gospel-herald.com Exodus and Advent Movement

Taylor G. Bunch

Study #23


Rebellious Attitude. Deuteronomy 1:45, 46

Ancient Israel spent many days at Kadesh-Barnea on the borders of the promised land before they turned back into the wilderness. Deuteronomy 2:1. The length of their stay at the gateway to Canaan is not given, but a number of important events took place before the retreat began, events of far-reaching consequences in the history of the Exodus Movement. Because of the Lord’s sentence that the rebels must die in the wilderness, the camp was in a rebellious attitude. Their defeat by the Amalakites and Canaanites when they tried to force their way into the promised land, after the Lord had revoked His promise and altered His purpose, filled them with murmurings and the spirit of revolt.

The Provocation

In Hebrews 3:8 the rebellion at Kadesh-Barnea is divinely called "the provocation" and "the day of temptation in the wilderness." Here they tempted, provoked and grieved God and hardened their own hearts. In no way was this more strikingly fulfilled than in their rejection of God’s leadership through the gift of prophecy. Hosea 12:13. At Kadesh-Barnea they rejected the spirit of prophecy and attempted to follow their own counsel. Acts 7:37-39. They did not return back to Egypt in person but "in their hearts they turned back again into Egypt." The Israelites refused to obey the prophet of the Exodus Movement, but "thrust him from him," and rejected his counsel. In doing this they rejected God and His divine leadership. See 1 Samuel 8:7, 19.

New Leadership. Numbers 14:1-4; Nehemiah 9:16, 17

This was fulfilled in the great apostasy that took place at Kadesh under the leadership of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. 250 princes joined them in their revolt against divine leadership through the spirit of prophecy and before this offshoot movement came to an end 14,700 lay-members were led astray and destroyed. The Lord vindicated His appointed leadership by the destruction of the rebels and the bringing to an ignominious end their movement. The three leaders of this false movement were swallowed up by the earth, and 250 princes were burned with fire, and the 14,700 who joined in the apostasy were destroyed by a terrible plague.

The Real Issue

That the real issue in this apostasy was the gift of prophecy is evident from the record in Numbers 16:1-3. The claim of the offshoots was that Moses and Aaron lifted themselves up above the congregation of the Lord and assumed too much authority. They declared that "all the congregation are holy, everyone of them." It was a plea that all share equally in the authority and responsibility of leadership regardless of the Lords’ appointments. Moses had previously showed his bigness in saying: "Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His spirit upon them." Numbers 11:29. All members of God’s church are not equally holy or qualified for leadership. To forever settle the question of divine call to leadership through the instruments of God’s own choosing He demanded the demonstration of the rods recorded in Numbers 17. The miracle of the budding, blossoming, and fruit-bearing of Aaron’s rod closed the mouths of the critics and vindicated the leadership of the movement.

Mistake of Moses

Korah was the new captain who was to supercede Moses. He declared that "Moses was an overbearing ruler; that he had reproved the people as sinners, when they were a holy people, and the Lord was among them. … His hearers thought they saw clearly that their troubles might have been prevented if Moses had pursued a different course. They decided that all their disasters were chargeable to him, and that their exclusion from Canaan was in consequence of the mismanagement of Moses and Aaron; that if Korah would be their leader, and would encourage them by dwelling upon their good deeds instead of reproving their sins, they would have a very peaceful, prosperous journey; instead of wandering to and fro in the wideness, they would proceed directly to the promised land." —P.P. 397, 398.

Deceived by Flattery

"They had been flattered by Korah and his company until they really believed themselves to be a very good people, and that they had been wronged and abused by Moses. Should they admit that Korah and his company were wrong, and Moses right, then they would be compelled to receive as the Word of God the sentence that they must die in the wilderness. They were not willing to submit to this, and they tried to believe that Moses had deceived them. They had fondly cherished the hope that a new order of things was about to be established, in which praise would be substituted for reproof, and ease for anxiety and conflict. The men who had perished had spoken flattering words, and had professed great interest and love for them, and the people had concluded that Korah and his companions must have been good men, and that Moses had by some means been the cause of their destruction. It is hardly possible for men to offer greater insult to God than to despise and reject the instrumentalities He would use for their salvation." —P.P. 401, 402.

The Antitype

Just as ancient Israel remained at Kadesh "many days" before being led back into the wilderness, so the Advent people remained for a number of years at the borders of the heavenly Canaan before the message that brought them there was rejected and ceased to be preached. It is impossible to state just when the message ceased to do its work and the Advent Movement was turned back into the wilderness. The message of righteousness by faith was preached with power for more than ten years during which time the Minneapolis crisis was kept before the leaders. This message brought the beginning of the latter rain. "The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth." —R.H. Nov. 22, 1892. Why did not the latter rain continue to fall? Because the message that brought it ceased to be preached. It was rejected by many and it soon died out of the experience of the Advent people and the loud cry died with it. It can begin again only when the message that brought it then is revived and accepted.

World Revival

During the period when this revival message was being preached in this movement with such wonderful results, the Holy Spirit was being poured out all over the world. A great revival swept through the Christian world and God’s people everywhere heard the call to prepare for the soon coming of Christ and in view of that event to evangelize the world. These were the days of D. L. Moody and his great revivals, and of A. T. Pierson and his message to arouse Christendom to its duty in giving the gospel to the whole world. In 1886 Mr. Moody called together 251 students from 89 colleges and universities of the United States and Canada, and conducted a four week’s institute during which time the Holy Spirit was present with power. At the close, 21 students dedicated their lives to foreign missions. At a meeting held later the number of volunteers was increased to 100. At that meeting A. T. Pierson coined the phrase: "All should go and go to tell." All of the colleges and universities of the United States were then visited and the foreign mission recruits increased to 2,500.

Important Date

1888 is not alone an important date to Seventh-day Adventists. In that year was organized "The Student Volunteer Movement of Foreign Missions," with the watchcry, "The Evangelization of the World in this Generation." John R. Mott, one of the founders, wrote an article in the "Missionary Review" of November, 1889, in which he declared that the movement was the beginning of "the greatest missionary revival since the days of the apostles." The Holy Spirit was being poured out on all flesh preparatory to the great ingathering of souls under the latter rain. In our own movement there were many evidences that we were on the borders of the heavenly Canaan and that the end was near. Many miracles were wrought especially in the healing of the sick. Persecution also started and it looked as if the prophecy of Rev. 13 was about to be fulfilled. In 1883 the Blair Sunday Bill was introduced into Congress. During the years 1889 and 1890 many of our people in the South were fined and imprisoned and placed in chain-gangs for working on Sunday. There was every evidence that the end was at hand.

A Great Apostasy

But the spirit of revival died out and the Christian world entered the greatest apostasy since the great Reformation had broken the power of the Papal apostasy. The leadership of the Holy Spirit was substituted with the ideas and opinions of men. The great evangelical denominations rejected divine leadership and appointed other captains to lead them. Most of their leaders today are modernists headed toward Egypt. With the rejection of the message of righteousness by faith in the Advent Movement came the greatest apostasy in our history. The crisis was precipitated by disbelief of the instruction the Lord sent through the spirit of prophecy, the divine agency by which the movement is led and preserved. When the crisis was past it was evident to all who remained loyal that the Lord had abundantly vindicated His leadership through His chosen instrument. The passing of time continues to prove that "by a prophet" the Lord is leading and preserving the Advent Movement, as He did the Exodus Movement. Hosea 12:13.

Gift Made Void

Just as Israel "would not obey" the messages of their prophet, so modern Israel manifested the same spirit of doubt and unbelief in God’s chosen instrument and thus made the testimonies of His Spirit of none effect. The rejection of the message from heaven was virtually a rejection of the spirit of prophecy. "The testimonies of His Spirit call your attention to the Scriptures, point out your defects of character, and rebuke your sins; therefore you do not heed them. And to justify your carnal, ease-loving course, you begin to doubt whether the testimonies are from God. If you would obey their teachings, you would be assured of their divine origin. Remember, your unbelief does not effect their truthfulness. If they are from God, they will stand. Those who seek to lessen the faith of God’s people in these testimonies are fighting against God. It is not the instrument whom you fight and insult, but God, who has spoken to you in these warnings and reproofs." —Vol 5:234, 235. Thus even before 1888 the spirit of doubt and unbelief was developing which ripened into a virtual revolt against the divine leadership of the movement.

Attitude Before 1888

Before the Minneapolis Conference the spirit of unbelief in the spirit of prophecy had been developing so that when the crisis came it was but the natural consequence of a former attitude that led many to reject the heaven-sent message and the divinely given counsel. "I am filled with sadness when I think of our condition as a people. The Lord has not closed heaven to us, but our own course of continual backsliding has separated us from God. Pride, covetousness, and love of the world have lived in the heart without fear of banishment or condemnation. And yet the general opinion is that the church is flourishing and that peace and spiritual prosperity are in all her borders. The church has turned back from following Christ her Leader, and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. Yet few are alarmed or astonished at their want of spiritual power. Doubt and even disbelief of the testimonies of the Spirit of God is leavening our churches everywhere. Satan would have it thus. Ministers who preach self instead of Christ would have it thus. The testimonies are unread and unappreciated. God has spoken to you. Light has been shining from His word and from the testimonies, and both have been slighted and disregarded." —Vol. 5:217.

Result of Crisis

The message that brought the 1888 crisis ripened into a harvest this spirit of disbelief in the spirit of prophecy. On Nov. 3, 1890, the following testimony was given: "What reserve power has the Lord with which to reach those who have cast aside His warnings and reproofs, and have accredited the testimonies of the Spirit of God to no higher source than human wisdom? In the judgment, what can you who have done this offer to God as an excuse for turning from the evidence that He has given you that God was in the work? ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’ I would not now rehearse before you the evidences given in the past two years of the dealings of God by His chosen servant." —Quoted in "General Conference Bulletin," Feb. 7, 8, 1893. Two years previous to this testimony was at the very time of the Minneapolis meeting.

Of No Effect

At the General Conference early morning meeting of Feb. 27, 1893, a testimony was read from Sister White which contained the following: "The Lord designed that the messages of warning and instruction given through the Spirit to His people should go everywhere. But the influences that grew out of the resistance of light and truth at Minneapolis tended to make of no effect the light God had given to His people through the Testimonies. … Some of those who occupy responsible positions were leavened with the spirit that prevailed at Minneapolis, a spirit that clouded the discernment of the people of God." —G.C. Bulletin, Feb. 28, 1893. The rejection of the heaven-sent message which began in 1888 was also a rejection of the spirit of prophecy. The same is true today as that message is being repeated. To disregard the present call for a revival and reformation is to reject the counsel of God through the Spirit of Prophecy.

Spirit of Satan

The spirit that opposed the message of 1888 was divinely called "the spirit of Satan." Knowing the results that would follow the acceptance of that message, Satan became desperate in his efforts to destroy its influence. As many as he could, he lead to openly oppose the message and thus reject the spirit of prophecy. Others who assented to the message were led into extremes that brought a reproach upon the work of God. One of these was the "Holy Flesh" movement which began in the year 1900. This was a perversion of the doctrine of righteousness by faith and was inspired by Satan to cast a reproach upon it. Even to this day, some who are opposed to the repetition of the 1888 message attempt to use the "holy flesh" scare as an argument against it. There is absolutely nothing related to the idea of "holy flesh" in the genuine message of righteousness by faith. Another effort of Satan to defeat God’s purpose was the teaching that God was naturally in all of us and in every living thing; that all life is a manifestation of God and is therefore God. This Pantheistic teaching was accepted by many and destroyed the necessity of bringing Christ into the heart and life by faith for according to the spiritualistic philosophy He was already there in both the good and the bad.

Offshoot Movements

During the two decades following the crisis of 1888, there were many "offshoot" movements and they were all related to the message from heaven and the attitude towards it. Some openly rejected and fought the spirit of prophecy and others used it to a wrong purpose by attempting to prove that their false movement was of God. This has been true of every offshoot movement to the present time. Statements made by the servant of God during this crisis period, and especially those strongly reproving leaders because of their attitude toward God’s message and messengers, are taken out of their natural and historical setting and used in an effort to support a false and counterfeit movement inspired by Satan. Most false movements begin with much pretended reverence for the spirit of prophecy but usually end in its repudiation because of the impossibility of proving that its teachings are in accord with their doctrines and practices.

Chief Argument

The basic argument of most offshoot movements originated in 1893 when an effort was made to prove from the messages of the spirit of prophecy that the Seventh-day Adventist Church had become Babylon. Misguided men gathered out of the writings of Sister White the strongest statements of reproof to the church and its leaders and drew from them a false conclusion which deceived many. To correct this grievous error Sister White wrote four articles which appeared in the Review and Herald of Aug. 22 and 29, and Sept. 5 and 12. This series was later printed in T.M. pp. 32-62. We shall quote a few extracts from these articles which were entitled, "The Remnant Church Not Babylon."

Movement Condemned

"In the pamphlet published by Brother S. and his associates, he accuses the church of God of being Babylon and would urge a separation from the church. This is a work that is neither honorable nor righteous. In compiling this work they have used my name and writings for the support of that which I disapprove and denounce as error. … I have no hesitancy in saying that those who are urging on this work are greatly deceived. For years I have borne my testimony to the effect that when any arise claiming to have great light and yet advocating the tearing down of that which the Lord through His human agents has been building up, they are greatly deceived, and are not working along the lines where Christ is working. Those who assert that the Seventh-day Adventist Churches constitute Babylon, or any part of Babylon, might better stay at home."

Inspired by Satan

"In place of working with divine agencies to prepare a people to stand in the day of the Lord, they have taken their stand with him who is the accuser of the brethren, who accuses them before God day and night. Satanic agencies have been moved from beneath, and they have inspired men to unite with a confederacy of evil, that they may perplex, harass, and cause the people of God great distress." "To claim that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is Babylon, is to make the same claim as does Satan." "Is it possible that men will arise among us, who speak perverse things, and give voice to the very sentiments that Satan would have disseminated in the world in regard to those who keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus?"

Are Dishonest

"It will be found that those who bear false messages will not have a high sense of honor and integrity. They will deceive the people, and mix up with their error the ‘Testimonies’ of Sister White, and use her name to give influence to their work. They take such selections from the ‘Testimonies’ as they think they can twist to support their positions, and place them in a setting of falsehood, so that their error may have weight, and be accepted by the people. They misinterpret and misapply that which God has given to the church to warn, counsel, reprove, comfort, and encourage those who will make up the remnant people of God. These same dishonest practices are still being used by offshoot movements who attempt to deceive by trying to prove that they are in accord with the ‘Testimonies’."

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