Monday, July 12, 2010

Modern day Israel: Have we improved on the old version?

I have recently been pondering a subject that many of us may feel is a familiar one, but I believe there are many little things that we don’t often consider. May we each take the challenge that God presents to us, and fulfill His will in our lives!

First, let us look at the signs and wonders that God performed through His servants, Moses and Aaron, starting in Exodus 7:10-12:29. God delivered His people from the Egyptian bondage, by a series of miracles, and showed His people that He was well able to provide for them, through the manifestation of His power. We, too, have been delivered from the bondage of Papal rule, coming out of the dark ages, when God’s people were delivered from persecution, and the word of God was allowed to be unfettered in people’s homes. God has also given us many signs, in the sun, moon, the stars, and through other mediums, of His love and care for us, and of His soon coming. Then, we all know the story, of how God gave His law to the Israelites, (Exodus 20) at mount Sinai, in a great show of His power, and accompanied these commandments, His highest law, and representation of His character, with other laws, to help His people to know how to keep his law in its fullness. These precepts He gave through Moses, His prophet and the leader of His people. Right before, and especially after, 1844, God revealed His supreme law to His church on earth, and also gave us so much more, to help us keep His law better, through the health message, the Sabbath message, the state of the dead, a lack of materialism, etc., (Another subject completely!). God continued leading His people, and brought them finally to the borders of the promised land. Starting in Numbers 13:1, there were 12 spies sent into the ‘Land flowing with milk and honey,’ and they brought back a report, that it was a good land, and one to be desired. But, they said it was not possible to take it! They refused to take the promised land, because they looked only at the difficulties at hand, instead of their great defender. We know, from past history, that during the time around 1888, Jesus could have come, considering that everything seemed to be falling into place, including the Sunday law, and many other things. But we were not willing to go in, because we leaned on our own understanding. We depended on our own ideas, and our own methods, and failed utterly! So, we were sent in to the years of wandering in the wilderness of time, just as was ancient Israel. Now, what do you think the first major event recorded in the Spirit of Prophecy is immediately following the start of Israel’s wilderness wanderings was? Beginning in Numbers 16;1, the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, is what immediately follows. They rebelled against the position of leadership that was given to Moses, and thought they could do a much better job, themselves. Is there a parallel here for us, as well? Are we tearing down, instead of building up? Do we take the Spirit of Prophecy, and say that ‘That was for her time,’ or ‘The Spirit of Prophecy is good, but isn’t really from God.’ Do we only see the bad things happening in our church, and criticize our leadership, and seek to ‘Split up,’ and do it our own way, or are we trying to build up the church God has been working with for over 150 years? Are we falling into the same trap that ancient Israel fell into, yet criticizing them, not knowing we are guilty of the same sins? It was not all loss for Israel, though. There were victories against the enemy, even through their wilderness wanderings. But let us move forward to the time, right before Israel was to take the land of Canaan, while they were almost at the banks of the Jordan, in fact. There is a chapter in ‘Patriarchs and Prophets,’ called ‘Apostasy at the Jordan,’ that I will be studying from. You can also look it up, starting with Numbers 25:1. The Israelites had just come from defeating their enemies, and were now resting while Moses, their leader, was making plans for taking the land of Canaan. In this time of inactivity, the ‘Enemy of souls’ struck. You see, they were surrounded by heathen nations, and became familiar with the wickedness that was common among these nations. Midianitish women began to appear, under the garb of friendship, to seduce the Israelites into idolatry, and licentiousness. All the while, Balaam was working behind the scenes, and now he suggested to the King of Moab, that they should have a ‘Grand festival,’ in honor of their god’s. It was also secretly arranged that Balaam should induce the Israelites to attend. He was regarded as a prophet of God, so he unfortunately had little difficulty. Great numbers joined in witnessing the festivities. Notice that it says in Patriarchs and prophets, p454, that they were just ‘Witnessing’ the festivities. Now the enemy had them. Soon they were taking part in them! Allured by the music, dancing, and the beauty of the heathen god’s, they cast off their loyalty to Jehovah. The people that had been unconquerable through means of battle, were now conquered, and in the act of worshipping heathen god’s. Now that the Israelites had gone and partaken of these heathen’s ‘Worship style,’ it was brought back to the camp, and practiced throughout it. When word came to Moses, he was filled with indignation. Judgment was not long in coming. A terrible pestilence broke out in the camp, to which tens of thousands fell prey. God commanded that the leaders in the apostasy should be put to death by the magistrates. All felt that the punishment was just, and the people soon gathered at the Tabernacle, and with tears and deep humiliation, confessed their sin. Into the middle of this fearful scene, one of the ‘Nobles’ of Israel, came boldly into the camp, accompanied by a Midianitish Harlot, a princess of one of the top lines in Midian. Right in view of everybody, he took her to his tent. This action was immediately attended to, by Phinehas, and they were both struck dead. This action by Phinehas, saved the camp, as God stopped the plague that was destroying the people. This is a very sad story, of apostasy. Are you seeing any parallels yet? Let me see if I can try to draw a few. The first mistake of the Israelites was murmuring and distrusting God, and then another major mistake was that of the rebellion of Korah and his associates, in the distrust of leadership, and scorning of God’s word through His prophet, Moses. This prepared the way for the ultimate apostasy, at the banks of the promised land. Brothers and Sisters, are we on the banks of the promised land? Are we looking forward to possessing the land of Heaven? Let us take a careful look to see that we have not fallen into the traps of the first Israel! Have we taken the Spirit of Prophecy, and made it of no effect? Is it the word of the Lord, or the words of a feeble woman? Was it for ‘Her time?’ Josiah didn’t use that excuse. When he discovered the law, “Josiah did not say, ‘I knew nothing about this book. These are ancient precepts, and times have changed.’
…In Josiah’s day the word of the Lord was as binding, and should have been as strictly enforced, as at the time it was spoken. And today it is as binding as it was then.” SDA Bible Commentary, EGW comments, vol. 3, pg 1133, emphasis supplied. Will we take that challenge? It will only be a firm, rock-solid belief in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy that will keep us from the next major apostasy, which is already overtaking our church. Have we looked to the ‘heathen,’ to find new worship styles? Are we going to their meeting and functions, just to listen and learn new things? It is interesting that it was the women that started it, and they got away with it, because nobody expected anything bad from them. Women are a symbol for churches in the Bible, and do you think it is possible that we could be overlooking these heathen ways, because it is coming from women, (or churches)? It is also interesting to note that the last part of the apostasy involved a harlot, and a very prominent one, possibly a ‘mother of harlots?’ Do you think that possibly we could be placing the ‘Mother of harlots’ in a prominent place in our ranks, and even with boldness? Notice that music was a big part of this new worship style. Do you think it was pure hymns? Oh no. It was heathen music. In Patriarchs and Prophets, it says there was music. Did the music need lyrics to make it bad? No. The music is part of what brought down their morals. So, the lyrics don’t make it bad or good! It is the Music itself, and the lyrics only make it worse, or if they are ‘good,’ they are simply taking God’s name in vain. Let us look at what we need to do now, from the words of the Spirit of Prophecy. “A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs.” Christian service, pg 41. “The time has come for a thorough reformation to take place. When this reformation begins, the spirit of prayer will actuate every believer, and will banish from the church the spirit of discord and strife.” Testimonies, vol. 8, pg 251. There are many, many parallels that can be drawn from the history of ancient Israel, and I will not try to draw them all. I simply want to draw my attention, as well as encourage you to draw yours, to the fact that we may be following our namesake into perdition. But there is hope! A remnant did possess the land of Canaan, and so with us, a remnant will possess the land of Heaven, it is my prayer that you and I will be among them! Will you unite with me in doing battle with the enemy, and resisting the influences of the world? Will we take the word of God, and make it our daily guide? I pray that each of us will. May we all unite in taking the land of Heaven, that the Lord offers so freely!
Your Brother in Christ,

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