Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers/"Let Him That Thinketh He Standeth Take Heed"
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"Let Him That Thinketh He Standeth Take Heed"
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"Let Him That Thinketh He Standeth Take Heed Lest He Fall"
Idolatry of the Children of Israel
"Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness." The experience of Israel, referred to in the above words by the apostle, and as recorded in the one hundred fifth and one hundred sixth psalms, contains lessons of warning that the people of God in these last days especially need to study. I urge that these chapters be read at least once every week.
"Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play."
In the hearing of all Israel, God had spoken in awful majesty upon Mount Sinai, declaring the precepts of His law. The people, overwhelmed with the sense of guilt, and fearing to be consumed by the glory of the presence of the Lord, had entreated Moses, "Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die." God called Moses up into the mount that He might communicate to him the laws for Israel, but how quickly the solemn impression made upon that people by the manifestation of God's presence passed away. Even the leaders of the host seemed to have lost their reason. The memory of their covenant with God, their terror when, falling upon their faces, they had exceedingly feared and quaked, all had vanished like smoke. Although the glory of God was still like devouring fire upon the top of the mount, yet when the presence of Moses was withdrawn, the old habits of thought and feeling began to assert their power. The people wearied of waiting for the return of Moses and began to clamor for some visible representation of God.
Aaron, who had been left in charge of the camp, yielded to their clamors. Instead of exercising faith in God, trusting to divine power to sustain him, he was tempted to believe that if he resisted the demands of the people, they would take his life; and he did as they desired. He collected the golden ornaments, made the molten calf, and fashioned it with a graving tool. Then the leaders of the people declared, "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." When Aaron saw that the image he had graven pleased the people, he was proud of his workmanship. He built an altar before the idol, "made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." They drank and feasted, and gave themselves up to mirth and dancing, which ended in the shameful orgies that marked the heathen worship of false gods.
God in heaven beheld it all, and warned Moses of what was taking place in the camp, saying, "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 has 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 forever. And the Lord repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people."
As Moses came down from the mountain with the two tables of the testimony in his hand, he heard the shouts of the people, and, as he came near, beheld the idol and the reveling multitude. Overwhelmed with horror and indignation that God had been dishonored, and that the people had broken their solemn covenant with Him, he cast the two tables of stone upon the ground and broke them beneath the mount. Though his love for Israel was so great that he was willing to lay down his own life for them, yet his zeal for the glory of God moved him to anger, which found expression in this act of such terrible significance. God did not rebuke him. The breaking of the tables of stone was but a representation of the fact that Israel had broken the covenant which they had so recently made with God. It is a righteous indignation against sin, which springs from zeal for the glory of God, not that anger prompted by self-love or wounded ambition, which is referred to in the scripture, "Be ye angry, and sin not." Such was the anger of Moses.
"And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. For they said unto me, 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." And "Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies)."
Special Influence of Satan's Work
To us the warning is given, "All these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." Mark the influence of their extremes and fanaticism in the service of the great master worker, Satan. As soon as the wicked one had the people under his control, there were exhibitions of a satanic character. The people ate and drank without a thought of God and His mercy, without a thought of the necessity of resisting the devil, who was leading them on to the most shameful deeds. The same spirit was manifested as at the sacrilegious feast of Belshazzar. There was glee and dancing, hilarity and singing, carried to an infatuation that beguiled the senses; then the indulgence in inordinate, lustful affections--all this mingled in that disgraceful scene. God had been dishonored; His people had become a shame in the sight of the heathen. Judgments were about to fall on that infatuated, besotted multitude. Yet God in His mercy gave them opportunity to forsake their sins.
"Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord's side?" The trumpeters caught up the words, and sounded them through the trumpet, "Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him." All who were repentant had the privilege of taking their stand beside Moses. "And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men." There was no partiality, no hypocrisy, no confederating to shield the guilty. For the terror of the Lord was upon the people.
Those who had shown so little sense of the presence and the greatness of God, and who, after the exhibition of His majesty, were ready to depart from the Lord, would be a continual snare to Israel. They were slain, as a rebuke to sin, and to put a fear upon the people to dishonor God.
Danger of Self-Pleasing
I cannot now consider this history further, but I ask you in every city, in every town, in every household, I ask every individual, to study the lesson of this scripture, bearing in mind the words of inspiration, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Here is presented the only election that is brought to view in the word of God. It is those who take heed lest they fall that will be accepted at last. There can be no presumption more fatal than that which leads men to venture upon a course of self-pleasing. In view of this solemn warning from God, should not fathers and mothers take heed? Should they not faithfully point out to the youth the dangers that are constantly arising to lead them away from God? Many allow the youth to attend parties of pleasure, thinking that amusement is essential for health and happiness; but what dangers are in that path! The more the desire for pleasure is gratified, the more it is cultivated and the stronger it becomes. The life experience is largely made up of self-gratification in amusement. God bids us to beware. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
We should come into a position where every difference will be melted away. If I think I have light, I shall do my duty in presenting it. Suppose I consulted others concerning the message the Lord would have me give to the people; the door might be closed so that the light might not reach the ones to whom God had send it. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, "the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto Him, Master, rebuke Thy disciples. And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."--Review and Herald, February 18, 1890.
My brethren, in His great mercy and love God has given you great light, and Christ says to you, "Freely ye have received, freely give." Let the light bestowed on you shine forth to those in darkness. Let us rejoice and be glad that Christ has not only given us His word, but has given us also the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God, and that in His strength we may be more than conquerors. Christ is saying: "Come unto Me. To Me belong right counsel and sound judgment. I have understanding and strength for you." By faith we must rest in Christ, remembering the words of one who was inspired of God to write, "Thy gentleness hath made me great." Ask God to give you much of the oil of His grace. Carefully consider every word, whether it be written or spoken.--Review and Herald, December 22, 1904.