the Word of God, what will you answer when they stand before the bar of heaven as witness to your neglect? How terrible will be your realization of loss and failure as you face the Judge of all the earth with the fruits of your unfaithfulness before you!

I cannot find words to describe to you the scenes of the judgment. I cannot represent to you how terrible in that day will be the disappointment of those who in this life have chosen to follow their own will instead of the will and way of God. The low standard of the world is not Christ’s standard. The world’s measurement of righteousness is not His measurement. Those only who in their probationary time use their capabilities to honor and glorify God will hear from His lips the benediction and welcome: “Well done, good and faithful servant:…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

To every father and mother God has given a work in soul-saving that they cannot throw upon others. In this work it is their privilege to draw from the Word of God instruction that will give help in every time of need. For all who make it their life-work to seek for the righteousness of Christ there awaits a welcome to the city of God, where they may join the song of triumph and praise, that the battle of life is over. O that we might as a people appreciate more fully the Word which teaches us the way of this wonderful salvation!

Taken from two Review and Herald articles of the same title, published on February 2, 1912 and February 8, 1912.

Remember The Sabbath Day . . . Part II

There must be a reform among God’s people in the observance of Sabbath-keeping.

The Holy Spirit must be allowed to convict us individually of our duty to God, not to man, in keeping His Sabbath. We must raise the standard of God high, exalting the Sabbath to its rightful position.

Ellen White wrote: “The Sabbath is a golden clasp that unites God and His people. But the Sabbath command has been broken. God’s holy day has been desecrated. The Sabbath has been torn from its place by the man of sin, and a common working day has been exalted in its stead. A breach has been made in the law, and this breach is to be repaired. The true Sabbath is to be exalted to its rightful position as God’s rest day.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 351, 352.

“And [they that shall be] of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” Isaiah 58:12.

We must, as a church, restore the waste places—restudy the things once taught us—making sure that we, and what we have been taught, are grounded in the faith once delivered to the saints.

Uplift the Standard

“The Sabbath question is to be the issue in the great final conflict in which all the world will act a part. Men have honored Satan’s principles above the principles that rule in the heavens. They have accepted the spurious sabbath, which Satan has exalted as the sign of his authority. But God has set His seal upon His royal requirement. Each sabbath institution bears the name of its author, an ineffaceable mark that shows the authority of each. It is our work to lead the people to understand this. We are to show them that it is of vital consequence whether they bear the mark of God’s kingdom or the mark of the kingdom of rebellion, for they acknowledge themselves subjects of the kingdom whose mark they bear. God has called us to uplift the standard of His downtrodden Sabbath. How important, then, that our example in Sabbath-keeping should be right.

“In establishing new churches, ministers should give careful instruction as to the proper observance of the Sabbath. We must be guarded, lest the lax practices that prevail among Sunday-keepers shall be followed by those who profess to observe God’s holy rest day. The line of demarcation is to be made clear and distinct between those who bear the mark of God’s kingdom and those who bear the sign of the kingdom of rebellion.

“Far more sacredness is attached to the Sabbath than is given it by many professed Sabbath-keepers. The Lord has been greatly dishonored by those who have not kept the Sabbath according to the commandment, either in the letter or in the spirit. He calls for a reform in the observance of the Sabbath.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 352, 353.

Reform Necessary

There must be a reform; we must begin it today! It is of vital importance that we, as God’s professed people, understand the true meaning of the Sabbath. Character perfection must be a steady movement toward reflecting Christ more fully and completely. If we stand still in faith, if we neglect the needful study—especially in this day and age—we will lose the light that has been given to us. But if we move forward, from victory on to victory, by faith, prayer, study and patience, the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth. (See John 16:13.) But a word of warning, let us not make the Sabbath a burden, as did the Pharisees.

“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken [it].” Isaiah 58:13, 14.

This is why it is important that we, as true and faithful Seventh-day Adventists, learn the necessity of Sabbath preparation—physically and spiritually.

Daily Preparation

“All through the week we are to have the Sabbath in mind and be making preparation to keep it according to the commandment. We are not merely to observe the Sabbath as a legal matter. We are to understand its spiritual bearing upon all the transactions of life. All who regard the Sabbath as a sign between them and God, showing that He is the God who sanctifies them, will represent the principles of His government. They will bring into daily practice the laws of His kingdom. Daily it will be their prayer that the sanctification of the Sabbath may rest upon them. Every day they will have the companionship of Christ and will exemplify the perfection of His character. Every day their light will shine forth to others in good works.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 353, 354. The Sabbath is not merely to be kept by the letter but by the spirit, willfully wanting to observe the Sabbath—a Sabbath that is not a burden.

“When the Sabbath is thus remembered, the temporal will not be allowed to encroach upon the spiritual. No duty pertaining to the six working days will be left for the Sabbath. During the week our energies will not be so exhausted in temporal labor that on the day when the Lord rested and was refreshed we shall be too weary to engage in His service.” Ibid., 354.

This is an important key point of which many of us have been guilty. How many times have we rushed throughout the week, working 10 to 15 hours a day, then when Sabbath comes we cannot stay awake for the Sabbath school and church service?

Preparation Begins at Home

“In all that pertains to the success of God’s work, the very first victories are to be won in the home life. Here the preparation for the Sabbath must begin. Throughout the week let parents remember that their home is to be a school in which their children shall be prepared for the courts above. Let their words be right words. No words which their children should not hear are to escape their lips. Let the spirit be kept free from irritation. Parents, during the week live as in the sight of a holy God, who has given you children to train for Him. Train for Him the little church in your home, that on the Sabbath all may be prepared to worship in the Lord’s sanctuary. Each morning and evening present your children to God as His blood-bought heritage. Teach them that it is their highest duty and privilege to love and serve God.

“Parents should be particular to make the worship of God an object lesson for their children. Passages of Scripture should be more often on their lips, especially those passages that prepare the heart for religious service. The precious words might well be often repeated: ‘My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.’ Psalm 62:5.” Ibid.

“Explain your work and its purpose to your children, and let them help themselves and their parents in their preparation to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment. Lead your children to consider the Sabbath a delight, the day of days, the holy of the Lord, honorable.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 293.

Daily morning and evening worship is very, very important for not only spending time with God, but for teaching our children the importance of reverence, not just in family worship but also in the Sabbath school and church services.

“While preparation for the Sabbath is to be made all through the week, Friday is to be the special preparation day.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 354.

Scriptural Example

Let us look at an example from the Bible as to how we must prepare for the Sabbath. “And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which [is] between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, [and] when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare [that] which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Exodus 16:1–5. God instructed them to pick up and prepare their food daily, but on the sixth they were to pick up a double portion and prepare it also for the Sabbath.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I [am] the Lord your God. And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness [there lay] a small round thing, [as] small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw [it], they said one to another, It [is] manna: for they wist not what it [was]. And Moses said unto them, This [is] the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. This [is] the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, [according to] the number of your persons; take ye every man for [them] which [are] in his tents.” Verses 11–16.

“And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. And it came to pass, [that] on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one [man]: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This [is that] which the Lord hath said, To morrow [is] the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord: bake [that] which ye will bake [to day], and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day [is] a sabbath unto the Lord: to day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, [which is] the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, [that] there went out [some] of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.” Verses 19–27.

“[And] the people went about, and gathered [it], and ground [it] in mills, or beat [it] in a mortar, and baked [it] in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.” Numbers 11:8.

Preparation Includes . . .

“There was something to be done in preparing the heaven-sent bread for the children of Israel. The Lord told them that this work must be done on Friday, the preparation day. This was a test to them. God desired to see whether or not they would keep the Sabbath holy.

“This direction from the lips of Jehovah is for our instruction. The Bible is a perfect guide, and if its pages are prayerfully studied by hearts willing to understand, none need err upon this question.

“Many need instruction as to how they should appear in the assembly for worship on the Sabbath. They are not to enter the presence of God in the common clothing worn during the week. All should have a special Sabbath suit, to be worn when attending service in God’s house. While we should not conform to worldly fashions, we are not to be indifferent in regard to our outward appearance. We are to be neat and trim, though without adornment. The children of God should be pure within and without.

“On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all the clothing is in readiness and that all the cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked and the baths be taken. It is possible to do this. If you make it a rule you can do it. The Sabbath is not to be given to the repairing of garments, to the cooking of food, to pleasure seeking, or to any other worldly employment. Before the setting of the sun let all secular work be laid aside and all secular papers be put out of sight. Parents, explain your work and its purpose to your children, and let them share in your preparation to keep the Sabbath according to the commandment.

“We should jealously guard the edges of the Sabbath. Remember that every moment is consecrated, holy time.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 356.

Do not miss the Blessing

“The Sabbath should be as sacredly observed on the campground as it is in our homes. We should not let the bustle and excitement around us detract from its sacred dignity. No cooking should be done on that day. The instruction which God gave to Israel should not be disregarded: ‘Bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe’: ‘Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord’ [Exodus 16:23]. God meant what He said when He gave these directions, and shall we, who are presenting to the people the claims of the divine law, break that law ourselves, merely to please the appetite? God forbid. There has sometimes been almost as much cooking done on the Sabbath as on other days; and the blessing of God has been shut out by our failure to honor Him in keeping the Sabbath according to the commandment.—Undated Manuscript 88.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 293, 294.

“Speak not lightly of the restrictions placed upon Israel in Sinai regarding the cooking of manna. The Lord has placed barriers around His Sabbath, that it may not be regarded with the least carelessness or irreverence. When the Lord said, ‘Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath; bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that which ye will seethe,’ He means that Friday shall be our preparation day, in which we are to do all our cooking.

“The Sabbath is not to be a day when tidbits shall be prepared or cooked. If it is really essential to have beans on the Sabbath, let them be cooked on Friday, and kept warm in the oven. They need not be eaten cold unless preferred. But let no remarks be made as though it is a very light thing whether we regard the special requirements of God in regard to the Sabbath or not. It is not left for any man or woman to venture to disregard any commandment of God—Manuscript 21, 1897.” Ibid., 294, 295.

The preparation of food on the Sabbath is breaking God’s precepts, and this is not to be lightly regarded by commandment-keepers.

“All needful preparation should be made beforehand. On Sabbath morning, if the weather is cool, let hot gruel, or something equally simple, be provided, and for dinner some kind of food may be warmed. Further than this, all cooking should be avoided as a violation of the Sabbath command.” The Gospel of Health, April 1, 1898.

Avoid Intemperance

Do we eat more on the Sabbath day than we normally do on the other days? Is this not wrong of us?

“We should not provide for the Sabbath a more liberal supply or a greater variety of food than for other days. Instead of this the food should be more simple, and less should be eaten, in order that the mind may be clear and vigorous to comprehend spiritual things. Overeating befogs the brain. The most precious words may be heard and not appreciated, because the mind is confused by an improper diet. By overeating on the Sabbath, many have done more than they think to dishonor God.

“While cooking upon the Sabbath should be avoided, it is not necessary to eat cold food. In cold weather let the food prepared the day before be heated. And let the meals, though simple, be palatable and attractive. Provide something that will be regarded as a treat, something the family do not have every day.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 357.

“I see no question in this matter as to what we shall have on the Sabbath day. The food which we have provided on the preparation day can be placed on the table warm, especially in cold weather. In traveling, persons eat cold lunches for days together, and realize no inconvenience or harm. We want palatable, healthful food every day of the week; but upon the Sabbath, let your cook have her day of rest, in the place of cooking for a family. Let every provision be made on Friday. But do not let the Sabbath be regarded as a day in which to get something especially gratifying to eat. Educate your children and every member of the family to enjoy plain, simple food, and to be ready to receive the blessing which the Lord of the Sabbath is waiting to bestow upon all who are in an attitude to receive it. He has this for every one who shows his love for God in keeping holy the Sabbath day, God’s great memorial of creation. Speak softly, walk softly. Let not a word of lightness or trifling come from your lips. This is God’s day. He has blessed the seventh day, as His Sabbath, to be sacredly observed.” Review and Herald, June 8, 1897.

Put Away Differences

Another special instruction has been given to us. All difference between brothers and sisters in the church of Christ, and even those not of our faith, should be put away. There should be a close examination of the heart of the past week, a confessing of sin before the Sabbath begins.

“There needs to be much more close investigation of the week past. Review it and see if, as a branch of the living Vine, you have drawn nourishment from the parent Vine to bear much fruit to the glory of God. If there has been feverish excitement, if hasty words have been spoken, if passion has been revealed, these have surely been the working on Satan’s side of the question. Clear the heart by confession. Sincerely make everything right before the Sabbath. Examine your own selves, whether ye be in the faith. We need to guard our own souls constantly, lest we make a great profession but, like the flourishing fig tree spreading its branches in pretentious foliage, reveal no precious fruit. Christ is hungering to see and receive fruit. Leaves of profession without fruit are to Christ just as worthless as those of the fig tree which He cursed. . . .” That I May Know Him, 147.

“There is another work that should receive attention on the preparation day. On this day all differences between brethren, whether in the family or in the church, should be put away. Let all bitterness and wrath and malice be expelled from the soul. In a humble spirit, ‘confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.’ James 5:16.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 356.

“When difficulties arise among church-members, let them be cleared away before the Sabbath comes. This should be regarded as a Christian duty by every church-member. ‘Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, and be ye thankful.’ Are you troubled and perplexed? Sweep away the rubbish that has been accumulating before the door of the heart, and open the door, inviting Jesus to come in and abide as an honored Guest. Bring peace and comfort into your own hearts and the hearts of others.” Australasian Union Conference Record, April 15, 1903.

To be continued . . .

Remember The Sabbath Day . . . Part III

Before the Sabbath begins, all business should be set aside. No new business should be started. Could it be that our minds might drift away from the holy to the common?

“This day [Friday] is preparation day. We would come up to the Sabbath with our work closed up in proper shape and not dragging into the Sabbath. We must commence in the morning to look after every piece of clothing if we have neglected to do this through the week, that our garments may be neat and orderly and comely to appear in the place where God’s people assemble to worship Him. . . . Entering upon new business should be avoided, if possible, but endeavor to close up the things already started that are half accomplished. Prepare everything connected with the household matters so that there shall be free-dom from worries, and the mind be prepared to rest and to meditate upon heavenly things.” That I May Know Him, 147.

“The day before the Sabbath should be made a day of preparation, that everything may be in readiness for its sacred hours. In no case should our own business be allowed to encroach upon holy time. God has directed that the sick and suffering be cared for; the labor required to make them comfortable is a work of mercy, and no violation of the Sabbath; but all unnecessary work should be avoided. Many carelessly put off till the beginning of the Sabbath little things that might have been done on the day of preparation. This should not be. Work that is neglected until the beginning of the Sabbath should remain undone until it is past. This course might help the memory of these thoughtless ones, and make them careful to do their own work on the six working days.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 296.

“Before the Sabbath begins, the mind as well as the body should be withdrawn from worldly business. God has set His Sabbath at the end of the six working days, that men may stop and consider what they have gained during the week in preparation for the pure kingdom which admits no transgressor. We should each Sabbath reckon with our souls to see whether the week that has ended has brought spiritual gain or loss.

It means eternal salvation to keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord. God says: ‘Them that honor Me I will honor.’ 1 Samuel 2:30.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 356.

Special instruction has also been given on how to prepare for the Sabbath to those who have their own business and employees. Some will say that those business owners who close half the day on Friday and on Sabbath, these being the busiest days of the week, are losing out on a lot of business. I was told by a minister in Cleveland, Tennessee, that the owner of Chik-fil-A requires new franchise owners to agree to be closed on Sundays. [“Chick-fil-A has remained moored to its core values: ethical and spiritual tomes extolled by the company’s founder, S. Truett Cathy. . . . That corporate guidepost is perhaps most visibly demonstrated by the company’s ‘Never on Sunday’ policy. ‘We feel that is a very special day, a divine day, a day that is set aside for the family and to worship if you choose,’ says Cathy. Cathy has never yielded to external pressures to abandon his ‘Never on Sunday’ policy . . . .” Erica Stephens, “Divine—And Bovine—Intervention,” QSR, August 2002, http://www.chick-fil-a.com/ (cited August 12, 2002).] The minister went on to say that God had richly blessed Chik-fil-A’s owner because of what he did. Now the question is, would not God sustain His people if they were truly devoted to Him? “Them that honor Me I will honor.” Remember that!

“Whenever it is possible, employers should give their workers the hours [off] from Friday noon until the beginning of the Sabbath. Give them time for preparation, that they may welcome the Lord’s day with quietness of mind. By such a course you will suffer no loss even in temporal things.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 356.

Reform Needed

“Before the setting of the sun, let the members of the family assemble to read God’s Word, to sing and pray. There is need of reform here, for many have been remiss. We need to confess to God and to one another. We should begin anew to make special arrangements that every member of the family may be prepared to honor the day which God has blessed and sanctified.” Child Guidance, 529.

Special instruction should be given our children on what is to be done on Sabbath morning.

“Let not the precious hours of the Sabbath be wasted in bed. On Sabbath morning the family should be astir early. If they rise late, there is confusion and bustle in preparing for breakfast and Sabbath school. There is hurrying, jostling, and impatience. Thus unholy feelings come into the home. The Sabbath, thus desecrated, becomes a weariness, and its coming is dreaded rather than loved.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 357.

Keeping the Sabbath Holy

“Do not allow yourself to spend the precious hours of the Sabbath in your bed. The heads of the house should be astir early. . . .

“In the morning the family should gather about the table quietly; and it would be well if on the Sabbath there should ever be a simple, palatable meal, yet something that would be considered a treat, well prepared—something that they do not have every day of the week. Then either before or after the meal should come the family worship. This should be a service in which the children can take some part. All should have their Bibles, each reading a verse or two. Then a simple hymn may be sung, followed, not by a long, wearisome prayer, but a simple petition, telling the Lord in the simplest manner the needs [of the family], and expressing gratitude for God’s mercies and blessings. This invites Jesus as a welcome guest into your house and heart. In the family long prayers of remote things are not in place and make the hour of prayer a weariness, when it should be considered a privilege and a blessing. Make the season one of interest and joy. Never let the children consider it a burden.—Manuscript 57, 1897.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 293.

Do Not be Late for Church

All should learn to be on time for church, setting a right example to others and especially to the children.

Mrs. White addressed this issue in the Youth’s Instructor, March 19, 1879: “It is a sad failing with many that they are always behind time on Sabbath morning. They are very particular about their own time, they cannot afford to lose an hour of that; but the Lord’s time, the only day out of the seven that the Lord claims as his, and requires us to devote to him, quite a portion of this is squandered away by sleeping late in the morning. In this they are robbing God. It causes them to be behind in everything; it makes confusion in the family; and finally results in the tardiness of the entire family at Sabbath school, and perhaps at meeting. Now why can we not rise early with the birds, and offer praise and thanksgiving to God? Try it brethren and sisters. Have your preparations all made the day before, and come promptly to the Sabbath school and meeting, and you will thereby not only benefit others but you will reap rich blessings for yourselves.”

It is interesting how we are able to get up during the week to go to work, or go somewhere that we want to go, and be there on time. But we seem to have a hard time being at the appointed place of worship on Sabbath on time.

In the Review and Herald, May 30, 1871, Mrs. White wrote: “Meetings for conference and prayer should not be made tedious. All should, if possible, be prompt to the hour appointed; and if there are dilatory ones, who are half an hour or fifteen minutes even behind the time, there should be no waiting. If there are but two present, they can claim the promise. The meeting should open at the appointed hour, if possible, be there few or many present.”

Sabbath Thoughts and Words

“When the Sabbath commences, we should place a guard upon ourselves, upon our acts and our words, lest we rob God by appropriating to our own use that time which is strictly the Lord’s. We should not do ourselves, nor suffer our children to do, any manner of our own work for a livelihood or anything which could have been done on the six working days. Friday is the day of preparation. Time can then be devoted to making the necessary preparation for the Sabbath and to thinking and conversing about it. Nothing which will in the sight of Heaven be regarded as a violation of the holy Sabbath should be left unsaid or undone, to be said or done upon the Sabbath. God requires not only that we refrain from physical labor upon the Sabbath, but that the mind be disciplined to dwell upon sacred themes. The Fourth Commandment is virtually transgressed by conversing upon worldly things or by engaging in light and trifling conversation. Talking upon anything or everything which may come into the mind is speaking our own words. Every deviation from right brings us into bondage and condemnation.” Child Guidance, 529, 530.

“Those who wish to be blest and approved of the Lord in this world, and who expect to finally be saved, and have right to the tree of life, must keep the Sabbath holy. They should pray daily for grace and wisdom to keep from polluting it in any way. . . .

“Are you as careful as you should be in keeping the Sabbath? You have something to do besides laying aside your work and amusements on that day. If you, on that day, lay plans of what you will do when the Sabbath is past, or talk of your work, amusements and clothes, you pollute the Sabbath. . . .

“When you are speaking of your hope in God, of Jesus and of his soon coming, and of the beauties of the New Earth, you are not speaking your own words. Of these things you may freely speak on the Sabbath. On six days you may talk of business matters, and lay plans that are necessary; but the Sabbath is holy time, and all worldly thoughts must, on that day, be dismissed from the mind. The blessing of God will then rest upon you, and you will have the sweet consolations of His Spirit, and you will also have confidence when you approach the throne of grace.” Youth’s Instructor, February 1, 1853.

Parents’ Example

Fathers and mothers should attend Sabbath school and church services with their children, thus setting a right example. Many times I have seen fathers, and even mothers, send their children to church alone.

“Fathers and mothers should make it a rule that their children attend public worship on the Sabbath, and should enforce the rule by their own example. It is our duty to command our children and our household after us, as did Abraham. By example as well as precept we should impress upon them the importance of religious teaching. All who have taken the baptismal vow have solemnly consecrated themselves to the service of God; they are under covenant obligation to place themselves and their children where they may obtain all possible incentives and encouragement in the Christian life.

“But while we worship God, we are not to consider this a drudgery. The Sabbath of the Lord is to be made a blessing to us and to our children. They are to look upon the Sabbath as a day of delight, a day which God has sanctified; and they will so consider it if they are properly instructed.” Child Guidance, 530, 531.

No Nap!

“None should permit themselves, through the week, to become so absorbed in their temporal interests, and so exhausted by their efforts for worldly gain, that on the Sabbath they have no strength or energy to give to the service of God. We are robbing the Lord when we unfit ourselves to worship Him upon His holy day. And we are robbing ourselves as well; for we need the warmth and glow of association, as well as the strength to be gained from the wisdom and experience of other Christians.” Ibid., 530.

“Let none come to the place of worship to take a nap. There should be no sleeping in the house of God. You do not fall asleep when engaged in your temporal business, because you have an interest in your work. Shall we allow the service which involves eternal interests to be placed on a lower level than the temporal affairs of life?

“When we do this we miss the blessing which the Lord designs us to have. The Sabbath is not to be a day of useless idleness. Both in the home and in the church a spirit of service is to be manifested. He who gave us six days for our temporal work has blessed and sanctified the seventh day and set it apart for Himself. On this day He will in a special manner bless all who consecrate themselves to His service.

“All heaven is keeping the Sabbath, but not in a listless, do-nothing way. On this day every energy of the soul should be awake, for are we not to meet with God and with Christ our Saviour? We may behold Him by faith. He is longing to refresh and bless every soul.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 361, 362.

Irreverence in God’s House

The Sabbath has also been broken by our disregard and irreverence in the house of God. We have lost the sense that God is present when we worship Him.

“Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, [even] to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush [was] not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here [am] I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest [is] holy ground. Moreover he said, I [am] the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” Exodus 3:1–6.

“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all [them that are] about him.” Psalm 89:7.

“It is too true that reverence for the house of God has become almost extinct. Sacred things and places are not discerned; the holy and exalted are not appreciated. . . . Many who profess to be children of the heavenly King have no true appreciation of the sacredness of eternal things. Nearly all need to be taught how to conduct themselves in the house of God. . . . In the minds of many there are no more sacred thoughts connected with the house of God than with the most common place. . . . Such do not realize that they are to meet with God and holy angels. . . . They have no true idea of the order, the neatness, and the refined deportment that God requires of all who come into His presence to worship Him. . . . Unless correct ideas of true worship and true reverence are impressed upon the people, there will be a growing tendency to place the sacred and eternal on a level with common things, and those professing the truth will be an offense to God and a disgrace to religion. They can never, with their uncultivated ideas, appreciate a pure and holy heaven, and be prepared to join with the worshipers in the heavenly courts above, where all is purity and perfection, where every being has perfect reverence for God and His holiness.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 495–498, 500.

True Reverence

Another precious grace that should be carefully cherished is reverence. True reverence for God is inspired by a sense of His infinite greatness and a realization of His presence. With this sense of the Unseen the heart of every child should be deeply impressed. The hour and place of prayer and the services of public worship the child should be taught to regard as sacred because God is there. And as reverence is manifested in attitude and demeanor, the feeling that inspires it will be deepened.

“Well would it be for young and old to study and ponder and often repeat those words of Holy Writ that show how the place marked by God’s special presence should be regarded.” My Life Today, 281.

“Humility and reverence should characterize the deportment of all who come into the presence of God. In the name of Jesus we may come before Him with confidence, but we must not approach Him with the boldness of presumption, as though He were on a level with ourselves. There are those who address the great and all-powerful and holy God, who dwelleth in light unapproachable, as they would address an equal, or even an inferior. There are those who conduct themselves in His house as they would not presume to do in the audience chamber of an earthly ruler. These should remember that they are in His sight whom seraphim adore, before whom angels veil their faces. God is greatly to be reverenced; all who truly realize His presence will bow in humility before Him.” Ibid.

Once we really understand reverence, we will also understand where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20.) Does it take a church building for God to be there, or could He be present in the closet, in home worship, and even in a home church?

“God is high and holy; and to the humble, believing soul, His house on earth, the place where His people meet for worship, is as the gate of heaven. The song of praise, the words spoken by Christ’s ministers, are God’s appointed agencies to prepare a people for the church above, for that loftier worship.

“When the worshipers enter the place of meeting, they should do so with decorum, passing quietly to their seats. . . . Common talking, whispering, and laughing should not be permitted in the house of worship, either before or after the service. Ardent, active piety should characterize the worshipers.

“If some have to wait a few minutes before the meeting begins, let them maintain a true spirit of devotion by silent meditation, keeping the heart uplifted to God in prayer that the service may be of special benefit to their own hearts and lead to the conviction and conversion of other souls. They should remember that heavenly messengers are in the house. We all lose much sweet communion with God by our restlessness, by not encouraging moments of reflection and prayer. . . .

“Elevate the standard of Christianity in the minds of your children; help them to weave Jesus into their experience; teach them to have the highest reverence for the house of God and to understand that when they enter the Lord’s house it should be with hearts that are softened and subdued by such thoughts as these: ‘God is here; this is His house. I must have pure thoughts and holiest motives. . . . This is the place where God meets with and blesses His people.’ . . .

Parents should not only teach, but command, their children to enter the sanctuary with sobriety and reverence. Practice reverence until it becomes a part of yourself.” Ibid., 286.

[All Emphasis Supplied.]

Remember The Sabbath Day . . . Part V

Parental Responsibility

Parents should explain the Sabbath sermon to their children that they may understand the way of salvation.

“Ministers are engaged in a sacred, solemn work, but upon those who hear rests just as sacred a responsibility. They are to hear with a determination to follow the instruction that all must practice who gain eternal life. Each hearer should strive to understand each presentation of Bible truth as God’s message to him, to be received by faith and put into practice in the daily life. Parents should explain to their children the words spoken from the pulpit, that they also may understand and have that knowledge which if put into practice brings abundant grace and peace.” Child Guidance, 531.

The Sabbath is not only a day for going to Sabbath school and church, but a day that the parents should spend time with their children, not allowing them to find their own amusement on this special day.

Prevalent Disregard

“Very many of the parents who profess to believe the solemn message for this time have not trained their children for God. They have not restrained themselves and have been irritated with anyone who attempted to restrain them. They have not by living faith daily bound their children upon the altar of the Lord. Many of these youth have been allowed to transgress the Fourth Commandment, by seeking their own pleasure upon God’s holy day. They have felt no compunctions of conscience in going about the streets on the Sabbath for their own amusement. Many go where they please, and do what they please; and their parents are so fearful of displeasing them that, imitating the management of Eli, they lay no commands upon them.

“These youth finally lose all respect for the Sabbath and have no relish for religious meetings or for sacred and eternal things.” Ibid., 527.

“On the Sabbath day many [parents] are indifferent and do not know where their children are or what they are doing.

“Parents, above everything take care of your children upon the Sabbath. Do not suffer them to violate God’s holy day by playing in the house or out-of-doors. You may just as well break the Sabbath yourselves as to let your children do it, and when you suffer your children to wander about and suffer them to play upon the Sabbath, God looks upon you as Sabbathbreakers.” Ibid., 533.

What to do With the Children

Do we understand that we, as parents, become Sabbath breakers when we knowingly allow our children to do as they please, without guidance, on the Sabbath day?

“The Sabbath school and the meeting for worship occupy only a part of the Sabbath. The portion remaining to the family may be made the most sacred and precious season of all the Sabbath hours. Much of this time parents should spend with their children.” Ibid., 532.

“In many families the younger children are left to themselves to find entertainment as best they can. Left alone, the children soon become restless and begin to play or engage in some kind of mischief. Thus the Sabbath has to them no sacred significance.

“In pleasant weather let parents walk with their children in the fields and groves. Amid the beautiful things of nature tell them the reason for the institution of the Sabbath. Describe to them God’s great work of creation. Tell them that when the earth came from His hand, it was holy and beautiful. Every flower, every shrub, every tree, answered the purpose of its Creator. Everything upon which the eye rested was lovely and filled the mind with thoughts of the love of God. Every sound was music in harmony with the voice of God. Show that it was sin which marred God’s perfect work; that thorns and thistles, sorrow and pain and death, are all the result of disobedience to God. Bid them see how the earth, though marred with the curse of sin, still reveals God’s goodness. The green fields, the lofty trees, the glad sunshine, the clouds, the dew, the solemn stillness of the night, the glory of the starry heavens, and the moon in its beauty all bear witness of the Creator. Not a drop of rain falls, not a ray of light is shed on our unthankful world, but it testifies to the forbearance and love of God.

“Tell them of the way of salvation; how ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16. Let the sweet story of Bethlehem be repeated. Present before the children Jesus, as a child obedient to His parents, as a youth faithful and industrious, helping to support the family. Thus you can teach them that the Saviour knows the trials, perplexities, and temptations, the hopes and joys, of the young, and that He can give them sympathy and help. From time to time read with them the interesting stories in Bible history. Question as to what they have learned in the Sabbath school, and study with them the next Sabbath’s lesson.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 358, 359.

Parents should plan suitable reading and conversation for their children on the Sabbath.

“The Sabbath—oh!—make it the sweetest, the most blessed day of the week. . . .

“Parents can and should give attention to their children, reading to them the most attractive portions of Bible history, educating them to reverence the Sabbath day, keeping it according to the commandment. This cannot be done if the parents feel no burden to interest their children. But they can make the Sabbath a delight if they will take the proper course. The children can be interested in good reading or in conversation about the salvation of their souls. But they will have to be educated and trained. The natural heart does not love to think of God, of heaven, or of heavenly things. There must be a continual pressing back of the current of worldliness and inclination to evil and a letting in of heavenly light.” Child Guidance, 532, 533.

Also, the Sabbath is a day that the family should, if possible, spend a portion of it outdoors educating their children about the God who created nature.

“During a portion of the day all should have an opportunity to be out of doors. . . . Let their young minds be associated with God in the beautiful scenery of nature, let their attention be called to the tokens of His love to man in His created works. . . . As they view the beautiful things which He has created for the happiness of man, they will be led to regard Him as a tender, loving Father. . . . As the character of God puts on the aspect of love, benevolence, beauty, and attraction, they are drawn to love Him.

“The Sabbath is the golden clasp that unites God and His people.

“It means eternal salvation to keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord.” My Life Today, 287.

Avoid Unnecessary Travel

We have also been given instruction about traveling on the Sabbath. As far as possible, we should avoid travel that is not necessary.

If we desire the blessing promised to the obedient, we must observe the Sabbath more strictly. I fear that we often travel on this day when it might be avoided. In harmony with the light which the Lord has given in regard to the observance of the Sabbath, we should be more careful about traveling on the boats or cars on this day. In these matters we should set a right example before our children and youth. In order to reach the churches that need our help, and to give them the message that God desires them to hear, it may be necessary for us to travel on the Sabbath; but so far as possible we should secure our tickets and make all necessary arrangements on some other day. When starting on a journey we should make every possible effort to plan so as to avoid reaching our destination on the Sabbath.

“When compelled to travel on the Sabbath we should try to avoid the company of those who would draw our attention to worldly things. We should keep our minds stayed upon God and commune with Him. Whenever there is opportunity we should speak to others in regard to the truth. We should always be ready to relieve suffering and to help those in need. In such cases God desires that the knowledge and wisdom He has given us should be put to use. But we should not talk about matters of business or engage in any common, worldly conversation. At all times and in all places God requires us to prove our loyalty to Him by honoring the Sabbath.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 359, 360.

Ellen White wrote of her travel: “We expected to leave for Tasmania on Thursday evening, but learned that the steamer was not going out until Friday afternoon, and would bring us into Launceston after the Sabbath had begun. I could not consent to go on this steamer when we should thus have to trespass on the Sabbath, if there was any way possible by which we could avoid it. We learned that a boat left Melbourne Tuesday afternoon, and we decided that it would be much better to go on this early boat than to travel on the Sabbath.” Special Testimonies to Ministers and Workers, No. 3, 42.

As Mrs. White explains, there are times that it is necessary for us to travel on the Sabbath.

“[En route from Colorado to Battle Creek] Sabbath, November 8, 1873. Traveled on Sabbath, Regretfully. [See Testimonies, vol. 6, 360.]—We rested well on the car during the night. We were unwilling to report ourselves on the cars this morning, but circumstances connected with the cause and work of God demand our presence at the General Conference. We could not delay. If we were doing our own business we should feel it a breach of the fourth commandment to travel on the Sabbath. We engaged in no common conversation. We endeavored to keep our minds in a devotional frame and we enjoyed some of the presence of God while we deeply regretted the necessity of traveling upon the Sabbath.—Manuscript 13, 1873.” Selected Messages, vol. 3, 265.

Care for the Sick

Is caring for the sick breaking the fourth commandment? Is it not a work of mercy?

“And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up [herself]. And when Jesus saw her, he called [her to Him], and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid [his] hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, [Thou] hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or [his] ass from the stall, and lead [him] away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.” Luke 13:10–17.

The Pen of Inspiration puts it this way: “God has directed that the sick and suffering be cared for; the labor required to make them comfortable is a work of mercy, and no violation of the Sabbath; but all unnecessary work should be avoided.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 296.

“And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? And they held their peace. And he took [him], and healed him, and let him go; And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? And they could not answer him again to these things.” Luke 14:1–6.

The Physician as a Sabbath Observer

“Christ was a Seventh-day Adventist, to all intents and purposes. It was He who called Moses into the mount and gave him instruction for His people. . . . In awful grandeur Christ made known the law of Jehovah, giving, among other charges, this charge: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’ My brother, you have not placed upon the Sabbath the sanctity that is required by God. Irreverence has come in, and an example has been set that the Lord does not approve. He is not honored and glorified.

There will always be duties which have to be performed on the Sabbath for the relief of suffering humanity. This is right, and in accordance with the law of Him who says, ‘I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.’ [Matthew 12:7.] But there is danger of falling into carelessness on this point, and of doing that which it is not positively essential to do on the Sabbath.

“Unnecessary traveling is done on the Sabbath, with many other things which might be left undone. Take heed, saith the Lord, to all thy ways, lest I remove My Holy Spirit because of the lax regard given to My precepts. ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’ [Exodus 20:8.] Bear in mind the charge to remember. Do not carelessly forget, ‘Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work.’ [Verse 9.] In this time all the duties necessary to prepare for the Sabbath are to be done.—Letter 51, 1901.” Medical Ministry, 49, 50.

Never Neglect the Suffering

“Often physicians and nurses are called upon during the Sabbath to minister to the sick, and sometimes it is impossible for them to take time for rest and for attending devotional services. The needs of suffering humanity are never to be neglected. The Saviour by His example has shown us that it is right to relieve suffering on the Sabbath. But unnecessary work, such as ordinary treatments and operations that can be postponed, should be deferred. Let the patients understand that physicians and helpers should have one day for rest. Let them understand that the workers fear God and desire to keep holy the day that He has set apart for His followers to observe as a sign between Him and them.

“The educators and those being educated in our medical institutions should remember that to keep the Sabbath aright means much to them and to the patrons. In keeping the Sabbath, which God declares shall be kept holy, they give the sign of their order, showing plainly that they are on the Lord’s side.” Counsels on Health, 236.

“The necessities of life must be attended to, the sick must be cared for, the wants of the needy must be supplied. He will not be held guiltless who neglects to relieve suffering on the Sabbath. God’s holy rest day was made for man, and acts of mercy are in perfect harmony with its intent. God does not desire His creatures to suffer an hour’s pain that may be relieved upon the Sabbath or any other day.

“The demands upon God are even greater upon the Sabbath than upon other days. His people then leave their usual employment, and spend the time in meditation and worship. They ask more favors of Him on the Sabbath than upon other days. They demand His special attention. They crave His choicest blessings. God does not wait for the Sabbath to pass before He grants these requests. Heaven’s work never ceases, and men should never rest from doing good. The Sabbath is not intended to be a period of useless inactivity. The law forbids secular labor on the rest day of the Lord; the toil that gains a livelihood must cease; no labor for worldly pleasure or profit is lawful upon that day; but as God ceased His labor of creating, and rested upon the Sabbath and blessed it, so man is to leave the occupations of his daily life, and devote those sacred hours to healthful rest, to worship, and to holy deeds. The work of Christ in healing the sick was in perfect accord with the law. It honored the Sabbath.” The Desire of Ages, 207.

As the Sun Sets

Special instruction has been given us as to how the close of the Sabbath should be honored.

“As the sun goes down, let the voice of prayer and the hymn of praise mark the close of the sacred hours, and invite God’s presence through the cares of the week of labor.

“Thus parents can make the Sabbath, as it should be, the most joyful day of the week. They can lead their children to regard it as a delight, the day of days, the holy of the Lord, honorable.” Child Guidance, 536, 537.

“I counsel you, my brethren and sisters: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’ [Exodus 20:8.] If you desire your children to observe the Sabbath according to the commandment, you must teach them by both precept and example. The deep engraving of truth in the heart is never wholly effaced. It may be obscured, but can never be obliterated. The impressions made in early life will be seen in after years. Circumstances may occur to separate the children from their parents and their home, but as long as they live the instruction given in childhood and youth will be a blessing.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 359.

[All emphasis supplied.]

To be concluded . . .

Benjamin S. Brown writes from Madisonville, Tennessee, where he has been instrumental in opening a home church and a health food store.

The Essence of Heaven, Part I

What is heaven all about? When I was a child, the pastor of the church my family attended told me the following true story.

During World War II, he was a preacher in Europe. A Christian family he knew had a daughter who was not interested in Christianity. She was not interested in going to heaven. This preacher wanted to try to help this young lady; he wanted to arouse in her a desire to be a Christian and a desire to go to heaven. So he engaged her in conversation one day about this subject. She emphatically stated that she was not interested in Christianity, and why, if she did not want to go to heaven anyway, should she be a Christian? What was the point?

This girl told him, “I have heard about heaven. I have heard that it is a place where people float around on clouds, and they play harps.” And, she continued, “I am not interested. I do not even care for harp music! I certainly am not interested in floating around on a cloud, so I do not want to go there.” You see, she had no idea what heaven was really about.

There are many people like her. Even many Protestant Christians who go to church every week, if asked, “What is heaven? Please describe it to me,” could tell you almost nothing.

Abodes of Bliss

Many Seventh-day Adventist preachers, when talking about heaven, just tell people what it is not like. There is nothing wrong with this, because the Bible probably has more texts telling us what heaven is not like than any other thing.

For instance, it says in Isaiah, concerning that place, that no violence will be there. In Isaiah 33:24, we are told, “The inhabitants of that place will not say, ‘I am sick.’ ” Is that nice to know?

Revelation 21 gives us a number of descriptions in the first four verses. It says that in that place there is no sorrow, crying, or death. When we are in heaven, we will never attend a funeral. We will never go to a mortuary or pick out a tombstone or a casket. We will never go to a hospital; there will be no surgery there, because it is not needed.

There will be no pain in heaven. This is a great comfort to many people, such as drug addicts. Those who are trying to get off an
addictive substance experience extreme withdrawal pain. I have never been addicted to a substance like that, so I cannot explain or understand exactly how they feel, but one of their greatest pleasures is to read in the Bible that when they get to heaven, there will be no pain.

So, this is what preachers usually do. We tell people what heaven is by telling them what it is not¾there is no war; there is no crime; there are no prisons; there is no sickness. This is all good to know, but have you ever stopped to analyze the situation and think through that even if all those things were taken away, you would not necessarily be happy?

Heaven is a place described by Ellen White as having “the abodes of bliss.” (See Testimonies, vol. 8, 140.) Bliss! Do you know what bliss is? Bliss is an extreme, intense state of happiness. The angels, the intelligences in heaven, are in this bliss or this extreme, intense state of happiness all the time. The redeemed are going to be the same. Isaiah 35:10 says, “The redeemed of the Lord will come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads. They will obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

They are going to have joy. They are going to have intense happiness. You see, that actually is the essence of what heaven is about. It is this intense happiness that everybody has all the time that makes heaven heaven.

Self-Sacrificing Love

You see, heaven actually has more to do with something that is internal in your mind than something that is external. It is not just golden streets and music, although there is beautiful music, and there are golden streets. There is also wonderful food, but that is not what heaven is.

So, here is the question: What makes heaven heaven? We can answer that in one sentence: “The spirit of Christ’s self-sacrificing love is the spirit that pervades heaven and is the very essence of its bliss.” Steps to Christ, 77.

What is the very essence of the bliss, the intense happiness that is in heaven? What is the very core of it? It is the spirit of self-sacrificing love. Somehow this is a concept that it is very difficult for people in this world to comprehend, because we have had an opposite education of which the devil has been in charge. It is throughout all the educational system, it is in all the philosophy of man, and it is in our language. Have you ever heard someone talking about “taking care of No. 1”? When they refer to “taking care of No. 1,” of whom are they speaking? Self. In the devil’s program, I am No. 1, and you are to make me happy.

There are many illustrations that would help us understand this concept, but I will share just one. About 30 years ago, a beautiful, young, married lady was driving her car, and she had neglected to put on her seat belt. Unfortunately, she was in a collision, and because she did not have her seat belt on, she was thrown forward headfirst through the windshield of the car. As she went through the shattered glass, her face was terribly lacerated. When her husband came to see her in the hospital, can you imagine what happened? This man had married that beautiful face. That beautiful face made him happy, but when that beautiful face did not exist any more, there was nothing to hold that marriage together, so he divorced her. (By the way, men are not the only ones who do things like that. I could tell you other stories where women did almost the identical same thing, but we will not go there. You get the point.)

If I am No. 1, then you are to make me happy, and when the time comes that you do not make me happy anymore, then we are going to separate. This is one of the reasons there is such a huge divorce rate today. This is the devil’s philosophy, the devil’s program that has taken over almost the entire world.

Jesus came into this world to show us that this is a wrong idea, to show us that we are to sacrifice ourselves for the good of somebody else. They are not to sacrifice themselves for our good; we are to sacrifice ourselves for their good. If we could ever get it learned, we would see the divorce rate bottom out.

Jesus’ Mission

Let us read a few Scriptures so you can see that this is exactly what the New Testament teaches that Jesus came to do.

“On behalf of all He died, in order that those living no longer might live for themselves, but on behalf of Him who died and was raised again.” 11 Corinthians 5:15. What was the purpose of Jesus’ coming and of His death on the cross? So I would no longer live for myself.

Jesus Himself talked about this in Matthew 10:34-39. Verse 39 reads, “The one who finds his soul will lose it.” Who is the one who finds his soul? That is the one, I am No. 1; I actually do get what I want! The text continues, “The one who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

What does it mean to lose your life? That means your life is sacrificed for somebody else, and if you learn that principle, Jesus says that you are going to find eternal life. If you do not learn that principle, you are not going to find eternal life.

John 12:25 says, “The one who loves his soul will lose it, and the one who hates his soul in this world will keep it unto life eter-nal.” Of what is Jesus talking? One person makes his own life  No. 1; the other person sacrifices his whole life for somebody else. The one who gains his soul and loves his soul will lose it, but the one who hates his soul and sacrifices all of his soul for somebody else will keep it. This is what Jesus taught.

Some Rain Must Fall

I have many cousins, but of all my relatives, two male cousins were much more handsome than were any of the rest of us. Both of them had very pleasing personalities and were very popular wherever they went.

One of these cousins, as a young man in the late 1950s, decided that he was going to join the Navy. He wanted to become a Navy pilot. I remember that as he was traveling from Washington State to Pensacola, Florida, he stopped to visit my family, who was living in Colorado, on a Saturday afternoon. He was going to Florida to join the Navy; then he went to flying school there, and realized his dream of becoming a Navy pilot.

While he was in Florida, he married an absolutely beautiful woman. Not only was she beautiful, but she was intelligent. She was a psychologist. After they married, he was stationed in Hawaii. He became one of the chief pilots for the DC7 that took the Rear Admiral of the United States Navy all over the world visiting bases, but especially over the South Pacific.

So, he had the job of flying the Rear Admiral of the United States Navy all over the South Pacific; his wife was a professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii; they were stationed in Honolulu; they had it made! I mean, he had the kind of job, the kind of wife, the kind of life that men all over the world dream about but almost none of them ever have high status, high income, lots of friends, lots of official functions, lots of parties. But the saying goes, “Into each life, some rain must fall.”

One time when he was stateside, he was in a dreadful automobile accident. He was injured so badly that he was unconscious when he was taken to the Intensive Care Unit. Of course, his wife came to the hospital and talked with the physicians. They told her they did not know what would happen; they did not know if he would ever come to consciousness again, and if he did, whether or not he would have his faculties or if he would be a vegetable.

This beautiful, talented, intelligent lady knew lots of psychology, but she was not prepared for a situation like this. She could not handle it, so she divorced him. After the divorce, he did regain consciousness and improved, though he never could fly an airplane again because of the injuries he received.

This is what happens in this world when we make ourselves No. 1, but Jesus said, “If you gain your life, if you gain everything, you are going to lose it. But if you lose everything, if you lose your life, if you sacrifice your life for somebody else, you are going to keep your life unto life eternal.”

As a Mosquito

The greatest example of this is Jesus Himself. The more I study the story of Jesus, the more astonished I become. I am in absolute awe. I believe, personally, that I will tiptoe and walk in awe in His presence through all eternity, because I do not understand what He left. Talk about self-sacrifice! He did have everything. He had the whole universe, and He was not forced to come down here to earth. He was not ordered to come down here. He went to His Father and pled to come down here. He left everything¾the power and the glory.

There is no way to explain it. The best illustration I have ever heard is if you were to ask someone, “Do you want to become a mosquito?” That is pretty crude, I suppose. We just do not have any way to help people to understand what we are talking about when we talk about what He left behind to come down here to earth.

Jesus Christ is the only Person born in this world who planned out every detail of His life before He was born, with His Father. Every detail of His life was planned out before He ever came! It was not an accident that He was born in a stable. It was not an accident that He was born into a poor family.
It was not an accident that He was poor all of His life. Until He went to Jerusalem to die on the cross, He was one of the poorest men in Jerusalem. All He had left were His clothes, and they took those from Him. What was this all about? It was to teach us the principle that you sacrifice yourself for somebody else. Jesus said, “If you do not learn this, you will not have eternal life.”

A Happy Place

Now, what happens if you do learn the lesson? If you go to heaven, friend, here is what will happen. In this world, everybody is looking out for No. 1 first and, then, other people after that. But, in heaven, everybody is looking out for the happiness of somebody else. They get their joy and happiness from bringing joy and happiness to somebody else. So, everybody in the whole place will be interested in making someone else happy. It is a happy place!

When you are around somebody whose greatest desire is to give anything that they have to make you happy, then you are in a position to start to learn what heaven is about.

Ellen White said, concerning Jesus, that when He was here, “It was heaven to be in His presence.”
The Ministry of Healing, 18. Have you ever tried to analyze that? What was it that made it like heaven to be in His presence? Now, the road is going to get a little bit rough as we study this, so get your seat belt on!

The only people who are going to go to heaven are the people who are like Jesus Christ. Read Revelation 14:1-5; read 11 Corinthians 3:18; read 1 John 3:1-3. Now, Jesus Christ was a person, and it was heaven to be in His presence because of the self-sacrificing love that was in His heart. Remember, the spirit of self-sacrificing love is the spirit that pervades heaven, and it is the very essence of its bliss.

Now, notice carefully where we are going. Self-sacrificing love is the spirit that pervades heaven and is the very essence of its bliss. It was like heaven to be in Jesus’ presence, because He had that self-sacrificing love, and all the people who go to heaven will be people who are Christlike. They will have the spirit of self-sacrificing love like He had. Now, if we really have the spirit of self-sacrificing love like Jesus had, what will it be like to be in our presence? If you and I have become Christlike, it is going to be like heaven to be in our presence, because we have the spirit of self-sacrificing love inside.

The road is going to get rougher yet.

A Little Heaven

If the husband has the spirit of self-sacrificing love so that he is Christlike, it is going to be like heaven to be in his presence. If the wife has the spirit of self-sacrificing love like Jesus has, it is going to be like heaven to be in her presence. If both of them have the spirit of self-sacrificing love in their hearts, what is it going to be like in their home? Why, friend, it is going to be like heaven on earth!

I am glad Ellen White was so specific on this. “We may have a little heaven to go to heaven in, if Christ breathes upon us his Holy Spirit. His love will be with us, and we shall be acquainted with him, and can bring him into our families.” Review and Herald, April 21, 1891.

At another time, Mrs. White counseled: “Parents, make your home a little heaven on earth. You can do this, if you so choose. You can make home so pleasant and cheerful that it will be the most attractive place on earth to your children. Let them receive all the blessings of the household. You can so relate yourselves to God that His Spirit will abide in your home. Come close to the bleeding side of the Man of Calvary. Those who are partakers with Him in His sufferings will at last be partakers with Him in His glory.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, 200.

Now the road is going to get really hard.


What if your home is not like a little heaven to go to heaven in? Oh, friend, this is what we did not want to hear. If your home is not like that, if your home is not a little heaven to go to heaven in, at least one of the people in that home cannot go to heaven in the condition in which they are right now. Something to think about, is it not?

This spirit of self-sacrificing love cannot be forced on anybody. A husband cannot force his wife to love him; a wife cannot force her husband to love her; parents cannot force their children to love them. You cannot force it. It cannot be commanded.

Ellen White wrote, “The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known.” The Desire of Ages, 22.

Let us consider this in a very practical way for a moment. Some of you will be able to relate to this because you have children. A human baby is born to be loved, but the baby does not understand very much about love. The mother is supposed to know about love, and if the mother knows about love, the mother starts giving love to the baby. It is a wonderful thing to see. Every day, several times a day, the mother gives love to the baby. It is expressed in many different ways¾by touching, by stroking, by the expression on the face, by the tone of the voice, by giving food, by giving water, by making the baby comfortable. There is a reason that God made human babies so they require a lot of care. It is in the process of receiving that care that they learn what love is.

But the time comes when the baby starts to really respond to the mother’s love. It is very interesting to see this response. Why is the baby responding to the mother’s love? Because the baby has received so much love from the mother that now this baby has love to give back to the mother.

Now, let me ask you a serious question, albeit an awful question, but we need to face reality. What if the baby is born to a woman who is angry and bitter and does not have very much love to give? Do you know what will happen?

Let us read about it: “The reason why there are so many hard-hearted men and women in our world, is because true affection has been regarded as weakness, and has been discouraged and repressed. The better part of the nature of those of this class was perverted and dwarfed in childhood; and unless rays of divine light can melt away their coldness and hard-hearted selfishness, the happiness of such is buried forever.” Review and Herald, June 22, 1886.

How awful this is! Their happiness is buried forever, unless divine love can break through that ice.

“If we would have tender hearts, such as Jesus had when he was upon the earth, and sanctified sympathy, such as the angels have for sinful mortals, we must cultivate the sympathies of childhood, which are simplicity itself. Then we shall be refined, elevated, and directed by heavenly principles.” Ibid.

There are people all around us (I do not say this to judge anyone) especially in our time much more so than 50 years ago, who are spiritually and emotionally crippled, and they will be spiritually and emotionally crippled until Jesus comes, because of the spiritual and emotional damage that was inflicted on them from babyhood up through childhood.

I am not saying that those people cannot be saved. God can save people whether or not they are physically crippled or spiritually and emotionally crippled, but the fact remains that in this world they are spiritually and emotionally crippled.

I mention these things to hopefully be a little bit of help to those of you who are parents of small children. Do not repress or neglect
to give affection to your small children. If you do, they will grow up to be hard-hearted men and women. They will be emotionally crippled for the rest of their lives in this world.

To be continued . . .

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

The Essence of Heaven, Part II

Ellen White counseled: “Parents, make your home a little heaven on earth. You can do this, if you so choose. . . . You can so relate yourselves to God that His Spirit will abide in your home. Come close to the bleeding side of the Man of Calvary. Those who are partakers with Him in His sufferings will at last be partakers with Him in His glory.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, 200. If your home is not a little heaven to go to heaven in, at least one of the people in that home cannot go to heaven in the condition in which they are right now.

Love Not Forced

The spirit of self-sacrificing love cannot be forced on anybody. A husband cannot force his wife to love him; a wife cannot force her husband to love her; parents cannot force children to love them. You cannot force it. It cannot be commanded.

Ellen White wrote, “The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known.” The Desire of Ages, 22.

Let us consider this in a very practical way for a moment. Some of you will be able to relate to this because you have children. Now, a human baby is born to be loved, but the baby does not understand very much about love. Some of the babies you see today you would think know nothing about love. Be that as it may be, no baby knows very much about love, but the mother is supposed to know about love, and if the mother knows about love, the mother starts giving love to the baby. It is a wonderful thing to see. Every day, several times a day, the mother gives love to the baby. It is expressed in many different ways¾by touching, by stroking, by the expression on the face, by the tone of the voice, by giving food, by giving water, by making the baby comfortable. There is a reason that God made human babies so they require a lot of care. It is in the process of receiving that care that they learn what love is.

But the time comes when the baby starts to really respond to the mother’s love. It is very interesting to see this response. Why is the baby responding to the mother’s love? Because the baby has received so much love from the mother that now this baby has love to give back to the mother.

Now, let me ask you a serious question, albeit an awful question, but we need to face reality. What if the baby is born to a woman who is angry and bitter and does not have very much love to give? Do you know what will happen?

Let us read about it: “The reason why there are so many hard-hearted men and women in our world, is because true affection has been regarded as weakness, and has been discouraged and repressed. The better part of the nature of those of this class was perverted and dwarfed in childhood; and unless rays of divine light can melt away their coldness and hard-hearted selfishness, the happiness of such is buried forever.” Review and Herald, June 22, 1886.

How awful this is! Their happiness is buried forever, unless Divine love can break through that ice.

“If we would have tender hearts, such as Jesus had when he was upon the earth, and sanctified sympathy, such as the angels have for sinful mortals, we must cultivate the sympathies of childhood, which are simplicity itself. Then we shall be refined, elevated, and directed by heavenly principles.” Ibid.

There are people all around us¾I do not say this to judge anyone¾especially in our time much more so than 50 years ago who are spiritually and emotionally crippled, and they will be spiritually and emotionally crippled until Jesus comes, because of the spiritual and emotional damage that was inflicted on them from babyhood up through childhood.

I am not saying that those people cannot be saved. God can save people whether or not they are physically crippled or spiritually and emotionally crippled, but the fact remains that in this world they are spiritually and emotionally crippled.

I mention these things to hopefully be a little bit of help to those of you who are parents of small children. Do not repress or neglect to give affection to your small children. If you do, they will grow up to be hard-hearted men and women. They will be emotionally crippled for the rest of their lives in this world.

Feminist Movement

The principle of sacrificing yourself for the good of others has special meaning and implications when discussing the marriage institution. Through my studies, I understand a little bit about what has happened in society since ancient Rome.

In the world today is something that is called the Feminist Movement. Most Seventh-day Adventist preachers seem to delight in condemning and criticizing the Feminist Movement. I am not saying that it is good; I am not trying to promote it, but I think it is right to recognize that it came as a reaction to a different extreme. What was the different extreme? Men said to their wives, “I am the head of the house; you do whatever I say.”

In my studies, I was shocked to see how different society was in the time of John Wesley (1703-1791). A man and his wife came to Wesley, the wife saying that her husband had been beating her. Wesley had a lady examine her, and sure enough, she was black and blue from her neck down to her feet. The husband declared, “I was full of faith while I was doing it,” and he was excused. His actions were considered to be all right. As an outgrowth of such action, some of the Methodist Christians decided that they needed to make a rule. This just shows you how far the human mind can go astray¾they decided that a man should not beat his wife with a rod that was thicker than his thumb. What kind of society was that?

It was in reaction to this kind of thinking that the Feminist Movement arose. The Feminist Movement, of course, goes to a different extreme. This whole idea of who is the boss, who is the greatest, and all this, is something that destroys the homes and marriages. It can destroy the whole universe if it gets out of hand.

Who Is In Control?

You see, that is part of the original controversy. Who is going to be boss? Jesus addressed this problem in Matthew 20:20-23, “Then there approached Him the mother of the sons of Zebedee with her sons, worshipping and desiring a certain thing from Him. And He said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to Him, ‘Grant in order that these my two sons may sit one at Your right hand and one at Your left in Your kingdom.’ Jesus answering said, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink of the cup that I am about to drink of, and the baptism that I am about to be baptized with?’ They say, ‘We are able.’ And He says to them, ‘You shall indeed drink of My cup and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to those for whom it is prepared by My Father.’ ”

At the time Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffering in terrible agony, if He had gone to James and John and asked them, “Are you able to drink the cup that I am drinking, and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” they would not have been so self-confident. But now, although He did not promise that He was going to give this honor to them, it still aroused trouble in the church. The apostles got very angry about it. We are told in verse 24, “And the ten, hearing, were indignant concerning the two brothers.”

Why were they angry? Because they wanted the top position too! This is the same thing that happens in the family. The husband and wife are fighting about who is going to get the final say on something.

Just Great or No. 1

Matthew 20 continues: “Jesus called them and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. But it shall not be like this among you, but whoever wishes among you to be great, let him be your deacon.’ ” Verse 25. (A deacon is a middle-class servant.)

What if you do not want to be just great; what if you want to be No. 1? Jesus said, “If you want to be great, become a servant,” but then He goes on to say, in verse 27, “And whoever wishes among you to be first, let him be your doulos.” Now, a doulos was not a middle-class servant; a doulos was a slave or a bondservant. That was the lowest level of servanthood.

If you want to be great, Christ said that you should be a diakonos, a deacon. But if you want to be first, be a doulos, a bondservant. Are you catching on to what Jesus is saying? If you just want to be great, you can be a servant, but if you really want to be great, then you need to go even lower in servanthood.

Jesus demonstrated this in His own life. Who was the Majesty of heaven? Jesus Christ. He was the Majesty of heaven. The Father called Him, My One and only One¾He is Mine, and I am well pleased with Him. (11 Peter 1:17.)

Christ was the Majesty of heaven. He was equal with God the Father. There are still Christians arguing about this today. I am not interested in arguing about it, if somebody does not believe it. Inspired writings are very clear, in my understanding, that Jesus Christ is equal with the Father. (See Philippians 2:6.)

The One that is in first place in the universe left it all, and He came down to this earth for a wretch like me. And then, after He came down, He went to the cross for me. When He died on the cross, He had gone as low as anybody could go. You cannot go lower than that in servanthood.

If you read the New Testament in the Greek language, you will find that when Paul addresses the Christian churches, he refers to himself as a doulos of Jesus Christ every time except one—when he refers to himself as a deacon. He considered himself to be a bondservant, a slave of Jesus Christ.

If you and I do not learn the lesson being given here, we will never be in the kingdom of heaven. We can keep the Sabbath; we can pay tithe; but if we do not learn this, we will not be in the kingdom of heaven. This is the very essence of heaven. This is the essence of its bliss.

I do not know about you, but when I studied this subject, I recognized that I am not ready to go to heaven. I need a change inside; do you? Before we are ever going to have heaven on the outside, we have to have heaven on the inside.

Our Great Need

I would like to illustrate for you our great need and the great lack that we have of learning this principle in Adventism, because I know that we do not have it. I am not judging anybody, but I am going to show you now how I know we do not have it. Consider the words of Ellen White:

“We, living far down the passage of ages, have the privilege of studying the Old Testament in connection with the New. Our faith and courage should be strong as we see prophecies fulfilling. But how many there are who are unbelieving. How many there are who reveal selfishness and unkindness in their dealings with one another. How many professing Christians seem never to be satisfied unless they are engaged in strife. How many home circles are broken because the members receive and act upon Satan’s suggestions.

“No unpleasant words are spoken in heaven. There no unkind thoughts are cherished. There envy, evil surmising, hatred, and strife find no place. Perfect harmony pervades the heavenly courts.

“Well does Satan know what heaven is, and what the influence of the angels is. His work is to bring into every family the cruel elements of self-will, harshness, selfishness. Thus he seeks to destroy the happiness of the family. He knows that the spirit governing in the home will be brought into the church.

“Let the father and mother always be guarded in their words and actions. The husband is to treat his wife, the mother of his children, with due respect, and the wife is to love and reverence her husband. How can she do this if he treats her like a servant, to be dictated to, ordered about, scolded, found fault with before the children? He is forcing her to dislike him and even to hate him.

“May God help fathers and mothers to open the windows of the soul heavenward and let the sunshine of Christ into the homelife. Unless they do this, they will be surrounded by a mist and fog most injurious to spirituality.

“Fathers and mothers, bring sweetness and brightness and hopefulness into the lives of your children. Kindness and love will work wonders. Never punish a child in anger. When you do this, you are acting like grown-up children, who have not left behind them the unreasonableness of childhood. Will you strive earnestly to be able to say, ‘When I became a man, I put away childish things’?” The Upward Look, 163.

In every family the devil is trying to do something. He is trying to bring in dissension and the cruel principles of selfishness, because he knows that if he can bring his principles in¾that includes the principle where I am No. 1, and you have to make me happy—it will destroy the happiness of the family.

Devil’s Success

As a pastor, I visit families all over when I travel. I am sorry to tell you that the devil has been very successful among Seventh-day Adventist Christians. He has been so successful that the divorce rate among Seventh-day Adventists is about the same as it is in the world. (<en.allexperts.com/q/Seventh-Day-Adventists-2318/biblical-inquiry.htm> June 4, 2007.) If your home is a little heaven to go to heaven in, do you suppose divorce is going to happen? No, it will not.

Why is the devil so hard at work in every single family to bring in the cruel principles of selfishness, dissension, arguing and strife, and destroy the happiness of the family?

Ellen White, as we read in the book The Upward Look, has told us exactly what his goal and his objective is. He is not trying to bring in dissension and the cruel principles of selfishness and strife just because he wants to destroy your family. He has something much bigger in mind. She says that the devil knows that the same principles worked out in people’s families will be worked out in the church.

Now, let us think this through. If every family in the church has a little heaven to go to heaven in, because they are practicing the principles of self-sacrificing love with each other, then when all the families get together, is it going to be like hell or heaven? Of course, it is going to be like heaven! But the devil knows that whatever principles are acted out at home will be acted out in church.

As I travel and preach at different churches, I find that the churches are experiencing terrible trouble with strife and dissension. What does that tell us? We do not have to be real intelligent; we do not have to have a college education to figure it out; we do not have to be prophets. If there is strife and dissension in the church, that tells us that there is strife and dissension in the homes of the people in that church. What does that mean? It means we are not yet ready to go to heaven.

Prayer Needed

We have some praying to do. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit will come in and change our hearts. There is a passage from Ellen White’s writings that I repeat to myself every day: “The part of the Christian is to persevere in overcoming every fault. Constantly he is to pray to the Saviour to heal the disorders of his sin-sick soul.” The Acts of the Apostles, 532. I have told the Lord that if He has told me to pray that constantly, I am going to do it.

Do you want the disorders of your sin-sick soul to be healed? Oh, I want to tell you that when the disorder of the sin-sick soul of the wife is healed and when the disorder of the sin-sick soul of the husband is healed, something will change in the family. It will no longer be like purgatory in the home.

There will be a change within the church too. We are going to experience what the early believers called “the fellowship of the saints.” “We are to engage earnestly in a spiritual warfare which we do not consider as we should, and we fail to appreciate what it means. The confederacy of evil is arrayed against those who would fight the battles of the Lord.

“But we battle not alone. The fellowship of the saints in light is ours, the championship of the hosts of heaven is ours, and more than angels are on our side; for leading the ranks of his armies is the Captain of the Lord’s hosts. He is Commander of the battle, and as he leads his army to the fields of action, his voice is heard above the din of the battle and the strife, ‘Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ [John 16:33.] Our leader is a conqueror. Advance, then, to victory.” Review and Herald, March 14, 1893.

May we learn the lesson of self-sacrificing love, which is the very essence of the bliss of heaven.

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

The Ten Commandments, Part IV: Idol Worship is Bad News

“You shall not make for your self a carved image [an idol]—any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” (Deuteronomy 5:8.)

The created is not to become the object of worship. The sun, the moon, and the stars in the heavens have been made objects of worship. The creatures of the earth and the creatures in the water have been made objects of worship, but God said, “No!” The reason is spelled out in the next verse, which says, “For I, the Lord thy God, [am] a jealous God.” Deuteronomy 5:9. (What it means for God to be a jealous God was discussed in the first article of this series.)

The second commandment is enforced by a threatened penalty and sustained by a precious promise. “I the Lord thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me, And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” Verses 9, 10.

Sins of the Parents

This is a very troubling statement to many people. They feel that it is an arbitrary decree, but it is not. It is the unalterable, eternal law of heredity and environment that the sins and the faults of the parents are handed down to their children and, in many ways, cannot be escaped.

Many children who have grown up in an alcoholic home hate alcoholism. But the environment, the setting, the passions, and the attitudes are passed on to those children, and, usually, 80 percent of children who grow up in alcoholic homes will become alcoholics. It is just the way it works. We grow up in a home with certain kinds of attitudes—whatever those attitudes may be—and those things are handed down to us, to our children, and to our children’s children. This is why the old story of the Hatfields and the McCoys is perpetual. The hatreds are passed on from generation to generation, and, many times, the current generation does not even realize why they have the hatreds.

The Christian call is for us to come to God’s Word, learn what He asks and requires of us, and then look at ourselves in the mirror of His Law. Are we then to ask, “What is my life all about? I see that I am a sinner, but I am incapable of dealing with this issue. Am I to be eternally lost? Should I just fall down in a pool of discouragement and say, ‘There is no help for me’?” No! In 11 Corinthians 5:17, we read: “If anyone [is] in Christ, [he is] a new creation.” We have another chance by being born again and growing up into the full stature and the measure of a person in Christ Jesus, as we are told in Ephesians 4:15.

This life changing experience can happen at the age of 12 years, or it can happen at 80 years. Even in older years, we can still go through this process of changing and maturing in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are young, God will allow the miracle to grow slower. If you are old, He will pour a lot of “fertilizer” on it, and you will grow very quickly. God has an answer for everything!

These sinful tendencies, which parents have passed on to the children, will be passed on and on, unless Christ intervenes in the lives. This is one of the reasons we hear little sayings such as, “He is acting just like his father,” or, “She is following in her mother’s footsteps.” But it does not have to be that way.

Idol of Fashion

Fashion, in its broadest sense, embraces idolatry. The word fashion means, “to conform to the prevailing modes, practices, and customs of the world.” Worldly fashions have to do chiefly with garments and ornaments with which the body is clothed and bedecked. Usually, we find that all exhibitions of pride and dress, which are contrary to the Word of God, constitute a species of idolatry, and God’s Word declares it so. This is why we, as Seventh-day Adventists, have special counsel relative to the areas of fashion, dress, and adornment. Those things constitute a species of idolatry, which is a transgression of the second commandment.

It is upon the Ten Commandments that hang all the law and the prophets. This second commandment is very profound. Women, as well as men, can be slaves to the idol of fashion. Your adornment should not be an outward thing; it should not be a display of ornaments and articles of dress.


When I attended Walla Walla College in Walla Walla, Washington, I had a professor by the name of Alden Thompson. Several years after I graduated, he wrote a book entitled, God’s Word: Casebook or Codebook? Codebook meaning that the Bible is just a code of laws and prohibitions, a code of “Thou shalt nots.” Casebook meaning the case histories of how God relates to the sinner through all the failings and difficulties that man encounters. Both aspects are found in the Bible. It is indeed a codebook, and it is indeed a casebook as well!

Nothing New

While studying recently, in the Book of Exodus, I came across something very interesting, in regard to the concept of casebook. Let us see if we can figure out what it was that was so displeasing to God, as we read this passage: “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for [as for] this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” Exodus 32:1.

What struck my interest is the next recorded event: “And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which [are] in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring [them] unto me.” Verse 2.

When I read this, I thought, “Surely there is nothing new under the sun!” Idolatry is a perpetual kind of thing that keeps reaping generation after generation after generation. I do not know about you, but I was very dismayed when I first saw an earring in a male’s ear. Then they began showing up in women’s noses; I have witnessed women with multiple earrings from the tops to the bottoms of their ears. From this text in Exodus, take note that this kind of ornamentation is a form of idolatry.

One Sin Leads to Another

“And all the people brake off the golden earrings which [were] in their ears, and brought [them] unto Aaron. And he received [them] at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw [it], he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow [is] a feast to the Lord.” Verses 3–5. Here was this object, fashioned by their hands, and they held it up before the children of Israel as that which represented Jehovah God! Is it not almost incomprehensible? Yet it took place.

“And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings;”—you can imagine—“and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” Verse 6. One thing leads to another. If you break one of the commandments, you have broken them all. “He who willfully breaks one commandment, does not, in spirit and truth, keep any of them. ‘Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.’ James 2:10.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 51.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted [themselves]: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it [is] a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit [it] for ever. And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony [were] in his hand: the tables [were] written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other [were] they written. And the tables [were] the work of God, and the writing [was] the writing of God, graven upon the tables. And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, [There is] a noise of war in the camp.” Exodus 32:7–17.

Do you know what was taking place? They were shouting and singing and dancing. Verse 18 continues, “And he said, [It is] not the voice of [them that] shout for mastery, neither [is it] the voice of [them that] cry for being overcome: [but] the noise of [them that] sing do I hear.”

Then it goes on to tell how they not only became involved in the breaking of the second commandment but also got involved in singing and drinking and dancing, finally stripping off their clothes! “Moses saw that the people [were] naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto [their] shame among their enemies.)” Verse 25.

The second commandment is very deep. It is so deep that we will deal with more aspects of it in another article. God has a message for His people, as far as the second commandment is concerned. It was not just for the Old Testament Jews, because we can see that many of the issues to which the second commandment speaks are very relevant to us today. It is only as we come up to the standard to which God calls us that we will find His acceptance.

To be continued . . .