"We want to understand the time in which we live. We do not half understand it. We do not half take it in. My heart trembles in me when I think of what a foe we have to meet, and how poorly we are prepared to meet him. The trials of the children of Israel, and their attitude just before the first coming of Christ, have been presented before me again and again to illustrate the position of the people of God in their experience before the second coming of Christ—how the enemy sought every occasion to take control of the minds of the Jews, and today he is seeking to blind the minds of God’s servants, that they may not be able to discern the precious truth." Selected Messages, vol. 1, 406.
This statement makes it very important for us to study the history of the Jewish people just before the first coming of Christ. Their experience, according to this statement, is an illustration of the experience of God’s people just before the second coming. Let us notice four points from this statement.
First: We do not half understand or take in the time in which we live.
Second: We have a foe to meet that we are poorly prepared to meet. (She is writing in the Review and Herald so obviously the "we" refers to those who profess to be God’s remnant people—Seventh-day Adventists.)
Third: The trials of the children of Israel and their attitude just before the first coming were presented to Ellen White over and over again as an illustration of the position that professed Adventists would occupy just before the second coming.
Fourth: Last of all, a specific point of comparison is made between their time and ours namely, the devil sought then to take control of their minds as he is now seeking to control the minds as he is now seeking to control the minds of God’s remnant people, so they will not understand the truth.
We will look at the last point first. How does the devil get control or take control of people’s minds? A description of this process was written out by Ellen White in Letter 311, October 30, 1905. She wrote, "He prepares minds by degrees to become imbued with his spirit…In the future Satan’s last exploits will be carried out with more power than ever before. He has learned much, and he is full of scientific scheming to make of no effect the work that is under the supervision of the One who came to the Isle of Patmos to educate John…The miracles that Christ wrought gave to the world evidence of the divinity of His mission. This powerful evidence the Jews would not receive, because Christ’s teaching did not harmonize with their preconceived ideas, or exalt the human agencies who continually exalted themselves.
"The Lord has been giving me instruction that we are meeting the same unbelief today, and that we shall continue to meet it as we bear the last message of mercy to the world. Every ingenious device will be used, every possible method taken advantage of, to lead men to live a lie…the course of false science led the Jews to strong unbelief…The Jews who were fulfilling the prophecies in the Old Testament Scriptures, did not realize what they were doing. They professed to believe these prophecies, and they did not know that they were working out the plan foretold…At this stage of the earth’s history, many act like drunken men…A spiritual drunkenness is upon many who suppose they are the people who shall be exalted…they cannot walk straight…They are looked upon by the Lord with great pity…They are scientific schemers…The developments of these last days will soon become decided. When these spiritualistic deceptions are revealed to be what they really are—the secret workings of evil spirits—those who have acted a part in them will become as men who have lost their minds…A marvelous work shall take place. Ministers, lawyers, doctors, who have permitted these falsehoods to overmaster their spirit of discernment will be themselves deceivers, united with the deceived…They will misinterpret the warnings and messages God has sent, placing on these warnings their false statements, to make God’s word of no effect…Some who have been deceived by men in responsible places will repent, and be converted. And in all our dealings with them, we must remember that none of those who are in the depth of Satan’s snares know that they are there…How my heart has been agonized as I have seen souls accepting the inducements held out to them to unite with those who were warring against God. When they once accept the bait it seems impossible to break the spell that Satan casts over them, because the enemy works out the science of deception as he worked it out in the heavenly courts. He has worked so diligently with men in our day that he has won the game again and again.
"What, I ask, can be the end? Again and again have I asked this, and I have always received the same instruction, Never leave a soul unwarned. Those who are bound in Satan’s coils are the most confident and the most boastful. They will protest at the thought that they are ensnared, yet it is the truth."
Analysis of Statement
Degrees: The devil does not get control of men’s minds all of a sudden, but gradually—gradually he introduces ideas which eventually bring the mind far away from the truth and change it into a totally different direction. Because of the gradualness, of his operations, and the way he mixes truth with error, and because it is generally stated in the language of truth—without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, nobody knows that anything is happening.
Scheming: This work described above is not haphazard but done according to scientific scheming.
Preconceived ideas: The Jews rejected the evidence that Jesus gave of the divinity of His mission, because this evidence did not agree with their preconceived ideas. It did not exalt the human agencies—the professed church and especially its organization—who continually exalted themselves. Their preconceived ideas included the idea that the work of salvation must come through the authorized channel of the Sanhedrin. Remember all this is predicted to be part of the experience of God’s people again. Whenever we mark out a way that God has to work, we are in grave danger. We are in even more serious danger when we began to fight those who are not working the way that we are.
Same preconceived ideas: We are meeting the unbelief of the Jews today. (Written in 1905.)
False ideas will continue: God’s people will have to continue to meet (in the future after 1905) this unbelief as we bear the last message of mercy to the world. This statement clearly shows that God’s true people will have to meet the same unbelief from His professed true people until the end, just as Jesus and His disciples had to meet the unbelief of the Jews—God’s professed people in those days.
Profession is a lie: The devil will lead men to "live a lie." This means that men’s profession and their real character will be completely different. They will profess to be finishing God’s work in the world while they are actually fighting the revival and reformation movement that must come if any are going to be ready at the end.
"Only channel:" Through false science the Jews developed strong unbelief. This false science was their method of interpreting the scripture so that the Jews, and their religious organization, had to be the channel through which God would work for salvation.
Wake up to late: This same scientific scheming and spiritual drunkenness is present today and when these spiritualistic deceptions are revealed to be what they really are—the secret working of evil spirits—those who have acted a part in them will become as men who have lost their minds.
Adventists deceiving other Adventists: Leaders in Adventism ("Minister, lawyers, doctors will have their spirit of discernment overmastered by falsehoods, will become deceivers and will unite with other Adventists who are deceived. (The context of the entire letter shows clearly that it is talking about Adventists in the last days.) It does not say that they will forsake the inspired writings but that they will misinterpret the warnings and messages God has sent—just like the Jews.
Some of the deceived will be salvaged: Some of the Adventists who have been deceived by these "men in responsible places" will repent and be converted.
None of the deceived know they are deceived: In all our dealings with these Adventists who have been deceived by their leaders, we must remember that none of those who are in the depth of Satan’s snares know that they are there.
The spiritual trap: As Ellen White in vision, saw Adventists accepting inducements held out to them to unite with those who were warring against God, she said that she was agonized. Once they accepted the bait, Satan cast a spell over them so that it seemed impossible for them to break free again. The questions now are what are these inducements held out by Adventist leaders which are bait to other Adventists to deceive them and cause them to unite with those who were warring against God?
First we must understand how a group of Adventists could be warring against God. Since this is in an overall context and comparison of the Jews in the time of Christ, how did the Jews in the time of Christ war against God? One of the principal ways they fought God was by warring against his people. For example, look at the reaction to John the Baptist and to Stephen. (The professed church made war against the true church. Does this sound familiar?)
It now becomes clear what inducements some Adventists will hold out to other Adventists to get them to unite with those (Adventists) who are warring against God. (In the final analyses the only real way anybody in this world can war against God is by warring against His true people.) The inducements would be any attractions offered by professed Adventists to get other Adventists to join them in making war against the true Adventists.
A spiritual war is not like a military conflict. When inducements are first held out to true Adventists, arguments are often used which indicate that the structure really wants to have unity etc. with all the Adventists, but these few independents won’t talk to us, or work with us. (The list is long.) But the real objective is to get all the people and all their financial support controlled by a central organization which is fighting Historic Adventism around the world.
In a spiritual war, when you join the wrong side, the objectives change as you go along. But God is allowing things to develop that will reveal everybody’s real character. When an organization takes Adventists to court and puts them in prison, this should be evidence enough about what is going on for any praying, studying, soul. This has happened over the years and similar activities of harassment are continuing around the world against the true Adventists.
Many of God’s professed remnant people are still blind to reality and think that some way God is going to use an unrepentant organization, in such an apostasy as this, to finish His work. Others believe that in some way God is going to force the organization to repent and reform, but just as with the Jews once a pathway has been entered and traveled down for a long time, the ability to make such a change eventually becomes impossible.
Right now every time somebody stands up and shows the counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy concerning our medical work or educational work or church organization, immediately there is a war against the reformer. Habit patterns are so deeply ingrained in the minds of Adventists, just as in the minds of the Jews, that the great majority, both leaders and laymen, are not going to turn back to obedience to the Spirit of Prophecy.
We are not in the same situation as the Jews were in when John the Baptist first appeared—the revival and reformation movement has been appealing to Adventists to repent and come into harmony with the Spirit of Prophecy for years, and the apostasy has gotten so bad that instead of asking for baptism as they did from John the Baptist, the organization takes the innocent to court and attempts to put them in prison. The fact that most Adventists are supporting such legal actions (which collectively cost any millions of dollars) is shocking evidence of how deep into a Laodicean condition they really are. This is an exact parallel to what happened in the church in Christ’s day, which Ellen White said was given to her over and over again as an example of our experience as we near the end.
The Adventists who are fulfilling this prophecy are those in conference churches who are attempting to get all other Adventists to join them to destroy Adventists who have been cast out of the system for standing up against the apostasy. The inducements are legion. For the shallow-minded, the inducement is to join a big church, that has a perfect organization and supposedly a worldwide school system from kindergarten through the university, with supposed employment available in medical institutions and clinics around the world. To the lazy, it is to just be a pew-warmer and not have to be in a life and death struggle such as the independent Adventist churches are going through, with attacks of false doctrine, fanaticism, plus every blow which the structure can muster to destroy the revival and reformation movement in Adventism and every independent Adventist church worldwide. For some it is peace and fellowship and more social outlet with their relatives and friends who believe that you must be in the structure to go through to the end. (Just like the Jews in Jesus day.) Whatever the inducement is, once the bait is accepted by an Adventist who has been free and true and faithful, Satan casts a spell over the mind according to Ellen White and it is almost impossible for those individuals to break loose from this spell again. (We have seen this happen over and over again all over the country and locally.) Whenever a person is induced, for any reason, to join with those who are making war against Historic Adventists, the devil has direct access to their minds. A spell is cast over them and often, they will not communicate anymore with Historic Adventists.
If they had been in the structure and no light of revival and reformation had shone on them and they had not access to the Spirit of Prophecy, then they would not be accountable for light that they had never seen or had opportunity to see. But when God has allowed the light to shine on them and then they turn back from obeying it to join those who are persecuting the true and faithful, "when they once accept the bait it seems impossible to break the spell that Satan casts over them." (Marshall preached a whole sermon about this at the 1888 Bible Conference. See Tapes # 556, 557 "To Deceive the Elect" Part I and II.) They are in the same position as those who went back to the structure after the feeding of the 5,000. Even though the door was open for them to return and be saved, they did not do so. They thought they were saved and in the true church, but they had rejected Jesus. Jesus said to His faithful followers, the one who accepts you accepts Me. The converse of this is, the one who rejects you rejects Me. "To reject the Lord’s servants is to reject Christ Himself." Desire of Ages, 489.
The deceived will protest :Ellen White asked what would be the end of this. She was always given the same instruction—"never leave a soul unwarned." We are printing this article, so that no soul who is willing to read will be unwarned. Many will scoff at the message, for she says in the next sentence, "Those who are bound in Satan’s coils are the most confident and the most boastful. They will protest at the thought that they are ensnared, yet it is the truth."
If you are with conference leaders, and pastors who are working with them, and other such as doctors and lawyers who have shown a determination to fight against and try to destroy independent Adventist churches and members—namely the Historic Adventist movement worldwide—if you are sure that you are right and your opponents are wrong, have you ever thought about fasting and praying that the Lord would reveal to you his ways and plans for Adventism? The more sure you are that you are right, the more this quotation implies.
Having looked at the fourth point in the quotation (SM vol. 1, 406) we will now look at the third point, which is about the trials of the children of Israel and their attitude just before the first coming, this was presented to her over and over again as an illustration of the position that professed Adventists would occupy just before the second coming.
While it would be impossible to look in depth at the children of Israel before the first coming of Christ in this article, we will notice two points: how they were misled by the devil on (1) their position about the church and its leaders and (2) their work of evangelism.
The position of the leaders of Israel about evangelism, the church and its leaders before the coming of Christ as follows:
You must be a member: You had to be part of Israel to be saved, or in other words you had to be a recognized member of the Jewish church to be saved.
You must get permission: Anybody who did not obtain permission from the Sanhedrin and who did not follow the directions of the Sanhedrin could not engage in evangelism because he could not bring people into the organized body as members. (His work would not be recognized.)
The independent ministries are heretics: The conclusion was that anybody who was not authorized by the church leaders to work for the Lord was not in the Lord’s work and actually a heretic.
You must oppose this heresy: Therefore, the work of any such person or group of persons should be opposed to the utmost by all loyal Israelites. The above conclusions are thoroughly documented in the first several chapters of the book Desire of Ages.
They were interested in evangelism, but only if it was sponsored and authorized and directed by the right people—namely the Sanhedrin. For this reason people like John the Baptist and Jesus were condemned as heretics (and worse) because they were not sponsored by what they thought was the church, neither were they authorized and directed by what they thought was the church. According to the quotations quoted, this is the situation that we are to be in during the end of time again.
Jesus and Evangelism
"At this time [when Jesus came] the systems of heathenism were losing their hold upon the people. Men were weary of pageant and fable. They longed for a religion that could satisfy the heart." Desire of Ages, 32.
As a result of the lack of morality in pagan religions, the morality of the Jewish people from their possession of the Old Testament, attracted the attention of man people in the empire to Judaism. Many accepted Judaism to a greater or lesser extent. The Jews took advantage of this weakening of the systems of heathenism on the people, but Jesus condemned their evangelism because of the spiritual consequences to the proselytes. Proselytizing was carried on in many parts of the Roman empire by the Jews. There were synagogues scattered in many places of the empire. Frequently, when Gentiles examined Judaism to discover what made it effective, they were led to embrace it. As heathen religions lost their hold on the people and the Jews carried on aggressive missionary activity, proselytes to the Jewish religion could be numbered in the hundreds of thousands, if not in the millions, according to various scholars, both Jewish and Christian. Josephus said, "The masses have long since shown a keen desire to adopt our religious observances; and there is not one city, Greek or barbarian, nor a single nation, to which our custom of abstaining from work on the seventh day has not spread, and where the fasts and the lighting of lamps and many of our prohibitions in the matter of food are not observed." (See Seventh-day Adventists Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 62, 63.)
Will we meet these Jewish proselytes in heaven? We know from the New Testament that many of them will be lost even though they were converted through the chosen people of God. What would have to happen for them to be saved?
The religion of Judaism was self-limiting—all their system, sanctuary, sacrifices, and ceremonies pointed forward to the Messiah. If He did not come, their entire religion would actually be meaningless. So for those who accepted Judaism to be saved, they had to receive the Messiah into their heart, otherwise their entire religion was but empty husks and would not fulfill the deepest desires of the soul.
The same is true today. Adventism is self-limiting also. Everything in Adventism, the Three Angels’ Messages, the sanctuary message and all the doctrines, surround the one central truth that Jesus is coming the second time to this world. The message of Adventism is a message given to prepare us to meet Him without character spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. The purpose of the Spirit of Prophecy is to help to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord. When people have accepted the doctrine of Adventism and the message of the soon coming of Jesus, they are not then ready to be translated. "When souls are converted, their salvation is not yet accomplished. They then have the race to run; the arduous struggle is before them to ‘fight the good fight of faith.’ " Our High Calling, 163.
Now suppose that when we teach people the truths of the Three Angels’ Messages that we then bring them into a church that is fighting the Historic Adventist movement worldwide and teach them that they must not have anything to do with those Historic Adventists who are not part of the conference, because if they do they will be misled and ruined spiritually and become fanatical and heretical. This is exactly what the Jewish church did in the time of Christ. They were busy all over the world with their proselytizing campaigns which were very successful and they taught their converts that they must not have anything to do with Jesus of Nazareth because He was an impostor. What about today? Do Historic Adventists have the same truth that the pioneers in Adventism taught and preached? Yes they do. Historic Adventists have been cast out for the precise reason that they have contended for the faith once delivered to the saints. All people brought into the Adventist faith today must eventually, before the end, become part of the Historic Adventist revival and reformation movement worldwide, if they are going to avoid the seven last plagues, remain Adventists to the end and be translated.
Christ is no more divided today than ever before in history. He never contradicts Himself and He never fights Himself. Neither does He change his testimony. "It is not the true church of God that makes war with those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." Signs of the Times, April 22, 1889.
"I see perplexities on every side. As character develops man and woman will take their position, for varied circumstances brought to bear upon them will cause them to reveal the spirit which prompts them to action. Every one will reveal the character of the bundle with which he is binding himself. The wheat is being bound up for the heavenly garner. The true people of God are now pulling apart, and the tares are being bound in bundles ready to burn. Decided positions will be taken. Satan will move upon minds that have been indulged, upon men who have always had their own way, and anything presented to them in counsel or reproof to change their objectionable traits of character is considered faultfinding, binding them, restraining them, that they cannot have liberty to act themselves. The Lord in great mercy has sent messages of warning to them, but they would not listen to reproof. Like the enemy who rebelled in heaven, they do not like to hear, do not correct the wrong they have done but become accusers, declaring themselves misused and unappreciated." 1888 Materials, 995.
We are now fulfilling the prophecies that there would be two opposing parties in Adventism at the end, just as there were two opposing parties in Palestine in the time of John the Baptist and Jesus. Those that attempt to destroy other Adventists cannot possibly be in the right, even if they understand theological truth.
In closing here are a few prophecies about the two opposing parties in Adventism at the end: "Confederacies will increase in number and power as we draw nearer to the end of time. These confederacies will create opposing influences to the truth, forming new parties of professed believers who will act out their own delusive theories. The apostasy will increase. Manuscript Release, vol. 7, 197. (Similar in Selected Messages, vol. 2, 383.)
In the third chapter of Malachi, two parties are brought to view. Here the Lord denounces His professed people who are not faithful sentinels. Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1182.
In the message to the church at Sardis two parties are presented—those who have a name to live, but are dead; and those who are striving to overcome. Study this message, found in the third chapter of Revelation…To the church of the present day this message is sent. Review and Herald, August 20, 1903.