THE TEST OF FAITH REPEATED
Message Repeated. Deuteronomy 2:1-3
After almost 40 years of wandering around the mountains of Seir, the call to enter the promised land was repeated. The message was almost identical with the one given at Mount Horeb more than 38 years before. See Deut. 1:6-8. It is evident that the Lord intended to cut short the 40 years sentence He had given at Kadesh-Barnea, hoping that His people had learned their lesson. During these years of sojourn in the wilderness no heaven-sent message came to the Israelites for the purpose of leading them out of the wilderness and into Canaan. The message was one of good tidings to he weary pilgrims who had wandered so long in "the great and terrible wilderness." It must have filled the camp with rejoicing to know that the long delay or tarrying time was about ended.
School of Experience
The wilderness sojourn had been for the benefit of God's people. It was a school of experience to prepare them for entrance into the promised land. It took Moses 40 years in the wilderness to become qualified for the leadership of the Exodus Movement. "Such was the experience that Moses gained by his forty years of training in the desert. To impart such experience, Infinite Wisdom counted not the period too long or the price too great." —Education, p. 64. This experience doubtless helped Moses to be more patient and sympathetic with the Israelites during their wilderness term in the desert school of experience. Deut. 8:1-3. "The varied experiences of the Hebrews was a school of preparation for their promised home in Canaan." —P.P. 293. Now the message comes that they had spent "long enough" in this school of training and preparation.
Back to Kadesh. Numbers 20:1-3
That this is the same Kadesh where Israel had failed 38 years before is evident. It is located in or near "the wilderness of Paran" and "the desert of Zin." Numbers 13:26; 20:1. "The wilderness of Zin which is Kadesh." Numbers 33:36. In Numbers 21:1 the Kadesh to which they returned is called "the way of the spies" which definitely identifies it as the same Kadesh from which the 12 spies entered the promised land 38 years before. We are told that Kadesh was the "appointed route to Canaan." —P.P. 414. The "popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia" declares that Kadesh is the place "at which the Israelites twice encamped with the intention of entering Palestine, and from which they were twice sent back."
In proving that there was but one Kadesh the above mentioned authority continues: "It was left for Dr. Kitto to show that one Kadesh would sufficiently answer all the conditions required. According to this view, Kadesh was laid down in the map prepared under his direction, in the same line, and not far from the place which has since been assigned to it from actual observations by Dr. Robinson. This concurrence of different lines of research in the same result is curious and valuable, and the position of Kadesh will be regarded as now scarcely open to dispute." —Id. The authors of "The Pulpit Commentary" also contend that there was but one Kadesh to which Israel came and encamped twice. Sir. Wm. Smith in his "Dictionary of the Bible" says of Kadesh: "This place, the scene of Miriam's death, was the farthest point to which the Israelites reached in their direct road to Canaan; it was also that whence the spies were sent, and where, on their return, the people broke out into murmuring, upon which their strictly penal term of wandering began."
Spirit of Prophecy
While Bible students have only recently come to the conclusion that there was but one Kadesh, the Spirit of Prophecy gave us the same information years ago and at a time when most of the authorities were contending that there were two. "Again the congregation of Israel was brought into the wilderness, to the very place where God proved them soon after their leaving Egypt. The Lord brought them water out of the rock, which had continued to flow until just before they came again to the rock, when the Lord caused that living stream to cease, to prove His people again, to see if they would endure the trial of their faith, or would again murmur against Him." -"Spirit of Prophecy," Vol. 1, p.309. This volume was published in 1870.
The Lord led Israel back to the same place where they had failed 38 years before and again tested their faith to see if they would follow His leadership into the promised land. To bring this test the Lord caused the miraculous flow of water to cease. See Numbers 20:2. "Just before the Hebrew host reached Kadesh, the living stream ceased that for so many years has gushed out beside their encampment. It was the Lord's purpose again to test His people. He would prove whether they would trust His providence or imitate the unbelief of their fathers. They were now in sight of the hills of Canaan. A few days march would bring them to the borders of the promised land. … Before God permitted them to enter Canaan, they must show that they believed His promise. The water ceased before they reached Edom. Here was an opportunity for them for a little time, to walk by faith instead of sight. But the first trial developed in them the same turbulent, unthankful spirit that had been manifested by their fathers." —P.P. 413, 414.
The Second Failure. Numbers 20:3-13
The Israelites displayed the same spirit of unbelief and murmuring as they did at the same place 38 years before. What was intended to be the gateway to Canaan became "the water of Meribah" or "Strife." —Margin. The command "turn you northward" together with the cessation of the flow of water should have strengthened the faith and courage of the Israelites. Deuteronomy 2:2-6. "These directions should have been sufficient to explain why their supply of water had been cut off; they were about to pass through a well-watered, fertile country, in a direct course to the land of Canaan. God had promised them an unmolested passage through Edom and an opportunity to purchase food, and also water sufficient to supply the host. The cessation of the miraculous flow of water should therefore have been a cause of rejoicing, a token that the wilderness wandering was ended. Had they not been blinded by their unbelief, they would have understood this. … The people seemed to have given up all hope that God would bring them into possession of Canaan, and they clamored for the blessings of the wilderness." —P.P. 414. Because of this second failure at Kadesh the Exodus Movement had to make a long detour around Edom and thus entrance into the promised land was further delayed.
Because modern Israel rejected the message that began in 1888, the Lord declared that He would "lead them on a long journey" and that they would be "brought over the ground again" and "will be tested again on the same points where they failed then" in "the test and trial at Minneapolis." See Lesson 22. We are also told that many who failed the first time will not stand the test when it is repeated, but will oppose the message again and that "the same spirit will be revealed." It is an interesting fact that in the 1920's the same message that was given at Minneapolis began to be repeated to God's remnant people. The Advent Movement was brought back to the same issues and therefore back again to the very borders of the heavenly Canaan. It is also an interesting fact that during our wilderness wanderings between the two Kadesh-Barnea antitypes, the Laodicean message was not preached and justification by faith was virtually forgotten as a doctrine and largely unknown as an experience.
The Same Spirit
The repetition of the Laodicean message with its remedy was met with the same spirit of opposition on the part of many as was manifested at Minneapolis. Some of the same leaders who fought the message and criticized the messengers in 1888 have manifested the same bitter spirit as the message has been repeated. Many others who did not pass through the 1888 crisis have shown a passive resistance if not an open opposition to the heaven-sent message that is to bring the latter rain and prepare the remnant people of God to enter the heavenly Canaan. To them it has sounded new and strange and has aroused their fears of fanaticism and that we are in danger of departing from the good old methods of preaching the law and the doctrines. Exactly the same arguments used by the opposition of the 1888 message have been and are still being repeated by those who resist the same message in its second presentation.
Spirit of Prophecy
"It is thus that God still tests His people. And if they fail to endure the trial, He brings them again to the same point, and the second time the trial will come closer, and be more severe than the preceding. This is continued till they bear the test, or, if they are still rebellious, God withdraws His light from them, and leaves them in darkness." —P.P. 427. "To accuse and criticize those whom God is using, is to accuse and criticize the Lord, who has sent them. … The prejudices and opinions that prevailed at Minneapolis are not dead by any means; the seeds sown there in some hearts are ready to spring into life and bear a like harvest. The tops have been cut down, but the roots have never been eradicated, and they still bear their unholy fruit to poison the judgment, pervert the perceptions, and blind the understanding of those with whom you connect; in regard to the message and the messengers." —T.M. 466, 467. The truthfulness of this statement has been abundantly demonstrated during the last few years.
The Lord has given abundance of evidence that He is again speaking to His people. The same blessed fruits are seen in the lives of those who accept this heaven-sent message as were manifested in the lives of those who accepted it forty years ago. It has the same definite ring of certainty and brings its hearers to the same conviction. It convinces God's remnant people that the end is near and that our wilderness wanderings are about over. It virtually says, "You have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward." In fact this statement is often used as a text in the giving of the message of which it was the type. As the message is being repeated the Holy Spirit bears witness to its divine origin and truthfulness. The fact that the 1888 message is being repeated is one of the greatest evidences that the coming of Christ is near and that the Lord has set His hand to lead the Advent Movement into the heavenly Canaan.
Waters of Strife
The very message and experience that should have brought unity and joy and faith to the members of the Exodus Movement, resulted in strife, confusion and defeat. "And the people choked with Moses." Choked means to "scold, reprove, rebuke, blame or censure; to make a rough clamorous roaring noise." The entire camp seems to have been thrown into strife and confusion, and some of the scenes and experiences of 38 years before were at least partially re-enacted. The repeating of the 1888 message to the Advent people brought the movement back to the same crisis and created the same opposition. The message should have brought increased unity and faith to the whole movement and filled the camp of the modern Israel with joy and rejoicing. While it has accomplished this for the thousands who accepted the message and entered into the spiritual experience demanded by it. The opposition to the message is the same and the criticism of the messengers have created much strife and confusion and brought the Advent Movement to "the waters of Meribah." Some of the scenes and experiences of the 1888 crisis have been at least partially re-enacted. It is significant that Kadesh means "the judging of the people" or "the church of the judgment of the people."
Test of Patience
The second experience at Kadesh was not only a test of faith to the Israelites, but it was also a test of patience to the leaders who were seeking to bring the wilderness wandering to an end by leading the Exodus Movement into the promised land. For almost 40 years Moses, who was declared to be "the meekest man on earth," had borne with a faithless and rebellious people. Had it not been for their failures he could have entered the promised land years before. During these long and weary years in the wilderness he and his loyal associates had looked forward to the time when the divine sentence would terminate and Israel could be led to their final destination in Canaan. Now when that cherished goal was again in sight and their long deferred hopes were about to be realized, the second failure of Israel to enter the promised land through unbelief seemed to be more than the great leaders could stand. The patience of Moses gave way under the strain and he was provoked to anger and lost control of His tongue and "spake unadvisedly with his lips." See Psalm 106:32, 33; Deuteronomy 3:23-27.
The Sad Result
This one act of impatience which produced a few hasty and ill-spoken words deprived Moses of the privilege of leading Israel into the land of promise. "Moses manifested distrust of God. 'Shall we bring water?' he questioned, as if the Lord would not do what He promised. 'Ye believed Me not', the Lord declared to the two brothers 'to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel.' At the time when the water failed, their own faith in the fulfillment of God's promise had been shaken by the murmuring and rebellion of the people. The first generation had been condemned to perish in the wilderness because of their unbelief, yet the same spirit appeared in their children. Would these also fail of receiving the promise? All who profess godliness are under the most sacred obligation to guard the spirit, and to exercise self-control under the greatest provocation. The burdens placed upon Moses were very great; few men will ever be so severely tried as he was; yet this was not allowed to excuse his sin. The strongest temptation cannot excuse sin. However great the pressure brought to bear upon the soul, transgression is our own act. … However severe or unexpected the assault, God has provided help for us, and in His strength, we may conquer." —P.P. 417, 421. If one sin of impatience in the leaders of the Exodus Movement was so severely dealt with, what will happen to leaders in the Advent Movement who continue in the same sin without victory?
The Advent Movement. Patience is also one of the chief qualifications for leadership in the Advent Movement. Those who triumph with the movement will have "the patience of the saints." Revelation 14:12. This patience will give them complete control of their tongues for in their mouths will be "found no guile." Verse 5. It is impatience that produces anger and causes people to speak "unadvisedly" with their lips. The use we make of our words constitutes an evidence of the condition of the heart and character and will therefore determine our fate in the judgment. Matthew 12:24-27. The perfect control of our tongues as the result of patience is also the evidence of the perfection of character. James 1:2-4; 3:2-18. "We must subdue a hasty temper, and control our words; and in this we shall gain great victories. Unless we control our words and temper, we are slaves of Satan. We are in subjection to him. He leads us captive. All jangling, and unpleasant, impatient, fretful words are an offering presented to his Satanic majesty." —Vol. 1:310.
Cause of Failure
There can be no greater test of patience than that which comes to those who proclaim a heaven-sent message that is rejected by the professed people of God, especially when the acceptance of that message is the only means by which God's work can be finished and the eternal rewards obtained. The acceptance of the Laodicean message with its remedy of the imputed and imparted righteousness of Christ received by faith, is the only means of obtaining the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the showers of the early and latter rain which will cut short God's work and lead modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. The failure of some of the leaders who proclaimed the 1888 message was due chiefly to a loss of patience because of the strife and opposition and even persecution produced by their preaching which finally resulted in its rejection and the turning of the Advent Movement back into the Laodicean wilderness causing a long delay of the coming of Christ. In the letter to O. A. Olsen, previously quoted from, the servant of the Lord intimated that the pressure and persecution brought against the preachers of righteousness might cause them to give way and fail in their personal experience, and this is what did happen. The same danger faces all who proclaim the same message at the present time. Their greatest need is to develop and maintain "the patience of the saints."
Live by Faith
The cutting off of the water supply at Kadesh was the final test by which the Lord attempted to teach the children of Israel to walk and live by faith instead of sight. Only a people of faith could triumph and enter the promised land and therefore during the last part of the journey they must learn to walk and live by faith. The same is true in the Advent Movement. "In the last great conflict of the controversy with Satan those who are loyal to God will see every earthly support cut off." —D.A. 122. This will be the Lord's last lesson to teach His remnant people to walk and live by faith. While many will fail to meet this test as in ancient Israel, and will cast away their confidence and lose the promised reward, God will have a people whose faith and patience will cause them to triumph with the triumphant movement. Then "the just shall live by faith." —See Hebrews 10:35-39.
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