by Marshall Grosboll
For twenty years the children of Israel had been suffering under Jabin, the king of Canaan, and Sisera his captain. Year after year Israel was unwilling to recognize the cause for their suffering and calamity, which was their disobedience to the Lord. Many never admitted the cause. It was just natural occurrences, they thought. But with each home burned from another raid, each child or wife stolen to become the slave of a heathen tyrant, and each rape and murder, there came new conviction of their sins to those receptive to the Spirit of God. Until finally, there was at least a high percentage who repented and in humility cried out to God for help, something they could have done twenty years earlier. “And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel” (Judges 4: 3). The children of Israel had no implements of war because they all had been taken away from them, yet the Canaanites were fully armed and led by skilled warriors.
Finally the children of Israel turned to the Lord in their extremity, and the Lord heard their prayer, but He did not answer in the expected way. They wanted a general, but He sent a woman, Deborah, whom He had chosen to judge Israel at that time. He had also given her the gift of prophecy and made her the ruler of Israel. In answer to the cry of Israel, He gave a message through her, His chosen prophet: “Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kadesh in Naphtali, and said to him, ‘Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, ‘Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand’? ’ And Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go’ ” (verses 6- 8).
Barak was so fearful that he refused to go unless Deborah went with him. Deborah was as brave in battle as she was in counsel and giving the straight testimony to Israel, so she went, but she warned Barak that because he did not obey the Lord, but depended on her, it would be by another woman that victory would be won. “So she said, ‘I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. ‘Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kadesh” (verse 9). So it was that Deborah led out the army, and Jael, the wife of Heber, an in- law of Moses, killed the commander of the Canaanites. “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were deserted, and the travelers walked along the byways. Village life ceased, it ceased in Israel, until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel. They chose new gods; then there was war in the gates; not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel. . . . Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; blessed is she among women in tents” (Judges 5: 6- 8, 24). What a picture of the last days is here depicted! Just as Israel had been led away captive by a heathen country, in a physical sense, because of their departure from the Lord, with many killed and the remnant hiding out in the rocks and mountains, so for many years spiritual Israel, because of apostasy in the early ages, had been under the dominion of the beast power, with many killed and the remnant hiding “in the wilderness,” as the Bible says. But in the last days, because of the cry of God’s people, a message went forth with boldness to the world, depicted as an angel flying in the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice to all who are on the face of the earth. No more would God’s people be in hiding; they were to come to the forefront and take their places before the world.
WOMEN IN THE WORK
When God sought to lead out His people in this last great endeavor, He chose a man. He called for a leader to communicate His wishes to the church and lead them out victorious. He first called for William Foy, then Hazen Foss, and they both refused. God then turned from them and said, “I am going to the weakest of the weak.” He chose a young woman in her teen years who was not expected to live, and through her sent His messages to lead His people on to victory. Moreover, we are told that not only did God choose a woman to communicate with His people in the beginning, He is also going to use women in this conflict until the very end, and to bring it to completion. Joel 2: 28, 29, a prophecy of the last days, says: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”
Ellen White writes in The Youth’s Instructor, February 18, 1902: “At the eleventh hour the Lord will call into His service many faithful workers. Self- sacrificing men and women will step into the places made vacant by apostasy and death. To young men and young women, as well as to those who are older, God will give power from above. With converted minds, converted hands, converted feet and converted tongues, their lips touched with a living coal from the divine altar, they will go forth into the Master’s service, moving steadily onward and upward, carrying the work forward to completion.” Let us not become too rigid in our ideas as to how God can use men and women. In the days of Israel He chose a woman to lead out the army, and He chose a woman to complete the victory. In like manner, in the final work of God, He is going to use women. Before Jesus comes, there will be those who die in battle, those who will apostatize, those who may be imprisoned or sidetracked in one way or another. God is going to use young men and women, as well as those older in years, to fill the ranks and carry the work onward and upward to completion. Dear friend, the work is going to be completed.
LAYING YOUR LIFE ON THE LINE
While some things in the victory of Deborah, Barak and Jael point forward to the glorious completion of God’s work, there are also disappointing elements to the story illustrating disappointments in the final work of God on earth. In Judges 5: 14- 17, Deborah mentions the various tribes to whom the message bad been given to come up to the help of the Lord and to join in this battle. The call to arms in battle had been given in Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh (which is Machir), Zebulun, Issachar, Reuben, Gilead (the other half of Manasseh), Dan, Asher, and Naphtali. Ten out of the twelve tribes are mentioned by name. In all the tribes of Israel there were undoubtedly hundreds of thousands of eligible men, but how many came up to the help of the Lord? Out of all the ten tribes called, how many responded? In Judges 4: 14 we are told that 10,000 followed Barak to battle. Judges 5: 17 says that Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan, so as not to get involved. Why did Dan remain on ships? “We’ll be safer out here fishing,” they thought. Asher continued at the seashore and stayed in the inlets. Zebulun and Naphtali, the two main tribes, jeopardized their lives, but the rest did not respond, and God was not well pleased with them. While these men of Israel professed to be loyal to the Lord, they were not going to jeopardize their lives against an unconquerable enemy. And yet the Lord says in Matthew 10: 39: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” In Luke 14, Jesus said that a cost is involved in the Christian life, and that we must count this cost as to whether we are willing to be counted with the army of the Lord. “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14: 27). “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (verse 26). “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has [including his own life] cannot be My disciple” (verse 33).
I have often been impressed with the story of the great men of David. In 2 Samuel 23: 9,10 is a typical example of these great men. Among the various men who were willing to give their lives for Israel, the truth and the cause of God, is Eleazar, the son of Dodo, the Ahohite. He was one of the three mighty men with David when he defied the Philistines who were gathered for battle. The whole army of Israel was in retreat and one man alone stood up against the enemy. He not only held his ground; he arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary and stuck to his sword. He did not quit. “The Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to plunder” (2 Samuel 23: 10).
Have you ever imagined being in Eleazar’s place? The Philistines that he was fighting were demon possessed. They were not weaklings. They were not merely playing video games. They were there with real swords and were accustomed to using them to cut off people’s heads. And there was not just one or two, there were hundreds. He was surrounded and he fought with all of his might, just barely missing a sword, time after time. Eleazar went to battle to give his life as a martyr for God. He was not expecting to come out of that battle alive. Eleazar said, “I am going to die for the Lord, I am not going to retreat.” He went to battle and the Lord protected him among all those hundreds and thousands, and he won the victory. Jesus said, “He who finds his life will lose it and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10: 39).
That is the kind of courage God wants His people to have today, but it wasn’t found in Israel in Deborah’s day. In the battle of Deborah and Barak, in which there was a general call to Israel, the people valued their lives more than they valued the call of God. They were not bad people, they were religious people and they had been mourning for the sins of Israel and crying for deliverance. They viewed themselves as being basically repentant and good. There is no mention of collaborating with the enemy. There was general moral support for the cause, but they were not willing to put their lives on the line. They had their families to take care of and their businesses to run. Their own futures were at stake. The Lord used a term to describe them– Meroz. We can read in Judges 5: 23 what He says about the people of Meroz in the song of Deborah as she recounted, under the inspiration of the Lord, the events of the battle and the various people that did not come up to the help of the Lord, those in Gilead, Dan, Asher and others. “‘ Curse Meroz, ’ said the angel of the Lord, ‘curse its inhabitants bitterly, because they did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. ’”
LAODICEA – NEW TESTAMENT MEROZ
This verse has a special significance for today be- cause it is a correlating verse to Revelation 3: 14 and onward where God talks about Meroz in the New Testament, which is the Laodicean people. Meroz is a type of Laodicea, the Old Testament type for the New Testament Laodicea. Ellen White mentions the experience of Meroz often because she was living in the day of Laodicea. She says of Meroz: “They have committed no grievous, out- breaking sins, and they must, after all, be on the true foundation, and God will accept their works. [Because they have committed no grievous sins, they are basically good church members.] They see no special sins to repent of, no sins which call for special humiliation, humble confession, and rending of heart. The delusion upon such is strong indeed when they mistake the form of godliness for the power thereof, and flatter themselves that they are rich and have need of nothing. The curse of Meroz rests upon them: ‘Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty’” 2T, 395,396. “As an illustration of the failure on your part to come up to the work of God, as was your privilege, I was referred [by an angel in vision] to these words: ‘Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. ‘ Judges 5: 23. What had Meroz done? Nothing. And this was their sin. They came not up to the help of the Lord against the mighty” Ibid., 247. On page after page of her writings, she mentions the various ways that Israel today has not come up to the help of the Lord. She writes in The Signs of the Times,
December 19, 1878: “We hope those who have means trusted out to strangers will see that God’s cause may be benefited by its use. It was placed in their hands by the Lord, to test them and prove them, to see if they will render back to the Master His own when He shall call for it. Means were given them not to hoard or to use for themselves. Those who are murmuring and complaining at the outlay of means in the publishing house and in the meetinghouse, had better be at work to act their part, lest they shall be found wanting by acting the part of Meroz. God gave commandment, ‘Curse ye Meroz, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof, because they came not up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord, against the mighty. ‘”
There are those who have means and talents and don’t use them for the Lord. They have opportunity to witness and are doing nothing. All this is described in the Laodicean message. “Many of our people are lukewarm. They occupy the position of Meroz, neither for nor against, neither cold nor hot” 5T, 76,77. If there is anything that describes God’s professed people today it is that they are neither cold nor hot, neither for nor against. They don’t want to be against anything, just take a “wait and see” attitude. Ellen White says this is the sin of Meroz. “They hear the words of Christ, but do them not. If they remain in this state, He will reject them with abhorrence. Many of those who have had great light, great opportunities, and every spiritual advantage praise Christ and the world with the same breath. They bow themselves before God and mammon. They make merry with the children of the world, and yet claim to be blessed with the children of God. They wish to have Christ as their Saviour, but will not bear the cross and wear His yoke. May the Lord have mercy upon you; for if you go on in this way, nothing but evil can be prophesied concerning you” Ibid.
There are several types of the Laodicean church. There is a specific type in the Old Testament, the people of Meroz, and a specific type in the New Testament in Matthew 11. Just as Ellen White writes of the curse of Meroz over and over again, applying it to Laodicea, so she does with these verses. “Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes’” (verses 20, 21). Tyre, Bethsaida and Chorazin were cities of Israel, and He is addressing those who were Sabbath- keeping, tithe- paying, professed members of God’s true church. “And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day” (verse 23).
In referring to this passage in the Review and Herald, August 1, 1893, Ellen White says specifically that this is the Seventh- day Adventist Church: “Of those who boast of their light, and yet fail to walk in it, Christ says, ‘But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum [Seventh-day Adventists, who have had great light], shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. ‘” She refers to Capernaum as the Seventh- day Adventist Church also in the 1888 Materials, 637, 612, 851 and elsewhere.
Here the New Testament church, the Laodicean church, is compared to Capernaum, a beautiful city on Lake Galilee. It was sitting at the crossroads of the nations, with every spiritual advantage. Jesus had preached there; its inhabitants had heard the messages of John the Baptist, and they were not as wicked as the people in Nazareth. These were good people, faithful church members. In fact, the people of Galilee (which included the people of Capernaum), we are told in
Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 2, 3, were not under the influence of the priests and Pharisees as much as the people in Jerusalem, and they almost accepted Jesus. (See also Desire of Ages, 232.) Jesus preached to these people and the power of the hierarchy was almost broken. “Almost”. . . now that is Laodicean.
WORSE THAN SODOM
Jesus said that these people who were almost saved were worse than the people of Sodom. How could Jesus say such an unbelievable thing? The people of Sodom were homosexuals, given to every perversion and crime you can imagine. You might as well compare them to the homosexuals of San Francisco. Can you imagine being in an Adventist church — not the most wicked Adventist church, but one that is beautiful and gives lots of offerings, with a pipe organ playing and people coming and worshipping on Sabbath, listening to beautiful sermons — and Christ coming and saying, “You people are worse than the homosexuals of San Francisco.” I can tell you, He wouldn’t be invited back. “But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you” (Matthew 11: 24). How many believe that what Jesus said was true? How many parents would rather see their son or daughter become a homosexual on the streets of San Francisco, than remain a lukewarm member of the Seventh- day Adventist Church, just keeping Sabbath and paying their tithe, Sabbath after Sabbath? Parents want the best for their children, do they not? Christ said the people of Sodom were better off than the people of Capernaum. Have you ever heard it said that “We must keep our children in the church, no matter what? If we have to show them movies, if we have to entertain them, or whatever else we have to do, we must keep them in church.” Christ said they are better off in Sodom!
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God. ’” (Revelation 3: 14). Here He reminds the church that just as He was faithful and true with Capernaum and with the people of Meroz, He will be faithful now. Most people are not going to believe these words, that is why Christ begins this message with these words: “I am the One who does not exaggerate, the One who is going to give you the truth.” “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot” (verse 15). He says, “You think you know your works, but I am the One who knows your works, and I see that you are neither cold nor hot.” We might think, “Well, praise the Lord! At least we are halfway in between.” But Christ says, “I could wish you were cold or hot.” He says, “I would rather have you cold than lukewarm.” Many people do not believe that.
ALL THE WAY IN THE WORLD, OR HALF- WAY IN THE CHURCH?
It takes most of us a degree of faith to believe what Jesus said about Capernaum and Sodom. It takes a degree of faith for a parent to believe it. I don’t think that many parents would rather have their children all the way in the world than halfway in the church, but Jesus said they are better off all the way in the world than halfway in the church. I am not saying that we should send any of our children out into the world. God forbid. But I am saying this: if they are halfway in the church, they are worse off, and it is time we were trying to get them hot. God’s religion is not one of mournfulness, there is joy and happiness. Religion needs to be brought down to the level of young people. Three-year olds need to have the Bible story told on their level of understanding; they cannot sit for an hour- long worship service. There needs to be a conversion experience starting with the ages of three and four. We need to see our young people converted. We need to see our older people convened. We need to see ourselves converted. God says in the Bible, “I would rather have you cold than lukewarm, all the way in the world rather than part way in the church.” Verses 16, 17, say: “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing, ‘ and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” What a delusion!
NEUTRALITY AND LAODICEA
Why did God say he would spew them out? Because Laodicea is in a neutral position, and they took a neutral position. “If God abhors one sin above another, of which His people are guilty, it is doing nothing in case of an emergency. Indifference and neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God” 3T, 281. The worst type of hostility against God is neutrality. Dear friend, that is what is viewed as good religion today – to accept anything and everybody — neutrality. We have such a pluralism of ideas in the church today that are all accepted and believed, that we are conditioned to be neutral on issues. In the Review and Herald, Feb. 25, 1902, Ellen White says there is more hope for an open enemy than for one who is neutral.
I have not covered the Celebration style of worship that has come into our church. You can read our book, No Time to Celebrate.
Prophecies are being fulfilled with this counterfeit Holy Spirit movement coining into our church out of Pentecostalism. There are some who recognize that playing solid, hard- rock music as part of the religious service is straight from Satan. We wonder, “How could anyone act that way in a church?” You know what? Those who take a neutral position are in a worse condition, such as our laity and our leaders who aren’t in the Celebration movement, but are neutral! Neither for nor against it. God said He is going to vomit them out of His mouth. Where is the backbone of our people? Where are the people who are willing to say that this is wrong and we will not countenance it, we will not say it is all right?
Ellen White says that those pastors who preach smooth sermons are the ones who will receive His curse. The most dangerous sermon is not the one in which there is blatant error; it is the one that is smooth and sounds good, but says nothing. Ellen White says: “In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second time, God’s faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was born by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them” 1T, 321. On pages 210 and 211 of Testimonies, vol. 5, she writes of those who are going to receive the seal of God and those who are not. Those who are not going to receive the seal of God “try to throw a cloak over the existing evil and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent,” but “those who have a zeal for God’s honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any.”
There are two classes in the church in the last days – those who are good administrators, trying to make everyone feel good and excusing the wickedness around them, and those who will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any, but call sin by its right name. Which class in the church do you think is larger? Which is going to gain the control in the church? She says those who are concerned about the evil find themselves “powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity, and hence they are filled with grief and alarm. They mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof, is trampled underfoot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect. The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God.” Ibid.
Some ministers in the church say that God is too merciful to visit His people with judgment, but as we continue reading we find just such judgments falling on these very ministers. “Thus ‘Peace and safety’ is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs that would not bark are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God” Ibid. 211. These smooth sermons – there are some people who say, “Our pastor doesn’t preach any error. He doesn’t preach any present truth either, but at least he doesn’t preach error. We have a neutral pastor. That is better than we could have.” But that is not better than you could have, it is as bad as you can get. God is looking for people of action. In Deborah’s day He called for reproof. He called for people who were willing to put their lives on the line. Today He is giving to every member of the church, every preacher and every layman, a summons and a call to activity and warfare. There are two startling statements in the Spirit of Prophecy I would like to look at. The first one reads:
“There are fearful woes for those who preach the truth, but are not sanctified by it, and also for those who consent to receive and maintain the unsanctified to minister to them in word and doctrine” IT, 261, 262.
For those who are preaching smooth, common sermons and keeping the people entertained week by week, God pronounces a woe, but not for those only. I believe that many of God’s professed people think in themselves, “Lord, don’t make me responsible. All I do is come to church week after week, I don’t have anything to do with this apostasy.” That is what Meroz said. “I haven’t done anything bad. I am just a good church member.” The Lord says that those church members who consent to receive and maintain the unsanctified to minister to them are as guilty as those who are doing the ministering.
The second statement reads, “If God pronounces a woe upon those who are called to preach the truth and refuse to obey, a heavier woe rests upon those who take upon them this sacred work without clean hands and pure hearts. As there are woes for those who preach the truth while they are unsanctified in heart and life, so there are woes for those who receive and maintain the unsanctified in the position which they cannot fill” 2T, 552. The unsanctified could not continue to minister to the members without the members’ support. Without support they could not do unrighteous or unjust actions, such as not paying women Bible workers. Did you know that there was a time when Ellen White, on page 117 of Spalding- Magan, said, “I will in the name of the Lord, protest”? I am not going to tell you how she protested, because somebody might get the wrong idea, but it was financially. There are various ways that we choose to support and maintain the unsanctified to minister to us and the Lord holds every church member accountable for maintaining a corrupt system. Am I calling for a revolution? I hope you do not mistake the fact that lam. Actually, lam not– the Lord is, through His messenger, Ellen White. I am simply quoting to you from the Spirit of Prophecy. What do these statements mean? Do you suppose that they have any meaning for us today? I do not want a woe upon me. Do you want a woe upon you? I do not know how to apply all these statements, but I believe that all God’s requirements, all God’s commands are a possibility.
WARFARE AGAINST WRONG
“It is not enough to merely profess to believe the truth. All the soldiers of the cross of Christ virtually obligate themselves to enter the crusade against the adversary of souls, to condemn wrong and sustain righteousness. But the message of the True Witness reveals the fact that a terrible deception is upon our people, which makes it necessary to come to them with warnings, to break their spiritual slumber, and arouse them to decided action” 3T, 254.
Ellen White says something must arouse our people to decided action. Something has to happen to wake people up! “Many are tempted in regard to our work and are calling it in question. [She is referring to her work and James White’s work as they visited the churches, calling people to revival, reformation and repentance.] Some, in their tempted condition, charge the difficulties and perplexities of the people of God to the testimonies of reproof that we have given them. They think the trouble is with the ones who bear the message of warning, who point out the sins of the people and correct their errors. Many are deceived by the adversary of souls. They think that the labors of Brother and Sister White would be acceptable if they were not continually condemning wrong and reproving sin. I was shown that God has laid this work upon us, and when we are hindered from meeting with His people [This was written in the early part of Ellen White’s ministry and already they were trying to keep them from coming before the people because the message was too straight.] and from bearing our testimony and counteracting the surmises and jealousies of the unconsecrated, then Satan presses in his temptations very strongly. Those who have been ever on the questioning, doubting side feel at liberty to suggest their doubts and to insinuate their unbelief. Some have sanctimonious and apparently conscientious amid very pious doubts, which they cautiously drop, but which have tenfold more power to strengthen those who are wrong, amid to lessen our influence and weaken the confidence of God’s people in our work, than if they came out more frankly” Ibid., 258, 259.
NEUTRAL v. s. AN OPEN ENEMY
She said that if they had come out sorely against them it would riot have done one- tenth as much damage as their claiming to be friends while dropping seeds of doubt along the way. What did God say? “I would rather have you hot or cold than lukewarm.” He says there is more hope for an open enemy than one who remains neutral. Curse ye Meroz, curse ye bitterly because you did nothing. You were not against us, you did not come fight with us. Curse you, Meroz. You are worse off than if you had been the enemy – ten times worse! “These poor souls, I saw, were deceived by Satan. They flatter themselves that they are all right, that they are in favor with God and are rich in spiritual discernment, when they are poor, blind, and wretched. They are doing the work of Satan. but think they have a zeal for God.” Ibid. Can we become more spiritually blind than to think that we are on fire and have zeal for God, and yet be instruments of Satan? That is what the Laodicean message is all about.
APOSTASY DEMANDS ACTION
What is it that wakes people out of their lukewarm, Laodicean condition? In Elijah’s day God’s people were blind to their spiritual need and Elijah took action. “Elijah’s faithful soul was grieved. His indignation was aroused, and he was jealous for the glory of God. He saw that Israel was plunged into fearful apostasy. And when he called to mind the great things that God had wrought for them, he was overwhelmed with grief and amazement. But all this was forgotten by the majority of the people. He went before the Lord, and, with his soul wrung with anguish, pleaded for Him to save His people if it must be by judgments. He pleaded with God to withhold from His ungrateful people dew and rain, the treasures of heaven, that apostate Israel might look in vain to their gods, their idols of gold, wood, and stone, the sun, moon, amid stars, to water and enrich the earth, amid cause it to bring forth plentifully” Ibid., 263. Is that the sign of a Christian, to plead with God to send judgments upon His people? James 5 says that Elijah prayed earnestly that it would not rain. Do we understand what the Christian life is all about on this earth? It is not one of passivism, not one of doing nothing; it is one of doing something to uphold the honor and glory of God.
Mrs. White writes about a class of people who are bringing discouragement upon the people of God because of their wavering condition. “God may give this class another test, another proving, and let them show that they are no better prepared to stand free from all rebelling amid sin than before their confessions were made. They are inclined to be ever on the side of wrong. And when the call is made for those who will be on the Lord’s side to make a decided move to vindicate the right, they will manifest their true position. Those who have been nearly all their lives controlled by a spirit as foreign to the Spirit of God as was Achan’s will be very passive when the time comes for decided action on the part of all. They will not claim to be on either side” Ibid., 271, 272. There are Achans in the camp, those who claim to be on neither side. But she says they are always on the wrong side. They get right in the middle and say, “I am not for either side. There are faults on both sides. I try to see good in everyone and everything. I am here to pull people together.” They don’t take a position, they don’t take either side. They are like Achan, always on the wrong side by taking no side at all. They look at themselves as being passive.
She goes on to say: “Those who are true and loyal will not conceal the fact, but will put heart and might into the work, and venture their all in the struggle, let the battle turn as it will. God is a sin- hating God. And those who encourage the sinner, saying, It is well with thee, God will curse.” Do you want to be under the curse of God? It is much more pheasant to be able to compliment people, even when we don’t feel hike it, to make them feel good. A curse is in that compliment if it is not deserved.
Sister White illustrates this neutrality with a case of Moses and Aaron. Aaron was a type of Laodicea when he made the golden calf. When Moses came down from the mount, he was very upset. His anger was aroused and he threw down the Ten Commandments. But Aaron, the one who led out iii the apostasy, came with calm assurance. He smoothed the waters over. Mrs. White says: “Aaron’s calm assurance in a wrong course gave him greater influence with the people than Moses could have had in leading them in a right course and in subduing their rebellion” Ibid., 300. Notice that Aaron had influence with the people because he was so calm. He was able to take it in stride. He gave everyone that nice assurance.
“When Moses saw the idolatry of Israel and his indignation was so aroused at their shameful forgetfulness of God that he threw down the tables of stone and broke them, Aaron stood meekly by, bearing the censure of Moses with commendable patience. The people were charmed with Aaron’s lovely spirit and were disgusted with the rashness of Moses. But God seeth not as man sees. He condemned not the ardor and indignation of Moses against the base apostasy of Israel” Ibid, 300,301. There can be no greater blindness than to think that you are all right, when you are all wrong.
WHAT WE NEED
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men– men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall” ED 57.
Friend, if you are going to stand for the right, the heavens may fall.
When Jesus came, the church was in a state of apostasy and He tried to bring a reformation and revival, but there is nothing that is resisted so much as are formation and revival when a church thinks they are all right. Jesus started out with large crowds and they grew smaller and smaller until He hung upon the cross alone. He warned the disciples at the very beginning of His ministry, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter- in- law against her mother- in- law. ‘ And ‘a man’s foes will be those of his own household. ‘ He who loves fat her or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10: 34- 39).
CHAMPIONING TRUTH — NOT SELF
Today the Lord is looking for an army, an army of workers who will be emptied of self. He is not looking for people to stand up in pride and arrogance. He is not looking for people to be independent, as Lucifer was. He is looking for people who are humble, who do not look at themselves as being very important, and who are willing to wash the feet of others. He is looking for people who, as Jesus did, seek to please people where they conscientiously can. God is looking for people who have a spirit of love– a patient people. God wants people who do not vindicate their own rights, who are willing to suffer wrong rather than champion self. If we are removed from a church office, so be it, let someone else take care of that. God may have some higher purpose for us. He may want us to minister to the needy.
Since the Bible says that all things are to be done decently and in order, God is not looking for people to stand up in the middle of the service and make chaos. There may come such a time, but make sure it is under the influence of the Holy Spirit and not impulsiveness. God is not looking for us to pick the splinter out of our brother’s eye when we have a moat in our own. God isn’t looking for faultfinding people, for critical people who are hard to get along with, or fanatical people. He is hooking for people who will stand for the right. though the heavens fall, for people who will be active in the cause of righteousness and are not going to stand by while souls are being lost because of the tame, lukewarm preaching that comes from our pulpits week after week. They are going to do something! They are going to protest in some way, and they are not going to grow weary. Like David’s great men, they are going to take the sword and not let it go until the victory is won. Their hand may grow weary, but they are going to hold on to that sword, the sword of the Spirit. We have swords in the Old Testament and in the New. In the Old Testament the sword is literal, in the New Testament it is figurative. In the New Testament it is the sword of the Spirit, and it cuts. It cuts sharper, we are told, than ally two- edged sword, much sharper than the sword of the Old Testament, cutting between bone and marrow. (Hebrew 4: 12)
Dear friend, God is looking for people who are willing to sacrifice self, honor, all they have, to uphold the banner of truth. How many will heed tile call’? God has given a message, He has said, I am the faithful and true witness, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.” “I wish you were one or the other, but because you are neither, I am going to spew you out of my mouth. Because you say you are rich and increased with goods when you have need of everything.” Therefore, He says,
“I counsel of you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich” (Revelation 3: 18). God, give us that gold today! That gold of faith and love. That gold that loves God, truth, and the honor of God so much that we are willing to stand, though the heavens fall, for the honor and glory of God. To stand alone for His glory and honor, not our own. “And white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” Ibid.
Dear friend, I hope that our eyes have been anointed enough to see that neutrality is worse than open apostasy. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes” – there is something to overcome. There is something for Meroz to overcome. There is something for Capernaum to overcome. And there is something for Laodicea to overcome, dear friend. God is looking for overcomers today, those who will overcome their timidity and cowardice in the face of danger. He is looking for people who will stand up under the fear of the Lord for truth and righteousness. “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Fat heron His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3: 19- 22).
“God has raised up men to meet the necessity of this time who will cry aloud and spare not, who will lift up their voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. Their work is not only to proclaim the law, but to preach the truth for this time — the Lord our righteousness. The curse of Meroz will be upon those who do not now come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. Well may the question be asked in the spirit of Elijah, ‘How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him. ‘” Review and Herald, August 13, 1889.
Dear friend, are you willing to stand for the Lord though the heavens fall? to say, “I do not want the curse of Meroz. I do not want to halt between two opinions, neither for nor against anything. I want to stand for the Lord though the heavens fall.” Oh, dear friend, the Lord is willing to pour out His Spirit today, and I hope a revival and reformation goes out from among us and stretches to the churches and conferences of this land with a decided determination, by God’s hand, to turn things around. In Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2,283,284, Ellen White says that it requires something more than a plain message, something that will stir the enemy’s subjects. We need something to stir this church today. It is time for Jesus to come. I want to go home. I don’t want to stay on this earth forever. It is time to stand for the Lord, and then we will see His Spirit working. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to empower us to do the work He has called us to do.