gospel-herald.com Exodus and Advent Movement

Taylor G. Bunch

Study #17


The Bitter Waters. Exodus 15:22-27

On the way from the Red Sea to the Mount of the Law, the children of Israel experienced a disappointment which may have been typical of the bitter disappointment of the Advent people in 1844. At the waters of Marah, or "bitterness," (margin), the Lord showed Moses "a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet." In like manner, to the disappointed Adventists was divinely shown "a reed like unto a rod," by which they were to measure or study the sanctuary. The measuring rod by which they were to study the heavenly sanctuary and its services was the Mosaic tabernacle and its typical services. As the result of the discovery of the great sanctuary truth revealing the mediatorial work of Christ and the glad tidings of salvation through His priestly ministration, the bitter waters were sweetened and the disappointment was turned into rejoicing. See Revelation 10:8-11; 11:1.

Purpose of Exodus. Psalm 105:43, 45

For this reason a necessary preparation for entrance into the promised land was the giving of the law, the standard of God’s righteousness and the constitution of His government. Moses therefore led Israel directly from the waters of Marah to the Mount of the Law. The Law and Sinai, however, are ineffectual without Christ and Calvary. Therefore with the giving of the law there must also be a revelation of the plan of salvation that redeems from the curse or condemnation of the law. While camped at the base of Mount Sinai the Lord not only gave to Israel the Law with special emphasis on the Sabbath, but He also revealed to them the Sanctuary and its services which pictured the whole plan of redemption in types and symbols, all of which was a revelation of Christ, His atoning sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, and His mediatorial ministration in the heavenly sanctuary. All of this was necessary to prepare Israel to enter Canaan, and explains why the Lord led His people on the circuitous route through the Sinai Peninsula instead of directly by way of the Philistines.

Mount of the Law

Mount Sinai is a granite peak in a range of mountains and is 7,370 feet high. At its base is a large plain on which the millions of Israel camped for a number of months while they were learning the lessons of the law and sanctuary. It was the best camping sight in the Sinai Peninsula. Four living streams flow from the base of the mountain and besides there are a number of springs. There was also an abundance of pasture for their flocks and herds. On the entire journey it was the most ideal place for a long stay. The place was well known to Moses as it was his principal camping ground during the forty years he was in charge of Jethro’s sheep. On its slopes he had seen the burning bush and had received the commission to deliver Israel. To him the Lord said: "When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain." Exodus 3:12.

Giving of the Law. Exodus 19:14-25

This was one of the most important and spectacular events of all history. The Israelites had to spend three day in making most careful preparation for the giving of the law. Their bodies, clothes and camp had to be thoroughly cleansed and their sins confessed and forgiven. Christ Himself was the lawgiver. Isaiah 33:22; James 4:12. "Christ was not only the leader of the Hebrews in the wilderness, —the angel in whom was the name of Jehovah, and who, veiled in the cloudy pillar, went before the host, - but it was He who gave the Law to Israel. Amid the awful glory of Sinai, Christ declared in the hearing of all the people the ten precepts of His Father’s law. It was He who gave to Moses the law engraved upon the tables of stone." P.P. 366. Dr. Adam Clarke declared that the law was spoken on the Sabbath and that the festival of Pentecost was a memorial of that event. It was a great Sabbath service with Christ as the speaker, the Law as the sermon, and the millions of Israel as the congregation.

Need of Modern World

The Sinai message is one of the greatest needs of the modern lawless generation. William T. Ellis, writing from the summit of Mount Sinai on June 11, 1919, said: "Day after day, in this morning air of crystalline clearness, from heights whence one may see fierce and blinding sandstorms raging on the desert below, I have pondered the basic problems of this, our time. With all the honesty of soul I possess I have sought to see straight into the causes and character of conditions. Turn whichever way I will, follow whatever set of conditions I can call to mind, I find myself led straight up to the Mount of the Law. Here is the answer to every question. Things have gone wrong because nations and people have departed from this law. They will never go right until nations and people have the clarity of vision and the courage to return to the keeping of the ten words spoken on Sinai. … They are, so far as I can see from this height of solitude and contemplation, the only way out."

A Reign of Law

There can be no throne or kingdom without law. The Decalogue is the fundamental law of Christ’s kingdom, which is a reign of law. "The reign of Christ is a reign of law. Law is an essential feature of all government, human and divine. The kingdom of our Master is entered by submission to law, and the enjoyment of its privileges is conditioned upon obedience to law. What mean then, those Scriptures which affirm that by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified, and that Christ took the law out of the way, nailing it to the cross? From such passages, some have apparently derived the impression that Sinai, as symbolizing law, has disappeared as effectually as if some Hercules had plucked it up by the roots and hurled it into the midst of the sea, and that the reign of Christ is more a reign of license than of law. In other words, we are told that grace has supplanted law. This is not so. —Rev. C. M. Gordon, in the Australian Christian, June 4, 1908.

Law Alone Not Sufficient. Romans 8:1-4

"For what was impossible to the Law—powerless as it was because it acted through frail humanity—God effected. Sending His own Son in a body like that of sinful human nature and as a sacrifice for sin, He pronounced sentence upon sin in human nature; in order that in our case the requirements of the Law might be fully met. For our lives are not regulated by our earthly, but by our spiritual natures." —Wey. The purpose of the gospel is to bring men into conformity to God’s law, which is the standard of His righteousness and will be the rule of His judgment. For this reason the sanctuary and its services were given to Israel in connection with the law. It revealed the way of escape from sin, the transgression of the law, and from the sentence of eternal death, the penalty for the violation of the law. It gave them a vision of Christ and Calvary. It revealed to them how the law could be transferred from the tables of stone to the fleshy tables of the heart to become the ruling principles of their lives. The law and the gospel were both given to Israel at the Mount of God; the law, to reveal to them their sins, and the gospel, to take away their sins and free them from the sentence of eternal death.

Law and Grace

"The moral law, written on perishable tables of stone and confirmed by the thunders of Sinai, is now written on the imperishable tables of the heart and confirmed by the thunders of Calvary. The grace that came by Jesus Christ does not destroy the moral aspect of the law which was delivered to Israel through Moses, but fulfills it, reconfirms it, and enforces it with new motives, sublimer sanctions, and added insistence. Therefore, no subject of the government of Christ dare continue in sin that grace may abound. Grace thunders against sin as loudly, or even more loudly, than does law. The difference between law and grace is this: The law has no mercy; grace has mercy. The law has no Saviour; grace provides a Saviour. … But let it never be forgotten that, while we can not be saved by the law without grace, no more can we be saved by grace without law. While we cannot be saved by morality without Christianity, no more can we be saved by Christianity without morality. In Christianity a wonderful thing has taken place; justice and mercy have celebrated their nuptials; law and grace have kissed each other; Sinai and Calvary have embraced each other." Idem.

Righteousness of Christ

The Lord entered into the old covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai in order to teach them the impossibility of man’s attaining to righteousness by obedience to the law written on stone. This was necessary before they were willing to enter into the new covenant "established upon better promises," which write the same law in the heart and mind. Hebrews 8:6-10. Obedience to the law is righteousness, "for all they commandments are righteousness." Deuteronomy 6:25; Psalm 119:172. But human obedience to a law written only on stone is self-righteousness and is insufficient to give salvation. Matthew 5:20. The law must be written in the heart by the indwelling of Christ, the living law. When Christ lives out His life of perfect obedience in us we have the righteousness of Christ which brings salvation from sin and death. Isaiah 51:7; Galatians 2:20.

The Advent Movement

The Lord might have finished His work during the great Reformation had His people discovered and walked in all the light. More light was needed to prepare them to enter all the light. More light was needed to prepare them to enter the heavenly Canaan, but the Reformation came to a standstill and they formed their creeds and refused to advance in revealed truth. Then came the message of the second advent with its greater light and attended by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the 1844 movement. But still the people of God were not all the way back to the faith and practice of the apostolic church. The law and the Sabbath, with the heavenly sanctuary and its services, had been trampled underfoot and buried beneath the rubbish of the papal apostasy for more than twelve centuries. They must again be revealed to God’s people as an essential preparation for the coming of Christ and entrance into His kingdom of glory. According to Daniel 8:12-14 this revelation would come at the close of the 2300 years, or in 1844, when the continual ministration of Christ in the true sanctuary would be made known.

The Discovery

As the result of the disappointment, the long lost and hidden truths concerning the law and the sanctuary were uncovered and brought to light. See Revelation 10; 11:1. Like Israel at Mount Sinai, the Advent people studied the sanctuary and its services in obedience to the divine command: "Rise, and measure God’s Sanctuary—and the altar—and count the worshipers who are in it." Revelation 11:1. —Wey. Our pioneers discovered that the law was God’s standard of righteousness, and the rule of His judgment which had already begun in heaven, and for which they were unprepared because they had been trampling under foot the Sabbath. They were led to the Mount of the Law for a vision of the majesty and glory of the character of God, and then through the sanctuary light they were brought to Calvary to have their sins washed away in the blood of the Lamb. We are told that if they had fully entered into the experience of the imputed and imparted righteousness of Christ they would have received the latter rain and would soon have complete the work and entered the heavenly Canaan by translation.

A Revelation of Christ

"The great plan of redemption, as revealed in the closing work for these last days, should receive close examination. The scenes connected with the sanctuary above should make such an impression upon the minds and hearts of all that they may be able to impress others. All need to become more intelligent in regard to the work of the atonement, which is going on in the sanctuary above. When this grand truth is seen and understood, those who hold it will work in harmony with Christ to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God, and their efforts will be successful. By study, contemplation, and prayer, God’s people will be elevated above common, earthly thoughts and feelings, and will be brought into harmony with Christ and His great work of cleansing the sanctuary above from the sins of the people. Their faith will go with Him into the sanctuary, and the worshipers on earth will be carefully reviewing their lives, and comparing their characters with the great standard of righteousness. … They must assimilate the word of God, and reflect the divine attributes. … Christ must be abiding in us, and we in Him, in order to do work for God."—Vol. 5:575, 576. If the Israelites had learned the lessons of the sanctuary and its services they would have been led directly into the promised land. If the Advent people had received the experience of righteousness by faith as taught by the sanctuary and its services they would have quickly entered the heavenly Canaan.

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