SATAN'S FINAL EFFORTS TO DEFEAT ISRAEL
From the very beginning of the Exodus Movement Satan had made every possible effort to defeat the purpose of God in the triumph of Israel. He had twice succeeded in turning the movement back into the wilderness from the borders of the promised land. He had triumphed through their unbelief. "They could not enter in because of unbelief." But the serpent experience which gave Israel a vision of Christ and Calvary also greatly increased their faith and turned their retreat into a victorious march toward Canaan. Faith made them invincible in warfare and nothing could stop them. With Christ as their Captain "not mighty giants nor walled cities, armed hosts nor rocky fortresses, could stand before" them. This alarmed Satan and in his desperation he used other weapons in a final effort to stop the movement and defeat Israel.
Banks of Jordan. Numbers 22:1
After the conquest of Bashan the Israelites marched to the banks of the Jordan on the very border of the promised land and began to make "preparation for the immediate invasion of Canaan." (P.P. 438). The success of Israel filled the Moabites with fear and they appealed to the Midianites to cooperate with them in an effort to defeat the invaders. Knowing that the weapons of war could not avail, the two nations sent messengers into Mesopotamia to persuade Balaam, a false prophet and magician, to come and curse Israel. Balaam had been a true prophet but through covetousness had apostatized. Rich gifts and offers of princely rewards finally persuaded the false prophet to attempt to stop the progress of Israel by placing them under a curse.
But the attempted curse was turned into a blessing. It was impossible for man to curse those "whom the Lord hath not cursed," and to defy those "whom the Lord hath not defied." Israel paid not the least attention to the efforts of their enemies to curse them. They were "as a great lion" lying down in fearless confidence knowing that no other creature could "stir him up" with fear by threatening his security. The false prophet was helpless before the perfect order and organization of the Exodus Movement which he was compelled to admire and even commend. See Numbers 24:2-5. The prosperity of Israel was like "fertile valleys covered with abundant harvests" and "flourishing gardens watered by never-failing springs and the stately cedar of Lebanon," the mightiest tree of the forests of the East. Against such a prosperous movement the cursing of enemies is useless.
The apostate prophet was compelled to acknowledge that God was with Israel, "and the shout of a King is among them." God had pronounced a blessing upon His people and no man could "reverse it." The false leader also found out that "There is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel," and that because of the progress and triumph of the movement even the enemies of Israel would be compelled to say, "What hath God wrought!" Balaam found out by experience that "blessed is he that blesseth" Israel, "and cursed is he that curseth" Israel. It is a terrible thing to criticize and curse the only people upon whom Christ "bestows His supreme regard." Those who fight against the people of God are fighting against God and are therefore engaged in a losing cause. Of Balaam we read: "His wisdom had become foolishness; his spiritual vision was beclouded; he had brought blindness upon himself by yielding to the power of Satan." —P.P. 444.
During the attempt to curse Israel, there was written under inspiration one of the most wonderful statements ever recorded: Numbers 23:21. It seems impossible that this could be said of a people who had been so faithless and rebellious as the Israelites had been during most of their journey from Egypt. They had certainly been filled with iniquity and perverseness all along the way. But a change had come since their vision of Christ and Calvary. They had experienced a new birth of faith and spiritual life that made them victorious over all their enemies. Faith was the victory by which they had overcome their foes and would continue to conquer. The Israelites, encamped in the plains of Moab in preparation to enter the promised land, were under divine favor and protection because their sins had been forgiven and covered until even the penetrating eye of God could see no iniquity or perverseness in them.
And yet we know from what happened in the near future that Israel was not yet a perfected people. The characters of many were very defective and thousands of those very people had to be shaken out of the movement in order to purify it for final victory. Many of them were of the rebels who had rejected God's leadership at Kadesh-Barnea and upon whom had been pronounced the sentence of an offended God that they must die in the wilderness and could not enter the promised land. But notwithstanding this condition, when an attempt was being made by their enemies to place them under a curse, the Lord overlooked those who were perverse among them and declared the movement to be without iniquity or perverseness. The Lord did not permit the perverseness of individuals in the camp of Israel to blind His vision of the movement as a whole and of what it would finally be under His leadership. The statement was doubtless partly prophetic, but even the false prophet saw such a contrast between the people he was trying to curse and himself that he cried out: "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my end be like his!" All apostate enemies would say this if they could get a real vision of the future and could see their final doom. Balaam died the death of the wicked and will share in the sinner's reward. He never repented and re-united with God and His people.
The Advent Movement. Revelation 12:12, 13
The Advent Movement will soon experience to the full the antitype of Satan's effort to stop the Exodus Movement through the attempted curses of Balaam, the false prophet. Many false and apostate teachers have already attempted to stop he progress of the Advent Movement through their stinging criticism and threatened curses. But the worst is yet to come. We cannot help but think of the fruitless efforts of Balaam when we hear or read the bitter denunciations of the apostate leaders of offshoot movements in their attempt to scatter God's remnant people and stop the progress of the Advent Movement. Their burden is to "call out the faithful" into a new movement under their own leadership. Their gathering of the followers to themselves is a scattering of souls from Christ. Their message instead of being a gathering call is a scattering call. Instead of gathering to Christ they scatter abroad, because they are not with Christ but against Him.
It is impossible to know exactly what will take place in the future by way of apostasies and denunciations but many warnings have been given through the Spirit of Prophecy that they will increase as we near the end. Through this means Satan will make one of his last efforts to hinder the work of God. "There will be messages of accusation against the people of God, similar to the work done by Satan in accusing God's people, and these messages will be sounding at the very time when God is saying to His people, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, etc." —T.M. 42. "Those who start up to proclaim a message on their own responsibility, who, while claiming to be taught and led of God, still make it their special work to tear down that which God has been for years building up, are not doing the will of God. Be it known that these men are on the side of the great deceiver. Believe them not. They are allying themselves with the enemies of God and the truth." —T.M. 51.
"Every phase of fanaticism and erroneous theories claiming to be the truth will be brought in among the remnant people of God." "Fanaticism will appear in the very midst of us. Deception will come, and of such a character that if it were possible they would mislead the very elect." "The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. … Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God's remnant people in the true testimony. He will bring in spurious visions, to mislead and mingle the false with the true, and so disgust people that they will regard everything that bears the name of visions as a species of fanaticism. … New and strange things will continually arise to lead God's people into false excitement, religious revivals, and curious developments." "If Satan sees that the Lord is blessing His people and preparing them to discern his delusions, he will work with his master power to bring in fanaticism on the one hand, and cold formalism on the other." "As the end draws near, the enemy will work with all his power to bring in fanaticism among us." —"Instructions for the Church Regarding Past and Future Manifestations of Fanaticism and Deceptive Teachings," pp. 6, 8, 9, 13, 21.
Nothing to Fear
But God's remnant people have no more to fear from the rantings and curses of these accusers of the brethren than ancient Israel feared the efforts of Balaam. God will likewise turn their curses into blessings for it is still impossible to curse that which God has blessed or bless that which God has cursed. "Blessed is he that blesseth, and cursed is he that curseth" modern Israel. If we will always remember the following texts we will never worry or become disturbed over denunciations or oppositions: "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." Ps. 76:10. "For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth." —2 Corinthians 13:8. To become agitated or even worried over false doctrines or offshoot movements is evidence of a lack of faith in the Advent Movement, its divine leadership, and ultimate triumph.
Help Bring Shaking
That false teachings and counterfeit movements will play an important part in the final shaking and therefore in the purifying of the church for translation is evident from the following statements: "When the shaking comes, by the introduction of false theories, these surface readers, anchored no where, are like shifting sand. They slide into any position to suit the tenor of their feelings of bitterness." —T.M. 112. "God will arouse His people; if all other means fail, heresies will come in among them, which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat." —Vol. 5:707. This last statement indicates that heresies gather out of the Advent Movement only worthless chaff and is therefore a blessing in disguise to the church. It is one of the "all things" that "work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." —Romans 8:28.
Sees No Iniquity
While these attacks are being made we may rejoice to know that the Lord is not centering His attention on the iniquities of His people and the perverse among them, as do the false prophets, for "he hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel," for "the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them." The attacks and curses of false teachers will doubtless be the greatest during the latter rain which they "shall not recognize" or "discern." They will still be searching for evil and finding it because "there are evils existing in the church and will be until the end of the world." —T.M. 49. The tares are not all separated from the wheat until the harvest which is "the end of the world," or "the end of probationary time." —C.O.L. 72. "False brethren will be found in the church till the close of time." —Id. 73. "When the work of the gospel is completed, there immediately follows the separation between the good and the evil, and destiny of each class is forever fixed." —Id. 123.
Sees His Own
We are told that in the time of separation "those who have joined the church, but who have not joined Christ, will be manifest." —Id. 74. Christ does not reckon the rebels and hypocrites among His remnant people as His own, for His spiritual body is made up only of those who are in union with Him. This invisible body within the visible body will be perfect when probation closes even though the tares or chaff has not all been separated from among them. He therefore see no iniquity or perverseness in those who are Israelites indeed because their iniquities have been forgiven and covered by the imputed and imparted righteousness of Christ. Many texts describe the perfect church that will be waiting for Christ when He returns. See Ephesians 5:25-27; Philippians 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Revelation 14:5, 12. We too should learn to look at the church from this viewpoint and see God's people as they will be when the plan of redemption has completed its work in them. With such a vision, we will pay no more attention to the attacks of apostates than did Israel to the efforts of Balaam.
Motive of Balaam
The real motive that controlled Balaam in his attempts to curse Israel was his love for gain and position. Peter declared that Balaam "loved the wages of unrighteousness." (2 Peter 2:15). He was covetous and we are told that a "covetous man" is "an idolater" and will have no "inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God." (Ephesians 5:5). "Balaam was once a good man and a prophet of God; but he had apostatized, and had given himself up to covetousness; yet he still professed to be a servant of the Most High. … The bribe of costly gifts and prospective exaltation excited his covetousness." —P.P. 439. The love of position and leadership and the desire for personal gain and honor led Balaam to sell himself to the service of the enemies of God and His people.
This same motive plays an important part in the work of modern Balaams. Most of those who apostatize and start offshoot movements are controlled by covetousness and are therefore idolaters. They "love the pre-eminence" and crave positions of leadership. Feeling that their talents and abilities have not been appreciated in the movement proper, they start something of their own and thus become leaders of their own choosing. They are also often dominated by the love of gain and they make merchandise of the gospel by selling their heretical literature and by collecting tithes and offerings for personal use. The more members of the Advent Movement they can poison with their false teachings and lead away from the fold into their own little camp, the more prominent their position of leadership and the greater their income in tithes and offerings. This accounts for much of their earnestness and zeal.
Written For Us. 1 Corinthians 10:11
"The great magician had tried his power of enchantment, in accordance with the desire of the Moabites; but concerning this very occasion it should be said of Israel, 'What hath God wrought!' While they are under the divine protection, no people or nation, though aided by all the power of Satan, should be able to prevail against them. All the world should wonder at the marvelous work of God in behalf of His people,—that a man determined to pursue a sinful course, should be so controlled by divine power as to utter, instead of imprecations, the richest and most precious promises, in the language of sublime and impassioned poetry. And the favor of God at this time manifested toward Israel, was to be an assurance of His protecting care for His obedient, faithful children in all ages. When Satan should inspire evil men to misrepresent, harass, and destroy God's people, this very occurrence would be brought to the remembrance, and would strengthen their courage and their faith in God." —P.P. 449.
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