THE MIXED MULTITUDE
Not All Israelites. Exodus12:37, 38
“With them:” indicates that they were not of them and were therefore not Israelites. “A great mixture.:—Margin. “Many strangers.” (Fenton). Who were these “strangers” who composed the “mixed multitude” and why did they join the movement? “In this multitude were not only those who were actuated by faith in the God of Israel, but also a far greater number who desired only to escape from the plagues or who followed in the wake of the moving multitudes, merely from excitement and curiosity. This class was ever a hindrance and a snare to Israel.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 281. Many of them were doubtless Egyptians, and others a mixture of the Hamitic and Semitic races as the result of inter-marriage.
With a few exceptions this multitude was controlled by a selfish motive. Because of the terrible judgments of God upon the enemies of His people they thought it was safer to cast their lot with the Israelites. Not only did they desire to escape the plagues, but they had heard the glowing accounts of the promised land as a country “flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands.” Ezeodus 20:6. They wanted to share with Israel in the inheritance of Canaan and inhabit cities already built and eat the fruit of vineyards and orchards already planted.
The mixed multitude who traveled with Israel but were never of Israel, caused most of the trouble along the way to the promised land. They were the authors of most of the apostasies and rebellions that delayed the entrance of Israel into the promised land forty years. “The mixed multitude that came up with the Israelites from Egypt were a source of continual temptation and trouble. They professed to have renounced idolatry, and to worship the true God; but their early education and training had molded their habits and characters, and they were more or less corrupted with idolatry and with irreverence for God. They were oftenest the ones to stir up strife, and were the first to complain, and they leavened the camp with their idolatrous practices and their murmurings against God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 408.
The mixed multitude were critical especially of the leadership of the Exodus movement. They were chronic complainers and nothing suited them. They were overthrown in the wilderness and not permitted to enter the promised land because “they despised the pleasant land” and “believed not” God’s word. Psalm 106:24-26. “After three days” journey, open complaints were heard. These originated with the mixed multitude, many of whom were not fully united with Israel, and were continually watching for some cause of censure. The complainers were not pleased with the direction of the march, and they were continually finding fault with the way in which Moses was leading them, though they well knew that he, as well as they, were following the guiding cloud. Dissatisfaction is contagious and it soon spread in the encampment.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 377. Their bitter criticism of the leadership of the movement, which they wanted to lead, led them to start offshoot movements of which there were many, all of which soon came to naught.
The first great apostasy of the Exodus movement was at Mount Sinai. Exodus 32:1-6. This apostasy took place while Moses was up in the Mount and originated with the mixed multitude. “While Moses was absent, it was a time of waiting and suspense to Israel. … During this period of waiting, there was time for them to meditate upon the law of God which they had heard, and to prepare their hearts to receive the further revelations that He might make to them. They had none too much time for this work; and had they been thus seeking a clearer understanding of God’s requirements, and humbling their hearts before Him, they would have been shielded from temptation. But they did not do this, and they soon became careless, inattentive, and lawless. Especially was this the case with the mixed multitude. They were impatient to be on their way to the land of promise,-the land flowing with milk and honey. … There were some who suggested a return to Egypt, but whether forward to Canaan or backward to Egypt, the masses of the people were determined to wait no longer for Moses. Feeling their helplessness in the absence of their leader, they returned to their old superstitions. The ‘mixed multitude’ had been the first to indulge murmurings and impatience, and they were the leaders in the apostasy that followed.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 315, 316.
Complained of Diet. Numbers 11:4-6, 10
The mixed multitude did not like the health reform principles the Lord had given the Exodus movement and they lusted for the diet they had in Egypt. They reminded the Israelites of what they had to eat while in Egypt and they too began to complain of the food God had given them. “Again they began to clamor for flesh to eat. Though abundantly supplied with manna, they were not satisfied. The Israelites, during their bondage in Egypt, had been compelled to subsist on the plainest and simplest food; but the keen appetite induced by privation and hard labor had made it palatable. Many of the Egyptians, however, who were now among them, had been accustomed to a luxurious diet; and these were the first to complain.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 377. The “mixed multitude” were therefore composed of Egyptians who were “among” the Israelites.
On Outskirts of Camp. Numbers 2:2, 17; Deuteronomy 23:7, 8
“The mixed multitude that had accompanied Israel from Egypt were not permitted to occupy the same quarters with the tribes, but were to abide upon the outskirts of the camp, and their offspring were to be excluded from the community until the third generation.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 375. “On one occasion, the son of an Israelitish woman and of an Egyptian, one of the mixed multitude that had come up with Israel from Egypt, left his own part of the camp and entered that of the Israelites, claimed the right to pitch his tent there. This the divine law forbade him to do, the descendants of an Egyptian being excluded from the congregation until the third generation. A dispute arose between him and an Israelite, and the matter being referred to the judges was decided against the offender.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 407. (Leviticus 24)
The Advent Movement. 1 Corinthians 10:5-11
The advent movement faces the same temptations and dangers and is therefore cursed with a mixed multitude. Who are they? They must be the murmurers, complainers, critics, idolaters, fornicators, and the worldly element who are always lusting for the things of the world and the flesh-pots of Babylon. They are the unconverted and the half-converted who have the theory of the truth without the experience of righteousness. They are Babylonians or at best are only half Christian and half worldling; half Israelite and half Egyptian. They follow the Lord “afar off” and remain on the outskirts of the camp. This worldly element is always seeking to bring into the church worldly pleasures and worldly policies. It seems impossible for them to distinguish between right and wrong; between what is proper and improper for a Christian. Their spirituality is at a low ebb and their standards are trailing in the dust.
Menace to Movement
The mixed multitude in modern Israel have kept the movement wandering around in the wilderness of sin. They have kept back the blessings of the early and latter rain and have delayed the coming of Christ. They are the leaders and followers in the offshoots and apostasies of which there have been many and will be many more. They commit the abominations in the church over which the faithful will be sighing and crying when the seal of God is impressed. They are the “foolish virgins” and the “evil servants” who “say in their hearts, My Lord delayeth His coming,” and therefore they become careless and worldly. They are a menace to the progress of the movement and must be kept on the outskirts of the camp and not allowed to control the church of make up or dominate its leadership. They are indeed a “great mixture” of “strangers” in Zion.
This worldly and murmuring element is not small. It constitutes a multitude. Half of the ten virgins representing the advent people were of this “foolish” class. Speaking of the cause of the low spiritual ebb in the church the servant of the Lord wrote: “And what has caused this alarming condition? Many have accepted the theory of the truth, who have had no true conversion.”—Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 218. “I have been shown that there must be a great awakening among the people of God. Many are unconverted whose names are on our church books.”—Review and Herald, Aug. 13, 1889. “Soon God’s people will be tested by fiery trials, and the great proportion of those who now appear to be genuine and true will prove to be base metal.”—Vol.5:136. “When multitudes of false brethren are distinguished from the true, then the hidden ones will be revealed to view, and with hosannas range under the banner of Christ.”—Ibid., p. 81.
Why Join Movement?
Why do these unconverted people join the Advent Movement and why do they stay in it and even try to control it? Because they are convinced of the theory of the truth of the advent message, and hope to sweep into the kingdom with it and thus partake of the benefits and privileges of “the inheritance of the saints in light.” They have been thrilled with the descriptions of the Heavenly Canaan and want to share in its joys and glories. They have also heard about the seven last plagues and are anxious to escape them. They are controlled by selfish motives and while they are in the movement their hearts and interests are centered in the world or Egypt.
Purged by Shaking
The Exodus movement was purged by the shaking out of the rebels who made this mixed multitude. Eze.20:35-38. The Lord did not send a message declaring that the church had become Babylon and that the faithful must be called out into a new movement under a new leadership. He cleansed the movement by shaking out the rebels. Not one of the rebels were permitted to enter Canaan. Num.14:22-24; 32:11-15. The final purging came at Baal-Peor on the banks of the Jordan when 24,000 of the mixed multitude were eliminated. See Num.25 and 26. “The judgments visited upon Israel for their sin at Shittim destroyed the survivors of the vast company, who, nearly forty years before, had incurred the sentence, ‘They shall surely die in the wilderness.’”—P.P.456.
The Advent movement will be cleansed and purified in the same way: —by the shaking out of the mixed multitude. The Lord will never send a message declaring that the church has fallen and is therefore rejected and become Babylon. We are told that those who get such a burden are not of God but are under satanic inspiration. It is for this reason that all offshoots and apostasies in the past have come to naught and all those of the present and future must likewise ignominiously fail. These false movements however are blessings in disguise because they constitute a part of the sifting process by which the chaff and rubbish of the mixed multitude are shaken out. “God will arouse His people; if other means fail, heresies will come in among them, which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat.”—Vol.5:707. The apostasies and offshoots from the Advent movement are composed of “chaff” and they call only “chaff” out of our midst. They are therefore rendering the Advent movement a valuable service.
Spiritual Reformation. Nehemiah13:3
The Advent movement will be cleansed by a great spiritual revival and reformation brought by the preaching of the Laodicean message. This purifying message shakes out the worldly and rebellious. See E.W.270. The purpose of all spiritual reformations is to separate the false from the true; and wheat from the chaff; the mixed multitude from the true Israel. As soon as the shaking has accomplished its work and the church is purified, the latter rain will fall the work will be quickly finished and cut short in righteousness. “Then a multitude not of our faith, seeing that God is with His people, will unite with them in serving the Redeemer.—C.O.R.156, 157. See also Vol. 5:80-82.
Only the faithful and loyal, who, like Joshua and Caleb “had another spirit in them” and “wholly followed the Lord”, will enter the Heavenly Canaan. Rev.14:1-5, 12; 22:14. “Those who come up on every point, and stand every test, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the True Witness, and they will receive the latter rain, and thus be fitted for translation.”—Vol. 1:186, 187. See Vol. 5:214, 216.